10 Tips for a Healthier Lunchbox

 Healthy groceries

Research shows that children think more clearly, and perform better in school, when fed a steady diet of nutritious foods. According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of Eat to Live, “The foods children consume early in life…ultimately supply their brain power. A diet rich in vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts and seeds is the only way to ensure children get an array of phytochemicals, antioxidants, fatty acids, and other micronutrients to adequately supply their growing brains.” This means that moms like me can greatly influence our kids’ potential for success in school, by making healthy choices for their lunch boxes.

Packing snacks and lunches is also a huge opportunity to teach strategies for long-term, sustainable health. If children are at school for more than half their waking hours, then at least 50% of their dietary habits and preferences are being formed during this time. Every food you pack sends a message about what they should or shouldn’t choose to eat.

So, as you think about what you will send for lunch this year, remember that you are not just feeding your kids–you are also shaping their approach to lifelong wellness. Do your best to teach them how to create sustainable energy, and long-term health, with nutrient-dense foods. You, and your child, will be glad you did!

Here are a few strategies that work for our family:

1. Pack fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, and seeds first. Figure out what your kids like, and pack those healthy foods before anything else. Raw fruits and veggies have more nutrients than most other foods. Apples, bananas, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and pitted olives are some of my kids’ favorites. Let meats, dairy, chips, and sweets take up the smallest fraction of the lunch box, so that the majority of their foods are nutrient-dense.

2. Make it fun. My kids love to play what we call “The Rainbow Game”: pack fruits and veggies of every color of the rainbow except one, and tell your kids they need to report which one was missing when they get home. Use cookie cutters to create different shapes for fruits and sandwiches. Or create your own unique games to make them smile at lunch and snack time, when you can’t be there to do it in person.

3. Take your kids shopping! Empower kids with nutrition information, and encourage them to choose healthy foods at the store. Teach them how to read food labels, and let them decide what’s best (make sure to veto unhealthy choices with love). Keep a positive attitude, and let it be their idea whenever possible.

4. Start an ongoing dialogue about nutrition. Talk about the power of nutrient-dense foods, and why you make the choices you make for their meals. Ask your kids about the foods they ate at school. What vitamins and minerals were in your apple? Why were strawberries a healthy choice? If they don’t know, help them look it up. The more they understand the reasons behind your decisions, the more likely they are to accept them.

5. Save time with leftovers and prepared soups! Make sure you have a lunch-box sized thermos on hand, so reheated leftovers and soups stay warm until lunchtime. Get in the habit of doubling dinner recipes, so you have enough to send for lunch the next day. Boxed and canned organic soups can also be lifesavers, on days that you are short on time, or low on groceries.

6. Empower kids make their own trail mixes. Kids love to be creative! Make it easy for them to design their own trail mixes. Keep a variety of nuts, dried fruits, and gluten-free cereals on hand. A small handful of mini dark chocolate chips can make trail mix more palatable to picky eaters; it also adds antioxidants, and the sugar content is negligible.

7. Teach kids to choose water over sugary drinks. Milk and juice are high in sugar, and are therefore not good choices for kids that are trying to learn. And, of course, sodas and sports drinks are a big no-no. Kids that have too much sugar from these kinds of beverages at lunch, are bound to crash in the afternoon. Sugar also decreases their immunity, creates inflammation, and adds empty calories to their diet. Water is always best in the lunch box.

8. Don’t forget about healthy dips and stuffings. Kids love to dip and stuff foods. The trick is to give them nutritious options. Try to avoid ketchup and ranch dressing. Fresh salsas and bean dips, however, are great choices! Hummus is widely available, and comes in a variety of flavors. Nut butters are also a healthy option–try cashew, sunflower seed, or almond. Stuff baby bell peppers with hummus, and teach kids to dip and fill fruits with nut butters. You might be surprised how much they like it.

9. Forget the bread. Even if you are not allergic to gluten, bread is just not good for you. It is lower in nutrients than whole foods, and hard for the body to process. Why? Because wheat has been genetically modified so much over the years, that our bodies no longer recognize flour as food. It can create inflammation, sinus problems, insomnia, and stomach issues. If your kids insist on bread, try to limit how much you serve (maybe send half a sandwich instead of a whole, and double up on the fruits and veggies), and ask for gluten-free breads at your local store.

10. Put dessert in its place. It’s okay to send dessert to school, just not every day. Teach kids that dessert is a treat, to be enjoyed on special occasions, or sometimes just because! And remember, not all desserts are created equal. A piece of organic dark chocolate with cherries and almonds is always a better choice than a gummy bear with high fructose corn syrup and artificial coloring.

Most of all, try to be grateful for the chance to influence your kids’ eating habits. It might feel like a chore, but trust me on this: teaching our children about nutrition is one of the most powerful ways we have to show them how much we care.

100 Days Of Crazy Healthy Week 6

photo copy 23Congratulations on your efforts in the first five weeks of 100 Days of Crazy Healthy! What changes have you noticed? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

For the sixth week of our health challenge, we will continue with our commitments, and add quinoa for breakfast, to increase our intake of nutritious foods from the earth.

Quinoa is an energizing, filling alternative to cereals and processed foods. It can be made in advance, and stores well in the freezer, so don’t be afraid to double your recipes! It has a slightly pungent nutty taste, which works well with sweet and salty tastes.

Always rinse quinoa before cooking (even if the package says pre-rinsed) for the purest, cleanest results. Prepare according to package directions, and add fruits, nuts, seeds, sweeteners, salt and spice to your recipes as desired. Add a small amount of grape seed oil to quinoa after cooking, to minimize the dry taste (about 1/2 t. oil to 1 cup quinoa). My favorite quinoa concoctions are as follows:

  • Apples, raisins, walnuts, cardamom, and cinnamon
  • Bananas, blueberries, and pecans with sea salt
  • Pears, apples, cinnamon, honey, and sunflower seeds
  • Cherries (dried or fresh) with pecans, maple syrup and sea salt
  • Golden raisins, walnuts, and Garam Masala (indian spice)
  • Strawberry and fresh mint with a hint of lemon juice

I’ve not provided recipes on purpose–I don’t think you need them. This health challenge is all about learning to trust our intuition, and customize our health habits to our personal needs and goals. Play around with different flavors, and trust yourself! Less is always more in the beginning, especially when working with spices. Also, aim to use about 1 c. fruit and nuts to 1 c. quinoa, and use spices the way you use salt and pepper–a little at first, and then add more if it isn’t enough.

If you get tired of eating quinoa every day, it’s ok to substitute a Crazy Healthy Smoothie* sometimes, or even alternate every other day. The point is to explore new possibilities, so just keep experimenting, and enjoy of the journey of learning new ways to boost your energy with nutritious foods from the earth.

Daily Habits For Week 6

1. Prepare a double batch of quinoa, twice each week, according to the instructions above. Decide which days you will make your preparation, and refridgherate or freeze what you do not use the first day, in a airtight container.

2. Spend 3 minutes each morning creating new, delicious tastes for your crazy healthy breakfast, as described above, or invent your own!

3. 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.

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

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. Eat a vegetarian soup or salad for lunch. Prepare it (or order it) with the intention of maximizing your nutrient intake.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. 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 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.

*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.

 

 

Yoga & Real Food With The Fam

 

ImageHappy summer! Did you start 100 Days of Crazy Healthy yesterday? It was a challenge for us to get started, because we were on vacation at the lake with some other families, but we did it! I was surprised that the girls really liked the tongue scraping and the lemon water. They have done sun salutations before, but it was really fun to practice them together with a family goal. I am also happy to report that I got up early to practice sun salutations with Hubby and the girls today, so we’re already done with Day 2. Yay!

No worries if you didn’t get to start the challenge with us yesterday. You can still start today, and make it 99 Days of Crazy Healthy! Start here. The point is to create new health habits, one day at a time, all summer long, so you will still benefit A LOT, even if you start one day late. To find the posts, type “100 Days” in the search box on my home page, or use the category cloud. I’ve posted the first 4 weeks so far, and will continue to post additional weeks as I get them written.

As you begin the journey, remember:

1) We already have everything we need to be healthy. No diets or trendy workouts needed, if we eat real food and practice resistance-based yoga every day.

2) Getting healthy is hard on purpose. Trust the struggle.

3) We are all leaders. Every choice we make informs the choices of the people around us. When we choose healthy habits, we inspire others to do the same.

4) Good health is the foundation for all of the other things we want in life, so we must make it a priority every day. Do whatever it takes to complete your mission.

5) You don’t have to do this alone. Invite a friend or family member to join you, and remember that I am here to help! Email any time with your questions.

Namaste,

Amber
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Salute The Sun For Better Health

When I was in 2nd grade, I lived in Nashville, TN. I had a friend named Katie, who was from England, and her father was a songwriter. It was the mid-1970s, and one of Katie’s father’s songs had just been picked up for a Coca-Cola ad. The song was an overnight sensation that has stood the test of time:

I’d like to teach the world to sing
in perfect harmony.
A song of peace that echoes on
and never goes away.

It’s a beautiful sentiment, isn’t it? I lost track of Katie when we moved to Washington, DC in 1979, but I’ve never forgotten her, or that song. It still gets stuck in my head, and makes me want to teach the world to practice yoga and eat real food. I’ve made it my mission this summer, to do exactly that!

If you’re tired of dieting, trendy workouts, and scheduling your days around exercise classes, join me for 100 Days of Crazy Healthy. It’s a free health challenge that will simplify your life, and empower you to get healthy for good. We will take 14 weeks to develop daily yoga and real food habits that are sustainable.

Sun Salutation B, as pictured in this video, is where crazy healthy begins. Practicing this sequence daily, memorizing it, and owning it, is essential for creating a personal yoga practice. It’s so simple, you might not think it will be effective, but knowing this sequence by heart will empower you to practice yoga anywhere and everywhere you go!

We will add additional poses to this foundational sequence throughout the summer, to create a full 30 minute practice, but only after you are really familiar and comfortable with Sun Salutation B.

Join me and my family on 5/26 as we begin the challenge. And don’t forget to post photos of your journey on my Facebook page. We are all leaders in this crazy healthy life, and our commitment to the challenge will help others be successful, too!

Namaste,

Amber

 

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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Why Does It Take 100 Days To Get Crazy Healthy?

Summer 1998–After breaking my shoulders in a car crash, I could not lift my arms above my waist. I had to ask for help dozens of times each day, to reach things I needed. What I remember most, though, is not being able to wash my own hair. Hubby washed it for me, all summer long. It was frustrating, to not be able to do something so simple, that I had hardly thought about, until I lost mobility in my upper body.

It took years of consistent yoga practice to reclaim my flexibility in my shoulders. In the beginning, I thought the goal was to get back to where I was before the crash, but I was wrong. Something even better was waiting for me, when I embraced yoga as a lifestyle.

Little by little, I reclaimed my mobility. It made me happy, and made me thirsty for more. I wondered what would happen, if I kept doing the work, and kept trusting the struggle. Could I actually be more flexible than I was before the crash? Stronger? Happier?

The more I surrendered to the poses, the greater the rewards became. Learning the poses and reclaiming my flexibility was not the end game…something even better was beyond the goal.

This is why our summer challenge is 100 days long. The best things in life are cumulative, and earned little by little. Friendships, careers, faith, health, proficiency in the arts and sports, happiness–all of these have many levels that must be acquired over time. Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras, says it best:

“It is only when the correct practice is followed for a long time, without interruptions and with a quality of positive attitude and eagerness, that it can succeed.”

This photo, taken last month in Vero Beach, FL is a reminder of what happens when we practice crazy healthy for a long time, with awareness and commitment. There are no shortcuts to crazy healthy, only daily reconciliations with who we are, and what we want out of life.

Broken bones were my greatest barrier to reclaiming my health after the crash. What’s your greatest barrier today? No matter what it might be, there is a way to move past it. If I can do it, anyone can.

Join me for 100 Days of Crazy Healthy, and trust the process. You can start any time you’d like, but don’t put it off. Reject the voices that tell you it’s not important, it won’t work, it’s too difficult to change, or you don’t have time. These thoughts are founded in false beliefs, and bred by fear.

Seek the truth and believe that you can. Something bigger than your dreams is waiting on the other side.

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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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100 Days of Crazy Healthy

This summer, my family and I will take the 100 Days of Crazy Healthy Challenge! Are you in? We will take 14 weeks and 2 days to get our crazy healthy on, adding a few new habits to our lives each week. If you join us before the middle of June, by the end of the summer, you will have created your own personal daily yoga practice, and learned how to incorporate a nutrient-dense, 90/10 diet into your busy schedule.

Here’s how it will work:

Use the search tool or category cloud on my blog to find the posts for 100 Days of Crazy Healthy. I’ve posted the first four weeks’ assignments early, so you can get an idea of how it will work. I will post the rest of the assignments once a week, beginning June 9th.

The work will not seem like much for the first month, and that is on purpose. Some of it may seem too simple to make a difference, and some of it will feel boring. You will feel resistance, and that is normal. Your brain will say,

I don’t have time.

I don’t like this!

This is hard!

It’s not that important.

This isn’t going to work.

Reject those voices and do it anyway. I promise, 100 Days of Crazy Healthy will change your life, if you just do it.

Who should participate:

Everyone! It doesn’t matter if you are really out of shape, or if you have practiced yoga for 20 years, you will benefit from this challenge. It will force you out of your comfort zone, and breed curiosity about what is possible. I am going to do it with you, and I already know it will make me uncomfortable. The way I will teach you to exercise and eat is derived from my experiences getting healthy, but it’s not how I live today. It’s more basic and more repetitive. This will be hard for me, because my yoga practice and eating habits are more intuitive, than structured, these days. But I will do it, every day, because I know that getting back to basics will raise my awareness, and reveal new opportunities to be healthier.

How much time will it take?

Not much. The self-care and nutrition habits are incremental, taking only 1-5 minutes per day. The yoga practice will start out at 5 minutes, and build to 30-45 minutes (it will be up to you to decide how long you stay on your mat). Preparing meals may take a little longer at first, but you will learn to create efficiencies over time.

What do I need to participate?

All you need is a yoga mat, a music player (speaker, etc.), a blender, some coconut oil, an open mind, and faith that this challenge will change your life.

What are the rules?

1. Do whatever it takes.You must complete your weekly homework assignment every day, before you go to bed. It’s best to do your yoga first thing each day, but it’s ok to do it at night as well. Even if you forget, and only remember after you’ve turned off the light at bedtime, get back up and do your practice. If you miss a day, double up the next day. If you miss three days, triple up when you remember.

2. Trust the struggle. Listen to the stories in your head, and reject the ones that prevent you from completing the challenge. There is no legitimate reason you can not complete the homework (unless you are seriously ill or injured), don’t let your mind make you think that there is.

3. Believe that this is what your body is supposed to do. To get healthy and stay healthy, we must move, breath, stretch, resist, nourish and reconcile–every single day.

4. Stop thinking, worrying and analyzing. Just do it. You have nothing to lose!

5. Be a leader. Tell your friends and family what you are doing, and let them see your efforts whenever possible. Don’t hide your crazy healthy!

How will it work?

Here’s the schedule for adding new habits each week.

As always, feel free to email with your questions, or if you just need encouragement. Nothing makes me happier than sharing this crazy healthy life with you! And feel free to post your photos on my Facebook page.

You may start any time you like, but it’s best to start in May, if you hope to finish by Labor Day. The first week’s habits are offered here.

#TBT: What Can We Learn From Our Past?

When I started this blog, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to say. I just knew I needed to start sharing this incredible journey I have been on for the past twenty years. I learned so many lessons about overcoming common health issues all by myself, and it was hard. I hoped that by sharing here, I might spare others some of the pain and frustration I endured.

Since I started writing, God has been encouraging me, inspiring me, and leading me to keep digging deeper into the reasons behind my struggles, and what I learned from them. It’s been a process of refinement for sure, but it’s led me to exactly what I hoped to find: clarity about why we struggle now more than ever, to get healthy and stay healthy, and how I can help change the culture.

It’s interesting to me, to remember that more than one doctor along the way has suggested that my aches and pains were all in my head. It was laughable, to sit face to face with someone who claimed to be a healer, feeling like I’d been run over by a truck, and be told that my pain was not legitimate.

My pain was very, very real. In a way, though, those doctors were partially right. Part of my problem was in my head. It was what I believed about healing, that stood between me and pain-free living. I believed that we healed ourselves by visiting doctors and taking medicine. A very linear and closed-minded perspective that is common in our culture, even today. It was only when I started looking at my challenges from new angles, that I found what I had hoped for all along. Yoga opened my mind, body and spirit to a multi-dimensional approach to healing and prevention that transformed my life.

Little by little, I started to see that most of my ailments were self-induced. I was allergic to much of the food I was eating, and I was not exercising. Living reactively, rather than proactively, and slowing digging a ditch that I would only escape through years of introspection, exercise, and healing foods.

I talked about the five undeniable truths that I discovered along the way, and how my family history affected my beliefs, on my Facebook page today. These messages are important themes in my book, and the stories of the women in my family help put it all in perspective.

And BTW, in case you are wondering where I’ve been…ever since I started writing my book, I have found it easier to chat on Facebook than write blog posts. Faster, less formal. Please join us there at My Crazy Healthy Life, if you haven’t already. I’ll be back here writing from time to time, but you will find me popping in on Facebook (and on Instagram at mycrazyhealthylife) much more frequently–as always, I’d love to hear from you!

Namaste,

Amber

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#tbt 1972:  Four generations of my family, each with a unique story about how societal “norms” affected their health. The crazy baby on the right is me. : )

My great grandmother Cora (middle) worked on a farm every day of her life, and was fit as a fiddle. My mom always said she was a saint (look closely, you will see the kindness in her eyes). They were poor, and struggled to make ends meet, but real food and constant movement enabled Cora to live a happy, faithful life into her mid-90s.

In contrast, my Grandma Lou sat behind a desk most of her adult life, and watched TV when she was home. I remember her as being very cranky and having a lot of health issues. She died much younger, in her 70s. Lou had a hard life as a single mom, in an era where it was uncommon to be a divorced mother. She graduated college and began work in the 1940s, just as convenience foods began to emerge in the marketplace. Her sedentary lifestyle and lack of proper nutrition led to diabetes, and later heart complications that ultimately took her life.

My sweet mama, Joy (right), was up and down her entire life. She tried to be happy, but she felt bad a lot. She also suffered more than her fair share of traumas. Like her mom, she relied on convenience foods, and rarely exercised. She was known for her red hair and determination (stories you wouldn’t believe, even if I told you). The one challenge she never seemed to master, though, was her health. Her weight fluctuated, and she had frequent headaches, insomnia, and depression. She battled cancer twice, before losing her life to ovarian cancer at the age of 56. I was 26 at the time.

And then there is me, pictured in Mom’s lap. I battled my weight, chronic pain, insomnia, and depression for two decades. Things got markedly better when I found yoga and became a vegetarian, but I still struggled. Six years ago, after having my third daughter in three years, I was diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid disease, and have struggled with it ever since. I am certain that the junk food I grew up on, and my lack of exercise as a kid (I watched a lot of TV) played a major role in all of my health challenges.Thankfully, committing to real food and yoga has taught me how to control my health naturally. I am profoundly grateful for what I have learned on my journey, and that it keeps getting better, day after day, year after year.

As I look at this photo, I can’t help but feel sad for what society did not know then, and hopeful for what we do know now. My parents and grandparents were duped by marketing, and took for granted what processed food and a sedentary lifestyle would do to their health. Today, we are blessed by the emerging awareness of how our food is produced, and how it effects our bodies.

If what we want most is to be happy, we must accept these undeniable truths:

1) We already know what to do, to get healthy–eat real food, and exercise every day.
2) The best things in life are always hard earned–trust the struggle.
3) Worrying gets in the way of our goals–we need to stop worrying about our weight, what we look like, and what others think about us.
4) We are leaders and we need to act the part–every choice we make informs the choices of the people around us.
5) Excuses get in the way of what we want most–do whatever it takes to be the best we can be, every single day.

This is what it means to be crazy healthy. It’s not easy to exercise daily and change how we eat–especially if you have autoimmune disease and chronic pain as I do–but it’s always worth it. My hope is that my kids will grow up knowing this, and pass it on to their children as one of the most important lessons in life. ॐ

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