A Yummy Win!

In the 1980’s, Professor Ancel Keys published the results of his investigation into cardiovascular death rates in different countries. He found death rates were low in Greece, southern Italy and Japan, and relatively high in the USA and Finland.

The Mediterranean Diet has certain types and amounts of food. If eaten consistently, it has been shown to reduce the risks of developing heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Following the diet has also been linked with a reduced risk of early death and has proven success for healthy weight reduction.

The Mediterranean Diet is rich in vegetables, fruit, peas and beans (legumes) and grains. It also contains moderate amounts of chicken and fish.  There is little red meat and most fat is unsaturated and comes from olive oil and nuts. Along with moderate exercise and not smoking, the Mediterranean Diet is a scientifically researched, affordable, balanced, and healthy lifestyle choice.

See the Mediterranean Food Pyramid below.

Mediterranean diet pyramid

The power of food is amazing, what a yummy way to help stay healthy!

Ajna – trust it!

Ajna, is the sixth chakra, also known as the third eye.  The Anja is the second spiritual chakra, it means “beyond wisdom”, this is the center of your intuition.  This chakra is located between the eyebrows, the pituitary glands, eyes, lower part of the brain and head are ruled by this chakra.    Opening this chakra allows lucid dreaming, telepathy, wide imagination and visualization.

Ajna is also referred to as our “sixth sense”.  We are taught to rely on our five senses, sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.  While each of these senses are important, when rely solely on what we can see, hear, taste, smell and touch, we limit our awareness.  Long ago, humans had to rely on intuition, over the years we’ve lost trust in our intuition and rely on what we “know”.

This chakra is best balanced through meditation and breathing or pranayama.  A tingling sensation after mediation is a sign that this chakra is beginning to open.  A breathing technique called “bee breath” can help balance this chakra.  This technique is done by closing the eyes and placing the middle fingers over the eyes, the pointer fingers over the eyebrows and pinkies fall at the cheekbones.  Inhale deeply, as you exhale make the sound “AUM”, emphasizing the “M” and making the sound like a bee buzzing.  This technique is typically done for about two minutes and can help alleviate headaches as well.

Yoga poses in which the forehead is pressed down also helps to balance the Ajna.  Practice the poses below to help open and balance your third eye, and trust your intuition!

Childs Pose

Dolphin Pose

Head to Knee Pose

 

Celebrate in style, a healthy style!

Yea!   Who doesn’t love a long holiday weekend?  Parties, BBQs and fireworks, they’re all part of our Independence Day celebrations.  Using the holiday as an excuse for a “pass” on you healthy habits will only lead to guilt, bloat, sluggishness and poor sleep.  Good news, you can have your cake and eat it too – well kind of………..

The first thing you need to do is to make a plan.  If you have a celebration to host or attend this weekend, make sure you have healthy choices available for the rest of the day.  Fill up on water and clean, whole foods, with lots of bulk.

When you arrive, greet your hosts and other guests and then check out the buffet.  Take it all in, making mental notes of the things you’d really like to try and the things you can do without.  Try to stay away from the snacky stuff, save your calories for the meal.  When it’s time to eat, choose 3-4 things that really interest you or that are your favs, take about half of what you think you’ll eat, grab a bottle of water, sit down and eat slowly – really enjoy the wonderful foods you may not get to eat often.  If you feel like you want a second serving, wait 20 minutes, get up and move around, if you’re still thinking about going back, go back and serve yourself small portions of 2 items and then resolve yourself to being finished.

OK, let’s move on to cocktails!  If you like to have alcoholic beverages on special occasions, go for it – but be smart about it!   I’ve mentioned it before – there  is a reason they call it a beer belly!  However, if beer is your drink of choice, try to choose a “low carb” brand.  The average number of calories in 1 bottle of beer is 154 – these add up quickly!  If wine is your  thing, think about making a refreshing wine spritzer.  A glass of white wine has 120 calories, if you top off 4 oz of wine with some club soda you’re looking at 80 calories – you just saved yourself 40 calories!  Red wine offers up 125 calories.  If you’re into mixed drinks – stick with light liquors rather than dark and watch your mixers!  Regular sodas and juices can jack up the calorie count – try to stick with water or club soda, or a little bit of both.  Frozen drinks are down right dangerous – 1, 12 oz Margarita hits you with 540 calories!  My point is, liquid calories can sneak up on us.  Know how many calories you’re pouring down your throat and remember moderation is key.  Not only can liquid calories add up fast, we tend to make poor choices when we’ve had too much, maybe not knowing when to stop or eating more food to help balance the blood sugar that is on a roller coaster.  I recommend alternating alcoholic beverages with water – this will help with hangovers as well:)

I’ve posted some recipes below that would be great to serve or bring to share, I hope you find something that looks good to you!

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/dinner/healthy-grilling-recipes/

I made these kabobs on Memorial Day – they were a huge hit!  Even with my 8 year old 🙂

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/guy-fieri/jerked-chicken-kabobs-recipe.html

http://www.cookinglight.com/food/recipe-finder/low-calorie-pasta-salads

I love berries with a little cool whip for dessert, but here are some good looking sweet treats!

http://www.delish.com/cooking/nutrition/g2615/low-calorie-dessert-recipes/

Have a great holiday!

 

 

Fiber – it does more than help you p**p!

Dietary fiber is probably best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. But foods containing fiber can provide other health benefits as well, such as helping to maintain a healthy weight, lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Dietary fiber includes the parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest or absorb. Unlike the other components of foods, such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates — which your body breaks down and absorbs — fiber isn’t digested by your body. Instead, it passes intact through your stomach, small intestine and colon and out of your body.

Fiber is usually classified as soluble, which dissolves in water, or insoluble, which doesn’t dissolve.

  • Soluble fiber – This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.
  • Insoluble fiber – This type of fiber helps food move through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, basically it helps you poop. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes, are good sources of insoluble fiber.

Benefits of a high fiber diet:

  • Normalizes and helps maintain bowel health – A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease). Some fiber is fermented in the colon. Researchers are looking at how this may play a role in preventing diseases of the colon.
  • Lowers cholesterol levels- Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol levels. Studies also have shown that high-fiber foods may have other heart-health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
  • Helps control blood sugar levels –  Soluble fiber can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels in diabetics. A healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Helps achieve and maintain a healthy weight – High-fiber foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods, so you’re likely to eat less and stay satisfied longer. And high-fiber foods tend to take longer to eat and to be less “energy dense,” which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.

It’s always best to get nutrients and dietary needs from whole foods.  Some people may benefits from supplements if they are constipated, however these supplements do not have any dietary nutrients.  Fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, whole grains and nuts/seeds are all good sources of fiber.

While high fiber foods are healthy, it is best to increase fiber intake gradually to avoid bloating, cramping and gas.  Don’t forget to drink up, fiber works best when it absorbs water.

Vishudda – the fifth chakra

The fifth chakra is called Vishudda or “Throat Chaka”.  This chakra is one of three spiritual chakras, when balanced it allows us to speak, listen and express ourselves on higher level.  The physical areas controlled by this chakra include the jaw, neck, mouth, tongue, thyroid and parathyroid.

A balanced Vishudda allows us to express our authentic selves.  It can be difficult to really express your truth, we fear judgment, upsetting or not being accepted by others.  Our chakras work together, so balancing the lower chakras will help open your throat chakra and make you feel more comfortable expressing yourself.  Balancing the first and second chakras will help our feel more grounded and overcome fear.  Our third chakra helps us to become more confident and powerful.  Our forth chakra allows us to feel what is in our heart.  When all of these chakras are aligned, it is then that our balanced Vishudda allows us to verbalize our needs, desires and opinions.

Yoga poses that help balance our throat chakra are poses that open or strengthen the front or back of the neck.  Try the poses below to help balance and open this chakra.

Plow pose – weight is on the shoulders, not the neck in this pose.

Fish pose – the weight it on the forearms, head is hovering above the ground, no weight on the head.

Cobra pose – be mindful of your low back in this pose, modify with “baby cobra” if necessary.

Baby cobra

Camel pose – this can be an intense back bend, it is a great throat and chest opener – one of my favs!  This pose can be modified by placing the hands on blocks or the low back instead of bringing them to the heels.

Loosen up – those tight hamstrings can be a pain – literally!

Tight hamstrings are, unfortunately, a common problem.  When these large muscles are strained or tight it can lead to pain or injuries in other parts of the body such as the low back, hips and knees.

Tight hamstrings can be caused by foot wear, specifically high heels, running, tightness in the hip flexors, pelvic tilt or can just be from the way we’re built.

Stretching these muscles correctly can help avoid pain and injuries to other areas.  Try the poses below to help lengthen and stretch the hamstrings.  Remember poses should never be painful, but you want to push your edge.  It is also important not to lock your knees while practicing these poses, maintain a soft microbend.

Forward fold

If your hands reach the floor, simply rest them in front of the feet.   If your hands do not reach the floor, grab the opposite elbow and allow the upper body to hang.  Be sure to fold at the hips and not the waist.

Triangle pose

If you cannot touch the floor without bending the knee, Place a block on the floor and rest the hand on the block to modify.

Seated forward fold

This pose can also be modified by using a strap.  Loop the strap around both feet and pull yourself down until you feel a moderate stretch down the backs of the legs.

Reclining hand to big toe

Again, this pose can be modified by using a strap.  Loop a strap around one foot, extend the leg up, knee bent to start, then straighten the leg gently until you feel a moderate stretch down the back of the leg.

As always, listen to your body.  If you are experiencing any pain consult your physician.

 

Talk is cheap!

Most of us have done it, talked about the day we will start our “diet” and made excuses as to why we couldn’t stick to it.  Well, diets have a beginning and an end, this is why they typically do not work.  Eating healthfully needs to be a lifestyle, not something you do until you lose 10 lbs and then go back to how you ate before.

I’ve developed a lifestyle program to help individuals stop talking the talk and start walking the walk.  My 8 week “Walk the Walk” program is a program in which individuals make small, reasonable changes that have a big impact on their health and well-being.

Individuals receive personalized dietary goals each week as well as have access to a private group Facebook page where they can find relevant articles, information, recipes and motivation, all of which are designed to help them reach their personal goals.

Whether you’re looking to live a healthier lifestlye, sleep better, have more energy or lose weight, my program can help!

Check out the pics below of two participants who both lost 20+ lbs with my program.  Follow my link to read more information on the program and how it works, then email me to reserve your spot for the next session which begins May 1st – let’s do it!

http://www.staybalancedyoga.com/walk-the-walk.html