Gut Health for Optimal Nutrition

If your gut is telling you something, listen to it.

Your gut is smarter than you think.

Did you know that over 70% of your body’s serotonin is produced by the gut? So if the gut ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

More and more research is coming out about the links between gut health and your physical and mental health. Of course we know we need it to process our food and eliminate waste, but we hitherto didn’t really realize how simple things like excess mucus or inflammation in your gut’s lining can dramatically impact your well-being.

The massive population of different microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc…) that live in your gut are the often-temperamental governors of your intestines, and they make up your microbiome.

The microbiome comprises up to five pounds of your bodyweight and it plays and equally large role in your day-to-day functioning. From synthesizing vitamins and amino acids to destroying harmful microbes that enter the body, the microbiome is indispensable to your health and wellness.

Our modern diet and lifestyles can be very damaging to the microbiome, which can in turn sabotage your health goals.

So let’s dive right in to how to care for this vital population in order to optimize your health and nutrition.

Gut Health

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are non-digestible parts of food that feed your gut bacteria. Like so many microscopic pets, the microbiome needs to be fed a healthy diet in order to thrive. Foods that pass through the small intestine undigested become fermented by the time they reach the large intestine, and your microbiome loves fermented foods.

So step 1 in the process of caring for your little bacteria friends is to feed it prebiotic rich foods. Some examples of prebiotic-rich foods include:

Gut Health for Optimal Nutrition
  • Onions
  • Artichokes
  • Apples
  • Cocoa
  • Chicory root
  • Flax seeds
  • Garlic
  • Banana
  • Asparagus
  • Oatmeal
  • Barley
  • Certain types of edible seaweed
Gut Health for Optimal Nutrition

Probiotics

You know you need them. You hear all about them in health magazines and journals. But is there any rhyme or reason to which probiotics you should be consuming.

Yes there is.

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus: this is the most common probiotic you’ll find in supplement form and in fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir. This probiotic can be helpful if you have lactose intolerance since Lactobacillus produces enzymes that break down lactose (milk sugars). This bacteria also produces lactic acid, which if you’re into muscle building and bulking you probably know is a great fuel source for your muscles.
  • Saccharomyces boulardii: this probiotic has a growing amount of research the suggests this species of yeast has positive benefits for acute and chronic digestive issues like IBS, Crohn’s disease, recurrent colitis as a result of C. Diff and traveler’s diarrhea. Saccharomyces boulardii helps balance the gut when there is an overgrowth of bad bacteria.
  • Bifidobacterium: there are many strains of this bacteria but all seem to help stimulate the immune system and can also prevent constipation.

As always, consult your physician before starting any new supplements. But if you have no restrictions, choose the probiotic that best suits your needs and provides a dose of at least 1 billion CFUs (colony forming units). Most health advice you’ll find says to take 1-2 billion CFUs per day, although some studies indicate that much higher doses are required to achieve results for some strains of bacteria.

So should you be taking more than one or two capsules?

My advice is that if you are using both supplements and a healthy, probiotic-rich diet there is usually no need to spend money on higher doses of supplements.

Ok, so what foods should I be consuming to get probiotics into my diet?

Here are some lovely suggestions:

  • Yogurt (of course!). Look for Greek yogurt (unsweetened/unflavored) or “live cultured” probiotic yogurt.
  • Kefir. I’m not a huge fan of this one, but it becomes more palatable if you’re using it as a smoothie base.
  • Apple cider vinegar (use it for pickling or making salad dressings!)
  • Raw milk and cheeses. If you’re not pregnant or immune-compromised, raw milk and cheeses (which have not been pasteurized)  are an excellent source of probiotics. Again, check with your doctor to make sure unpasteurized dairy is ok for you.
  • Pickled veggies. You can pickle just about anything.
  • Wash out a mason jar, pack it tightly with pickles, sliced onions, or chopped cabbage for example, cover the veggies with a brine of vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar are fine) and water in a 1:1 ratio. Add 1-2 teaspoons of salt, peppercorns, and a tiny bit of sugar to the brine, close the jar tightly and set the jars on the counter for a few days to ferment. You can test-taste them after a couple days to see how you like them. Once they are fermented to your taste, refrigerate and enjoy. So easy! You can also add an oak leaf, grape leaves or a little black tea to the brine to get natural tannin and increase your pickle’s crunchiness.

Stress Reduction

Stress reduces blood flow to the gut in order to make sure your brain, heart and kidneys get first dibs on all blood supply.

And girlfriend, we are stressed all the freaking time!

We literally cannot escape stress some days.

This reduced blood flow limits immune responses to the gut and allows unfriendly bacteria to thrive.

So if stress-reduction is not a part of your daily routine, I recommend starting now.

Practice mindfulness, listen to a meditation (hello YouTube and free meditation apps!), breathe deeply, try yoga, exercise in a way that you love.

Sleep more without feeling guilty. Sleep better, which maybe means earlier bedtime, no electronics in bed, keep your room dark and quiet, no pets in bed, take some melatonin…

Reducing stress and deactivating the fight-or-flight mode that our modern life constantly puts us in is going to benefit you gut and so many other bodily systems!

Cut Out the Junk Food

You know it needs to be done.

Besides the fact that cutting out junk food leaves more room in your diet for whole foods full of pre- and probiotics in their natural state, we know from research that junk food can be very destructive to your microbiome.

Bleached, white flour. Refined sugars. Artificial flavors and colors. Pesticides. GMOs.

All of these things are harmful to your body.

All of them need to go.

If you can’t recognize what food you are eating just by reading the ingredients label, then skip it.

Or heck, at last try to limit it.

Start by giving yourself one junk food item per day, per week, per month…whatever it takes to reduce your intake of processed garbage, just do it!

Some research suggests that modern adaptations made to our food supply (GMOs) are damaging to the lining of our gut as well, which creates inflammation in the gut and can also allow unfriendly microbes to penetrate your gut wall. Modern wheat is under a lot of scrutiny as a possible culprit for leaky gut and other inflammatory bowel problems (for more on this, I recommend reading Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis).

That’s four things.

Four big, huge things that might seem daunting and maybe not even that pressing since you can’t see what’s going on in your gut.

But girlfriend, I promise you that you are what you eat, and your little bacteria friends in your gut doing their very best to take care of you.

So take care of them in turn.

Gut health is linked to the health of literally everything else in your body.

If you are not caring for your microbiome, then you are not optimizing the nutrition that you work so hard to buy, prepare and consume in a healthy way.

And without nutrition, where is your health?

“Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” -Hippocrates

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How to Craft a Healthy Lifestyle in 3 Easy Steps


Healthy living. We all want it. We all know we need it. Yet so few of us actually achieve the results we envision for ourselves when it comes to that healthy life.

We try diet pills, fad diets, celebrity workouts, waist-trainers, fancy kitchen equipment, subscription boxes…

Maybe some of those work for a little bit, but you know in your heart that there’s no shortcuts when it comes to healthy living. The results you see are short-lived and ultimately land you right back where you started–frustrated, unsatisfied with your lifestyle, maybe disgusted with yourself, and already looking for that next one thing that will revolutionize your life.

How to create a life you love in 3 easy steps


Girlfriend, I wish I could tell you there was a magic pill or one exercise that Carrie Underwood does to get those killer mini-skirt ready legs. But if you’ve been around me long enough you know that I absolutely do not believe that there is one thing that will rocket you from couch potato to hot fries that everyone wants in X amount of days.

As a health coach, I work with clients who all want different things, like different foods, excel at different exercise programs, and whose bodies are all different from start to end of their program. I don’t use one-size-fits-all programs or diets, and the beauty of that is that clients learn how to adapt their individual preferences, lifestyles, work environments, etc… to fit their unique goals. I will be up-front about this always.

I cannot sit down with a stay-at-home parent and a working professional who puts in 70-80 hours per week at their job and have their ideal lifestyles look exactly the same. It’s just not possible and using that one-size-fits all approach does nothing to help either one of those people.

Enough blabber, Megan. Get to the good stuff!

Right…

So we’ve established that everyone is vastly different and so their lifestyle design needs to be equally different in how we approach it.

We get that.

But are there at least some basic steps that anyone can use to start crafting their dream lifestyle and actually getting the results they want?

YES. YES. AND YES!

Every painter might have the same brush and paints, but their artwork is totally different. So here are your tools with which to start painting your dream lifestyle.

Visualization

You can either do this on paper, or you can find a quiet place to just sit with your eyes closed and focus. I want you to look into your future and imagine that all your dreams came true and you are living exactly the way you want to be. Future-you has no wants, no limitations, no barriers. It’s your dream so get creative. Picture what future-you looks like physically. Is she fit and healthy? Is she thick or thin? Does she embrace gray hair or color it? Does she wear tailored business suits, or loose, flowy garments in soft colors?

Next think about where she lives. By the beach, or in the city? Apartment living, or does she own her home? What kind of vibes does her decor say about her? Is she a  minimalist who wastes no time and energy on the material things that do not bring her joy? Does she fill her house with plants and books and cushy chairs for reading? Does she have pets?

And most importantly, what does her daily routine look like? Does she get up at the crack of dawn to workout before heading to her high-powered job? Does she wake when she feels like it and then wanders onto her patio with a cup of coffee to watch the sun rise? Does she have kids that she marshalls together and gets off to school with ease and organization? Does she work, or stay at home? Is she an entrepreneur, an artist, a tradesperson, or a parent? Or all of the above?

Be very specific in your mind (or on paper) about visualizing what this future-you does with her day, how she feels about her work, and what she invests her time into. This should be 100% based of your current desires and goals for your life, and should assume that nothing is impossible or out of your league.

I hope future you is living it up to her fullest potential, loving her life, and creating an impact on others, because that is what life should be all about.

Self-assesment

This part may be boring, but I promise you that it is essential and can be very eye-opening. Again, this can be done on paper (and perhaps it is better that way so you have a record of this exercise to reflect on) or you can just do it mentally.

I want you to write or think of current-you and how you are spending your time right now. Take it day by day and think about what time you get up, what you are investing most of your energy into and how that energy expenditure makes you feel (drained or passionate?).

How do you spend your free time? Does your free time help you relax, or do you use it to propel yourself towards your goals? How many hours a day do you work for someone else’s goals, and how many are you putting towards yours? Are you spending time with your family/friends? Do you love your morning routine? Does your work make you feel satisfied? Do you set aside time from your day to nourish your body and soul properly?

How are you doing financially? What does your home environment look like? How are your relationships? Are you satisfied with the way those things are now?

I remember reading one of my favorite books, Playing Big by Tara Mohr, for the first time and how the author guided me through an exercise much like this. It wasn’t terribly comfortable and I felt the weight of all this guilt and unhappiness settling inside me because in truth I hated certain parts of my life at the time. I didn’t know what I know now.

I know now that I possess the ability to either change what I don’t like about my life or change myself to adapt to what I don’t like about my life.

And that tiny mindset shift is the powerful difference between being a victim of your life and being a victor over your life.

Action Planning

So you’ve looked ahead to future-you and by now you’ve compared her to current-you. While I hope there is not much difference between the two, I know from personal experience that there probably are some glaring differences that you would love to change.

The action planning session we’re in right now should definitely be done on paper. I want you to have a physical, visual reminder of what you want to change and how you are going to do it. The goals you write down here should be small but actionable. If you’re struggling with what to write down, think back to future-you. In the guided exercises in Playing Big, Tara Mohr refers to future-you as your inner mentor, and truly that is what future-you should be. When you are looking at what you are doing every day your inner mentor should be there in your mind to tell you if what you are doing is going to get you to where you want to be in the future.

On a sheet of paper I want you to create sections for each of the following aspects of healthy living:

  • Work
  • Home environment
  • Finances
  • Physical activity
  • Relationships
  • Nutrition

In each of these sections you should be thinking about what current-you needs to be doing differently in order to align with future-you and her lifestyle.

When I did  this exercise I was working in job that I liked reasonably well but I still hated going to work because of this one coworker relationship that was full of tension and dislike. I dreaded having to deal with that every day and it was both physically and mentally draining having to walk on eggshells around this coworker. I knew I wouldn’t quit my job. I loved other aspects of my work and had landed this job because I had suddenly quit my previous job with no other prospects lined up. I knew I wouldn’t give up what I loved about my job because of this one relationship. I wouldn’t put my husband through the stress and uncertainty of being the sole breadwinner again.

I knew I had options.

I could request to be transferred to a different clinic. It would mean more of a commute, more gas, more early days, but it was possible I would end up with coworkers I loved.

Or I could change my mindset. This felt more doable and less risky than the first option.

So instead of drastically changing my whole workplace and routine, I focused on venting my frustrations about this coworker privately (mainly my husband, NOT social media), taking care of myself at home so I didn’t burn out at work, learning to bite back the things I wanted to say but knew I would regret, and being open and honest in workplace conflict resolution meetings.

Ultimately I would no longer work with that particular person, but the time that I did work with them became more manageable and less draining because of the mindset shifts I was able to undergo with the support of others.

Try to write down 2-3 small action steps you can make in each category that will bring you into alignment with your goals.

Want to eat healthier but don’t want to go on a fad diet or pay for expensive meal plans?

Some easy action steps might be eating fruit with every breakfast, making coffee at home instead of buying that sugary Starbucks, asking for veggies instead of fries with that burger, drinking almond milk instead of animal milk, or buying the taco salad instead of the grande burrito when you’re stopping a Muchas Gracias because you didn’t have time to prep you lunch.

Here is a sample of some of my action steps that I created for myself that you can adapt for your own goals. Remember, your action plan will probably look different and bring different results and that is our goals here!

  • Work: if I can’t say something nice then keep my mouth shut, apologize for mistakes or personal issues as soon as possible, commit one hour per day to working on my own entrepreneurial goals.
  • Home environment: wash my bowl out after breakfast, get some fresh air each morning as soon as possible, surround myself with more plants and spend time each evening outside.
  • Finances: be more open with my hubby about my financial fears, limit myself to one small personal splurge per week (I’m a terrible impulse buyer and I love retail therapy too much!).
  • Physical activity: walk for at least 20 minutes on my lunch breaks, work out with my gym buddy twice a week, attend jiu jitsu class twice a week.
  • Relationships: no phones in the bedroom, communicate honestly about my need for personal space around family members, don’t engage in political debates with family members.
  • Nutrition: veggies with dinner every day, eat a high-protein lunch so I don’t have an afternoon food-coma, try to use almond flour instead of regular flour when baking.

The awesome thing about action planning is once you build your action steps into your daily routine you are already like 12-15 steps closer to future-you and her lifestyle. Make sure after a period of time (maybe one a month or once a quarter) that you repeat the Self-Assessment step and create new action steps to continue building the lifestyle you want and continue weeding out old practices that no longer serve you.

There is no one thing to become the person you want to be. Life is made up of millions of tiny moments just like this one, so make sure you make those moments about impacting others, living your life in a way you love, and living to your fullest potential. Don’t just wait for those moments–create them!


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How To Pack The Perfect Lunch


How many of you have done something like this before:

You alarm goes off and you groggily shut it off and drag yourself out of bed to get ready for work. You start drinking your morning coffee and realize you didn’t pack your lunch the night before like you promised your more energetic and organized self that you would. You open the fridge and are vastly underwhelmed by the choices you see. Looks like your options are four-day old spaghetti, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or whipping something up from scratch in the span of fifteen minutes before you have to leave for work.

Your stomach says buy Subway, but your budget whispers that you’re broke because it’s the week of payday and you should just starve.

Trust me, I’ve been there plenty of times before. You want to eat healthy and nutritious food that will keep your stomach satisfied and keep your mind refreshed for work. I’ve had plenty of days where PB&J is the staff of life, or days when I was overachieving and made a smoothie bowl that morning because I didn’t have access to a blender while riding the ambulance, only to find come lunch time that pre-made smoothie bowls don’t keep well and brown in a very unappealing fashion after so many hours of sitting in a lunchbox under the dashboard.

I would love to share all of my favorite lunch recipes that can be prepped the night before, but for right now in this post I just want to share some general tips I’ve learned from experience that will keep your fridge stocked and ready to go with easy lunches for you and your family.

For starters, when thinking about a healthy lunch it is going to be different for everyone based off their dietary needs and preferences, but a good rule of thumb is to prep a grain, a protein and a fruit or vegetable with every meal. So let’s look at each of these three pieces and how to prep for them.

Grains

I’ve tried keto before, I’ve eaten paleo and low-carb and they all bring great weight-loss results and have nutritional merits, but I cannot lie…

I love carbs, and grains just make me happy. I was easily able to maintain my weight at 130 lb (pre-pregnancy anyways) with grains as a daily part of my diet.

If you tend to shy away from grains, I totally understand. All the hype around low-carb and gluten-free has us feeling skittish about our daily oats. Some of our modern grains have been genetically engineered so much that our bodies are struggling to process them and the results can sometimes lead to autoimmune problems or inflammation in the body. Grains do raise your blood sugar, but if you’re consuming the right grains it can be a healthy level of blood sugar increase that your body processes easily and uses for energy without storing as fat.

So what grains should you be prepping?

Brown rice is a winner. We know from studying communities around the world that are living long and active lifestyles even among their elderly members that rice has many nutritional benefits and can contribute to longevity. Okinawa residents consume rice daily and this tiny island boasts some of the healthiest and most active centenarians in the world. Rice is delish and can be used in so many ways.

I cook about two cups of brown rice in 4 cups of water and it cooks up in maybe an hour to and hour and half.

Boom. Done.

I have almost double the amount of rice once it’s cooked and it’s ready to be tossed with stir-fried veggies, paired with Hawaiian chicken and pineapple, topped with pan-fried cinnamon apples and chia seeds, or paired with grilled meats and veggies.

Quinoa is not technically a grain but can be cooked just like rice. It is high in protein, B-vitamins, iron, and fiber. It has a slightly bitter taste from the saponin coating, so make sure you thoroughly rinse these babies in a mesh strainer before cooking. Quinoa tastes fantastic in stir-fry dishes or when mixed with a little curry and mayo/greek yogurt. Because of the protein content, it will likely keep you full and energized longer than rice will. Boil a few cups of it and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Boom. Done.

Buckwheat, despite its name, is not related to wheat and is great for blood sugar control since it digests so slowly. It is rich in minerals like phosphorus and manganese and has a slightly nutty flavor to it. For a long time I only wanted to eat breakfast foods for lunch at work. Maybe it was a nostalgic thing, sitting there in the breakroom with a bowl of buckwheat porridge pretending I was really on my couch at home on a Saturday morning. I cooked up a big batch of buckwheat once a week and topped it at work with fresh berries, banana slices, pan-fried cinnamon apples, peanut butter and dark cocoa powder, or shredded coconut.

Oatmeal is my all time favorite! I eat oatmeal multiple times a week for breakfasts and lunches. You don’t even have to prep this one before hand it’s so quick to grab in the morning or buy pre-measured packets (unsweetened!). But if you’re into meal prepping then you can easily measure out ziploc bags or containers with ½ cup of dry oats (quick oats or whole rolled oats, whichever your preference), toss in some chia seeds, goji berries, flax meal, or whatever the heck you like to add into your morning oats for a protein and fiber boost.

#lunchprep #mealprep #healthyeating #nutrition #breakfast #oatmeal

Overnight oats are also bomb diggity. You can prep ready to go, cutesy half pint mason jars with half a cup of oats, add-ins, a few tablespoons of Greek yogurt and cup of milk of your choice (I vote almond milk), pop a lid on those suckers and let the oats soak in the moisture overnight. Now you have a cold cup of oatmeal that tastes delish with fresh fruit, chopped nuts, sweetener of your choice and whatever toppings your heart desires without ever having to use the stove or microwave.

Grains for gains my friend!

Protein

You know you need it, and you probably know how much protein you need too depending on what your health goals are

Protein can be totally plant-based and you can still be healthy and gain muscle.

If anyone out there is telling you that you need meat to get those gains, just smile and nod.

It’s an argument no one ever really wins.

I like meat in moderation, so my hubby and I prep a couple different animal proteins for the week (it’s really mostly him because he loves meat and loves to barbecue).

  • Grilled or oven baked chicken breasts (season with salt, pepper, garlic and maybe some lemon juice to keep it plain and adaptable). I get so bored with just plain chicken and rice–the standard “meal prep” idea that you see everywhere else. I like to toss mine into a bacon, chicken, avocado wrap or make it into a cobb salad. Eating it with pineapple skewers or making a cold chicken curry on couscous is delish too!
  • Smoked pork butts make great shredded pork for barbecue pork and veggies, carnita bowls, and pork fried rice.
  • Slice and pan sear some steak for easy fajitas or taco bowls on rice.

But I also am a firm believer in plant-based protein. I love that my hubby and I can get grass-fed beef from his parents, but having butchered chickens as part of a 4-H project when I was a teen, I don’t eat chicken as much as I used to.

I have seen things that cannot be unseen (that’s a completely different conversation though, so I’m stopping it here).

I totally understand feeling like you can’t afford grass-fed, free-range, pasture-finished, organic meats (hint-grass fed or free-range don’t always means it was that way for the animal’s entire life span). It adds up quickly when you start buying organic, but trust me, it’s totally worth it cutting back on or completely avoiding meats that have hormones in you don’t need, or meat that has been raised on a diet of just corn (or worse). I would recommend that if you can afford even one type of organic meat per week, do it and supplement with plant-based proteins the rest of the week. Or heck, just go completely plant-based.

Here are some of my favorite, easy to pack plant-based protein ideas for ready to go lunches:

  • Black beans for taco bowls.
  • Roasted chickpeas or homemade falafels for Greek power bowls or pita pockets.
  • Pinto beans for beans and rice (topped with cheese of course, lol).
  • Nut butters or chopped nuts to top porridges with or add into smoothies.
  • Seeds! Pumpkin, flax, hemp and sunflower seeds are all protein packed and ready to be added into smoothies, sprinkled on porridges, tossed into salads or stir-fry dishes.
  • Grains–all the grains discussed above are also high in protein, so all the more reason to be adding them into your diet.
  • Tofu or tempeh–if you’re into that. I’ve tried both and just couldn’t quite learn to love the texture. But if you love it, go for it! There’s a lot of conflicting information about tofu, whether or not it’s healthy. Most of the information currently out there is that fermented soy foods are the way to go, since unfermented soy products (soy milk included) contain phytoestrogens–plant-based estrogen-like hormones that may contribute to breast cancer. At this point, use your best judgement and any doctor’s advice you may have about consuming soy products, or at least search for fermented soy products like pickled tofu, tempeh, miso or natto.
  • Green veggies are easy and quick to prepare or can be eaten raw, and many of them contain protein. Spinach, broccoli, kale, avocado and edamame are excellent choices.

Fruits and Veggies

If you’re into raw whole foods, then meal prep just got a whole lot quicker. Find your favorite produce, slice it, dice it and pack it into pre-portioned containers for the week.

Make sure you’re packing any dips or add-ons too, like hummus, ranch, or peanut butter yogurt for spreading on your delicious fruits and veggies, but keep those reasonably portioned  so you don’t lose track and accidentally eat a whole bottle of ranch on your celery and carrots.

If you like to cook your produce, some easy ideas include:

  • Steam a couple heads of broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil, toss some carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts and/or asparagus in a little oil of your choice and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  • Wash, chop and toss together some salad mix and portion it out for the week.
  • Pan-fry some onions and bell peppers for fajitas or tacos.
  • Slice some red onion and red cabbage (eat the rainbow!), add in some salt, pepper and diced garlic, toss in a little olive oil, lemon juice and sweet chili sauce for a yummy coleslaw with a kick (or skip with chili sauce and just do mayo for your standard coleslaw).
  • Stir-fry green onions, water chestnuts, bok choy, and mung beans (and whatever else tickles your fancy!) with a little oil and soy sauce and make a big batch of stir-fried veggies for the week.
  • Chop red onions and pineapple into chunks, slide them onto a skewer and grill them for a delightful Hawaiian themed meal.
  • Make a big fruit salad! (make sure to toss the fruit in a little lemon juice to help keep the produce from browning too quickly)

I really hope this post has helped get your creative juices flowing and given you some solid ideas on how to prepare and pack ahead for your work day meals. Comment below with some of your favorite meals-on-the-go ideas!


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Fit in 15: Full-Body Burner {Pregnancy Safe}

With my belly growing seemingly rounder by the day, I have to admit…working out is the last thing on my brain. Especially with house projects I want to get done, a new puppy, blogging stuff, cooking, wanting to snuggle with my man when he gets home, being tired, etc….

Coming from someone who used to train in CrossFit competitively and loved it, not wanting to workout is kind of a big deal.

However, I know I’ll feel better if I do it, and I want to practice what I preach, so yesterday I created a quick 15 minute workout so I could be done with my warm up and workout in under 30 minutes.

I took this one slow, stopped more than usual for water, and had to lock previously mentioned puppy in her kennel before she got stepped on, or had a Dumbbell dropped on her head, but when I was done I was proud of myself for getting my 35 week pregnant self off the couch and moving.

I’ve created a collage with some pretty awful pictures of the movements, but until I get better quality pictures for you guys, this will have to do…

15 minute full body workout. Pregnancy safe, dumbbell workout

Another cool thing about this workout?

Besides the fact it only takes 15 minutes, all you need is a timer, and one Dumbbell, or Kettlebell. Or a milk jug filled with sand…whatever you have will work! I only used a 10# weight, because I’m basically wearing a 15# weight vest, but choose a weight that is a bit of a struggle to get the last repetition or two of each movement. If you have access to multiple Dumbbells and want to use one weight for the upper body and another for the lower, GO FOR IT! There is no right or wrong way to do it.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or Registered Dietitian. As always, check with a doctor before making any fitness or nutrition changes. I am not liable for any mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities from this site

Set a timer for 15 minutes and complete as many rounds as you can of the following:

10 bicep curls to shoulder press (do 10 on one side before switching arms)

10 goblet squats

10 rear lunges each side (hold weight on the side that is stepping back. complete all 10 before switching sides/legs)

BAM. Done.

What I love about AMRAPS, (as many rounds as possible workouts), is the ability to scale according to your level. New to fitness? You’ll probably be a bit slower than some people. Been working out for a while? You’ll crush more rounds, and still also your soul.

Workouts don’t have to be long and complicated to be effective. In fact, simple is almost always better.

Make sure you’re logging your workouts, too. It’s easy to think you’re not making any progress, but stay consistent and you’ll find you’re able to go faster and get more rounds, add more weight, or maybe even both!

Don’t have weights? No problem!

Simply swap the bicep curl/press for push ups, however you can do them. You can do them on a wall if you’re brand new to working out, your coffee table, a bench, a chair, your knees, regular…If push ups are no problem for you do them strict, and even change up what kind you do each round.

Regular, triangle, dive-bomber push ups… Just have fun with it!

The squats can easily become just body weight, as well as the lunges, or you could even do jumping squats/ jump lunges for a completely equipment free, do-anywhere workout.

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5 Positive Habits That Will Change Your Life

5 Habits To Change Your Life

If someone were to ask me the ONE thing that changed my life, I would say it is my daily routine.

Which really is not one thing.

No BS about it, there really is no ONE thing.

My daily routine is made up of a lot of little habits that over time have changed my life.

The secret sauce of life is how you spend your time.

You are what you do and what you think.

If want to change your life, you must change what you are doing on a daily basis.

You can exercise until you pass out. You can eat kale and broccoli all you want.

But if you have a negative mindset, if your job is making you miserable, if you’re in a toxic relationship, then nothing else that you do to try and achieve health is going to make a difference.

I saw a quote on my Pinterest feed the other day by Albert Einstein that said, “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”.

This is so true.

Positivity is the fuel that moves you forward on the path to healthy living, so you’ll probably hear me talking about it a lot in the future.

I’ve made a list of 5 positive habits that have helped me develop a healthy daily routine. These are things I have gradually added into my life over the past couple of years. Sometimes I would start a habit and feel like, “why the heck am I doing this? This feels stupid”.

But the proof is in the pudding girlfriend.

You know as well as anyone that consistency is the key to getting the results you want. Committing to improving your day is an investment in yourself that brings results.


Journaling

I used to journal a lot. During my teens I filled up several journals a year. They were packed with what I did that day, what people said or did, all those angst-y teen feelings, and brain-dumps of ideas. I would spend hours pouring my soul into those books.

I have to laugh at my younger self a little. She firmly believed in documenting everything  because someday her descendants might want to read and find out what the life of a millennial teen was like (heads up future descendants, it was full of drama and self-absorption just like it is for teens in any century).

As a wife and business owner, dog-mom and growing a tiny human, I don’t have time for that level of introspection. Maybe you do, and if so that’s awesome! I firmly believe that more we can safely and privately express any and all feelings and thoughts we have, the better we’re able to process them and move on in a productive fashion.

But if you’re like me and don’t have time to write a novel every day, try just committing five minutes a day journaling. Try it before work, or in bed before going to sleep.

Make a bullet-point list of that day’s highlights.

Write about what you’re grateful for.

List some goals for the day and how you’re going to make them happen.

Analyze a problem that you have in your life and how you feel about it.

Vent.

Dream.

WRITE IT DOWN.

Writing down your goals increases your likelihood of achieving them by 42% Something about seeing your dreams and ideas brought into the physical world in paper and ink instead of just floating around in the abstract world gives those dreams a life of their own.

Listen To A Podcast

You’ve probably heard this one before. It’s supposed to be this great tool for personal development and learning valuable information, but for the longest time I just couldn’t really get into this habit.

My problem was that I couldn’t find a podcast I could stand listening to and didn’t get bored with.

I recently stumbled upon the GoalDigger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher and after just one episode I was hooked! I love this podcast’s honest look a Jenna’s life and her rock-solid advice on building a business. I’ve binged on episodes of this podcast and listened to some of them more than once–they’re that addicting.

There are tons of awesome and inspiring podcasts out there. Find the one that speaks to you and helps you grow as an individual and dive into it. Make your commute to work or your afternoon walk a time for personal development. Time spent working on yourself is never wasted.

Prep For Your Day

Set yourself up for success.

I seriously feel so much more in control of my day if I don’t start out by careening out of bed, scrambling to find something to eat while trying to put on deodorant, and getting to work only to find out that I left my badge and keys in the dryer.

Set out your clothes.

Pack a lunch.

Plan your breakfast (you know you should be eating it, so just do it).

Do your skin care routine.

Think about your intentions for tomorrow.

Check your daily planner for the day and put your big three goals down on your schedule.

Run your day or the day runs you.  

Cook At Home

I know that frozen waffles and hot pockets are fast and easy (and delish…I know it!) but save them for the fun occasions like girl’s night.

If you really want to be healthy, learn to cook.

It’s not as hard as the food industry has made us think it is.

Whether you’re that college kid living on a tiny stipend, or cooking for your family, hop on Google or Pinterest and search for easy meals.

Literally, type in “5 ingredient meals” or “healthy recipes for a crowd” or “10 minute meals”.

Keep it simple.

Stock your pantry and fridge with whole foods that don’t require much or any prep.

Whole fruits, veggies and grains require almost nothing but water to turn into easy meals like fresh fruit and oatmeal, or brown rice with stir-fried veggies.

My hubby and I have a fun date where we split up in the grocery store, buy four or five items and then have a crazy cookoff at home making a meal with everything that we bought.

Turn up the music and light a candle while you create in the kitchen.

Pretend you’re on Chopped and narrate your creations if that’s what keeps it entertaining.

Have a themed meal night.

Know exactly what is in your food and keep it as whole and fresh as possible.

The food industry thinks they can feed you better than you can feed yourself, and I’m here to tell you they are wrong.

Cooking at home is easy on your budget and your waistline.

So get in that kitchen and just start creating and experimenting!

Trust me, you will fall in love with nourishing your body.

Join A Health Community

Accountability is the secret sauce of creating a healthy lifestyle. It is amazing what can happen when strong and determined people get together and support each other.

I’m the biggest introvert of all. Like, I am so happy to be by myself at home in pajamas, but when it came to working out consistently I actually felt isolated a lot of the time. I didn’t realize that all those people at the gym weren’t judging me, and they either felt just as insecure as I did, or they were confident enough in themselves that they didn’t feel the need to judge others.

But being part of a health community doesn’t have to mean joining a gym.

Facebook groups or other online forums are an awesome way to connect with like-minded people, even if they’re not in your local area. While I was in school for my health coaching certification, several classmates and I had a Facebook group where we posted our goals, how our coaching businesses were doing, or what we were cooking. And actually, most of those people were located halfway across the globe from where I was.

A health community could be so many different things.

A zumba class.

A corporate wellness program.

A mental health support group.

A community garden.

Whatever it is that you need to reach a goal that you have set, find out where people with those same goals are gathering and go there.

Can’t find any groups to join?

Start your own!

Choose community over competition (trust me) and watch the magic happen.

I hope this little list helps you find your groove in life and rock it!


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