health coach

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.




The struggle is real. And necessary.

You know what, you guys?  Creating a healthy lifestyle can be hard.  Our culture asks a lot of us.  Chill out, have a beer, and show off your 6-pack.  Don’t take life too seriously, live in the moment, and make sure you’re up to speed on whether or not coconut oil is healthy, because if you’re cooking with the wrong oil, off with your head!


It’s a never ending predicament out there, folks.  But that’s not even the point.  The point is that it’s hard; finding time to workout, going grocery shopping, meal planning, chopping vegetables, and doing the dishes, on repeat.  And if you’re not already doing it, the whole thing seems overwhelming and unattainable.  And don’t worry... I’m not about to ramble on about the top 10 ways to start being healthier.  I’m here to acknowledge your strife.  To say that the struggle is real.  And necessary. 


Struggle is required to propel us forward.  If we didn’t feel inadequate in some way or another, we’d all still be living in our parents house, watching full house in our PJs, and eating cereal for dinner without batting an eye.  Wanting, striving for, and working hard are just a part of life.  And it applies to your health endeavors too.  Saying no to the next round of drinks is going to suck sometimes.  Waking up at 5 AM to hit the gym isn’t going to be easy.  


But guess what.  We do it all for a reason.  To keep up with our kids.  To look good in our swimsuits (yes, vanity is real too).  And most importantly, to feel good.  So when you’re about to throw in the towel because it’s hard, just know that it’s supposed to be sometimes.  Also know, that it will get easier.  With every day that you put in the work, the easier it will be to eat the veggies, go to the gym, and chug the water.  And at some point, you’ll actually look forward to these things, not because of the number on the scale, but because you genuinely like the way that you feel.



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.

Labeled healthy

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Growing up, I was considered one of the athletic kids .  I spent 20+ hours at gymnastics each week, I was always picked to be Sporty Spice (even though I desperately wanted to be Posh), and while I outwardly complained about running the pacer test in gym, I secretly loved it.  And like most kids, I really didn’t care what I put into my body when it came to nutrition.  I would have happily traded my Lisa Frank trapper keeper had it meant that I could get five extra servings of those glorious cafeteria french toast sticks.  

Fast forward to college where I started to understand the value in nutrition.  Did I follow a nutrition plan?  No.  But I knew that going to bed earlier, skipping the shot at the bar, and eating a somewhat regular dinner could only help my athletic performance.  This is when I started to notice that while being an athlete was still cool, being healthy was not.  I was given a hard time for leaving the bar early or for skipping out on the trip to Dairy Queen.  Rather than defending my choices, I gave excuses.  “You guys go without me, I’m too tired” or “I really wish I could but I have to study” or “I am totally broke.  Go without me.”  I mean, all of those excuses were valid, but they weren’t the main reasons why I was opting out. 

The “health nut” comments and my excuses continued once I entered the working world. When I was given a hard time for ordering salad, I would brush it off by saying that I was still full from breakfast, even though a salad would probably have filled me up more than any other option on the menu.   When I got made fun of for carrying around my obnoxiously large water bottle, I justified it by saying that I was getting over a cold and needed to stay hydrated.  But at some point, I asked myself why I was going through all this trouble to “cover up” the fact that I was consciously making these choices simply because they made me feel good.  The simple answer?  Because to most people, being healthy is synonymous with being boring, rigid, and uptight.  And even if those are untrue stereotypes, nobody wants to be mistakenly categorized as “the health nut”.  At least I didn’t want to be.

It’s taken a long time, but I can finally say that I’ve learned to embrace the “healthy girl” label. And it hasn’t hurt that health is an “in thing” right now. Rather than giving excuses, I try to explain my choices, while totally recognizing that there is a fine line between being informative and being preachy or arrogant.  And if people are still taking digs, I have to remind myself that they are probably coming from a place of insecurity and probably some displaced curiosity.  

  

So what’s the point in sharing all of this, Liz?  Simply put, be proud of the decisions that you make regarding your health.  Your body is truly the only thing that is one-hundred percent yours in this life, so care for it.  Nourish it.  Be kind to it.  And who knows!  Maybe once you embrace your healthy quirks, whatever they may be, you’ll inspire someone close to you to make a healthy change in their own life.  Here’s to the health nerds.