beef stew

The Saturday Smoothie – Digital Detoxing, Skipping Breakfast, and Fitness Competition

Welcome to the latest edition of the Saturday Smoothie! This week, we’ve got a ton of ideas for you to check out, including digital detoxing, calorie restriction, and intermittent fasting. As always, if you have any questions or comments on these, send us a note.

Taking a Digital Detox for Health Benefits

Getting Back in Shape After Fifty

How many times do you check your phone each hour?  When was the last time you went a full day without using any electronics?  We’re so plugged into our technology nowadays, sometimes it’s healthy to take a break from our devices.  It sounds tough, but the effort is well worth it.  Make a day, a weekend, or even a full week, and enjoy the benefits of taking the time to unplug.

Calorie Restriction is Key for Weight Loss

beef stew

A healthy lifestyle is all about balance.  Exercise is important, and has incredible health benefits. But, if weight loss is what you’re after, it all happens in the kitchen.  Our food choices are the most important factor in terms of controlling our weight.  Read this article to find out why healthy food choices are really the key to managing the number you read on the scale.

Intermittent Fasting to Lose Weight

coffee

Skip breakfast!?  I thought it was the most important meal of the day!  It’s something that we’re all told, but the science doesn’t necessarily back it up.  Consider using an intermittent fasting style of eating, there are numerous benefits. You’ll lose weight, increase productivity, and balance hormones.  Even better, it’s actually a whole lot easier than you think!

Read it here:

Compete for More Fitness Motivation

parking lot

When was the last time YOU competed in a fitness competition?  Weightlifting, running, or dancing, perhaps?  Entering and participating in a competition is a great way to kick start your fitness, and get your health back on track.  Check out these incredibly inspiring After Fifty’s.  You can see the joy emanating from their faces!

Getting Back in Shape After Fifty – A Complete Guide

Getting back into shape is an exciting time.  Just envisioning walking or running around with minimal fatigue or pain can be invigorating.  How many times have you thought to yourself, “if only I had the flexibility, strength, or mobility that I had ten years ago, everything would be so much better.”  Well guess what, you can!paddleboarding

There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.”  This same wisdom applies to health and fitness.  Of course it’s optimal to always live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, but if that hasn’t been the case for the past month, year, or decade, you have the power to make a change.  Now is the time to make a change.

Understanding Willpower as a Finite Resource

On your fitness journey, it’s essential that you understand the difference between willpower and habit. It will make your life so much easier.

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Using Willpower to Get Back in Shape

There’s nothing quite like taking your pair of running shoes or workout gear on it’s first training session.  You’ve been reading health and fitness articles for weeks, perhaps you even made the painstaking decision to sign up for your first 5k as a motivator to get back in shape, and now you’re ready to go out on the first training session.

It’s an exciting time, no doubt.  Chances are you’ll remember those first few workouts in your newfound training program for weeks and months to come.  Maybe you’re not even preparing for an event, but are training so you can move around with youthful vigor and spend higher quality time with your loved ones. Envisioning living life without the day-to-day pains that have crept up over the years can provide you with the energy to make great progress with your fitness.

When just getting started, improving your fitness is exciting because it’s a new experience, and a change to the routine you’ve become accustomed to.  But then, a conflict gets in the way.

When Excuses Get in the Way

What about the times when it’s the busy time of year at work, you have a packed schedule, and the in-laws are in town?  You work long hours, come home exhausted, and still have to run errands, prepare dinner, and do the laundry.  Don’t forget about those favorite Netflix episodes you can’t miss either!

Well what happens when it’s the dead of winter, it’s freezing outside, it’s rained or snowed for weeks on end, and your mood is as grey and bleak as the weather?  Thinking about lacing up the running shoes and getting a workout in may not seem quite as exhilarating as it did during those first few sessions.  When we rely on willpower to achieve our fitness goals, we can tend to burn out, because we only have so much of it.  When conflicts come up, our fitness routine can be one of the first things to go out the window.

Think of your willpower like a tank of gas.  When you continually use it, the tank depletes and needs to be refilled.  Our willpower is a finite resource – throughout the day, all of the decisions we make slowly deplete the tank.  When it runs really low, you may experience what’s known as decision fatigue.  Have you ever told yourself you’d eat healthy, but then find yourself eating fast food after a long day at work because it seemed so convenient?  If so, you’ve experienced first hand the challenges of relying on your willpower to achieve your goals.

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The Power of Habit in Terms of Fitness

If our willpower is a finite resource, and we know that our schedule is busy, we’re short on time, and still want to live a healthy and fit lifestyle, then how to we go about getting back into shape?  The answer is simple: fitness needs to become a habit.

It’s essential that you make health and fitness a part of your every day routine.  It needs to become a habit if there’s any chance of you following through over an extended time frame.  Habits can help us, and they can hurt us.  Think to yourself about one of the habits you have in your life that has a negative affect.  Drinking, smoking, or watching too much television, perhaps?  Now think of one that has a positive affect.  Is it walking, running, biking, or lifting weights?

Habits can help us, and they can hurt us.  When fitness becomes a habit, it leads to better health, longer lives, and more energy.

How to Make Fitness a Habit

Starting small is the key.  You want to focus on the process rather than the outcome.  If we set small and sustainable goals, then fitness will become a habit after a few months of consistent effort.

Let’s take a hypothetical example.

Mary went to the doctor for her annual check up. Her doctor told her that her cholesterol levels were elevated, and she needed to make a change.  Her doctor asks about her diet and exercise, and they have a frank discussion about her lifestyle.  Mary was honest and told her doctor that her schedule always seems so busy, and that she feels there aren’t enough hours in the day to get all her errands done as it is.

When she eats sometimes its an easy meal that requires little to no cooking. Mary’s doctor acknowledges how difficult it can be to fit everything you want done into a day, however he also recommended that she try to eat more balanced meals and exercise more regularly.

walking

Getting Started

How should Mary take her doctor’s recommendation into practice? She can make fitness a habit by starting with small, achievable and measurable goals.

Mary is early to bed and early to rise. She commits to going on a walk around the neighborhood for 30 minutes, after her morning coffee, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  The first couple days into her routine, she finds that it’s an adjustment, but loves the sense of accomplishment she feels after executing on her goals.

Six weeks into her routine, Mary has now learned to love her weekly walks.  She finds that on days she goes walking, she has more energy throughout the day.  It’s a time that she’s able to exercise, and it’s also a time she’s able to reflect on all the great progress she’s made.  What’s better, is she’s actually met a few of her neighbors who are also up early each day, and she’s shared her goals with them.

Over time, Mary decides to add more days to her walking routine, and after 6 months, she finds herself walking almost every day.  It’s become something that she looks forward to each day, and it’s a habit that’s she’s grown to love.  Walking also inspires her to make healthier food choices, because she wants to fuel her body with proper nutrients that taste great and make her feel even better.

All of the great progress Mary made was the result of starting with a small and achievable goal, walking for thirty minutes two times per week.

Finding Your Why

In our hypothetical example, Mary wanted to get back into shape because her doctor discussed with her the risks of her high cholesterol and sedentary lifestyle.  Thinking about her family and loved ones, she knew that she owed it to herself and to them to make a change, to take a step in the right direction.

Think about the loved ones that you have in your life.  Your parents, your spouse, your children, your friends and colleagues.  Think about the activities that you loved participating in when you were younger and had vibrant health and energy.  Envision ten years from now, how you’ll look, feel, and act if you continue on the same trajectory that you’re currently on.  What is it that truly excites you?  What is it that motivates you?  What’s one of the driving forces in your life that you care about above all else?

As Simon Sinek explains in his groundbreaking Ted Talk, Start with Why, people make decisions based on their “why.”  They don’t just choose to get back in shape, they choose to live a better lifestyle because their health is suffering.  They make changes because they want to be around for their family for longer.  They make positive habits because they want to meet their great grandchildren.  Watch the 18 minute talk to develop a better understanding of why we make the decisions we do.  I promise you it’s time well spent.

The Pillars of Getting Back Into Shape

Instead of focusing on “getting back into shape,” it’s helpful to break fitness down into smaller sub categories so you can make progress on each of the different pillars.

pillars

Pillar Number One: Exercise

Exercise is the first pillar to focus on in your fitness journey.  The great news is exercise is a broad term that encompasses a whole range of activities.  It could be taking a walk around the neighborhood like our hypothetical Mary.  It could also be playing tennis, golfing, practicing yoga, or taking dance classes.

Make it Enjoyable

Whatever activity or exercise you choose, make it enjoyable!  It’s so much easier to stick to a routine and activity that you enjoy, rather than one you can’t stand.  Think about which activities you’ve practiced in your life that invigorate you.  Was there a sport you played, or an activity that you loved that stands out above all the rest?  How would it feel to have the energy and flexibility to participate again?  Whatever the activity is that you’ve loved, use it as a way to get back into shape.

Make it Consistent

Build your exercise or activity into your routine.  Whether it’s a daily practice, or just a few times a week, be as specific as possible with when you will do it.  That way, it’s not something that you rely purely on willpower to achieve.  When it’s in your schedule each day or each week, it’s much easier to stick to the process.  Over time, it will become something that you look forward to.  It’s time that you’re dedicating for yourself, so you can live a longer and more enjoyable life.

Get an Exercise Buddy

Everyone has days where they feel low energy, low motivation, or are just simply feeling under the weather.  Having a partner that holds you accountable on your journey can be an invaluable motivator.  On days that you just don’t feel like sticking the the process, a companion can help you get through that workout or activity.  Sometimes your buddy might not feel like sticking to their workout – then the tables are turned and you are able to serve as a motivator for them.

Evaluate Progress on your Goals

When you’re as specific as possible on the activities you use to get back into shape, it helps you track progress over a given time frame.  Keep a diary, journal, or log of the workouts you complete, that way weeks and months down the line, you can look back on the progress you’ve made.

Pillar Number Two: Diet

cutting board

Our bodies are comprised of the foods that we put into our body.  “We are what we eat,” sounds cliche, but has a lot of truth to it.  When we consume foods that are high in sugar and low in nutrients, it doesn’t give us the proper fuel we need, and our health suffers from it.  When we eat a diet full of vegetables, complex carbs, healthy fats, and lean meats, our diet helps support our health and fitness goals.

Practice Portion Control

At the end of the day, weight gain and weight loss comes from the amount of calories we consume.  When we take in more calories than we burn each day, then our body stores the excess as body fat.  On the other hand, when we burn more energy than we consume, our body uses some of the fat stores to make up for the deficit, meaning we lose weight.  Weight can and weight loss all comes down to total caloric intake over time.

Listen to your body each time you eat.  What’s key is eating until you are satisfied, not until you absolutely can’t consume another bite.  If you feel so full after a meal that you need to lay down or take a nap before doing anything else, you’ve eaten too much.

Adequately Hydrate

Many of us are chronically dehydrated.  Water comprises about 60% of our body, and is critical to vibrant health and energy.  An easy method to follow is the rule of 8.  We need about 8, 8oz glasses of water throughout the day to maintain proper hydration.  It amounts to about half of a gallon.  Whether you have a large water bottle you keep with you, or you keep track of how many glasses you drink, make sure your body has the proper amount of water that it needs.

When you’re hydrated, you’re body is more effective at digesting food, leveling your blood pressure, detoxifying your body, and fighting disease and infection.

Limit Sugars and Processed Foods

Sugars and processed foods should not take up a large amount of your daily calorie intake.  Consuming too much causes spikes in blood sugar which can lead to diabetes, weight gain, irritability, inflammation, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and more.  Cutting sugar out of your diet is one of the single biggest positive changes you can make to better support your health over the long term.

Don’t Drink Your Calories

An easy change to make for a better diet is to not drink any of your calories.  Cut out the juices, sodas, and sugary drinks.  One can of Coca Cola has 140 calories, and 39 grams of sugar.  That’s the equivalent of 16 sugar cubes.  The soda may taste great in the short term, but it’s wreaking havoc on your overall health.

Instead of drinking sodas and sugary drinks, replace them with water, tea, and coffee.  They’ll help you hydrate your body better, and will add no calories to your daily intake.

Pillar Number Three: Sleep

Sleep is the third pillar to pay attention to on your journey to better health and fitness.  Adequate sleep is essential to our health because it’s the time when our body is able to rebuild, repair, and detox.  It may seem like it’s almost glorified these days to sacrifice sleep for productivity, but burning the candle at both ends is something that will do more harm than good in the long run.

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Set a Schedule

Go to sleep at the same time each evening, and wake up at the same time in the morning.  Yes, even on the weekends.  Humans are creatures of habit, and that’s especially true with our sleep cycles.  when we have consistency in our routine, it allows our circadian rhythm to function properly.  Our bodies perform best when they have a set schedule.

Avoid Screen Time Before Bed

When we stare at our screens before going to sleep, it messes with your circadian rhythm.  Screens emit what’s known as blue-spectrum light – the same light that’s emitted during the day.  Our brains can’t tell the difference between the light the sun provides, and the light that our screens emit.  When we use our electronic devices immediately before going to sleep, it sends our brains mixed signals because our brain processes the light and tells our body it’s daylight outside.  Do your best to limit the use of electronics within one hour of going to sleep.

Supplement for Better Sleep

On average, more than half of us are deficient in magnesium, a micronutrient that’s fights insomnia, helps our bodies relax, and cuts down on cortisol, the “stress” hormone.  Take a serving of it prior to bed to help your body relax and get ready for a restful and rejuvenating sleep cycle.  A great product to start with is Natural Calm – find it on Amazon, or at a local health foods store.  If that isn’t doing the trick, supplement with melatonin as well.  It’s a hormone that’s secreted by our pineal gland, and helps regulate our natural sleeping and waking cycles.  Staring at screens too much, especially at night, is one way that our melatonin levels get out of whack.

Get Started Today

Your health and fitness is completely in your control.  Sometimes it may not feel like it, sometimes it may feel like our body is craving sugar, wants to lay down, and do nothing.  These are purely signals that your body sends, but you are the one that acts on the signals.  At the end of the day, nobody is as invested in your health as you are.  Not your doctor, your spouse, or your loved ones.  It’s your health, and your body, and your life.  Even if you’ve spent years or decades with the wrong habits, it’s never to late to make a change.

Getting back in shape is one of the absolute best things you can do for your health.  You’ll live longer.  You’ll be happier.  Moving around will be easier.  You’ll be able to spend quality time with loved ones, and will get more satisfaction out of the time you have on this planet.

It’s not always going to be easy.  There will be days when you just don’t feel like sticking to the routine.  There will be meals that are full of sugar that just seem too resistible to pass up.  Some days you may not even want to get up from the TV.  That’s ok.  It happens to everyone.  What’s most important is making slow and consistent progress, and taking steps in the right direction.

If you miss a workout, or have a cheat meal, it’s not the end of the world.  Just don’t let it derail you from your progress over the long term.  Even when it doesn’t feel like it, it’s all within your control.

The Saturday Smoothie – Tips for Better Health Today

fitnessDo you feel like you just might need to lose a few pounds?  That’s ok!  Many of us feel like we’re not as fit as we once were, and we want to help you do something about it!  But what’s the best way to get started?  Sometimes it feels as if it’s tougher to lose the extra flab in your fifty’s than it did a decade ago (is it my metabolism?).  Use these 7 proven strategies for getting back into shape and helping you lean down.

Just Tell Me What Foods I Need to Eat!

There’s so much information out there for what you should eat, what you shouldn’t, why gluten is bad, and why we need to cut our sugar consumption.  Do you ever wish that someone would just tell you which foods to add into your diet to promote better health?  Well now you can! Learn what foods you should eat, why you should eat them, and how they’ll help support long term health and longevity.
vegetables

I Swear I Used to Touch My Toes, What Happened!?

Does it take you a while to get started in the morning, or do you find that you’re not quite as flexible as you were a few years ago?  Well to get started on increasing your flexibility, take the easy self assessments to figure out which body parts need the most help.  We think you’ll love these because they’re simple and can be done at home.  You can gain more flexibility with as little as 5 minutes of practice per day!
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Take a Deep Dive Into Nutrition

Have you ever wanted to go a a little bit deeper on the nutritional side?  Are you someone who likes to understand exactly what’s in the food you’re eating?  But fruit and vegetables doesn’t have nutrition facts!  Well guess what, now they do.  Use this tool and it will tell you exactly what’s in the food you eat.  We love it because it will even give you recommendations on which foods to eat based on your diet and lifestyle.
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Brain Fog?  That Can’t Actually Be Real, Right?

Have you ever parked the car, gone shopping, and then couldn’t remember at all where it was parked? How about forgetting where you put your keys, or taking out the trash on trash day.  Our brains and our diets are intimately connected, find out what may be causing the cloudiness and lack of mental alertness so you can address it head-on.

[button link=”http://fitafterfifty.com/brain-fog/” size=”xl” text=”grey”]Read All About Brain Fog[/button]

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7 Ways to Optimize your Morning Routine

The sunlight peaks through the edges of your windows, and the chirping birds slowly make you more and more conscious of the world outside.  Should you doze a few more minutes, hit snooze on the alarm a few times, or jump out of bed to start the day?  Such a big decision!

Perhaps you savor your slumber, and snooze time after time until you begrudgingly need to roll out of bed and kick off the day.  Ugh, not another Monday.   Sound all too familiar?

How you do anything, is how you do everything.  The way that you start your day has an affect on the rest of your waking hours. Over the long term, the small decisions that we make on a day to day basis dictate the trajectory, and the quality of our lives.  That means starting the day with productivity and purpose is a must.

So how do we go about optimizing our morning routines?  It’s important to understand that an effective morning routine doesn’t start in the morning – it starts the night before.  Set aside the clothes you plan to wear ahead of time, because it’s important to leave yourself with as few decisions as possible as you kick off the day. Half an hour before you plan to go to sleep, shut off all social media, and stop using any electronics with a screen.  The blue light that our electronics emit affects our circadian rythym, and tricks our brains into thinking it’s daylight outside.  Have you ever been tired as you browse your news feed, and then can’t seem to fall asleep once you’re in bed?  If so, you’ve experienced first hand how our screens can alter the quality of our sleep.

To optimize your routine in the morning, there are a several simple ways you can guarantee you’ll have a great start to the day, and will feel productive and focused for hours afterwards. 

Make Your Bed

It sounds so simple, and it is.  But why is it important?  By making your bed every morning, it’s an immediate win early on in the day.  It lets your brain feel accomplished, even if it’s just a small task.  Making your bed right after waking helps set the tone for increased productivity throughout the day.

bedHydrate

Many of us live in a state of constant dehydration.  A simple trick to help start your day on the right foot is consuming a few large glasses of water within an hour of waking.  It helps hydrate your body, flush toxins, and increase your metabolism.
water
 

Breathe deeply

We need oxygen to survive, but we need lots of oxygen if we really want to thrive!  If you have a tendency to hunch your shoulders, breath shallow, and don’t live a very active lifestyle, you’ll notice immediate benefits from this one.  Take 10 deep breaths right as you jump out of bed in the morning.  It can even be while you’re making your bed, if you like multitasking.  It helps improve our respiritory, digestive, lymphatic, and immune systems.  Deep breathing also reduces stress levels and helps increase circulation throughout our bodies.

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Stretch or Exercise

Air squats, pushups, stretching and jogging.  There are so many activities you can practice to get your blood flowing first thing in the morning.  Even if you don’t have the time (or the willpower!) for a full workout, spend some time stretching and paying attention to your body.  It helps you fully wake up, increases your alertness, and gets your brain in a mindset where you’re ready to be productive.

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Practice Gratitude

When we tell ourselves the things that make us gratful, it conditions our brain to pay attention to the blessings that we have.  There are plenty of studies that show when people practice gratitude, it leads to higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction.  No need to overcomplicate things – practicing gratitude can be as easy as choosing three things you’re grateful for; your health, your family, and your job perhaps?  Try mixing them up each day, and remember, it doesn’t have to be complicated!
 gratitude

Daily Goals

If you fail to plan, then plan to fail!  It’s important to be crystal clear on the things that you want to accomplish on any given day.  Write down the biggest or most important tasks, even if it’s just a mental note.  By being clear on the precise things you need to accomplish, it leaves no question of how you should focus your time, and what you should do that day.
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Consume a healthy meal

Our bodies are comprised of what we fuel it with.  We quite literally are what we eat!  The good news is that healthy food is downright delicious!  Once you’re hungry in the morning or around lunch time, treat your body to a nutritious and satisfying meal.  Try to minimize the sugar and refined carbs, because those are the nutrients that lead to mood swings and weight gain.  Choose the lean proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of vegetables to provide you with clean, healthy energy throughout your day.
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Optimizing our morning routines doesn’t have to be difficult.  With a little planning, we can set ourselves up for an incredibly productive and satisfying day.  Our livelihood is completely within our control, once we make some simple improvements to our routines first thing in the morning, it helps us throughout the rest of our waking hours.
Let us know if there are any great tips that we might have missed!

Can Food Heal Your Body and Help You Regain Health?

How the Food You Eat Effects You (it also affects you!)

Is your food harming or healingCan food heal your body, and help you regain your health, vibrancy, and energy?  “You are what you eat.”  It’s a cliché phrase that’s been said time and tie again, but there’s an incredible amount of truth to the idea that our bodies are made from what we consume.

The fact of the matter is; our diet is in our direct control.  Sometimes it may feel like our food controls us, but each day we face choices about what food to eat.  Even if for years on end we’ve selected the French fries over the salad, or the sugary cereal over the veggie omelet, it’s never to late to take back the control of our health through the foods we include in our diet.

Eliminate the Common Problem Foods – Members of the Food Mafiatoast

The first step in reclaiming your health is taking a break from the foods that commonly irritate our bodies.  Our ancestors all came from different parts of the world, and as such they likely consumed different diets.  This means that some of us are tolerant to certain foods, while others may irritate us.  What’s key is understanding which foods are your own personal kryptonite.

The foods that generally tend to be problematic are gluten, grains, dairy, eggs, soy, coffee, sugar, processed foods, nuts, alcohol, and nightshades.  You may be tolerant to some, but others might make you feel terrible. Sometimes even the wrong combinations of different foods can make your stomach upset, but by themselves they’re fine. Just how deep can this food rabbit-hole go?

By removing all of the foods that can tend to be problematic, it gives our bodies a chance to recover, detox, and reduce inflammation.  Many of us spend years and years feeding our bodies foods that may taste great, but actually irritate us and make us feel awful.

Eliminating the Common Problem Foods – Which Ones are The Worst?

The rule of thumb is cut out the most common problem foods for at a minimum of 3 weeks.  It takes somewhere between 21 and 25 days four our GI tract to heal from the foods that have caused it constant irritation and inflammation.  Cutting out all of these foods is no easy task! For someone who wakes up looking forward to his two cups of coffee each morning, and a glass of wine with my cheesy pasta in the evening, telling me to give up all these foods seems more difficult than climbing Everest! It’s critical to realize that strictly cutting the kryptonite foods out isn’t permanent. It’s an important first step.  It’s a part of a process, and a transformational one at that.  It’s a mindset shift where you pay attention to the way foods make you feel, rather than just how it tastes. When we’re ruthless with our elimination, our bodies have the chance to heal, and we’re able to figure out which foods are most problematic for our own health.

Identify Which Foods Negatively Effect You – What’s Your Kryptonite?

You’ve done it. You’ve diligently cut out all of the foods that tend to irritate, and likely you feel fantastic. The healthiest you’ve felt in years! But it’s been no easy task. The good news is that your body has had a chance to heal. Now comes the fun part – it’s time for re-introduction, so you can discover once and for all what foods act as your own personal Kryptonite. The key here is to re-introduce one food at a time.  This way, you can find out how it effects you, and whether it’s one of your problem foods.

Reintroduce one of the problem foods, for example, dairy.  Sprinkle some cheese on top of your meals that day, have a few slices as a snack, and drink a couple tall glasses of milk.  Over the next 24 hours, listen to your body so you can determine how the dairy is making you feel.  If there are no negative affects, then your body is most likely tolerant to dairy. Congratulations! This means you can keep it in your diet, because it’s not causing you any negative health consequences.  Wait another day before re-introducing the next food category on the list, and keep listening to your body.

But wait, the dairy is upsetting your stomach? If instead of feeling the newfound vibrancy and health you’ve grown to love over the past three weeks, and you have an upset stomach, feel bloated, have GI distress, or any stomach pains, your body is telling you that you should stay away from dairy! Does this mean that never again should you have that delicious gelato, melted brie, or glass of ice-cold milk? Absolutely not! It just means that you’re more in tune with your body and the signals that it sends you.  It means you can recognize when dairy or any other food makes you feel bad, so you can use that information to make better choices in the future.

What are Some of the Negative Effects of Foods?

The key to taking back control of our health is in listening closely to our bodies.  It sends us signals for all of the nutrients we ingest. Sometimes it may be a subtle energy and satiety that leaves us glowing for hours after the meal. Other times it may be a screaming headache with congested sinuses.

A few common symptoms of foods our bodies don’t agree with are:

-Skin breakouts

-Fatigue

-Stomach aches and GI distress

-Bloating

-Sinus congestion

-Headaches

-Joint pain

-Brain fog

What Foods Should I Eat – How Can I Feel Like Wonder Woman?

brussels sprouts

Finish those veggies on your plate! We’ve all heard it, and we may have even told our children or grandchildren the same advice. It’s important to fuel your body with plenty of veggies, as well as healthy fats (think olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, avocados), and lean meats.  A good rule of thumb is 30% of your diet should be from lean meats like chicken, wild-caught fish, and grass-fed red meat, and the other 70% should be from veggies.

If weight loss is the end goal you have in mind, then limit your carbohydrate intake, especially the sugary, processed ones! Sometimes these are called simple carbs, or processed carbs – think sugary cereals, bread, and pasta. If it comes in a box or a bag, it’s probably not the most ideal staple to keep in your diet. The reason processed carbohydrates are bad is because the body easily breaks them down into sugar.   Too much sugar leads to fat gain, inflammation, mood swings, and that crash you’ve probably experienced 40 minutes after eating that (delicious) donut.

How it Feels When you Clean up Your Diet – Simply Amazing!

After you’ve committed to taking time to let your body heal, detox, and reduce inflammation, you’re going to feel fantastic. When we have vibrant health through our diet, it makes us feel downright amazing. It’s a mindset shift that takes place when we pay attention to the ways that foods make us feel, rather than simply how they taste. When you experience first hand a food or meal that truly satisfies you, it’s a liberating experience. We shouldn’t feel bloated, congested, and achy day-in day-out. Our diet is directly in our control, and our bodies and well being are directly related to the food we consume.

Even if we’ve let years go by with poor food choices, we can always commit to making a change.  By dedicating just 3 weeks to eliminating the foods that may irritate us, it lets our bodies begin the healing process.  From there, it’s all about making choices which promote health, and listening to the signals your body sends.  The information we learn by listening to our bodies, and paying attention to our diet ultimately helps us live longer, healthier lives.  It allows us to see our grandchildren grow up, and continue the hobbies we know and love.

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5 Easy, Healthy Crock Pot Soup Recipes

These cold winter nights get the cravings going for comfort foods, and unfortunately, many comfort foods are high in unhealthy starches and fats. However, there are plenty of satisfying meals that are good for you, while being super simple to make! Here are five easy and healthy crock pot soup recipes – make them for a dinner and enjoy the leftovers for lunch, or prep the ingredients to freeze and cook up later. Psst: All of these can be made without the meat for a delicious vegetarian option!

Smoked Turkey-Lentil Soup (featured image)

Ingredients:

  • 8-ounce smoked turkey leg
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ lb. dried lentils (rinsed and drained)
  • 8 ounces of pre-chopped onion, celery and bell pepper mixture
  • 2 tsp. fresh oregano (chopped)
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • plain fat-free Greek yogurt (optional)
  • sprigs of oregano (optional)

Instructions: Place the first six ingredients into a 3- or 4-quart crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 8- to 10-hours until the turkey is falling off the bone and the lentils are soft. Remove the turkey leg, discard the skin and bone, shred the meat and return to the pot. Serve garnished with the yogurt and oregano sprigs (optional).

 

sweet-potato-chicken-and-quinoa-soupSweet Potato, Chicken & Quinoa Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup quinoa (rinsed well)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes (peeled and cubed)
  • 1 16-ounce can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes (not drained)
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 packet chili seasoning
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • Parsley (optional)

Instructions: Put the first 8 ingredients into a 3- or 4-quart crock pot. Cover with a lid and cook on high for 3-5 hours. Use two forks to shred the chicken. Serve with fresh parsley (optional), salt and pepper to taste.

 

slow-cooker-beef-stewHarvest Beef Stew

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. beef chuck roast (cubed)
  • ⅓ cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cups carrots (sliced)
  • 3 celery stalks (diced)
  • 3 cups russet potatoes (diced)
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 TBSP fresh parsley (minced)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: Combine the beef cubes with flour in a large bowl, then saute in the olive oil for 5-10 minutes on medium-high heat until the meat is slightly browned. Transfer the beef to a 3- or 4-quart slow cooker, and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.

 

crockpot-african-peanut-soupAfrican-Inspired Vegetarian Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • ¼ cup green onion (sliced)
  • 2 red bell peppers (seeds removed and chopped)
  • 1 TBSP garlic (minced)
  • 2 14-ounce cans of diced tomatoes in juice
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 TBSP Ancho chile powder*
  • 1 tsp. New Mexico chile powder*
  • 1 tsp. Aleppo pepper*
  • ½ cup brown lentils (uncooked)
  • ¼ cup brown rice (uncooked)
  • 1 cup peanut butter (all natural, no added sugar)

*Use any mixture of chile powders or spicy red pepper flakes

Instructions: Place the first 12 ingredients (through the brown rice) into a crock pot, and stir to combine. Cook on low for 8 hours, OR on high for 4 hours (if cooking on high, reduce heat to low after 4 hours). After the applicable cooking time has passed, add the peanut butter and cook for about one more hour on low. Serve hot, and garnish with chopped green onion (if desired).

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 4.28.16 PMTuscan Chicken Stew

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (cubed)
  • 2 carrots (peeled and sliced)
  • 2 celery stalks (sliced)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 medium tomatoes (chopped)
  • 12 baby potatoes (halved)
  • 1 ¾ cup chicken stock
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP white wine
  • ½ tsp. fennel seeds (crushed)

Before Serving:

  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 ½ TBSP cornstarch
  • 3 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Parsley (chopped)

Instructions: Place all of the initial ingredients into a 4- or 5-quart crock pot and toss to combine. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Just before serving, mix the cornstarch and water together until there are no lumps. Add the cornstarch mixture, vinegar, rosemary and salt to the crock pot.

New Year’s Resolutions to Improve Your Health & Fitness

According to the numbers, 45 percent of Americans usually make resolutions, but only 8 percent of the people who make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve them. A lot of adults choose this time of year to make a step toward better fitness (38 percent of resolutions are about weight loss). However, a general New Year’s resolution to lose weight or exercise more often probably isn’t enough to keep the motivation going for more than 8 weeks. Unfortunately, only 14 percent of those over the age of 50 who make resolutions achieve them. Let’s change that!

This year, follow these tips to keep your resolutions to improve your health and fitness:

  • Make specific resolutions (i.e. “I will exercise 3x per week” vs. “I will exercise more often”) with manageable, short-term goals
  • Schedule time on your calendar to complete the goals you set
  • Stay accountable with a friend or loved one
  • Keep track of your progress, and celebrate your successes
  • Reassess your resolutions if needed, but don’t give up!

Now that you have the tools, here are some good New Year’s resolutions to improve your health and fitness:

  • To start exercising, schedule workout/active sessions for 3-4 days each week based on things that you already enjoy doing (hiking, playing tennis, golfing, etc.).
  • To lose weight, resolve to exercise on a regular basis and change your diet to include more fresh fruit and vegetables, and less/no processed foods, sugars, or starchy carbohydrates (such as bread and pasta).
  • To improve strength and balance, start a weekly resistance training workout regimen.
  • To reduce high blood pressure and/or cholesterol, schedule cardiovascular exercise (jogging, cycling, swimming, etc.) at least three times each week for 30-minute (minimum) segments.
  • To increase workout intensity and effectiveness, schedule workout time with more frequency or variety (such as adding a day each week, or adding a new activity) or extend the amount of time you spend working out through the week.

Have a very happy New Year, and good luck with your resolutions!

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

Celebration

Simple Tricks to Help You Avoid Overeating This Thanksgiving

By Janet Luhrs, www.simpleliving.com

We’re there! It’s holiday time, party time and – er – over- eating time. So how do you have fun and relish the season, but not over-indulge? Try these simple strategies to help you enjoy the holidays and not feel deprived, yet stay on track with your commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

  • Promise yourself to eat healthy most of the time: You can make the choices for fresh, wholesome food most of the time, and save the indulgences for parties or special holiday events.
  • It’s about portion control: Don’t sweat over “banned” foods, instead keep your portions smaller and balanced with the healthier choices for most of the meal and smaller portions for the special foods.
  • Watch out for empty liquid calories. Calories consumed by drinking leave us less satisfied. But the big one is something you already know – alcohol throws our inhibitions out the window and we’re more likely to over-indulge. Fill up on water or seltzer before your meal or party and you’ll have a greater likelihood of success.
  • Stock the fridge for a win: Keep plenty of pre-cut fruits and veggies in the fridge – and be sure to make them easy to grab.  
  • Planned Indulgences: If you are going to allow yourself a few indulgences (and why not!), then promise yourself not to waste those calories on junk that is tasty, yet not really important to you. Plan your day or weekend to allow for those treats that are truly special and worth the “cheat.”
  • Don’t cut back on your workouts: When you splurge a bit on the foods and treats, yet stay consistent with your workouts, you are more likely to get back on the  nutrition plan after the holidays and less likely to throw in the towel completely

It also really helps to understand what causes you to over- indulge, such as the big one – emotional eating. Here’s a huge tip. Take the time now to understand those triggers, especially around holidays, and you’ll be way ahead of yourself. Tell me about your success “cheats” during the holidays and strategies that work for you.

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

The Dangerous Transition from Unhealthy Eating to Disorder

When we hear terms such as ‘bulimia’ and ‘anorexia’, the image that often comes to mind is a far-too-skinny young woman. But these eating disorders affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities, and can originate in surprising places.

Unhealthy eating is a common struggle that nearly all of us deal with at one time or another, and around the holiday season, it can be harder than ever. We need to be mindful that unhealthy eating can make the transition into a mental health problem: binge eating disorders. They can cause serious risks to our health, particularly in our later years – elder eating disorders are a complicated and unique struggle for senior adults.

“Triggers for older adults dealing with eating disorders can include lack of enthusiasm for life; attempts to get attention from family members; protest against living conditions, such as in a nursing home; economic hardship; and medical problems,” according to one report.

The misconception that eating disorders only affect the young can also cause misdiagnosis of eating disorders with seniors. According to Laurie Cooper, of the Renfrew Center in Nashville, TN, “Many family members or helping professionals may attribute weight loss, malnutrition or unexplained symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea to a ‘normal’ aging process or some other medical condition, rather than a mental health disorder.”

Eating disorders are very serious, and can be more so when they are affecting the elderly. This is because an older person’s bodily functions are less resilient in the aging process, and the tremendous toll an eating disorder has will affect an elderly person far more quickly and seriously. Eating disorders can also exacerbate the effects of other common conditions associated with aging, such as osteoporosis, gastrointestinal issues, cardiac conditions, depression, and obesity.

Unhealthy eating may seem relatively harmless to anything other than fitness or your waistline, but it can make a dangerous transition to an eating disorder. Some of the most common symptoms to beware of for elder eating disorders are:

  • Substantial weight loss or gain in a short period of time;
  • Excessive amounts of laxatives, diuretics or diet pills;
  • Behavioral changes (disappearing after eating, desiring to eat alone, etc.); and
  • Changes in appearance (hair loss or dental damage) or bodily function (cold sensitivity, heart problems, gastrointestinal issues, etc.).

If you, or someone you love is showing some or all of these signs, consider talking to a doctor about treatment.

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

Simple and Super Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Imagine not feeling bloated, heavy and guilty after dinner this year!

By Janet Luhrs, www.simpleliving.com

Take a deep breath and close your eyes for a minute. I want you to imagine something very cool. You are sitting around the Thanksgiving table this year eating sublimely delicious food that is – drumroll please – actually GOOD for you!

Imagine that! Imagine actually being healthier after your dinner because you’ve just indulged in whole, natural food that’s packed only with good things like vitamins, minerals and fiber, and has none or very little of the usual junk associated with Thanksgiving dinners.

Imagine NO GUILT! 

Imagine no high fat, high sodium. empty calorie, processed sugar, preservative filled excuse for food this Thanksgiving.

Imagine not feeling bloated, heavy and guilty after your big dinner.

Out with the marshmallow topped casseroles (are you kidding me?), out with the fatty bad-for-you desserts and in with super healthy and super ridiculously delicious Thanksgiving food.

Who knew?

Ready? Here are some very yummy and healthy Thanksgiving side dishes you can try this year:

  • Butternut Squash Soup makes a great starter side dish for your Thanksgiving table. Butternut Squash is super high in vitamin A and a great source of dietary fiber.
  • Lentil and Red Pepper Bake is delicious and colorful, low in calories and high in protein.
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts with Walnuts is another high fiber dish, and the walnuts add a lovely depth of flavor. Only six ingredients and things couldn’t be simpler.
  • Sweet Potato Gratin is a fresh new twist on an old standby. High in dietary fiber, vitamin A, and easily prepared as a baked dish, this one gives you more time to spend with your loved ones, it’s so easy.
  • Green Beans & Pancetta with Whole-Grain Mustard Dressing is a much healthier, lower sodium option than a typical canned beans and canned soup recipe. Green beans are full of vitamin C and dietary fiber. The pancetta is a flavorful bacon alternative.

…and now for your ‘just desserts’!

  • Pumpkin Pie with Rum is hard to beat for your traditional Thanksgiving dessert. Dark molasses for the sweetener adds iron and nonfat evaporated milk replaces the heavy cream and really cuts calories but no loss on flavor.
  • Squash and Cheesecake Bars will give your typical pumpkin pie a run for the money in flavor, yet they have far fewer calories and lower sugar. The oats and low sugar graham crackers make a lovely, crunchy crust to the smooth squash.

We are willing to bet once you try some of these, they will easily replace your standard less healthy options and all you will “miss” this holiday season are the calories and the guilt. Let us know your favorites!

Featured photo source: POPSugar.com