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Sunday

10 Benefits of Practicing Yoga

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Why I love Yoga? The reasons seem to be endless. If you are not doing Yoga already, here are a 10 reasons why you should add it to your fitness routine.



1. Improves Your Posture: A study from Boston University School of Medicine and McLean Hospital reports. A sequence of standing, sitting and balancing poses helped avid posers raise their levels of the brain chemical GABA (low levels are linked with depression) by 27 percent compared with a group who read quietly.



2. Keeps Away the Aches and Pains: A study in Spine shows that people who suffer from back pain who did two 90-minute yoga classes a week, for about six months, eased their soreness by 56 percent.. Those given treatments like pain meds and physical therapy lessened their aches and pains by only 16 percent.



3. Improves Your Sleep: Insomniacs fell asleep 15 minutes faster and slept an hour longer each night after two months of doing a 45-minute series of yoga poses daily before bed.



4. Body Confidence Improves: Research from the University of California in Berkeley finds that women who practiced regularly, rated their body satisfaction 20 percent higher than those who took aerobics, even though both groups were at a healthy weight.



5. Strengthening and Lengthening: In Yoga, you are using body weight to move through each pose and in some poses you are using all of your body weight such as the Pincha or the Crow.




6. Improved Brain Function:  Hatha Yoga has been shown to improve your cognitive function and boosts focus and memory.



7.  Stronger Bones: A 2009 pilot study found practicing yoga could increase bone density among older adults.



8. Anxiety Relief:  Women who practice Yoga once a week for two years or more released 41 percent less of a tension-triggered cytokine (a type of protein) that can make you feel tired and moody a study in Psychosomatic Medicine found.



9. Improved Cardiovascular Conditioning: While Flow Ashtanga practice can get your heart rate up to improve your cardiovascular health, even slower forms of Yoga are still beneficial to the heart. Studies have found that yoga practice lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve your maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise.




10. Boosts Immunity: A recent Norwegian study found that yoga practice results in changes in gene expression that boost immunity at a cellular level. The researches believe that it can boost your immune system almost immediately. 



Tuesday

The Amazing Chia Seed


The chia seed is a seed from a flowering plant similar to that of mint and it's real name is Salvia Hispanica.  Chia seeds are a low calorie, nutrient rich super food that not only provides your body with protein, calcium, antioxidants, omega fatty acids and fiber, but a higher energy level as well.  These tiny seeds were a staple food for the Aztecs and Mayans and they called them "strength" seeds.  The seeds were ground up into flours, eaten raw before hunting trips, and almost seen as having magical like properties.

To some of you the chia seed may sound familiar to the flax seed, however you don't have to grind them up to receive all their health benefits. 


Here are some of chia seeds' amazing qualities:
  • The small chia seed will expand and absorb up to 12x its weight in water, juice, milk...whatever you chose to mix it with!  Great for dieters since these seeds will fill you up while still being low calorie and also providing you with fiber.
  • Chia seeds have more than 8x's the omega-3 fatty acids than salmon.  They also have omega-6 fatty acids, both of which (3's and 6's) are essential to us since we can not make them in our bodies.  These essential fatty acids help to rebuild our bodies including our hair, nails, skin, etc.
  • These seeds can reduce depression, help with mental illnesses, and behavioral problems. The essential fatty acids are all proven to be crucial for your brain health and for membrane fluidity, which then effects enzymes and the rest of your body's ability to function properly.
  • 1 ounce of chia seeds provides your body with 11 grams of fiber (clink this link to learn about fiber), 4 grams of protein, 18% of your recommended daily calcium intake, which is 3x more than milk!
  • Naturally treats type 2 diabetes because of the gel-like coating chia seeds develops when exposed to liquids.
  • Helps to prevent osteoporosis since it's high in calcium.  So stronger teeth and bones for you! Between the calcium 18%, manganese 30%, and phosphorus 27% all per 1 ounce it's a winning package.
  • These seeds don't have any cholesterol and are a great source of protein for all vegan and vegetarian friends.
  • Reduce bloat and fight off belly fat!  The seeds will continue to absorb water in your intestines to keep your fluids and electrolytes balanced, reduce insulin resistance, and keep you full longer.
  • The chia seeds also show to improve blood pressure in diabetics.
  • Chia seeds can be ground up, mixed with water and used in recipes to replace eggs!  Those of you that know me understand why this is such great news!!!
  • Natural energy booster.  Known as "Runner's food" and good for all types of fitness pre or post workout.
  • These seeds are tasteless and odorless so they can be added to anything.  I drink mine daily in Synergy's Organic & Raw Chia Kombucha, I add them into oatmeal, smoothies and even mix them with coconut milk to make a pudding like dessert.  This lady had some great ideas on her blog here.  Whole Foods has a great pudding recipe here Who wouldn't want to try Whole Wheat Chia Seed Pancakes?!
There are a number of products out there now that contain chia seeds (protein bars, kombucha, oatmeals) so check your local store and try some.

Remember that it's in all these small, little changes to our diet that we begin to feel better, look better and function better. 

xo Ash

Monday

The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Let's face it, supplements are expensive and it's hard to know if all of the money is well spent. The supplement I am going to talk about this week is not only affordable but the six dollars that you spend on a 32oz bottle of Bragg's apple cider vinegar is money well spent.

Apple Cider Vinegar is rich in enzymes and potassium which helps aid in healthy digestion and helps repair sore muscles. One of the main reasons I take ACV, is improved energy and immunity, helping me avoid the cold and flu season. I have also notice a difference in the health of my skin since I began taking it daily. I do not look at it as a cure-all, but it is an ancient practice that has many benefits when it is added into your diet. Look for only organic, unfiltered, unprocessed vinegar, the floaty things on the bottom of the bottle are normal.


Another great article on ACV is on www.mercola.com. Click here to read more.

The Benefits of Adding Apple Cider Vinegar in Your Diet
  • Rich in enzymes and potassium
  • Supports a healthy immune system
  • Helps control weight 
  • Helps to reduce high blood pressure naturally
  • Aids in controlling acid reflux 
  • Promotes digestion and ph Balance
  • Helps soothe dry throats
  • Helps to detoxify the body
  • Helps maintain healthy skin
  • Helps promote youthful, healthy bodies
  • Soothes irritated skin
  • Natural relief for dandruff
  • Helps to control candida 
  • Relieves muscle pain from exercise
How do you take Apple Cider Vinegar?

1 Tb of ACV mixed in 8oz of purified water up to 3x/day. If that is tough to swallow, you can mix it into warm water with 1Tb honey. Do not take a shot of vinegar by itself.

You can use it in homemade salad dressings. Click here for ACV salad dressing recipes.


Click here for other ways to use apple cider vinegar.

Should Everyone Take ACV?

  • Apple cider vinegar is very acidic. The main ingredient of apple cider vinegar is acetic acid.You should dilute it with water. You should not take it alone. 
  • It should be part of an alkaline diet. One high in leafy greens and low in processed foods.
  • Long-term use of apple cider vinegar could cause low potassium levels and lower bone density. If you already have low potassium or osteoporosis, talk to your doctor before using apple cider vinegar.
  • It is possible for ACV to interact with diuretics, laxatives, and medicines for diabetes and heart disease. Check with your doctor if you are taking any medications before adding ACV into your diet.
  • Vinegar contains chromium, which can alter your insulin levels.
  • When using ACV externally for reasons such as dandruff, be very careful not to get it into your eyes, it may cause damage.

 xo,

Rachel




What You Need to Know About Gelatin

Do you want beautiful young-looking skin? How about a boost in your metabolism? What about building stronger bones and having relief from joint pain? I frequently get asked what supplements I take and I am a big believer in taking supplements. The foods that most of us eat every day are severely lacking in the vital nutrients that we need. Not to mention, our busy lifestyles that keeps us from properly preparing our food for adequate digestion. It is no wonder our bodies are depleted and are not performing at their highest capacity. You have heard it said-you are what you eat, while that is true, let me take it one step further, you are what you digest. If you want to be healthy, lean, have high energy, and a strong immune system; you need to feed and supplement your body with the right foods and supplements. One of those supplements is high quality gelatin.

Supplement of the Week: Gelatin
When you think of gelatin; you may think of a kid-favorite, jiggly, and colorful concoction. That is not the type of gelatin I am suggesting you add to your diet. That is a low quality form a gelatin mixed into a high-sugar toxic "food". The gelatin I am talking about is from bone broths or a specially processed powder from grass-fed cows. I personally use Bernard Jensen's Grassfed Gelatin. There are many places to purchase this gelatin from. I order it here.

The best way to get gelatin in your diet is making homemade bone broths. These are vital to your health. In the book Nourishing Traditions (A book everyone should have in their kitchen) you will find recipes for one of the most nutritious soups/broths you can eat.

Too busy to make fresh homemade bone broth?
No problem, you can put a scoop of powdered gelatin into your coffee, tea, soups, or favorite smoothie (See below for links to recipes).


So what makes gelatin so great?

~It's Amino Acids, glycin and proline, are important for muscle building, optimal immune function, and weight reduction. 

~It is a great source of protein, although incomplete, it helps the body utilize the protein you consume. It packs 12g of protein per 1 Tablespoon.

~The Amino Acids in gelatin aid in healthy skin, hair, teeth, and nails. Gelatin actually helps your body produce more collagen. It is more effective than those ridiculously expensive face creams.


~It is anti-inflammatory, making it beneficial for those who suffer with arthritis and other diseases.

~It helps to improve digestion, due to it naturally binding to water and helping food move more easily through the digestive track.


~It is said to help with cellulite and who doesn't want that?


~It helps rebuild bone and that also includes your teeth. Yes you can help prevent cavities with gelatin!

~Better sleep and improved energy. Studies show when the amino acid glycin is consumed it helps with getting a better nights sleep and improving your energy throughout the day.

So what are ways you can incorporate gelatin in your diet? 


There are many wonderful ways to incorporate gelatin in your diet. 

Like I mentioned above; the absolute best way, in my opinion, is to get it straight from the source via bone broths from organic humanly raised animals. Click here for the recipes for chicken, beef, and fish bone broths.

One of my favorite uses for gelatin is making delicious fruit snacks for my daughter.
Click here for the recipe!

Desserts are another great and yummy way to consume grass-fed gelatin! Click here for chocolate pudding made from grass-fed gelatin. Click here for yummy homemade marshmallows.

We put gelatin and other yummy goodness in our smoothies every day.

xo, 
Rachel




Friday

Essential Oils

Hi! I’m Nadine and I’m a holistic health nut, ha! Okay, not really but kind of. I, too, am a personal trainer, over at Fitness Solutions . Naturally my clients would ask me for remedies to common health issues. For years, I would research, use, and recommend various “natural remedies”. Each one, although good, came with their own list of uses, possible side effects, rules when using, and unfortunately occasional recalls. It was a lot to keep up with and sometimes not worth the possible relief it would provide. When there is an ailment people want relief and they want it to be fast and effective. 

When I was pregnant with my second child I experienced many common pregnancy ailments and was introduced to essential oils. Not only were they safe which was most important to me, but they were extremely effective and so very soothing. I used them, loved them, but still had my medicine cabinet full of a mix between Whole Foods and CVS. The oils were nice but I hadn’t completely accepted their vast abilities and uses. It wasn’t until my anxious little pregnant mind started FREAKING out about my second c-section. A good friend, yet again recommended essential oils. I was thinking a heavy duty pharmaceutical would do the trick but couldn’t get over the synthetics I would be exposing my body and my baby to. I gave the oils a try. Low and behold, they did the trick. Not only was I not freaking out, I was calm, relaxed, happy, and had a dream procedure to welcome our little love into the world. 

Since then I dove head first into the world of essential oils. Using them for my son from the time he was a newborn, curing clogged tear ducts, providing relief for Croup, for my 3 year old to boost immune function during the preschool years, tantrums, and potty problems, for my husband to cure chronic sinus infections, and for myself for digestive and food allergy relief, energy, and metabolism support to drop baby weight. I’ve helped clients find remedies for cholesterol, acne, diabetes, cancer, musculoskeletal issues, the list goes on. Here are a few facts about essential oils and why I love them so much. 



Essential oils: 

  • Address issues and root causes (instead of managing symptoms)


  • Are made of hundreds of natural compounds found in plants that enhance physical and emotional health


  • Are 50-70 times more powerful than herbs


  • Inhibit the growth of bacteria and viruses On Guard has been scientifically proven to fight Staph infections and MRSA (that’s major people!!) 


  • Literally cost pennies per dose. No time or $ spent at a doctor’s visit, no co pay.  


  • Have an extended shelf life


  • Can be used aromatically, topically and internally (for most). They are safe for even newborns. 


A word of caution; although essential oils are available at many health food stores and wellness centers I strongly suggest purchasing from a company who undergoes 3rd party testing to ensure oils are genuine, potent, and authentic. I personally will only use Doterra essential oils and love the blends they offer for various issues including respiratory support, sleep and calming blends, and immune boosting blends. 


Here are my top picks:

Breathe  is a remarkable blend of CPTG® essential oils which combine to do just that, help you breathe easier. Soothes the airways, and can easily be applied topically to the chest, back, or bottom of feet.

On Guard is dōTERRA®'s unique, proprietary blend formulated to support healthy immune function. It is an effective alternative to synthetic options for immune support. On Guard, with its unique aroma, is one of dōTERRA®'s most versatile blends. It is also safe to use on counter tops, as a non-toxic way to cleanse surfaces, or to purify the atmosphere by diffusing. On Guard is superb for eliminating and controlling pathogens due to the potency of its constituents. For aromatic, topical, or dietary use.

Slim and Sassy Just add 8 drops to 16 oz. of water (regular size bottle of water) and drink between your healthy meals throughout the day to help manage hunger, calm your stomach, and lift your mood.

Serenity Stress is a major contributor to illness and disease, in fact, it is estimated that more than 90% of all visits to health care professionals are related to stress. Serenity is a blend composed of individual oils with known calming properties which create a sense of well-being and relaxation. Applied to the bottom of the feet at bedtime, dōTERRA®'s Serenity is an excellent way to promote restful sleep. Added to a warm bath Serenity creates the perfect escape with its peaceful, renewing fragrance.

Lemon this essential oil powerhouse is cold-pressed from lemon rinds to preserve its delicate nature and potent properties. Lemon is known as a powerful aromatic, topical, and internal cleanser that can be used to complement many other oils.




To find out more information on essential oils and the best remedies for you contact Nadine at 661.607.7200  Free shipping on your order if you mention Peace.Love.Fitness.


Sunday

Stabilizing Your Blood Sugar

Now that you are a few days into your 21 Days of Clean Eating I wanted to write about how you can stabilize your blood sugar levels so that you're in constant fat burning mode, gaining muscle and keeping your hormone levels and mood balanced.

Some of you may be confused as to what your blood sugar levels are and why you have to worry about them when we are on a clean eating plan.  Blood sugar is also known as glucose, which is the sugar in your blood stream that has been broken down from carbohydrates that you've consumed.  It sends quick energy to your cells when needed, or if you flood your system with glucose then it is stored as fat.  Keeping your blood sugar levels stable helps to keep your mood, energy, cravings and hormones all within check. Your metabolism also stays revved when you keep your glucose levels stable, because glucagon your fat burning hormone, can do it's job.  So basically it's just a win-win situation.

I may make it sound pretty simple and most of us want to be "balanced" in all areas of our lives, but let's be real... most of us are completely unbalanced as we have to choose where we divert our energy and time.  

To break it down we fluctuate between high blood sugar levels where our body can't mop up all the extra glucose and it's stored; which is exactly what insulin (storing hormone) likes to do.  Other times our levels are so low that we begin to burn through our lean muscle (that we work so hard to get) eventually slowing down our metabolisms.

Here's how to get your glucose levels right where they should be:


  • Eat every 3 hours.  This is the way we are programmed to eat!  If you've ever been around a baby you've probably noticed that all they do is eat, and all that eating happens every 3 hours.  By eating every 3 hours you will help to keep your blood sugar levels within a constant, almost rhythmic fluctuation.  Most people believe that they only need to eat 3 meals a day and this is where your body gets 3 huge spikes in glucose, where insulin is on overdrive and you end up in storage mode.  For the remainder of the time your body is in starvation mode using it's lean muscle for fuel, and slowing down your metabolism.  When you do eat again and splurge on one of your 3 meals your body is yet again in storage mode.  
  • Consume fat.  Fat is super important when it comes to keeping us fuller longer, which in turn helps to keep our levels balanced.  By fat I'm referring to healthy fats like nuts, avocados, almond butter, olive oil, coconut oil, chia seeds, etc.  Eat your protein first before your fat, or make balanced meals where you get your protein, fat and high fiber carb together.
  • Low glycemic carbohydrates are carbohydrates that are metabolized slower, so these are the healthier carbs to eat.  Think steel-cut oatmeal, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, fruit, and peppers. Carbs that are processed or "white" (bread, pasta, cereals, granola bars) cause a big spike in glucose and should be avoided.
  • Try to eat balanced meals that include protein, fat and carbohydrates.  Lead with your protein, include a healthy fat so that your food can stick a little longer and add a low glycemic carb.  Sauteed bell peppers in olive oil and then serve over egg whites, or Greek yogurt with berries and almonds.
  • Add cinnamon into your diet.  I put a cinnamon stick into my hot lemon water, I add it to my oatmeal and my occasional coffee.  Cinnamon has been shown to have proper "insulin like effects" where it helps to bring your blood sugar back to normal levels and it also lowers triglycerides, and cholesterol levels.
  • Carry snacks with you.  Since I have two kids I'm always packing lunches, snacks, or grabbing food.  Now whenever I'm planning for their meals I'll also plan out my own.  When I'm in a pinch I'll grab a small pre-packed bag of cashews, almonds and cranberries...thank you Trader Joe's!  I'd love TJ's even more if they didn't carry so many oh-so delicious, glucose spiking, sugary snacks that go straight to my thighs.  I really don't shop there as much as I should, because it's hard to avoid all their chocolate treats, desserts, pastries, and the list goes on, but that's another post.  Ha! 
  • Find a healthy sugar substitute that you like.  Most of my clients are hooked on Stevia which is a plant based sweetener.  I hugely prefer the liquid drops than the powder form and I'll add a few drops to my oatmeal, tea, smoothies and coffee. There's coconut palm sugar for baking, and my kids get agave syrup over their whole wheat pancakes, or yogurt.  There are so many different, healthy alternatives so that when you give up traditional sugar there are still ways to enjoy your food.

Now that you know how to balance out your blood sugar here's to a happier, hopefully craving free 21 days of clean eating.  In case you need a little more help here are a few other posts dealing with cravings...here and here.  

The first few days of eating clean are always the hardest and by few I mean the first 4 days.  I'm not sure why day 5 seems to be so much easier, but it does and by then you will already be seeing and feeling some amazing results.

If you have any questions leave us a comment and thanks for reading.

Happy New Year!!!! 
xo

Saturday

21 Days of Eating Clean

Hi PLF friends,

Around this time of year I feel myself getting a bit more comfortable with what I eat and my clothing seems to get a bit tighter.  It's easy to get caught up in all the holiday fun and soon before you know it your few extra pounds turns into 15-20.

It's hard to eat 100% clean all of the time and honestly, life is meant to be enjoyed and food is one of my biggest enjoyments.  Some people believe that you can just up your workouts around the holiday season to help prevent gaining the winter/holiday weight, but you have to be careful with how much you workout and what workouts you do.  Over training will result in numerous negative side effects and most likely you will just be consuming extra calories to help get yourself through the day.

Click here if you want to read about overtraining.

Here's my plan of attack to have you all feeling energized, at least 5lbs. lighter, and wondering why you didn't do this a long time ago.  Come the end of December you will hit all the parties feeling in control of your health and that should further motivate you come January.  (I still can't believe that this year is almost over...crazy!)

I plan on eating clean for the next 21 days, so hopefully you will join me and we can do this together. For those of you new to eating clean here's what it consists of:

6 small mini meals a day...NO exceptions.  Eat every 3 hours and set a timer on your phone if you get crazy busy at work or distracted at home with the kids.


Every meal lead with your protein.  All 6 meals will have at least 15 grams of protein.  This will help to stabilize your blood sugar, keep you fuller longer, and make it so that you can keep your muscles, if not build them.  Click here on why you want more muscle.

1 green juice or veggie/fruit smoothie a day.  I'll be making a juice of kale, cucumber, ginger, apples, beets, lemon and celery.  I'll make a  few big batches of it, store it in mason jars and sip off of it throughout 3 or 4 days.

No carbs after 3pm and I'm referring to whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, brown rice, couscous...the healthy carbs.  Half of a small sweet potato with dinner once or twice a week is fine.  When I'm really trying to look lean I will cut my carbs a lot.  I'll maybe only have carbs 2 times a week and my usual choice is oatmeal or ezekiel raison cinnamon toast.

No alcohol.  Sad, I know!  I would have started with this one at the top of the list, but then you might have shut off your computer.  Ha!  Alcohol is sugar and sugar turns into fat, it dehyrdrates you and after a glass or two most people abandon their diets.  We don't need the extra calories. 

2 servings of fresh, whole fruits daily.  This will help to control your sugar cravings.  So if you usually crave sugar in the afternoon or after dinner then eat your 2 servings then.  Think apples, mango, berries, etc.

Eat as many detoxifying veggies as you can.  All these veggies will fill you up so that you aren't starving.  Asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, garlic, kale, spinach, etc.  Steam them, Saute them, make veggie based soups or eat them raw.

Eat eggs!  The lecithin in eggs helps to break down fat in your body.  Eggs are my favorite source of protein; about 7 grams of protein per egg white and only 15 calories.  I usually start my day off with 1 whole egg and 2 extra egg whites.  (21 grams protein just in my first meal.)  Hard boil a dozen eggs and you will have a quick high protein snack option when needed.
Tons and I mean tons of water with lemon.  I'll be drinking 3 liters a day.  Start your day off with water and lemon first thing.  This one simple step can have you burning as much as 75 more calories a day. Buy big 1.5 liter bottles and make sure you finish 2 of them daily.

Find a few teas that you enjoy.  A good green tea, an herbal tea and a detoxifying tea.  A lot of cravings are all due to dehydration and oral fixations.  Drinking my tea has been a life saver...well, at least a waist saver.  

Buy a good protein powder that you like.  I would recommend a Whey powder since it has the highest BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) which are great muscle builders.  However, right now my favorite isn't a Whey option it is Jay Robb Egg White Protein Powder.

No processed foods, no sugar other than your fresh fruits, and no artificial sweeteners.  Stevia is a plant based sweetener, available in liquid form that is 350-450 times sweeter than sugar, so a few drops go a long way!


No dairy unless it is a low sugar greek yogurt which is a great mini meal any time of the day.  Most people feel less bloated, lose weight and have more energy when they give up dairy. Switch out your milk for almond milk and put down the cheese.  

I feel like I don't have to say this but I'm going to anyways.  No smoking, no diet soda, no regular soda, no jams, no fruit juices, and no fried food.  I'm not even going to talk about why...we all know what we shouldn't be consuming.

Let's talk cheat meals...not cheat days, but cheat meals.  You can have one cheat per week, so make it worth it to you.  I'm sure my cheat will involve a glass of wine one night and I'm sure a type of a dessert on a different week.  Whatever it is that you love, allow yourself to eat it in moderation once a week and in a setting where you have prepared to go out and buy that cheat treat.  Don't keep your cheat treats at home.


Now that we have talked cheats you will want to throw out all the crap food from your kitchen. Nothing will break down clean eating faster than a pantry of highly processed sugary snacks, candy, ice cream, etc.  Go to the store, do some food prep and prepare to succeed for the next 21 days.


Here's a sample of my meals for one day:


Meal 1:  1 mug of hot water with lemon and 1 egg with 2 addition egg whites with salsa
Meal 2:  Hot green tea, an apple, and a hand full of almonds
Meal 3:  Spinach salad with some rotisserie chicken, a little olive oil, garlic, and some lemon juice
Meal 4:  Berries and  2% Fage Greek Yogurt
Meal 5:  Baked Salmon, steamed asparagus and 1/2 of a small sweet potato
Meal 6:  Protein bar and hot herbal detoxifying tea

Make sure you take your regular vitamins and supplements.  Drink water all day long and have a glass of water before each mini meal.

Can't wait to see you guys over the next 3 weeks and to see your results.  If you have any questions just leave a comment.

Xo Ashley