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.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

What is Nutritional Yeast and 10 ways to use it

Do you remember that Frank's Hot Sauce commercial with the old lady who claims "I put that sh*$ on everything!"? I feel the same way about a few things in my life, and one of those is nutritional yeast. Have you heard of it? It is an inactive yeast that contains loads of B12 (oh, hey energy production!) and is considered a complete protein. Nutritional yeast also provides compounds which are associated with enhanced immunity, reduced cholesterol levels and cancer prevention (and yes, it's gluten free!)You can also find iron, zinc, selenium and fiber in these little flakes that kind of resemble fish food.

It has a somewhat cheesy, nutty taste that blends well with a whole host of other flavours and textures. Lots of vegans use nutritional yeast (or nooch as you may see it called) as a cheese replacement. I, for one, am obsessed with the stuff and wanted to share with you the many ways I use it.

1. Sprinkled on top of pasta
2. Sprinkled on top of popcorn (my absolute FAVE!)
3. On dehydrated kale chips
4. In chili
5. Sprinkled on top of soup
6. Made into a cashew sauce
7. On top of salads
8. As part of homemade mac & cheese
9. On roasted veggies
10. In salad dressing

How do you use Nutritional Yeast? And if you haven't yet, how do you plan on using it first??

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

DIY Electrolyte drink

What thirst quencher do you envision when you hear the word "electrolytes?"
Gatorade? Powerade? Insert other name brand sports drink here?
Yep, I've consumed these products before; during sporting events and after a bout of stomach illness, because I was told I should. It's all I knew that could replace the lost electrolytes in my body. However, since becoming a Holistic Nutritionist and advocate for health, I have discovered a healthier solution.

First off though, let's begin with electrolytes. What they heck are they?

Electrolytes are, in a brief nutshell, compounds which can conduct electrical currents when dissolved in liquid (blood or water), which is important for the electrical impulses within your muscles, brain, heart and nervous system. Electrolytes are responsible for thinking and movement and everything in between. They consist of Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Sodium

What happens when electrolytes are out of balance?
- muscle cramps
- increased blood pressure
- water retention
- headaches
- dehydration
- confusion
- lethargy
- weakness
- seizures
- diarrhea
- kidney failure
- kidney stones
- depression
- twitching

and many more.

How do electrolytes become out of balance?

- kidney disease
- dehydration
- diabetes
- vomiting or diarrhea for prolonged periods
- excess sweating
- bulimia
- taking diuretics
- Ph imbalances in the blood

In my line of work, it would be most common for people to exhibit electrolyte imbalance symptoms through working out and sweating hard without replenishing the imbalances. And I am cautious with clients who have children suffering with excessive diarrhea or vomiting. I wouldn't fill their little bodies with the crap Gatorade has in it, ESPECIALLY when they're sick and their immune system needs as much ammunition as possible.

Next, let's look at what's in these typical sports drinks

Let's pick this apart for a second, just the 4 worst ingredients in this:
1. Liquid Sugar - the second ingredient listed, meaning there is a LOT of it in this drink. Remember way back when I discussed Ensure and the immune system? I stated that a single teaspoon of sugar can suppress the immune system for up to 6 hours. Enough said.

2. Natural Colours/Flavours
Sports drinks come in a variety of colours, which means more additives. Don't be fooled by the word "natural." Natural means it needs to be sourced from nature, but after that, anything goes, and I suspect many things happen afterward. Flavourings and colourings have known behavioural effects, especially on children.

3. Modified Corn Starch
How many people would assume there is a wheat based ingredient in a sports drink? Probably not those who have sensitivities to gluten and shouldn't be eating it. Modified corn starch is often derived from wheat and/or gluten, to which many people have issues with. I myself try to avoid anything labeled as "modified." This word alone indicates that this food didn't exist in my Grandparent's day and age. Modified corn starch contains about 10% maltodextrin, a common keyword used by industry to hide the presence of monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is a known excitotoxin (overexcites the cells to damage or death, which affects brain functioning)

4. Dimethylpolysiloxane
A.K.A. silly putty. You can read more in depth information about this ingredient and it's dangers here. If you aren't interested in reading more, just imagine a substance like silly putty in your body and ask yourself if it belongs there.

So after briefly looking at some of these ingredients, let's check out an alternative. Here's my quick and simple recipe for replacing electrolytes. You can find a few more here, and read more in depth information on the dangers of sports drinks if it's a topic of interest to you.

3 cups water (or better yet coconut water, containing a great balance of electrolytes)
1/2 tsp Natural Calm Magnesium powder
1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt
1 tsp. raw honey
Juice from half a lemon

*Tip - you can make a larger batch and freeze in popsicle molds to give to children when they're sick*

That's it! Quick and simple and your body won't suffer afterward.
Let me know if you try it and what you think!


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Workout Every Day. No Matter The Cost. Right?

My body is tired, it just wants to sleep. I think I'm getting sick, my body feels so worn out. But...I drag myself out of bed at 4:30 in the morning because I have to get my workout in. No excuses. It has to get done. I have 7 days to get 6 workouts in. I can't miss today. No matter what it takes, I commit myself to a daily workout and will stop at nothing to make sure it gets done.

Meet me...3 and a half years ago.
I was driven and dedicated. I was relentless in my pursuit of a strong and sculpted body. I would cry on the elliptical. I would collapse on the bench as I held weights to my chest, using every ounce of mental strength I had to continue my workout. I spent plenty of time on the floor of my gym, giving myself pep talk after pep talk to just give it a little bit more. I split workouts up, spending 40 minutes lifting weights in the morning and 40 minutes at night doing cardio. I received so many compliments on my tenacity that it made my head swirl. Nothing could stop me. And I kept that pace for well over a year.

Meet me.....today
And do you know what the me today would say to the me back then?

Fuck that shit.

Yep, those would be my words. Without question.

The me back then had hair falling out. Her body was falling apart and she seriously suffered from adrenal fatigue and amenorrhoea. Back then I felt I barely had the energy to care for my daughter and newborn son. My moods were up and down while my anxiety peaked. But that body.....heck yes it looked great.

Why is it that we idolize extremes? Why do we put pride and emphasis on giving, being, doing MORE! I see these people on Facebook and Instagram talking about how they push through illnesses and sacrificed so much in their lives to get in another workout. And I see the people that applaud them, encouraging them to keep running their body into the ground. Yes, I absolutely admire strength and determination, and I strive for both. But I don't admire it when it sacrifices health or happiness.

Why do we aspire for things we know are not realistic in our own life? I had so many people messaging me and complimenting me, telling me they were jealous of my body or that they wished they had the motivation I did. But did they really? Because honestly, anyone can accomplish the physical feats I did. It wasn't anything spectacular, I just paired consistency with hard work. And I was put on a pedestal because of it. But back then I was guilty of ignoring my body's signals and forcing it to give me more anyway. Despite just having had a baby, signs of serious adrenal fatigue and thyroid dysfunction, I pushed and pushed and pushed. And I'm probably still paying for it to some degree.

The me of today has energy. She typically feels happy and high on the blessings life has given her. She works out when she's feeling it but never more than 20 minutes per day (well sometimes, but not often). Her hair is thick, her menstrual cycles regular and she is (usually) pleasant to be around. She does yoga. She meditates. She can lift heavy things even if you can't see the outline of her muscles. Her legs can run, her arms can lift, and her core supports her through life. And for the love of God, she feels so much freedom. In her ability to eat what she wants and when. In having time during the day to indulge in things that she loves.

I am happy.

Sure, I almost split my pants the other night when I put them on (in an attempt to get out of yoga pants for Christmas dinner). Sure, the scale yells at me when I step on it, reminding me that the weight I'm at now is the heaviest I've been in my life (minus pregnancy). And yes, being in a bikini isn't as fun as it used to be....however.... Back then I was wearing size 0 and when I was on stage competing, I was aware that even that size was getting too big on me. I needed a 00. Even back then that concerned me. I'm more like a size 4 now, and despite what the scale says, when I wake up and look in the mirror, I think I look pretty darn good. (don't ever let that piece of shit dictate how you feel about yourself)
I have freedoms I never used to have. I don't have to think twice about eating dessert at a friend's house after dinner. I don't have to package my own foods when I'm at a sporting event. I can miss a workout without being riddled in guilt, wondering how I can make up that lost time.

I sleep in when I feel my body needs it.
I aim to workout 4-5 days a week but cap it at 20 minutes so I don't burn out. And I'm ok with that.
My clients no longer feel pressure to reach a level of fitness I had reached. Because it's not necessary. And I no longer have the mindset that you need to push the body until it can't handle anything more.

Now here comes the other side of that coin.
I do believe in living outside the comfort zone. I do believe in pushing the body to find more strength and endurance. I love the concept of growing and learning every single day. I believe if you stay in a state of comfort and security either within the body or within life, that we become stagnant and miss out on incredible opportunities to evolve. Yes I like to lift really heavy weights and challenge myself when I work out. Yes, sometimes when I go for a run I sprint at the end until I can no longer breathe. Sometimes I have the energy. Sometimes that energy comes from heartache or anger. Sometimes that energy comes from me wanting to prove to myself that I am strong and capable.

But do you know what I hold above those beliefs?

The belief that the body is smarter than we are, and we need to listen to it and honour it.

When I work with my clients now, I listen to their goals, we deem what's realistic in their life and I create workouts for them that are quick, challenging, flexible and efficient. No fillers, no hour long sessions...because I won't ask of them what I wouldn't ask of myself. (The exception perhaps being sport specific training)

If I'm coming down with a cold, I rest my body so that it can focus on healing.
If I'm extra stressed out, I move harder and faster because I know the extra hormones need a release before they build and create inflammation, anxiety, anger and other imbalances within my body. But then I balance that out by ensuring I meditate a bit longer, or add in a yoga session, so my body also can relax and repair.

I workout hard to thank my body and to remind it of it's capability. But I also tone down my workouts, moving slower and lighter if I feel this is what my body is asking of me. And in learning to do this, my body has given me exactly what I need from it - energy, strength, endurance and also health and reliability. Many months ago I attended a Bootcamp in Toronto from an (Instagram) famous trainer. While I was amongst one of the oldest in the group, and I was a bit uncertain of what I could do because I have cut my workouts back so much....I killed it. I absolutely killed that workout and I was so proud. I never stopped when most others needed a break. I didn't feel defeated when others weren't sure they could make it through. I felt strong and capable, and while, yes, it was challenging, I was so proud of what my body did for me. Because I have been gentle with it when I have needed to, and pushed it when I felt it was asking me to.

My point is this.
There is no honour in pushing your body to sickness and depleting yourself just to get in one more workout (yes, this used to be me!)
Learn to speak and listen to your body. Honour it. Nurture it. Love it. Heed it's signals and push it when it feels ready and willing.
And in establishing such a relationship with it, you will find so much freedom.

My goal is to bring you quick, efficient and easy to implement workout and healthy food ideas to make your life easier without sacrificing your well-being. Keep an eye out on my Facebook or Instagram pages for more