The Greatest Gift You Can Give to Yourself

 

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I recently gave myself something that I desperately needed. Something I had been putting off for a while. With the encouragement and support of my husband, I gave myself the gift of time.

For me, this gift came in the form of a hiring a nanny. Our nanny provides me with some much needed weekday hours to myself, and enables my husband and me to get some time alone together as well.

I am a stay at home mom so wrapping my head around hiring a nanny seemed absolutely ludicrous at first. So many questions and judgements ran through my head at  – How much will this cost? Why do I deserve a nanny? Why can’t I manage this on my own? What will everyone think? Am I a bad mom? Will my kids be upset with me? But you know what? I put all of that aside. All of that noise in my head wasn’t reality. I have found that this decision has made me a better mom and a better person. I am more present, more patient, and softer with my children, and I know everyone will benefit from this choice in the end. The gift of time that I give to myself is ultimately the gift of more quality time for all of us when we are together. 

Before hiring our nanny I felt that my identity as an individual was long gone. I felt my only role was in the household – mom, caretaker, and wife. I absolutely love the role I play in my family, and I am extraordinarily grateful for it, but I need time for me.  I crave time to be creative, to learn, and to truly relax and recharge without distractions. Some of the things I do with my new found time are school work (I am studying Integrative Nutrition at IIN), podcasts, audiobooks, blog posts, quiet time to reflect, yoga, and the ability to get anything done that’s difficult to accomplish with two young children in tow.

These days we all wear many hats, and sometimes we have to remind ourselves to take those hats off. It’s so important to offer ourselves the time and space to take a deep breath, relax, and do things we love and things that simply make us feel good inside. If we don’t make our self care a priority, we will not have the opportunity to show up as our best selves. When we are run down, exhausted, or anxious, we (and the people around us) pay the price.

I think many of us have a tendency to view self care as selfish, but what is selfish about being kind to ourselves? There is a big difference between being self absorbed and having self love. Treat yourself like you would your child, your parents, or your best friend. Give yourself the advice you would offer them. Changing the vantage point will help remove all the judgements and fears getting in the way of taking care of yourself.

I wish we could all allow ourselves the gift of time. The world would be a much better place if we all took time to slow down, find our center, and focus on what really matters. For me, what really matters is my family. They deserve the best version of me possible, and each day I am taking steps toward that.

What will you do for yourself today?

Brittany

 

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Intentions for Year Thirty

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I turn thirty in a few weeks. For some, this number is scary, daunting, and depressing, but for me, I am truly excited and looking forward to this decade with an open mind and heart.

Many of my friends have already turned thirty, and instead of a eagerly looking forward to their special day, like they had done in the past, they completely dreaded it. When I observed this pattern, I decided that I was going to try to change their mindsets, while also reaffirming mine.

We recently celebrated three thirtieth birthdays at once, so I gave my friends an assignment to prepare beforehand. I asked them to write down their intentions for their thirtieth year, and we discussed our thoughts over dinner. I didn’t know who would actually do it, but to my surprise, everyone had something to say. The conversations that exercise sparked was really wonderful and eye-opening. It gave us insight into each other’s lives on a level we had never gone to before.

It’s so interesting what one question can unlock in a relationship. We learned so much about each other in minutes, and I gained a newfound appreciation for each of them in unique ways. Asking open ended questions and looking at a situation in a different light can makes all the difference. Saying, “I am turning thirty, my twenties are over, and I am getting so old” sounds so dispirited and sad, but saying, “I am turning 30! Here is a list of my intentions for my next decade and what I am going to accomplish” sounds so inspiring and optimistic.

Our minds are powerful and we cannot underestimate the abilities it has to impact our lives. We have the power to decide whether we will breed positivity and growth or fear and anxiety. We are not the result of our circumstances, but rather how we react. Growing old is inevitable, but many who reach a certain age start to focus on the negative instead on the positive, and in turn start looking backward instead of forward. Growing old needs to be celebrated more because the more years we are here, the more we learn to enjoy what life has to offer in more abundant ways.

I want to encourage everyone, no matter what your age, to come up with a list of intentions for your years ahead.

To get you inspired, here is mine:

  1. Take time to go outside and be in nature as much as I can
  2. Schedule phone calls with family and friends in my calendar and treat it as an important task
  3. Sing more
  4. Start creating content for my blog and stay focused on my end goal
  5. Just be me and put less pressure on myself in every day life
  6. Continue to make myself a priority, and schedule daily acts of self care
  7. Start morning pages and meditation to release anxiety and spark ideas
  8. Reduce social media usage
  9. If it’s not a “hell yes”, say no to invites
  10. Plan “Goddess” days with my favorite ladies to rejuvenate, inspire, and support each other  – I learned this term from Melissa Ambrosini 
  11. Stop judging myself and others
  12. Practice being more mentally present in my everyday actions and conversations
  13. Talk less, listen more
  14. Focus less on the future and more on the now
  15. Establish “no phone hours”  at home
  16. Stop caring how other people perceive me
  17. Avoid being defensive and try to understand alternate points of view
  18. Be kind to myself, especially in front of my girls

 

This is a lengthy list. It is in my nature to get excited about things and get carried away, but often times that leads to a loss of focus. While I listed many ideas, I am only working on a few at a time. I recommend starting with a few and growing it as you start to check off line items.

This is going to be a great! I hope you feel inspired and ready to make positive changes to improve your quality of life.

 

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Wish you health & happiness,

Brittany

Is Sleep Deprivation Effecting Your Ability to Thrive?

For most people today, life is very fast paced and overloaded. We have packed schedules, pressures to perform at work, pressures to perform at home, relationships to care for, and an overwhelming amount of information to process. How do we keep our heads from spinning off?

Society is moving at an unnatural rate, and to help manage this, we over consume in every possible way. We over consume food, drinks, alcohol, caffeine, artificial light, information, and life experiences. This may work in the short term, but if we constantly rely on outer sources to keep up going, we will eventually crash.

Lack of sleep has the potential to lead to weight gain, loss of mental clarity, depression, and an overall decline of general health. Many people are effected by sleep deprivation and aren’t even aware of it. Often times this is because what we interpret as “rest” really is not rest at all. Leisure activities, recreation, drinking, smoking, and watching television are not forms of true rest. We are in such a constant state of hyperarousal that our bodies and brains have forgotten how to do nothing. This hyperarousal has led to a dramatic incline in the use of sleep drugs, and millions of people suffering from insomnia, sleep apnea, and depression.

The best way to get better sleep is to be mindful of the choices you make throughout the day. You can limit your caffeine and sugar intake, eat a well balanced diet, exercise regularly, and avoid late night snacking. It’s also been shown that creating a peaceful environment does wonders to promote restful sleep. Some ideas are to paint your bedroom a calm color, diffuse soothing essential oils, replace your mattress, clean out clutter, remove electronics, reduce light with black out curtains or an eye mask. and reduce sound with a barrier under your door, such as a towel or white noise machine.

Another key factor in getting efficient rest is to decide on a regular bed time and stick to it. Having a bed time will reduce time spent doing things that can hinder sleep like binge watching tv, eating, or doing busy work, such as checking email and keeping active around the house. As bedtime approaches, try calm activities instead, like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and, for some, reading works well too. These will all help relax your mind. Although there are people who claim they can function on 4-5 hours per night, 7-9 hours are highly recommended for optimal health and wellbeing. Knowing this, decide your bed time based on the time you have to wake up in the morning.

As you experiment with different methods of sleep and relaxation, I suggest you keep a journal of your results. Record the evening practices performed, the number of hours slept, the quality of sleep, your energy levels the next day, your overall mood, and any other information that may be relevant. Once you learn what works best for your body, you can align your habits to better suit your needs.

Getting on track to better sleep will take time and practice, but the positive effects will ripple across all areas of your life and you will love the results. Never underestimate the power of a good night sleep.

 

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Wishing you Health & Happiness!

Brittany

 

 

 

Clean Eating 101

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Clean eating is one of the simplest ways you can improve your health. But what is “clean eating” exactly? With so many theories on health these days, that is a very good question.

To eat clean is to consume foods that are closest their natural state. This may look different for each individual, but the goal for everyone should be to load up on fresh, whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limit sugar, highly processed/refined foods, alcohol, and sodium. Some people may choose to include animal products, but overall it is suggested to cut back on meat and dairy.

Here is an example of a clean eating shopping list:

  • apples
  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • raspberries
  • pears
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • tomatoes
  • avocado
  • romaine lettuce
  • arugula
  • kale
  • celery
  • cucumbers
  • peppers: red, yellow, orange, green
  • sweet potatoes
  • butternut squash
  • onions
  • cauliflower
  • quinoa
  • rice: brown, wild, jasmine, basmati
  • oats (steel cut or old fashioned)
  • Plant-based milk: almond, coconut, flax, etc.
  • nuts/nut butters: almonds, walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts, pine nuts, etc.
  • seeds/seed butters: pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, chia, flax, etc.
  • oil: olive, coconut, avocado, sesame, flax
  • pasture raised egg
  • pasture raised chicken
  • grass fed beef

I encourage you to buy organic when possible, but definitely focus on the “dirty dozen”. This includes:

  1. strawberries
  2. spinach
  3. nectarines
  4. apples
  5. grapes
  6. peaches
  7. cherries
  8. pears
  9. tomatoes
  10. celery
  11. potatoes
  12. sweet/hot peppers

 

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I recommend mainly shopping the perimeter of the grocery store. There is where you will find mostly everything you need, except maybe your oils, grains, nuts, and seeds. The isles can be dangerous because that is where much of the processed, packaged, sugar laden junk foods hang out.

If you are used to eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), this way of shopping may be an adjustment. Once you’ve taken your clean foods home, you may think to yourself, “what do I do with all of this?” Well, I am here to help.

Here are some meal ideas to inspire you on your clean and healthful journey:

Breakfast:

  • steel cut oats with nuts and blueberries
  • green smoothie with almond milk, spinach, cucumber, pear, apple, and banana
  • sprouted whole grain toast with almond butter and sliced banana
  • pasture raised eggs with sautéed spinach and tomatoes

 

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Lunch:

  • arugula salad with apple, walnuts, red onion, and avocado
  • quinoa with sliced almonds, shaved carrots, chopped kale, and olive oil
  • rice bowl with roasted butternut squash, brussel sprouts, and dried cranberries

 

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Dinner:

  • grass fed steak with sautéed peppers and onions
  • baked sweet potato, roasted broccoli, and baked chicken thighs
  • grilled tofu, brown rice, and sautéed spinach

 

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Cooking at home will definitely help promote a cleaner way of living. Knowing how your food is prepared in what is in it is crucial for staying on track with your health goals. You may even find you enjoy your food even more when you prepare it yourself! Take your time, enjoy the process, and don’t forget to infuse everything with the most important nutrient – vitamin L, love.

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With love and gratitude,

Brittany

 

Carob Apricot Cookies

I am the type of person that often looks forward to something sweet after a meal. I like to enjoy everything in moderation, and I believe that life is all about finding balance.

Enjoying a delicious homemade dessert brings me happiness, and I think allowing myself to enjoy these things guilt free is necessary for my wellbeing.

It is also crucial that I help foster positive feelings around all food groups for my girls while they are young. Girls, especially, are susceptible to having anxious or negative feelings around eating, and I want to do everything in my power to help prevent that.

We bake every week, and I make my girls a part of the process. We talk about the ingredients, where they come from, and what they do for the recipe, and I allow them them to scoop, measure, mix, and get their hands dirty. I have taught them to sweeten their foods with nature’s candies, including whole foods such as bananas, apples, dates, and sweet potatoes, as well as honey, maple syrup, and agave.

Baking at our house is a bonding experience and a time for learning. The girls love eating what they have helped create, and I love that they feel like they’re being treated to something special, but also getting nourished at the same time. It’s a win win!

This recipe was made up after my daughter asked about buying doughnuts at Whole Foods, and I suggested an at home recipe would be better. We winged it, as usual, and the result was so tasty. Hope you enjoy too!

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups oat flour

1 1/4 cups almond flour

1/3 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup carob powder

1/2 cup apple sauce

2 bananas mashed

1/4 agave nectar

1/4 cup almond butter (or other nut butter, softened)

2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flax, 5 tbsp water)

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup apricots

1 cup carob chips

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Add applesauce, mashed bananas, and agave to standing mixer. Now add almond butter, flax eggs, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients together, then add to wet ingredients and mix well.

Lastly, fold in apricots and carob chips.

Place dollops of batter onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Wholesome Sweet Potato Muffins

Hello there, welcome back!

Today I created another muffin recipe. They are gluten-free and filled with nourishing ingredients. Unlike conventional muffins, they are packed with fruits, veggies, complex carbohydrates, calcium, protein, iron, vitamins and minerals. They are dee-licious and perfect for the whole family to enjoy!

Here’s what you will need:

2 medium sweet potatoes, baked and cooled

1/2 ripe banana

2 generous handfuls spinach

1/2 cup applesauce

2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flax meal + 5 tbsp water – let sit for 5 minutes)

6-9 medjool dates (soaked in water for about 10 minutes for softer texture)

1 1/2 cups oats (gluten-free in necessary)

1/2 cup teff flour ( you could substitute another GF flour, or use more oats)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

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For the sweet potatoes:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Clean potatoes and pat dry, then, with a knife, carefully poke holes or make small cuts all around the surface. Place on a sheet pan or directly onto wire rack and bake for 50-60 minutes.

For the muffins:

Preheat oven to 375°.

In a high-speed blender, or food processor:

Combine sweet potato, banana, and spinach.

Add applesauce, flax egg, and dates.

Now add oats, teff, salt, baking soda, baking powder, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla.

Once all blended, add spoonfuls into a 12 cup muffin tin (greased or lined) until equally distributed.

Optional: Top with dark chocolate, berries, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, or cinnamon. (Change up your toppings each time you make them, or top each one with something different to have a wide variety in just one batch!)

Bake for 18-20 minutes, then let cool for 10-15.

Enjoy often 🙂

With love,

Brittany

Nut Free Apricot Granola Bars

If you’re pressed for time in the morning, or frequently find yourself needing a snack to keep you satiated between meals, granola bars are great option.

While there are some store brands that I will have in a pinch, my belief is that homemade is always better because they are fresh and don’t require any preservatives. I often make bulk batches and keep them in my freezer. This saves time and energy and is super convenient.

These bars are loaded with healthy fats and fiber, keeping you fuller longer, and will hopefully deter you from reaching for any not so healthy temptations.

Just a tip before you get started.

You may want to soak your seeds for a few hours prior. Soaking nuts and seeds before consumption will increase digestibility, maximize absorption of nutrients by the body, promote greater enzyme activity, and initiate the sprouting process, which increases nutritional benefits.

Here you go!

Nut Free Apricot Granola Bars:

Preheat oven to 350°

In a large bowl, combine:

1 cup GF old fashioned oats (not quick oats)

1 cup raw sunflower seeds

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

1/4 cup applesauce

1/2 cup agave (honey would also work)

1 cup apricots

Mix well.

Press mixture down into a 9×7 in pan

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

*Let cool for about 30 minutes before cutting to prevent crumbling.

Enjoy!!!

Xo, Brittany