Tuesday, October 17, 2017

How to combat sugar cravings

How do I deal with sugar cravings?




This is one of the most frequently asked questions I encounter as a Holistic Nutritionist

It's such a common hurdle for so many people, and unfortunately, the answer isn't as simple as some people hope it to be.
I use a Holistic approach to all that I do. And in doing so, the firs step is to zoom the lens back in order to find the WHY behind the issue. I am never satisfied finding a quick solution for someone, nor will their changes be long-lasting. Any solution will never be effective until the root cause of the challenge itself is explored and tackled first.

So here are some of the most common reasons people have intense sugar cravings to begin with. Have a read through and see if any ring true for your own life.


1. High Stress
Stress causes many hormones to be secreted in the body (typically in excess), one of which is cortisol. Excess cortisol creates many imbalances in the body, but in the case of sugar specifically, over time it will cause dysregulation in your blood sugar levels , creating more intense cravings to keep blood sugar levels elevated. Sugar also stimulates serotonin, which gives us an immediate feeling of satisfaction and relaxation, which is something (of course) that we tend to crave more of.


2. Yeast Overgrowth
Due to excessive stress, poor food choices and perpetual high sugar/high carb choices, oftentimes I see clients with something called Candida, which is a yeast overgrowth in the body. Candida grows by feeding on sugar, and therefore will create cravings to get more of it.

3. Lack of Magnesium
Stress actually causes a depletion of an important mineral in the body - magnesium. (yes, stress is a contributing factor to a TON of health issues!). A strong craving for chocolate specifically is a good indication of this deficiency, and until you give your body what it's actually needing (magnesium), you will continue to have strong cravings for chocolate.


4. Low blood sugar
When we are dealing with low blood sugar, our body craves sugar. Our brain functions on glucose (which comes from food), and it becomes an emergency situation when levels drop. Why do they drop? They do so because of high sugar diets (creating a spike, hormones are secreted to reduce that spike, then levels drop quickly), and also from waiting too long to eat. A steady supply of glucose is required to keep our blood sugars regulated, eliminating a need for cravings. (so stop skipping meals!!!).


5. Low fat or protein diet
If your diet is low in fat and/or protein, chances are good that it's higher in carbs. Carbs create large blood sugar spikes, resulting in low blood sugar. Fats and proteins also slow down the rate of absorption of foods, maintaining and more steady supply of blood sugar. A diet low in fat and/or protein is highly likely to create many sugar cravings because of this.

6. Not drinking enough
Lack of hydration creates lots of imbalances within the body. If you have those times when you crave SOMETHING but aren't even sure what and you start eating a bunch of random things without ever feeling satisfied, it's likely that you just need more water.


Of course there are other reasons we might be craving sugar - adrenal or thyroid imbalances, fatigue or lack of sleep, PMS are some of the other common reasons you might be craving sugar.

So now what?

Hopefully you've identified your issue(s), or at least brought an awareness to some possibilities.
Your first step will be dealing with your WHY behind the cravings. Do you need to spend more time relaxing? Drinking more water? Eating more regularly? Eating more fats or proteins? (hint: good fats include nuts or nut butter, avocado, and oils such as coconut, EVOO, avocado and grapeseed)

Start there.

Then, once you've addressed what you think to be your root cause, you can add on the following:

1. Drink some water
2. Drink an herbal tea and add a bit of honey
3. Make a quick, sweet alternative. Here is a recipe for a quick energy ball that should satisfy the craving - double benefit is that it contains a decent amount of healthy fat
4. Eat a piece of dark chocolate
5. Eat a protein or fat source


I hope you found this helpful!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Is it really yours to carry?

I taught a yoga class a few weeks ago and had to hold back my tears much of the class. During savasana especially, I was overwhelmed with a heaviness through my chest, and a deep need to cry uncontrollably. After I brought the women out of savasana and concluded the class, I casually mentioned that if anyone was feeling really sad, to please go home to cry and let it all out. It turns out, one of the girls had recently (and suddenly) lost a pet that had been a huge part of her life. This information confirmed my suspicion - that the deep sadness I was feeling wasn't mine.



Being a yoga teacher, reiki and reflexology practitioner, I have been taught how to ground myself to avoid taking on other people's "stuff," yet it's a practice I have been neglectful of, believing I was immune to other's energy (sometimes I'm like that, you know, I think the rules don't apply to me).

Then I got to thinking about this incident. I didn't just feel sad during that class, I felt like I was being crushed under the weight of deep grief. Every cell in my body was bathed in sorrow. It was a lot to feel so suddenly.

And that made me wonder. How much of my life have I been taking on other people's emotions? How much of my anxiety, fear, sadness, lonliness....was never mine to begin with? I suspect the answer is this:

a fuck-load of it.


Could this, perhaps, be the case for you as well?


I have a new mantra these days.
Any time I feel anxiety, sadness, anger, hurt, fear, overwhelm, frustration....I pause. And I close my eyes and silently say, "this isn't yours to carry Rachel."



I repeat it slowly if I need to, but I always feel a huge shift in my emotions and thoughts. I actually feel a physical release, like a weighted vest removed from my body.
And I can move on, without the load that was never mine to carry in the first place.

Next time someone around you is angry or upset, I want you to tune into your own body and emotions for a check. Do you start to feel tense? Does your breath quicken? Do you feel yourself shutting down? Does your energy begin to plummet?

These are all signs that you've taken on their energy.

Ask yourself how much of other people's shit you take on. If I had to guess, I would say that a decent amount of what causes you stress or overwhelm was never your stuff to begin with.

And if you find this to be true, try out my mantra and let me know how it goes.
Awareness is the first step. Actively working at re-wiring both your mindset and your response is the next step.

How much lighter will you feel if you could let go of everyone else's stuff?
After all, how can you fly with wings that feel like stone?

xoxox

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Greatness

I love the concept of Greatness.

I probably first became familiar with it as a personal attribute a few years ago when I purchased Robin Sharma's "The Greatness Guide" as a gift for my Grandfather. I had followed Robin Sharma for a good 12 years before this point, as he was someone my Mom highly recommended and respected.
Greatness.
It sounded so cocky to me.

But then I started thinking about greatness through a different lens altogether, and the definition, for me, incorporates multiple characteristics:
More than average.
Authentic living.
Living your passion.
Designing your life.
Always striving for more (while simultaneously being content with where you are)




Mediocrity is something that has always frightened me. Well maybe not always. But back in 2004 it became a concept that entered my awareness. After the very sudden passing of my Mom, I decided (consciously or unconsciously I'm still not sure) that I would not live a mediocre life. I will not be an average person who is willing to settle for what feels comfortable. I would not be a bystander in my life, I would be an active participant. I would set big goals and achieve them. I would dream big and embrace possibility. I would inspire & lead and be the person I wanted to be - patient, kind, giving, but also determined, driven, motivated, and relentless in the pursuit of joy. I believed that my vow to live from a zone of greatness would give my Mom's life meaning. I could make her proud. I could show the world how great of an influencer she was on me. I could use her wisdom and example to continue inspiring the world, even though she was no longer here. And when it was my time to go, I would have no regrets or wonder, as I feared she perhaps did. I would improve the quality of my own life to make up for the limited quantity of time she had on this earth.

Lewis Howes is a another big influencer on me. He hosts a podcast called "The School of Greatness," which I listen to just about daily: while I'm in the kitchen, in the gym, cooling down after a run or folding laundry (more on that in a minute). He interviews influencers from all over the world, digging into how and why they are living a life of greatness, from their daily habits, to mindset and routines.

This idea has been evolving in me and I find myself surrounded by it on a daily basis.

I was recently enjoying a latte with a friend of mine and I was discussing the things that bring me joy. In my business, I shared that the best part of what I do in working with women, is the evolution I get to witness through my time with them. They begin hesitant, unsure and a little fearful as their journey of nutrition and fitness begins. Over time, I begin to see (and feel!) ambition, confidence, excitement and assurance.
Empowerment. (greatness!!)
They begin to realize that they are strong, capable and worthy. And holy shit, that aura of power is unlike any other.

My deepest passion is guiding women to this place through tools, encouragement, tough love, accountability and unwavering support. A good friend of mine recently shared a quote that resonated with her, "you cannot transmit wisdom and insight to another person. The seed is already there. A good teacher touches the seed, allowing it to wake up, to sprout, and to grow." ~ Thich Nhat Hahn

How could I possible encourage my clients to be outside their comfort zone in order to find greatness, if I myself, wasn't doing the same? How could I understand the discomforts of evolution and transformation if I, myself, haven't been through it as well? I am only able to reach these seeds within my clients but aligning my life with what I value. They see that and feel that.



I wanted to share with you the top tools or practices that I feel have guided me onto this path of living in the zone of greatness. (keeping in mind, I will forever be evolving, growing and learning. We're in this together).


But first, let me share a quote I came across the other morning on Instagram via Mastin Kipp:

"There is greatness within you.
To release it, work each day to face your fears and push yourself further than what's comfortable. Greatness is forged through challenge."


Let's begin there.

1. Challenge yourself. Daily.
You will never know what you are capable of until you are willing to try things you assume are too hard for you. In fitness, this is easy. Lifting heavier than you think, running a couple minutes longer than you think you can...you get the idea. In life this can simply translate into goal setting. I'm obsessed with goal setting. For me, these goals give meaning to my day. I can set my goals up and align everything else with them to ensure success.
What are some goals you can begin setting for yourself?

2. Face your fears. Often.
Hey comfort zone? Fuck off.
That's where we're at with concept #2. Fears are learned behaviors that tend to keep us in a safe little comfort zone, where we don't get to experience new things or explore new worlds. Lame if you ask me.
Being outside your comfort zone is the only way you can expand your life, and reiterate the fact that you are a multi-passionate person with endless possibilities, talents and interests.
Write down 10 things that you have wanted to do or been curious about, but have been halted by fear, anxiety or uncertainty.
Set a timeline, and start checking those bad boys off.

3. Keep your heart open. No matter what.
When we close off our heart, we think we're closing off potential hurt and heart ache. Yet, much like spot training, we cannot choose what we close off, and inevitable also end up closing off opportunities to connect, love, share and fully enjoy people and experiences. It is through vulnerability and expansion that we allow deep peace, joy and abundance trickle into our lives. We connect with others at a deeper level, we learn to find growth through challenges, and learn to connect deeply to the center of who we are...if we can just keep our hearts open. More on this in a later post.

4. Align Your Life.
My bread and butter. This concept lights me up like nothing else.
First, decide how you want your life to FEEL and LOOK.
Second, set some short and long term goals that act as stepping stones to getting you there.
Third, create actionable steps to achieve these goals.
All while being true to the first step.
For example. Say I want to feel FREEDOM in my life. My goal is to create and accept work that allows me to feel that way. Someone offers me a weekly yoga class to teach Saturday mornings at 11:00, for minimal pay. What to do?
Well..first off, Saturday mornings are typically my time with my kids. It's a day of the week we can sleep in, take our time and just slow down. If I took the class, I would give this up, throw a wrench in basically all of Saturday itself since I'd scramble for a sitter, drive, teach, drive, then it would be nap time for my little one, meaning we'd only have a few hours after he wakes up to spend together. Does this scenario, despite additional pocket money, lead me to feeling freedom? No. It feels more like a box to me. So my answer is "no, but thank you for the offer."
Alignment. Authenticity. Boundaries. Learning to say no and learning to say yes. Be that one who walks her talk.

5. Learn. Expand. Grow.
Remember when I was talking about Lewis Howes' podcast? This is an example of how I am constantly tapping into new knowledge. I listen to podcasts every opportunity I can, I read articles online, or highlight books about a topic I'm interested in learning more about. I dive deep into discussion with those around me who inspire me, tapping into their thoughts, ideas and mindset. I like to try new things as often as I find the opportunity. For example, I just signed up to take a SUP yoga class in a couple weeks. It's like stepping outside your comfort zone, without perhaps the fear and hesitation. Be mindful of opportunities for expansion in your life, and seek them with an open heart.

I hope you find these tidbits of ideas helpful.
Feel free to add your own (and share with me!)

xoxo
Rachel

Friday, July 21, 2017

Why I Am So Invested In My Health (and why you should be too)

Lately I've had this discussion with a few different clients/friends.

So, I'm a healthy person. I eat clean foods and limit processed foods. I actively work at reducing the toxic load in our home by not using chemicals. I make our own cleaners and body products. I don't wear perfume or makeup. I put a lot of care in the quality of products I put both on and in my body. I do the same for my children. I move my body in a way that feels good every single day. That may include weight lifting, hill running, volleyball, golf, hiking or yoga. There are certain things I refuse to consume or buy for my children, such as pastries, white bread, pop, frozen dinners, most cookies and crackers, and most granola bars. I'm very selective about the things that go into my grocery cart and into my home.

And you know the sad truth about all this?
I'm seen as someone outside the norm.
I'm the abnormal one.



And I have a hard time wrapping my head around that.



I teach workshops at a local cancer support center every month. I am highly passionate about my time there and the energy that circles all these people who have faced their own mortality in a way I cannot fathom. It's inspiring. And you know what I say every time I am there?

Be an advocate for your health.

And you know their response? A resounding "hell yes!" (or something along those lines). It is something they have learned through facing the possibility of death sooner than they had hoped or expected. It is something they wish they could go back and understand before their diagnosis.

See...in this fast paced society we have completely forgotten about the fact that our bodies are our vehicles in this life to carry us through the world. We treat them like shit and get angry when they don't work properly. And we find the quickest, easy fix to patch it up and continue abusing the heck out of it - through drugs, alcohol, a shit ton of food, sugar, processed chemicals...and so on. We loathe who we are because we are embarrassed of the reflection we see in the mirror. Yet our behaviour and choices are what lead us to that reflection in the first place. It's not our body's fault. It's ours. So what do we do out of frustration and resentment? We abuse our body some more. Through crash dieting. Through self loathing. Through starvation. Through working out excessively. Through diet pills. Through extreme detoxes. Through overeating illness-promoting foods. Through(insert your own current or past abusive behaviours here).

It's so sad to me. And infuriating.

There's a child in this world whose legs were just amputated because of disease. Or war. He or she would give anything for one more opportunity to run down the road freely. Yet we sit on the couch for hours, or take the elevator, or park as close as we can to a building. Just so we don't have to walk.

There is a Mother in this world who was just given the news that she has 3 months left to live. She holds her child closely, wishing with every fiber of her being that she could live just 5 more years to watch her precious baby grow. Yet we smoke, do drugs, use chemicals or stuff our faces with crap, knowing the effects on our health, knowing the carcinogenic effects of such habits. We play Russian roulette with our lives through the destructive choices we make.

For the love of God, it needs to end.

Our bodies are incredible and we need to make time every single day to find gratitude for all it does for us.

How lucky am I to hop out of bed, go for a run, lift heavy things and feel good?
How awesome is it that my body carries me on field trips with my kids, and to the park to play freely with my children?
I can climb, hike, play volleyball, wrestle my kids, practice handstands, kick a ball, and jump around.
I use my body to teach yoga and fitness classes to amazing women who fill my life.



Holy fuck I am blessed. I remind myself of these things daily. I am humbled even more so when I pass by a wheelchair, or someone who clearly struggles to move unrestricted. I have freedom in my body. And I'll be damn sure to both appreciate and honour that as long as possible.

This is why I am an advocate for my health. I have seen the effects caring for my body has on my every day life - energy, lighter moods, clear skin, a vibrant aura, strength, stamina, resistance to illness, quicker recovery, regulated thyroid levels, better ability to manage stress....(shall I continue?)

In working with so many women, I also see the effects of not being a conscious health advocate: low energy, mood swings, depression, anxiety, frequent illness, disease, weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, infertility, and the list goes on. I have mentioned this lots in the past but my Mom died in 2004 of lung cancer. She didn't take care of her health. And the consequences of that have been more impactful than I could ever put into words.

Our health is (mostly) in our control. We seem to have this belief that fate, or genetics are what determines the course of our well-being and that simply is not the case. There are so many actionable steps you can take to ensure your days are not only extended, but full of vibrancy, joy, energy and vitality. It isn't normal to feel sluggish or irritated on a regular basis. If you only knew the possibilities and power your body holds...you would never again disrespect it or take it for granted.

It all begins with gratitude, awareness and a vow.

To be kind.
To be loving.
To be patient.
To make choices from love.
To be the best version of you that you are capable of being.



Repeat and rinse every single day, and feel the abundance of energy and joy that floods into your life.




Monday, July 10, 2017

Empowerment or Validation?

Empowerment: the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights (Google Search)

Empowerment is a concept I hold close to both my life and the work I do. Underneath all that I do, this term underlies it all. I strive to experience it as often as I can, and strive to provide both tools and space for my clients to feel it in their own lives as well.

I had an incredible experience a few weekends ago. I participated in my fourth Spartan race (third time for the Super, I've also done the Beast). Every year I train a group of women who want to push their limits and test their strength. We drive the couple hours up together and split off into similar abilities, and work together to get through the 13K challenge. It is seriously one of the highlights of my year every single year. There is nothing like the sisterhood that develops, and the deep respect for one another that inevitably happens through facing obstacles that challenge both body and mind.
This year, instead of running with the group, I decided I would just venture off on my own to see what I was capable of doing on my own. So we began race by hiking up the first of MANY black diamond hills, and tackled the first obstacle (a wooden wall), before I took off.



After dealing with the effects of a sluggish thyroid and high stress that had affected my appetite on and off for months, I was concerned. I promised myself I would push hard but not to the point of sacrificing my health. I would rest when I needed to.
So, with that vow to my body, off I went. I crawled and ran through mud, pulled my body weight over walls, carried a log over my shoulder up a hill, dragged heavy things, lifted, pulled, heaved, climbed…and felt surprisingly good. When I began feeling a big sluggish halfway through the race, I dug into my Camelbak and ate some energy chews. Immediately I felt better and more energized. My feet went back to running.

For every obstacle skipped or missed, you have to do 30 burpees. I came to the javelin and knew burpees were coming. In the years of doing this race, I haven’t once even come close to landing that one. I grabbed the stick (I'm sure there's a more technical term) with 2 hands, set the rope up on the other side of the barrier, envisioned a clean hit and threw as hard as I could. I watched the stick sail through the air and hit the middle of the hay bale. I did it! I cheered aloud for myself and gave a random guy high five and ran past the line up of people doing their burpees. Shortly thereafter I came to the monkey bars. The dreaded monkey bars that I almost pass every year but always slip off near the end.

I climbed atop the hay bale under the first bar and asked the girl behind me for a boost. Even with a jump I wasn’t able to reach the first one. Hanging on to the first bar, I looked to the end, took a deep breath and silently whispered “you’ve got this Rachel. You can do hard.” The people beside me started dropping off like flies while my eyes focused on the bell at the end. One bar at a time. I swung madly from one bar to the next, and before I knew it, I swung at the bell that marked the end and whooped along with its sound. I did it! I again, cheered loudly for myself and continued on.

The whole race went that way. Up those dreaded black diamonds that tortured my hamstrings, I kept putting one foot in front of the other and kept going. I passed buff men who had to pull aside to break. I passed girls 10 years younger than me who could no longer breathe. Steady paced, eventually I hit the top and didn’t require a break, not even once. At the top I walked for 30 seconds or so to recover and went back to running.



In the end, my goal was 3 hours.
I crossed the finish line in 2:26:54
Of my age group, I was 3rd of 103
Of my gender, I was 8th out of 531
Overall, of 1416 people, I was 122.

I was (and am) insanely proud of these numbers. And while I don’t love numbers, and don’t promote valuing your worth by numbers, these ones…make me feel amazing. I killed it. I totally killed it. Despite some health concerns. Despite feeling as though I’m not in the best shape.

And I am fueled. I have not felt this empowered in a very long time.


Here I am – 36 years old. I have 3 children. I am a busy Mama and business owner. I don’t have a trainer, nor did I specifically train for this event. Yet evidently, I am in the best shape of my life. And I know I could have even managed a faster time had I understood what I am capable of (seems like an ongoing lesson for me - to quit underestimating myself!.

Then I got thinking about the things that empower me. There have been a few that stand out:

This race and all the races I have done, similar to this. There is seriously nothing like crossing the finish line after a lengthy struggle (metaphor for life, right? There's nothing better than the good that comes from the flames of hardship).

Giving birth to my 3 children without drugs. I followed my body’s cues and managed through the experiences without a tear, or a single intervention for any of them.

Competing in a fitness competition. I trained hard for a good year and stepped on stage with a bunch of girls much younger than me. I had a 4-year-old and an 18 month and I stood on stage, alone, in a skimpy bikini, feeling amazing.

Anytime I serve my clients, whether that be through classes or workshops. The energy starts to flow through me and I feel incredibly full and blessed.

Empowered. It’s a feeling I NEED to have and it’s a feeling I strive to bring to all the women I work with. There is no better way to fuel passion and spark inspiration. And it trickles into the hearts of everyone around you.

Then I think about validation, and lately have been researching the lines between the two.
Validation is confirmation of worth. It comes from external sources. It's effects are short term, requiring further validation for the same "high."
Empowerment is internal. It's effects are longer lasting.
Let's give an example.

Me running the race and getting through those obstacles on my own, using my own strength, will and determination by believing in myself and telling myself I can do it is an example of empowerment.
Me posting my results on Instagram, waiting for the likes and comments from others so I can feel good about myself - that's validation. Needing someone to compliment me to feel good about myself and confirm my worth.

Which do you think ends up filling and which ends up depleting? It's obvious, isn't it?

So what's the strategy here? Simple.
Do more of what empowers you and less of what causes you to seek validation

List out all the things you have done that made you feel good about yourself that did NOT require a word or gesture from anyone else to affirm your belief and confidence in yourself.

When do you feel strong?
When do you have lots of energy?
What is something you do that you would do even if you were a millionaire?

Immerse yourself in these things. Over time, you will notice your need for validation decreases while the effects from empowerment increases. Before you know it, you'll be riding a steady high. And it will all come from within.

Everything you need is already within you.

Know this.
Feel this.
Honour this.
And nurture the shit out of this.

Know your worth and your capability. Accept nothing else.



Friday, April 28, 2017

Supplements taken by a Holistic Nutritionist

I am FINALLY getting the chance to get this blog post done. It's been a long time coming. Back at the beginning of March I shared a photo of myself on Facebook, talking about how much hair I now have after taking my supplements religiously for a month. A few weeks later I showed another picture of me with even more hair . I've always had thicker hair but I had begun to notice how ridiculously thick and long it had gotten in a short period of time. Not exactly what I wanted, but I also know that one of the key indicators of health is the health of your hair (along with skin and nails). I've received loads of questions on what I'm taking, so here it all is:

1. doTerra's Microplex VMz
Loaded with vitamins and minerals, this supplement is meant to support overall daily wellness. It contains loads of antioxidants to help support the immune system and helps ease digestive upsets. This is also formulated with a digestive enzyme blend and contains a blend of kale, dandelion, parsley, kelp, broccoli, brussels sprout, cabbage, and spinach

2. doTerra's Alpha CRS+
This supplement is meant to support DNA functioning through antioxidants. Good for mental clarity, brain functioning, immune functioning and cellular stress. doTerra's blend includes potent amounts of powerful polyphenols including baicalin from scutellaria root, resveratrol from Polygonum cuspidatum, ellagic acid from pomegranate, proanthocyanidins from grape seeds, curcumin from turmeric root, and silymarin from milk thistle to help support healthy cell function


3. doTerra's xEOMega
Healthy omega fats are one of those things we do not get enough of in our diet. Important for heart health and circulation, immunity, healthy joints, hormone regulation, and healthy brain, eyes and nervous system functioning. doTerra's blend is a unique formula of CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® essential oils and a proprietary blend of marine and land-sourced omega fatty acids.



4. doTerra's Mito2Max
Energy, energy, energy! I workout 6 days a week right now, sometimes twice a day, and on top of the 3 supplements above, I attribute a portion of that energy and stamina to this supplement. Mito2Max promotes efficient production of ATP in the mitochondria of cells, enhances stamina and efficient use of oxygen, supports metabolic adaptation for diverse activities and improves mental energy


5. Genestra's HMF Super Powder
Probiotics are a MUST for anyone. Due to poor food choices, stress, antibiotics and other medications, the condition of our gut flora sucks. Since 80% of our immune system and 95% of our serotonin production are found in the gut, it is imperative we care for it. This is one myself and kids take every single day. I get this particular brand from my ND, and she rotates me between this one and another brand (that I can't quite think of right now). It's important to get as many strains of bacteria as you can through probiotics, so rotating them is a good idea. I always recommend going through a ND to ensure you receive a good quality product. Genestra is one that I love.

6. doTerra's Terrazyme
I don't take this one daily, but I take it if I'm eating something I know my body isn't excited about and has difficulty digesting (like pizza, breads, chicken). This supplement is a blend of whole-food enzymes and supporting cofactors that help strengthen the body's production of enzymes which is important in the process of healthy digestion of food nutrients and cellular metabolism of nutrients to energy



Other supplements I take include:
Vitamin D - only during the months I don't see the sun as much. Otherwise I try to spend as much time outside as possible.

Zinc lozenge - as soon as I feel anything illness-wise coming, I suck on one or two of these a day. Zinc is amazing for the immune system

BCAAs - this one is related to weight lifting. Coming in powdered form, I dump a scoop into a large shaker of water and drink before, during and right after my weight training session. I rarely deal with sore muscles despite making gains. BCAAs are great for muscle recovery and growth

Protein Powder - I typically add a scoop of powder to a large bottle of water and drink right after a workout. I love Vega's Sport Performance brand for this purpose as they include BCAAs designed to support the body after a workout. For an all around health supporting drink though, I do like Vega's all-in-on nutritional line. There are a variety of flavours, but I tend to stick with vanilla. For those local, they often have Vega on sale at Zehr's. I believe Costco carries a couple choices as well.



So, there it is.
If you are looking to order any of the doTerra supplements, you can order through
http://mydoterra.com/rachelneill


If you are having trouble navigating or have further questions, shoot me an email: rachelsfitnessandwellness@gmail.com

I hope that was helpful1

Monday, April 17, 2017

Potential & Drive

One of the most frequently asked questions I come across is "how do you stay motivated?" In typical fashion, many of the people I see come to me, driven and excited about the possibility of working out, getting strong and being healthy. At some point the excitement wanes, results aren't coming quickly enough, and they just give up to some degree or another.

One thing I've learned through training for a fitness competition is self-motivation and drive. I think drive is something that, internally, is enduring. But externally is fleeting. Those who come to me telling me they want to lose weight because their husband made a comment about her weight and how gross she was getting (true story...I should have throat punched him), I know that, unless she is able to find her worth through the process of working with me, her determination will not last. Drive that comes from another person will never sustain the drive necessary for results.

I have defining moments in my life that helped flourish my drive. And the amazing thing about drive, is that once you catch a glimpse of your potential through it, it strengthens and grows and becomes ingrained in who you are and what you stand for. It makes you hungry for more.

As for working out, I am consistent because I have a variety of motivations, some positive and a couple maybe not so much:

I feel proud when I workout.
I love feeling strong.
I love the way my body looks and feels when I'm consistent in my workouts.
I love the release of stress I physically and emotionally feel when my body is working hard.
I love the confidence that comes from caring for my body.
I love knowing my kids are being influenced by these choices and hope they will care for themselves as they get older.

Not so positive reasons?
Sometimes I avoid feeling emotionally. I'd rather feel my muscles and feel the hard through my body rather than my heart.

I want to look good naked. Although in all honesty, while I know this can be seen negatively by others, I see it as a positive. I want to show off my hard work. I want to show off my pride. I want to display my effort. I want to feel awesome in my own skin. This to me feels like freedom, one of my core desired feelings for my life.

One thing I found through my competition, is that the biggest barrier between us and success in the fitness world is the idea of options. The trouble is having a scheduled gym day and talking ourselves out of it. It's that slim window of choice that fucks us up. Because it's in that space that fear and doubt creep in and those bastards sure can be loud and convincing, can't they?

You're not worth this time.
You'll never look hot in shorts.
Everyone at the gym will stare at you.
You should just sleep instead.
This isn't working, you're still fat.


And those voices will keep you stagnant as long as you allow them to. They'll keep you inactive and stuck in a level of comfort that prevents you from witnessing your potential.

What keeps me in the gym day after day is that I don't give myself a choice (unless I'm actually not well). It just is what happens every day. I don't question it or hesitate, I just go. I have my workouts pre-planned so that those moments of coming up with a plan can't disguise the voice that'll talk me out of it. There isn't an option for me, this is just what I do. Just like brushing my teeth is something that happens right when I wake up, working out just happens before my kids wake up. It just is. I don't complicate it by thinking otherwise or allowing myself the option. It just is.

It is reported that Albert Einstein wore a version of the same grey shirt every single day because he didn't want to waste brain power on choosing an outfit every morning.

Mark Zuckerberg wears a similar outfit everyday consisting of a grey t-shirt as well. When questioned on it, he stated, "I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community."

Steve Jobs followed the same approach with his choice in black turtlenecks.

They get it. Decision making requires energy, cognitive dissonance, frustration and conscious attention. I take the same approach with working out. I don't think about it, it just happens. I plan my workouts once a week, spending 10 minutes doing so. For the rest of the week I just get up, get it done and move on. My life isn't cluttered by deciding whether or not to do it.

I'm no math wizard but here's my formula for the three characteristics of success

Consistent Action = Drive = Potential
Awareness of potential = Drive = consistent action
Drive + Consistent action + awareness of potential = unlimited success

All three equal one another in some capacity. All three feed on one another and grow one another. Once you find one, the other 2 will flourish.
You just need to be patient.
And consistent.
And stop doubting yourself.
And stop listening to what others want of you.

This is for YOU and only you, and once you tap into your internal drive, your potential absolutely is limitless. And success inevitably will follow.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How to Develop & Grow Mental Grit

I'm currently training for a half marathon. It'll be my fourth one - about 4 years since my last. I don't necessarily LOVE running long distances. I find I get bored, my body gets annoyed and my mind just tells me to quit out of sake of monotony.
I was running 11.2K the other day (7 miles) and around the 8K mark I was just done. My hips were sore, my chest burning, and I was just tired. Tired of running. Tired of moving in the same way. But I kept plugging away and finished off the planned distance. I knew if I quit before the end, my next long run would mentally be twice as hard as it otherwise should be. That little voice reminding me of my shortcomings would be screaming in my ear.

This struggle to carry on took me back to the day I really started to run out of necessity. It was 13 years ago, about a week after I received the shocking news that my Mom had passed away. Devastation doesn't touch the surface of what I was feeling. I needed out of the pain, it was too much for me to feel all at once. So one day, on a walk, I began to run. It didn't last long so I alternated it with walking. More often than not. When my feet sped up, I felt slight reprieve from my pain and I became addicted. I needed to run. I needed the release, even if temporary, from my grief. I was aware of the wind rushing on my face, the sun warming my skin. I felt my heart pound and my breath race as my body struggled to figure out what was happening. The whole experience forced me into the present moment rather than the grief from recent news and desperate fear of what lie ahead.

It was then, in grieving for my Mom, that I learned how to strengthen my mind. The dictionary defines mental grit as "firmness of character; indomitable spirit." I like to think of mental grit as an ability to persevere regardless of the challenge. Or maybe BECAUSE of the challenge.

So while I likely started developing mental grit back when I was much younger, the first memory I have of specifically evolving my mind was back in June of 2004.

My body was out of shape. But my breaking heart made me run farther than I thought I could. I soon came to realize that I was capable of more than I knew. Mental grit was developing.

Over 13 years I have mastered the art of mental grit...though I'm still far from being a pro.

Being outside my comfort zone in the gym or on the pavement expands the circle of belief I have in my capability. I am constantly pushing harder, to prove to myself that the limits I have are only in my mind. Someone recently asked me why my hill runs aren't easy. After all I've been doing the same hill run for months and I always come back winded after a hard struggle. After thinking about it, I realized it's because I won't ALLOW it to be easy. If I feel comfortable I will speed up to challenge myself. I thrive on a good challenge. My body can only do what my mind will allow, and when the body is feeling done, that's when the mind has to be strong and carry on for the body.

This translates into the emotional life as well. When I am faced with something difficult, I know that I have what it takes to get through. And not just to get through but to THRIVE through.

Here are my top 5 tips for developing mental grit:

1. Be outside your comfort zone
Staying in a familiar zone of comfort will never open your eyes to possibility. Start pushing against the walls of comfort.

2. When you think you're done, keep going
This is really the only way you'll start strengthening your mind. By pushing past those times you think you are done, whether that be physically, mentally or emotionally. When you're working out and tell yourself you're done, give it a few more reps or a few more minutes.

3. Look for the lessons
When you're in the midst of a struggle, always look for the lessons. They are always there, and recognizing them will help keep the focus on that, rather than fear and feelings of failure.

4. Find gratitude
Again, to keep the focus on the positive and to keep your mindset in a good place, find gratitude and be thankful for whatever it is you are going through. Be thankful for the journey and all the beauty that comes from struggle and resiliency.

5. Celebrate your successes
Anytime you experience success, no matter how small, celebrate it in some way. Every time I finish a run, I say aloud, "good job Rachel,"and I take a minute or two to FEEL that pride I have for myself. Mental grit isn't about just pushing and pushing, it's also about pausing and thanking.


Remember, mental grit comes from within. Nobody else can give it to us. But with the proper soil, these seeds of resiliency and indomitable spirit will grow and flourish
xxoo

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Quick & Easy Healthy Energy Balls

I HAVE to share this recipe with you. It's a staple in my kitchen, I make a batch usually once a week and it never lasts the full week. Full of healthy fats, easy to transport and simple to customize, it makes the meal plan of pretty much every client I work with. So I wanted to share with you. They make a great pre-workout, post-workout or anytime snack. I love them when my sweet tooth hits. Ready for your tastebuds to be blown??


- 2/3 cup creamy nut butter (I like almond or peanut)
- 1 cup oats
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips (vegan or dark are my go-to)
- 2 T raw honey
- 1/2 cup whatever (this is the fun part!) I mix this up and like to play with different things. Some options:

flax seeds
hemp seeds
chia seeds
raisins
gogi berries
shredded coconut

Mix and match it up!

Just mix everything up in a bowl, roll into balls and place in the fridge or freezer. Seriously, that simple. And to save even more time, you can just press into a pan to make bars instead.

Let me know if you try this recipe out and what you think. I'm going to predict that you are pleasantly surprised!


xoxo Rachel

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Many Faces of Me

I recently came across this quote that I laughed out loud at:

Image result for i'm that chick that listens to gangsta rap

I laughed out loud because it sums me up pretty well.

I'll never forget the day I cursed during Bootcamp and the class gasped, as one of them commented that they'd never heard me swear before.
I was confused.
And wondered what kind of front I had been putting up until then.
A pretty good one apparently.

There is the side of me that is polite, quiet, shy, a rule follower and all about healthy habits, fitness, meditation, yoga and kindness. She's around 80% 90% of the time.

There is a side of me that is extremely competitive, impatient and impossibly hard on myself. I crank the music as loud as I can handle, the more "fucks" in the lyrics, the better. I can workout with fierce anger and focus that would scare small children away.


Part of me desires security and stability. The other part craves freedom.
Part of me wants to surround myself with uplifting people. Part of me wants to punch many people in the throat. Like the people who cut me off on the highway, or let the door close in my face without spending an extra 3 seconds to hold it open for me.
I mostly eat the healthiest foods I can get my hands on. There are other days I will binge eat chocolate and kid's granola bars.

And what I am learning lately is that freedom comes from being ME...the patient me and the impatient me. The straight laced Mama and the rebellious woman. The quiet girl and the girl who thrives on being in front of groups of people.

I've carried guilt with me for my "other side" showing up on a regular basis. The girl who desires to use the word "fuck" every third word because of the powerful feel the word carries. The girl who wants to eat shitty food and drink alcohol, for no other reason than she just gets tired of being good all the time. She wants to do something she knows doesn't fit within her moral compass, just to stick it to the rules, which often leaves her feeling boxed into life. The girl who feels like a caged rat and feels the stirring of rebellion that she recognizes from her teenaged years when she had less people to answer to.

Maybe I could be all of these people? Maybe being ME is about embracing whoever shows up at any given moment without questioning or judging? Could I just be a multi-passionate, multi-faceted human whose mood, thoughts, ideas, wants and desires are ever-changing?

What a concept. You mean I could be a whole bunch of different versions of me?

I recently created a presentation for a friend of mine who wanted me to explore the source of my peace and joy and what those terms mean to me (see the quality of people I surround myself with???). One of the realizations I had was that I have core values and beliefs that provide the foundation of my being. There are also things I know for sure fill my soul, that I need to spend as much of my time as possible engaging in.

Would you mind if I shared with you?

In working through Danielle Laporte's Desire Map earlier this year, I whittled down my 4 core values - specifically the FEELINGS I want to be encompassed by on a daily basis:

FREEDOM
PEACE
ABUNDANCE
JOY

Those are the ways I want to feel every second of my life. I don't want to be caged in, I want to feel free in my skin and in my life. I want to find peace and calm in my home and in my relationships. I want to experience abundance in every way - opportunities, friendships, finances, health. And I simply want to feel joyful, regardless of external happenings, and surround myself with those who can find joy in simplicity.

There are also specific things that bring me these feelings in a deep-rooted way:

serving others through classes and workshops
writing
reading
fitness
yoga
meditation
simple moments with my kids
time in nature
traveling
trying new things
learning new things

So what I know for sure is that the above are vital to my well-being and I will fiercely protect the things in my life that align with my highest values. I will embrace all the things that help create and ignite those feelings and shut the door on anything else.

But in between? In between all of the goal setting, personal development, morning routines and scheduled days...I want to just be me. Not the person I think other people expect me to be.

I have this perception of how this person should look. She should be kind and sweet. And quiet, always aware of other's needs. She should always do the right thing and aim to be better every day. She should tiptoe around others to make sure she doesn't upset their peace.

Interesting right? The control freak perfectionist also has a death grip on her behaviour. How surprising.

But lately I've been pondering this cute little box I've put myself into. Do I HAVE to sort through the cognitive dissonance that comes along if the version of ME that pops up isn't the typical me that I'm used to presenting?

So...here's to giving up what I think others expect of me.
And here's to embracing me.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Relaxing into (using LSD)

I love the life metaphors I stumble across during movement. I have already shared with you some of the bigger ones I've discovered while hill running. I have also discovered many through yoga, both in teaching and in my own practice. A few weeks ago my students were using a strap to make a particular pose more accessible.

I cued them to connect with their breath, and to use their exhales to allow space in their body to deepen the pose.
See, exhaling helps relax the body. When it comes to yoga, the body panics a bit when you're trying to stretch a muscle outside it's normal, everyday length. The muscle doesn't want to be ripped or pulled so you're prevented from lengthening it any more than feels comfortable. And as long as you are tense or stressed, forget it.

However....if you keep the breath slow and deep, activating the relaxation response, you will be able to deepen the pose. A long, slow, deep exhale sends a signal to the brain that everything is okay (because your body is in a relaxed state) and the accessibility of a stretch will be more available to you.

Feeling safe = relaxed = ability to move more effectively beyond your comfort zone


And this is so true for life too isn't it? The more you fight your comfort zone, the more you cling to it, fear it and panic when you become aware if it's nearing edges, the less likely you are to move beyond. But the more you relax into it, allow it to come and calmly push the walls of it out to expand it, the more likely you are to see the lessons, feel the freedom and evolve into a higher vibe version of you.

So how can you relax as you go through the discomforts of evolution in everyday life?
Just like in yoga, find your LSD breath - long, slow and deep. Breathing in as slowly as possible, noticing the filling of your belly. Pause when you can no longer draw in any more breath, then let it out as slowly as you can, noticing your belly collapsing. Pause once you've let go of all the breath you possibly can and begin the cycle again. Breathing this way sends your body the message that it is okay. It's the quickest way of reducing anxiety and reducing tension, providing you the space necessary to find gratitude, calm and peace. And it's the only way you will be able to expand that zone of comfort that's keeping you where you are.

So next time you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or fearful, try this breath for a good 5 minutes and observe what changes take place. A bonus of this tool is that nobody knows you're doing it, you can do it anywhere, anytime and costs absolutely nothing. But the benefits are huge.

Let me know how this goes for you.

xo
Rachel

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Life Lessons From Hill Running

I adore hill running. I could go run a 5K hill run no problem. Stick me on a flat ground, 5K feels challenging. I think I get bored. I feel stagnant, even when I change up my pace. Hill running brings me a great big high that I struggle to find many other places in life. I love the burning of my muscles. I live for the mental grit it takes to get through a giant hill. I seriously train my mind just as much (if not MORE) than my body on those hills. One of my BFFs always asks for a check-in after a hill run. She knows I always learn something out there. It's a deep meditation for me in that I gain clarity, awareness and poignant understanding of human nature and what constitutes a purpose driven life.

I thought I'd share a (long) reflective writing piece I wrote many months back after a strong and enlightening hill run while I was going through a tough time. When you're done reading, tell me - where do you find your high in life?


-----------------------



Grief. It’s something I’ve had to deal with many times. From death, to miscarriage, to the dissolutions of lengthy relationships that had held me together through difficult times. One of the best ways I have used the overwhelm from grief has been to push my body outside its comfort zone, providing a temporary recluse from intense pain.

My legs effortlessly carry me toward the hill as the breeze reminds me that my body is still moving. This run feels eerily easily. I guess in comparison to the trials and challenges my heart has been through lately, it is. I’m mostly unaware how I’ve managed to find myself a mile from my parked car. One step at a time I suppose. One foot robotically in front of the other while the clock inevitably passes time.
My chest is heavy, my heart buckling under the pressure of the past week. I slow down my pace to maintain control as I descend the hill, goosebumps exploding over my body as adrenaline kicks in, preparing me for the challenge ahead. For that I am grateful. I haven’t eaten enough to provide my body the energy to tackle this monstrosity, I have to rely on the hormones secreted through massive amounts of stress and heart ache to get me through this one.

Why that hill, my friends ask me. They are worried about my well-being, about the lack of self-care I’ve been showing myself lately. They worry I will collapse under the pressure of the demands I’ve been loading myself with, both physically and emotionally. I can’t explain it to them. I can’t go for just a regular run. It’s not enough. It’s not enough of a push. I am acutely aware of the fact that I need a big challenge right now. Because it is there that I will grow the most, will learn the most and it is there I am forced to dig deeper than normal in an effort to find pieces of me I don’t normally recognize in the passing of day to day life – a strength I cannot typically conceive of, determination that outweighs my lack of ability, motivation that is driven by my aching spirit.

I need the hills. It is there I am able to see who I am…stripped of comfort. Strip me bare, and only then can I recognize who I am.
My legs effortlessly carry me toward The Hill as the breeze reminds me that my body is still moving.

What goes down must come up. And at the bottom of the hill, I turn and look up; a sight that could potentially defeat anyone. But I’m not anyone. I can do hard. And as I feel my jaw set, I am aware of the fiery determination in my soul that not a hill, a situation, a setback, nor a person, can touch. Will ever touch. My brows knit together as I whisper aloud, "you got this."

For the past couple weeks the hill has been whispering to me:

1. Notice where you are
On this particular day I ran slow but I didn’t stop. I recognized my pace wasn’t where it normally was and I allowed that to be ok. Was it really a fluke that my watch died on the way to my run? No, because neither my time nor pace were important. I needed to let go of the end result so my focus could inevitably shift to experiencing the lessons along the way.

2. You are OK
Katy Perry’s lyrics “This is the part of me that you’re never gonna ever take away from me” got me through The Hill today. There is a part of everyone that cannot be taken. Cannot be broken. It’s the center to which I ground myself when the world is feeling shaky. This is where the foundation needs to be built. This needs to maintain my focus. Here I am okay.

3. Stop looking at the long haul
I look down at my feet a lot when I run The Hill. When I glance to the top of the hill I am acutely aware of how lengthy the journey still is. It can be a defeating view from down below, only the climb visible, knowing the struggle to come and unable to see beyond. When grieving, sometimes all you can do is look down and know that you are moving. One step at a time.

4. Speed doesn’t matter. Effort matters
One step at a time I was moving, and I needed to accept that for today, that’s all I had in me. And that had to be okay. Who gave a shit if I felt I could be lapped by a snail? I was still doing it. If I were to measure my success by my speed, I would be a failure. I choose to see my effort as a success and honour my body’s need to slow down today (much to my silent annoyance)

5. Keep faith
What keeps my feet moving when I struggle? Hope. Hope that over the top a better landscape will replace my current one. Hope that over the top I will see a beauty that lacks in the current place on that hill. Faith that as I approach the top I will find my worth along the journey. Sometimes it’s about letting go and holding onto nothing other than the invisible thread of faith

6. Move with the hurt
The Hill hurts. It hurts so much some days that my mind tells me I cannot do it. I often need to tell my mind to take a hike and that yes, I can do it. I WILL do it. My feet keep moving. Somehow. Someway. They keep trudging along. With the hurt, not from it. And that’s how I make it – IN it, not shrinking from it.

7. Evolution happens along the journey
Once I get to the top of The Hill, my lungs are burning, my legs are on fire and I can barely breathe. But I celebrate the victory. I came out a different person that I was on, and before The Hill.

Stronger
More confident
Aware of the power I possess.
Knowing I can do whatever the fuck I want. Despite the obstacles in front of me.

An evolution occurs that never could have, had I not been granted this opportunity to tackle The Hill.

We never know our strength and our power until we are forced to dig deeper than we ever have before. I should consciously do this more often. I need reminders of my power in this world sometimes.


8. Find Gratitude
I hate The Hill but I am also so grateful for it. On that hill I am capable of learning so much. In the space of pain and fear I am forced to face myself and question what matters. I am forced to look within, and find strength that nobody else can give me. Only me. During difficult times you have to be open to feel it for it, accept it, and use it to propel you forward.

Had that Hill not been there I would still believe I’m only capable of running short distances. I wouldn’t know the strength that lies within me. I wouldn’t know the expansion and growth that exist outside of my comfort zone.

So while the process of grief is anything but pleasant, exist with the awareness that you are evolving and find gratitude in whatever you can. Gratitude makes the journey worth something.

9. Be Gentle With You
There are times you want to quit. There are times you fall apart, as I did many times in the middle of The Hill. There will be times you quit, and that’s ok. Quitting is not the same as failing. Failing is not trying. These days need to be okay, because there will be days you DO find the strength to get up that Hill. And only then can you truly appreciate what you have and who you are. Only through loss can you truly be stripped clean, with the clear ability to see what really matters. Be gentle with you through the struggle, and be gentle with you through the triumphs.

10. Stay open & compassionate. Despite the hurt

Give:
Your love to others
Your kindness to strangers
Your gifts to the world
Your respect and appreciation to yourself
Give, and never stop:
Not when fear shows up, telling you there’s nothing better
Not when doubt creeps in, whispering “you’re not enough”
Not when rejection slams you to the ground, shaking your sense of self
Just keep moving. And loving. And giving.

11. Post-traumatic Growth
Why do some people flourish after setbacks while others wallow and self-destruct? In Psychology there is a concept of post traumatic growth which we don’t often hear about. We only hear about post-traumatic stress. But what if you could take your hurts and fears and bundle them into something that can serve the world in a good way? What if you could use those hurts to evolve yourself into a better, kinder, softer, gentler, more compassionate human being? This is what the Hill does to me while my feet move along its spine; it gently molds me into someone better.

For all these reasons and so many more - thank you Hill.
For all that you teach me about life, love, loss & resiliency. Sometimes I hate you with all that I am, but every day I will approach you with gratitude and respect for all that you teach me.




Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Calm & Strong


I taught a yoga class last week and the theme was "calm and strong." We did lots of challenging poses that I encouraged the women to feel calm and strong within.

I love yoga for so many reasons but one of them is for the parallels and metaphors that it shows me to life off the mat.

So the other night I had an interesting observation as the group was in Eagle pose (a challenging standing balance pose). I noticed that as soon as they felt the wobble in the pose, the distraction caused them to avert their eyes from their gazing spot and they would topple over.

I noticed the resistance they displayed when faced with what felt like instability.

I gently reminded them all that calm and strong doesn't always mean still. If they were to just allow their ankle to wobble, they would fare better. The ankle's job is to provide stability. Through movement. Ironic right? But often we find the greatest balance within both a challenge and the movement.


Calm is a place within. It is induced with the breath; intentional long, deep and slow breaths to activate the parasympathetic nervous system.

Strong comes from a silent and steady commitment to get through to the other side no matter the degree of discomfort. The messiness between doesn't reduce the degree of strength that exists. Even though we believe that to be the truth.


Neither mean stillness. Neither mean perfect. Neither mean a lack of obstacles or challenges. We make assumptions that when we feel the wobble (in balance poses or in the form of discomfort in life), we must stop and have therefore failed.

No! The wobble reminds us to focus on what we want. It's an alarm clock to our conscious mind, reminding us to ride the wave of the wobble, rather than fight it.

Calm and strong can (and should!) exist amongst the chaos and storm. Together they require internal stability and centering. Calm & strong involve faltering. And getting back up to try again. They both quietly commit to trying no matter what and whisper "you are okay" when you wonder. They are there, you just have to let them in.

It's incorrect to think that being calm and strong (on or off the mat) means the same as non-struggle. After all, it's through the struggle that the greatest lessons and evolutions happen.

The only way out is through right? So if you're going to get through, you might as well put on your game face, find your center and stick to that no matter how insane the storm around you is.

This is one of the things I adore about yoga, both in practice and as a teacher. I have these lightbulb moments when suddenly LIFE makes sense to me and I discover a new way to exist in this world that fills me and keeps me expanding with joy.

Tell me...what are some of your favourite insights you have gained during your own practice?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Arming the Immune System

'Tis the season around here for illness! Last week I spent 7 days straight dealing with at least one vomiting child. We've NEVER had a flu issue before but right now it's spreading like wildfire. My youngest goes to Nursery School (he's the one who brought it home) and they ended up shutting down his entire school one day because everyone was sick with it.

In knowing this, I ramped up my self-care and spent extra time and energy nurturing my immune system (or as my kids would say - loading up the army!)In the end, all I came down with was a couple dizzy of feeling under the weather (bit of nausea, dizziness and fatigue). Considering I had been basically swimming in vomit, I consider this a win!

I posted a YouTube video outlining the ways I boost my immune system when I am surrounded by extra germs (typically in September and January) or when I start to feel something coming. When I follow these practices, I RARELY end up with anything, and if I do, it's a very mild form from what others around me were dealing with. The times I am actually sick are reflective of the neglect I've put into myself and my immune system.

I wanted to share these tips with you as I've had inquiries lately on how to boost the immune system naturally. Keep in mind, I have daily practices and habits that keep my immune system quite strong all the time, these are just my top 11 extras.

1) Take a Quality Probiotic
Approximately 80% of your immune system is found in your gut, and a greater percentage of my clients show imbalances with their gut flora. My kids and I take probiotics every single day, non-negotiable.

2) Zinc Lozenges
Zinc is wonderful for the immune system. Go with the lozenges as they will dissolve close to the nasal passages and fight right there!

3) Echinacea Tea
Echinacea is an herbal remedy great for preventing and treating colds and other viral illnesses

4) Essential Oils
When you use a QUALITY essential oil (not the ones you can buy in most stores), you have a huge advantage health-wise. Essential oils are pure extracts from plants, and as we all know, nature is FULL of therapeutic properties. There is a blend I use from doTerra that I adore when we aren't feeling amazing, called onGuard. There is also a blend I take in an empty capsule (oregano, lemon, tea tree, OnGuard and Frankincense). If you aren't using DoTerra brand you likely shouldn't be ingesting essential oils as they tend to be filled with synthetics, so please do your research.

5) Make a Germ Busting Tea
Mix hot water in a mug with 1T raw honey, 1T apple cider vinegar, dash of cayenne, 1T turmeric, 1/4 tsp ginger, juice of a half a lemon and stir well. This tea you can drink a few times a day and is FULL of bacteria fighting properties

6) Manage Your Stress
Long term, chronic stress suppresses the immune system. Manage your stress daily and you will notice a big difference in your health and well-being. I will write a post about specific ways to arm your stress response in a future post, stay tuned.

7) Drink Lots of Water
Drinking lots of water helps flush toxins from the water and helps the body function at it's best

8) Lighten Your Digestive Load
Your digestive system uses up a TON of energy. In order to reserve energy for repair and fighting, it's a good idea to lean toward foods that are easier to digest, such as smoothies and soups. You still want to load your body with nutrients to equip your immune system but you also don't want loads of solid foods that take away time and energy.

9) Stay Away From Dairy
Dairy is very mucous forming in the body and tends to clog up all the channels needed for clearing out toxins. Especially avoid dairy if there is a tendency toward ear infections or pain, stuffy noses or constipation

10) Stay Away From Sugar
I've mentioned this many times before but 1 teaspoon of sugar can paralyze immune functioning for up to 6 hours. Stay far, far away from processed foods full of sugar when you are trying to arm your immune system

11) Get Lots of Rest
Your body needs to REST to repair. Set your to-do list aside, gather your tribe to help with your kids and REST. I know it isn't easy to do but it's so important for your body to spend its energy fighting rather than working out, stressing out and DOING



Thursday, February 2, 2017

Healing Herbal Teas

I posted a video last week about my favourite herbal teas. During the winter even my bones feel cold, so I find myself drinking lots and lots (and lots) of tea. Caffeine doesn't sit well with me - it can affect blood sugar levels, adrenal functioning and thyroid functioning, all of which I have had issues with on and off over the years. I even limit my green tea. So I stick to herbal tea. As a Holistic Nutritionist, everything going into my body needs to have a purpose. I don't often throw things down the hatch just for fun (80/20 rule!). I wanted to share with you some of my favourite herbal teas and the health benefits they have, and this is how I decide which tea I'll be drinking any given moment.



1. Egyptian Licorice
Taste-wise, my body LOVES this tea! Licorice tea is amazing for adrenal support and digestive functioning. I drink this whenever I'm not feeling my best, or if I don't see a specific need for any of the other tea choices.

2. Mint
Mint tea is also one of my favourites. It helps support the digestive system, helping to relieve gas, bloating and nausea. I love drinking it after a heavy meal, or whenever my belly isn't feeling great.

3. Echinacea
Echinacea is my go-to tea for when I start to feel the slightest bit of anything coming on. Echniacea is known, in the herbal world, for helping boost the immune system. While I realize research isn't conclusive in this area, I know that for me, when I combine this tea and a zinc lozenge at the first signs of a cold, I NEVER end up sick.

4. Rooibos
Rooibos tea is super high in antioxidants, making it great for overall health and for fighting free radicals and inflammation. I suggest drinking it if there are any noticeable physical symptoms such as fatigue, aches or feeling under the weather. It also contains Vitamin C, aiding the immune system.

5. Chai
Chai tea isn't naturally caffeine free as it's black tea mixed typically with various herbs such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger and pepper. Chai tea is therefore super high in antioxidants, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. It's also good for the digestive system, joint pain and the immune system. I don't drink chai tea much as I'm sensitive to caffeine but it's a great option for those who can handle a bit.

6. Calming
This is a specific blend from the Yogi tea brand, but I couldn't leave it out. If you don't have this tea brand near you, I suppose you could settle for a simple Chamomile tea. Calming is a blend of teas (chamomile, lavender, lemon grass, licorice and more)designed to relax and calm the body. I drink it at night before bed or anytime I'm feeling extra stressed out of overwhelmed.

7. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is a great tea for reducing headaches, menstrual cramps and anxiety all while supporting the digestive system and helping improve sleep.

8. Dandelion
Dandelion tea has many health benefits - it helps support the liver and immune system, helps promote body cleansing, helps reduce inflammation, blood pressure and cholesterol. I drink lots of this tea anytime I participate in my Higher Vibes Cleanse or just if I'm noticeably cleaning up my diet.

9. Rosehip
Rosehip tea is also high in antioxidants, while helping reduce blood pressure and inflammation

10. Ginger

I love ginger (in tea form or not!) for how well it soothes my stomach. It's also great at boosting the immune system
Reducing cold and flu symptoms and for digestive complains such as nausea or bloating. Anytime I feel my belly isn't at it's best I drink this or peppermint tea.


So there you go. That's my roundup of some of my favourite herbal tea options, obviously not an exhaustive list. You can often find herbal tea on sale, it's not something you ever really need to pay full price for, so keep your eyes open. Start your stockpile of tea, so that next time you are boiling the kettle you can ask your body what it needs, and you may be surprised at which tea stands out to you. Your body always knows

Let me know which your favourite(s) are!

xo Rachel

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Eating Healthy on a Budget

If you follow me on Facebook you may already know this information. Last week one of my BFF's Monique joined me on Facebook Live in giving you tips and tools for eating healthy on a budget. She had some awesome ideas which I don't want you to miss, so I wanted to recap them all here. Please view the videos (there are 2 parts due to a technical glitch)as we go into greater detail and share some personal experiences.

Here is Part 1
And here is Part 2










1. Look for Deals
Check out the 50% off deals grocery stores put out when things are about to expire. The produce section typically has a cart at the end of it with produce that should be cooked soon (or frozen!). Mo has found that Sunday morning is when the meats tend to get marked down. Make friends with your grocery store clerks and find out from them when the best deals happen, then incorporate these items into your weekly meal plan or freeze them - Mo freezes everything. Or you can cook the item that day as a one pan meal or a casserole of some sort and freeze to eat later in the week.

2. Make a Weekly Meal Plan and Meal Prep
Plan for the week and buy your groceries based on what you're actually planning on eating for the week. This saves you money since you shouldn't be throwing away extra produce but also so much time by prepping your foods and having the week planned out. Then you can take the grocery flyers for the week (Mo's tip - buy with the front page which always has the best deals to draw you into their store).

I personally use this free, printable menu planner here to help keep the week organized

If you are already thinking that you don't have the time to prep meals for the week, you'll want to tune into Video 2 to hear what I think of that. Spend a couple hours a week making a large batch of rice, salad, boil eggs, chop produce, mix trail mix together....whatever suits your food preferences to have healthy snacks and food ready to eat




3. Make all of your Meals and Snacks
I realize that as busy Mamas, it's so much easier to buy packed, boxed foods, but making your own trays of protein bars, muffins, raw balls, dinners, lunches, juices etc is so much cheaper AND healthier! Pinterest is an amazing tool. You can follow me here on mine, I have lots of healthy recipes that are all quick and simple. This way you'll know exactly what's going into your food and subsequently, your body.

4.Making a Weekly Grocery Budget
Track what you spend now for a few weeks and create a budget from there. Include ALL consumables - coffee, take-out, café visits etc. Make the budget realistic but also find that room to save money each week. It's all about being conscious of where your money is going and how to live within a budget.


5.Join a Weekly CSA
In most cities you can join a CSA (community supported agriculture). This basically means you are buying a share of a farm, and each wekk you are provided a box of whatever has grown on their land that particular week. You can buy different size shares depending on the size of your family. You can save money while supporting local farmers and eating in season - which benefits your health and your wallet. Canadians can check to find a local CSA near you with this list here

6. Know The Dirty Dozen
Instead on buying ALL your produce organic, you can save money by buying just the produce from the Dirty Dozen list - those heavily sprayed and often found to contain lots of pesticides on them. There is also a list called the Clean 15 (scroll under the Dirty Dozen list), which are produce items that are generally safer to buy non-organic. This will save you some money while being a conscious consumer.

7. Know Your Prices
For beginners, keep a list of the regular items you tend to buy and write down prices of all your local stores.
Also, Mo suggests paying attention to things you buy multiples of. For example: If avocados are 1 for $2 or 3 for $5, it's better to get more, but this isn't always the case!


8.Have Meatless Meals
Meat can be pricey AND leaning more toward a plant based diet tends to be healthier for most. A simple idea is to get out the crockpot, throw in some veggie broth, beans, lentils, whatever chopped veggies you like, salsa or tomato sauce and some quinoa. Keep on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours and voila! You can use throughout the week in a variety of ways; you can eat as a soup, place atop veggies or rice, top a salad with, add to scrambled eggs, and so on. This not only is a great tip for saving money but it's also a huge time saver throughout the week. Boom.



9. Make Easy Healthy Meals With Easy Ingredients
Simplify, simplify, simplify! Cooking something like chicken breasts, rice and broccoli is not only really healthy but tends to be cheaper rather than buying fancy, pre-packaged foods. Don't feel like you have to get all fancy and complicated in the kitchen.



10. Use Flyer Apps and Points Cards
Check out your local grocery store for points cards they may have available for free. You can accumulate points toward free groceries. Locals, I shop at Zehr's and use the PC Plus card. Currently I have $190 to use in-store!

Mo also uses Flipp App for price matching and Checkout 51 for getting cash back



We hope you find these tips helpful! Thank you Mo for coming on out and giving us such great tips! xoxox

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dear Fear


Dear Fear,

I don't know many people who care for you, to be honest. You are an absolute control freak, and you somehow manage to do so without being recognized much of the time. I'm on to you though. I have fought battles with you so much of my life and not only are you strong but you are persistant. For much of my life, when you and I battled, I would concede and allow you to win because of the energy it took me to fight you. It hardly seemed worth it. Then I would be angry with myself for letting you win as you would sit back with a smirk on your face, hands gripped on the steering wheel of my life.

We have mutual friends named grief and vulnerability and we recently had a chat about you. They tried telling me you weren't so bad. They tried convincing me that you actually care for me, and as I rolled my eyes and crossed my arms, ready to scream my objections, they held my hand and softly whispered "fear doesn't want to be the driver in your life all the time. He can't speak but is always wanting to know how badly you want something. All you need to do is take his hand and invite him into the passenger seat as you hold the wheel with authority. He is happy to sit there with you as a reminder to keep moving forward. You need him beside you, because as you look at him, he wears a shirt that says "what do you really want?"

They got me thinking, fear. Could they be right? Or are they out to get me too? For a long time I thought you were someone else. I thought you were "insecurity" which is this guy I met when I was a kid. He changed shapes a lot and grew every time someone said or did something that caused me to feel not good enough. I believed everything he used to say to me, and it was never good, nor ever true as it turns out. He is full of lies and assumptions, and attempts to make others feel shitty about themselves.

I guess you're different. The only time I feel not good enough around you is when I let you take over. How about I keep insecurity in the back seat from now on and you can ride in the front with me? Better yet why don't we throw insecurity out the window and run him over until we can't hear his voice anymore? Maybe then I can't get you and him mixed up anymore.

So fear, here's the deal. I want to live my life. I want to be happy. I want to be outside my comfort zone often. I want to do hard things and do them with the quiet understanding that I am capable and worthy. Sometimes your voice leads me to believe this isn't the case. I will work on listening to whose voice is speaking. And you can hold my hand, but I will be the one controlling the wheel.