What’s in That Bag?!?

cauliflower

When you buy fruits and veggies from the market, are they the kind that come in plastic bags?  When you can, avoid the plastic.  This is why I’m telling you this:

While going through my fridge the other day, I found cauliflower that was in a plastic bag.

Sounds totally normal, right?  It would have been expect for the fact that the cauliflower was not the only thing in that bag.

Take a listen to my quick audio, and discover why it’s so important to eat what’s in your fridge while it’s still fresh.

And remember to buy fruits and veggies that are not packaged.

 

 

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Generate Joy!

Kitchen Before Reno

Kitchen Before Reno

Another incredible week. My husband, Vic, is visiting from Lebanon, and we’re busy organizing and building furniture for our house. You might question why we’d sacrifice our precious time together for renovating. The answer is simple. We choose to.

We’re enjoying this process because we’re focusing on the laughs, the silly things we’ve done and the craziness of the way too-many-to-count trips to The Home Depot. Part of generating joy this week has come down to not taking life too seriously and approaching our project with a child’s questioning mind.

We’ve puzzled, pondered and solved layout challenges. It’s been fun, really fun because we kept it light, because we generated joy. Our house isn’t perfect, but our stress levels are low. And when stress is low, our health and happiness levels increase dramatically!

Generating joy is a choice….and one you can make for yourself.

We Get to Choose How We Feel
No matter what our day holds – sitting in traffic, a sick child, feeling tired, a fight with the boss or best friend – we can all choose how we approach it. Experiencing feelings of joy and pleasure are within our reach even when the actual experience or activity doesn’t meet our definition of having blast….like renovating.

Kitchen RenoConscious Choice
We can do this through conscious choice. Yes, we can choose to let our daily thoughts linger in the light and joyous moments and let the heavy moments fleet by. When we choose to replay happy moments, we are crowding out the space in our mind that would otherwise go to stewing over the less happy moments and escalating negativity.

Have you ever thought about how you cultivate joy in your day?

Like a farmer who tends to his crops, we reap what we sow….. If we sow joy, we’ll find it in little things….even in building furniture!

Girls New Beds

Girls New Storage

Girls New Storage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moments of Joy that Linger

Spending moments with focusing on joyous thoughts makes our day brighter, our spirits lighter and helps us to enjoy the day and all it brings our way. But how do we do it?

Let’s get this conversation going. Let’s help each other find ways to experience joy. Leave your joy generating ideas in the comments section below.

I’ll kick start the list with my top joy-generating experiences.

  • Living in the moment
  • Spending time with my loved ones
  • Having a laugh over trivial things
  • Seeing a child smile
  • Hearing a child laugh
  • Noticing the person grooving to the car radio
  • Looking at the blue sky
  • Walking in nature
  • Enjoying a coffee
  • Reaping the benefits of your hard work
  • Having a laugh (definitely good enough to make the list twice!)

Life is great isn’t it? I know it can throw us some crazy days and more than the odd curve ball, but how we choose to react to life circumstances is what distinguishes our lives from joyous, happy and healthy or….well, I’m not even going to mention the alternatives. Let’s generate joy, shall we?

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Live an energized, free of lifestyle disease and fully engaged life.

With love,

Allison

I’m in Love!

trees-cloudsI’m so stoked! I’m just home from a warm yoga class, and I loved it! I’ll get into that in a second, but first, I have to ask:

Is there something you used to really enjoy, but now it feels like it’s beyond your reach? Or maybe there’s something you’ve never done that you’d like to do but think you’re not physically fit enough for? Maybe it’s dancing, running, playing cricket or doing a handstand. Whatever it is, just commit to doing it and start today. Trust me. A simple yoga class taught me how amazing the results can be.

Now, hot yoga may not be your thing – and I totally get it – but seriously warm yoga is a totally different animal.

For one, sweat isn’t dripping into and stinging your eyes, and your hands don’t slip, which I personally found to be most pleasant. The best part of the class wasn’t that it was warm, or that I went or that I didn’t fall on my face. Yes, that has happened. 🙂

The best part was that I finished the whole class. Yep, and it’s the first one I’ve completed since my surgery. I remember thinking that my yoga days were behind me, but I was so wrong. Slow and steady definitely won this race.

I’ve progressed from being light headed upon standing to being comfortable in downward dog. I admit, I didn’t do a backbend. But I am working towards that and can tell that with lots of self-love and understanding my challenges…. I will step-by-step progress towards doing a backbend. Who knows….maybe even a handstand!

The point is, I did something that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do again. I certainly didn’t do it in one day. It’s taken months of slowly increasing my activity. But, I did it. And you can, too.

Affirmations can help get you there.

Every day I’m getting stronger and stronger.  Every day I’m getting stronger and stronger…..

After my surgery, when the doctor gave the all clear to start exercising, I used to repeat this phrase over and over as I struggled up a few flights of stairs, as I tried a few minutes of yoga or walked to a friend’s place.

It might sound crazy, but that little saying, repeating over and over in my head, kept me driving forward and motivated me to do just a little bit more than I had done the day before. Eight months in, and I am stronger. And right now I am so happy and proud that I’ve completed a full yoga class, I could burst.

The hidden benefit of all of this is that while today I could burst, I’ve celebrated milestones along the way. I’ve been proud of and celebrated each of my accomplishments as I achieved them. Patting yourself on the back is such a wonderful feeling.

Just remember that before starting an exercise program, especially if you have a medical condition, are recovering from an injury or have lived a sedentary life, please get the all clear from your doctor.

Look inside and do what you love. Start simple, and keep going. Soon, you’ll be looking back and wondering why you ever thought you couldn’t.

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Thanks a zillion.

Up Your Energy!

It’s Your Life. Your Choice.

A Dose of Empowerment

love-empowermentDo you want to be happier and healthier and live an empowered life that is in accordance with your expectations and desires?

Today, I’m putting out a reminder to mold a life that is in alignment with your values. To do so, you’ll need to march to the beat of your own drum and push forward with a life agenda that is in harmony with your core values. You’ll need to put some serious thought into you and what makes you thrive.

Now, I’m not for one moment saying that you should ditch your spouse, partner, kids or any other important people in your life. Oh, contraire! Bring them in and share your vision. Inspire them to contemplate who they are, and help them to sculpt their own ideal lives.

Let’s face it, we can all “suck it up” and do things we don’t love – or even like – for a while. But feeling stuck in a rut day after day is not a happy or healthy place in which to find yourself.

The better option is to figure out where you want to go and then navigate in that direction. It might require internal fortitude to get there, but it’s a much more appealing path.

Go after what you want. It’s ok to be a little aggressive, to say no to things you’re not interested in and to say yes to things that ignite your passion. Push the status quo and other peoples’ expectations aside for a moment and enjoy the journey of getting back in touch with your true self.

Your ideal life lives in your heart and mind, and it’s up to you – to all of us! – to go out and get it. You may not get every last thing that you desire, but you might be surprised by how even a few changes can significantly impact your soul. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and into the spotlight of your own life!

Before you go, join my newsletter to receive tips, recipes and advice to help you achieve a healthy and happy lifestyle.  Also, kindly click like on your favorite social media network.

Thanks a zillion.

Up Your Energy!

It’s Your Life. Your Choice.

Image courtesy of supakitmod/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Trouble With Bright Girls

valen reading_8 dec 2012I recently came across an article called The Trouble With Bright Girls by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. I was immediately drawn in by the comparison of young boys and girls and their confidence in trying new and challenging things.

What it came down to was that while the boys were much more willing to keep plugging away until they got it right, the girls were quick to throw in the towel. Why? Were the girls aware that they would be scrutinized more than the boys? Were they worried about judgment should they not be able to complete the tasks….making it more appealing to just not make the attempt?

(The article shares some very interesting research and ideas as to why this happens. Take a look if you’re interested!)

This got me thinking about women and the internal pressure we put on ourselves. Pressure to measure up to those around us. Pressure to be good enough – heck – to be perfect!

As if society doesn’t already add to this pressure (you must be thin, beautiful, successful, desirable, etc.), we add a lot to the mix all on our own. And the scary thing is, many of these ideas are either subtly or obviously put before us at a very young age.

So how do we ensure that our growing girls grow into confident women who don’t shy away from a challenge? How do we speak to them about these things? How might we encourage them to stick with the difficult tasks and not worry about perception? It might seem a bit trivial now, but the way we handle this when they are young could have a significant impact on their future feelings of worthiness, their health and their happiness.

I certainly don’t have all the answers (who does, right?), but I know that I want to strive every day to do the best that I can for my children. Boys or girls, we want them to grow into confident and happy adults.

What are your thoughts on this topic? What experiences from your youth do you think have impacted who you are today in relation to confidence and how you tackle challenges?

As I seek my own answers and insight, I’d love to hear about yours!

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Thanks a zillion.

Up Your Energy!

It’s Your Life. Your Choice.

It’s ok…Go Nuts for Your Nuts!

go-nuts-for-nutsHave you sworn off nuts in your efforts to lose or maintain your weight? If so, I’ve got great research to share with you. Go ahead and eat your nuts! Doing so may help you lose weight, have more energy and pump up your nutrient intake.

Let’s quash your fears and get you enjoying ‘guilt-free’ nut eating.

The American Journal of Clinical Dietetics featured a prospective analysis (past studies) of long-term nut consumption with body weight and obesity. The research showed that:

“Long-term nut consumption is associated with lower weight gain and overweight/obesity.”1

The science behind this finding is multifaceted. The article proposed research that links nut consumption to lower weight due to these following possibilities:

Nuts are:

  • High in protein and fiber – meaning after eating nuts, you are full longer. We all know what happens when we’re full….we snack less.
  • High in unsaturated fats – this may result in an oxidative process that results in less body fat accumulation. Less body fat means lower risk of type two diabetes and other lifestyle diseases like cancer and heart disease.
  • The combination of high protein, fiber and unsaturated fat may result in higher thermogenesis energy burn to support normal body processes meaning that when you’re sleeping or resting, you are expending more energy than if you had not eaten the nuts resulting in less weight gain.
  • Nutrient rich and may play a role in reducing lifestyle related chronic diseases.

Are you convinced that eating nuts might be worthwhile?
Ok, one more tidbit. Research shows that nut eaters eat less red meat and refined carbohydrates, both of which are associated with increased weight gain.2

Are nuts fattening?
There is no one yes or no answer. It all boils down to how much you currently weigh, how active you are and how many nuts you eat. Nuts are high in unsaturated fat and are calorically dense. Don’t get hung up on the calories. The trick is to get off our hang up with calories and get onto the nutrient quality bandwagon. Eating real foods loaded with nutrients, even when those nutrients are fat, is a positive thing and an excellent healthy lifestyle choice.

When eaten in moderation, nuts aren’t fattening.

How many nuts do I get to eat for this healthful effect?
The benefits of nuts are yours when you eat just an ounce of nuts a day. If you’re goal is to maintain or lose weight, enjoy 1 oz/day.

nuts-1-oz

 

If you are active, trying to gain weight or maintain your active weight, 2-4 oz of nuts a day will serve you.  (Photo below shows a 4 oz serving.)

nuts-4-oz

 

Does it matter which type of nut I eat?
There are so many types of nuts. This research indicates that eating walnuts may be more protective for prevention of type 2 diabetes. But really, the moral of the story is that to get the best benefits, mix and match your nuts and eat them daily.

For health, energy and weight control, go nuts for your nuts!

Curious how to add more nuts in your diet? Check back next week to learn how to make a delicious nut butter that goes great with sliced apples, morning oatmeal or your breakfast smoothie.

If you want support on your way to having achieving a healthier and more energetic lifestyle, I invite you to apply for a FREE 1-on-1 Health History Session. During this 50-minute call, we’ll explore how your lifestyle (including your diet!) is impacting your energy levels and discuss the strategy needed to get you exactly where you want to be. I’m here to guide, support and encourage you!

 

1Long-term associations of nut consumption with body weight and obesity
Jackson CL and Hu FB
Am J Clin Nutr 4 June 2014, 10.3945/ajcn.113.071332

2Walnut consumption is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Pan A, Sun Q, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB. J Nutr 2013: 143:512-8

How’s Your Caffeine Habit?

caffeine-habit-coffeeIs your caffeine habit keeping you awake?

Do you sleep like a baby, or do you wake up for a pee? If you’re the waker, man can I relate! I’d not slept through the night for 13 years, since my first pregnancy actually, but those days are gone. Sleep doesn’t have to be broken; you can make lifestyle choices without quitting anything that will have you sawing the zzzzs all night long.

Adequate sleep is important for health and wellbeing. When we sleep, our bodies slow down. Let me say that again….slow down, something we’re all sorely in need of. Our muscles relax, we dream and our bodies repair themselves. Cool stuff! That’s why we send the kids off to bed early, so they can grow and be healthy. Ok I’ll come clean….it might also be to have some private time and maybe a glass of wine. I’ve digressed.

Many things can impact your sleep quality, but when it comes to nighttime peeing, caffeine intake is right up there. I’m not about quitting things, so I’m not going to tell you to give up your caffeine. Though, if you choose to do so, I’d definitely support the decision as a healthy lifestyle choice.

I encourage that the decisions you make around how much caffeine you’re going to consume should come from a place of knowledge. So let’s dive into the pros and cons of caffeine consumption and its effects.

Benefits of caffeine

  • Increased alertness –When the pressure’s on and you have to prepare a presentation or finish a project, and you’re feeling a little sluggish, a hit of caffeine may give you the edge you’re looking for.
  • Faster effects of medication – As a former migraine sufferer, my pain meds often contained caffeine to speed absorption. I’m happy to report, I’ve cleaned up my diet and no longer suffer from migraines….Yippee!!!
  • Source of antioxidants – These help to stabilize free radicals that attack healthy cells and cause damage such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
  • Enhanced performance – Caffeine decreases the use glycogen, allowing for longer workouts before muscle exhaustion kicks in.

Less than favorable side-effects of caffeine

  • Emotional disturbances – Feeling jittery and anxious, inability to fall asleep or being irritable are all classic signs of too much caffeine in your body.
  • Increases Blood Pressure – Increased blood pressure leads to increased cardiovascular risk.
  • Adrenal fatigue – Using caffeinated beverages to plow forward with our lives, even when our bodies are screaming slow down, can have a detrimental effect on our adrenals and may result in fatigue. This is exactly what we are trying to avoid.
  • Nutritional deficiencies – Calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium are major minerals that play roles in our bone health, heart health and energy levels.
  • Diuretic – Can cause you to visit the toilet when you should be sleeping. This robs you of valuable sleep, hydration and results in further loss of energy and vitality.

How much is too much?

One person can tolerate lots of coffee, tea and chocolate while another can have very little and be buzzing all day. It’s all about you and, like everything, there is a fine tipping balance between enough and too much. It’s all about portion control.

It boils down to making choices that will serve or hinder you in any given moment. It will depend what’s on your plate for the day. Do you have a lot to get done? If so, caffeine might be part of your healthy lifestyle choice because it helps you to accomplish your daily tasks.

If caffeine is having an effect on your sleep, it’s a sign that your intake is too high for you. Now might be the time to rethink how much is too much for you and pare it back for your sleep and your health.

I’m very happy for a good night sleep, how about you?

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Thanks a zillion.
Together we grow happier, healthier, stronger and more resilient to lifestyle disease.

Much love, Allison

 

Photo Credit: http://drjessechappus.com/

The Positive Effect of Pause

positive-effect-of-pauseDo you say the first thing that comes to mind? Or do you take a deep breath before you let your tongue go? Pause is a healthy lifestyle choice.  It creates space to let the mind catch up, to let emotions cool, to change the subject or to articulate more clearly.

As adults, we often pause and think about the ramifications of our flash thoughts.  Children, however, don’t naturally stop and think….at least mine don’t. Their lack of conscious awareness about how the words that spill from their mouths impact the receiver can be very damaging to their sibling relationships, not to mention external relationships.

It’s natural for pre-teens to bicker, but when it goes beyond occasional, it’s damaging to relationships and our household harmony.  Frankly, it stresses me so after a particularly bad day of bickering that I decided it was time to nip it in the bud.

So last night over dinner, we talked about how they’d been treating each other and about why it’s not acceptable to name call and constantly bicker over every little detail. I wasn’t sure if they were fully paying attention, as they rolled their eyes at each other.

Just to make sure we established a no bickering rule with consequence – no TV/ Playstation or electronics of any kind on the weekend.  Given they don’t have them during the week, weekends are something they really look forward to. Now we had their attention!J

Of course, it’s not enough to simply say it stops.  We have to explain why it’s unacceptable and give them the tools to prevent the bickering.  Here are some of the things we came up with.  Feel free to add to the list in the comments section.

Reasons to Pause

  1. Words are hurtful – Bickering digresses into nasty comments and hurt feelings. Sometimes we regret saying things in the heat of the moment.
  2. Built in friends – Siblings are friends for life, so best treat each other well. It’s easier to hold your tongue or go to your respective corners than to heal the damage after its already been done.
  3. We just wanna be happy –It’s really hard to do if you’re constantly butting heads with someone.  Don’t knock someone down in order to prop yourself up.
  4. Being hyper-critical isn’t going to make anyone happy.

Does this mean the kids shouldn’t stand up for themselves if they feel they’ve been wrongly treated?  Absolutely not.  But often, their bickering is just a result of letting the words spiral out of control.  When we teach them to pause, it allows time for their minds to catch up with their words.  This can save some very hurt feelings.

Does pause have anything to do with a happy and healthy lifestyle?  I think so.  What about you?

If you want support on your way to having more energy and achieving a healthy lifestyle, I invite you to apply for a FREE 1-on-1 Health History Session. During this 50-minute call, we’ll explore how your lifestyle is impacting your energy levels and discuss the strategy needed to get you exactly where you want to be. I’m here to guide, support and encourage you!

Emergency: Do you have a plan?

 HelicopterKnowing what to do in an emergency is part of an effective stress management strategy and a key factor in a healthy lifestyle. Today, my family and many others participated in an evacuation exercise.

At 8 am the call came in.  In response, we gathered ourselves and headed off to the assembly point.  It’s important for the kids to know how to get there on there own, just in case, plus it was a beautiful day, so we walked.

Field Crossing.jpg

In the rush to get out of the house Natasha hit her head so we took our ice pack with us.

Evac on the way

At the assembly point we registered our names and then viewed the booths that were set up for our education and awareness.  We started at the fire safety booth.

Fire Safety

Here we learnt the importance of having a 5 kg dry fire extinguisher in our homes to put out small fires.  They showed us how to use a fire blanket to throw over the fire without injuring ourselves, how to test the smoke detectors and how to draw a fire escape plan for exiting every room of our home.

Next was the radio booth, which showed up how to use our hand held VHF radio and then on to the helicopter tour.  This was exciting for the kids, they enjoyed sitting in it and seeing all controls up close.  It kinda felt like we were in the movies.

evac heli

 

heli control

The last booth was the – what to carry booth.  When it’s time to go, it’s time to go so  we’re to carry only essentials, money, water, a few clothes and food.  Basically it comes down to what you can carry on your back.

run bag

It wasn’t all serious, the kids had lots of fun with friends, even a few 4 legged ones.

Valen

All up we spent a few hours, but now we’re all more knowledgeable about what to do if we have a house fire, or if there’s a call to evacuate.  Knowledge is power. This exercise not only increased our knowledge, it also reduced stress around what to do if…

You may not need to practice how to board a helicopter, but we all need to have a plan for emergencies.

A fire extinguisher, fire towel, smoke detector and fire evacuation plan are essential household safety tools, as are emergency numbers by the telephone. Knowing how to use them is not only important it is a healthy lifestyle choice, one that may save your life.

Do you have an emergency plan?  Do the kids know what to do and who to call?  Take a moment to put this in order, today.

I hope you enjoy today, It’s a great day for a healthy lifestyle.

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Pop the Bubbly

pop-the-bubblyHow often do you pop the bubbly?

Life is filled with successes and lack of success, but have you ever noticed which of the two you spend most of your time thinking and talking about?

Do you walk around telling people how great you are because you raised kids you’re proud of? Do you revel in your achievement of cooking a delicious meal that everyone ate? Do you stand naked in front of the mirror and think, “Not bad!”? Do you jump for joy when you get a promotion and then complement yourself on all of your hard work and preparation?

There are a million times in our lives when we could celebrate, but I’ve realized that all too often we accept these successes as part of life and move along. We might pay attention to those major successes, but we don’t take the time to properly acknowledge the small ones. What we need to realize is that all of our life successes are so incredible. Our ability to persevere, to make our dreams and values come into being and – yes – to make an awesome dinner are amazing things that ought to be celebrated.

In this celebration, we become happier….not because we’re treating ourselves, but because we are acknowledging ourselves, our hard work, our dedication, our perseverance, our ability to love, etc.

We’re prone to not giving ourselves credit for arriving to where we are. We pass over our achievements quickly and move on to the next thing. But when it comes to our limitations and learning experiences….oh gosh do we dwell there! We rehash what we could have done better, what we shouldn’t have said or done, etc. We dwell on the negatives, thinking that if only we could write better, negotiate stronger, speak more clearly and assertively, etc…. we’d be somewhere different than where we are today. We convince ourselves that we’d be happier, thinner, more successful, more loved….you name it, and we’d have it.

But the truth is, dwelling on the should haves and could haves doesn’t get us to where we want to be. Sure, sometimes we need to think about these things in order to learn from our mistakes. But – again – dwelling on them for long periods of time does nothing but drain our energy and stress us out.

You and I are so special. We are unique individuals. There is no one else like us.

If you don’t believe those statements, then you can train yourself to start believing…..start knowing.

I just did an amazing exercise that blew my mind, and I’d love for you to do it too.

Take a moment and think about your recent successes. Better yet? Write them down in a notebook. Remember, they don’t have to be major life events….but they could be. From a big promotion to finally not burning that new recipe you’ve been trying to master….write them all down. Every last one of them.

Look over your list. Is it a long list? A short one? Let this motivate you to start noticing your successes. Then, come back a few days later and make a new list. Keep doing this, and you will train yourself to recognize your successes – big and small – and start to focus on them rather than on the negative things that deplete our energy.

Finally, I’d like to you to celebrate! Celebrate you and all your glory, all of the things you’ve done, all of the things to which you’ve contributed, all of the things you have given without a second thought. Pop the bubbly or find any way you can to celebrate. Today is about you celebrating you!

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