Category: Information (page 1 of 2)

Put down the Advil: three tips for natural pain relief

As I sit here and write this, I’m shifting to find a position that doesn’t make my back protest with pain. This weekend I tried to pick something up that was definitely too heavy and am feeling the after effects now. While it’s nothing serious and will right itself in a day or two, it did bring up a topic that I wanted to share with you. Recently an Advil (or Aleve or something like that) ad has been airing on my streaming platform, rudely interrupting my episode of House Hunters. This ad is driving me totally crazy because the whole thing is about people ignoring their pain and going about various activities anyway. “I took this pill and now I’m golfing for eight hours!” That is so great!… or is it?
Your body experiences pain for a reason, and I think with the inventions of modern medicine we have started to forget that. Just like hunger tells you to eat, or thirst tells you to drink some water, pain tells you that something isn’t working right and it needs to be tended to.  Here are some of my “dos and don’ts” of pain relief:
*Note: if you’re experiencing chronic pain, severe migraines, an autoimmune disorder, or something similar this is different than the temporary pain I reference in this article. While some of this may apply, you should reach out to a holistic health professional for further guidance.

1. DO listen to your body

Don’t ignore your symptoms. Rest if you’re in pain or feeling fatigued. Increase your sleep during this time, as a majority of muscle and cell repair happens while you are sleeping.
DON’T take ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) repeatedly to numb out the pain and continue your activities. You could exacerbate the injury if you can’t tell how the motions are affecting your body. There is also growing research around the side effects of ibuprofen specifically with gastrointestinal injury. Americans pop this stuff like candy; a 2010 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) that found that 12.8% of adults in the United States were taking NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs) at least three times a week for 3 months, representing an increase of over 40% compared with the results of a similar interview in 2005 (ref).

2. DO continue to stay active (if you can)

Exercise is important for healing, as long as you don’t feel it is making your injury worse. Long walks are a great substitute for more strenuous exercise. Even light stretching or yoga can allow your body to move without jeopardizing your healing.
DON’T “push through the pain” or keep doing any exercise where you feel pain. There is a difference between straining your muscles in a productive way and furthering injury. Know the difference between discomfort, fatigue or soreness and actual pain.

3. DO fuel your healing with nutrition.

You know the drill here, lots of water and plant-based fare. Consider incorporating turmeric into your cooking, or taking it in capsule form. This spice is well-known for its anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
DON’T over-indulge in dairy, alcohol or sugar. These are all known to create inflammation in the body. If your primary issue is headaches, also consider experimenting with how caffeine affects you, and increase your water intake significantly.
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Tap your Stress Away (What is Tapping or EFT?)

I pretty much came out of the womb anxious. If you talk to my mom, she will probably tell you a story about when my sister was born. I was two and half years old, and as soon as my sister arrived, I refused to take anymore naps. There was no way I was sleeping when there was this new baby to take care of and all of these new things to do. I had to help, obviously. In middle school I had viscous stomach aches for no reason (uh, hey stress) and would panic if my presentation on cloud types wasn’t quite right, or I couldn’t figure out my homework. Almost everyday in high school I woke up popping peppermints because I was constantly nauseous.

Surprisingly enough, this didn’t go away as I became an adult. In fact, it got worse and I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety during my freshman year of college. I took the medication they gave me, and it worked pretty well. While I never really liked being on it, I had tried to stop a couple of times and it didn’t work out.

In 2012, everything changed. I had three surgeries on my stomach for an appendectomy and resulting complications. I dove head first into health and wellness, and came across Tapping in my research. Tapping, also known as EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique, is best described as “needle-less acupuncture.” To use it, a person taps on points of the body along the energy meridians (best known from acupuncture) identified in eastern medicine. As you are tapping, you talk out loud about what is bothering you. The combination of these two things moves energy and emotion through your body, and calms a part of your brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for stress responses and that “fight or flight” sensation we all know.

I’ve been using this technique since that year, and I can truly say it changed my life. I no longer suffer from depression, and am much less anxious. I use it almost daily to deal with everything from daily stressors, to rewriting big limiting beliefs in my life.

It’s best shown in person, so I made this video to show you. Click the picture below to check out the video, and I would love to know if you experience any changes as you tap along with me. Leave a comment here!

Learn how to use tapping or EFT and why it works

P.S Did you know I publish a weekly newsletter with blog updates? Subscribe here.

Three Ways to Take Care of Your Body in Times of Stress

When we’re going through a difficult time, or stressing about something in our life, we tend to throw our “healthy habits” out the window and jump on the survival mode train. When I talk about making healthy decisions that support mental wellness with people who are struggling, there is an initial resistance. That is partly due to the way that I approach the subject, because I am known to be overenthusiastic and a fixer, a doozy of a combo. People also think that I’m trying to erase or diminish their difficulties. I want to make it clear that this is not at all what I am attempting to do. I fully believe there is a spiritual component to life struggles, and to health issues as well. But we are also in human bodies that have brain chemistry, and there are ways to maximize healthy body chemistry and ease the literal pain and suffering a person is going through. And, more importantly, reduce lasting damage to a person’s health from stress and mental anguish. You will come out the other side of whatever you are dealing with eventually, and your body will thank you then for taking a little better care of it.

Three Ways to Take Care of Your Body in Times of Stress:

Exercise – Move every day, especially outside if you can. The endorphins and sunlight will reduce cortisol (your stress hormone) and help to keep your sleep cycles regular.

 

 

 

 

 

Add foods high in magnesium and vitamin B6 to your diet – Magnesium helps relax muscles and is found in avocados, spinach and dark chocolate. B6 assists in the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that helps the body deal with stress and anxiety. Bananas and salmon are great sources of B6.

 

 

 

 

 

Consult your toolbox – Pick a stress relief technique that works for you and use it often. Yoga, meditation, tapping (EFT), journaling, and therapy are just a few options. Read a book for fun or get an adult coloring book and color away. You may have to experiment with a few different ones to see what makes an impact on your mood.

 

Three things seem overwhelming today? Start with one, commit to it, and try more when you’re ready.

Is your scale lying to you?


Did you weigh yourself today? This week? This month? Or are you avoiding getting on the scale because you won’t like the number that you see?

We have too many preconceived notions about the amount that we weigh, and we let it completely control what we think about ourselves and our fitness progress. Workout and diet programs promise that we’ll lose 15 lbs in 3 weeks, or gain 5 lbs of muscle, as if it will definitely happen, and in that order.

We think that it will look something like this:

 

When in reality it may look something like this:

Yes, those are all of MY weights, from the last 2+ years, in a chart (thank you Fitbit scale). Over the course of MORE than TWO years, I’ve gone down 2, almost 3 pant sizes. Does it look like it on there? Not really. That’s two years of different eating styles, workouts, and lifestyles. Two years of sometimes running a lot, sometimes lifting more, sometimes vegan, sometimes eating whatever on vacation, sometimes no sugar. Two years of getting fitter and stronger, playing soccer for the first time, running a 10k, and slacking on my yoga. The only thing that has been consistent that whole time is that I think healthy eating and being active are important, and no matter what I return to that in some way or another. And if you just looked at that graph, at the numbers, you wouldn’t think I’ve made much progress. But I am a completely different, much healthier, less asthmatic, lighter, quicker, less stressed person than I was then, I assure you.

Bottom line: go ahead and weigh yourself because stats are fun sometimes, but don’t get too serious about those numbers.

If you’re having trouble finding workouts and eating styles that work for you and make you feel good, contact me at healthcoachingbysteph@gmail.com and set up a free health coaching consultation. Real results take some time, but they are for life.

Three Easy Ways to Lose Weight…

I recently had some photos pop up of me on Facebook from four or five years ago and had a bit of a moment. You see, sometimes I forget that I haven’t always been the healthy person that I am now. I forget how unhappy, unhealthy and tired I was. I forget how my appendix was rotting away in my body and I just ignored the pain I was having because it wasn’t too far from my normal.
I could post one of those before and after pictures, (and I love seeing other people’s transformations, so maybe one day I will) but there’s always something about them that nags me. Everyone looks at the before and thinks “oh god that is bad.” It is definitely not good to be unhealthy and sick and tired, but neither is it an experience you have to be ashamed of.
I am one of those people who really need a “why,” as in,  “why am I doing this?” If you don’t know why you’re making huge lifestyle changes that are hard at first, you won’t make them; let’s be real. And my “why” didn’t really hit me until I was sitting in a hospital bed. So I’m grateful for that. And I’m grateful for the person in those pictures that was still kicking ass even though she was so, so, tired. A lot of you may know that I’m studying to be a health coach, and this is why. Because I really want to help people get to this place with some support and someone else to read all the health articles – because I’m doing that over here anyway, haha. So here is my first stab at telling you what I did to get healthy, so try them for yourself and see what happens. And always feel free to reach out to me if you need help. But first, figure out your why.

1. Read ingredients

Start small – buy bread that has ingredients you can pronounce instead of the one you usually buy. If you don’t know what a word is on the ingredients list, I promise you it is bad for you. U.S. standards for food ingredients are so lax, and that is sad, but it just means you have to do a little work yourself. You do not have to go all crazy and make everything yourself; just pick things that are closer to whole food that is grown or picked or raised and farther from lab experiments (sorry folks, but soda is one of the worst offenders). Good food changes your body chemistry, your whole system will work better for you, and your cravings for artificial foods will start going away (promise!). In the near future I’ll do a food swap post and post some pictures because pictures are always better.

2. Eat when you are hungry

Eat real food, and lots of it. No more calorie counting or 100 calorie cookie packs or swearing off carbs until you’re shaking, please. Get the protein and rice and veggies and yogurt or whatever you feel good eating, and then fill yourself up with it. Your body is smart and it uses hunger to tell you it needs nutrients. It is way smarter than you so stop thinking it is wrong. Pack in the nutrients. If you’re working out and building muscle you are going to be hungry! Good food does not make you fat.

3. Lift some weight

This is where the easy part comes in, no joke. I didn’t do this when I started working out and I worked out so much more. Hour long classes at the gym multiple days a week. Mind numbing treadmill sessions. Building muscle changes your body composition fast. It doesn’t have to be much. At my peak I was doing at least 30 minutes a day at the gym five days a week and that was manageable for me because I am more of a bust my ass for a few minutes and then get out of there type person, but do whatever fits into your schedule and do it with some weights.

How do you want to feel? What would you do if you were healthier that you can’t do now? That’s what will get you there and keep you there.

How to Choose Organic and Save Money

I know to many people, an all-organic grocery trip may be a luxury. It IS more expensive.
What really is going to help bring down the costs of organic food, is you (and everyone else) buying it! Those high school economics principles of supply and demand are really true. What makes food companies money is selling things that people buy. I wish those CEOs were all great people that are taking additives and food dyes out of food because they found out it was healthier, but that is not the case. They are starting to do it because consumers are demanding it and choosing to buy other products that are more natural.
If you want to see some great news about companies like Kraft and General Mills taking artificial colors and flavors out of their products, check out www.thefoodbabe.com. She is doing great work serving petitions that many people are signing.
If you want some guidance on where to best put your money check out the dirty dozen on www.ewg.org. It tells you what foods are most contaminated with pesticides. They also have some great databases you can search in for scores on how clean your food and household products are.
They post a list every year of the foods most and least susceptible to pesticides. If you concentrate on buying organic “dirty dozen” foods, and buying some “clean fifteen” conventional produce, you’ll be minimizing your pesticide consumption and still not blowing the budget.
dirtydozen
Also, if your grocery store has a weak supply of organic products, you can shop online and save some money too:
 www.vitacost.com — this is what I use, mostly because they ship to me, and shipping is free over $50
 www.thrivemarket.com — the Costco of natural products! Which I could get this, but continental US only for now.
Happy Shopping!

Sugar Addiction

Hey everyone,

It’s been a little while since I’ve written, and that’s mostly because I’ve been bouncing around the idea of writing about sugar addiction and its side effects. It’s an important subject that’s slowly getting more press, but I feel a little hypocritical telling you all to quit sugar when I can barely do it myself. Anyone who follows me on instagram knows that I just baked a dozen cupcakes (that I will be sharing with my co-workers tomorrow, so that’s better right?). I don’t drink soda and I make sure not to buy foods with hidden sugar (we’ll talk about that later), but man I love my dessert. That doesn’t mean I can’t change, and I’m hoping you guys will help keep me motivated!

sugar addiction

The Problem

Let’s back up a little bit — why are we even talking about sugar addiction, and what is it exactly? Sugar has been likened to cocaine because of its highly addictive properties. Don’t believe me? Try going cold turkey for a few days and see if you don’t have some withdrawal symptoms. Sugar stimulates the part of the brain that release dopamine, making you feel great. But it only lasts so long, and that’s when the cravings kick in. It’s a never-ending cycle that eventually can lead to chronic fatigue and a host of health problems, including diabetes, decreased immune function, IBS, heart disease, ADHD, and many more.

Americans are eating over triple the recommended sugar intake (a mere 6 teaspoons). Once your liver is full of excess sugar, the rest is converted to fatty acids that enter the bloodstream and eventually get stored as abdominal fat.

Think you’re better off because you’re drinking diet soda or baking with splenda? Think again. Artificial sugars are actually even worse for you, if that’s possible. Many artificial sweeteners are proven neuro-toxins, causing damage to your nervous system that results in migraine headaches, depression and seizures. Consumption of these “pretend” sugars actually creates MORE sugar cravings than normal sugar. When you eat something sweet, your body anticipates the sugar and starts to create insulin and other hormones. But no sugar ever gets digested, leaving the body with this excess insulin. Cue the sugar cravings.

Kicking the Habit

So know you are armed with this knowledge and want to kick the sugar habit…where to start? The obvious answer is to throw out the cookies, soda and M&Ms in your cabinets, and this is a great start! But there are also many hidden sources of sugar. Many processed foods have been laced with the stuff because the processors know that it will keep you coming back for more. This means it’s also in your pasta sauce, baked beans, peanut butter, chips, and other foods that don’t even taste sweet! It’s also in items like toothpaste and cough syrup. You have to check your labels and make sure there is no sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, glucose or any other form of sugar. Be careful; they are tricky! There is a good list of sugar aliases in this article:

Added Sugar in the Diet

While you won’t have to avoid sugar all together for the rest of your life, it is a good idea to detox for at least 10 days to get the stored sugar out of your system before allowing yourself a treat now and then. I’m going to start mine tomorrow! After the detox period, you will have to decide for yourself how often you can have sugar without getting hooked again. A good way to satisfy chocolate cravings is having a piece of super dark chocolate (at least 70%), or to incorporate cacao into a smoothie.

Healthy Alternatives

Post-detox you are going to feel amazing, full of energy, free from detox symptoms and cravings. So why go back? There are plenty of alternatives out there:

Stevia: a sugar substitute made from the leaves of the stevia plant. It is 300 times as sweet as sugar, so a little goes a long way, and it does not affect blood sugar. Comes in packets and as liquid. NOT to be confused with “Truvia” which goes through a 40-step chemical laden manufacturing process.

Agave: a syrup made from the Mexican agave plant. Agave does slightly raise your blood sugar. This is my favorite, but I try to use it in moderation.

Yacón: a syrup made from a yacon plant that grows in the central and northern Andes mountains. It tastes more like molasses, but does not raise blood sugar levels.

Have you tried kickin’ the sugar habit before? If so, I’d love to hear any strategies you have. You can use the comment box below this blog. We can use all the help we can get!

Until next time,

♥ Stephanie

P.S. Most of this info is from Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr and Beat Sugar Addiction Now! by Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. Both great resources if you want to learn more! Picture from wechoosehealthy.com

P.P.S. I added a super cool share center at the bottom of every blog, so it’s easier than ever to share this on facebook, twitter, or email if you like it! Thanks lovelies!

 

Rosemary-Thyme Skillet Potatoes

Friends,

It’s apparent by now that nutrition and food is one of my passions. The more cookbooks, healthy eating plans and other resources I peruse, the more I notice that one of my favorite foods is almost always missing — potatoes! I’m going to stand on my soapbox for a minute and say that I just do not get it. I’m not suggesting that you have a hall pass to eat unlimited french fries, potato chips and sour cream smothered baked potatoes. BUT — Prepared well, potatoes are a wealth of nutrients, low calorie, and such a comfort food.

What do they have to offer specifically? Lets break it down.

One medium potato contains:

-Vitamin B6: 10% daily value of one of my favorite vitamins, known for reducing depression, insomnia, and PMS

-Vitamin C: approximately 45% of your daily value

-Copper

-Potassium: more than bananas and spinach! 

-Manganese

-Fiber: about 4 grams per potato, most of which is in the skin, so eat that too!

-Phosporous

-Vitamin B3

-Caffeic and ferulic acids: phytochemical that may fight carcinogens

-Complex carbohydrates: May help manage depression, heartburn and memory function

I do HIGHLY recommend that you buy potatoes organic if they are available to you. They are part of the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen,” the top 12 foods affected by pesticide use. They retain pesticides even after washing and peeling them! You can check out the rest of the ‘dirty dozen’ and ‘clean fifteen’ here: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php

Potato-300x262

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite ways to cook potatoes is skillet-style. Here’s a recipe for you:

Rosemary-Thyme Skillet Potatoes

Ingredients:

-4 or 5 red potatoes, cubed (or any kind you have around)

-3 tbsp coconut oil

-1 tbsp dried rosemary

-1/2 tbsp dried thyme

Heat a large skillet and add the coconut oil until melted. Throw in the potatoes and coat with the oil, herbs and some salt and pepper to taste. Cover the skillet and cook on medium heat for 6 or 7 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through.

The potatoes get a nice golden brown on the outside and taste like pure comfort. Not to mention the coconut oil and herbs add their own health benefits!

Next time you’re craving some starch, skip the pasta and go the potato route. You will not be disappointed.

Until next time,

♥ Stephanie

 

picture courtesy of oregonrural.com

Does your mood need a boost? EAT!

Hey friends,

Yes I meant what I said in that title, but I am not talking about a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, unfortunately.

This is our first in the series of anxiety-crushing posts, and today it’s all about food. The way you eat, and what you eat can dramatically affect your mood. My job has been so hectic lately and I find it’s WAY harder to keep my cool when I’m hungry. Or hangry, perhaps? You know exactly what I’m talking about. And there is a reason for that. Your brain cannot function with low blood sugar. Constant blood sugar spikes and valleys can send you into into an emotional roller coaster. You want to maintain consistent blood sugar throughout the day by eating consistently every few hours (especially when you’re hungry!) and avoiding cheap carbs like processed foods that create quick spikes in blood sugar and insulin.

hangry

There are also plenty of foods that have been shown to support serotonin production (a neurotransmitter in your brain that contributes to a feeling of well-being):

Bananas, peas and turnips all produce tryptophan, which the brain uses to help produce serotonin

-Foods high in complex carbohydrates, like beans, potatoes, rice and whole grains, help the body properly absorb tryptophan.

-Vitamin B6, found in bananas, potatoes and salmon, assists in the production of serotonin, dopamine, melatonin and other brain chemicals that control mood.

banana-split-har-dee-har

-Levels of omega 3 fatty acids found in fatty fish and shellfish have been directly correlated to depression, as these are essential for normal brain function. Vegetarians don’t fret! You can also find these fatty acids in foods like algae, nuts, nut oils, hemp seeds, walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds.

-Also consider removing meat from your diet, or at least decreasing it. When cows are being forced into the slaughterhouse, they panic, knowing what’s going to happen to them. This increases their fight or flight hormones, which floods their tissues, and those hormones are passed on to you as you eat them.

Eating a balanced, healthy diet in general can directly impact your serotonin levels, because Scientific American says that 95% of your serotonin is found in the gut. So a happy digestive system = a happy you.

Want more proof? Check out this study:

“In a study of 200 people done in England for the mental health group known as Mind, participants were told to cut down on mood “stressors” they ate, while increasing the amount of mood “supporters.” Stressors included sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and chocolate (more of that coming up). Supporters were water, vegetables, fruit, and oil-rich fish.

Eighty-eight percent of the people who tried this reported improved mental health. Specifically, 26% said they had fewer mood swings, 26% had fewer panic attacks and anxiety, and 24% said they experienced less depression” (WedMD).

No one’s diet is perfect. I think we’ve all figured that out by now. I got half way through writing this post before realizing that I hadn’t eaten dinner yet, and that I should probably not wait until I was starving. But if you’re feeling out of whack, consider upping these mood-enhancing foods and it could make a difference!

Next week we’ll talk about using herbs to supplement your already stellar diet!

See you then!

♥Stephanie

P.S. The tapping world summit is still going for a couple more days. That means you still have time to check out this life-altering technique.

http://www.thetappingsolution.com/2014event/

Capture

 

EFT

Hey friends,

This post is going to be a bit different than normal, but health is sometimes more than the food you’re eating or how many times you’re going to the gym. I honestly believe that many physical ailments are the result of emotional ones. I wanted to share something with you that I’m really excited about: tapping! Now if you haven’t heard of tapping, or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), don’t worry. It’s slowly emerging as a globally renowned technique for reducing stress and getting to the bottom of emotional baggage. It combines the use of ancient Chinese acupressure points and modern psychology to calm the amygdala, the area of the brain that processes all mental and emotional reactions (including stress and trauma!).

My freshman year of college I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety that I have been working through since then and tapping has helped DRAMATICALLY. I’m off medication and am living mostly anxiety-free. Now, I’m not saying that you should suddenly quit your medicine after reading this (PLEASE NO). I’m just saying that if you are like me, and you are looking for an alternative solution, then consider tapping.

Even if you have never suffered from any official psychological disorder, everyone has their traumas, bad experiences, and stress that has built up throughout his or her lifetime. Wouldn’t it feel good to let some of that go?

I bring this up now, because there is an awesome, FREE event happening right now on thetappingsolution.com. It’s a 10 day seminar where many knowledgeable people are going to talk about tapping and how it can improve your life. There are new videos everyday and they are available for 24 hours. Again, it’s COMPLETELY FREE. What do you have to lose?

Check it out here:

Photo: The 6th Annual Tapping World Summit starts tonight at 8PM ET!  Over 521,000 people are registered!  </p>
<p>Who do you know that could benefit from attending this life-changing event?  Please don't be shy in sharing.  You never know what kind of impact the simple act of sharing this may have on somebody else's life.  If you're not registered yet, go here to get access:</p>
<p>http://thetappingsolution.com/cmd.php?Clk=5214836
In the spirit of the tapping world summit, I am going to be doing a series of blog posts over the next three weeks dedicated to naturally reducing stress, and improving anxiety and depression. This is something a lot of people struggle with, and I think it’s time to stop hiding it and start talking about how we can empower ourselves by taking small steps in the right direction.
Until next time,
♥ Stephanie
P.S. If you want an email to tell you when I post new blogs, then sign up for our email newsletter on the right of the screen! →
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