Hindsight is 20/20

1dd5531b9381852705af503fe68db45dWhen looking back on our lives we almost always find that our hindsight is 20/20. This is also true regarding fitness and nutrition. I haven’t been feeling very motivated with my workouts and have been roaming the grocery store on a daily basis for whatever suits my mood. This is not a combination for success! I am the number one supporter of advanced planning and routine. So while pondering what I could do to get on track and see results the first thing I did was to reflect on what has worked best for me in the past.

Simple questions you can reflect on:

  • What fitness routine or workout have I really enjoyed?
  • When was I in the best shape of my life? What was I doing?
  • What “diet” makes me feel the best?
  • What “diet” have I had the best results with?

I use the word diet in quotes because I don’t think it is good to use the word diet. “Diet” has many negative connotations and you should strive for a healthy balance in your nutritional routine rather than a system of deprivation.

For me the answer consisted of two things. I was teaching a lot of classes and doing the BeachBody program Asylum when I was in the best shape. I really enjoyed Asylum because it was a thirty day program that motivated me to stick to a daily workout plan. The workouts were challenging but I could really see the results in my strength, power, and agility. The Insanity Asylum were my 45-minutes of sanity to focus only on myself and that was a huge blessing. I have decided to start that program again and now BeachBody has an on-demand system so you can watch the videos anytime and anywhere. I am headed to Montreal this week so I wanted to make sure traveling would not interrupt my new routine.

The second thing that really worked for me was Shakeology. It was an integral part of decreasing cravings and because it has all the nutrients I need my body performs at a higher level and just naturally loses body fat. I have never used anything like it. With all my travel I have had a hard time keeping a steady supply but now I have two bags on hand to get back on track. I know I also need to plan out my meals for the week but that will have to wait until I get back from Montreal!

This is a very “BeachBody” related post but what can I say? It works for me.

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Guilt Free Indulgence

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The weekend is here and you feel like you deserve a treat! I know how easy it is for one cheat meal to turn into an entire weekend of indulgence with the mindset that Monday will be a brand new start. That isn’t the best approach though. It is better to try to find healthier options so that you can indulge without the guilt and without any setbacks in your nutrition and exercise routine. This is a recipe I use often when craving a sweet treat.

1 frozen banana
1 can of coconut milk (just the cream)
1 heaping spoonful of peanut butter
1 handful of cacao nibs
Blend until smooth and freeze for about thirty minutes to an hour. Top with any superfoods you desire – I used roasted coconut flakes, cacao nibs, hemp seeds and chia seeds.

I tend to over buy bananas because I like to keep them on hand for quick snacks and I like to freeze them for smoothies and “ice cream”. As they start to turn brown because I haven’t eaten them in time I just break them into small chinks and throw them into tupperware in the freezer and I always have some on hand when I need them.

Regarding the coconut milk: If you place a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight or about eight hours, the coconut cream will separate from the coconut water. I turn the can upside down to open it and drain off the coconut water for a future smoothie and use the coconut cream for the dessert I am making.

Make sure your peanut butter is organic and just peanuts and salt. Many companies add sugar or high fructose corn syrup which is completely unnecessary. Other than that, enjoy an all natural version of Chunky Monkey ice cream!

Fuel for the Burn

barsDo you ever feel like you are dragging through your workout? What you eat is what fuels you and there is a very fine line between feeling energetic and having that food sloshing around in your belly. Here are my top five recommendations for pre-workout fuel.

  1. Multi-grain Toast with Peanut Butter: Go for just one slice of bread with a tablespoon of peanut, almond, or cashew butter. Make sure your nut butter does not have added sugar and is organic. I highly recommend Ezekiel bread as it includes no flour and is a mixture of sprouted grains and legumes with all nine essential amino acids. It can usually be found in the freezer section of your grocery store.
  2. Oatmeal with Nuts & Berries: I use a half cup of oats and top with a handful of berries and a tablespoon of walnuts with a sprinkle of chia seeds and hemp seeds. I like to add a pinch of cinnamon, turmeric, and black pepper for their health benefits. Then I just pour boiling water on top until it is the consistency I like.
  3. Dried Fruit & Nuts: This is a good choice if you don’t like the feeling of food in your belly when you workout or if you workout first thing in the morning and need something as quick as possible. You only need about a half-cup to get the fuel you need for your workout.
  4. Chia Pudding: The best ratio is generally 3 tablespoons of chia seeds to one cup of liquid. I tend to use coconut or almond milk but if you aren’t vegan you could use regular milk too. I mix it in the blender with a banana and let it sit for about five minutes before I pour it in a mason jar, give it another stir and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Top with some berries or nuts if you need to change up the consistency and flavor.
  5. Granola Bar: If you are on the go just grab a “KIND” bar or “Lara” bar. Both are whole food options without added chemicals. I prefer to make my own bars so they are fresh, raw and full of the flavors I love. My base recipe is a cup of dates, a cup of almonds, two tablespoons of seeds (chia, hemp, sunflower), two tablespoons of coconut oil and three quarter cups of dried apricots or cranberries. I throw it all in the food processor until it is thoroughly mixed and ready to be spread out and cut into bars.

The Morning Ritual

I truly believe that the secret to success lies in the daily routine. Creating a perfect morning routine will start you off on the right foot each day, properly fuel you, and make you feel accomplished for taking the positive steps and healthy habits you committed to. So, how do you create the perfect morning routine? Since I don’t know you personally or your goals I can’t give you a cookie cutter answer but I can give you a few different options and you can create your own.

Initial Wake Up
Unless it is to turn off your alarm, DO NOT touch your phone. You managed to disconnect from email and social media the entire time you were sleeping so an extra thirty minutes without it is okay too! Take a few slow deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Think about two to three things you feel extremely grateful for, think about a goal you are striving towards, think about someone who inspires you – fill your mind and heart with goodness before you even get out of bed.

Hydration
I highly recommend starting your day with a glass of water before anything else. Depending what is going on in your body, you may want to pick a couple of these additions to your routine.
ADD ONS
Warm water with lemon – This is a great way to wake up your digestive system, neutralize the harmful acid in your body that can cause disease, it helps with weight loss, and can also soothe an upset tummy. If you have a hard time eating in the morning this may stimulate your appetite. You could also boost this with some ginger and/or honey for even more benefits.
Apple Cider Vinegar Shot -A shot of this will act as an antibacterial, it lowers blood sugar and blood pressure, and helps with weight loss and skin issues just to name a few benefits.
Apple Ginger Shot – I make this in my juicer with half of an apple and an inch of ginger. An apple a day keeps the doctor away! The ginger acts as an instant anti-inflammatory, pain reliever and helps to boost your immune system. Most diseases are inflammatory related so this can be a very helpful component of the daily routine.
Coffee with Coconut Oil – Also known as bulletproof coffee! This combination boosts your energy, aids in fat loss, and keeps you satiated if you are trying to do intermittent fasting or eat less calories.
Green Tea – This tea has such an immense amount of benefits that even if you don’t start your day with it, you should try to fit it somewhere into your daily routine. It increases fat burning, improves physical performance, lowers your risk of several different cancers, is antibacterial making it great for dental health, and improves your brain function and overall health.

Hygiene
You know what you need to do better than I do! I do recommend taking a shower in the mornings to wash off that lazy energy and start the day refreshed but if you do your workouts in the morning you may want to wait until after.  In that case just wash your face, brush and floss your teeth, and put on some deodorant if you need it.
ADD ONS
Oil Pulling – Take a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth and swish it around for 15-20 minutes. This is a hard one to do in the morning because it is time consuming and best done on an empty stomach but you can multi-task and do it while you are checking emails, making breakfast, and packing your bag. The benefits vary from whiter teeth and better breath to cavity and gingivitis prevention. It helps with TMJ, sleep problems, sinus issues and skin issues (reports have shown improvement in acne, psoriasis and eczema). It has also been a hangover cure for many people!
Tongue Scraping – This is a must for me! And preferably anyone I am going to kiss! After you brush your teeth a lot of the saliva with all the toxins you just brushed off your teeth linger on your tongue when you are spitting the tooth paste out. Even if you brush your tongue it is still there. A tongue scraper will clean the tongue off and can also tell you ahead of time if you are starting to come down with a cold as there will be a change in mucus on the tongue. It is super simple and takes about five to ten seconds. I highly recommend it. There is a nice article on MindBodyGreen if you would like more details and research.
Dry Brushing – Before you hop in the shower you can use a soft bristled brush, exfoliating gloves or loofah to “brush the skin”. You want all of the strokes to be towards your heart. Your skin is your largest organ and this will help detoxify your body, improve circulation, soften your skin and decrease cellulite. Click here for more information and step-by-step instructions.

Exercise
I understand that some people have a difficult time getting out of bed any sooner than they absolutely have to but a round of tabata training only takes four minutes and is enough to get results. If you could find just one four minute song that really drives you then it will help you squeeze in at least a small workout each day and get those endorphins pumping to wake you up and make you feel great! If you have time for more or go take a morning class then go for it. I love to do my workouts first thing in the morning because life just can’t get in the way and I feel more motivated the rest of the day.  If you aren’t into a high intensity workout like tabata training than do three rounds of sun salutations on each side to get a nice full body stretch. You could also combine the two – a round of tabata training followed by sun salutations would be a perfect start to the day.

Nutrition
The perfect breakfast is as unique as you! Just make sure it is super healthy. The food you put into your body is your fuel for the day and you get to choose whether it is unleaded or premium. I always like making what I call “a bowl of goodness”. I have three different versions of this depending on the season and what I am in the mood for but it always includes fruit, nuts, and super foods like bee pollen, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flax seed powder. The ways I change it up is by either just leaving it a giant bowl of fruit, adding yogurt to it (I use a vegan coconut milk version), or adding oatmeal with cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, and pouring hot water over the top. Other days I may just make a green juice or a smoothie but my day always begins with fruits and vegetables that my body can quickly digest and get all the nutrients it needs to feel satisfied and happy.

Think about the lovely morning rituals you would like to have and write them down. Make a detailed schedule of what time you would need to wake up and what it entails. Try it out and see what works and what doesn’t. Keep trying different approaches until you find what truly resonates and works for you! Please feel free to share any secrets to your morning routine in the comments.

 

Maroc Milk

marocmilk (1)Nut milks are part of my daily routine when I eat entirely raw. It satisfies and fills me up like nothing else! This morning I made my normal almond milk by blending up almonds, dates and ginger together in the water that the almonds soaked in and then strained it. After that I put the almond milk in the blender with a banana, four small apricots, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. It was delicious and I was full for hours. It was even puppy approved!

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Heavenly Hydration

greenjuice (1)This juice is super cooling and hydrating which makes it perfect for the summer time or after a workout. It is wonderful for your skin, strengthens hair and nails, boosts your immune system, and even lowers cholesterol. It is also extremely soothing on the stomach and would be a way to ease heartburn, indigestion, or acid reflux.

Drink up and let your body enjoy the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants including vitamin A, B6, C, E, K, phosphorous, manganese, magnesium, potassium, pantothenic acid, thiamin, niacin, folic acid, copper, alpha lipoic acid, lutein, glutathione, chlorophyll, choline, calcium, and iron.

Juice Plus

11174879_876527309079290_6652706911885789936_n Many people have written me over the past year to ask for my opinion on Juice Plus. I figured I might as well write a short blog post to explain my thoughts and refer people to in the future. In short, my opinion is that you should not waste your money and should simply add more fruits and veggies into your weekly trip to the grocery store.

Studies of Juice Plus’ effects have very controversial results because the only studies that have been done supporting their claims were sponsored by Juice Plus. Critics have argued that there is no true scientific proof to its many health claims. Three studies which included chemical analysis have indicated nutrient amounts that differ from what is on the product label. Several claims have been filed with the FDA and Better Business Bureau which have made them discontinue certain product lines. Consumer watchdog organizations and government agencies have actually disputed the claims and according to Quackwatch it is “a colossal waste of money”. If you check Juice Plus on Wikipedia and MLMwatch there are several research studies listed proving JuicePlus is not effective.

Concerns have been raised that the nutrients aren’t even bioavailable which means the human body cannot absorb them. There have been a few studies showing adverse health problems caused by JuicePlus but it seems that the most harm is done to your wallet, not your body. I wish people would realize there is no quick fix or magic pill. Fruits and vegetables are delicious and made for our bodies to digest and absorb their nutrients – eat lots of them. Forget the diet and live a lifestyle of abundance. You can eat as much as you want and not even worry about the calories!