Nutrition

Free Energy: Part 3 of 3 - Hydration and nutrition

Hi there, friend.  Are you ready for part three of how to infuse some free energy into your day?  I saved the best for last: hydration and nutrition. Most of us start our day with some combination of getting woken up by kids, feeding the kids, feeding the dog, feeding yourself, getting everyone brushed, changed, and out the door for whatever activity is planned for the day.  So I totally get that mornings are busy. But let me ask you this. Do you have an extra two minutes? And extra two minutes to chug, yes chug, some lovely room temperature water upon waking up. Maybe you have a cute water bottle on your night stand or maybe you have a cup waiting for you in the bathroom.  Or maybe you just fill up your water bottle right away in the morning while the kids are eating breakfast. I don’t care how you get it, but just make sure you’re drinking up first thing in the morning.  

Photography Credit: Leslie Plesser of  https://www.shuttersmack.com/

Photography Credit: Leslie Plesser of https://www.shuttersmack.com/

Why is this so important?  Because our cell tissues and organs are all operating in a water medium.  And our energy is made in our cells. So if we don’t have enough water circulating throughout our bodies, the more that we start feeling symptoms of fatigue.  So I want you to try something tomorrow morning.  Go about your normal morning routine, but instead of making your first beverage a coffee, juice, or milk, try to get down 16 ounces of water right from the get go.  And try to get a total of 16 ounces in before you’re out the door. Sip, chug, guzzle, slurp, whatever. Just get it in.  

Within mere minutes that water becomes your blood, which is 90% water BTW, and your extra cellular fluid, and it pushes out the used fluid that was littered with metabolic waste.  And if you don't drink enough water, that stuff stays gummed up in your system, and results in making you feel sluggish. Water is also what is used to transfer oxygen and nutrients throughout your body, which in turn, gives you energy.  So you aren’t even reaping the benefits of that beautiful salad that you ate for dinner last night if you aren’t drinking enough water to spread it throughout your system. 

But Liz, I’ve tried 100 times to drink more water and it never works!  Yeah, I know. I was there once too. My best advice is to focus on one thing at a time when it comes to your health.  If you try to do all the things at once, none of them will get done. So check your ical and find a week or two where you can commit to implementing one or all of these hydration strategies.

  1. Pair drinking water with one of your other non-negotiable morning tasks.  So for instance, drink your water after you brush your teeth, get dressed for the day, or once you sit down in  your car.  

  2. Buy a fancy water bottle.  I’m not kidding. This actually helps.  If you invest in something that looks pretty and makes you feel even the tiniest bit special, you’re more likely to use it.

  3. Log your water.  Write it down, put it in your phone, email it to yourself, whatever.  But just hold yourself accountable to that 16 ounces of water in the morning.  And once that becomes routine, add another eight ounces at some point in the day until you’re at about half of your ounces 


Now that we’ve covered water, I’m quickly going to run through some foods that can aid in our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep in order to be our best selves in the morning.


Omega3

Not only are Omega-3’s great for brain development function, inflammation reduction, they can help you to get a deeper, more restful sleep. So sources of omega-3 include chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, halibut, salmon, flax seeds.  


Vitamin C

September is right around the corner, which means the back to school cold is also right around the corner.  So I’m sure that you’ll be popping those little vitamin C tablets for candy in the coming weeks. Not only is vitamin C good for our immune system, but it also helps you stay asleep at night.  Some foods high in vitamin C are bell peppers, green leafy vegetables, kiwi, strawberry, citrus fruits, and papaya. 


Magnesium 

This is one micronutrient that we don’t hear much about.  But interestingly enough, for most, this is the mineral that we’re the most deficient in.  And it impacts so many important functions in our body, which in turn impact our sleep; regulating blood pressure, maintains normal cortisol levels, boosts and supports the production of serotonin, and last but not least, it helps to convert food into energy.  Any food with a green hue to it is probably going to have a nice source of magnesium: spinach, chard, also there's pumpkin seeds, almonds, superfoods like spirulina is a great source as well. And since you’re supposed to get 4-5 servings in order to get the recommended amount of magnesium, a supplement might be a more attainable way to go.   


Now obviously what I’ve covered here is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what impacts our energy levels. And I know how overwhelming it can be to read countless ways to better yourself. So do yourself a favor and just focus on one of the energy infusing actions that I laid out in this series, build it into your routine, and see what feels good.  Once you’ve mastered your first goal, move on to the next challenge. And if you need help building a roadmap for yourself, I’m happy to help.  



What exactly is a health coach again?

Photo Credit: Leslie Plesser of  Shuttersmack Photography

Photo Credit: Leslie Plesser of Shuttersmack Photography

When I tell people that I’m a health coach, I usually get a polite Minnesotan response like “oh, that’s interesting” quickly followed up with some comment about the weather.  Oh, Minnesota. The topics that we could cover if it weren’t for the atmospheric drama that you inevitable bestow upon us. See! It’s happening already! But back to the topic at hand.  My goal in writing this blog post is to clear up any confusion about what a health coach is and to share how health coaching could help make mealtimes a bit less stressful.

Let’s start with the word coach, which can conjure up a whole slew of images ranging from the intimidating high school football coach to your best friend’s dad who volunteered to coach your 5th grade soccer team.  No matter the type of coach, the good ones all have one thing in common; accountability. They’re there to celebrate the wins and to pick you up during the losses. They know when to have patience, compassion, and empathy while also knowing when to challenge, push, and raise expectations.  

I like to think of myself as more like that friendly dad coach, just without the pit stains and whistle.  Let’s get real… I have pit stains. Thank you natural deodorant. And instead of coaching 12 year old girls, I’m coaching driven Minneapolis women who want to be more effective parents through their nutrition.  Stay with me. Parenting is hard work. If you saw me after a day of hanging out with my two kiddos, you’d have thought that I just finished a triathalon. I’m sweaty, dirty and ready for an epsom salt bath.


Let’s just agree that parenting is hard work.  There are a lot of factors that play a role in becoming a great parent and role model for our kids, but one that I think is overlooked is nutrition.  Whether we like it or not, the food that we have in the house is a source of joy, stress, guilt, excitement, tears, laughter, tantrums, you name it! It also can make us feel tired, energized, light, sluggish, or just plain bad.  We have enough sources of stress in our lives. Don’t let food be one of them. Let me help.

Just like your favorite childhood coach, I start with the fundamentals -- goal setting, education, motivation, programming, support, and appropriate progressions to ensure that the nutrition focused behavior changes that we’re working will eventually become second nature.

Another way that I like to explain my health coaching business, is to tell people what it is not.

  • Personal training - While I am a certified group fitness instructor and I have training in physiology, I don’t create workouts for clients.  Instead, I’ll help you discover ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine using what you already know or directing you to fitness resources that fit your lifestyle.

  • Therapy  - Yes, there are a whole lot of emotions that are wrapped up in the food that we eat.  While aspects of psychology are used in health coaching, I am not equipped to provide therapy or counseling for larger mental health issues.  

  • A Beach Body program - Yes, at one point, for about 6 months, I was a Beach Body coach.  But I quickly realized that that business model wasn’t for me. I will never sell you anything other than my own services. 


There’s more that I could share on the general topic of health coaching, but I’ll save that for another day.  Still have questions? Need clarification on anything? Shoot me a message. I’ll be happy to clarify my services or answer any questions that you may have. And it only seems fitting to sign off with a good ‘ol rah rah, you can do it coach quote.  

When things change inside you, things change around you.


Intermittent fasting

I’m an “early bird catches the worm” kind of gal.  Between gymnastics practice, school, work, and now kids, early mornings has always been part of my routine.  And so was eating breakfast within 20 minutes of my wake up time. I never really questioned this until I started reading about intermittent fasting and all of its potential health benefits.  I say potential because IF can affect everyone differently. But if you want an idea of how it could affect you, keep reading.

Let me start with the basics.  While there are many variations, the most common intermittent fast prescribes an eight hour of time to eat and a sixteen hour window to fast.  So for example, one might choose to eat between the hours of 10 AM and 6 PM. But that eight hour window can be adjusted based on individual schedule and preference.  After trial and error, one might find that a 14 or 12 hour fasting window better suits their lifestyle.  

Here are a few of the potential benefits of IF

  • Metabolism:  When done correctly, fasting can increase your metabolism, or your body’s ability to make energy out of the food that you eat.  There are two key hormones that help make this happen; insulin and glucogon. Think of insulin as the fat storing hormone and glucogon as the fat burning hormone.  When the body is in a fasted state, insulin levels go down, and glucogon levels go up, resulting in the body using stored fat as energy.  

  • Weight Loss: An increased metabolism naturally brings us to weight loss.  But that’s not the only reason why IF can help a person to drop pounds.  When you create an eating schedule for yourself, you’re naturally going to eat less, which, for some people, equates to weight loss. 

  • Brain function:  Fasting can help increase brain function by fostering neurogenesis, which is the creation of new brain cells.  

  • Slows aging: Some people say that fasting can slow down the aging process. Fasting is one of the only proven ways that your body can create human growth hormone, also known as the youth hormone.  

  • Strengthened immune system:  Fun fact: Did you know that the vast majority of the immune system is in the gut?  One hypothesis about how this came to be dates back to the caveman era when what we put into our mouths could very easily kill us; a poisonous plant, dirty water, spoiled meat, and the list goes on.  So our gut is constantly working to detect any issues in the food that we ingest, dangerous or not. Fasting gives our immunes system a break from this constant work, and therefore, gives it time to rest and repair itself. 

  • Improved digestion:  Our digestive system has one of the hardest jobs of the body, which is to turn food into you!  It’s constantly pulling vitamins, minerals, and energy from all the food that you eat. Giving the digestive system a break is like resetting your phone.  It’ll work better, faster, and more efficiently. 

  • Increases personal development - Around 60% of our daily energy is used to digest the food that we eat.  Now imagine how else you could use that energy if it wasn’t always being used to digest food.  Basically, fasting creates free energy. Also, food is sometimes used to distract and mask other emotional issues.  Imagine if that food bandaid wasn’t there.  

Sounds great, right?  I mean who wouldn’t want a high metabolism, increased mental clarity, and improved digestion?  But before you start planning your 8 hour eating window, here are some other things to think about.

  • Adjustment period - Your body will need to adjust to your new eating schedule and you’ll have to learn how to decipher hunger from habit.  Am I really hungry right now or do I just think I am because of the time on the clock?

  • Making up for bad choices - People sometimes choose to do IF for the wrong reasons.  The inner dialog usually goes something like this…I ate like crap this weekend and one of my friends swears by IF so I’m going to do it too.  This lack of planning and “quick fix” mentality won’t last long.

  • I can eat whatever I want - A shorter eating time frame doesn’t automatically equate to weight loss. You still need to eat healthy, well balanced meals in order to see results.  And if you aren’t eating the right things, you could actually slow down your metabolism rather than speed it up.  

  • Battle of the sexes - Men might see more drastic changes with IF than women.  The reason being that women are more complex than men when it comes to hormones, which play a key role in IF.  That being said, some women might see great results. It really varies from person to person.

Like any change to your diet, intermittent fasting requires planning, thought, and care.  Too busy, stressed, or tired to figure this out on your own? Let’s talk.




Another blog about the Keto diet

Chances are that you’ve heard of the Keto diet.  And if you’re at all interested in health and wellness, you’ve probably Googled it.  And you were probably bombarded with Pinterest boards, books, podcasts, and catchy headlines that promise quick results.  As a health coach, my job is to filter through all of the information so that 1) you don’t have to and 2) you can get an unbiased opinion that’s not motivated by a sale.  So let’s get to it.

Keto is short for Ketosis, which is the term used when the body is fueled by fat rather than carbohydrates.  The typical person eats enough carbohydrates (grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, beans, etc), that they don’t need to tap into their fat stores for energy.  So in order to use that stored fat as fuel, the amount of carbohydrates consumed needs to be significantly reduced, while increasing fat and protein. This equates to something around 75% of calories from fat, 20% protein and 5% carbohydrates.  

What people love about Keto

  • People rave about the mental clarity that they experience once going Keto.

  • Because fats are more filling than carbohydrates, people stay full for longer.  It’s simply harder to over eat.

  • Fat is a more efficient source of energy.  Just like quality wood burns longer than pine needles, the body can run on fat a lot longer than it can on carbohydrates.

What can be tricky about Keto

  • It takes the average person 2-7 days to get into a state of Ketosis.  And this requires that you follow the plan perfectly.

  • You won’t actually know if your body is in a state of ketosis unless you do a blood test or a urine test.  Both kinds of tests are available at a typical drug store.  

  • You can knock yourself out of ketosis by eating too much protein.

  • The Keto diet paired with intermittent fasting is the most impactful approach, but also requires the largest lifestyle shift.

  • Your body has probably been running off of glucose for a majority of your life.  So when you create a drastic shift in the type of calories that you consume, you may experience something called the keto flu.  Symptoms range from feeling lightheaded or dizzy, brain fog, or muscle cramping.  

  • There is a large margin for error between the foods that you are allowed to eat and the change in lifestyle that it would require.

So here is where I’m supposed to say whether or not you should try the Keto diet, right?  The truth is that the answer is different for everyone. Lifestyle, age, health history, commitment level, goals and a whole slew of other factors are all part of the equation.  Ultimately, I believe that small changes over time lead to the most sustainable health improvements. If you want to learn more about how to start making changes to your lifestyle, let’s talk.


Time saving kitchen gadgets

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I whole heartedly agree with the statement that abs are made in the kitchen.  But I also know that people are busy and that any type of cooking can be overwhelming. So here are a few of my favorite kitchen gadgets that help me get healthy food on the table quickly.  These tools exponentially speed up my cooking time which makes the whole idea of cooking with whole foods a lot easier.

 

Garlic roller– Fresh garlic is a staple in our household. But nothing is worse than spending 5 minutes simply trying to get the peel off those little buggers.  So I was so happy to stumble upon this simple garlic roller.  Just pop a clove in the rubber cylinder, place on a hard dry surface, and give it a few good rolls and the skin quickly comes off.  Such a time saver!

 

Quality peeler – I thought that my trusty vegetable peeler from 2010 was just fine until I bought a new one on a whim.  I had no idea how laborious my vegetable peeling was until I switched!  Lesson learned, don’t wait 9 years to upgrade a utensil that gets used multiple times a day. 

 

Mandoline – This tool can be treacherous for the novist cook, but boy does it come in handy.  This will become your favorite tool to quickly whip up salads or slice up veggies for a snack.  Just be overly cautious of your knuckles and fingertips to start.

 

Cutting boards– Everyone probably has one cutting board at home, but I suggest in investing in multiple. With the amount of veggies that we eat, I probably wash/rinse one cutting board about 4x/day.  A variety of sizes and materials are best for different sized projects and foods.

 

Ninja – I use my Ninja at least 3x/week to chop garlic and onions.  Sure, this can be done with a knife, but the Ninja gets the job done in seconds.  It feels sort of ridiculous to have a gadget just for this purpose, but I’d happily take up more cupboard space if it means that I can save 5 minutes and avoid onion tears.

 

Good knives – I didn’t believe this one until I actually invested in good knives and finally realized that knives do make a difference when it comes to cooking.  Yes, any old knife can do the trick, BUT good knives make the whole process go so much faster and smoother.  

 

Vitamix – This is the kitchen appliance in our house. We use it daily, if not multiple times a day for smoothies, mixing pancake batter, making nut butters and milks, and blending soups and sauces.  These can be quite spendy, so if you’re looking for some ways to save some cash, search for “renewed” versions on Amazon. These are store models that have absolutely nothing wrong with them that are being sold for a lot less than the brand new versions.