Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stay Healthy While Everyone Else is Sick!

There is a horrible feeling of dread when it seems like everyone around you is getting sick. Whether it’s your spouse, half of your co-works or that random person in the elevator who keeps coughing; suddenly you start seeing sick people everywhere. So with the world around you succumbing to ‘that cold’ how do you avoid its tyranny?  

The obvious and easy answer is to have a good healthy immune system; the hard answer is how you get a good healthy immune system.  There is no one thing (or combination of things) that works for everyone.  With that being said, here are some general tips and tricks I have found that keep me healthy.

1.       Eat right – this is one of those general statements for being healthy, but making sure that your body gets all the nutrients it needs is an important part of having a healthy immune system. Specifically make sure to get enough magnesium, Vitamin B, and Vitamin D (ok you don’t eat Vitamin D, you get it from the sun but it’s still an important part of your immune system).

2.       Treat your gastrointestinal system well.  90% of our immune system lives in our GI tract.

3.       Reduce stress- those who are constantly feeling the effects of stress are much more likely to get sick. This is just one of the reasons it’s important to find an outlet to release your daily stress.

4.       Wash your hand before you eat.  Everyone (well hopefully everyone) washes their hands after they use the restroom, but rarely right before they eat. But, if you work in an office and you are typing on the keyboard and then eat a sandwich….. I think you can fill in the gaps. The trick is not to Lysol the whole office (there are a lot of toxic chemicals that get released into the air when you do) but simply to wash your hands with soap and water.  Anti-bacteria soap is fine if you’re out and about, but it’s always best to use actual soap and water if you get the chance.

5.       If I feel something coming on… sleep, sleep, and get some more sleep!! When we sleep it’s a chance for our body to focus a lot of its energy on healing. So, if you feel that tickle in the back of your throat, go to bed early that night.

6.       I get adjusted on a regular basis. This helps keep my body, and my nervous system, at its peak health so that is I come into contact with a cold I am able to fight it quickly.

Monday, February 20, 2012

An Excuse to Eat Chocolate.

What woman (and a good chunk of men) don’t love a good piece of chocolate?  It might seem like a stereotype but there is always a little truth in the rumors. There is actually a chemical reason why we, and especially women love chocolate. One reason is that it can cause women to release a hormone (endorphins) that makes them happy. Sorry men, this is a women specific thing, but also explains why women might crave this delicious treat once a month. Another reason for those chocolate cravings is because our body is actually craving some of the nutrients they hold.  Dark chocolate contains magnesium and is rich in flavanols which are a great anti-oxidant.  For those who are unfamiliar, anti-oxidants are important for removing free radicals that can make you prematurely age and damage your heart.  Sometimes when our body is low on a specific nutrient, like iron or magnesium, we will crave the foods that are high in that nutrient. It’s a primitive survival instinct that we’ve managed to hold onto. So the next time you are staring longingly at a bar of chocolate, perhaps your body is just telling you it needs something and who are we to deny it a little chocolate? Just remember, all good things should come in moderation.

Monday, February 13, 2012

It’s Valentine’s Day so Indulge a Little

What are your plans for tomorrow? (For those that are really behind, tomorrow is Valentine’s day.)  Food for thought, making a homemade dessert together can be very romantic.  Now, you can enjoy the time spent together making the treat, and then the pleasure of indulging in them. Here are some ideas… chocolate covered strawberries, truffles, even chocolate chip cookies (whatever the both of you will enjoy) it should just been something that takes more than 2 minutes to make. Get creative, be inventive and add new ingredients, experiment.  Decorate them for each other. The idea is just to have fun with each other.  Personally, I like to make truffles. It’s actually pretty easy and allows you to be really creative. Also, it’s kind of fun to get your hands all chocolaty. Here is a good recipe if you’re interested in trying to make them for yourself. 

Looking to make your dessert a little healthier? Here is some advice.

1. If using chocolate, go for dark chocolate. It has more nutrients and you’ll want to eat less of it, but costs the same as milk chocolate.

2. If you’re vegan or just looking to cut out the cream, you can turn cashews into a cream like substance by letting them soak in water overnight and then blending them (here is a recipe).

3.  Try desserts that include fruit, such as chocolate covered strawberries, which allow you to indulge but not go overboard.

The trick is to remember that moderation is key. There is nothing wrong with enjoy a delicious desert every now and then, especially on valentine’s day, so long as you don’t go overboard with the portion size. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cleanse Day 21: And so it ends

Yesterday was the last day of my cleanse. It was one of the hardest since I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but also made me reflect back onto the week. It made me think about how I feel now versus 21 days ago, and what I was eating now verses then.  This is what I came up with…

I like how I feel now. I have more energy, I’m not as tired at the end of the day (or in the middle), I’ve become more productive, saved money while eating out, and feel like can think clearer. I like that my refrigerator was packed solid with fruits and vegetables at the beginning of the week, and then to see it again at the end empty and knowing that I had eaten all that great food.  I like that it forced me to be creative with dinner and lunch items and resulted in me eating better (not just health but flavor wise).

So, while I can’t (and shouldn’t) continue the ‘cleanse program’ as a lifestyle I can draw upon to help improve how I currently eat.  Here are some things I will try and change…

1.        Eating out. During the cleanse I realized how much cheaper and better I felt after eating out when I couldn’t get desert or eat the bread.  This is a habit I’m going to try and continue in the future. I hope that it will prevent me from overindulging and save me a little money

2.       Better snacking. Too often when I get busy I forget to eat lunch and then end up settling for a granola bar to tide me over until dinner. However, during the cleanse I made sure to keep fruits and vegetables around to snack on and had to be better about remember to eat or I’d get a headache.

3.       More vegetables.  As with most Americans I tend to eat mostly fruits and little vegetables. During this cleanse I made a point to try and eat more vegetables at snacks and part of dinner.  Don’t get me wrong, fruits are great for you but they don’t replace the nutrients in vegetables. My goal is to make sure there is always a vegetable with my lunch and dinner and that when I snack it should be veggies and not fruit.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cleanse day 20: It’s easy to forget this close to the finish line

It was the easier of times, it was the hardest of times. This week has been both the easiest week to follow, and the hardest. How so? Almost all of my typical foods have been added back into diet … cheese, meat, rice, gluten free pasta, ect.  This has made planning meals and snacks so much easier. It has also made it much easier to do things with friends.  But, because I can eat almost ‘normally’, it’s very easy to forget that I’m still doing a cleanse program.  Case in point, today I was out with my boyfriend (who is also doing the program) and caught him with a cookie. My only response was “you know we’re stilling doing the cleanse right?” (he had in fact forgotten and immediately threw the cookie out). It was at this point I realized how easy it is to forget and quickly started thinking back to earlier that day and earlier in the week.  I don’t think I have ‘cheated’ on the program but to be honest I’m still not sure. Maybe the next time I do this program I’ll keep a daily log of the foods, that way when I get to week three it’s easier to remember that I’m still no suppose to eat certain things.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cleanse Day 17: Hello productivity you’ve been missed

One of the great benefits of doing a cleanse is increased energy/mental clarity and along with that has come an increase in my productivity.  Like most, I have my moments where it seems like the clouds of laziness part and I get super productive. Whether it’s getting work done or finally cleaning the bathroom, I typically find a couple of hours of real productively a day, where I am able to focus and get a lot done. This week has been the exception to the rule, and I would like to thank the cleanse for that.

It started on Saturday when I decided to clean up the living room, which lead to cleaning the bathroom, which lead to a whole afternoon of productivity. I cleaned, I organized, I went out and ran errands… I felt like super women (or at least super productive women). It was like a high, look how much I got done! Then the trend continued into Monday where I actually went to the gym for the first time since getting over my cold, was productive in the office, went home and cooked a good dinner and even got a wild hair to bake.  Normally, one super productive day like Saturday would drain my batteries and I won’t get another one for a while, but there I was being productive again on Monday.  This all culminated in yesterday. I had the whole morning to work at home, which for me typically means getting the ‘fun’ stuff done and not the stuff that really needs to get done. Not yesterday, I sat there computer in lap and starting crossing item after item off my to-do list. It was amazing! I knocked out half of my weekly list in one morning!

As always here is what I ate:
Breakfast: apple with PB
Snack: Greensfirst shake and some walnuts
Lunch: Garden salad with whatever veggies I had laying around and homemade salsa dressing.
Dinner: Spaghetti squash and veggie stir-fry with brown rice.
Dessert: fresh strawberries and some walnuts.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cleanse Day 16: Really noticing things cleansing

It’s the beginning of the third week of the cleanse and I am now able to eat almost everything except gluten and sugar. While this originally seemed like it would be really easy (just no junk food or traditional desserts), it’s amazing how much stuff I still can’t eat.  I forget how much stuff has refined sugar in it or is breaded.  For instance last night I wanted to make warm apples (sort of like the stuff you find inside an apple pie) but realized that I couldn’t because you have to use sugar. I tried to make it anyway with agave nectar and it turned out ‘ok’ but nothing too spectacular.  I did however figure out a way to make a homemade granola bar that tastes amazing! It’s really easy and takes almost no prep time. The recipe I came up with is still a little too sweet for my taste so I’m still in the process of refining it, I will report back with recipe and picture when done.

During this week I have really started to notice my body removing all these toxins.  Over the past two weeks my body has been able to remove the toxins from various systems, but it is not until this week that it is able to get them out of my body.  The proof is on my face, literally! I am breaking out really bad and feel like I’m 16 again. I know this is just part of the cleansing process, but I must say it’s sort of embarrassing.  That being said, I feel great both physically and mental and am happy with my progress, I’ll just be even happier when my body is done punishing my face.