I Forced Myself to Do This & It Kinda Su@ked

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I sat in a quiet place. Minutes went by and there was not one “mom?” cry out.

I am going to do it this time.

I am committed and it is going to work.

So here we go.

Siting cross legged – check.   Scratch that – my left leg is already numb.

Just sit.  Quiet

5 min starting now…

listening to my breath (seems easy enough)

When was I suppose to call Sarah?

No no – don’t think about that now.  Breathe

When am I going to fold the laundry?  Frig

No no – don’t think about that now.  Breathe

I wonder how much time is left? …

🙄

Mindfulness and meditation are health buzzwords nowadays. Everyone, even those who aren't health practitioners, tout the amazing effects of being mindful and practicing meditation.

But, just because it’s popular doesn’t mean you should do it...or does it?

As an expert, I recommend it.

Not only do I recommend it but it is also a vital component in boosting your metabolism and reconnecting with your body.

So HOW can we incorporate it into our day, PLUS make it work so we do not have ‘squirel’ brain like my experience above?

Before we dive in, let’s just make sure we’re on the same page when we say “mindfulness” and “meditation.”

“Meditation” is the ancient practice of connecting the body and mind to become more self-aware and present. It’s often used to calm the mind, ease stress, and relax the body.

Practicing “mindfulness” is one of the most popular ways to meditate. It’s defined as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”

Mindfulness meditation is well studied in terms of its health benefits. I’m going to talk about a few of them below, and refer to it as “mindfulness” for the rest of the post.

The link between mindfulness and health = stress reduction

Have you heard the staggering statistics on how many doctors' visits are due to stress? Seventy-five to ninety percent!

Yes!

So, if you ask me, it makes a ton of sense that anything that can reduce stress can reduce health issues too.

Mindfulness reduces inflammation, reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and improves sleep. All of these can have massive effects on your physical and mental health.

I'll briefly go over the research in three main areas:

Mood,

Weight,

Gut Health.

But know that the research on the health benefits of mindfulness is branching into many other exciting new areas too.

Mindfulness for mood

The most immediate health benefit of mindfulness is improved mood.

In one study, people who took an 8-week mindfulness program had greater improvement in symptoms according to the “Hamilton Anxiety Scale.” They were compared with people who took a stress management program that did not include mindfulness. It seems that the mindfulness training was key to lowering symptoms.

Other studies show that mindfulness has similar effects as antidepressant medications for some people with mild to moderate symptoms of depression.

While mindfulness isn’t a full-fledged cure, it can certainly help to improve moods.

Mindfulness for weight

Studies show that people who use mind-body practices, including mindfulness, have lower BMIs (Body Mass Indices).

How can this be?

One way mindfulness is linked with lower weight is due to stress-reduction. Mindfulness can reduce stress-related and emotional overeating. It can also help reduce cravings and binge eating.

Another way it can work for weight is due to "mindful” eating

Ever eaten something but do not remember eating it?

Mindful eating is a "non-judgmental awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating." It's the practice of being more aware of food and the eating process. It's listening more deeply to how hungry and full you actually are. It's not allowing yourself to be distracted with other things while you're eating, like what's on TV or your smartphone.

People with higher mindfulness scores also reported smaller serving sizes of energy-dense foods. So it seems that more mindful eating = less junk.

Mindfulness about food and eating can have some great benefits for your weight.

Mindfulness for gut health

Recent studies show a link between stress, stress hormones, and changes in gut microbes (your friendly bacteria and other critters that help your digestion).In theory, mindfulness-based stress reduction could be a way to help prevent negative changes in the gut's microbes.

Also, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) seems to be linked with both stress and problems with gut microbes. In one study, people with IBS who received mindfulness training showed greater reductions in IBS symptoms than the group who received standard medical care.

The research here is just starting to show us the important link between stress, gut health, and how mindfulness can help.

Again comes the HOW?

How can we do this?  We are busy and even when we try we often find ourselves thinking about all the days ‘to dos’.

First,  plan a time and a place.    Mine is the bathroom (on the throne).  Yes for real! Because there (with our closed door policy) no one bugs me and I can have 5 minutes. 

Sitting.

Second,  keep it simple and quick.  Especially at the start, and make consistency your primary goal.  So every other day or 3 days a week for 5 minutes.  Done.

Let someone guide you and talk you through 5 min.   Like this one from Gaby Bernstein. 

{other bonus links below}

Third,  Put a reminder on your phone.  This is your time.  Your 5 min.

Conclusion

Science is confirming some amazing health benefits of the ancient practice of mindfulness meditation. For moods, weight, gut health, and more.

Do you regularly include it in your life? If so, have you seen benefits? If not, would you consider trying it?

Let me know – just reply to this email.

Moni

xoxo

Recipe (Relaxing Teas): Relaxing Herbal Teas

There are many relaxing herbal teas that would be great after meditation.

Try any of these by steeping in boiling water:

●      Green tea (has a bit of caffeine, or you can choose decaffeinated green tea)

●      White tea (also has a bit of caffeine, or you can choose decaffeinated white tea)

●      Rooibos tea

●      Peppermint tea (or steep fresh peppermint leaves)

●      Ginger tea (or steep slices of real ginger)

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can add a touch of honey if desired.

BONUS Guided Meditation “Recipes” (videos, apps & podcasts)

How to Meditate video

How to Meditate in One Minute or Less Every Day  video

Calm App

Headspace App (free 10-day trial)

Daily Meditation Podcast

Hay House Meditations Podcast

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/benefits-mindfulness-meditation/

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm

https://authoritynutrition.com/mindful-eating-guide/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4454654/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26186434

The Stress Mess

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I sat in my normal spot.

A table facing the window that is a little larger so I can span out my notepad, computer and a million post-it notes.

I sip on my too hot Lactose Free Green Tea Latte (no sweetener) and get ready to dive into a day’s plan of work.

Another sip.

Then wham!!!

It hit.

Unexpectedly, as I had woken up feeling pretty good, rested, eyes finally not blood shot red from too much crying. Not even Visine could have helped me days ago.

It started.

I could feel my pulse pump in my wrists.

My breathing started to quicken.

My chest clamped so hard it pushed me back in my seat.

I felt like an elephant had suddenly decided to sit on my chest.

I tried to talk myself out of it and focused on slowing my breathing.

WTF was happening? Heart attack – no. Anxiety attack – maybe?

Suddenly, I was nauseous.

I started to become scared.

”Just cry”, I kept telling myself.

“Just cry and let it all go.”

But I couldn’t - there were no more tears left.

It was happening…

I was breaking down.

The cause was a whirlwind of buying and selling a house. Though in denial, it not only left me emotionally spent but also physically depleted.

The stress had compounded and my body gave me a friendly reminder that we need to deal with stress before it makes us really sick.

It was almost like when your older sibling would flick you in the forehead.

Ahhh, the “stress mess.”

Yes, stress can definitely mess with your health.

In today’s blog I want to talk about the about some of the telltale (and not-so- obvious) signs that stress is messing with your health.

And of course some ways to nip it at the source and / or deal with the stress mess.

Oh, and I have relaxing recipe for you (two ingredients - no stress!).

 

The Stress Mess: How It Really Messes With Your Health

Let’s cut to the chase.

We all have some level of stress, right?

It may be temporary (acute), or long-term (chronic).

Acute stress usually won’t mess with your health too much. It is your body’s natural reaction to circumstances, and can even be life-saving.

{A massive flick in the forehead.}

Then, when the “threat” (a.k.a. “stressor”) is gone, the reaction subsides, and all is well.

It is the chronic stress that is a problem. You see, your body has specific stress reactions. If these stress reactions are triggered every day or many times a day this can mess with your health.

Stress (and stress hormones) can have a huge impact on your health.

Let’s dive into the ”stress mess”.

Mess #1 - Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes

Why save the best for last? Anything that increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes (both serious, chronic conditions) needs to be discussed.

Stress increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes by promoting chronic inflammation, affecting your blood ”thickness”, as well as how well your cells respond to insulin.

Mess #2 - Immunity

Did you notice that you get sick more often when you are stressed? Maybe you get colds, cold sores, or even the flu more frequently when you are stressed?

Well, that’s because stress hormones affect the chemical messengers (cytokines) secreted by immune cells; consequently, they are less able to do their jobs effectively.

Mess #3 - ”Leaky Gut”

Stress can contribute to leaky gut, otherwise known as ”intestinal permeability”. These leaks can then allow partially digested food, bacteria or other things to be absorbed into your body.

The stress hormone cortisol can open up tiny holes by loosening the grip your digestive cells have to each other.

Picture this: Have you ever played ”red rover?” It’s where a row of children hold hands while one runs at them to try to break through. Think of those hands as the junctions between cells. When they get loose, they allow things to get in that should be passing right though. Cortisol (produced in excess in chronic stress) is a strong player in red rover!

Mess #4 - Sleep Disruption

Yes !! Talk to me…

Stress and sleep go hand-in- hand. It’s often difficult to sleep when you have very important (and stressful) things on your mind.

And when you don’t get enough sleep, it affects your energy level, memory, ability to think, and mood.

More and more research is showing just how important sleep is for your health. Not enough sleep (and too much stress) aren’t obviously doing us any favours.

Ok – so what can we do?

Stress-busting tips

1. Reducing stressors in your life is an obvious first step.

Can you:

● Put less pressure on yourself?

● Ask for help?

● Say no”

● Delegate to someone else?

● Finally, make that decision?

No matter how hard you try, you won’t eliminate stress altogether. So, here are a few things you can try to help reduce its effect on you:

● Deep breathing

● Meditation

● Walk in nature (grounding – this is what I did)

● Unplug (read a book, take a bath)

● Exercise (yoga, tai chi, etc.)

● Connect with loved ones

● Personalized supplementation

Conclusion

Stress is a huge and often underappreciated factor in our health. It can impact your physical body much more than you might realize.

Stress has been shown to increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes, affect your immune system, digestion and sleep.

There are things you can do to both reduce stressors and also to improve your response to it.

You can ditch that stress mess!

Recipe (relaxing chamomile): Chamomile Peach Iced Tea

Serves 1

1 cup steeped chamomile tea, cooled

1 peach, diced

Place both ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Add ice if desired.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can use fresh or frozen peaches.

References:

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/stress

https://www.thepaleomom.com/stress-undermines- health/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/good-stress- bad-stress

https://www.thepaleomom.com/managing-stress/

What Matters THE Most

What Matters Most JORD Blog

My JORD Experience 

Ever since I can remember I have worn a watch.  I think my first one was a plastic creation from a gumball machine that had a pic of Wonder Woman in action on the face.    I was obsessed and remember being crushed when the band snapped on my 5 cent purchase.

It was such a cool watch.

Flash forward 40 plus years and I still feel that same empty pit in my tummy, with a taste of anxiety when I realize I am not wearing my watch.    

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Maybe because having something cool on my wrist projected some type of Wonder Woman power.   The power to leap children over tall buildings to get to school on time, to lasso up all business tasks before hockey practice and to make sure everyone is tucked in dreamland by 8.

So is my cool watch obsession really a time obsession?   That goes beyond being punctual and dreaming of superhero powers?

We all know that time is our greatest commodity.  It will wait for no one and as life continues to run with us a mock speed - we ultimately just crave more ….. time.

Unfortunately, my cool watch holds no power to the days that go by in a blink.   Weeks quickly stacking into months and years multiplying.

My guest blog post "Connecting during busy times.  A Mom’s story” touched on this topic. http://bit.ly/2yoVdgE

Sometimes it takes something to stop you in your tracks to bring you ‘back’ to having a real connection with your time.

This is mine.

As we closed out 2017 there was one week where my son would repeatedly

asked me,

“Are we late or early?”  

“Are we rushing again?”  

On day 1 of asking these questions, I paid no attention.   

On day 5, I started to pay attention.   

Enter reality check.

Being a busy Mom that is trying to strike a fair balance in Motherhood and ambition without sacrificing her vision, being present in moments and every ounce of energy is ….. super hard because we feel we don't have enough time.   

So Wonder Woman what do we do?

My sons repeated questions reminded me that we have to focus on what matters. That I needed to pause, breathe and remember that craved time should be given to what really matters to me.   And whatever it is we are doing in that time should get our present attention and focus.

Easier said than done, right?

First, let's write it down what matters.

Here is mine 

Me time (workouts, planning, manicures, reading)

Kid time (with family and one-on-one)

Hubby time  (Oh, poor hubby, he gets in there though)

Psst  Valentine is just around the corner.

Business (creating impact, helping others, creating options for my family)

Travel (let the world teach us)

Whoa!   Seems like a lot but when you physically write it down you actually become aware of  the little things that may creep in there and take away time from what really matters to you.   They’re sneaky!

Second. We need to stay focused on what we have written down because we all know how easy it is to let our minds wander to what is next on the daily agenda.

You may be like me and need a daily reminder

Ironically enough I actually started using my watch!    I discovered a company that not only had super cool, ‘where did you get that?” type of watches but get this …… their name is JORD.  

 That’s our mini name for our son - JORD.

Fitting considering he was the one to remind me in his innocent not so subtle way - too slow down and give time to what matters.

Suddenly I have my super power watch back.  Now every time I look at my new cool wooden watch I remember Jord asking “Are we rushing again?”  and its underlying message for me to come back to the moment.

“The value of a watch is not in being able to tell how much time has passed, but in being aware of the need to make that time count. Moments are bigger than minutes and your watch should tell more than time.”
~ JORD watches 

Yes JORD.  I 100% agree.

What matters most.

xo

Moni


GIVEAWAY

Whether you are counting down the days to Valentines OR you think every day should be February 14th,  here is your chance to give the gift of time (wink wink).  Or just keep for yourself.  Click on this link to have a chance to win a $100 gift code to use on the JORD site! One lucky person will win, but everyone will receive a consolation code worth 10% off once the contest is over!  Bonus! 

Don't ask me this question..

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The other day I was in the Starbucks waiting in line for my all too expensive, but tasty peppermint tea when I overheard (ok maybe I was eavesdropping) on the two 40-ish ladies in front of me.

I only give the age for context.

The convo went something like this.

“Hey, Jen you look fantastic.  Are you doing that thing again?”

To that Jen replies, “Yes, I’m xxxx. It is my fourth time and I love it”    

Friend “Oh my gosh.  I need to be xxx”

Names and diet styles changed for privacy 😉

Internally I gave a little side smile and a chuckle.  

But I had questions:

  1. When did how we eat become an attribute?.   When we fill out forms will it soon look like this  ‘please fill in your gender, age, height, eating style?’

  2. Why is this her 4th time?   Did she just want a jumpstart after the holidays? (that's cool) or did she achieve fast results, lose the results and start over again? (not cool).

  3. Is her friend going through a serious case of FOMO right now?  Fear Of Missing Out on the latest and greatest..

Oh, how I wanted to ask all 3 questions so bad.  But then the scene flashed through my head and I concluded I would ultimately look and sound like the nutty health girl.  

But really this is nothing new.   

10 years ago I was asked about fat-free, The Zone, Atkins, low calorie, whole grain….

20 years ago it was carb loading, packaged meals, South Beach Diet …

Last few years you may have heard about Paleo, Keto, Raw, Vegan, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Volumetrics, Mediterranean, Fasting

So Moni, Don’t avoid the question.

What do you do?   What are your clients doing?

Well, my answer is kinda lame, that is why I do not like being asked, because … It depends.

Some styles work for some and not work for others.  i.e) I do Paleo and lose 5 lbs and you do it and gain 5lbs.  Some may work the first time but not another time.  

WHY?  Because our bodies demands are different than your friends and are also different day to day.  

Key questions to ask before embarking on any ‘eating style’ (my nice word for diet):

  • Would I be able to do this on vacation?  aka sustainable
  • Will it fit into your monthly grocery budget?  aka is not another car payment
  • Does it sound too good to be true?  aka  Lose the 10 lbs in 10 days and have “the sky is the limit” energy.
  • Is it by nature?  aka will your body recognize and know ‘it’ as food?   Notice I didn't say ‘natural’. The word ‘natural’ can be very misleading (a topic for another day)

So what am I?

I am no style of eating but Real Food.  I believe in bio-individuality and specific balances of our macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that is age, activity and metabolism specific to achieve goals and gain results.

I know your yawning.  Boring.

OK, I will divulge a little more.

For my clients that are active and interested in maintaining a level of athletic performance (weekend warriors to triathletes to the pros),  we work on developing nutritional strategies weeks, heck months, ahead of time for peak performance in their sport/activity.  Not just 48 hr before like yester year ‘styles’

For my amazing women over 35 that are figuring out that their metabolism has changed.  And what worked to lose some extra fluff when they were 20/30 is not working now.  They feel like they have hit a wall and their confidence, motivation and patience are dwindling day by day.   We look at body composition, balance blood sugar, hormones and decreases inflammation first and foremost.   Without this, nothing will work (thats hard science lol)

Again in both scenarios, my physiologies are not for everyone.  For example - if you are raw vegan we are probably not a fit.  And that is ok.

Weight loss advice is so common (and contentious). There are competing opinions everywhere.  

Jen in the Starbucks line says so, and Google says so.

I say, forget about "who's right" and let's focus on "what's right." Because what gets results is what I'm focusing on in this post.

There are too many weight loss myths out there. I’m going to share the top ones I come across in my practice.

 

Common Weight Loss (Fat Loss) Myths Busted

 

Myth #1: Calories cause weight gain, and fewer calories are the path to weight loss

Calories are important for weight loss. If you eat and absorb a ton more than you use, then your body’s wisdom will store some for later.

On the other hand, if you don't consume enough calories through the day your body doesn’t understand what is happening.  All it knows is that it is not getting enough to survive and do day to day functions so it will also store everything for later.  

Calories matter.

But, they are not the “be-all and end-all" of weight loss; they're important, but they're the symptom, not the cause. Let's think about the reasons people eat more calories or are not eating enough right calories. Let's focus on the causes.

Myth 2: Amp up your cardio to lose the fluff

Well, then we're all in tip-top shape, right? Because people have been doling out this advice (myth) for years.

The premise of this is based on the above myth that calories in minus calories out equal your weight. So, burn off more calories (because human physiology is a simple math equation, right?).  

The problem is that hour-long sessions of aerobic exercise can also wreak havoc on your adrenals and cause more stress on the body.  Especially if you are coming into your session tired and stressed already.  What does the body do when it’s stressed?  It holds on to fat.  It's survival.

Though we never want to forget about our heart health there are other methods of working out that are just as effective aerobically, less time consuming and more apt to get your metabolism firing all day long.

Myth #3: A calorie is a calorie

Can we please put this one to bed already?

Science has confirmed several caloric components of food differ from others. For example, the “thermic effect of food” (TEF) is that some nutrients require calories to be metabolized. They can slightly increase your metabolism, just by eating them.   

Check out my Top 5 Foods Here.

For example, when you metabolize protein you burn more calories than when you metabolize carbohydrates. Proteins and carbohydrates both have 4 calories/gram; but, the TEF of protein = 15–30%; and the TEF for carbohydrates = 5–10%.

Here’s another example of a calorie not being a calorie. Different fats are metabolized differently. Medium chain triglycerides (fats) (MCTs) have the same 9 calories/gram that other fats do; but, they're metabolized by the liver before getting into the bloodstream and therefore aren't utilized or stored the same way as other fats.

#acalorieisnotacalorie

Myth #4: Buy this supplement/tea/food/magic potion to lose weight

There is no magic pill for weight loss. No supplement, tea, food, or other potion will do the trick.

There are products that make these claims, and they're full of garbage (or shall I say "marketing gold?"). The only thing you will lose is your money (and possibly your hope). So, please don’t believe this myth. There is a reason most people who lose weight can’t keep it off. The real magic is in adopting a sustainable holistic and healthy approach to living your life. What you need is a long-term lifestyle makeover built around your metabolic state, not a product.

 

Conclusion

 

Weight loss (fat loss) is hard!

There are too many people out there trying to make it sound like they have the simple solution (or the latest and greatest!).    

No one style of eating will be right for everyone.  Don’t fall for the myths that say:

●      Calories cause weight gain, and fewer calories are the path to weight loss.

●      Amp up your cardio to lose fluff

●      A calorie is a calorie.

●      Buy this supplement/tea/food/magic potion to lose weight.

Now check out my magical “weight loss salad” recipe below (just kidding!)

 

Recipe (Myth-free salad, filling and nutritious): Kale Cucumber Salad

Serves 2

Salad

  • 4 cups kale, divided
  • 1 cup cooked beans of your choice (white beans, chickpeas, etc.)
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, divided
  • 1 cucumber, sliced and divided

Cucumber Dill Dressing

  • ½ cup tahini
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp dill
  • ½ cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp maple syrup
  • 2 dashes salt
  • 2 dashes black pepper
  • ¼ tsp garlic, minced

Instructions

  1. Divide salad ingredients into two bowls.
  2. Add all dressing ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until creamy. You may need to add water to thin. Add it slowly, a tbsp at a time until desired thickness is reached.
  3. Add dressing to salads and gently toss.
  4. Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Extra dressing can be stored in the fridge for a few days.

In thriving health,

Moni


Did you grab your FREE guide were I tell you about 5 Foods That Help Boost Your Metabolism Naturally, how to shop for them and also the best way to use them!!

References:

  • https://authoritynutrition.com/top-12-biggest-myths-about-weight-loss/
  • https://authoritynutrition.com/metabolism-boosting-foods/
  • https://authoritynutrition.com/5-chemicals-that-are-making-you-fat/

🎅🏼 Santa won’t tell you this .... (and neither am I)

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"Just relax".

Want to see my skin crawl?  Then tell me to "relax" or "chill out" while I am in the midst of an internal tornado.   Especially this time of year!!

To me, it is like telling an insomniac to take a nap.

It does nothing to solve the problem and we all know that what causes STRESS is absolutely everywhere.  Would you agree?

Our natural “fight or flight” stress response can sometimes go a little overboard. Well....maybe a lot overboard.  

It’s supposed to help us escape injury or death in an emergency and then return to normal after we’ve fought or flew. But, that doesn’t happen too much in our society - it becomes a long-term reaction. It becomes chronic.

You’ve probably heard of the main stress hormone, called “cortisol.” 

It’s released by your adrenal glands in response to stress. It’s also naturally high in the morning to get you going, and slowly fades during the day so you can sleep.  

Did you know that too-high levels of cortisol can rock your metabolism and are associated with belly fat, poor sleep, brain fog, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and even lowers your immunity?

If you are saying, "Yes, talk to me"

Well, then read on because I have a list of foods, nutrients, and lifestyle (there is that word again) recommendations to help you lower this stress hormone naturally!

Foods and nutrients to lower cortisol

Let’s start with one of the biggies that increase your cortisol… sugar. Reducing the sugar we eat and drink can be a great step toward better health for our minds (and bodies).

High doses of caffeine also increase your cortisol levels. If coffee makes you feel anxious and jittery, then cut back on the amount of caffeine you ingest.   If you wonder if coffee is for you? Check out this post.

Also, being dehydrated increases cortisol. Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day.  

{Hint hint nudge nudge - that is at least half your body weight in ounces.   Don't listen to the 8 glasses a day guide.  It's BS because your needs are not the same as a linebacker from the NFL}

Eat a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods; this doesn't just help reduce stress hormone, it helps all aspects of your health.  Whole foods = real foods.

Lower your cortisol levels with soothing teas and dark chocolate (not the sugary milky kind, go for 80% dark or up). Have a bit to unwind.  

Don’t forget your probiotics and prebiotics! We talked about this last week on the Mojo Moni FaceTime Live.  There is so much new research about the gut-mind connection, and how taking care of your friendly gut microbes is key! Make sure you’re eating probiotic rich fermented foods and getting a healthy dose of prebiotic fiber.

Lifestyle (there is that word again) techniques to lower cortisol

It’s not just food, but there are things you can do with your time that can lower cortisol.  Here are a couple of my favourite:

  • Reduce your stress with mindfulness. Many studies show that reducing stressful thoughts and worry reduces cortisol.  HOW?  Before you go to bed every night either write down or think of 5 things you are grateful for that day.   Don't over think it.  It could be 'having a bed to sleep on' or 'being healthy'.
  • Get enough exercise (but don’t overdo it). While intense exercise increases cortisol levels temporarily, it can reduce overall cortisol levels.    It is very important to do the right kind of exercise, especially if you are over 40.  
  • Get enough sleep!  Getting adequate sleep is way too underrated. Sleep reduces cortisol levels and also helps improve your overall health in so many ways.  Need help getting good quality, solid sleep.  Check out this post (don't mind my eye concealer) 
  • Have fun.   What is a fun activity for you to do or try?  This helps boost your serotonin (the feel-good hormone) and reduce cortisol.
  • Be social and bust loneliness. Would you believe me if I told you that science has shown health risks from social isolation and loneliness? It’s true! Maintaining good, quality relationships and spending time with people you like and who support you is key.  

Emphasis on the word 'like' !! hahaha

Conclusion

Too much of the stress hormone cortisol can have several negative impacts on your health. There are many proven ways to reduce levels of cortisol naturally.

In terms of foods and nutrients, have less sugar and caffeine. And have more water, fruit, tea, dark chocolate, probiotics, and prebiotics.

Lifestyle factors are huge when it comes to cortisol. To lower yours, exercise (but not too much), get more sleep, relax, and have more fun.

In the comments below, let me know your favourite ways to bust the stress hormone cortisol!

Recipe (High fiber prebiotic): De-Stressing Chocolate Pudding

Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 ripe avocados

¼ cup cacao powder (unsweetened)

¼ cup maple syrup

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 dash salt

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Try adding a pinch of cinnamon for a deeper flavour.

It is not too late to grab your 9 Tips To Avoid Holiday Health (waistline included) Sabotage! 

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/ways-to-lower-cortisol/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-cortisol

https://authoritynutrition.com/16-ways-relieve-stress-anxiety/

https://www.thepaleomom.com/managing-stress/

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response

Connecting During Busy Times – A Moms Story

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When one of my oldest and best friends, Moni, talked about me guest blogging on her site, I immediately jumped at the chance because that is what I do best…act and then think.  Then, once I had the chance to think about what I would blog about, I groaned and thought that this was just one more thing on my ever expanding plate of parenting three (sometimes four) kids, being a full-time working mom and spouse, an unpaid but much bugged taxi driver, and housekeeper for a messy but cleanish home. (There is a difference in my world!)  However, I am going to put ink to paper and don’t quote me but “I think I am a bit excited to try this”. 

For clarity – I have two stepchildren and two of my own children.  My stepchildren are 19 and 18.  My 19 year old stepdaughter lives with her mother and my 18 year old stepson lives with us.  I also have two children with my spouse, an 11 year old boy and 9 year old girl.  Just to further furnish the proof that I am not far from insanity – we also have 3 dogs, a bird, and a hamster.  Seriously. 

Now, what to write about.  There are so many thoughts that popped into my head about living a life with 3 (4) kids running amok but I decided to share a wonderful way I am able to feel close with my kids in such a hectic, technologically managed life. 

My kids are the biggest priority in my life (I know – Captain Obvious) and as a working mom, I have to make time for them.  I am one of the many moms who look wistfully into their kids’ rooms in the early morning, just seeing their outline in the dark, and wishing I could wake them and say “good morning my chicken-littles” (that is what I like to call my kids – don’t laugh!).  However, 5 days out of the 7 I am able to still wish my kidlets a good morning, albeit through the phone, but at least I get to hear their sleepy voices in the morning. 

My spouse, who has the (mostly) lucky task of seeing the kids off to school in the morning, has said to me on numerous occasions, “why does it take you so long to put the kids to bed at night?  I just say good night and leave them”.  Obviously, he isn’t a (nag) mom who demands that the kids wash their face and hands (with soap!) and brush their teeth (aka “monkeys”) for more than 30 seconds.  (I had an embarrassing kids’ dentist appointment last time and am now anal about teeth brushing – but that is another story).  But, the real reason why I take so long to put the kids to bed is because of the “Tree”. 

For all you parents out there who have kids that want a glass of water, have an itchy back, leg, arm, or want to tell you good night 18 more times, I want to let you know that I have conquered the never-ending bedtime saga! 

One random night over a year ago, I was putting my kids to bed and becoming more and more irritated because I knew that lots of crap things were awaiting my attention…dog walking, lunch making, quick tidy, a little adult time, my 5 minute shower (including a poorly maneuvered shave), etc and my kids just wouldn’t stop.  I hate raising my voice which invariably turns into yelling but was becoming quite adept at it.  “Done,” I said.  I went into my son’s room and just started talking.  I spoke about a specific thought that popped into my head and when I had finished (less than 5 minutes) my 10 year old son was asleep.  I did the same for my 8 year old daughter and got the same “fist pumping” result. 

Since that night, I will tell my children the same story if they are restless or I want some emotional extra time with my babies. 

My son, who is now 11 and a half, asked me last night to tell him about the “Tree”.  And still, once I was done, he was almost asleep and felt safe and warm. 

I want to share the story with you – it isn’t anything special – I made it up one night as I thought it would make the end of the day for both my kids and me that much better.

When I tell the story, the room is dark; I speak in a very soft voice and gently stroke my son’s hair and hold my daughter’s hand.  It is my moment of peace in a very much (sort of) organized chaos I call my life. 

The Tree

“It is a beautiful sunny day and you are walking in a field all by yourself.  The yellow grass is so soft against your legs and the sun is shining on the top of your head.  But you aren’t hot because there is a nice cool breeze against your face that you feel.  As you are walking, you see a big tree in the distance; a tree with green leaves (picture a maple) and it is all by itself in the middle of the grassy field.  It is waiting for you.  You start to walk towards it; as you are walking, the tree gets closer and closer until at last you reach the tree.  Underneath the leaves of the tree it is dark and shady.  You slowly start to walk around the huge trunk of the tree and all of a sudden you see a spot that looks SO comfortable.  You sit down on the green moss and it is so soft against your bum.  You lean back into the trunk of the tree and it seems to be perfect for your body to lie back on.  You have never been so comfortable in your life.  The leaves are rustling, the sun is shining on you, but not on your face; it is making a sun blanket on you so you are warm.  There are no other sounds around you except for birds singing and the leaves rustling.  You feel your eyes getting heavy and start to close them. The leaves are rustling around you.  Your arms and legs feel heavy.  You hear the leaves rustling and feel the sun blanket keeping you warm.  Your eyes keep getting heavier and heavier.  The tree is so comfortable and you feel protected by the tree.  You are safe here.  You can’t open your eyes anymore because they are so heavy – the leaves are rustling and the sun is shining.  Everything else is so quiet.  Shhhh.  Go to sleep my baby.  Mommy is the tree and will always protect you.  Always.”    

I always leave my kids’ rooms afterward with a small smile on my face and secretly am a little more convinced that I AM a good mommy.  (Then it is time for a glass of wine!)


Author:  Bree (Barnard) Krul

  • Mom/stepmom of 4 kiddos
  • Legal and insurance professional
  • Previous Restauranteur
  • Part-time Caterer
  • At work workout professional (stair climber, 'squatter' beside my desk and 'planker' with office door closed)
  • Former D1 Volleyball Player
  • Lover of the invention of 1.5L bottles of wine!

Don't go through the holiday sabotaging your health (including your waistline).   Let me be your wingman!.    Click here to grab my 9 tops tips to avoid holiday health sabotage aka - the bulge!

When It Is Bigger Than Yourself

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Today is Mila’s Birthday

At precisely 4:24 pm (or thereabouts) 3 years ago she launched into this world with lots sass and hasn’t slowed down since.  

Whether you have kids or not.   Embrace birthday celebrations or not ... (though I don’t know why you wouldn’t. It’s a free pass to be spoiled, hang out with whom you choose and eat cake) They are a time for natural reflection.

Not to be a Debbie Downer but there is a pretty good chance that we have all lost someone close to us before their time.  

There is another good chance that there is someone(s) or something that you love more than you ever dreamed you could.   A spouse, family, friends, pet, hobby.  Whatever. 

My point is....

There comes a time when it is more than just about you. 

You have heard me preach from the hilltops about loving yourself enough to believe wholeheartedly that you are worth feeling like a rock star (and looking like one if that is your jam). You are worth looking and feeling tens years younger than you are, worth fitting into your skinny jeans without every inch of your lower half protesting and worth liking what you see in the mirror.

The real point 

When deep down you want to be around as much and as long as you can ...  for them.  You want to be the best version of you ..... for them.   Gosh help us, Mila is active as they come.  I want to be running and playing with her for the next few decades - or at least until she thinks I'm still cool.

I think birthdays (take em or leave them) are a gentle reminder.   Actually,  it’s a pointy elbow jabbed right in the rib cage telling you that it is more than just about us sometimes.

So I challenge you to think about what it is that is your driving force.  If you're are open to sharing it, I would love to hear.  Put in comments or email me personally Moni@MonikaTupholme.com

In thriving health,

Moni

PS.  I'm pretty pumped about some cake today!! (Mom gets some too)


Below is a little something I wrote for Mila when was turning 1 and chasing after one of my volleyballs:

My Hope

  • I hope you will have a love and passion for sports.
  • I hope you learn to love a ‘sport’ through play and having fun.
  • I hope you embrace your determination and focus and learn to filter the ‘I can’ts’
  • I hope you love and nourish your body, inside and out.
  • I hope you embrace the collaboration of a team and hard work for a goal.

My Promise

  • I promise to be a parent, not a coach- and if I happen to be both, I will try my best to separate the two.
  • I promise to be your biggest cheerleader and loudest fan.
  • I promise to celebrate your victories.
  • I promise to let you fail.
  • I promise to wipe your tears, nurse your wounds and build your courage.

My Prayer

  • I pray that you are humble in victory and gracious in defeat.
  • I pray that you are confident, not arrogant.
  • I pray that you appreciate the power and beauty of what your body can do.
  • I pray that you appreciate the power and beauty of what your mind can do.

As your Mom, these are my hopes, promises, and prayers for you, my daughter.


I am so excited to share my latest FREE resource "Santa Stole My SPanx" to help everyone get ready for 'that' holiday party.   Get yours here

7 Days to Slim Down & Rock Your Holiday Outfit  FREE

My War Paint

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Bye Bye Sleeping Through the Night

 

I’m a dark circle with a hit of under-eye puffiness type of girl.

I do not hide sleep deprivation very well and with a soon to be 3-year old that has decided to get up every 3 hours for the last two months, I’ve had to crack out some serious war paint.

Anyone close to me knows that lately, I’ve been obsessing with my families lack of quality sleep. 

Funny how it becomes all you talk about.   For every “how’s it going?”, I answer “I’m tired”, and every new mom that says her 2 month old “is sleeping through the night”, I  want to bop them on the nose.

This utter lack of mental clarity is because you feel achingly exhausted or are “running on stress hormones” all day.

In an effort to help everyone get a solid nights sleep (and save money buying concealer), here are some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing

Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we're just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.

It is funny how we can grow an ear in a petri dish but figuring out all the intricacies of sleep eludes us.

We do know this:

Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind.  People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. 

And don't forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods (ask my husband), memory and decision-making skills.  I.e.) don’t ask me anything but a “yes” or “no” question right now.

Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!)

OMG – What aspect of health does sleep not affect???

Knowing this, it's easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:

●      To restore our body and mind.  Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.

●      To improve our brain's ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.

●      To conserve some energy so we're not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.

Do you know how much sleep adults need?  It's less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it's recommended that all adults get 7 - 9 hours a night.  For real!  

all those people that say they can go with only 3 to 4 hours of sleep a night – be careful.  They’re not human.

So what can we do to really help us get quality sleep (again, minus the 3 year old)

Tips for better sleep

●      The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule.  Make it a priority and you're more likely to achieve it.  This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off.  Seven. Days. A. Week.  I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.

●      Balance your blood sugar throughout the day.  You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber).  Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavoured snack).  Make sure you're getting some protein every time you eat.

●      During the day get some sunshine and exercise.  These things tell your body its daytime; time for being productive, active and alert.  By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.

●      Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12 pm (no I am not joking – if you have late afternoon crashes there is a reason why).  Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it's the “added” sugar we're minimizing.  Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte.  Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening time.

(HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).

●      Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 - 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off).  This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath.

So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?


Recipe (Caffeine-free latte for your afternoon “coffee break”): Caffeine-Free Chai Latte

Serves 1-2

1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)

2 cups of boiling water

1 tablespoon tahini

1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)

2 dates (optional)

Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.

Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.

Blend until creamy.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tip:  You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavour combination you like the best.  Cashew butter anyone?

References:

http://www.thepaleomom.com/gotobed/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/hacking-sleep