Is All Exercise Created Equal?

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I am a huge advocate for physical activity, and believe that moving our bodies daily has a tremendous impact on our minds, our bodies, and our spirits. But, as with diets, there are many different theories around exercise and the types we should be doing. From yoga to running, CrossFit to spinning, there are many opportunities, so which is best?

I approach exercise just as I approach eating. Everyone is different so individual preference, age, personality, and many other factors need to be considered. Ultimately, find something that you enjoy doing, that way you will be far more likely to make it a habit.

There are four categories of exercise. Try to find something from each category that feels right for you. Here are some examples:

  • aerobic/endurance – increases your heart rate, works cardiovascular system
    • running, walking, swimming, dancing, cycling, hiking, rowing
  • strength – increases lean muscle mass
    •  weight lifting, push ups, pull-ups, crunches, squats, lunges, tricep dips, yoga
  • balance – improves ability to control your body’s position, find center of gravity
    • yoga, tai chi
  • flexibility – improves range of motion, stretches muscles
    • yoga, tai chi, stretching
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Aside from promoting heart health, losing weight, and toning up, exercise has many other great benefits. It can calm the mind, reduce stress and anxiety, create feelings of happiness, boost energy, and improve memory and thinking skills.

When considering what exercise will be best for you, think about your personality and your typical day to day activities. Are you always go, go, go, with a busy schedule and a restless mind? Perhaps yoga or tai chi would be a great option to help eliminate physical stress and promote relaxation. On the other hand, if you are often sedentary and have low energy throughout your day, something more energetic may be good for you, such as spin class, zumba, or brisk walking. The key is to find balance.  Too much energy in our days will eventually burn us out, and too little energy will facilitate the growth of disease in our bodies.

If you are a person living a sedentary lifestyle looking for ways to increase your mobility, there are ways to encourage yourself to keep on track. Many watches and fitness trackers are a great tool to track steps, count calories burned, and allow you to compete with friends/family if you are a driven competitor. It is recommended that people take around 10,000 steps per day, and trackers are a great way to give you an estimate of your progress. If you respond well to group training rather than going at it alone, perhaps you could get together with friends, family, neighbors, or members of the community for group walks and activities. Trying out state forests, parks, and local trails may be a fun way to start.

Be easy on yourself when adopting any new lifestyle. Moving even a little bit is better than not moving at all – and keep in mind that you don’t have to be pouring sweat and out of breath to have done wonders for your health and wellbeing.

 

With love,

Brittany

 

 

 

Finding Balance to Promote the Most Vitality

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I believe that life is meant to be a journey of growth and evolution for everyone who walks this earth. We are all students throughout the entire course of our lifetime, and even the greatest teachers are never done learning. We will never have all of the answers, but by seeking out truths within ourselves, and striving for balance in our lives, our time here in our physical bodies can be lived with the most vibrance possible.

I am currently a student at IIN (The Institute for Integrative Nutrition). I went back to school to become a health coach because deep in my soul I believe that helping others to achieve health and happiness is my calling. My passion and desire comes from wanting to achieve these things in my own life, and we teach what we’re meant to learn. Few people have a perfectly balanced life, but by being a guide to help others take a look at the big picture and uncover the origins of their symptoms, together we are getting closer to harmony.

At IIN, we are taught about The Circle of Life. This consists of 12 areas that effect your vitality. These areas include:

  1. joy
  2. spirituality
  3. creativity
  4. finances
  5. career
  6. education
  7. health
  8. physical activity
  9. home cooking
  10. home environment
  11. relationships
  12. social life

By looking closely at these aspects and rating them on a scale from unsatisfied to satisfied, you will be able to see where you need to focus a little more of your time and energy.

To live your best life, we must strive for balance within all of these areas, so I highly encourage everyone to check in with yourself often. It is important to make note of any symptoms you are currently feeling. After you’ve completed your scale, consider your symptoms and your areas of least satisfaction. Could they be related? Do you notice any patterns?

For example, a client of mine is often tired, has troubling focusing, has an irritable bowel, and frequent headaches. Looking at her circle of life diagram, I see she ranks joy, social life, relationships, and home environment the lowest. Is it possible that there is trouble within one or more of her relationships causing these symptoms? This exercise requires honesty with yourself. Listen to what your body is telling you. Sometimes we don’t notice our underlying causes until they’re written down and spelled out for us.

Once you’ve completed this exercise. take action on the areas that need to be addressed. Like anything, this will take time, dedication, and love for yourself. But remember, you are worth it. Love yourself first and everything else will fall into place.

Wishing you only love and happiness,

Brittany

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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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

 

Superfood Chocolate Elixir

You know when midday hits and caffeine and/or a snack is calling your name? Well, for me, this delicious concoction satisfies both.

It’s warm, indulgent, filling, and gives an all natural boost. And it doesn’t come from a packet that you shake into a mug. This is the real deal. The secret to it’s benefits lies in the ingredients: the superfoods. Cacao and maca.

Cacao is one of the most powerful antioxidants on the planet. The list of wonderful things it can do for your health goes on and on, but here are just some of the reasons to add it to your regular diet:

  • Increases mood
  • Reduces hunger
  • Creates energy
  • Prevents heart disease

I don’t need reasons to eat chocolate, but this information definitely encourages me even more.

Keep in mind, to get these benefits it must be in its raw, naturally fermented state, not chocolate with sugar, milk, and other ingredients added. When milk is added, the dairy actually blocks the absorption of the antioxidants.

Maca powder is an ingredient that I love to add to my smoothies and baked goods, especially ones containing chocolate because I love the combination.

Like cacao, the benefits for consuming maca is extensive, but here is the short list:

  • Increases libido
  • Improves mental and physical energy
  • Helps skin health
  • Balances mood and hormones

This food is highly nutritious, but consume it in small amounts. Starting at just 1/2 teaspoon and working your way up to about a tablespoon per day is recommended.

Now for the recipe!

Serves 2.

In a small pot:

  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • About 1 tbsp cacao butter
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • Sweetener of your choice (I used stevia, but honey would also be a great natural option.)

Continue to stir over medium heat with a whisk until all ingredients are incorporated together. Pour into mugs and enjoy!

Xo. Brittany

Double Chocolate Nutter Butter Muffins

I love chocolate. Especially dark chocolate. It’s the one treat that I crave practically everyday. And with so many health benefits, I am happy to give my body what it wants.

These muffins are filled with nutritious ingredients that’ll leave your belly full and your face smiling. Chocolate, peanut butter, bananas…I’m already drooling.

 

Ingredients you’ll need:

2 ripe bananas

1 cup old fashioned oats

3/4 cup almond flour

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar .

1/2 cup cacao

2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flax, 5 tbsp water, let sit for 5 min)

3/4 cup almond yogurt (I used @kitehillfoods plain)

1/4 cup avocado oil

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tbsp maca powder

1/2 cup cacao chips

Method:

Preheat oven to 375°.

Blend all ingredients in high-speed blender, except for chocolate chips.

Add chips to blender and stir with a spoon.

Spoon batter into a 12 cup muffin tin (lined or greased).

Bake for 20 minutes.

Eat, enjoy, repeat 🙂

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*I crumbled mine on some banana ice cream for an extra special snack. (ripe bananas in an ice cream/sorbet maker for 20 minutes)

Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

My kids love sweets – especially anything with chocolate – so I am constantly trying to make recipes that get them excited to eat, while not sabotaging their health. By taking a plant based approach to baking, swapping conventional flours for more easily digestible whole grains, and adding in power packed superfoods, commonly unhealthy options can transform in to nutrient rich meals!

As a mom, I also have limited time and energy. I want quick and simple recipes that do not require a ton of clean up. This recipe requires one appliance – a high powered blender. Once you’re done, simply add a little soap and water and blend your blender clean. It’s that easy!

These muffins are a crowd pleaser at my house – we eat them for breakfast and also enjoy them as snacks. Batches are gone within a few days, so I find myself making them over and over again! They are also great for play dates 🙂

Here’s what you need:

  • A blender
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 cup coconut yogurt (dairy yogurt could also be substituted)
  • 2 cups old fashioned oatmeal, or steel cut oats for heartier muffins (gluten free if necessary)
  • 2 vegan “eggs” (I currently use Namaste foods egg replacer, but you could also use flax eggs – 1 tbsp flax to 2.5 tbsp water per egg – let sit 5 mins)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tsp Maca Powder (the secret superfood ingredient – optional, but gives a unique nutty flavor, while also packing a nutritious punch)
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 6-8 medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (for highest nutritional benefit be sure chocolate doesnot contain milk, as milk interferes with the absorption of the great antioxidants found in cocoa)

Place all ingredients in blender, exceptthechocolate chips. Add those last and incorporate into batter with spoon.

Fill a 12 cup muffin tin and bake at 375° for 18 minutes.

These are so delicious as is, but sometimes I like to mix it up.

Some things I’ve tried:

  • top them with a nut butter you love
  • break them apart and throw in a smoothie or yogurt bowl
  • Cut in 1/2 and top with bananas or another favorite fruit

I hope that you enjoy!!

xo Brittany