DIRTY DOZEN – ORGANIC OR BUST!

Last week the EWG (Environmental Working Group) published it’s 2018 Dirty Dozen list. According to the working group’s tests, the 12 fruits and veggies on the list below contain the highest amount of pesticides.

WHY SHOULD WE CARE?
While opting out of “organic” may save you a few buckaroos, when it comes to the dirty dozen you might want to rethink the thrifty approach. Going for organic versions of the listed 12 will help you avoid toxic chemicals. Pesticides have been known to pose health risks worth noting. For instance, they have been linked to cancer, hormone disturbance and brain damage. I also just read about a study that took place at the Harvard School of Public Health which connected fertility problems to the consumption of high pesticide foods.

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DIRTY DOZEN
1. Strawberries (The EWG found TWENTY TWO different pesticide residues in a sample of these berries!)
2. Spinach
3. Nectarines
4. Apples
5. Grapes
6. Peaches
7. Cherries
8. Pears
9. Tomatoes
10. Celery
11. Potatoes
12. Sweet Bell Pepper

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

Overall, fruits and vegetables that have an outer peel (which you do not eat) will have much fewer pesticides than those with edible skin or no skin at all. The outer layer creates a barrier between the potentially toxic soil and the part of the produce that we consume. Keep this in mind when you are opting in or out of splurging on organic. This being said, I wanted to as well include the “Clean Fifteen” list. These fruits and veggies have the least amount of pesticide residue.

CLEAN 15
1. Avocados
2. Sweet corn
3. Pineapples
4. Cabbages
5. Onions
6. Sweet peas (frozen)
7. Papayas
8. Asparagus
9. Mangoes
10. Eggplants
11. Honeydew melons
12. Kiwis
13. Cantaloupes
14. Cauliflower
15. Broccoli

 

 

TOP 7 ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS

WHY SHOULD WE BOTHER REDUCING CHRONIC INFLAMMATION? 

“constant or out-of-control inflammation in the body leads to ill health, and  eating to avoid constant inflammation promotes better health and can ward off disease”, says Russell Greenfield, MD, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a private-practice physician.

“It’s very clear that inflammation plays a role much more than we thought with respect to certain maladies”,  Greenfield includes.

TOP SEVEN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS:

 

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1. BOK CHOY
Recent studies have shown that there are over 70 antioxidant phenolic substances in this Chinese cabbage! It is also a wonderful source of minerals and vitamins.
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2. CELERY
Celery has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  It helps to fight heart disease as it improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  It’s seeds help to combat bacterial infections as well.  Add it to your soups, salads or juices!
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3.  COCONUT OIL
There was a recent study in India that demonstrated coconut oil’s ability to reduce inflammation and heal arthritis more effectively than leading
medications.  This is most likely due to the strong anti-inflammatory compounds found in lipids within the oil.  I love to use coconut oil to cook my eggs, or enjoy spoonful for an afternoon boost.
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4. BLUEBERRIES
Blueberries have been known to keep our motor function sharp, improve memory and ward off cognitive decline. They contain quercetin which is  a powerful flavonoid that fights inflammation and even cancer.
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5.  SALMON  
This delicious fish is full of Omega 3 Fatty acids which have been shown to ward off chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Ensuring we are ingesting enough essential fatty acids is one of the best ways we can prevent  inflammation.
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 6. BEETS
It is beet’s powerful antioxidant, betalain, that gives them their beautiful color.   Beets fight to repair damage that inflammation has done to our cells.  A huge bonus for this root veggie is that it contains a significant amount of magnesium, which is crucial for processing calcium in our bodies.  Without enough magnesium, calcium can build up in our bodies and lead to problems such as kidney stones.
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7. GINGER – In Ayurvedic medicine, ginger is recognized for its ability to break down toxins that have accumulated in our organs.  It acts as an inflammatory by reducing inflammation that is caused by overactive immune responses.

BON APPETIT!!

PREVENT OR GET OUT OF NECK PAIN FOR GOOD!

Listen to this short audio recording to learn WHY EXERCISE IS SO IMPORTANT FOR NECK PAIN:

 

In short, you will hear that when our neck and upper back muscles become weakened, our head leans forward. This misalignment puts a ton of strain on our cervical spine which results in neck pain. I have provided 3 simple exercises that aim to improve posture and bring the head back to a neutral place.

EXERCISES TO STRENGHTHEN YOUR NECK AND UPPER BACK MUSCLES:

1. CHIN TUCK
*purpose: to increase strength in the muscles that draw our head back over our ears.
HOW TO PERFORM:
Starting Position:
Back against the wall, standing tall with good posture.

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Action: Gentle draw chin toward chest while aiming to flatten your whole neck against the wall. Hold for 6 full seconds, then release. Repeat 12 times. Being with just 1 set, then work your way up to 3.
Notes: Chin tucks can be repeated several times throughout the day. In fact, repetition is key to create proper postural habits. Once comfortable against the wall, you may perform this exercise free standing. I often do this exercise at red lights (just be sure to stop immediately and focus on driving once that light turns green, go!)

2. COBRA POSE
*purpose: strengthen shoulder girdle, upper back and neck.
HOW TO PERFORM:
Starting Position:
Lying prone, arms by your sides with thumb out and palms facing down. Place rolled towel under forehead.

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Action:
A. Draw shoulder blades together, without force, and lift arms up off of floor.
B. Roll your elbows in, as your face your palms out with thumbs up.

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C. Lift your head off of towel while keeping your gaze down to maintain proper alignment of neck. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 12 times. Begin with 1 set, work your way up to 2.

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Notes: To help stabilize the muscles in the front of the neck, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. If 10 seconds feels like too much to start with, begin with 5 seconds. Build strength slowly and safely.

3. T to I’s
*purpose: strengthen upper back, open tight chest and shoulder muscles.
HOW TO PERFORM:
Starting position:
Stand tall with your back against a wall and bring your arms out to a T. Aim to flatten your lower back out onto the wall.

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Action:
Keeping your fingers, arms, back and head in contact with the wall, draw your arms up over your head into an I position. Move slowly to the top and then back down. Repeat 7 times. Begin with 1 set, work your way up to 3. This exercise may be repeated throughout the days that you exercise.

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Notes: Gently push into the wall as you slide arms up and down.

 

HAVE FUN! 

REMEMBER THE BEST PERSON TO TAKE CARE OF YOU IS YOU!! 

BE WELL 

Weight Loss: Is timing everything?

For millions of years our genes have been reacting according to our patterns of behavior.  If we keep this in mind when looking at our bodies tendency to store or use fat as as energy, it makes weight loss quite simple.  Let’s say you walk 10 minutes after a meal as opposed to before a meal.  Do you think your body would react differently?  If you answered yes, you are correct.  

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When you move around post eating, your system is not sure whether or not you are moving on to the next hunting ground and hence will not store the food you just ate as fat.  On the contrary, if you consume a meal and then sit down your system thinks ‘aha, I don’t need this food for energy, I think I’ll store it for later use”.  
All this being said, if your goal is weight loss – consider the timing of your movement and exercise. Perhaps take a stroll after your biggest meal to send your metabolism into action.   As a side bonus, your digestive system will thank you for the movement! 

FIVE MINUTES DAY KEEPS THE BACK PAIN AWAY!

Having been in the fitness industry for ten years, I can say from experience that one of the major roadblocks which impedes client’s progress is the “I don’t have enough time in the day for exercise” statement. As a firm believer in the idea that even 5 minutes (of intentional movement) a day will keep the doctor away, I was elated to meet David Levinger who is living proof of this philosophy. I wanted to share with you all the exercise routine he has created for himself, who he is, and what inspired him to commit to 5 minutes a day, twice per day plan. I don’t doubt for a second that his story will encourage anyone who is looking to jumpstart their game plan for optimal health.

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Meet David:

“I’m a nearly 38-year-old career ‘Computer Guy’ that enjoys being active but rarely has to time for consistency. When I was younger, pre-marriage and kids, I’d hit the gym regularly doing weights and Spin classes, hiking, backpacking and martial arts.  8 years ago my youngest daughter was born and finding the time became increasingly hard.  Since then I haven’t had a regular exercise routine.

My wife and I love to walk and hike a few times a week – it’s a great way to slow down, talk and get your body moving.  However, it didn’t do much to slow my weight gain.

I knew what I wanted was to remove the tire around my middle, strengthen my back and increase my flexibility.  All the exercises I included in my 5 minute routine had those goals in mind.”

 

Q & A

  1. What was the prime motivation for your 5 minutes a day, 2x per day routine?

I’m  5’10” and after a recent trip to visit family in New Orleans, I came back weighting 192lbs. This was a new high for me and I was not happy about it.  I felt heavy, weighed down, and slow.  At 38, I knew my metabolism wasn’t as fast as it used to be.

  1. Why 5 minutes?

I’d just finished reading a book called The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb and, while not at all about fitness, in one of the short chapters at the end of the book he described his thoughts on exercise.  The following excerpt leaped out to me:

“If you consider your diet and exercise as simple energy deficits and excesses, with a straight calorie-in, calorie-burned equation, you will fall into the trap of misspecifying the system into simple causal and mechanical links. Your food intake becomes the equivalent of filling up the tank of your new BMW. If, on the other hand, you look at food and exercise as activating metabolic signals, with potential metabolic cascades and nonlinearities from network effects with recursive links, then welcome to complexity, hence: Extremist. Both food and workouts provide your body with information about stressors in the environment.”

Reading that made me wonder, would short but vigorous bouts of exercise trigger different things within my body and have a noticeable impact? With that thought in my head I went downstairs and started to exercise. I began by doing a few exercises I remembered using a medicine ball that I happened to have around. It took around 10 minutes and it was exhausting and depressing. I could hardly do anything I used to, but it was a start.

  1. When you do not ‘feel like doing it’, how do you stay on track?

That’s one of the other reasons I picked 5 minutes twice a day. When you don’t want to go to the gym for an hour a few times a week it’s easy to find an excuse. I don’t have time today! I’ll do it tomorrow. But 5 minutes? You always have 5 minutes. Get up a little early. Stay up a little late. If you can’t do 5 minutes then you’re CHOOSING to NOT do it. For me, that’s harder than choosing TO do something.

  1. How has your overall health changed?

Well for starters I dropped from 192 to 167 over the first month and a half. Secondly, my strength has improved a ton.  Initially it was so hard to do even do the 10 minutes, but now while it still gets my heart going, it never feels unattainable. My flexibility has improved a bunch as well and whereas before I had persistent lower back pain that’s been gone for months! My energy level has gone up and it’s easier for me to start the day as well as fall asleep at the end of it.

  1. How long have you been doing this and how long do you foresee yourself continuing?

It’s been a consistent 5 months with no exceptions or missed days. I don’t see myself stopping. It’s 5 minutes. You always have 5 minutes.

  1. What does your routine typically consist of?

I start with a standing medicine ball twist. Then I do the touch the floor and arch my back from this link:https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=%23&ved=0ahUKEwi8mICcsI3ZAhVFyVQKHRwHDoMQwqsBCGcwBQ&usg=AOvVaw0VTJzWxrN8ZFOD4xbU2nov

Then I switch to three resistance band exercises picked up from this YouTube link https://youtu.be/9Ebx4N90qqg

  1. From roughly the 7 min mark I do a modified version where I keep my legs off the ground making sure I always come to a fully relaxed rest position with my arms but keep my legs off the floor.
  2. From the 10 min mark, but I do both legs at the same time most of the time. Helps stretch my lower back
  3. At the 9 min mark, pretty much in modified

Often times I will swap in several twisting exercises where I anchor the resistance bands within the door.

  1. Tell me in 10-20 words, how do you feel right after your early a.m. routine.

I feel focused, energized, ready to tackle the day, loose in my back, tightened up in my middle and excited.

Cactus the new coconut?

While the thought of a desert is far from hydrating, further contemplation on how much water native plants must store to survive such an arid environment quenches my mental thirst.   It makes a whole lot of sense why the fruit of the prickly pear cactus plants is being juiced to produce cactus water.  If you are a natural food store shopper, chances are you have started to see this product on the shelf.   Is this new fad worth all the hype?  With about half the calories and sugar of coconut water, plus unique beneficial compounds – my answer is YES.  Absolutely.  Read on for the fruitful facts.

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THE YUMMY HEALTH BENEFITS OF NOPAL CACTUS WATER:
low amount of sugar 
high amount of electrolytes (esp. potassium)
high amount of minerals
high amount of vitamins
low in calories
potent source of Betalain Antioxidants *
potent source of Taurine*
*Let’s discuss these two benefits in a bit more detail as they are vital to the achievement of optimal health.
BETALAIN ANTIOXIDANTS
Betalains are powerful antioxidants that studies have shown provide protection against oxidative stress-related disorders.  Particularly they prevent cell damage and are anti-inflammatory.  They also revitalize our skin.  The cactus fruit is the only fruit which contains all 24! To give you a better picture, cactus water has two times the amount of these betalain antioxidants than beets do. 
                                         TAURINE:                
While you will often hear Taurine referred to as an “amino acid”, it is not so biochemically speaking.  Yes it is an acid that contains an amino group, but rather than a carboxyl group (like true amino acids) it contains a sulfonyl hydroxide making it a sulfonic acid.  That being said, let’s refer to Taurine as an orgainc compound that is broadly distributed in our tissues.   What makes this compound so noteworthy?
It has been shown to aid in the prevention of atherosclerosis and coronary heart        disease (by reducing the secretion of serum lipids and apolipoprotein B100)
Dietary Taurine promotes weight loss and as well reduces oxidative stress caused by exercise. Hence, it aids in muscle recovery. 
It shields against toxicity of lead and cadmium, and acts as a strong antioxidant 
It is essential for the proper functioning of our skeletal muscle, cardiovascular system, our central nervous system and our retina.

In cacti conclusion – bottoms up! 

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Natural Tick Repellent

Remember, what we put on our skin ends up INSIDE our body!  Our skin is the largest organ we are walking around with – let’s feed it quality substances.  When it comes to living a healthy and organic lifestyle, what we lather on our bod is just as significant as what we put in our mouths.  Here is a wonderful DIY essential oil blend that will work like a charm to keep those ticks off of you, your family and your pets!

Palo Santo

REPEL RECIPE:

1 cup distilled water
2 drops geranium essential oil
2 drops palo santo essential oil
1 drop myrrh essential oil
4 drops grapefruit essential oil
1 drop peppermint essential oil
1 drop thieves hand soap or castile soap.

Place all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake. Spritz on socks, sneakers, boots, ankles and legs as well as any exposed skin.   Have fun on the trails!

*If your cupboard is bare in the essential oils department check out http://www.bulkapothecary.com – great bang for you buck!

MYRRH

 

 

GREAT ATTITUDE YIELDS GRATITUDE

 

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      What cultivates our gratitude, or our lack there of, is our attitude toward whatever we meet as our daily lives unfold. How we approach our work, how we respond to interactions with family, friends, or someone we just met – the words and energy we choose to use in each moment immensely affects the way we are in this world. Can we slow down long enough to recognize the marvel in the small and quiet aspects of life, or are we too hungry for more, too distracted by what is coming next? In my humble opinion, gratitude = great attitude. When we slow down long enough to see that everything, like human existence itself, is nothing short of a miracle. Perhaps this awareness will teach us to mindfully respond rather than habitually react as we navigate each day.

Let’s remember that our minds were designed to repeat, our system as a whole likes routine and patterns. The beauty here is that we get to choose which patterns are helping or hindering our existing in a state of gratitude. I find it helpful to ask myself simple questions such as these:

1. How am I communicating with my family, friends and colleagues?
2. What have I contributed to the world today?
3. Did I align my thoughts today with material that I truly value and know is right?
4. Did I slow down and take look at myself today or did I fall prey to the temptation to judge others?
5. Have I organized my day in a way that allows me to be still for a moment and reflect on all I have to be grateful for?

These questions are not meant to overwhelm, but instead to serve as tools for making a change. The power lies in choice. I find that the more mindful I become in each moment, the more inclined I am to make a great choice. This encourages me toward a great attitude and we all know where that leads us. Yep, to pure Gratitude.

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Could it be Adrenal Fatigue?

What are adrenals? 

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Our adrenal glands are endocrine glands that sit right on top of our kidneys. They produce hormones that aid our body in controlling blood sugar, burning protein and fat,  and regulating blood pressure. They as well produce hormones in response to stress – playing a huge role in the flight or fight response.  Two of the most important adrenal hormones are cortisol and aldosterone.

Living in these days of uncertainty causes much stress, which takes a toll on our adrenal glands. When these glands are overused, the body may experience several symptoms. Here are the most common ones:

  • excessive sweating with little activity
  • low pack pain
  • dark circles under the eyes
  • dizziness
  • muscle twitches
  • low blood sugar
  • heart palpitations
  • easily irritable
  • chronic infections
  • light headed feeling when you stand up
  • tired, yet wired.
  • cravings for sugar
  • dry skin
  • lack of libido
  • tendency to startle easily
  • negative response to thyroid hormone

If you are experiencing a handful of the above, you may have tired adrenals.  Get a saliva test right away.  Our adrenal glands are crucial to our immune function and as well support our thyroid in proper functioning.

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NATURAL WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR ADRENALS

  • eliminate sugar and processed carbs.
  • eat clean animal protein foods, organic root vegetables, and mung beans for easy-to-digest protein.
  • reduce coffee intake, try an herbal coffee alternative like teecino (found at local health food stores)

SPECIFIC FOODS TO ENJOY THAT WILL SUPPORT YOUR ADRENALS

  • Coconut
  • Olives
  • Avocado 
  • cruciferous veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.)
  • Fatty fish (e.g., wild-caught salmon)
  • Walnuts
  • Seeds, such as pumpkin, chia and flax
  • Kelp and seaweed
  • chaga mushrooms
  • sea salt
  • free range chicken

HERBS: Ashwagandha, Schisandra, Holy Basil

Other tips: add lavender oil to your bath, avoid negative self talk as well as negative people, aim for a solid 8 hours of sleep every night, be sure to keep exercising (gentle movement, nothing strenuous), get at least an hour of fresh air daily.  

Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself?

Love thy neighbor as thyself?

I think we can all agree this suggestion at times can be challenging as we race about our day, determined to complete the task at hand and focused on our individual path. We see reality through our perspective alone. So when we get thwarted by someone on their own trajectory, when things don’t unfold as smooth as planned, how easy it is to quickly judge, blame, assume, or become irritated. Perhaps we label these people as ‘difficult’ and we do so without hesitation. But what if we did hesitate, what if we were to pause and bring compassion into the equation. What would that look like?

This begs the question:

Are we willing to look at ourselves, really look, in any given situation and recognize that what we perceive almost always originates from right within ourselves? In other words, maybe it’s not “he, she or them”, but rather “me”?

Some things to ask yourself the next time you judge, become angry or annoyed:

1. Are you taking care of yourself?
When we are tired, malnourished, spread too thin, lacking focus or addicted our brains are not functioning in their ideal manner, our emotions are all over the map, we are depleted and it is much more challenging to look at the glass half full. For the next couple of days, make it a point to write down how you are physically feeling and aim to make shifts in your daily routine that will better serve you*. You deserve to be living in a state of exuberance and joy, not in exhaustion. Life is tough enough, let’s not make it harder for ourselves. (*happy to email you a complimentary document on Lifestyle Suggestions)

2. Have you thought about looking at everyone in your life through honest eyes of compassion?
Compassion means having a concern for – genuinely caring about – the well being of others. It means you are willing to be patient, to help and to attempt to understand others without judgment. To understand that we all have different strengths and weaknesses. What we focus on expands, if you hone in on someone ‘s weakness you are bound to exacerbate the situation. Rather, try tapping into your strength to help, not hinder, them. While we are all incredibly different, every single one of us knows what it is like to be human. It is not always easy. I’ve noticed that for myself if I start with kind thoughts, they become kind words and then translate into kind action. When my thoughts are not kind I know I need to PAUSE and look at myself.

3. Might you take a walk in their shoes?
“Never judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes”.
We are programmed to make snap judgments before we even know what it is like to be the person we are judging. How selfish of us to assume we know them or what they are going through! The key to putting on their shoes is to slow down, to step out of ‘your’ line of vision and really consider what they are going through. Then, we can have a better idea of how our actions impacted them and why they responded the way they did.

I wrote this blog today because yesterday I heard someone say the words “Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself” and I realized that in order to do that we need to:

TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES, EMBRACE COMPASSION AND BE WILLING TO LEARN.  The world can never get enough love, let’s help spread it…