Life On Purpose

Day 23 : The Voices July 29, 2013

It always seems like when you make positive changes for yourself, there’s always Negative Nellie there to remind you that you are weird, unlikely to succeed and crazy to boot. The way you think greatly influences the way you behave. What you believe about yourself is often how you live out your life. It can be a challenge to drown out the discouraging voices, especially if they are in your family, or even in your home. When meal time comes, there’s usually someone there to remind you that what you have on the table is different. When you put on your running shoes and head out the door there are comments about how your version of fun is different than theirs, you’re too worried about your looks or maybe even that you are selfish for taking that time to yourself.

Not everyone experiences these types of negative remarks, and count yourself blessed if you don’t. But the reality is that most of us do. Here are some suggestions for drowning out the negative voices you encounter:

1. Recognize that the time and effort you put in now will make you a more energetic, content and happy person all around. It will make you better for every work God calls you to.

2. Tell them you’d love to share recipes or even a workout sometime so they can understand why you love living a healthy lifestyle. (That’ll shut ’em up!)

3. Accept that not everyone in your household may be willing to change. But you have control over yourself alone. So channel your energy into becoming the best YOU can be and leave the rest to God.

4. It’s okay that your plate looks different than everyone else’s. But know when to give on your diet: don’t let it interfere with relationships outside home. For example, if you go to a friend’s for dinner, eat whatever they make joyfully and make no comment-relationships are more important than one meal out of your week! If your friend doesn’t easily take offense and doesn’t mind your healthy habits, then stick to them.

5. Go back to your goals. The sum of your choices will either add up to accomplishing goals or not. Remind yourself why you started your journey.

6. Give the Negative Nellie articles, links and research. If they’re really so baffled by you’re choices, a little knowledge is a lot of power. Who knows, maybe they’ll join in!

7. Be sensitive to the insecurities of others. Making a lifestyle change is daunting. Most mean or negative comments are made out of jealousy. Remember when you wanted to change, but didn’t know how? Maybe point them to my blog in a neutral, calm moment.

The mind is powerful, and you have to make a conscious effort to overcome negativity. Next time someone makes a smart comment, invite them to learn more and share your journey with them!


Day 22 : Becoming a (Food) Snob July 23, 2013

We have covered a lot of foundational nutrition ground. You should now be able to make informed choices by reading labels at the grocery store. Life often gets so busy that eating out is a necessity at times.

If you must eat fast food, limit it to one meal per week. Make choices that are as nutritious as possible at these joints. Oatmeal is often an option, and though there is usually sugar added-it’s almost always one of your best options. Salads with grilled chicken are also usually readily available. Choose a vinaigrette and try not to eat any junky toppings (ie chip pieces or crispy items). Many places now offer fruit as a side option which is always better than fries or chips. You could also order a grilled chicken sandwich without a bun or take it off the by and have a side salad. Be mindful not to use more than 2 Tbs of dressing. Even better-pour your own dressing into a leakproof container, put into ziploc bag and toss into your bag to take on the road. Always order water instead of soda or tea (or frappes!). If you want coffee, opt for the real thing with cream and sugar instead of the HFCS laden “frappe” versions. As a side note-Starbucks uses higher quality ingredients than mcD’s in their cold coffee drinks as a general rule. Another thing to keep in mind when eating out is that the ketchup at restaurants is most likely the HFCS variety. Stay away from it if you can.

Get in the habit of packing your own snacks when you know you’re going to have a busy day. Here are some ideas for easy to carry snacks:

Organic string cheese
Homemade nutritious muffins or granola bars
Homemade dried fruit
Homemade fruit or kale chips

It’s cheaper and better for your health to take the time to plan ahead, and make your own pack-ahead meals and snacks. Fast food should be a once-in-a-while occurrence in your life.

Of course the exception to the above is your cheat meal;)! In that case, enjoy the heck out of it!


Day 17 : Pantry Raid July 12, 2013

I saved this for a Friday because you will need time for this. It’s also likely going to require you to go to the grocery store to restock with whole foods. I’ll be extra nice on Monday-I promise!

I’ll make this short and sweet. Today’s challenge is going to be painful for many of you. This is a huge step to healthy living. It’s time to reject the SAD diet. Raid your pantry. Let’s keep this simple. We are going to focus on the two ingredients that I believe are probably the worst offenders of health: high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil.

Read each label in your pantry and fridge and throw out any item containing “high fructose corn syrup” or “hydrogenated” anywhere in the ingredient list. Hear your body shout for joy as it hits the trash! That’s where it belongs! Let yourself enjoy the excitement of a new beginning!


Day 16 : Back to Basics July 11, 2013

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The sad thing about the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) is it has robbed us if the knowledge and experience of cooking. It has effectively reduced “cooking” to adding water and a few processed ingredients and microwaving. We are losing the art of both cooking and the family table. Food has become about instant gratification and pleasure instead of true nourishment and fellowship.

Cooking can be made fairly simple and much less intimidating if you consider this: most cooking methods are the same every time you employ them no matter what food you are cooking. The variation will come were time and temperature are concerned (and in the Google age, no need to panic!). Here are some basic cooking methods to begin trying at home:

Pan sauté: use a healthy cooking fat in a pan on the stovetop, melt it usually over medium heat for produce or medium high for meat, add ingredient and cook to desired doneness. Stir any produce frequently to prevent burning and make sure to turn meat halfway through cooking. Stainless steel dishes are ideal for this type of cooking and always come clean-salt, baking soda @ blue dawn make a great cleaning agent for anything stuck on!

Steam: use a metal colander over a pot with two or so inches of water in the bottom of the pot (you don’t want the water touching the bottom of the colander) and put any veggie or fish down into the colander over the water, cover, bring water to boil and let steam to desired doneness. I did green beans yesterday and they took 20 minutes. Google your veggie for cooking time estimates.

Roast: line a baking sheet with foil or parchment, heat your oven to 350-400 degrees depending on your ingredient, melt butter or coconut oil and toss with ingredient and add seasoning according to your recipe or desired flavor. For example, I do this with asparagus using 1-2 TBS coconut oil and add salt and pepper. Spread ingredient on baking sheet and roast 15-30 minutes depending on desired doneness (remember your cooking assistant, Google!)

Grill: wet skewers and cut up fruits and veggies. Skewer them and grill them until just marked.

When cooking whole grains like rice or quinoa, use about 1 cup of uncooked grain to 2 cups water or liquid of your choice (try free range chicken stock -yum!). Bring liquid to boil, stir in grain, cover and reduce heat to low. Do not remove lid until liquid has been mostly absorbed. Then season to taste or recipe.

Each of these methods can be applied to whole foods like broccoli, greens of any kind, bell peppers, asparagus, green beans, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and on and on. You will want to invest in a cutting board for produce that is sturdy and a high quality chef’s knife. These will be your best friend as you prep whole foods. If your meals don’t require any washing or chopping, chances are you aren’t consuming whole foods. If you are intimidated by not knowing what temps and times to use, remember, your eyes and your mouth are a great tool for testing doneness.

For some of you this is nothing new. For others, this is scary new territory. These are just a few basics to get you started. Cooking cannot by any means be condensed into one blog post.

I challenge you to try to make food that must be washed and chopped. Just TRY. If you fail, I promise you will learn and the next time it will be easier. Pinterest and Google are the two best resources in my home for getting new ideas, tasty recipes and proper cooking times and temps. Get out of your cooking comfort zone and do your palate a favor: make something new!


Day 15 : Pay Now or Pay Later July 10, 2013

Take hold of the present. It is a gift. In my profession I’ve seen countless unsuspecting individuals suffer strokes, heart attacks and dramatic, dangerous, and sudden recognition of diabetes. We are no longer surprised by these things, but we should be! it is concerning to me the young ages at which people experience such health issues. Their effects last a lifetime. If survived, these things lead to a life of what you can and can’t do and what you can and can’t eat and pills that must be consumed. In fact, its statistically likely that you either have a family member or friend/acquaintance in this very predicament.

What you eat and how you live greatly determines your risk for chronic disease. What you do now determines your future quality of life. It is never too late to begin your life-changing journey to wellness!

Let us translate this to dollars. I’m going to be transparent so you can see how this really looks:

We used to spend $400 per month on groceries to feed a family of 4 (two small children). We now spend $550 per month on groceries to feed a family of 5 (3 small children/including one bottomless pit!). That’s reality. We made our health and wellness a higher priority. So what’s the alternative?

The average heart attack costs $1 million for one person. Swallow this: the average after-insurance-out-of-pocket cost of diabetes ( not counting any other care) per year per person is $7,900!!! That is $658 dollars out of pocket every month just for diabetes care alone.

I’m not trying to scare you as much as open your eyes. It is a MYTH that you can’t afford to eat healthy. The truth is: you cannot afford NOT to eat healthy. It is well worth the sacrifice.

Can you eat out less? Have a movie night at home instead of going to the theater? Get unlimited Netflix and turn off the satellite? Cancel that magazine subscription you never have time to read anyway? You weigh the cost and then decide what it will take. Do the best you can with what you have. If you just CAN’T up your grocery budget, figure out how you can buy more wisely with the money you have. Get active. Drink water. Get sunshine, and keep changing the little things you can! Next time you get a raise, why not use that money to invest in your health?

My challenge today is this: count the cost. The cost of eating well now versus the cost of a lifetime of disease…what’s your choice?



Day 13 : Intensity Matters July 6, 2013

What is the ideal workout? One that is short, burns fat and gets results, right? Is there such a thing?


It is called high intensity interval training (HIIT). The beauty of this type of workout is that it’s short and you can do it at home without buying any special equipment. As I have said before, I’ve been asked by a lot of people how I lost so much weight and got in shape. This is my story: HIIT 5 days a week + excellent nutrition!

The idea of HIIT is that your heart rate stays elevated throughout your workout while still performing strength-building exercises. It’s a triple threat: cardio, strength & intervals all in one. Three ingredients to effective exercise smashed into one workout. HIIT workouts burn fat for up to 2 days after your workout. Many HIIT workouts also incorporate plyometrics (jump training) which also boosts your fat burning for several hours after exercising. The anatomy of HIIT is usually a set of exercises done over a certain period of time and repeated as a circuit. For example:

50 seconds jumping jacks/10 seconds rest
50 seconds lunges/10 seconds rest
50 seconds push-ups/10 seconds rest
50 seconds squats/10 seconds rest

Repeat Circuit 3 times

Will 12 minutes really change your body? Yes. How do I know? It worked for me.

You can spend one hour at the gym or you can spend 15 minutes at home…yeah it seems like a no-brainer to me too! It isn’t easy. It is hard. it will challenge you. You will be dripping with sweat and short of breath. But it will change your body. And you will get stronger.

Some suggestions:

1. Modify to your level. Push-ups can be done from your knees, and you don’t need weight as a beginner. Also, jumps can be done as steps.

2. Try just one or two rounds as a beginner.

3. Check out the free interval timer app for iPhone if you want to do these workouts without following a video. The 7 minute workout or Sworkit apps are also great!

4. If something hurts your back or knees STOP!

Check out the daily hiit or Zuzka Light to get started!

I never expected to “like” these workouts, but as I gained strength and added weight, I found that I LOVED them! I hate missing my workouts now because I think they are FUN! Keep an open mind and try it. That’s my challenge to you.


Day 12 : Guest Post-The Hormone Factor July 1, 2013

I’d like to welcome Karen Vogler, my guest blogger today! She has written a very practical and helpful post on hormones and wellness. Enjoy!

The world of science and research has provided literal volumes of books, studies and reports on various hormones and their importance to optimal wellness. With that understanding, it is impossible to give even an adequate summary in a short guest blog on all the hormones, their functions and their relationship to other processes in the body. I am not an Endocrinologist or a doctor at all but I am a woman who has been on a hormone journey which has necessitated learning more than any human would want to know about hormones on my personal path to wellness (early fertility issues, hypothyroid, menopausal, adrenal dysregulation….you get the picture).
In a nutshell, hormones are little chemical messengers that trigger certain processes in our bodies (visualize a domino effect where one domino topples over and hits another and causes a chain reaction). Hormones are vital to our existence and well being. You are probably familiar with the major sexual and reproductive hormones – estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and you have certainly experienced the hormone adrenaline (the fight or flight hormone) the last time you were frightened. But can you name other hormones? Surprisingly, there are 60+ hormones!
With all of them In perfect balance….
• we have uninterrupted sleep and wake feeling rested
• we have abundant energy
• we respond to stressors without debilitating anxiety and worry
• we have a stable, balanced mood
• we lose weight and/or maintain a healthy body weight easily
• we enjoy being active
• we have balanced blood sugar levels
• we have normal menstrual cycles and no fertility issues (females obviously!) • we have healthy sex drives (men and women)
• we have the metabolism of champions
• we have sharp memory
• we have glowing skin, hair and nails
• we maintain muscle mass
• we have few struggles with food cravings
There are some lifestyle choices that you can focus on to support healthy hormone function. They are (and you’ve likely heard this before):
1. Eat an organic diet of whole foods. Whole foods include: fresh veggies, greens and fruits (in moderation if weight loss is a goal because of natural sugar content), grass- fed meats, healthy fats (avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, mac nut oil, grass fed real butter), whole grains and grass fed dairy (if not intolerant). Processed foods, refined grains and food-like substances can wreak havoc on several hormones including insulin, cortisol and thyroid. The result is a sluggish metabolism, weight gain, lethargy and a potential host of other issues. Soy foods can also have a modest effect on estrogen levels.
2. Get regular exercise. Exercise impacts almost every hormone. Exercise reduces the stress hormones and their unfavorable side effects while increasing the “feel good” hormones and raising the metabolic rate. Growth hormone is excreted during physical activity which has an extensive list of biological actions with positive benefits. Choose what you enjoy doing for exercise and do it consistently.
3. Get adequate sleep. Sleeping less than eight hours per night can severely affect the hormones that control metabolism and may contribute to insulin resistance. Experts recommend getting to sleep by 10 pm to maximize the benefits of the natural circadian rhythms such as cell regeneration, melatonin production and other important biological processes. Sleep can be enhanced by getting up at the same time each morning, avoiding stimulants after 3 pm, eating three-four hours before bedtime and having a dark, cool bedroom.
4. Chill out! Stress activates the fight-or-flight response which causes the release of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol jacks up appetite especially for simple carbs and sweets. Eating those foods causes insulin to spike and then bottom out leaving you ravenously hungry in a short amount of time. You know what happens next…you gain weight and cortisol-induced weight gain goes straight to the belly! My favorite stress busters include walking and hiking (taking time to play), practicing yoga and getting monthly massages. Anything that increases endorphins will help with stress reduction….laughing, making love, etc.
5. Get an education about toxin exposure. Certain natural and chemical substances can cause hormone dysregulation. They are referred to as endocrine disrupters. Some are thought to mimic the estrogen hormone. These environmental and man- made toxins can be found in certain pesticides, plastics, cookware, soaps, detergents, beauty products/cosmetics, paints, lubricants and other items. Concerns also exist regarding some food additives (excito-toxins) like MSG and artificial sweeteners and their impact on hormone modulation.
A word about Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin….Vitamin D is more of a hormone than a vitamin and I keep reading reports that many of us (especially those of us living north of Atlanta) are deficient. Thirty minutes of sun exposure with 40% of our bodies exposed and without sunscreen is needed daily to prompt enough Vitamin D production. Food sources of Vitamin D include fish, egg yolk and fortified dairy products. I take a Vitamin D3 supplement daily. Optimizing my levels of Vitamin D has contributed to an increase of energy and has supported my weight loss efforts.
Hormones can become imbalanced (meaning we have too little or too much of one or more hormones) due to many causes including genetic predisposition and cell receptors becoming resistant, so a trip to a Functional Medicine Practitioner is recommended if you are experiencing anything less than that blissful list at the beginning of this article! (I see a Naturopathic Physician who practices functional medicine. Functional Medicine focuses on treating the cause of illness rather than a list of symptoms. Functional Medicine sees the body as a whole, connected being rather than fragmented systems and generally uses the least-invasive treatment products and practices to support the body in its healing and wellness. Think: integration of “alternative” and “Western” practices.)
My journey with balancing hormones has often felt like I have been a passenger on a fast-moving train trying to hit a moving target going in the opposite direction! It has not been easy. When I first began seeing my current health practitioner, I could only report one positive thing from the list above which was that I enjoyed being active but that was nullified by the fact that I didn’t have the energy! Two and a half years later, I can say that I am experiencing every single item on that list.