Do You Suffer With Headaches or Migraines? Here’s Some Tips:)

st thomasConfession: Headaches and Migraines aren’t an issue I’ve struggled with very much.  Until 3 years ago, I’d only had 2 migraines, and a handful of headaches.  Then Menopause hit, or rather the tail end of Peri Menopause, and wow, I got a serious taste of some serious headaches.

For me, it was a matter of getting my hormones tested, and getting on some bio-identical estrogen and progesterone for a year. The headaches stopped immediately.  After a year, I went off both because subsequent testing showed that my hormones levels had gone from way too low to way too high.  I went cold turkey on the hormones out of fear, got on some great herbs, and all was well,…for a while.  Then the headaches came back.

A hormone test (January 2015) showed that my high levels had plummeted way back down to those of old Mother Hubbard, so this time I went on a natural progesterone cream(February, 2015), and added flax (oil and seed) very consistently to my diet to up my estrogen level naturally.  I’m due for another test soon, and I’ll let you know what my results are, but I haven’t had a headache since February.

Point of my story:  my headaches were hormone related.

What causes yours and what can you do about them?  You’re gonna need to put on your detective hat, because this is a condition that has so many causes and triggers.  Drugs are a bandaid at best, as they often don’t even work well with migraines; they don’t eliminate the cause of the pain, and they come with too many side effects to ignore.

Those side effects are real and scary. It’s worth the time and effort to figure out your migraine and headache causes, and then experiment with different solutions.

You already have my hormone/headache story. If your headaches are completely centered around your cycle, no matter your age, then you can assume it has something to do with your hormones.  This doesn’t mean – at all – that you need to start taking hormones!  That’s something for you and your doctor to figure out.

There’s other responses that could be triggering the headache (and cravings and PMS too):  low B vitamins, and low magnesium.  Both of which get depleted during our period. (or I should say, your period) B6 and B12 are the most commonly sited Bs when it comes to our hormones shifting and symptoms, but I recommend a good B Complex to every woman I work with.  Magnesium too; as a matter of fact, Magnesium deficiency is very common.  Studies show that at least 56% of our population is Magnesium deficient,  but my point with Magnesium and female cycles, is that it’s easy to become deficient right before your period, even if you aren’t usually.

So B vitamins and Magnesium, recommendations 1 and 2.  (These are the 2 supplements I have my girls on.)

Next, look at your life style patterns.  Do you sleep enough?  Do you drink alcohol?  What drugs are you on? Trigger, trigger, trigger.

Here’s a biggie:  do you eat gluten, or a high refined carbohydrate diet? Both can be HUGE headache/migraine triggers. For a one stop shop on this, check out the Wheat Belly blog.

MSG, artificial colors, flavor enhancers, histamine containing foods, artificial sweeteners, these can all be triggers.

Even healthy foods can trigger headaches for certain people; foods like eggs, dairy, nuts, …..pretty common allergens, and allergens can cause headaches.

One of my favorite go-to’s is America’s Pharmacist, Suzy Cohen.  That woman’s awesome, and prolific with both her free advice and books, so let’s start there.

Resources:  Her book, called Headache Free.  A podcast where she dispenses all sorts of great advice, here.   Her response to a question about tension headaches, here.  Her blog, here. And finally, a great article kind of wrapping up a whole bunch of her advice on headaches, here.

One last trick to try when it comes to headaches, a Liver Detox.  If you work with me, you know that I believe in always “loving my liver”.  I’m constantly taking dandelion or milk thistle, or doing a Biotics liver detox or taking Herb Pharm Liver tincture.  I also make sure to eat plenty of liver loving foods every single day.

If our liver is so overwhelmed with chemicals and toxins and sludge from high fructose corn syrup or trans fats or SUGAR, then of course it’s unable to perform perfectly.  One of the results from that would be toxins circulating through our brain and causing headaches.

If you think this might be your problem, get in touch with me.

You don’t have to suffer!  What I said in the beginning is true:  become a detective.  Headache meds are band aides with side effects.  Figure out your causes, and then work on natural and healthy ways to eliminate them.

86% of our health care expenses are spent on Life Style Diseases, like headaches and migraines.  That’s actually great news, because we can fix our life style and positively effect our health.

Have a wonderful day!

5 Love Languages, Greens, Chocolate, & 10,000 Steps: The Heart Weekend!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMark and I are on a Healthy Heart Weekend:  paddle-boarding, sight seeing, and a Marriage Conference with Dr. Gary Chapman of the 5 Love Languages.  We’ve slept in 2 different hotels in 2 days, but we packed all our food, so we’ve managed to eat well, move a lot, and do some Positive Thinking.  In other words, we’re traveling healthy.  I get a lot of emails and questions about traveling, and I want to answer them with a leaning towards Heart Health.

Heart Disease is the #1 killer in America, and it’s something we should all be working to prevent.  It’s showing up in children now – moms, here’s where we step in.

Heart disease is a LIFESTYLE DISEASE.  High blood pressure, plaque, heavy-dense cholesterol, high blood sugar, hard arteries….. these are caused by the what we put in our mouth, the exercise we don’t get, and the stress we don’t manage.

No one has heart disease because they’re low in statins.

Whether we’re traveling or home, it’s important to take the steps to make our body healthy.

Let’s start with food.  Our heart primarily runs on fatty acids for fuel.  Surprising? It’s the truth, so feed your heart healthy fats!  Have you read that the new Dietary Guidelines will “un-vilify” cholesterol as a cause of heart disease?  It’s true!

“Previously the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended that cholesterol intake be limited to no more than 300 mg/day. The 2015 DGAC (Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee) will not bring forward this recommendation because available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol, consistent with the conclusions of the AHA/ACC (American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology report. Cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”

What about the fact that Saturated Fat has NEVER been scientifically proven to cause heart disease?

“Saturated fat has remained the main dietary villain for heart disease for over 50 years. Last year a meta-analysis of 72 studies with more than 600,000 participants determined that there was no association between how much saturated fat people ate and their risk of having a fatal or nonfatal heart attack (Annals of Internal Medicine, March 18, 2014).”

This isn’t carte blanche to eat any thing we want.  Fats are very unique and different; some are great, some are good, and some are horrible.

Stay away from vegetable oils, margarines, and trans fats, they’re always bad, always.

Eat up grass fed butter and ghee, extra virgin olive oil, coconut butter, avocados, and nuts.  Bonus: these fats have anti-fungal/bacterial/viral properties, immune boosting properties, anti-inflammatory properties, and are even healthy for our brain.

The heart also loves amino acids/protein (it is a muscle after all, and needs to rebuild it’s cells), and vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

You know how I always say “eat a TON of vegetables”?  Herbs and spices too;  Moms, stay strong when it comes to vegetables and picky kids.  You’ve GOT to win this battle.  Here’s why.

The heart (and the arteries in the penis, the neurotransmitters in the brain, the lining of the gut, bone remodeling, and white blood cell function) heavily depends on Nitric Oxide (NO).  NO is a vasodilator that relaxes the lining of the arteries and increases blood flow.  If there’s any damage to the arteries at all, which is where a lot of that NO is made, then there’s NO deficiency.

Here’s a list of foods high in natural nitrates ( which convert to NO):

*Garlic
*Beets
*Greens
*Walnuts
*Cranberries
*Honey
*Black Tea
*Pistachios
*Salmon
*Animal Organs
*Shrimp
*Onions
*Peanut Butter

Cool fact: chew your food well, because it’s the bacteria in our mouth that convert the nitrates to NO – who knew!!!

We want to leverage all the colors of the vegetable (and fruit) kingdom, because they have nutrients, besides their vitamins and minerals which are vital, called phytonutrients, that scientists are really just beginning to discover.  Nutrients called lycopene, lutein, alpha carotene, and beta carotene.

Studies show that bodies with higher levels of these nutrients have less stroke and heart attack.

What’d we pack to eat this weekend?  Chicken (already cooked), eggs, salad greens, zucchinis, cukes, tomatoes, onion, garlic, sea salt, EVOO and balsamic, roasted potatoes (left over from Wednesday- so I just warmed them) dates, peaches, nuts, Jay Robb protein powder, raw milk, raw cream, and kerry gold butter.  Oh, plus organic chocolate and coffee!  We stay in Residence Inns whenever we can because they have kitchens.

Exercise: almost as critical for the heart as food.  Have I told you I LOVE MY FITBIT??  Even on days like yesterday, where we were in a seminar from 9 to 3:30, we managed to get over 10,000 steps in.  We walked on each break, plus lunch, and again after dinner.  Had I not had the Fitbit, we’d never had taken that many steps. Most phones have counters on them if you don’t have a smart watch yet.  Friday we paddle boarded a few miles, and then walked a battlefield and Civil War Park.  Links are attached if you’re looking for fun in Richmond, Va.  Today:  lifting with Macy at the VCU gym!

5 Love Languages – for heart health?  YES!  Have you ever read the book, The Blue Zones?  It’s about the 4 places on earth with the largest populations of centenarians, or people who live past 100.  I’ve been obsessed with it for years, the same with any story I see of a Centenarian, or studies on Centenarians.

What do these people have in common, is it Kale Smoothies or Cross Fit or Veganism?  NOPE!  The biggest common link is community, usefulness, and purpose.  In other words, they’re fulfilled and happy. They have love in their life.

That’s where the 5 Love Languages comes in.  Mark and I are regular pursuers of both Happy Marriage and Happy Minds.  I say “pursuer” because happiness doesn’t just drop on our heads, it’s something we have to focus on and work for.  That’s really what “stress management” is about, right?  It’s how we handle life that matters, and the 5 Love Languages has great advice for communicating and getting along.

On that note, our heart apparently THRIVES on happy hormones and chemicals, and can be destroyed by destructive hormones (cortisol and insulin) and chemicals.  This is a big deal, and an area of growing research.

Meditation is part of progressive heart disease reversal programs because it’s been proven again and again to work.  There’s too much evidence to ignore: if leading with our negative emotions is our normal go-to, then all the good food and exercise in the world could be negated when it comes to heart health.

I’m leaving you with a few really great heart health resources, please check them out.  What we hear in our doctors offices often doesn’t correlate with the latest in the scientific research.

Most research on reversing heart disease, (not merely managing symptoms) is based on Life Style answers, like food, exercise, stress management, and sleep.

NO ONE’S MAKING MONEY OFF THOSE REMEDIES; the likely hood of a stress management rep, or a Real Whole Food rep, walking into our doctors office to sell him/her on the latest and greatest reasons to use these tools isn’t going to happen.

We’re going to have to do this on our own.

Dr. Mercola/fats/heart health.

Dr. Davis/fats/heart health.

Dr. Wortman/fats/heart health.

Podcast/Dr. Kahn/heart health and testing – FASCINATING & INFORMATIVE.

I LOVE Essential Oils! From Skin Care to Fighting Virus and Bacteria, They’re Fantastic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’re living in a world of rampant illness; 70% of us are are both overweight, and on at least one medication.  70%.  The good news: 86% of those meds (and the money spent on them), are for Life Style Conditions.  That means we could reverse or at least lessen the condition through Life Style.

Because we can control our life style; we have tremendous power to improve our immunity, our mood, our energy, and our weight with the steps we take to be healthy every single day.

Here’s the thing:  good health isn’t going to fall on our heads like rain, we have to pursue it.  Essential oils (EOs) are a great tool in that pursuit.  Here’s how my family and I use EOs.

Mea Culpa: a couple of years ago, way after I was deeply into real whole foods, stress management, and using herbs and supplements instead of drugs, I was a total skeptic when it came to essential oils.  I knew nothing about them – I’M STILL LEARNING/NOT AN EXPERT AT ALL.

I’m not a doctor, and I’m not pretending to be one.  My General Practitioner probably wouldn’t use an Essential Oil if you paid him.  But I do.

And I love them! EO’s are amazing!!  The more I read and learn and use them, the more convinced I am that we sure veered off track when somehow we believed that pharmaceutical medications, with all their side effects and placebo effects and risks, were the only way to treat our ills.

They’re not, much of the world uses essential oils, and has for thousands of years.  The Magi brought frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus.  How exceptional is that?

Is there research on them? Oh yeah!  More and more regular MDs are promoting and using them; here’s both examples and resources for you to use if you’re interested in EO’s for your health.

Wintergreen Oil for pain relief: why?  wintergreen oil contains compounds called “methyl salicylate”; menthyl salicylate is an integral ingredient of nearly every anti-arthritic and analgesic balm for muscle and joint pain that is currently available on the market.

From a Dr. Jon Barron newsletter: One reason for wintergreen oil’s analgesic effect is because the methyl salicylate found in the herb is a substance that is similar to aspirin. Did you know that one teaspoon (5 mL) of wintergreen oil is equivalent to approximately 7000 mg of salicylate or 21.5 adult aspirin tablets? That just might explain why it is used in high concentrations in deep liniments such as Bengay to help treat joint and muscular pain. Studies have shown, however, that it is more effective for acute rather than chronic pain.

Here’s a study from Pub Med showing methyl salicylate’s incredibly similar effects to aspirin in an anti-platelet (blood thinning) study for heart disease sufferers. Wow!  Aspirin’s really rough on the stomach, how wonderful to have an alternative that’s not.

Oregano Oil: anti-bacterial/fungal/viral/parasitic.  This one’s a powerhouse.  From Dr. Mercola:

Carvacol and thymol, two phytochemicals in oregano, are powerful antimicrobials. Research has shown essential oils from oregano may kill the foodborne pathogen Listeria4 and the superbug MRSA (making it a useful addition to hand soaps and disinfectants).5 According to one of the researchers involved in the MRSA study:6

“We have done a few preliminary tests and have found that the essential oil from the oregano kills MRSA at a dilution 1 to 1,000. The tests show that the oil kills MRSA both as a liquid and as a vapor and its antimicrobial activity is not diminished by heating in boiling water.”

Studies have also found essential oils of oregano to be useful against certain Candida species.7

Yesterday morning I sliced my hands in 2 places cutting peaches.  We were planning on spending the whole afternoon in the Shenandoah River, paddle boarding. I applied oregano oil before we left to each cut, and brought it with me in a cooler with an ice pack, so I could apply it again after we got out.  The river’s full of bacteria, so I protected myself.

For more science on Oregano oil, go here, and here.  That second link is to 33 Pub Med studies on Oregano oil and it’s effectiveness on everything from bacteria to candida to encouraging liver regeneration after hepatitis.  Seriously!

Cinnamon oil Ginger oil, and Peppermint Oil,  have huge anti-inflammatory and pro-digestion properties.

Shelby tends to get stomach aches and nausea; ginger oil has become our #1 go to for it.  We dose it 2 ways:  rubbing some on her stomach, or putting a little swipe of the oil on the inside of her cheek.  It’s fast and it works.  Ginger chews and real ginger are fantastic also, but when you’re nauseous, it can be hard to get that stuff down.

Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics has changed their stance on ear infections?   That’s because most ear infections are viral, not bacterial.

Girlfriends, if your mom argues with you about this, tell her the rules have changed since her kids were young.

Anyway, what to do when your child has an ear ache?  Garlic oil and tea tree oil.  We used these last year on Shelby and they worked FAST.  Check out Dr. Axe’s protocol here.

Hopefully I’ve piqued your interest, and if you’ve clicked on any of the links, you’ll see that Essential Oils aren’t woo-woo, at all.  I really really encourage you to learn as much as possible about them, because I’m barely scratching the surface in this Post.

Let me wrap it up with my Skin Care Routine, which is ALL about the essential oils and other fats.

I’m 50, I went through Menopause about a year and a half ago; I spend a lot of time outside.  Preface: I’m not saying this because I’m proud, I’m saying this because I’m pleased:  my skin looks pretty good.  I think it’s because I quit using soap and all conventional products years ago, and just started washing my face with an organic scrub once a day, and using only organic lotions.  I think not slathering chemicals on my skin was a good start. But two winters ago, I began getting little lines on my lips and checks; panic sunk in.  I quit the organic lotions and started using homemade coconut oil/shea butter/cocoa butter/olive oil and Essential Oils.

(Read the ingredients in Clinique Dramatic Difference Moisturizer here.  It’s gross.)

The lines REVERSED.  REALLY!!  I’m not saying I have the skin of a 20 something ( I live with three 20-somethings, they have a freshness…) but I don’t have (big/many) wrinkles yet!  ( I also added way more fat to my diet, and gelatin/collagen – critical to skin formation.)

What I use after my homemade lotion:  Rose Hip Serum, Clary Sage, Geranium Oil, and Frankincense.  I use the serum every night, but the oils I rotate nightly. I’ve also used Carrot oil, and Myrrh.  I’ll probably change this up as I continue to age, and learn more.  But right now, it’s totally working for me.  If you want to read more about skin and EO’s, check here, and here, and here.

Again, I want to say I’m just scratching the surface, but Essential Oils are so fun and effective and – for myself and my girls – addicting!  I’ve made sure all my daughters have their own Essential Oil stockpiles for both home, school, and travel, and that they know how to use them.  The more we learn and use them, the more we want to learn and use them.

What brand do I recommend?  A bunch.  I started with DoTerra, which along with Young Living are the two biggest names in EO’s.  However, they’re not the only names.  I buy from my local health food store, Natural Market, whom I trust to examine their vendors authenticity; but I have other brands I trust also.  Right now, Plant Guru is one of my favs.

If you’re interested, learn more! I am.  There was an Essential Oil Summit earlier this summer, you can find access to it here.  Order some books; look at all the links I provided in this Post.

Take your health into your own hands!  We spend more money on our health through medications and doctors and surgery’s and procedures THAN ANY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, AND YET WE’RE THE SICKEST AND THE FATTEST – IN. THE. WORLD.

To me, that means it’s time for a change.  Besides, who doesn’t want to look and feel better?

Will Crunches Give You A Six Pack?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m away at my annual fitness convention, the DCAC, So Fun! I’m here with my sister Christy, who’s a trainer and pilates instructor; and my daughter Macy, – I love it!  Macy plans on becoming a yoga teacher after graduation, and this place is a great intro to the industry.

I’ve been in this business for 28 years.  Things have changed!  We’re having a greater awareness of why we need to exercise, which I’ve written about in a few recents Posts, here, and here.  We all know we’re in a stressed filled environment, and that exercise helps that, tremendously.

(Stressing about our body fat can make us fatter!)

Why do so many still pursue the 6 Pack? Why is weight loss still the number one goal of new gym members?  Smart marketing; promising weight loss hooks people.

It’s a lie, trust me, because weight loss and 6 packs come from the kitchen, not the gym.  It’s FOOD!  Food is so important!  Not just for losing weight or getting lean, but for how we feel day to day.

You know my mantra:  eat clean proteins, good fats, a TON of vegetables, some fruit, some nuts, some beans, good dairy if you tolerate it, and stay far away from flours, sugar, chemicals, and hydrogenated fats.

But about that 6 Pack, and weight loss: what negative goals, honestly!  Exercising to pursue those intents is just so…….. gloomy, and stressful! Delete!  Exercise for your mind. Exercise for your mood.  Exercise for your longevity and immune system and hormones.

It’s the same with eating well; eat Real Whole Foods because you’ll feel so darned good afterwards!

Guess what happens if we eat well and exercise every day? We lose weight. We become healthier, we feel more energetic, we’re happier, we cope with stress better, and we sleep better.  Why would we NOT eat right and exercise everyday?  It’s the consistency of our good habits, the repetition, that make us who we are.

Back to my conference:)  Have any of you ever taken Piloxing Barre?  O.M.G! What fun!

Did the dog eat your workout shoes? Scarred from Gym Class?

acroI’m a tough love – no excuses type person when it comes to doing what I’m supposed to be doing.  If you need a kick in the pants and some “how-to’s” to make Daily Workouts a part of your life, this Post is for you.  (FYI: I LOVE kicks in the pants, and make sure I get one most days of the week.  The ability to be consistent doesn’t just happen, you know.)

(That pic is Macy and her boyfriend Will practicing Acro Yoga.  Don’t try this at home without a professional!  Other pics: Amanda and Ian ending summer soft ball season; Shelby and friend Christy just climbed a volcano mountain; Meg doing a handstand; Mark lifting.)

When it comes to working out, the facts are, most of us don’t, and it’s killing us.  Here’s some stats:

* only 1 in 3 children get any physical activity in a day

* less than 5% of adults get 30 minutes of physical activity every day

* the CDC predicts every single chronic disease measured will increase in numbers between now, and 2030.  we’re talking heart disease, diabetes, cancer, auto immune, neurological, everything.  every chronic disease is positively impacted by regular exercise.

* body weight, which has climbed for decades, is predicted to continue escalating through at least 2030.

In other words, it’s time to get serious about making exercise, or movement, as normal and routine as brushing our teeth, because our life, and our children’s lives, depend on it.

Don’t worry, I know you’re busy! I know you have jobs and commutes andmanda ian sb kids and injuries.  I know some of you hate exercising, or getting sweaty, or having other people see you exercising or getting sweaty.  That’s okay!  That’s a little hurdle to jump over, and you can do that!

I had a nutrition client who told me we could never, ever talk about exercise, because she had “exercise induced anxiety”, and the mere mention could send her into a panic attack.

I got her moving, I can get you moving too.

Did you catch the word, “moving”?  Because that was important.  Start using that word, because it’s more important that we move every day than that we do formal exercise.  Our body was created to move and be physically active, not to do Dodge Ball or Hip Hop or run an Ultra, although, if you love doing those things – Good For You!  Keep it up, that’s great!

I brought up Dodge Ball because it’s from Gym Class, and Gym Class creates a lot of nightmares, or permanent brain scarring, for many.

volcano boardingIf that’s you, work on deleting those memories.  Moving every day doesn’t mean shame, embarrassment, and being the last one picked.  Moving’s just moving, and it feels so good!

Here’s some suggestions:

* Buy a Fit Bit, Up band, or any of those great trackers.  It’s so fun to watch your steps accumulate!  If I get towards the end of the day and I’m not at 10,000 steps, my brain clicks on to “solutions to get to 10,000″.  Seriously.  I jog in place while I’m walking my little dog, I water my plants, I walk down the driveway and back, I suggest a walk after dinner;  I’ve even run in place in the bathroom because I’m at 9800 and I have to feel that 10,000 buzz on my wrist before bed.

Apparently, I’m not the only one.  One consistent statistic that’s come from the trackers is that they do inspire people to get up and move more.  I think they’re worth the investment, which at this point, isn’t that big.  The cheaper bands start around $50, which is a lot cheaper than the average Northern Virginia hospital stay, which is around $9,000, or paying for statin or diabetes drugs every month.

* Find something that’s fun. Please, don’t life weights (yet!) if you hate to lift weights.  You do need muscle resistance, but there’s always yoga, pilates, biking or spin, home videos or You Tubes with planks and wall squats.   Does boxing look fun?  Marshal arts? Zumba?  They are fun! You can even do them with your kids – bam!  2 birds with one stone.

* Make a date to workout with a friend.  Call her/him, state a time and a place, and then put it on your calendar.  When we make a commitment to someone else, we’re more likely to follow through.

* Too tired to workout?  Listen:  Working Out Gives You Energy – Honest.  It’s so hard to convince people who don’t workout that this is true, but it is.  Here’s the trick:  find something Fun, and Not Too Hard.  That’s how you start.

Heck, even for fit and trained people, we need to have days of “Not Too Hard”.  What does that mean?  It’s different for all of us, and it’s different for individuals on a day to day basis.

“Not too hard” for a Professional Athlete is completely different for the meg handstandrecreational athlete.   “Not too hard” for anyone can be a day to day determination.  Quit stressing about definitions; it’s not Gym Class and no one’s judging you.  Focus on yourself, and doing what’s good and healthy for your body and mind.

Didn’t sleep last night?  Feel a cold coming on?  Better work out “not too hard”; but don’t skip moving!  A little movement or exercise stimulates our immune system.  Too much suppresses it, which isn’t always a bad thing unless you’re on the verge of getting sick, or you’re exhausted.

Feeling blue? Studies show that exercise is just as effective as medication for Major Depressive Disorder. Bonus?  No bad side effects and no withdraw symptoms.

I finished a great book called SPARK, and the author presents very compelling evidence that for some, depression/anxiety is actually CAUSED by not exercising.  He presents studies that show our brain and body were created to thrive through movement.

* Harness the power of group energy, or in other words, join a gym or a club.  Keep Reading!!  It’s not scary – honest.  I’ve worked in gyms for 28 years now, and I’ve heard it all:  everyone’s looking at me, everyone’s got friends, there’s too many cliques, blah blah blah blah blah.

Stop it.  You’re wrong.  (And if you’re actually right and you’re at the rare Snobby, Unfriendly gym, find another one!)  Here’s the facts:

Most people at the gym are getting in and getting out asap.  There’s a nursery. There’s trainers to teach you how to use the equipment. There’s several activities to chose from.  Some people use the gym as their social scene, but not most people, but so what?  NO ONE is judging you.  Everyone’s there just worrying about themselves, like you should be.

Fear of judgement or looking dumb is a personal insecurity that’ll keep you from doing many fun things in life.   Don’t allow it.

* Group classes or small group training are incredibly beneficial:  you get to absorb and use the energy of the other people and/or the instructor.

I give off a ton of good energy!  So do a bunch of people who take my class.  Energy is very real; we’re made out of protons and electrons which are atoms with negative and positive charges.

Quantum physics tells us – through very real, quantifiable science – that our personal energy is real. Ever walked into a room and known immediately that “something was wrong”?  Or conversely, felt someone’s joy?  Of course you have!

That’s what it’s like in a group fitness room, or in any fun group, even a group in someone’s home or a church or a community center.  Throw off your fear ( you are a grown-up now, right? ) and join in!

* Pack your bag the night before.  For some, this is critical.  Mark and I do this every single night, and we’re dedicated exercisers.  We do it because we know our mornings are busy enough; taking 5 minutes to gather our workout clothes, and anything we need for a shower and to change into afterwords, really makes a big difference.

* Sometimes, my daughters have slept in their workout clothes!  That way they can just roll out of bed and get to it.

* Tell yourself Positive Statements about exercising:  “I can’t wait to feel good and alert and ready for my day.”  or  “That lunch time walk/workout will make me so awake in the afternoon.”  or  “I can’t wait to walk/workout after work today, I’ve been sitting so long, and I’ll avoid the rush hour traffic.”  or “I’m setting a great example for my kids.”

* If you like to “go it alone”, either on walks or stationary machines, then read a book, listen to music/podcasts/radio shows, study, or watch movies or TV series. (We have a guy at our gym who uses bungie cords to strap a DVD player on the cardio machines, and he just goes to town.)  Look forward to the time because you “get” to do these things.

markbicepcurlHere’s the bottom line:  Sitting’s the New Smoking.  Inactivity is literally killing us.  Our kids are predicted to be even bigger and sicker than we are.  Moving, every single day, is undeniably vital to our physical and mental well-being.  We’re grown-ups.  We can make ourselves do what we know we’re supposed to do.  We have a brain: we can make ourselves enjoy exercise if we choose too, so choose to.

If you can fit in something formal, like a class, do it.  If you can fit in walking up and down the stairs in your building 3 times during the day, do it.  If you can take your dog on 2 big walks, do it.  If you need to strap a baby on your back and push more in the stroller, do it.  Just quit letting your days go by without moving.  Pledge to yourself right now, that TODAY, you move.

Mark has a great phrase:  “No one ever regrets a workout.”  That’s so true!

Can You Eat Potatoes ( or other starchy Real Whole Foods) ? Test Your Blood Sugar!

4 girls after walking cere

( I love this pic of my girls! Raise healthy kids!  They’re depending on us!)

Potatoes, corn, carrots, plantains, bananas, beans,…wow, they sure do cause confusion.  Years ago, Dr. Atkins came out with his first book and completely demonized these foods by lumping them in with grains and sugars.

It was a great book, and he had a TON of research behind his initial recommendations, which were that if you’re overweight and want to lose, cut waaay down on the carbs, and consume lots of protein and fat.  He’s right.  Crappy carbs will not only put weight on us – and our kids – but they’re the perfect vehicle for:  inflammation, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, neurological conditions, ADD, ADHD, skin issues, and just about every disease out there.  Crappy carbs cause an Inflammatory Environment in our body – and our kids bodies.

Crappy Carbs are Evil.

But are those Real Whole Foods I listed above “Crappy Carbs”?  No. But that doesn’t mean you get to eat them.  Sorry.  The real answer is, “It depends.”  What do they do to your blood sugar after you eat them?  There’s an easy way to find out:  buy a blood sugar kit, aka, a Glucometer.

IT’S SO FUN – honest!  You might think Glucometers are just for diabetics, but they’re not.  Anyone can buy a kit in any drugstore or Walmart, or off Amazon, anywhere.

If you’re a weight loss client of mine, you probably already own one.  If you’re not a client, but a blog reader, buy one today.  Here’s why.

When blood sugar rises above “normal”, (normal is between 80 – 100, but some labs have lowered that value to 70 – 90), the pancreas releases the hormone INSULIN.  Insulin is an anabolic, building hormone.  Insulin takes the excess blood sugar, the amount that sends the value over “normal”, and stuffs a little in our muscle cells (the empty ones), a little in the liver-glycogen storage (if it’s low) and then…….turns all the rest of the excess into FAT/triglycerides, and stores them in the fat cells.

How does Blood Sugar get above normal?  EASY.  Every single carbohydrate we eat becomes blood sugar in our gut.  EVERY. SINGLE. CARB. Whether it’s from a grain, pure sugar, fruit, veggies, beans, nuts, whatever.  The carbohydrate in those foods is reduced to Glucose.  That’s the gut’s job:  break food down to chemical molecules so our cells can use it.  All carbs become glucose and fructose, 2 tiny, simple sugars that fit in cells easily.  (Today, we’re just talking about glucose; fructose is evil too! More on that later.)

How much blood sugar is too much?  If we weight 150 pounds, we have about 4.7 liters of blood.  “Normal” blood sugar – a measurement of 85 on the glucometer – equals 4 grams of sugar in the whole body.  4 Grams.  4 Grams. That’s 16 calories of carb (1 gram = 4 calories).  More than that, and the conversion of sugar/glucose to fat/triglycerides happen.

A medium French Fry has 47 g of sugar (all carbs break down to sugar).

A can of coke has 39 g of sugar.

Krave Jerky Lime Chile has 39 g of sugar per package.

1 cup of pasta has 43 g of sugar/carbs.

1 cup of orange juice 27 g of sugar.

Those are all obvious Crappy Carbs; the starches become sugar/glucose very very quickly and go from gut to blood stream fast.  But the real reason they’re Crappy is because they’re highly, highly processed and have no nutritional value at all.  None.  They’re so anti-good for us they’re poison!

Conventional wisdom tries to tell us that pasta has B vitamins, or french fries from McDonalds are vegetables.  Bull Crap. Those B vitamins – added/fortified – back into the pasta, were made in a factory in China from synthetic materials.   And those Mc D’s french fries?  19 ingredients!!  Gross! That’s not real!  Read their ingredient list, and several others, here.  Please, read it.  Our kids eat this stuff, and our kids are getting sicker and fatter and sadder than ever.

It’s. The. Food.

So what about YOU, and ME, and potatoes, or corn, or plantains, or all these other starchy fruits and veggies?  How does that affect our blood sugar since we know they’re carbohydrates?

I don’t know how they affect you; I know how they affect me because I’ve pricked my finger and tested a million times in the past 5 years.  Buy the glucometer and test yourself.  They’re cheap and they’re easy to use. Prick your finger 90 minutes after a meal (peak blood sugar), and look at the number.  See how your oatmeal or your pasta or your crackers affected you.

And see how a meal of corn or potatoes or bananas or beans, or any high carb fruit or veggie, affects you.

Five years ago, I had pretty fluctuating blood sugar.  I considered myself “low carb” because I ate a lot of “low carb” foods:  Kashi Go Lean, Low Carb Tortillas, Low Carb Bread, Low Carb Ice Cream, Low Carb Cookies…..  then I bought the glucometer.  Wow.  Did I get a wake up call.  My blood sugars were way too high, and it scared me into action.

No more Low Carb Crap, just Real Whole Foods.  Of course, I worried about the high carb fruits and veggies, and the glucometer showed that yes, they did raise my blood sugar too much.  So I cut way back on them.

In the past 5 years I’ve changed and refined my diet – a lot.   I eat more herbs and spices than ever – every day.  I use essential oils.  I’ve added more fat than I ever thought possible.  I’ve managed to completely delete “cheat days” from my life (thank you God), I’ve become scared of processed foods to the degree that I’m literally afraid of them.  I’ve joined several food co-ops, I go to a couple different farmers markets.

Last summer I went totally ketogenic for a few months.

In other words, I’ve taken several actions, consistently, for several years now, and guess what?  Now when I take my blood sugar ( which I still do all the time – and I take my kids and Mark’s often also), it’s always good.

A few mornings a week I throw a banana into my smoothie – blood sugar stays low.

I eat potatoes or plantains for dinner at least 4 or 5 nights a week.  The other night I measured before dinner, I was 78.  After a dinner of roasted potatoes coated w butter, squash coated with olive oil and parm, a steak, and a piece of dark chocolate, I was 98.

I’VE BECOME SO DARN NORMAL.  It’s awesome!

I believe you can become normal too, with persistence and consistence.

What’s normal?  Normal is when you eat a real whole food, in normal amounts, in a normal diet full of nutrient dense foods loaded with good fats, some protein, and a ton of vegetables, and your body processes it just fine.

Your muscle and liver cells are open to the carbs and the fat both, you sleep well, you don’t feel sick, bloated or brain foggy – ever, and your energy and immune system hum.

By the way, as good as they look, 6 pack abs aren’t totally normal, especially for most women. Having some body fat – is normal.  Being ripped, lean, and shredded, goes against most body types, and the actions needed to get there usually lower thyroid function, lower body fat to unhealthy levels, and mess up our sex and adrenal hormones.

Not normal.

How can you become normal?  There’s only one way: change how your brain things about about your body and food.  No more diet and weight loss focus, it doesn’t work. Focus on your health instead.  Pledge that at least a few times a week you’re going to read something from Dr. Mercola or Suzy Cohen or Dr. Davis/Wheat Belly or if you’re interested in the science behind the Ketogenic Diet (because I really do believe it heals cells and the liver and reverses insulin resistance) check out Dr. Nally here.

Here’s my Cigarette Analogy:  would you ever pick up a cigarette butt off the sidewalk and put it in your mouth? No! That would be disgusting, and there’d be no effort at all in resisting that urge.  I want you to look at a slurpee or a box of cookies or a fast food burger and think:  “I’d never put that in my mouth, that’s disgusting!”.

Here’s something that’s not disgusting, and it’s delicious!  2 Recipes, each I’ve had on here before, but they’re worth repeating.   The first is my Sweet Potato Pizza – Oh My Gosh is it delicious!!

Chipotle Sweet Potato-Zucchini Pizza

20150627_145925

1 large sweet potato
1 large green zuc, ring out water by 20150627_172301twisting in a towel
1 heaping tbsp chipotle powder
3 eggs, beaten
5 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and pat onto a pizza pan. Bake at 425 for 40 minutes. Top with tomato sauce and cheese ( and whatever else you want, I’ve done corn, cilantro, and peppers). Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes.

Roasted Potatoes – kids love this and it’s so much better than french fries-

roasted potatoesScrub and dice potatoes
Pour a couple tbsp of melted KerryGold butter and coat them w it
Salt & Pepper
Bake at 425  50-55 minutes, flip w a spatula half way through.

By the way, these things freeze and reheat beautifully, they’re a great Power Cooking food.

Are Your Meds Making You Sad, Overweight, and Sicker? Probably!

IMG_9068Have you ever considered that your muscle aches, brain fog, joint pain or other maladies could be caused by your medicines?  Even weight gain can be a side effect from everyday meds.   Disclaimer:  I realize that sometimes medication is absolutely necessary; my #2 daughter is epileptic. This is about the bigger picture.

Keep reading for the nitty gritty details, and to see family pics that have absolutely nothing to do with this Post:)   (Descriptions:  Shelby and I were in NYC last weekend;  Amanda started an Internship at the Epilepsy Foundation, and we celebrated Macy’s 21st birthday.)

Every year, prescription drugs cause over 81 MILLION adverse reactions and result in 2.7 million hospitalizations. 

Worse:  EVERY WEEK, prescription drugs kill more than 2,400 people. 

“This epidemic of harm from medications makes our prescription drugs the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Including hospitalizations and deaths from prescribing errors, overdosing, and self-medication, drugs move up to third place.”

Medications are the 4th leading cause of death in the US – did you know that? 

At anyone time, 70% of us are on at least 1 prescription or OTC drug.  Old, young, skinny, fat, whoever.  We take a lot of drugs in this country, and we’re having an epidemic of side effects.  

Most of the time these side effects are treated – by us and our doctors – as another disease, that needs the remedy of a drug.  It’s a viscous cycle. 

Americans take more drugs than people in every other country in the world. IMG959154952And I’m talking literal prescription numbers, not the amount spent on drugs; which is also the most in the whole world.  To say we’re highly medicated is an understatement.

It hasn’t made us healthier.  Despite 70% of the country on drugs, we have higher rates of chronic disease than almost every other country in the world, and the CDC predicts that every single disease, from heart disease to cancer to obesity, will continue to rise through 2030 at least.

We need to start drawing some common-sense correlations here.

Healthcare, which = drugs and doctors and hospitals, does NOT necessarily = healthy.

How many drugs site “ damage to the liver” on the side effect list?   More than half?  Who feels damage happening in their liver?? NO ONE.  No. One.  Statins cause damage to the liver. Auto-Immune drugs cause damage to the liver.  Pain relievers (OTC and prescription) cause damage to the liver. Tylenol is the #1 cause of liver failure in the US; we give Tylenol to babies.  

Liver damage brews for years before symptoms manifest.  

20150715_185716Most diseases take about 15 years to manifest symptoms obvious enough to pinpoint the disease.  Take diabetes T2, the diabetic doesn’t just become diabetic over night, or in a few months.  It takes years of high blood sugar and corresponding high insulin to become diabetic.

Statins carry the risk of actually CAUSING diabetes T2.  It’s on the side effect label.  It’s on the commercials.  It’s a real possibility.  From PubMed: “Statin use is associated with a rise of fasting blood glucose in patients with and without diabetes. This relationship between statin use and rise in fasting blood glucose is in-dependent of age, aspirin use, beta-blockers, and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.”

Other drugs also raise blood sugar:  steroids, diuretics for high blood pressure and edema, some birth control pills, and decongestants.

Chronic high blood sugar and high insulin cause ED and glycation of the skin, aka, wrinkles and age spots.  One doc on the Heart Summit called ED the “canary in the pants”.  Consider these symptoms of Heart Disease, because they are.

Diabetes is predicted to affect about HALF our population by 2020 – that’s right around the corner.  Diabetes is DANGEROUS, and EXPENSIVE.  If we watched our carbs and meds, T2 is almost fully avoidable, and reversible.

What about Diabetes drugs, like Metformin, which force sugar into cells that have self-protectively shut? Metformin causes serious digestion issues. Gastro-paresis and GERD, here you come. Besides, God had those cell receptors shut for a reason, it’s not a mistake, it’s self protection for the cell.

What if your T2 has progressed to the point of Insulin, what then?  Insulin, in excess (it’s “excess” if you’re a T2) is a caustic hormone.  It zooms through the arteries causing inflammation and damage.  AKA, Heart Disease.

What about a life style change instead of statins or diabetes drugs?  After all, heart disease and diabetes are caused by our life style, which is our every day choices.  To reverse or avoid them, stop eating grains, sugars, and chemicals, and start eating Real Whole Foods, sleep more, move more, and practice stress management.

20150712_101243It’s a no brainer!

Let’s move to pain relievers, which we give to our babies.

Did you see the news release last week about NSAIDS and heart disease? The FDA says that NSAIDS, from Advil to Aleve to Celebrex, can cause heart attacks and stroke – even in people with NO RISK FOR HEART DISEASE AT ALL.

If you take NSAIDS, please read this link.  Apparently, the whole “COX-Inhibitor” action of the NSAID isn’t the advantage we’ve been lead to believe.  Research has discovered that the inflammation they cause is then followed by repair.  COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes unstick platelets and prevent clots.  Blocking them with Advil or Celebrex (or other NSAIDs) encourages clots.

Birth control pills also cause blood clots.  How many young women take both daily?

Back to statins:  Liver damage – check. Blood sugar increases – check.  Muscle pain – check. Testosterone depletion – check. Memory loss – check. CoQ10 depletion – check.  

Hey!  There’s a pill for all that! ( sarcasm )

Is heart disease because your body is low in statins?  Is pain because your body is low in NSAIDS?  Is diabetes because your body is low in metformin?  Nope.

We don’t get sick from a lack of drugs.  Usually, we get sick because of our actions and choices.  When soda, alcohol, bread, sugar, pasta, fast food, junk food, too little sleep and no focused attention on stress management, are a normal part of our life, of course we’re sick.  

Why do we take so many drugs?

We’re one of 2 countries IN THE WHOLE WORLD, who actually allow pharmaceutical companies to advertise directly to us, the consumer.  In 1997, Congress revised a law allowing pharmaceutical companies to advertise directly without covering most of the possible side effects.

20150711_115653Numbers wise, seeing these advertisements has made us want drugs a whole lot more.  We actually ASK our doctors for these drugs now, which is the whole goal of advertising.

In 1997, spending on ads was $280 million; by 2002, it was $2.8 BILLION. Now, it’s $3 BILLION. On average, if you take one prescription drug you’ll be exposed to 70 potential side effects. Some of the more commonly prescribed drugs average around 100 side effects each — and some drugs even carry over 500!

Back to my beginning:  drugs can cause death and disease. Yes – sometimes they save a life, absolutely.  But when we’re talking Chronic Disease, and that’s what MOST people are taking drugs for ( 88% of all health care spending is on Life Style/Chronic Diseases), the only thing that can really REVERSE a disease, and not just manage symptoms, is a Life Style Change.  That’s it.  Life Style Change.

Real Whole Food, Moving, Sleeping, and Stress Management.  These are choices we need to make and focus on.  Choices we need to teach our children.

Our health is the result of our actions and choices and even our thoughts.  We have power over all that, let’s take it.

Reasons To Exercise You Didn’t Even Know About, and How To Fit It In.

debbie (27)Who loves to workout?  I do!  I have plenty of friends and family who do, and I work with several clients who do.

Even if you don’t, READ THIS POST.  Exercise, or more accurately, moving, is so crucial to a normal healthy brain and body, that science tells us not moving is probably more unhealthy than smoking.

Exercise balances and normalizes our testosterone and estrogen.  Men, you want more testosterone as you age?  Exercise.  Women: bad periods, rough PMS, menopause?  Exercise exercise exercise.  Moving our muscles and stressing them, reduces the inflammatory conditions of these cyclical changes.  Ever been PMSing, worked out, and then felt so. much. better.?

More benefits: exercise, any exercise that makes our muscle move and feel a little stress, causes the muscle cells to make special proteins that go through our blood, into our brain and GROW IT.

Parents, this applies to kids too.

When our muscles move, they create a protein called BDNF ( brain-derived-neurotrophic-factor).  BDNF literally goes to the brain neurons, and waters and fertilizes them.

When our muscles move, our neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, GABA) are “balanced”.  The percent of studies showing that exercise reduces anxiety and depression better than every single drug on the market?  About 100%.  With no negative side effects.

As a matter of fact, looking at us biologically and ancestrally, we’ve been created to move (forage/hunt for food, shelter, mates) to stimulate productive brain activity.  Moving makes us smarter and better able to cope with life.

Several studies show that if we want to learn new skills or facts, exercise first.  It stimulates pathways that allow us to build memories/learn in our brain.  There’s a caveat though. If you think you’ll do your learning while you exercise, say, studying on the elliptical or treadmill ( one of my preferred methods when I went to Nutritional Therapy school), keep the exercise “steady state”, and not anaerobic.

Exercise that’s too hard temporarily shuttles nutrients away from our learning centers; exercise that’s easily doable increases nutrients to the learning centers.  That’s just a word of caution on learning while exercising, not a warning against hard exercise, because the benefits of hard exercise are numerous.

Or not.  It depends on how you feel about it.

Here we get to exercise and stress.  I said that of the thousands of studies comparing all the drugs on the market to exercise for relief from anxiety and depression, exercise wins every time.  Hands down.

When we feel “stress”, we’re actually feeling the results from a whole bunch of stress “chemicals”.  (we’re a chemistry set, not a math equation).  Whether our stress is real or imaginary, from traffic or a fight with a spouse or an actual threat to our lives, the chemistry is the same.

Our adrenal glands release epinephrine and cortisol to prepare us to physically defend or save ourselves.  Our heart rate increases.  Our blood pressure increases.  Our digestion stops.  Our arteries constrict.  Our muscle cells dump their magnesium (magnesium relaxes us, but the brain thinks we need to be tense), and **** cells become Insulin Resistant.

When cortisol is in the blood, FAT CAN NOT BE BURNED, JUST STORED.  In this state,our body actually tears apart muscle tissue and converts it to glucose/sugar to burn instead of using the fat in our butt.  

We need to manage our stress, and exercise does that! Most of the time.

Unfortunately, some people are so scared of exercise, so adverse to a whole – imaginary – negative scenario they’re created in their minds, that they have “Exercise Induced Anxiety”.  I stole that from one of my clients who used that term to describe herself.

I get it.  Gym class was traumatic for a lot of us.  It left some scars.  But I know former athletes who don’t like to workout anymore either.  Their younger athletic years were formed by coaches and teammates telling them what to do and how.  Independently exercising, which is pretty much Adult Exercise, isn’t appealing, or motivating, so they don’t do it.

The latest stats from the CDC on who exercises show us that only 20.4% of adults over 18 exercise regularly.

No wonder we have 70% overweight and on pharmaceutical drugs in this country!

What to do? Be determined. Set your mind that you’re going to move every day and you’re going to like it.   Honestly.  It’s that simple.  Oh, and have a plan.  Write it down.  Use alarms and calendars and verbalize to friends and family your intentions.

If you already work out every day, you’re golden.  If you struggle with with either fitting exercise in or moving at all, listen up.

1) Pick something that doesn’t sound scary:

-walk with a friend or a kid or a dog

-play a game in the yard with your kids

-set an alarm on your phone and walk up and down the stairs (in your office or home) 4 or 5 times a day

-set an alarm on your phone and do a wall squat or plank 4 or 5 times a day

2) Pick something fun:

-join Zumba

-join a weight lifting class

-join a beginner yoga class

-join a beginner group fitness class

3) Set Your Self Up For Success

-pack your clothes the night before

-pack a bag and water bottle the night before

-pick a sport or a class or an activity that’s appropriate for your fitness level and not something you’re going to be so sore and fatigued afterwards that you never want to come back

-put it on your calendar, and then stick to the schedule. If you have kids that need to be included, either driving them to the gym or having them with you, CONSIDER THAT.  It takes time to get kids in the car – out of the car – into the gym. Learn to become a Time Master, and teach them how to do it too.  That’s a pretty crucial skill to have.

Honestly, we can’t afford NOT to exercise or move.  Our body was designed by God for us to move.

Want a great book to inspire you to get off your butt and sweat a little it?  Spark, by John J. Ratey, MD.  It’s loaded with information that even I’ve never seen before, and I read everything about exercise that I can get my hands on.

One more reason to exercise:  Exercise GIVES us energy, it doesn’t steal it or drain it, it creates it.   Who doesn’t want more energy?

Sluggish or Fatty Liver? Could Be Why You Can’t Lose Weight or Feel Energetic. Recipes For Detoxing and Renewing Your Liver.

20150627_172301If you struggle with weight loss, bad skin, lack of energy, pain, and everything from headaches to chronic disease, but can’t understand why, this Post is for you. Medications that you’re currently on, or have been on, could very well be the culprit.  Medications have consequences, always, despite being FDA approved and Doctor prescribed.    (Pictures of Healing Foods are sprinkled through-out. Recipes at the end. This pic to the left is Chipotle Sweet Potato-Zucchini pizza – DELICIOUS!!).

Did you know that the biggest portion of health care costs – 88% – are spent on Life Style Conditions.  That means that the majority of our symptoms are brought on from our foods, medications, actions, sleep, and thoughts.  All of which we have control over.

Food is Medicine or Food is Poison, that’s one of my favorite sayings.  Pharmaceutical drugs are Poison too, and I don’t say that enough.  Drugs are expensive (and getting more-so), loaded with side effects, and often prescribed unnecessarily or excessively.  ****

There’s a good chance that if you’re on any prescription or OTC drug, it could be interfering with your metabolism through either liver or gut disturbances, or nutrient depletion, or both.

Did you know that prescription drugs are the 4th leading cause of death in the US?  Unfortunately, before the death happens, there’s weeks, months, or years of adverse reactions chalked up to age, circumstance, or un-luckiness.

Everything we put in our mouth has profound effects on our health, our energy, our looks, and our weight.  Food affects our mood, our sleep, and our personality.  So do drugs.

Let’s focus on the Liver.

OUR LIVER BURNS MORE CALORIES THAN OUR MUSCLE TISSUE.  A LOT MORE.  Our liver performs hundreds of functions every day, and thru the night too. It’s important that we not over stress the liver with chemicals, toxins, alcohol, or sugar/flour. A toxic liver is a sluggish liver, and a sluggish liver is compromised in it’s ability to do all it’s jobs/do it’s jobs fully.

20150217_172852 (1)Fatty liver disease has become such a problem that it now affects 1 out of 3 people – 1 out of 3!!!

We need to keep our liver humming, so here’s some suggestions.

1) Access your meds, even innocent seeming meds like TYLENOL.  Tylenol, which we give to our children without a second thought, is the #1 cause of acute liver failure in the world!  Not alcohol, but TYLENOL.

Statins absolutely cause liver damage.  Anti-depressants, auto immune and cancer drugs, and pain killers/narcotics cause liver damage.

Alcohol causes fatty liver disease and sluggish liver function.

For a very large percentage of people on prescription drugs, a change in Life Style, could get you OFF your prescription drugs.  Get in touch with me.

2) Processed Sugars and Grains are tough on our liver.  Our liver is highly involved in blood sugar regulation.  Processed foods, like bread, pasta, cookies, cake, that kind of junk, send the blood sugar skyrocketing.  The liver has to go into overdrive dealing with all the extra glucose.

What does the liver do with the extra glucose?  IT CONVERTS IT TO FAT/TRIGLYCERIDES, and directs them to be stored in our fat cells. Look straight down and do a gut check to see if this is happening to you.

Another job hampered by a slow or fatty liver?  Estrogen detox, or removal.  Our liver is supposed to get rid of/eliminate, old, used estrogens.  Whether those estrogens came from our own glands, or foods like soy (huge ingredient in most processed foods) or chemicals ( personal care products, cleaning products, plastics, etc.), the liver is supposed to break them down from a fatty molecule to a water-based molecule, and then send them on their way out.  Toxic, slow livers don’t do this well, estrogens stay in the body – stored in fatty tissue, and we become “estrogen dominant”.

Men, this happens to you too.  No man should be estrogen dominant.  Look at your boobs and belly to see if you are.

3) Become a Liver-Loving-Fool!

I tell my clients what I tell myself:  think of ways to help and nurture your liver every. single. day.  Seriously.

Even if we try hard to eat clean, our world is full of toxins:  all municipal water is loaded with chemicals,  our air is polluted, there’s carcinogenic chemicals in dry cleaning solvents, make up, body care products, baby wipes, plastics, artificial sweeteners, pesticides and fungicides on fruits and vegetables, and I could go on and on.  The point is, our liver is responsible for dealing with and eliminating all this.  It needs our help.

4) Eat Liver-Loving-Foods every day:  beets, lemons, asparagus, olive oil, good whey protein, leafy and bitter greens, garlic, milk thistle, cilantro, parsley, cucumbers, ….  basically, Real Whole Foods. Vegetables, herbs and spices, healthy fats, and clean proteins, all contain thousands of nutrients that nourish, cleanse, rebuild, and help the liver do it’s many, many jobs.

Remember earlier when I said that our liver burns more calories in a day than our muscles?  If we’re debating about how to spend any extra time we have, shopping, chopping, and cooking is just as important, as exercising.  Don’t negate one for the other. Schedule in both.

5) Try these No Recipe Paleo Meals to load your body with nutrients that make your liver20150603_072541 function well and your metabolism hummm:)

Eggs and Leftovers

This is left-over vegetables ( zucs, yellow squash, onions, and purple cauliflower) mixed with kerry gold butter and 3 eggs.  EASY no brainer.

CHIPOTLE SWEET POTATO-ZUCCHINI PIZZA

(from the picture at the top)

1 lg sweet potato
1 large green zuc, ring out water by twisting in a towel
1 heaping tbsp chipotle powder
3 eggs, beaten
5 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and pat onto a pizza pan.  Bake at 325 for 40 minutes.  Top with tomato sauce and cheese.

I’m making this again tonight and adding sausage, corn sliced off the cob, and cilantro, with shredded swiss.  THIS IS DELICIOUS!!

GREENS WITH HOMEMADE SAUSAGE, AND SAUTEED PLANTAINS

(from middle picture)

Ground sausage
Swiss Chard
1/2 an Onion and 3 Garlic cloves
coconut oil

Mix and saute in one pan, add the swiss chard last since it doesn’t need to cook as long.

Plantains:  slice, and saute in a pan with Kerrygold Butter, salt, and then put in a 250 oven for 20-30 minutes.

**** I’m not totally anti-drug; but I think it’s irrefutable that most drugs are prescribed or taken for conditions that could be fixed or managed with LIFE STYLE changes.  No one has high cholesterol from lack of a statin.  No one has a headache from a lack of Advil.  No one has high blood pressure from a lack of Lasix.  No one has diabetes from a lack of Metformin.  No one has depression from a lack of Prozac.  These are symptoms that happen from the actions we choose every day.

Summer Shape Up Part 4: You Don’t Deserve A Treat/Moral Licensing/Tomorrow Logic.

20150620_125014 (1)Hello from Aspen, Colorado!  Mark and I lived here in the early 90s, and we’re back for a long weekend.  I’d forgotten how majestic the Rockies are!

Pictures that have absolutely nothing to do with this Post will be randomly sprinkled throughout:)  You’ll see Maroon Bells, Ajax Mountain, and a 20150619_195723Food Festival – OMGosh.  Grilled Gizzards are now my new favorite food.

Did you catch my title?  If you take my group fitness classes, you’ve heard me say this a 1000 times at the end of the class.  Then I usually say, “it was just a workout, we didn’t do anything to make the world a better place.”  And therein lies my purpose in today’s piece.

There’s a theory called the “Moral Licensing Loophole”;  I learned that term in Gretchen Rubin’s book on Habits, called Better Than Before.  ( I’m ALL about habits.)  The Moral Licensing Loophole means that we give ourselves permission to do something “bad”, because we feel we’ve been “good”. (This is a continuation of my assertion that our thoughts are more important than a food plan.)

In my 28 years of working in health and fitness, I see this theory used all. the. time.  Heck.  I’ve used this theory!

Here’s some examples:

*That class was so hard, I can definitely afford wine tonight.

* That run was so long, I deserve ice cream.

* I just did 100 lunges! The french fries and cookies won’t even register with my body!

* I’ve worked out every day this week – I must have Calorie Deficit going on, potato chips and beer won’t even bring me back to normal!

* I’m going to overeat today and just work it off tomorrow, and probably the next day too.  So this doesn’t really count.

20150620_171446(0)Actually, that last one also falls under the “tomorrow logic” category.  As in, Now doesn’t matter because I’m going to follow good habits Tomorrow.

I’ve even fooled myself into thinking that extreme indulgence today will give me extra self control tomorrow.  Does that sound familiar?

Here’s some facts, followed by thoughts we need to cement in our brain:

1) Studies show that Rewards inspire TEMPORARY behavior.

2) Everything we do counts. We are the culmination of our every day habits.

3) Tomorrow-logic doesn’t work, because our actions and behaviors cause brain chemistry that perpetuates more of the same behavior, not different behavior.

Let’s look at these points a little deeper.

“Rewards only inspire temporary behavior”.  That’s a well studied, well 20150619_203249documented fact, yet rewards are used so often to motivate behavior change that you’d never know it. Think about all those 12 week weight loss contests.  Or attempts at losing weight before a wedding or a beach vacation. Who do you know that’s actually kept the weight off once the designated time frame is over?  I have to keep beating this drum:  weight loss is NEVER a big enough motivation to eat healthy and exercise forever.  If it was, 95% of everyone who goes on a diet wouldn’t gain their weight – plus a few extra pounds – back.

A “reward” implies an “end”.  When this is about weight loss, that translates to a temporary, and often heroic, effort at Deprivation, feelings of Sacrifice, and a sense of Hardship.  All of these are Negative Values.  They make us feel as if we deserve some sort of Prize at the end, usually a food prize.

SOLUTION:

20150619_200732Change your thoughts about the food you eat.  This was what my last Post focused on, but there’s more.  In addition to looking at Bad Foods as potentially cancer causing, or migraine causing, or heart disease causing, what about framing Good Foods and Good Choices in a positive light.

*”Thank goodness I don’t eat after dinner anymore, I sleep so much better now.”

*”Thank goodness I don’t drink alcohol every night, I sleep better, my face isn’t puffy, and I have better energy in the morning.”

*”Thank goodness I started packing lunch every day.  I can’t remember the last time I felt sleepy in the afternoon.”

*”Thank goodness I’ve gotten rid of the starchy and sugary carbs, my stomach is so flat!”

Positive Assertions!  Friday night we went to a food festival, which was amazing!  We both ate a lot of food, and felt pretty full.   Alright, we probably ate too much, BUT, no bread and no pasta.  ( there were no desserts, so that wasn’t even a temptation)  We got back (walked home up a mountain!), feeling stuffed, but our stomachs looked fine – honestly.

Not being bloated and sick and gassy, it’s WONDERFUL. That’s our motivation for not eating grainy, sugary carbs.  We Feel So NORMAL and good that it’s worth it.

“Everything we do counts. We’re the culmination of our every day habits.” 20150620_171508 This is why I counsel my clients to start eating well RIGHT NOW.  Don’t wait for Sunday, or the 1st, start now.  It’s not about weight, it’s about whether you’re putting foods in your mouth that make you feel good or make you feel like crap – in the long term.

No fooling ourselves that a little bit of poison doesn’t matter.  Or that falling off the wagon won’t hurt.  Everything counts.  Look down at your stomach – is it flat or puffy?  Are you energetic and clear thinking, or tired and foggy?  How’s your skin?  How’s your sleep?  Do you digest without bloating, farting or burping?

Everything counts, and here’s why:

“Tomorrow-logic doesn’t work, because our actions and behaviors always cause brain chemistry that perpetuates more of the same behavior, not different behavior.”

When we tell ourselves that we’re not going to drink the wine or eat the pasta or have the chips, and then we do, we STRENGTHEN the habit in our brain.  We don’t weaken it with our actions or our pledge to be better tomorrow, ever.  The action creates chemicals that create substance -matter- in our brain. The action makes it harder to resist next time, not easier.  If over indulgence was a deterrent, we’d have no obese people, no alcoholics, no drug addicts, no gamblers, etc.  

Indulgence begets more indulgence.  Always.

Solution:  In addition to changing your thoughts about what makes you feel good and happy, access your circumstances and surroundings.  What do you need to change there?

Could you:

*Keep your home a junk free zone.

*Pack a lunch every day.

* Make enough dinner that you have leftovers for lunch.

*Pledge to quit depriving yourself, and eat 3 meals a day of Real Whole Food.

*Make butter, olive oil, and coconut oil regular additions to each of your meals so that you’re not starving.

*Set aside time to plan your whole week, so you can schedule grocery shopping, packing, and cooking, and power cooking.

*Want a sweet or a salty?  Make It Yourself.  Learn how to bake cookies with almond flour, honey, and dark chocolate.  Learn how to bake homemade french fries in your oven. Learn how to make homemade ice cream, with real cream, swerve, and vanilla or cocoa powder.

Back to the word “deprivation”, that’s not what being healthy is about, but that’s the term and the attitude that’s been instilled in all of us since the 1970s, right?  “If you want to be healthy, you need to eat boiled chicken and steamed broccoli.”  That’s such bull crap!

I still remember Mrs Poland from my high school saying, “if you’re not hungry, you’re not losing weight”.  I believed that for decades, and it’s so wrong! Hunger and deprivation set us up to Fail, not Win.

Hunger’s the enemy, and we can keep it at bay by having hearty meals full of good fats, good proteins, and a TON of vegetables; not over exercising, and working hard at getting enough sleep.

Those are the secrets and the tricks to being a Normal Weight, feeling good, being healthy, and having nice skin.  Honest.  Get in touch with me if you need help.