Value Your Health

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how lucky I am to have my health. It seems that we’re constantly being told upsetting news about people we know and care about in regards to their health. Of course our primary reaction is to do whatever we can to help that person, and we should. Yet, we should also consider the message that is being sent. We shouldn’t take our health for granted and so we must ask ourselves, “What I can do better?” I’m posting this raw and open video of myself discussing this very topic. I would love to hear back from you. Perhaps you have a story or something to share with me and the other Mind Body Bespoke followers.

Just a heads up, this video is roughly 5 minutes long ;0)

 

 

Gardening with the Tower Garden

The Preggers Pantry Fit Mama, Carly Zuffinetti, discusses the benefits of the Tower Garden

CarlyandRioI was so honored when Frances asked me to do a guest piece for her amazing blog! She and I have such similar ideas and desires when it comes to living the healthiest and happiest life possible. I have an Instagram blog that is all about having a healthy pregnancy and raising a healthy baby. It is ever evolving and I have met some amazing people through social media. I love that you can find like minded individuals at your fingertips! We can all learn so much from one another, which is one of the reasons I decided to start my blog.

I taught special education for 12 years and I knew when I had my baby that I wanted to take some time off of my career to focus on my son. I’ve always been interested in health, wellness and nutrition and thought this would be a great time in my life to learn more about how to do the best things possible for the growing baby inside of me. There is so much information out there about what to eat, vitamins to take, how to exercise, what type of birth you want, etc. Research can be very overwhelming for a pregnant mama! I decided to find the things I love the most and share them with my followers. Thus, The Preggers Pantry was born!

CarlyTowerGardenOne of the things I really wanted to do when I found out I was pregnant was start an organic garden. I had no idea how I would have time for this though, as my husband and I travel quite often. So I continued to talk about this garden I dreamed about week after week, every time I bought vegetables or went to a farmers market. Then on my birthday in April my husband surprised me with a Tower Garden! This has been the best investment my family has made since having our baby. The Tower Garden is a vertical garden that uses a process called aeroponics to grow plants in an air/mist environment without the use of soil. I watched the video and checked out the website and immediately started putting my garden together. I ordered seedlings right away from Montecito Farms and went to a Tower Garden training at Socal Urban Farms in San Diego to learn everything I needed to know. It’s been about 2 months since I planted my seedlings and my garden is growing like crazy! I have been harvesting herbs, lettuces, and greens everyday for cooking and my daily green smoothies. I also chop spinach and put it in my baby’s avocado every morning. I decided to do mostly herbs, greens and lettuces in my garden because that’s what I use the most. I planted basil, cilantro, parsley, oregano, thyme, romaine, butter lettuce, red lettuce, arugula, 2 types of kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, cherry and heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, and squash. A few of my tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini just popped up and I’m so excited!

Check out @thepreggerspantry on Instagram for my green smoothie and salad recipes and for other healthy pregger, mama, and baby ideas! I would also love to hear about any recipes or products you used and loved during pregnancy, too! If you would like more information on how to get your own Tower Garden, email me at thepreggerspantry@gmail.com

CarlyPreg1

Exploring Natural Deodorants

I’m always making the effort to use natural skin care products as much as I can. While I am definitely not using 100% natural 100% of the time, trying out and making natural products has been another step in the right direction. Our skin is our largest organ and is incredibly important. I’m trying to give mine the TLC it deserves!

You may have been wondering what the fuss is all about regarding natural deodorants or perhaps you’re just curious as to why my friend Laura Lea (llbalanced.com) and I decided to stay in on a Friday night this summer and make homemade deodorant. Well, besides the obvious ( we are total health nerds), we wanted to see if we could use natural ingredients to make a daily, skin friendly, and chemical free deodorant that would work. This all stared when I read an article in a wellness journal on my flight down to Nashville a few weeks ago. So far, we have found that our homemade deodorant actually works! Awesome!

makingdeodorant

Home deodorant making. Melting beeswax and coconut oil! (See link below for recipe from Wellness Mama)

My curiosity about natural deodorants started a few years ago while I was teaching middle school physical education. I asked my students to bring some deodorant into school to keep in their gym lockers. As I’m sure many of you can recall, middle school years can be brutal and no one, NO ONE, wants to be the “stinky kid”. As I expected, many kids brought in a variety of different brands of common deodorants, but more and more I began to notice that students were bringing in natural deodorants or more natural mainstream brands. These students voiced that their parents had said regular brands contained dangerous chemicals or were too strong for young kids. This sparked my interested and I started to look into these claims a bit. At the time, I settled on Dove brand as it seemed relatively gentle.

There is a ton of reserach to argue several points on the matter, and while I’m certainly no scientist, it simply took me getting pregnant to explore further into the idea of natural deodorant. When I found out I was pregnant the intensity in which I read about healthy living material doubled. This was likely because of my somewhat neurotic personality and the fact that I took my pregnancy very seriously. I felt strongly that I had a responsibility to take the best care of myself as humanly possible. Certainly this did not mean being “perfect” (whatever that even means..), but it did mean that I immediately wanted to limit the potential for chemicals being absorbed into my skin on the chance that they would reach the placenta. This is not something I’m being “over the top” about, this is a reality. Our skin absorbs everything and so we need to pay close attention to that fact. (Click here to read more on skin care during pregnancy).  At the recommendation of a friend, I started using a wonderful brand of spray organic deodorant by the company EO products. They make amazing products that smell unbelievable and can be founds at many locations such as your local Whole Body at Whole Foods Market.  I used this throughout my entire pregnancy. What’s nice is that you can reapply it throughout the day without the yucky layering affect of most solid sticks. I do want to say , however,  that I did continue to use Dove only when I had a special event such as a wedding.

eo

After giving birth I continued to use my natural spray deodorant and started to explore other options. In fact, there are a ton of natural deodorants out there and more are coming on the market as we speak! In fact, recently The Honest Company released a spray on deodorant which I absolutely LOVE. Many people are finding that they like the Thai crystal deodorant as well, I have yet to try that one so I can’t comment on it just yet!

honest

Some of you may still be thinking “ok, what’s the big deal ? ” and are not convinced it’s worth the switch. I’m not trying to convince but simply raise awareness that it may be something worth looking into. Check out this article from mindbodygreen.com and do be aware that the internet is filled with opposing views on the matter. It’s totally up to you how YOU feel about it. I do encourage you to explore if you are finding that you want to learn more about this topic.

For the recipe on the homemade deordant that my friend Laura Lea and I made, check out Wellness Mama (another outstanding resource!).

finaldeodorant

 

So how many of you out there are using natural deodorants or other beauty products? Feel free to share you recommendations in the comments section!

What is Gut Health?

The Gut Microbiome by Alexandra Weinstein, RD CDN

Gut health has been a hot topic lately. The buzz-worthy word “gut” refers to the alimentary canal, including the intestine and stomach: essentially the entire Gastrointestinal Tract or digestive tract. New research has revealed that the bacterial content (or “microbiome”) of your gut may impact overall health, particularly the risk of certain chronic diseases. The human gut contains a vast number of microorganisms known collectively as the “gut microbiota.” Factors including age, genetics, environment and diet may influence the makeup of this microbiota. Each of us has a unique combination of healthy microflora (bacteria) living in our digestive tracts. Our unique microflora is affected by certain factors such as how we were born (vaginal delivery vs. caesarian section), whether or not we were breastfed, what antibiotics we may or may not have been exposed to in childhood, illness, diet, and other environmental factors. The microbiome becomes more stable with age, meaning less subject to change. The microbiome community carries out a range of useful functions for the host, including digesting foods we cannot easily digest including some fibers, stimulating the immune system, and blocking the growth of harmful microorganisms. Though the research is quite young and there is little to put into practice at this time, the goal is that treatment for some diseases can be tailored to each person based on their unique microbiome.

[ File # csp11929586, License # 2246430 ] Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php) (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / doctor

The exact content, meaning types of bacteria, in our microbiome and how that affects our risk of chronic disease has been the subject of recent research. Researchers have been looking into the gut microbiome for how it relates to Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Irritable Bowel Disease, obesity, insulin resistance, Type 2 Diabetes, and other chronic health conditions. For example, researchers have found a reduction in diversity of the microbiome which is associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Regarding obesity, recent research in mice has highlighted an increased ratio of a class of microbes called Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes in obese mice relative to their lean counterparts. (SOURCE: The gut microbiota and its relationship to diet and obesity: New insights. Siobhan F. Clarke, Eileen F. Murphy, Kanishka Nilaweera, Paul R. Ross, Fergus Shanahan, Paul W. O’Toole, and Paul D. Cotter. Gut Microbes. 2012 May 1; 3(3) 186-202.) Researchers have shown that long-term dietary patterns affect the ratios of Bacteroides, Prevotella, and Firmicutes, and that short-term changes may not have major influences. In addition, researchers have studied the impact of a strict vegan or vegetarian diet on the microbiota, and found a significant reduction in Bacteroides spp., Bifidobacterium spp., and the Enterobacteriaceae, while total bacterial load remain unaltered (SOURCE: The Microbiome in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: Current Status and the Future Ahead. Aleksandar D. Kostic,1 Ramnik J. Xavier,1,2 and Dirk Gevers. Gastroenterology. 2014 May; 146(6): 1489-1499.). The implications of these changes in microflora have yet to be fully discovered, but stay tuned!

What can we do to improve our gut health? Foods that support gut health include fermented foods (lactic acid bacteria have acted on the food pre consumption to break down the sugars into lactic acid, making the food easier to digest) such as sauerkraut, pickles, olives, tempeh, Kimchi, Kefir, yogurt, miso, cultured non-dairy alternatives such as some soy, almond, or coconut milk-based yogurt products, soy sauce. These foods contain probiotics, or live bacteria, that can potentially improve our population of these healthy microflora. Probiotics are live microbial organisms present in food or supplement form. On the flip side, it would be advisable to avoid animal products treated with antibiotics, as these might destroy healthy gut flora.

kimchee

In addition to eating foods that contain probiotics, they are also available in supplemental form. With the supplement market so flooded, how do we choose a probiotic? Look for an expiration date- this will help guarantee that the pill does actually contain live cultures, because a probiotic is no good if the bacteria are not live. Probiotics are filled with living microorganisms that if not properly made, shipped or stored, may not actually contain what they were manufactured with. Look for a probiotic with multiple different strains of bacteria. Look for at least 1 billion or more live organisms. Consumerlabs.com is a great resource for information on whether products actually contain what they say they contain, and what contaminants might be present. Store probiotics in a cool, dry place out of sunlight. Some probiotics require refrigeration. Generally, studies have indicated that probiotics are safe, however caution should be taken in a person who is very young, very old, or immunocompromised, and particularly in the critically ill population.

A prebiotic is “a selectively fermented ingredient that allows specific changes, both in the composition and/or activity in the gastrointestinal microflora that confers benefits upon host well being and health”. (SOURCE: Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics. Michael de Vrese, J. Schrezenmeir. Food Biotechnology. Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology Volume 111, 2008, pp 1-6607 May 2008). They are nondigestible or partially digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon. Food sources of prebiotics include inulin and chicory root (nondigestible fructo- oligosaccharides), which can be added to foods to increase fiber content, or can be found in Jerusalem artichoke, onions, asparagus, leeks, dandelion root, burdock, and artichoke. Of note, prebiotic foods may be poorly tolerated in those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome due to their propensity to be fermented by gut microflora and produce gas.

To close, the subject of the gut microbiome is fascinating, and we have just broken the surface in the world of research on this subject. The best advice for now would be to consume both pre-and probiotic foods as tolerated, as part of a healthy, “clean” diet, and to avoid pesticides, hormones and antibiotics in food as possible. I look forward to learning more about what our unique microbiome means!

AlexGuestBloggerAlexandra Weinstein, RD CDN, is a Manhattan based Registered Dietitian. Alex graduated from New York University and went on to complete her Dietetic Internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Alexandra has worked for New York City teaching hospitals for the last five years, both in inpatient and outpatient settings. Alex’s expertise is focused around Digestive Disorders.

Social Media links:
http://awcleaneats.weebly.com/
https://instagram.com/awcleaneats
https://www.pinterest.com/awcleaneats/
https://twitter.com/awcleaneats

My Healthy “High” Trifecta

Feeling a bit lethargic or in a rut? Perhaps you need to hit the reset button.  If you’ve been following my instagram account, you’re sure to see some “summery” posts but let’s chat a bit further about how to utilize this time of year to your benefit.

With summer now in full force, and (hopefully) the unseasonably cold days behind us, it’s the perfect time to reboot your mind and body for healthy living. There’s something about this time of year that makes it so much easier to do this. Perhaps it’s our childhood memories of “summer break” that help set this mindset into motion for us. While most Americans are not getting three months off of school for summer break, the weather, the celebrations, and the opportunities to be outdoors, still make everything feel a little “lighter” around this time of year. Less clothing means moving with more ease (Hello Commando! …just kidding). Driving with your windows down brings fresh air right into your system. Take advantage of this sweet summertime! For me, exercising, enjoying healthy nutritious meals, and spending time outdoors with friends and family is the perfect equation for a fabulous day. The positivity, the endorphins, the sunshine, creates this “high” for me. On a day where I can get all three, I sleep like a baby. In fact, I see this happen right before my eyes with my 18 month old son. On days where he gets to be outside and have a lot of activity, eats well, and is social, he sleeps so much better at night.

So if you are in a bit of a lull and need some pep in your step, ask yourself how you can find ways to make the most out of summer. Perhaps you’ll start to feel the “high” I’ve referenced. Below I’ll elaborate on this healthy “high” trifecta and share a few ideas with you!

Exercise: It’s pretty simple folks. The more you move, the better you’ll feel. Commit to a routine and when you simply can’t get to your workout class or the gym, go for a walk or workout in your living room (EVEN IF YOU ONLY HAVE TEN MINUTES). The truth is, it doesn’t matter where you do it, as long as you do something. It may be hard to get going, but once you’ve gotten through it (whether you enjoyed it or not) you WILL FEEL BETTER afterwards. You will not regret the workout you did once you feel the “high” from the endorphins released into your system.

workoutregrets

In a nutshell, when we exercise our brain releases neurotransmitters called endorphins.  This release creates a positive feeling in the body and mind. Many describe this feeling as euphoric and chances are you’ve heard this from your friends who run regularly. They experience that “runner’s high”. Note, you don’t have to actually RUN to experience this. You can achieve this feeling through a variety of workouts and the truth is, it’s probably different for each individual.   In addition, endorphins can help us to have decreased feelings of pain, better appetite control, and even release sex hormones (YOWZA!). If you would like to read a bit further about endorphins check out these links: medicine net and web md.

Healthy Food: This may seems obvious as well but I simply can’t not talk about it. Eating well makes you feel alive. Stop for a second and think about how you feel AFTER a big greasy meal. Sluggish, heavy, and after a sugar crash, you may even feel slightly depressed. Again, I’m talking about AFTER. I would never say that sitting down to a meal of a juicy cheeseburger and fries is not delicious (that would be a crazy thing to say) but that is DURING the meal when your tastebuds for salt, fat, and sugar are being turned on. On the flip side, when you sit down to a fresh summer salad with avocado and some grilled chicken or wild salmon (and a green juice if you’re like me!), I guarantee that afterwards you’ll feel lighter and generally more energetic. I’ve had many conversations with clients and friends about how one meal can wreck their day due to feeing heavy and tired. The digestive process uses a lot of energy so this makes perfect sense. Eating heavy foods tend to be a total energy zap.

KaleSalasMarinated Kale Salad from Green and Tonic

Keeping things light in regards to eating means:

  • Eating lot of fresh fruits and veggies
  • Staying hydrated throughout the day
  • Having healthy snacks on hand
  • Grocery shopping regularly as to always have healthy options
  • Including fresh cold-pressed juices and/or green smoothies daily

Sunshine & Fresh Air:  To complete this trifecta, which is often overlooked, is getting your booty outdoors at some point during the day. Getting outside in the sunshine can boost your mood instantly. Grab your shades and walk to work if you have that luxury.  Take your lunch outdoors or take your office break on a near by park bench (leave the ciggies behind- YUCK). Take it all in, the birds, the way the light feels on your face, the summer sun on your skin, and the fresh air going in and out with each breath. If you are alone, sit for a 5 minute mediation and totally disconnect from your phone.

poolside

Beyond the health benefits of vitamin D, sitting outside can simply boost your mood. You may have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD),  where people can become depressed due to a change in seasons. Even if you don’t suffer from SAD, you may notice that you do get blue when the weather changes and the days are less bright. When a nice day presents itself, take advantage. As a child, you longed for sunny beach days and perfect playground whether. This doesn’t need to change for you in adulthood. Don’t miss out on a chance to get outside, especially if you are having a tough day at work. Chances are you will re-enter the workplace feeling more calm and generally happier, making you better equipped to tackle the tasks ahead.

I’d love to hear from you this summer. What workouts are giving you the healthy “high” that I’ve discussed with you? What are you eating that gives you energy? What outdoor activities totally turn your mood around?

Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies

Lactation Cookies by Laura Lea Bryant, Chef.

Cookies4Hi friends! Holistic Chef Laura Lea Bryant comin’ atcha, but you can also think of me as MindBodyBespoke’s biggest fan! Frances is one of my dearest friends in the world, and she radiates beauty, positive energy and wisdom in everything she does. You are lucky to have made your way to her website! Today, I’m honored to share a recipe that I created with one of the MindBodyBespoke focuses in mind, helping pregnant and new mothers navigate their changing bodies and to nourish their babies, naturally.

By no means am I an expert in this field, but I know that breastfeeding and producing milk is an epic challenge for many new mamas. A healthy and steady milk supply has countless benefits for mother and child. For a baby, quality breastmilk is an irreplaceable source of nutrients, immune system building/disease prevention and it helps with digestion. For mamas, breastfeeding has been showing to diminish postpartum depression, aid in weight loss, reduce risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis and of course, allow for invaluable bonding time.

Nutrition plays a critical role in lactation and proper breastfeeding. One ingredient in particular, Brewer’s Yeast, has been showing to increase milk supply and help with post-baby blues. Brewer’s Yeast is a nutrient-rich fungus that is generally tolerated well by babies. In this recipe, Brewer’s Yeast combines with flax meal and oats, two others ingredients shown to help with lactation. The result? These amazingly delicious cookies! Don’t be fooled by the word “cookie”—these little nuggets of nutrition are healthy enough to eat for breakfast or a snack. For busy moms, grab-and-go food items are clutch, and a little chocolate never hurt! You might notice a slightly malty taste from the yeast, and I personally love it. When buying ingredients for these cookies (and always), look for the freshest and best quality you can find. It makes a difference!

Cookies2

Make these cookies for yourself or someone you love who is a new mama, and hopefully they will help physically and emotionally with all of the change that takes place when beautiful new life enters the picture.

Cookies3

Lactation Cookies       Yield: Approximately 16 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted grassfed butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsalted unsweetened peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 3/4 cups oats
  • 2 tbsp Brewers yeast
  • 1/4 tsp ground sea salt
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Procedure:
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together butter, sugar and peanut butter until smooth. Add chia, egg and vanilla and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, combine spelt flour, oats, yeast and sea salt. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to incorporate. Stir in chocolate chips.

Scoop dough into 1 1/2 inch balls into baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between.

Bake cookies for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean, let cool for 5 minutes before eating.

LLBLaura Lea is a Certified Holistic Chef in Nashville, TN with a recipe development and teaching business called Laura Lea Balanced. She focuses on simple, budget and family-friendly recipes that are healthier versions of classic favorites. You can visit her website at llbalanced.com !

Summer Guest Bloggers 2015

We are surrounded by so many people who are passionate about health. Many of whom have dedicated their lives to helping others reach goals and live a healthy lifestyle.  Even more, healthy living is trending big time! A trend that I believe is going to stick. It is COOL to know about healthy eating and how to exercise, and more and more people are starting to pay close attention to how their bodies (and minds!) are working and how they react to certain lifestyle choices.

Learning how to take better care of yourself will help you on your journey to feeling better and living your life in a more health focused manner.  It can be incredibly empowering to gain knowledge, put it to use, and see it work right before your eyes. You can essentially become an EXPERT— on yourself. The more you learn about how your body responds to dietary change, exercise patterns, and sleep quality for example, the better you are able to determine what your needs are and what makes you the best you can be.

With that being said, I am very excited to share some great news with you that will help you as you become more health literate and savvy on health related topics. I have recruited some fabulous people to contribute to the Mind Body Bespoke blog this summer. Over the next few months you’ll see the occasional post from yours truly as well as additional posts from some super talented, passionate, and intelligent people in health and wellness related fields. Their posts will contain helpful information and advice, recipes, and anecdotes that we can learn from.

summerblog

I do hope that you will share these posts with your friends, family and colleagues. We all have a stake in each other’s health and wellness. Together, we can nurture and support each other as we all strive to be our very best.

Cheers to a healthy and happy summer!

Oh my! Oatmeal

Please people. We must respect the oatmeal.

In my past life, oatmeal was just a bowl of mushy mush. And, I’m sorry, but mushy mush doesn’t get me excited. It wasn’t until I first swirled a glorious spoon full of peanut butter into my oatmeal during the first trimester of my pregnancy, did I then appreciate the staying power, deliciousness, and comfort for the mush.

oatmeal2You see, during the first few weeks of my pregnancy I had some of the fun waves of nausea that would occur in the morning. And while I never got sick, I definitely needing something to help keep me feeling solid and less queasy. With a good dollop of PB or almond butter mixed in my oatmeal, I was set for a few hours until my next ravenous preggers moment. You see, the thing about oatmeal is that it sticks. It stuck to my morning routine like glue. Suddenly, I was having it just about every morning and jazzing it up a few different ways. It became even more important once my son was born as he was getting me up before the sun came up and I needed what I called “my first breakfast.”  It helped me to feel ready to run the day with my needy newborn. Now, 17 months later, I’m still doing that just about every morning– and having a lot of fun with it too!

oatmeal1

First things first, steer clear of junky oatmeal. Yes, there are some oatmeal brands out there that are filled with unnecessary sweeteners, extra sodium, and artificial flavors…..and dare I say, GMO (genetically modified organisms). YUCK! Stick with the real thing. Good ol’ fashion, fiber-packed and energy boosting oats! They are excellent for helping with weight control, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. I really love Bob’s Red Mill, which also has a gluten-free line as well. I switch between old fashion rolled oats and quick oats. Another great option is to purchase quality oats that have been jazzed up for you but with GOOD QUALITY ingredients. I love Purely Elizabeth (her granola is to die for!) and Evoke Healthy foods. Anyway, it’s all good to me but you can certainly find your favorite!

oatmeal3Depending on the morning, I’ll either use water or almond milk as my base. To me, it tastes better when cooked on the stove top (with steel cut it is a must), but let’s be honest, on crazy or lazy mornings I will give it a microwave zap (though I’m trying to use my microwave less when I can). Also, get creative with toppings and absolutely do not limit yourself. Try a variety of fruits, nuts, nut butters, and seeds. Try a very light maple syrup drizzle (100% pure). Also, keep frozen bags of berries in your freezer. They melt perfectly into your warm steamy bowl. Here are some of yummy ways to dress up your oatmeal:

  • Peanut Butter, Banana, Raw Honey, Hemp Seeds
  • Almond Butter (Try Justin’s ), Blueberries, Chia Seeds, Maple syrup
  • Any nut butter and Jam/Jelly (I love Crofter’s organic)
  • Almond butter, Pear, and flax seeds
  • Walnuts, blueberries, raspberries

So, MindBodyBespoke readers, how are you super charging your oatmeal? Share your tips with myself and others !

Flip the switch on workout boredom

Working out, especially if you are just getting started,  can be overwhelming and certainly can be viewed as boring. The repetitive nature of getting to the gym and getting on the treadmill or elliptical may not be enough to excite you. workout1That makes total sense to me (even though I sometimes do those things during the week as “maintenance”). On these machines, you’re literally moving forward but not going anywhere….and I’m starting to think that’s sending a subliminal message to all of us! Work as hard as you can but not move forward? Are YOU doing this several times a week with no attachment or connection to what you’re doing? What is your workout mindset?

If you’re hoping to spice up your workouts this spring season and want to avoid the bore of the same old thing, then let’s switch it up! Flip the switch on your workout mindset by varying your physical activities. You’re body can physically respond well to this– the unexpected. Knowing that you’re going to the gym for the same old routine can make you become disconnected to what it is you are doing. You’re body may be working but where is your mind? Counting down the minutes until it’s all over? (We’ve all been there!)

If you are in this situation then try taking a difference approach to your weekly workouts. The best way to do this is to explore new and different types of exercise that you haven’t thought to try before, maybe something that scares you a bit. Many years ago I was intimidated by indoor cycling. workout3A colleague and friend from work took me for my first class and I was immediately hooked! I had no idea that this transformative experience would quickly become a new addition to my workout arsenal. So sprinkle in one or two of these new activities into your week. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to try yoga, spinning, pilates, or running but have held back for whatever reason. Just try it! You have nothing to lose and so much to gain! Try new classes that are offered at your gym or in your city that you’ve overlooked before. If you don’t feel comfortable trying a new class alone, recruit a buddy! Having a partner in crime is definitely the way to go and will take some of the anxiety out of being the newbie in class. My point is this, working out can be boring– if you LET IT. Take control of the situation. Become an explorer with an open-minded approach. Try new classes, new workouts, and new regimens. Try outdoor activities. No one ever gets bored or lethargic in fresh air and sunshine! Also, be open to flexibility — if you can’t get to your normal class, try something else. I learned this after having my son. Prior to being pregnant I had a routine and my go-to classes. But after giving birth I quickly realized I had to get workouts in when I could (often at home in my living room via youtube ). I had to become more flexible with scheduling and allow for variety. I found that I began to value my exercise time even more because it was so precious (time alone and time for me). Some days I can get to a class and sometimes a whole week (or more!) will go by and I have to improvise.

Here’s my final thought for you– working out is a luxury. Yep. That may sound a little crazy to some of you but think about it. It’s time alone, time for you, time for self-improvment. We mustn’t allow ourselves to look at it as drag and succumb to the boring same old — same old.workout2 Instead, look at it as an opportunity to enrich your health and allow yourself to explore all the many wonderful and exciting things that you can do with your body and your mind. Once you wrap your head around this concept, working out will not be boring, it will become a treat, a necessary part of your life that you actually look forward to.  Can you give this mindset a try?

Please share your workout motivation stories and comments! How do you avoid workout boredom?

workout4

Secrets to a good salad

The moment I met my husband, my life changed (because I met his mother — who is awesome). While my husband and I have a story that is oh-so-sweet (high school sweethearts), this post isn’t about that. Sorry honey!

This post is about SALAD.

Everyone who knows my mother-in-law, knows that she is a serious cook. In her immaculate kitchen, there is not a cookbook in sight. All the GLORY that comes to her table comes from years of experience, Italian heritage, and the pure love of cooking and family. There isn’t a person who has been to her home who hasn’t drooled over her masterful eggplant Parmesan, always asking for leftovers to take home ( let’s be honest, leftovers are rarely available or disappear in the middle of the night…ahem). And while her cooking is simply divine, she is also known for making a massively large salad for every dinner, and it is DELICIOUS. This is where I learned to love salad. For years, I tried my best to replicate it, and eventually I’ve recreated my own version(s) of her famous salad.  Now it has become a specialty for myself as well. Friends comment regularly how they’re loving my salad at potluck dinners! Cool! So here’s some of my tips and tricks:

tempehsalad

1. Don’t be a bore – EXPLORE! Stop with the same old , same old. Ok—get what you like, then explore new possibilities. You may think you don’t like something by itself, but paired with other yummies, and the amalgamation could be life changing! This applies to your greens too — forgive me wedge lovers but we’ve all moved on from iceberg ! Go after different greens, mix and match them, and see what glorious creations you can come up with! I love a good massaged raw kale salad. So here are some great combos and toppings to try out. I do limit dairy in my daily diet but I did include cheese options for those who love a good crumble in your salad:

  • pear, walnut, goat cheese
  • strawberry, slivered almonds, blue cheese
  • golden tempeh, sprouted pumpkin seeds (I like these by Go Raw)
  • Tomato, cucumber, onion, pistachio or sunflower seeds, Feta
  • Ribbon Carrots (use a peeler to create ribbons!)
  • Raw brussel sprouts (you may find these already pre-chopped in your grocery store!)
  • Thinly sliced hot peppers (perfect on a raw kale salad )
  • Salad Boosters like these by Living Intentions
  • Last but never least, AVOCADO. Which I love in and on everything.

2. Dress code is causal! I’ve gotten a lot of “what dressing is this?” and most of the time it is something I did without even thinking about it! Keeping it simple is the key. Mostly because of all the other delicious items that bring flavor to the salad. The absolute worst thing EVER is an overdressed, pundget, bitter, or sweet soaked salad. Not to mention the caloric overload that has probably incurred with the heavy handed pour. This is another reason why it is best to make your own dressing. Now don’t get me wrong there are some great quality dressings to purchase out there but for every one dressing there is probably ten more that are filled with junk. Here are my basic go to dressing combos but the same principle applies from the previous paragraph—explore the possibilities! :

  • EVOO and Balsamic
  • EVOO and Raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s)
  • EVOO and Red wine vinegar
  • EVOO and Dijon mustard (sometimes honey)
  • EVOO and Lemon with Sea Salt and Black Pepper

3. Chop till you drop! This is truly where the magic comes in. A great salad must be THROUGHLY mixed and chopped. I swear this makes a world of a difference. If you leave it up to people, they’ll miss out if they take a bite of this and a bite of that. So before you serve a salad to anyone, chop it up! I go straight into it with a fork and knife and literally cut it up.

4. Spin it to win it! Lastly, with large tongs in my right hand (my mother-in-law got me hooked on tongs) and with my left hand on the bowl, I get to spinning. All this does is make sure the dressing and the toppings are evenly dispersed throughout the salad, ensuring that every bite is filled with the flavors and textures I’ve chosen. IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE! The “spinning” means just flipping over big “grabs” of the salad with the tongs and turning the bowl as I go. It’s kind of a ritual ;0)

Hopefully this post has inspired you to create salads that are anything but boring. Leave a comment on your favorite salad combos and/or dressings!

Curried Brazil Nut Spread

Happy accident. I love when that happens! While working on something for a new client looking to eliminate dairy, I was reading about so many different cheese alternatives. Days later, half asleep, randomly I opened my fridge and pulled out a fresh bag of organic brazil nuts. Then from my pantry I pulled out some salt and pepper, extra virgin olive oil and some curry powder and BOOM- this amazingly easy and delicious spread was born. I love exploring and coming up with great discoveries! Must have been hiding in my brain somewhere!

brazilcheese2

Here’s how to make this simple and savory spread:

Combine the following ingredients in your Vitamix or other “super-sonic” blender of choice (a small food processor would work as well). Blend until relatively smooth. You may have to stop and start a few times and use a knife or spatula to keep the mixture moving. I made it semi-thick but you could add a bit more olive oil and/or water to thin it out if you prefer.

brazilcheese3

  • 1 cup of raw organic brazil nuts (I use Woodstock brand)
  • 1 small peeled raw garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons of filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons of high quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder (I used Simply Organic brand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/4- 1/2 teaspoon of salt (based on preference)

Serve with crackers, carrots or celery sticks!brazilcheese1

Also great as a spread on toast or a sandwich! Enjoy and let me know how yours turns out by leaving a comment !

“One day at a time” –with help.

 

Take a few minutes to think about these questions in relation to your own personal health and wellness.

 Where are you now? Where do you want to be?

How do you feel now? How do you want to feel?

 Now, How will you get there?

 Let’s start with this simple yet perfect phrase – ONE DAY AT A TIME. You will get there, one day at a time. – WITH HELP.

  1. Count on you: The hardest part about making a change to living a more health-focused life is taking the time to be honest with yourself about where you really are. Reflect on how you got there and then admit that change needs to occur. Once you’ve done this and said it out loud to yourself, it’s out there. By putting it out there, you bring it out into the light, drawing attention and focus to the issue and your readiness to do something about it. It’s time to take action!changinglife
  1. Tell your peeps: The most important element to your self-improvement is to have support. Though some may be able to do it “on their own” there is absolutely no reason to do so. Why limit yourself to being alone with your challenge? Whether it is weight loss, improving diet, or another health-related goal, you absolutely don’t need to climb that hill solo. First, tell your family what you’re going to do and why it is important to you. Do the same with your friends or co-workers that you’re close with. If you don’t feel like sitting down with them, put it in an email. If you share your goals with them, they are way more likely to encourage and support you. Some may even decide to join you!
  1. Find a #fitfam community: There are countless communities dedicated to self-improvement. Social media has exploded with support networks for weight loss and people across the globe are cheering for each other as body or behavior transformations occur. It’s really quite awesome to see people supporting complete strangers on their journey.  Instagram is amazing for this. If you’re following this blog, you are now part of the MindBodyBespoke community and I can promise you, you’ll find support here!
  1. Connect with a gym/studio: If you have the financial means to join a gym or studio (Yoga, Pilates, Spin, etc), do so! With the right attitude (positive, friendly, and open) there are immediate supportive relationships awaiting you. For some this may take some extra effort but take the time to get to know the staff, teachers, and trainers at your gym. The person that checks you in, isn’t just a person that checks you in. They are part of your support system. Introduce yourself and learn their name. They will more than likely do the same. This only further enhances the environment of your gym as being YOUR community. One caveat; do take the time to research gyms and studios. There are definitely cultural vibes to each one and you’ll want a place where you feel comfortable.
  1. Lastly, Buddy Up: This is truly icing on the cake. Find someone, a family member, a friend, a co-worker, anyone, and make them your workout buddy. Having someone else to help keep you accountable and on track, particularly if they have similar goals, it is incredibly helpful on your journey. Make health and fitness a social affair by doing fun things together that are associated with reaching your goals. Take classes together, cook together, read literature and discuss it together, and most importantly – celebrate your victories together. * If you are pregnant, hit up a prenatal yoga class. You are sure to find women there who will want to buddy up for walks and other activities.IMG_0116

Support can come in a variety of places. Whether it’s working with a coach or trainer, becoming part of a gym community, or setting up “walking” dates with your BFF, it’s all good. You’ve got to find what works for you –but remember, there’s no good reason for going after it alone. You’re more likely to have success and reach your goals with caring people supporting you every step of the way!

Feel free to comment or share below what has worked for you!

 

3-2-1 Takeoff!

MBB_Logo_FinalI am so excited to publish the first post on my new website, MindBodyBespoke.com! If you are reading this, chances are you’ve already been following me on Instagram and have witnessed the incredible traction and excitement that has been brewing with Mind Body Bespoke. Thank you for your support! I’m going to use this post to tell you a little bit about how Mind Body Bespoke has come to be.

If you know me personally, you know that I tend to be a bit hyper active when it comes to physical activity. I’m not great at sitting still or laying around. On the beach, forget it! I’ll be throwing the football, jumping into swells, and trying to convince ANYONE to play Pro Kadima with me. A couple of rainy days stuck in the house and it’s not pretty…. I’ve always been this way! As a child I was incredibly active. I grew up in Southeast Asia prior to moving back to the United States in 1998 and living in the tropics allowed for me to spend countless hours outside doing what kids to do best, play! IMG_0154This love for physical activity has deep roots in my soul, it is a part of me to need to move, to feel strong and able, and to enjoy PLAY. This love for movement is what led me to pursue a career in Physical Education. While teaching levels K-10 as well as serving as a coach on various sports teams, I was able to share my passion with children and young adults. I lived and breathed all things physical education. I felt strongly about busting negative PE memories and tried desperately to squash stereotypes of inconsiderate “gym” teachers. I wanted my students to feel the joy of movement, the excitement of trying something new, and the pride of doing something you thought you couldn’t. When a student said, “I can’t”, I said, “You can.” Encouragement and empowerment has always be my strong suit. I BELIEVE in people.

For seven years I taught physical education classes and health education courses. During this time, I dove further into my interest of “health” as a discipline. I read books and articles, attended workshops, and conversed with others in the field. I applied fitness and diet trends to my own life, wanting to see if claims were legitimate and what was was just hype. I was living and breathing all things health and wellness, and it felt good, it felt like my calling. It was natural. It was RIGHT.

Well, life happens, no literally – LIFE HAPPENS. I became pregnant in theIMG_2014 spring of 2013 with my son. My husband and I moved out of New York City to Ithaca, NY where he attended Cornell University’s Johnson School to get his MBA. For the first time in my life I was to gain weight on purpose! My body was about to go through some pretty serious changes – I was excited but of course nervous. Naturally, my response was to immerse myself in pregnancy health and fitness. I read MORE books and articles. I committed to regular prenatal yoga. I ate well and exercised regularly. In a nutshell, I was still me, just with a little bun in the oven! I enjoyed my pregnancy and felt committed to taking care of myself. After all, it was my duty. A family friend said something that stuck with me, “ You are a mother the moment you get pregnant.” That was cemented into my brain. Everything I did was going to directly affect another person’s life….my baby’s life. That was incredibly motivating for me to stick to my healthy ways. In addition, I can say with absolute certainty that having a fit pregnancy had everything to do with my ability to “bounce back” after my son’s birth. Nothing felt new or overwhelming, I didn’t need to commit to some crazy diet or intensely focus on weight loss. I had the habits and just kept them going (of course with patience and a little more ooomph!).

Months began to pass. Months of pure JOY sprinkled with sleep deprivation and spit up. During this time I received a lot of feedback and questions about my pregnancy and my new life as a #fitmama. I loved sharing my tips with other women! And after my sons first birthday, I realized that I was really missing what I loved about teaching physical education — motivating and inspiring others to live a healthy and active life. With the launch of my Instagram and the positive feedback that followed, I quickly realized there was no turning back, Mind Body Bespoke, my wellness coaching business was born.

So grab your green juice, coffee, coconut water or heck, cocktail (!), and have a toast with me to kicking off the launch of my new site, MindBodyBespoke.com, the place where you will always find positivity and support, education, and motivation for your wellness journey.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Frances  

Check out my official launch video here!