Category Archives: Weight Loss

Sugar-free Hibiscus (Jamaica) Raspberry Jello

Occasionally, I get a hankering for gummy bears.

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This recipe immediately took me back to sucking on Haribo Gummy bears as a child – an unexpected extra shot of joy in what was already an instantly successful attempt in fitting a sweet treat into a reduced-grain, sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, deeply healing, body rebuilding diet.

Inspired by Diane SanFilippo’s fantastic work “Practical Paleo“, this recipe served as a “what I can create with what I’ve got” variation of her herbal tea gelatin cubes. Like all of my original recipes, I start with 1-3 other recipes as a template, merge them all together with significant substitutions, whimsy hits of inspiration and a dash of bravado, then take to the kitchen like an over-caffeinated mad scientist.

Hibiscus flower, known as jamaica in Mexico (not to be confused with jicama) is most commonly seen served as a brilliantly fuchsia beverage by street vendors and small cafes.  Hibiscus tea is loaded with antioxidants (as is evident from it’s brilliant hue) and has been shown in some research to effectively lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

The tart-tasting flower is also rich in vitamin C, and when paired with gelatin, as in this recipe, serves as delicious medicine for tendon, ligament, and skin repair.

Behold – Hibiscus Raspberry Jello! All of the color and sweetness of our childhood snack with none of the Red #5 or sugar!

  • 2 Tablespoons organic gelatin (I’m a fan of Great Lakes products)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup hibiscus flowers (found at almost any Mexican market – look for “flor de jamaica” – or online)
  • 1/2 cup xylitol (erythritol can also be used)*
  • 1.5 droppers of liquid stevia
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Bring the water and hibiscus flowers to a boil. Strain the flowers out and set aside. While still hot, add the gelatin and stir until dissolved. Add sweeteners. Pour the liquid into a 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish and let cool. Add raspberries, then refrigerate overnight or until firm (about 2 – 3 hours).

 

*Both xylitol and erythritol are sugar alcohols. Xylitol is a non-fermentable sugar alcohol that has about 30% fewer calories than sugar and appears to have antibacterial and anti-microbial effects. Erythritol is best tolerated if sugar alcohols make you gassy. I chose to xylitol because I felt stevia alone may be too strong; I will be experimenting in the future with exclusively stevia as a sweetener.  If natural sugar sources are acceptable to you, 2 tbsp. of honey may be used in lieu of the xylitol.

 

Don’t Let Stress Make You Fat!


When you’re under stress, it is harder to eat healthier. You may find yourself eating high calorie foods at a time when you’re stressed and may not even be hungry. Much of this stems from the hormonal response internally – stress hormones ramp up the urge for cravings as a means of self-medication. Salty, crunchy or chewy snacks relieve stress by working the jaw and bringing a sense of focus; creamy and sweet snacks relax and soothe the senses through the release of serotonin and other calming neurotransmitters. The stress of overwhelm and multiple choices taxes the brain and actually consumes a great deal of glucose, which can lead to cravings as well.

How can you fix the weight gain during stress? It is ESSENTIAL to get a handle on the stress. When you decrease the stress, you will feel back to your old self and find it easier to eat healthier and have better exercise habits. Things which set you off or feel too hard now will suddenly, effortlessly, become far more manageable.

When you feel stress increasing, take some time to lessen the stress. Go for a walk, go to bed early, unwind with a good book or a hot bath. TV and computer does NOT soothe the body, and can exacerbate insomnia and other physical stressors. Yoga is a powerful way to relieve stress in the body as well. Take a yoga class after work to let go of your day, or tackle stress with yoga in your own home!

Bridge pose. This is designed to calm the brain, rejuvenate tired legs and relieve spinal tension.

How: Lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart and flat on the ground. Press down with your feet; lift your glutes, hips, pelvis and back off the ground. Keeping your arms flat, with your shoulders on the floor, lock your fingers under your glutes. Inhale and exhale.

Standing forward bend. This stretches tight hamstrings and relieves tension in the hips and lower back.
How: Stand straight, feet hip-distance apart. Exhale and bend, bringing the crown of your head toward the ground. You’re far enough when your hamstrings are stretched, but not tight. Put your right hand on your left elbow; release and switch.

Yoga is already a great way to de-stress but not the only thing you can do. Here are three more ways that can you take your body back and get rid of the stress.

• Physical activity at your local gym. Check if they have drop in classes for kick boxing, boot camp or another high- intensity class, especially if you feel wired and ramped up.

• Sleep: are you getting your 8 hours? If not, sleep is the most important piece to help with your stress.

• Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast.

It’s your body and your life – don’t let stress take it over! What is one way you will nourish your body to reduce your stress today?

On the Road Again….

I’m currently exploring beautiful North Carolina on my birthday week which will end in a conference with some of my mentors and peers in alternative health, wellness, and fitness. Until then however, it is me, a rental car, and winding back country roads. I was lucky enough to land in Asheville, which sports a Whole Foods. Armed with provisions, I know I have at least two days of healthy eating. On more than one occasion, though – usually at home, in traffic and ill-prepared – I find myself hungry and without a snack on hand. What to do in a pinch? Below are my top options for healthy choices on the fly:

1. Hit up the neighborhood grocery store: This is the number one place to get a wide variety of healthy options, and a must stop on any road trip. If possible, choose a natural foods store like Whole Foods or a local co-operative – these grocers are more mindful of quality ingredients and have a wider supply of fresh options. But even in rural areas, grocery stores can be a lifesaver. Most have a section with fresh deli (rotisserie chicken! Grilled fish!) and fresh produce and fruits. Greek Yogurt or hard-boiled eggs are also good sources of protein – look for pre-cooked hard-boiled eggs near the deli and/or salad bar. Sushi, esp sashimi and nigiri and fresh salad rolls offer a fresh and flavorful alternative to the salad bar and are commonly found in urban grocers. Be wary of the mayo and tempura rolls, and balance out a rice-filled roll with sashimi to boost protein and satiety.
2. Chipotle: the burrito bowl is a great way to get fresh Mexican and keep it veggie-rich! Omit the rice, ask for extra veggies, and slather it in salsa and avocado you won’t miss the tortilla! If they do not have a burrito bowl, ask for a tostada minus the tortilla and with the same additions. Grilled chicken or fish will keep the fat content lower than beef. Omit the cheese and sour cream as well.
3. Subway: Available on nearly every lone stretch of highway across these United States, Subway offers a vegetable-rich option just about anywhere. A spinach salad with chicken, all the veggies, vinegar and lemon as dressing offers the most nutrient rich and healthiest option. Alternatively, choose one of the foot-longs with whole wheat bread and nix the mayo and creamy dressings. Choose vinegar and mustard instead. If you like it spicy, add peppocinis, jalepenos, brown AND regular mustard with the vinegar and enjoy a mild metabolic boost from this meal (you’ll be sweating!)
4. In & Out (or another burger joint): Get a hamburger loaded with mustard, ketchup, onion and extra veggies. Nix the bun totally or only eat half if you must. Avoid any special sauces, and add an extra patty to boost protein and satisfaction.

If you must — FAST FOOD RESTAURANT OPTIONS:

I’m generally not a fan of fast food restaurants. The quality of all ingredients is on the low end. However, skipping meals is a set-up for rebound eating later on in the evening. In some circumstances, all you have are golden arches. Here are some possibilities in such cases:
McDonalds Southwest Salad With Grilled Chicken (with cilantro lime glaze and a Southwest vegetable/bean blend)
Arby’s Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich (without mayo, eat only half of the bun)
In-n-out Hamburger (order with EXTRA patty, onion, mustard, and catsup instead of spread, eat only half the bun)
Grilled Chicken Salads – nix the cheese and use as little dressing as possible – often loads of sugar and fat. Purists can go for straight up vinegar and lemon juice; mustard can add a nice zing as well.

Will I Still Burn Fat If I Eat At Night?

Newsletter Reader L. Blair of San Diego, California wrote in to me after watching my debut video on workout recovery. She asked a very important question:

Hi Aimee,
Thanks for your newsletter. I watched your video as I feel that I am not doing something right. My fitness trainer always tells me similar advice to what you said, but here’s my problem, by the time I finish my workout at 6:30 PM, drive home (maybe stopping at the store), shower, cook and then eat dinner, it/s about an hour and a half after my workout. I am exhausted by the time I finish dinner, plus I wonder if I am burning the fat very well with that amount of delay, not to mention that it’s often close to 8 PM already by the time I eat.

L. Blair

Dear L.,

It is going to be important to keep snacks in the car for after your workout at all times. Turkey jerky and a small amount of dried fruit, protein powder and coconut water (keep powder in a ziplock, add coconut water and protein to a jar or travel mug and shake vigorously) or even half a sandwich with meat and veggies. When you get home, have a slightly smaller meal. You can also have a snack before you work out, and that should prevent you from being so depleted by time you get home. From a fat loss standpoint, waiting can be beneficial, but not if it causes muscle loss or increases your cravings at night. If fat loss is a major goal, get protein in but keep carbs limited to 8-10 bites. Round out the meal with vegetables and you are good to go!

 

One critical point in this is recognizing that nutrition for fat loss is VERY different than nutrition for exercise or sports performance. The body is VERY resistant to building (stamina, muscle mass, strength) at the same time it is shedding fat. As a rule I strongly advocate my athletes wait until the off season to shed any extra weight. Trying to lose weight while building up for a race or event can induce injury, illness, and compromise performance. While it *is* possible, it is a tricky, tricky fine line and it is important not to be attached to losing X pounds AND shaving off so many minutes from your race time with only 2 months to spare.

In L’s case, fat loss is her main focus, so waiting a while between workout and dining can benefit her from a fat loss standpoint. However, based on her inquiry, it appears that she is waiting long enough that it is inhibiting her energy levels. In the presence of insulin, fat burning is inhibited. But by having a small snack before or immediately after, and a lighter dinner focused on protein and fibrous veggies, she can prevent an energy crash but allow her body to dip into fat stores by emphasizing protein and veggies over carbohydrate.

VIBRANCE Nutrition’s Spotlight on: Kendra Madden

One of the strongest motivators and greatest rewards of the work I do is being able to be witness to someone completely transform his or her life. Kendra Madden has, in many ways, been one of my greatest inspirations since she first came to me in 2011. She had reached a place where she was committed to living her life differently and wanted some extra support in making the changes she desired stick and last.

Every step of the way she has pushed for excellence, demanded vitality and vibrancy for herself, and has not let the challenges and obstacles that have shown up for her the last 18 months stop her. To date, she has lost approximately 70 pounds! She has gone from hating exercise to making fitness a priority, completing a 5k and working her way to a 10k+ this fall and sharing her enthusiasm for exercise with her family!

There is no doubt that Kendra’s experience has had a strong ripple effect among her friends, family, and students in told and untold ways – and this is the true power of transformation; how the changes we make for ourselves inspire and empower others around us.

 

 

 

Below is, in her own words, her story:

1. What was your breaking point? Tell us about the moment you decided you were going to take action.
a. I was stuck in a rut. I think I had decided that changing myself was going to be too hard and that I’d just accept the I-Let-Myself-Go version of me I’d become. My dad convinced me otherwise.

2. How do you imagine your life would be today if you had not begun working with VIBRANCE?

a. I don’t know that I would have stuck with any other program or trainer. The fact that you designed VIBRANCE to fit my life and not the other way around, which is how most other programs works, absolutely suited my goals, my vision, and my ability to persist. I might just be see-sawing back and forth between twenty pounds, without having made it to minus SIXTY! (this interview was conducted in late April 2012; Kendra has since continued to lose weight *without* me physical present to train with her)

3. What is an unexpected result of your commitment to yourself and the work you’ve done?
a. A different outlook on food. It has always been such a looming entity in my life- whether as something I had to resist and deny myself or something I gave myself over to. Now food has become what I always wanted it to be: one element of life that I happen to enjoy, of many.

4. What has been the greatest challenge you’ve overcome in your time with me?
a. Learning to navigate my head and body. Figuring out what are old habits vs. real responses. I still struggle with this: how do I confidently tell the difference between a viable reaction to something and just an obstacle I need to overcome? (For example, if my body aches, do I push it or pamper it? If I crave a food, do I eat it or let the craving pass?)

5. What do you consider your biggest accomplishments in the last year?
a. Losing sixty pounds while loving life! A close second is learning to say no and doing it well.

6. Where do you see yourself a year from today?
a. I am maintaining (not trying to lose) weight and health: eating clean foods that I prepare myself, keeping fit, relatively stress-free and happy, in a place where I am living proactively and not reactively.

7. What are some tangible results of your work with me?
a. Weight loss, smaller clothes that are CUTE and look good on me, compliments from people, consistently increasing strength I can feel and see, a healthy lifestyle.

8. What guidance would you offer to someone who is where you were when you began this lifestyle change?
a. I’ve actually had this conversation with a friend of mine. She was saying she wish she could afford a trainer both in terms of money and time and I told her that the trainer is a huge piece, but that SHE has to come to terms with wanting the change before anyone else can help her. She has to learn why she keeps finding herself in this place of unhealthiness so that she can change her behaviors for good.

9. What are you most looking forward to in the next six months?
a. A summer where I feel confident wearing less clothing in warm weather (and looking much better in a swimsuit!) Finally meeting a goal where I am not trying to change my weight, but living to sustain it. Being strong enough and fit enough to take on many physical challenges and keeping up with other people too (maybe even surpassing them?). Continuing to love life and feel great!

 

CONGRATULATIONS, Kendra! It has been such a gift to be able to work with you! I’m excited for this summer and fall! We are gonna rock it!

 

How to Kill those Night Time Cravings

“I do fine all day,” say many of my clients when we first speak. “It’s after dinner that I run into trouble.”

Sound familiar?

Evening cravings are the biggest saboteur I see among my clients. At the end of the day, we are tired, run down, and want a treat.

The child that still lives within each of us whines and begs and it’s often just easier to cave in and have a second glass of wine, too much ice cream, or several handfuls of tortilla chips.

“I have no willpower,” my clients will say to me.I disagree.

 

Cravings surface not because we lack willpower, but because we haven’t planned well in advance or because there are very real needs that are not being met. To truly address and conquer cravings, one must take a mind-body-spirit approach to them: educate yourself on the causes of your cravings, address any physical issues (low blood sugar, lack of sleep, food intolerances), and look at the emotional root of your trigger foods.

The biggest source of food cravings I see are improper food choices earlier in the day and a build-up of stress that leads to succumbing to temptations in the evening. I’m not one to white-knuckle my way through a massive craving, and I don’t believe you should either. That’s no way to live life!

Here are some very real steps you can implement to nip your cravings in the bud:

  • Look at your diet: are you eating regularly or are you going more than 3 hours between meals or snacks? Having low blood sugar earlier in the day can set us up to compensate by rummaging in the pantry after dinner. Also consider the possibility the foods you are choosing – whether or not they are healthy – may not be the right foods for you.
  • Look for patterns of stressors and rewards. Often we deprive and deny ourselves during the day – both with food choices AND with saying ‘Yes’ to too many people, or by taking on too much. If you give and give and give all day you are going to want to receive at the end of it to restore yourself. Often the cycle is to emotionally shut down in front of the TV or internet and reward oneself with wine or sweets. Where can you adjust your choices during the day so you are not so depleted at the end of it? What can you do (or not do) to increase your joy?
  • If there really WAS a little boy or girl living inside of you, what would s/he need? Is there an alternative to what you are choosing that is healthier and just as satisfying, or even more so? Watch your inner dialogue as well. Always aim to have the same dialogue with yourself that you would want to hear from an ideal parent or close friend.

Which parenting style most closesly resembles YOUR inner dialogue?

Managing and eliminating cravings begins with understanding and is facilitated with an effective plan of attack.  Look again at the above list – do you see one way to conquer your cravings right away? What step(s) will you implement today?

Are you a Tasmanian Devil, an Ostrich, a Squirrel, a Donkey or an Elephant?

We don’t get through life without having a few good ‘A-ha’ or ‘Come to Jesus’ moments. Sometimes it’s little things, like the first time the bagger at the grocery store calls you “Ma’am” or you realize you aren’t being carded at Happy Hour anymore. Sometimes they are whoppers – like the realization that your marriage is not going to work, that the person you’ve become was the very person you feared of becoming, or that your job is actually the very thing that is making you ill.

There are many responses to these moments of what Laurel Mellin refers to as “essential pains”. An essential pain is that moment when you face the fact, see what is, and have a negative response to it. That pain piece is usually because we have attachments to things which are at odds with what is directly in front of us.

“I thought we would be together forever.”

“I told myself I’d never get above 180, and look at where I am!”

“I let him hit me because I believe I’m not worth better than this.”

“Oh look, here I am again eating leftovers at 2am! WHY DO I KEEP DOING THIS?!?!”

 

A lot of times, our impulse is to get angry, and like the Tasmanian Devil from the Warner Brothers cartoons, we become outwardly destructive with others in our frustration or take that anger inward and beat ourselves mightily for our mistake. If the pain feels like it is more than we can deal with we may turn around like a squirrel and skitter off in the opposite direction or refuse to do anything but stand there, immobilized like a donkey. Sometimes we turn to denial and try and forget by sticking our head in the sand like an ostrich and pretending nothing was discovered.

they-told-me-i-could-be-anything_o_212138

The discomfort we call pain can be a powerful motivator, if we know what to do with it. It’s what brings most people to my door – a realization and a tipping point where they are ready to make different choices for themselves, but aren’t sure quite how.

There can be a long valley between the realization and the action, but I have found personally that the following tips, practiced over time,  turn that valley into a small crack in the soil that you can very easily step across.

  • Ask, “what is the unreasonable expectation here?” This comes straight from “The Pathway” by Laurel Mellin, a fantastic book with very clear steps to unite the logical mind with the more tumultuous emotional mind. It was very helpful for me in allowing myself to experience anger and in working with my emotional eating. Knowing that pain is caused by a refusal to accept what is, we can then surmise that we have an obstacle to what is – an expectation that is not reasonable, given the current circumstances. Keep in mind, it needn’t be logical or rational, it is what it is. Examples: “I have an unreasonable expectation that I can neglect to eat all day and have willpower at night.” “I have an unreasonable expectation that I should stay in this relationship because he needs someone to love him and I’m the only one.” “I believe that I deserve these donuts because I had a bad day, and I keep telling myself that even though they make me feel worse…oh wow, I believe I deserve to feel bad.” “I believe if I say ‘No’ that makes me a bad person.”

Knowing our unreasonable expectations gives us awareness to where we are at odds so that we can make changes. Sometimes these awarenesses are as painful, or moreso, than the actual discomfort. It is very hard for rabbits and ostriches to stay engaged if this happens. I tend to be donkey-like (this stems from perfectionist tendencies – if I make a move, I have to make sure it is the right one! Otherwise – DON’T DO A THING.) and have spent months in paralysis while letting go of what my Ego told me I needed to be in order to be loved and accepted in the world. This is where the second tool comes in:

 

  • Cultivate Compassion.

 

This is what turns the ostrich into the elephant (funny analogy, no?). It is going a layer deeper and forgiving ourselves for our mistakes and bad choices. It is the top layer of our Ego that has adopted the unreasonable expectation, but the layer underneath that which tells a story of ‘knowing better’ or ‘deserving it’ or whatever excuse we use to keep us stuck is Ego as well. When I say Ego, I refer to the adopted and created stories we tell ourselves about who we are, what we should/shouldn’t do, etc. It contains both healthy and unhealthy beliefs about ourselves, who we are, and how the world works, though in this instance I refer to the latter aspects of Ego.

Here are some simple tools to bring yourself compassion:

  • Remember – you ALWAYS do the best you can in any given situation, with what you know and what you have at your disposal.
  • What would someone who loves and cares for you unconditionally say to you about this situation?
  • What would you tell a close friend or small child about this situation?

 

When we are living in a state of compassion and awareness of our past choices and their contribution to the present, it is usually easy to make a change. The drama and the story is gone and it becomes about making a course correction in your life to get to where you want to be. When we let go of shame and anger and “shoulding” all over ourselves the answers often appear very easily and readily, making action clear and decisive.  We move like the elephant, unobstructed by a crack in the soil or a dense thicket because we embody our grandness and our ability to move through what is in the way. We pull our head out of the snow and continue the journey towards Happiness, which is our true home.

 

Easy Peasy Portion Control

No one has to tell you that our portions have gotten beyond ludicrous to downright dangerous over the last 20-30 years. For a fun review on the madness, click here.

Given that I’m only slightly larger than your average 5th grader, I have to be VERY mindful of portions when eating in or out – remember, as portions have grown, so has what we consider to be a ‘normal’ plate size – just look at grandma’s china set for historical reference.

Here are some of my favorite ways to keep portions in check:

1) Choose a smaller plate. When eating out, keep your appetizer plate and serve your meal onto it, or better yet, order a healthy appetizer as your meal. I do not keep dinner plates in my home at all, simply because they encourage overportioning, or make it look as though I am depriving myself with all that white space!

If you are dining out and you want an entree, ask for a take-out box to be brought with the meal so that you can place what you don’t need that moment in the container and out of sight.

2) Ramekins and juice glasses keep portions in check – a juice glass is still 8 oz, and a ramekin for desserts like ice cream or treats like tortilla chips keeps portions easier to manage than using a standard bowl.

3) Chopsticks are our friend – they make it impossible to shove fist-sized globs of rice in my mouth when I am noshing on yummy Thai cuisine after a workout, and they slow my meal wayyyy down. Given that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach’s signal to the brain to activate the sensation of fullness every thing we can do to slow down our eating is a step in the right direction. Want to slow down even more? Try a mindful meal.

Quick Fat Loss Tips!

While living a fat loss lifestyle does take some planning and preparation, it needn’t consume your life! Here are some of my top tips for easily integrating more fat loss habits into your life:

 

1) Keep your workouts quick and effective: You’ll get far greater results if you ante up on the intensity and cut your time in half. Studies consistently show, whether it is high intensity intervals, circuits, or fartleks, you’ll burn more calories during the workout, have a greater afterburn (which means burning more calories after the workout) and get a more lean, toned look if you push yourself to the place where you have to back down and rest, rest, and then push yourself to that place again. How do you know you are at ‘that place’? Your muscles are burning, you are breathless, sweating and it’s HARD. I also tell my clients and cycle participants this is the place where they hate me, or they question their own sanity.

 

2) Get more protein: Take two groups. Put them on the same amount of calories per day and have one group have a higher protein diet (25-40%) and the other a lower protein diet (15%). The higher protein group will lose significantly more body fat, according to a study by Skidmore College. You will also burn more calories throughout your day, says the  European Journal of Clinical Nutrition and not only burn more fat, but reduce your risk for heart disease, according to Nutrition Metabolism. Why? Greater control of insulin levels, for one. Also, protein takes much more effort for the body to break down into usable amino acids, burning more calories in order to do so AND leaving you satisfied longer.

 

3) Mix your cardio with your weights: If you do cardio spurts in the middle of your weight sets, you’ll burn more fat than if you separate the two. Keep your heart rate up and you’ll get better results – guaranteed!

 

4) Fixate on fiber! Fiber is a beautiful thing. It keeps you satisfied, clears out your arteries,  and contributes to fat loss with it’s amazing ability to create bulk in the digestive tract without calories and keep insulin levels stable. Look for a fiber source in every meal! Your best bet: veggies. A close second is fruit, followed by whole grains. Consider adding a fiber supplement to your morning smoothie to get even greater results.

 

5) Make every day casual day – A University of Wisconsin study shows that wearing jeans led study participants to walk nearly 500 steps more than those dressed in normal work attire. That’s an 8% difference, which over time can yield significant results. It makes sense, right? Pencil skirts and stilettos have never made for comfy marathon gear! If you work in an environment where casual day is only on Friday (or never) switch to flat shoes and less constrictive skirts. Opt for layers so you can go for a walk at lunch without getting too sweaty.

6) Lift heavy, ladies! You don’t have enough testosterone to look like a bodybuilder, I promise. What you will do is get that toned look you are after, burn off a butt-load of fat, AND give yourself stronger bones with which to age gracefully. I encourage you to pick a challenging weight that you can lift – with good form – no more than 8-10 times and work with that for a few weeks. Then try for a little more. The key is to shock your system so it adapts. The adaptation process is what we call results.

7. Green tea – drink it! Drinking 3+ cups of green tea boosts metabolism by about 4% – and it isn’t from the caffeine. 4% is not a lot – it certainly isn’t license to eat another brownie – but over the course of a year it can add to additional fat loss you otherwise would not have seen. Metabolic boost aside, green tea has a host of happy chemicals in it that prevent cancer, heart disease, and aging, so drink up!

8. Groove to tunes (esp fast ones!) When you have your tunes with you, you are more likely to push a little longer, go a little harder, and get a more effective workout. Some studies indicate it will boost your consistency and make those hard workouts feel a little easier, leading to greater fat and weight loss. One caveat, though! If you are exercising outside near traffic, omit the music altogether or keep it low enough that you can hear traffic and cyclists. Safety first!

9. Contract consciously: Contract your abs when you lift those weights (or that box!), squeeze those glutes when you push off with each step..by using those muscles with awareness you activate them more often, leading to better form, addition muscle recruitment, and greater results overall.

 

10. Get fidgety: Fidgeters burn more calories – keep it moving by toe tapping, taking regular water fountain breaks, stand up when on the phone (or better yet, pace around). When researchers hooked people up to calorie monitors they found that sedentary fidgeters still used an average of 350 more calories a day than other sedentary folk. Not surprisingly, they were leaner as well.

 

11. Believe you can  I underline this because I believe it is the most important one. Without believing in the possibility of your healthy, happy self, you don’t stand a chance. Monitor all the positive things you have done for fat loss; you’ll be more likely to do more of them. And get this – according to a study in Psychological Science, when hotel housekeepers were told that their work was good exercise they lost about 2 pounds and reduced their blood pressure by an average of 10% in only 4 weeks, while those who were not told this had no change.  Whether or not it’s the placebo effect is irrelevant. Those results are noteworthy.

 

12.Learn to love fish oil -  Fish oil is an amazing nutraceutical. It boosts mood, heart health, and fat loss. It’s believed to aid in fat loss in conjunction with a fat loss diet by telling fat cells to reduce or stop replicating and storing additional fat, as well as controlling some of the inflammatory markers that cause insulin resistance and further aggravate fat storage. If fish oil gives you tasty burps, try chasing down your morning dose with a spoonful of nut butter. My recommendation: 4-6 grams of omega-3s a day. If you are taking blood thinners, please make sure your doc is closely monitoring your blood status, as fish oil can have a blood thinning effect.

 

13. Visualize! See it happen in your mind, watch it happen before your eyes! Your subconscious mind does not recognize the difference between fantasy and reality, and seeks to experience externally what it is expecting internally. Visualize your waistline shrinking, your muscles becoming more defined, and your strength increasing. Do this often, and avoid the things and people which may indicate otherwise (this is one reason why I encourage clients to step off the scale – or opt to weigh in every 1-2 weeks if they can’t  kill that relationship completely. Body weight fluctuates wildly due to salt intake, hormones, and other factors and can jack up your mental state and completely derail you).

Think it’s too New Age woo-woo? Check this out: a study in the North American Journal of Psychology reports that those who regularly visualized going through a specific weight workout actually gained almost as much strength as those who actually did it. Even better – when you visualize the workout’s results and THEN do it, your results are even greater than if you just mindlessly go through the motions or don’t do it at all.

 

Why Detox?

Detoxes are incredibly popular – especially in the fall and spring. Equinox time, as our seasonal transitions, are an excellent time to detoxify the body. There is a natural shift in energy during these times – we all sense it! Fall comes and we begin to conserve our energy a bit, focus on the tasks at hand, travel less and stay in more. Springtime is the opposite – as the Earth wakes up from winter’s slumber, so do we! We stay out later, get busy with activities and naturally set goals for ourselves – usually around getting into that summer bikini or clearing out our closets. There is a natural biorhythm occurring within Nature, therefore within us. This is why such times are ideal and natural to cleanse.

Detoxification happens naturally within our bodies every day. Our system is in a constant state of detoxification and rejuvenation, utilizing the filtering capabilities of the liver and kidneys to remove unwanted compounds that exist naturally from simply being alive, as well as external toxins such as alcohol and pollution. In order to maintain vibrant health and wellness, we must be able to balance our body’s ability to detoxify with our capability of rejuvenation.

Cleansing offers us a great way to prevent seasonal illnesses that come with these changes because it allows out body a period of rest and rejuvenation, as well as a clearing out so that it is less burdened by seasonal changes. I would argue that  external detoxification and cleansing protocols are essential to well-being in this day and age for the following reasons:

1) Our food quality is at an all-time low. GMOs have permeated the marketplace, our topsoil is largely at the ocean’s floor, and even organic foods are not as nutritionally dense as they were 50-60 years ago. Our industrial commercialization of the food supply is for the purpose of convenience and commercial profit – NOT health. Consequently, we are consuming far less nutrition from the same apple eaten today as our parents or grandparents did. Our ability to rejuvenate is thus compromised, and our food contaminants are incredibly high.

2) We are stressed and overstimulated creatures! Finances are on nearly everyone’s mind, we work more hours than ever before and are paid less for those hours. CNN can give you the update on the state of our Union – I don’t need to share this with you. These stressors filter out into our workplace, our relationships, and burden our families. With less downtime to restore ourselves and a greater pressures in our culture, we are all in a chronic low level state of stress. Chronic stress inhibits all of the body’s functions, including metabolism, liver, kidney, lymph detoxification, and cellular rejuvenation.

3) We encounter greater pollutants which tax our bodies. Regardless of location, we are all inadvertently exposed and ingesting several man-made compounds that did not exist even 10 years ago. This comes from air, commercial and private buildings, food supply, cosmetics, and many other sources. All of this stress inhibits the body from ridding of toxins AND decreases the absorbability of nutrients we receive from the foods we eat, further taxing the burden on the body via low level malnourishment.

Many people think detoxifying involves strict, radical means such as juice fasting, harsh stimulants which purge the colon, or radical diets of nothing but soup or fruit. Not so! In working with active populations, I have designed detoxes which allow the body to detoxify while maintaining a work schedule or a physically active life. (note – this does NOT include high intensity or peak athletic training!) My detox time is always a great opportunity to whip up some of my favorite meals, like nori-wrapped salmon and detox-friendly pesto, and I never go hungry or suffer from low blood sugar. Detoxing can also extend out beyond food choices. A media detox is strongly recommended during times of overstimulation or stress; many, many people experience great epiphanies when they carve out the space to listen to the small quiet voice within.

In connecting with our body, a cleanse can offer us insight into the foods that may be problematic or troublesome for us. For those who are having digestive issues or difficulty taking off weight, I recommend very systemically re-introducing foods to determine exactly which dietary habits are responsible for ill health and poor weight. It is not uncommon to gain 3-6 pounds of water weight after consuming a food we are intolerant to. Consuming such foods regularly may not create overt or severe symptoms, but they can be the hidden reason why weight has plateaued or why it has been challenging to reduce in the first place.

Cleanses can be powerful to reset ourselves for the new season and get back on track. They allow us time and space to reconnect with our most precious possession – the vessel we live in and the spirit it contains – and bring us back to a place of honoring that.

Are you ready to detox? Ask yourself the following questions:
Did you have a touch too much fun over the summer? (You know what I’m talking about!!)

Do you feel sluggish and tired despite adequate sleep?

Do you have skin inflammations, achy joints, or seasonal allergies?

Are you susceptible to all those illnesses that comes around this time of year?

Do you have trouble taking off weight you’ve gained?

Do you have digestive issues (such as constipation, loose stools, stomach heaviness, bloating, or cramping, indigestion, etc) that you’ve deemed as ‘normal’ because they occur so often for you?

Do you feel groggy or get brain fog after lunch?

 

The more questions you answered ‘yes’ to, the more likely you’d benefit from a cleanse! Know that any ‘yes’ (aside from summer fun) is a sign of an abnormality, and it doesn’t have to be something you live with daily! Small steps can cause huge changes in our energy, digestion, and health. If you are interested in detoxification or suspect you may have a food intolerance, email me for more information and to set up a complimentary consultation. Mention this post and receive 10% off our new detox program, Purify! This 7 day detox focuses on cleansing all systems – lymph, liver, kidney, blood, and fatty tissue, and can be done without great interference in your daily routine.