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!
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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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and set up a free health coaching consultation. Real results take some time, but they are for life.
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!
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:
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.
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,
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!
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
-Potassium: more than bananas and spinach!
-Fiber: about 4 grams per potato, most of which is in the skin, so eat that too!
-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
One of my favorite ways to cook potatoes is skillet-style. Here’s a recipe for you:
-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,
picture courtesy of oregonrural.com
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.
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.
-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!
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.
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: