100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 5

How did you do with the first four weeks of 100 Days of Crazy Healthy?

For the fifth week of our health challenge, we will continue with our commitments, and add hip openers to our yoga routine.

Hip openers are essential for creating balance in the body. Our hips carry a lot of emotion and stress that can become toxic, if not released. Daily hip openers help us stay grounded during difficult times, and can prevent injuries and falls that can become problematic as we age.

These poses can feel more painful than other stretches, because they endure a lot of impact every day. Remember to breathe deeply, and quiet the mind, to get the most out of your hip openers. The more the mind and body resist, the harder it becomes to open the hips.

Daily Habits For Week 5

1. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward. Read more about the powerful practice of tongue scraping here.

2. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon or lime to the water if you would like.

3. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo from Week 1. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing! It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

4. Practice 3 minutes of core work every day, comprised of 100 bicycles, 20 toe touches and 6 plank exercises. The bicycles may be broken up into 5 sets of 2 or 2 sets of 50–doesn’t matter as long as you do 100 each day. The same is true for toe touches and planks…break it up if you can’t do them all at once. This may be done after sun salutations, or any other time during the day. No matter what, don’t go to bed at night, until you have completed this work.

To perform bicycles, lie on your back, and bring your right elbow to meet your left knee. Move intentionally, and on the breath, exhaling as the elbow reaches toward the knee, inhaling as you release the crunch. Count every time you reach the right knee to left elbow. Do not let the knee come forward of the hip.

To perform toe touches, lie on your back, with legs straight. Stretch arms overhead, and then lift feet and hands to meet each other, keeping arms and legs straight. Move slowly and intentionally, and take breaks as you need them. Always exhale as you crunch and inhale as you release.

To perform planques, begin in Down Dog, then bring knee-to-nose, knee-to-elbow, and knee to opposite elbow. Shift your hips forward to bring shoulders over wrists. Hold each for 20 breaths (or two sets of ten breaths each), and make sure you do them on both sides of your body.

4. Drink a Crazy Healthy Smoothie for breakfast each morning. Crazy Healthy Smoothies are balanced meals, prepared with awareness and intention to fuel the body. We include pure fruit juice, sweet and sour whole fruit, greens, healthy fat, and protein, for an energizing start to our day. It helps to think about smoothies from an ayurvedic perspective: how many flavors can we fit into one meal? Mixing sweet and sour fruits with bitter veggies, pungent nut butters, and spicy herbs (think ginger and cayenne) can help us start the day off feeling energizing and ready to tackle the world. Learn how to make Crazy Healthy Smoothies here.

5. Eat raw or roasted veggies with a healthy fat for your afternoon snack. Some examples would be celery with almond or peanut butter (organic if possible), bell pepper strips with hummus and organic olive oil, asparagus roasted with grape seed oil and sea salt, spring mix with avocado, lemon and sea salt, or roasted sweet potatoes with grape seed oil and sea salt.

6. Eat a vegetarian soup or salad for lunch. Prepare it (or order it) with the intention of maximizing your nutrient intake. Consider Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Food Pyramid (below) when making your choices.

7. Practice Pigeon Pose, for one full minute on each side. Remember, the more you move your front foot forward, the deeper the stretch. Find your edge, and breathe into it. The back leg should be straight back behind you, and the hips are level.

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8. After practiing pigeon on both sides, practice Cobbler’s Pose for one full minute. Keep your back flat, and reach the heart forward, for maximum effect. You may use your elbows to press into your thighs, to deepen the stretch.

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9. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the fight on my Facebook page. I will share quotes, and ancient wisdom to support the habits we are creating.

You can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but either way, trust the struggle. Don’t think, just do. I’m here to help, so please don’t hesitate to email your questions.

100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 3

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By Week 3 of 100 Days of Crazy Healthy, and it might seem that the very little has changed so far. This is on purpose! Small, intentional shifts are more sustainable than massive transformations all at once. Keep trusting the struggle, believe that you are making progress, and practice all of the crazy healthy habits every day, no matter what. Talk with your friends about your commitment, and remind yourself that every choice matters.

For Week 3 we will stick with the morning detoxification routine, 5 daily Sun Salutations, and a Crazy Healthy Smoothie for breakfast. If you are traveling and can’t make a smoothie, substitute whole fruit and nuts (raw is best) for breakfast. The fat from the nuts helps you feel full, and the nutrients from the smoothie will give you sustainable energy throughout the day.

This week, we will add a vegetable snack and core work to our daily routine.

Daily Habits For Week 3

1. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward. Read more about the powerful practice of tongue scraping here.

2. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon or lime to the water if you would like.

3. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo from Week 1. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing! It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

4. Practice 5 minutes of core work every day, comprised of 100 bicycles, 20 toe touches and 6 plank exercises. The bicycles may be broken up into 5 sets of 2 or 2 sets of 50–doesn’t matter as long as you do 100 each day. The same is true for toe touches and planks…break it up if you can’t do them all at once. This may be done after sun salutations, or any other time during the day. No matter what, don’t go to bed at night, until you have completed this work.

To perform bicycles, lie on your back, and bring your right elbow to meet your left knee. Move intentionally, and on the breath, exhaling as the elbow reaches toward the knee, inhaling as you release the crunch. Count every time you reach the right knee to left elbow. Do not let the knee come forward of the hip.

To perform toe touches, lie on your back, with legs straight. Stretch arms overhead, and then lift feet and hands to meet each other, keeping arms and legs straight. Move slowly and intentionally, and take breaks as you need them. Always exhale as you crunch and inhale as you release.

To perform planques, begin in Down Dog, then bring knee-to-nose, knee-to-elbow, and knee to opposite elbow. Shift your hips forward to bring shoulders over wrists. Hold each for 20 breaths (or two sets of ten breaths each), and make sure you do them on both sides of your body.

4. Drink a Crazy Healthy Smoothie for breakfast each morning. Crazy Healthy Smoothies are balanced meals, prepared with awareness and intention to fuel the body. We include pure fruit juice, sweet and sour whole fruit, greens, healthy fat, and protein, for an energizing start to our day. It helps to think about smoothies from an ayurvedic perspective: how many flavors can we fit into one meal? Mixing sweet and sour fruits with bitter veggies, pungent nut butters, and spicy herbs (think ginger and cayenne) can help us start the day off feeling energizing and ready to tackle the world. Learn how to make Crazy Healthy Smoothies here.

5. Eat raw or roasted veggies with a healthy fat for your afternoon snack. Some examples would be celery with almond or peanut butter (organic if possible), bell pepper strips with hummus and organic olive oil, asparagus roasted with grape seed oil and sea salt, spring mix with avocado, lemon and sea salt, or roasted sweet potatoes with grape seed oil and sea salt.

7. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the fight on my Facebook page. I will share quotes, and ancient wisdom to support the habits we are creating.

You can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but either way, trust the struggle. Don’t think, just do. I’m here to help, so please don’t hesitate to email your questions.

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100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 2

How did you do with Week 1 of 100 Days of Crazy Healthy? By now, you should be a little more comfortable with your morning routine and the Sun Salutations.  Week 2 will be exactly like the first, with the addition of a Crazy Healthy Smoothie for breakfast every morning. If you are not in the habit of making smoothies, this may take a few extra minutes, about 2-4 to gather ingredients, blend, and wash the blender afterward.

Daily Habits For Week 2

1. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward.

2. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon or lime to the water if you would like.

3. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations*, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo from Week 1. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing! It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

4. Drink a Crazy Healthy Smoothie for breakfast each morning. Crazy Healthy Smoothies are balanced meals, prepared with awareness and intention to fuel the body. We include pure fruit juice, sweet and sour whole fruit, greens, healthy fat, and protein, for an energizing start to our day. It helps to think about smoothies from an ayurvedic perspective: how many flavors can we fit into one meal? Mixing sweet and sour fruits with bitter veggies, pungent nut butters, and spicy herbs (think ginger and cayenne) can help us start the day off feeling energizing and ready to tackle the world.  Learn how to make Crazy Healthy Smoothies here. 

5. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the fight on my Facebook page. I will share quotes, and ancient wisdom to support the habits we are creating.

You can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but either way, trust the struggle. Don’t think, just do. I’m here to help, so please don’t hesitate to reach out with your questions.

 

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100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 1

100 Days of Crazy Healthy is a FREE health challenge that will transform your life!

This program is based on the daily habits that helped me reclaim power over my health, and how I teach my clients to get healthy without spending money unnecessarily, feeling deprived, or risking injury.

Good health is cumulative–a result of wise choices, made over time. I learned this through personal experience, and created 100 Days of Crazy Healthy as the perfect program to transform your mind, body and spirit, if you trust the struggle, and do whatever it takes to complete your weekly habits.

The work itself is simple. We will move, breathe, stretch, and nourish ourselves naturally, every single day. It’s the every single day part that is essential, and makes it feel less stressful. Small changes add up over time, and help us reveal our best selves! Our attachments to what we have always done might make it feel difficult at first. Don’t let your brain stop your body from getting healthy. Remember that the secret to success is to trust the struggle, and do whatever it takes to complete the work.

We will add a few new healthy habits each week, for the next 14 weeks. They are not meant to replace what you are already doing–this in in addition to other workouts. Over time, you may feel that you have to make some trade offs in your workouts, but you will do so with the information you need to make wise decisions. Don’t worry about it now, though.

You may start the challenge any time you like. Those who start today, will complete the challenge by mid-August, and you will feel fabulous by Labor Day. The goals are realistic, and founded in concepts that have kept people healthy for thousands of years. This week, we are focusing on movement and self care. We will get to food later, once you are in the yoga habit.

Remember, you don’t have to go it alone…I am here to help! Reach out any time. I also highly recommend inviting a friend or family member (s) to join you. It will deepen your relationships, and leave you all feeling empowered to control your weight, moods, and habits. Just share the link to  100 Days of Crazy Healthy on Facebook, Twitter, or through email.

Daily Habits For Week 1

Practice these three habits, every day for 7 days. These habits are foundational, and will be built upon in the weeks to come. Do not stop doing your other workouts or other healthy habits, just add these three habits to your routine.

1. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward.

2. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon to the water if you would like.

3. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations*, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing!  It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

4. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the fight on my Facebook page. I will share quotes, and ancient wisdom to support the habits we are creating.

You can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but just believe. These daily habits are the beginning of becoming the crazy healthy person you always hoped to be. So, grab a friend or family member, and get to work. Don’t think, just do. I’m here to help, if you need encouragement, and would love to know how it goes. Send me photos or notes about your 100 Days of Crazy Healthy, and I will share them!

Good luck and namaste’!

Amber

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*To prevent injury, follow these guidelines: 1) Keep your tailbone tucked in standing poses, to prevent compression in the lower back. 2) Roll thighs inward and back in half lift and forward fold. 3)  Press into finger pads and lift the center of the palms in Down Dog.

3 Simple Ways to Practice Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a big word that simply means “life science”. It is also the world’s oldest system of medicine, with many practical applications in our busy, modern lives. Here’s three simple daily practices that will help you begin to explore the benefits of an ayurvedic lifestyle:

1. Balance the skin. Toss commercial cleansers and lotions that interfere with your body’s natural oil production, and replace them with less expensive, holistic alternatives. Coconut oil, massaged into the skin (even the face!) and rinsed with warm water, clears toxins and leaves a healthy glow.

2. Balance the gut. Drink a large glass of warm lemon water first thing every morning, before eating. This practice stimulates elimination, essential for total body health.

3. Balance the mind. Close the door, set a timer, and sit in silence for five minutes each day. Listen to your breath. Notice what is happening. Are your inhales longer than your exhales? Are you breathing into your chest, or all the way into the belly? Let the breath get deeper, and allow the mind to quiet. It will seem like nothing is happening at first, but you will, over time, learn how to use this practice to heal your mind, body and spirit naturally.

Little by little, these practices will shift the way you think about food and self care, and open doors to the may other practical applications of this time-proven science.

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photo: kimberlysnyder.net

100 Days of Crazy Healthy, Week By Week

Are you ready to get crazy healthy with me this summer? If so, here’s what you should expect:

We will start out slow, adding 7 minutes of exercise and self-care in the first week (congrats who have already started–how did it go?). Each week, we will add a new focus that requires a few extra minutes out of your day. It will force you to make different decisions about how you use your time. Some of the distractions that you are used to, will have to fall away, such as TV, and social media. Remember, we are only doing this for 100 days. You can decide afterward if you want to go back to your old habits. For now, just stick with the program, and let go of that which is not essential, to make time for getting healthy.

The idea is to create new habits every week, and keep repeating them all summer long, until they become a part of who you are. Some of the habits will feel boring, such as repeating the same sun salutations every day. This is on purpose. Others will feel difficult. This is also on purpose. Your mind will try to dismiss them as unnecessary. Stories will show up for you about what is possible, who you are, who I am, and they will all create resistance to the journey. Pay attention to these stories, and ask yourself if they are founded in truth. If they are not serving your desire to get healthy for good, reject them, and get on with the work you need to do, to feel better by Labor Day.

By the end of summer, you will be spending about an hour each day on healthy habits, but it won’t feel like an hour, because it will be broken up into small increments, all day long. You may choose to do your yoga all at once, for approximately 30 minutes, or you may break it up. An example would be to practice sun salutations and core work in the morning, and twists, hips, back strengtheners, and balance at night.

Below is the the framework we will follow, to get crazy healthy before summer’s end. It may change slightly, based on feedback from participants, so check back here every week for specific instructions.

Also, feel free to leave your questions below, or contact me through my Facebook page. I’m here to help–don’t hesitate to reach out! And send me photos of your journey. Bust a pose in public whenever you can and invite strangers. They might hesitate at first, but eventually they will smile, when you tell them about your commitment to getting healthy, and you will leave them with a reminder to take care of themselves. And that’s what this is all about…being the change we hope to see in the world.

Namaste~

Amber

100 Days of Crazy Healthy

Week 1: tongue scraping, warm water first thing, 5 sun salutes (7 min)
Week 2: 2 extra minutes smoothie for breakfast (9 min)
Week 3: 2 extra minutes veggie snacks and 5 minutes core work (16 min)
Week 4: 3 extra minutes soup/salad for lunch or dinner (19 min)
Week 5: 3 extra minutes hips (22 min)
Week 6: 3 extra minutes quinoa for breakfast (25 min)
Week 7: 3 extra minutes stretch in public (28 min)
Week 8: 2 extra minutes back strengtheners (30 min)
Week 9: 1 extra minutes twists (31 min)
Week 10: 4 extra minutes green juice for snack (35 min)
Week 11: 1 extra minutes backbends (36 min)
Week 12: 5 extra minutes balance for core strength (41 min)
Week 13: 5 extra minutes meditation (46 min)
Week 14: 15 extra minutes preparing foods from earth (61 min)
last two days: 1 extra minutes of reflection and reconciliation, twice daily (63 min)

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Get Healthy With Me!

ImageHow do we heal ourselves holistically? This is the question we will answer in my upcoming workshop at Evolation Yoga Atlanta on 4/26 from 3-5 PM. It’s going to be so much fun! I hope you will join us.

During the workshop, we will practice my Detox Flow Yoga Sequence, learn some new nutrition, immunity, and skin care tricks, and answer all of your questions about how yoga and Ayurveda can enhance your life. You will leave with a copy of the Detox Flow Yoga Sequence for home practice, as well as many innovative ideas and opportunities for better health and well-being. All levels are welcome, so please join us, even if you’ve never practiced yoga before!

Space is limited, so register soon by clicking here. And, as always, feel free to email any questions you might have.

Namaste~

Amber

 

Five Tips For Getting Healthy On A Budget

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Think eating healthy is expensive? It doesn’t have to be! Here are five simple ways to save money on a nutrient-dense diet:

1) Do your research. Learn about the nutrient density of foods, as well as when they are freshest, and prioritize your investments in food accordingly (check out what Dr. Joel Fuhman has to say, here). Loose carrots and leafy greens are generally more nutrient-dense than the pre-packaged kind, and also a lot cheaper. Packaged veggies take longer to prepare and transport for sale, which means they have been out of the earth for more days than those that are transported in bulk. They also have higher packaging costs, and that expense is passed on to the consumer at the store.

2) Buy flash frozen organic fruits and vegetables. Frozen produce can be just as healthy, and sometimes healthier, than fresh foods. It is also often easier to find non-GMO produce in the freezer section, than in the produce aisle. Certain foods, such as corn and soy beans, are healthier and cheaper, when purchased frozen. There can be significant differences in prices at different stores, so pay attention to where you get the most bang for your buck.

3) Buy in bulk. Create your own trail mixes and snacks in the bulk foods section at your local farmers markets and health food stores. You can also save money by buying packaged items in bulk. Did you know that Whole Foods offers a discount on items that are purchased by the case, and they will let you mix and match similar items? Consider stocking up on a variety of canned soups, fruits and vegetables (we love their canned sweet potatoes and butternut squash), and other naturally preserved foods. Amazon.com also offers savings on packaged items that are purchased by the case.

4) Shop more frequently, and buy only what you need. Shorter, more frequent trips to the store can save money in the long run. I have found that if I stock up on preserved items once a month, and make quick trips for fresh produce twice a week, I end up spending the same amount of time shopping, and a lot less on produce that goes bad before we can enjoy it.

5) Simplify your menus. One-dish meals, such as stir fry and mexican salads, can be just as satisfying and less costly than a protein and two sides. They can also save a lot of time in preparation. Avoid pre-cut veggies at the store, and use a food processor to save time instead. Your produce will be more nutritious, and much tastier, when it is served closer to the earth. If you do feel the need to serve three or four items for dinner, stick to simply roasted vegetables (toss with a high heat oil and sea salt, and roast at 400 for 10-15 minutes), fresh salads, hearty soups, and rice and bean dishes. They are richer in nutrients, simpler to prepare than complicated recipes, and less expensive than animal products.

It’s also important to remember that, even if your grocery bills stay the same, or increase slightly, most people ultimately save money on over the counter medications, doctor visits, and prescriptions, the more they improve the nutrient density of their diet. In my experience, the more we increase the nutrient density of our diet, the fewer medical issues we experience, and the happier and healthier we become.

Photo: intentblog.com

Never Diet Again

ImageI started dieting when I was in high school, even though I was not overweight at the time. I just thought I was fat, because all the girls around me were talking about how important it was to be skinny.

I was never particularly good at dieting, esoecially when I did pack on the pounds later, but I kept forcing the issue anyway, and hated every minute of it. Except the one time I was on that diet, that let me have frozen fat-free chocolate yogurt with granola for lunch. I actually liked that one. But I had to give it up when I realized that it didn’t really work.

So, I kept on keepin’ on, struggling with my weight, into my 20s and early 30s. I read the diet books, bought the diet foods (Slimfast and Snackwells, anyone?), kept the journals, and promised myself I would stick to the plan. But, no matter how hard I tried, I always felt like one of Cinderella’s stepsisters, trying to fit my foot into a shoe molded perfectly for someone else. What seemed promising at first, always wound up disappointing me in the end.

As a result, I struggled with my weight for years, and I felt bad about myself a lot. Especially when I had to go buy new clothes, because I could no longer zip my skirts.

This cycle went on for two decades. Diet. Lose. Gain. Diet. Lose. Gain. I kept reinventing the wheel and calling it something different, every time. It never worked.

Until, one day, one of my yoga instructors shared what I still think is the most brilliant perspective about food I have ever heard:

“At some point, you have to ask yourself: is what I am eating really food?”

It changed the way I thought about grocery shopping, meal-planning, and eating out, forever. I never dieted again.

Instead, I changed what I believed about food. I decided that food is fuel for my body, and instead of eating to lose weight, I should eat to become the best version of myself that I could possibly be. How’s that for a novel idea?

I became a truth seeker, insistent on understanding exactly what I was putting in my body. I read labels, scoured the internet for nutrition facts, and started eating at home more often, so I could know exactly what was in my food.

The more I focused my attention on fueling my body, the better I felt. I finally accepted what I had known all along, but had been too stubborn to admit: everything I eat effects me either positively or negatively. And the more I moved toward nourishing myself, the more I wanted more of the same.

This is how I became passionate about the importance of real food, and broke the cycle of dieting for good. It was one of the most liberating experiences of my life, to stop trying to eat like everyone else, and decide for myself what works best for me.

The say the truth will set you free, and never is this more applicable, than when we are trying to lose weight. The truth is that diets don’t work, and you should never, ever diet again.

Eat real food, instead. All day, every day. Exercise every day. And trust the struggle. The more we distance ourselves from processed foods that dull our taste buds, and nourish our bodies with real foods and exercise, the more we crave real foods and movement, the more inspired we are to eat from the earth, and the better we feel and look.

Learn more about real food in this insightful post at The Atlantic, and pick up a copy of “Eat To Live” by Joel Fuhrman, MD.

Have you liked My Crazy Healthy Life on Facebook? Join us there, for crazy healthy recipes, tips, and inspiration!

 

Photo: http://www.drsharma.ca

Time Matters

1391767_485484761558997_1565215455_nYoga playtime with the girlies

Did y’all hear that a little snow brought our city to a standstill last month? I was one of the thousands of people that were stuck on the road for most of the day. It took me 7 hours to travel 13 miles. Lucky for me, the gas tank was full, and I had snacks on hand, so it was not as much of an ordeal as it could have been.

Even so, it was pretty stressful to be stuck in the car for hours on end.

My journey began at 1 PM, just after the snow started. By 7 PM, I was still 3 miles from home, and really thirsty, so I stopped to buy water at Walgreens.

The store was empty, but for 3 or 4 people and a single clerk. Shoppers were quick to pick out their items, and hop in the check out line–everybody wanted to get home as soon as possible. As I paid for my water, the man waiting behind me placed a 6 pack of Milwaukee’s Best, and two bottles of red wine on the counter. Another man walked up after him, and they struck up a conversation.

“You’ve got the right idea, buddy! Stocking up for a long day tomorrow.”

It struck me as so funny, because I had been thinking along very different lines. Sitting in the car for hours on end had stiffened up all of my muscles, and my joints ached where I had broken bones many years ago. I was not thinking about getting my drink on at all…instead, I was giddy at the prospect of having an entire day at home to stretch, flow, practice arm balances, and cook healing foods.

As they say, to each his own…

But I wonder what would have happened if I had encouraged my fellow shoppers to think differently about how they spent their snow day. This crazy healthy life has taught me that time is our most valuable asset, and we must spend it wisely. Every day is an opportunity to do better, and to be better. It’s all cumulative.

So, with this in mind, I thought I’d share what we are looking forward to doing, while we are trapped in the house:

1) Learning how to cook healthy foods. The girls are learning to roast veggies, make green juices, sauté fruit, and make spiced nuts. This means our kitchen will be a big fat mess for the next few days, but it’s a price I am willing to pay. Let the dishes pile up…we’ll all be better off for it in the end!

2) Memorizing Sun Saluation B. They girls have been practicing yoga with me for a while, but our practices are more whimsical and silly, than organized. Helping them learn Sun Salutation B will teach them how to wrap structure around their personal practice. And maybe, just maybe, they will even teach their friends! We play dance music to make the experience fun, and crack lots of jokes, so it feels more like a game than a chore.

3) Talking about how yoga philosophy complements our Christian faith. I have been reading snippets of Patnajali’s Yoga Sutras to the girls for the past few weeks, and it’s started some really important conversations about their friendships, their goals, and their personal habits. Concepts like ahimsa (non-harming) help them understand to choose their words and behavior carefully, santosha (contentment) teaches them to be grateful for their blessings, and bramacharya (non-excess) teaches them the importance of everything in moderation.

These are just a few of the crazy, but healthy ways we will spend our icy days at home. I think it’s some of the best things we can do for our kids right now, because, as Andy Stanley recently said, “In the areas that matter most, you can’t make up misspent time.”

Truthfully, part of me wants to park the kids in front of the TV, and curl up in bed with a good book. Mama could use a day off, now and then, too. But I won’t. Because time matters, and those of us in the Deep South have been given the gift of a whole lotta extra time to kill this week…and my crazy healthy family is going to make the best of it.

 

When Kids Don’t Eat Their Lunch, It’s Not About The Food

My friend, Cindy, has two precious young boys who adore her, but don’t always love the healthy lunches she packs for school. Feeling frustrated by their ever-changing attitudes, she reached out for a little help with “packing a week of healthy lunches the kids will actually eat.”

At first, it sounded like she was asking for a list of foods, and maybe some recipes, but after a few emails back and forth, it became clear that Cindy’s lunchbox challenge was not about the food at all. It was about something much bigger.

The conversation turned to psychology. We talked about how, just like adults, kids can have complicated relationships with food. Their beliefs, preferences, and actions are colored by every experience they have ever had with food….from nursing, to first foods, to yesterday’s snack. It’s essential to keep this in mind, as we teach our kids about nutrition. What we send for lunch, is not as important as how our kids feel about the experience before, during and after their lunch break.

So, keeping this in mind, here are some ways that we can help our kids embrace their healthy lunchbox:

1. Set boundaries, for yourself and for your kids. Talk about them often, and stand your ground. As much as they may protest, kick and scream, the one thing kids want most from their parents is boundaries. They need to know that you are in charge. Because, how scary would it be, to be a kid and be in charge? Unlike your kids, you have the experience, knowledge, and tools necessary for leading your family in healthy habits. So, be the leader your kids want you to be…explain what is acceptable and what is not, and enforce the rules with compassion, love and grace.

2. Let it be their idea. Clean out your cabinets of foods you don’t want your kids to eat, and take them shopping for better choices. Stick to the produce and health food aisles, and ask them to pick what they would like for snack, lunch, etc. Fill the cart with brightly colored fruits and veggies first. Ask which whole foods they like best. Which new foods would they like to try? Teach kids how to read labels. And give them opportunities to demonstrate what they have learned, by asking questions about what they chose and why. Encourage them to be leaders at the lunch table, by talking about what your family values about food. Most of all, have fun, be inquisitive, and enjoy the journey.

3. Let kids plan the meals. Would your kids be more likely to eat meals that they chose themselves? Ask them to help you make a lunchbox plan for the week. Remind them of the boundaries (75% fruits and vegetables, more color than white foods, or whatever your rules might be), and see what they come up with. It’s okay if their plan isn’t exactly what you hoped for the first week…pack it anyway. This is a process, and it takes time! The following week, challenge them to increase the nutrient density of their meal plan by adding more fresh foods, colorful foods, etc. Do it again the following week, and every week after, until you are both satisfied. It won’t be long before you both feel better.

4. Get creative in the kitchen. There are a lot of simple, yummy, healthy foods your kids can create on their own. Set out bags of nuts, dried fruit, and seeds, and ask if they’d like to make a trail mix for tomorrow’s lunch. Set out bowls of chopped fruit, and invite them to make a fruit salad to pack. Or maybe they would like to make cinnamon spiced apples with you? Or healthy no-bake cookies, made from oats, cinnamon, raisins and honey? The options for simple recipes are endless, and preparing food together is a great way to connect with kids.

5. Practice non-attachment. Does it bother you when your kids don’t eat their lunch? Do you get rattled when they say they like humus one day, but not the next? From our perspective, as parents, these are really frustrating experiences, especially when we are trying our best to instill good habits (and we don’t want food to go to waste). However, from a kid’s perspective, this is just part of the learning process. They are figuring things out, and it takes time. This is why it’s important to take a deep breath and try something different, when things don’t go as expected. And remember, it’s not just about the food with kids, it’s also about your relationship with them. The less attached you are to outcome, the less of a power struggle it will be, and the more the conversation can be about the right thing to do, instead of what Mom wants him or her to do.

So…if like Cindy, packing healthy lunches feels like one big struggle, loosen the reigns a little. Remember that teaching kids good habits is not a linear process. It’s complicated, but with a little intention, and a lot of love, we can inspire our kids to become the healthy eaters we always hoped they would be.

photo copy 27Me and my picky eaters, ringing in the new year at the beach

6 Things Everyone Should Know About Thyroid Disease

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Listen up, friends:

The fatigue, headaches, insomnia, mood swings and weight gain you are experiencing might not all be in your head. They might be in your neck.

The thyroid gland, located just below our adam’s apple, produces hormones that effect every cell in our bodies. When it’s not working properly (which is common), we can have a wide variety of distressing symptoms, often at the same time.

In 2008, when I first got sick with autoimmune thyroid disease (Grave’s Disease), I thought I had the flu. My eyes swelled, I had cold sweats, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, and I lost a lot of weight really quickly. It took three doctor visits, several weeks, and a full blood panel, to figure out what was making me feel so awful.

What followed after is a long story, full of specialists not returning my calls, giving me bad advice, and leading me down dead end paths that cost a lot of money. It was an overwhelming, frustrating, and disappointing experience.

But, it taught me some lessons that everyone should know about thyroid disease:

1. Thyroid disease is incredibly common, and often goes undiagnosed. I am amazed by how many people just deal with it for years. No one should have to do this! Unfortunately, this problem will likely continue, because thyroid disease is widely misunderstood. This is why it’s important to get tested, and take the time to understand what your levels mean. You need to know not only the numbers, but also where you fall in the range for the test. I was half a point outside the “normal” range when I first got sick, and could barely get off the couch for months. It turns out that what is “normal” for my body is not what is “normal” for most people, and treating me for hyperthyroidism (despite a number that would not concern most doctors) made all the difference.

2. It’s complicated. There’s no simple fix, so buckle your seatbelt and hang on for the ride. There’s a lot of conflicting information about thyroid disfunction on the internet, and if you see three different doctors (including naturopaths), they will give you three different diagnoses/treatment plans. Endocrinologists will tell you to have thyroid removal surgery, or suggest that you “kill it off” with radioactive iodine. My doctor wanted me to do this, and “just take Synthroid for the rest of your life”. (Synthroid contains contains talc, which is believed to cause ovarian cancer, which I am already at risk for, because my mother had it…so, no thank you!) Naturopaths will put you on supplements. And other doctors might even act like it’s not a big deal, because they don’t understand how serious it can be.

3. This disease changes constantly. Hormone levels in our bodies fluctuate daily, and evolve over the years. And, just like estrogen and testosterone, thyroid levels are harder to balance as we get older. It is especially important to know that, if you are diagnosed with hyperthyroidism (as I was), there is a good chance that your thyroid will eventually “burn out” and you will have hypothyroidism instead. This can be very confusing. I knew it was possible, but I was still caught off guard when it actually happened to me this past year. Had I been paying better attention, the transition would have been easier.

4. Thyroid disease is a really, really big deal. Don’t let anyone make you think otherwise! It effects our metabolism, cognitive function, moods, immunity, and much more. I’ve been living with autoimmune thyroid disease for at least 5 years, and probably even longer. Prior to my diagnosis, I think it had a lot to do with my chronic migraines, sinus infections, insomnia, depression, fertility issues, who knows what else! I could have spared myself a lot of heartache, had I known about this sooner.

5. We have to be our own advocates. There is a lot we can do with food and exercise to relieve the symptoms. This is why it is essential to get educated. Read up on the subject, and figure out who you can trust. A good place to start is with this article, the best I have seen about thyroid disfunction. If you think you have thyroid issues, or have unexplained ailments, get your thyroid levels tested, and always keep copies of the results to refer back to later. Don’t wait to do this! Treating this disease can be a long trial and error process, so the sooner you start asking questions, the sooner you will feel better. And if, like me, you absolutely need thyroid hormone supplementation, there are cleaner alternatives to Synthroid–ask about compounded drugs and understand what fillers are being used.

6. It can get better. There is hope, for those living with thyroid disease, but you have to take care of yourself. Eat nutrient-dense foods. Remove processed foods, sugars, caffeine and alcohol from your diet, and exercise every day. Drink lots of filtered water. If you think you are hypothyroid, avoid foods that inhibit thyroid hormone production, such as cruciferous vegetables (kale, brussel sprouts, spinach, cauliflower, etc.) and strawberries. If you think you are hyperthyroid, add more of these foods to your diet. Also, if you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism (which is way more common than hyperthyroidism), consider liquid iodine and selenium supplementation. And shop around for a doctor you respect and trust.

Most of all, don’t feel bad about yourself. Before my diagnosis, I thought my recurring ailments were my fault, and I just had to live with them. But now I know better…I just have a temperamental thyroid and need to handle it with care. I think there are a lot of people with the same problem, so we need to support each other in this fight.

That’s what this blog is all about…sharing information that helps others get healthy, and stay healthy. Feel free to share your questions and insights here, or on our Facebook page. The more we help each other, the healthier everyone can be. ॐ

Photo: http://www.washingtonendocrineclinic.com