It's national chocolate day!
Choc. O. Late.
Raise your hand if you love chocolate. What's not to love?! There are SO many ways to enjoy it. Hot chocolate. Chocolate bars. Chocolate kiss. Chocolate chips. Chocolate sauce. Chocolate covered pretty-much-anything. Dark chocolate, white chocolate, milk chocolate. There's a chocolate for every occasion. It speaks to us, or for us, it can say, I love you, I'm sorry, be mine, happy birthday. We indulge in it. We savor it. We bake with it. We sneak it. We share it.
But what do you really know about the chocolate you're eating?
Here's the thing: good, quality chocolate is the key. There are many studies that confirm the rich concentrations of health-boosting antioxidants and polyphenols in dark chocolate. The reason dark chocolate has the edge is because it contains a higher concentration of cacao seeds than milk chocolate.
The trick is finding a chocolate that has been minimally processed, but still tastes yummy. The processed chocolates that are on store shelves don't contain the health benefits, but do contain a lot of sugar and chemicals. Yep, pretty much all of our childhood favorites are unhealthy.
We'll get the most nutritional value by looking for higher cacao and lower sugar content. Essentially, the darker the chocolate, the higher the cacao. This also means the more bitter it will taste. The flavanols are what make the chocolate bitter, so manufacturers often remove them. That's why chocolate is sweetened: to counteract the bitterness.
Here's the catch: those flavanols are where many of chocolate's health benefits come from. When choosing our chocolate, we have to balance nutritional benefit with palatability. Right? Right. Here's the bottom line:
As you celebrate National Chocolate Day, skip the card for your honey and give the gift that says you care: dark chocolate! :)
Health & Wellness Coach
Have you started thinking about the New Year yet?
I know it's a bit early, but trust me, this is the time to make a plan. A new year is a clean slate with so many new possibilities and adventures. There are about a million things (give or take) that I want to accomplish in 2016! So how do I take my ideas from my head and make them a reality?
I'll share some tips with you in case you have a million things (or even just one thing) you'd like to do in 2016. Now is a great time to start thinking through and doing a little planning!
There are four areas that I will not compromise in the busy-ness of life:
Are you ready to begin planning? Need help? I'm here for you!
Health & Wellness Coach
It's not all about the food. Yes,what we eat definitely matters - a LOT. However, there's more to the story. What I've learned is there are foods that nourish our body (called secondary foods) and there are foods that nourish the soul (primary foods. All the parts of our lives (work, relationships, family, spirituality, fitness, nutrition, etc) impact our wellness. Check this out 1 minute video ...
I had a wonderful client who was certain that her eating habits were contributing to her weight gain - and they did. However, as we continued to explore all her areas of wellness through an in-depth wellness evaluation that I administered, she discovered that one of her biggest imbalances was about finances - balancing her accounts, budgeting.
Here discovery was three-fold:
She decided it was time to get rid of the pink elephant. Setting a goal for herself to become more financially savvy she started working with a financial consultant and eventually repaired relationship with finances.
This was an empowering, wellness-enhancing event for her. She no longer stress eats over money, has learned how to budget, and, I am happy to report, has adopted a healthy eating style, lost the weight, and by addressing the issue head-on, she has acquired more strengths and success that will help her through future life challenges.
Sometimes we know what our imbalances are but choose to ignore them or perhaps overcompensating in another area of our life (which creates more imbalance). Often times we aren't fully aware of our imbalances and just think that life is meant to be hectic, stressful, and crazy. It's not. Knowing - and addressing - your more challenging areas can decrease stress, help you focus on what matters, set appropriate goals, lose weight, feel great, balance wellness.
Take this free Wellness Assessment - perhaps you'll discover something that's been holding you back from achieving balanced wellness in your life. Get rid of the pink elephant.
Health & Wellness Coach
Many people think that yoga is just stretching. Yes stretching is certainly involved, but yoga is really about creating balance in the body through developing both strength and flexibility.
This is done through the performance of poses or postures, each of which has specific physical benefits. The poses can be done quickly in succession, creating heat in the body through movement (vinyasa-style yoga) or more slowly to increase stamina and perfect the alignment of the pose. The poses are a constant, but the approach to them varies depending on the tradition in which the teacher has trained.
Yoga teachers will often refer to "your practice," which means your individual experience with yoga as it develops over time. The amazing thing about yoga is that your practice is always evolving and changing, so it never gets boring. Although the poses themselves do not change, your relationship to them will.
Anyone can start a yoga practice, even if you don't feel like you are very flexible or very strong. These things will improve the longer you practice. Another great thing about "your practice" is that it encourages the noncompetitive spirit of yoga. One of the most difficult, but ultimately most liberating things about yoga is letting go of the ego and accepting that no one is better than anyone else.
Yoga is about Y-O-U. I always remind people that yoga is 'their' time and it doesn't matter what I, or the person next to or in front of them looks like.
My goal for each class that I teach is to help each participant to feel successful on their yoga mat. I come from a fitness back- ground and like to focus on safety and effectiveness. You won't hear me speaking in Sanskrit or use a lot of flower terms to describe your experience. Instead, I provide clear, concise instruction, utilizing my many years of fitness to enhance the quality of each class.
Yoga is a great way to manage stress. You'll learn to breathe effectively, which calms the tension in your body and eases the mind. It's such a great way to rejuvenate, refresh, and de-stress.
Haven't tried yoga? There are so many different styles to choose from! There's bound to be a style of yoga to suite YOU!
Local friends, I invite you to try my new class, De-Stressing Gentle Yoga. I'm really excited to start this class at the brand new studio, Drive Dance Company in Billerica! Classes will be on Tuesdays at 7:00 pm starting October 20th.
Health & Wellness Coach
Mentoring you into a healthier eating style.
My programs will help you to understand which foods work best for your bio-individual needs, help you understand food labels and ingredients, take the mystery out of "clean" eating, and help you reach/maintain your desired weight.
Lots of options to choose from:
Let me know how I can help you in achieving your wellness goals.
Health & Wellness Coach
You know you should, but ......
The easy answer is ' because it's good for you', but did you know that you will benefit from regular exercise in these ways:
The bottom line is your body was made to move! You'll feel so much better when activity is part of your every day life!
Need help getting started? I'm here for you! I'll design an activity plan specifically for YOU!
CHHC, AADP, CYT, CPT
Health & Wellness Coach
Natural Calm magnesium citrate: $23.
Electrolite water: $3.59
Clean, healthy colon: Priceless!
The mere thought of ingesting something that could potentially make me feel crappy stresses me out. However, I know that emptying the contents of the colon is the first requirement for a successful colonoscopy. If the bowel prep isn’t up to par, polyps and lesions can be missed; the colonoscopy may take longer (increasing the risk of complications); or the whole process may need to be repeated or rescheduled. Sooo, proper prep is essential!
Here's how I successfully prepared for my first colonoscopy without cramping, vomiting, or other ill-effects. NOTE: This is what worked for ME; you may be different.
No red meat. By choice, my eating style is mostly plant-based, so not having red meat wasn't a big deal for me. I am not vegetarian or vegan, but do limit red meat intake. Leading up to my colonoscopy, I did not eat red meat for about two weeks. Fact: Red meat can take as long as 72 hours to digest.
Eat Clean. I started cleansing a few days prior. I believe this made the cleansing process much easier. Since my procedure was scheduled for Thursday, I decided to eat light and clean on Monday and Tuesday. My menu was: green smoothie for breakfast and lunch (kale, spinach, banana, 2 dates, frozen organic cherries and peach slices, wheat grass powder, water, splash of almond milk). For dinner on both nights I had homemade vegetable and rice soup and a couple slices of whole grain bread. I probably had a square or two of dark chocolate because, well, it's chocolate.
Water. Water. Water. Water is necessary for the body to function on a cellular level, so drinking a lot of clean, filtered water is always important.
24 Hours to C-Day
Too few calories make for a cranky Peggy. I like food. Solid food. Liquid cleanses make me cranky so they're not something I would willingly partake in. Knowing that fluids would be the "food" of choice for about 24 hours didn't appeal to me. No popcorn. No almonds. No apples. No chewing. Just clear liquids (no red wine, no beer, no smoothies). I know, get over it, right? It is what it is, so deal with it. Over-thinking it can be mentally draining, so a little mind-over-matter was necessary. I stayed busy. Instead of salivating over my husband's dinner, I did yoga. When I started thinking about food, I wrapped Christmas gifts. I slowly and mindfully sipped the hot, organic chicken broth for lunch (which wasn't as exciting in reality, but a lil' black pepper kicked it up a notch). Throughout the day I drank water, hot peppermint tea with honey, and white grape juice. I read. I worked. It was all good. What we think about becomes our reality. The mind is very powerful. I didn't continuously ponder the fact that I hadn't chewed a meal all day, and that was very helpful.
Relax, it's laxative time. I found Natural Calm at GNC. The store manager warned that it can work as a laxative. "Perfect! That's the plan." I chose this product because it is an all-natural laxative (non-GMO, vegan, no preservatives or artificial flavors/colors). I am very careful about what I eat and drink daily. I read ingredients. Why should I have to ingest something synthetic? Why don't doctors give choices? (Questions for another day. I digress.)
No additives = no ill-effects. Natural Calm doesn't have all the additives, which can act as stimulants and irritants and cause inflammation in the bowel lining. I did not experience bloating, incontinence, or cramping. I simply mixed 3 tablespoons of the powder in hot water (I used the electrolyte water) and sipped through a straw. Surprisingly enough, it actually has a good taste and it made me feel kind of full, but not bloated. It took about thirty minutes to "work". I drank a glass full at 6pm, another at 10pm, and the final one (drum roll, please) at 3:30 am. Gotta get it done!
Seeing the inside of the colon is cool. I wish I'd had the opportunity to see it. I don't remember anything beyond thinking how I'd like to watch the procedure on the screen (I mean, how cool to see the inside of your colon!). One minute I'm meeting the doctor and thinking how strange it is to meet someone who is about to insert a scope where a scope should't go, and the next minute I'm in recovery. Well, it seemed like a minute anyway.
While I didn't get to see the procedure on the screen, they did send me home with some cool photos, which are on the fridge of course. Just kidding.
I had the most awesome nap at home and awoke feeling pretty good. I was able to teach my gentle yoga class at 7pm. By the way, ladies in my class, did you happen to notice the two electrode things stuck on my chest?! If you saw them, did you think they were body piercings? Why didn't you point them out? I laughed so hard when my husband said, "What are those things on your chest?" I found a third one on my abdomen.
Go get your colonoscopy. It could save your life!
The Whole Foods electrolyte water and my laxative of choice.
I know. You were probably hoping for a pic of my inner intestine...
Wellness Lifestyle Educator
Possessor of a happy, healthy colon
This past weekend I had a great out-of-the-box experience when I participated with nine awesome women teammates in the physical, mud-filled event, Mudderella. It is a team-driven, five mile course consisting of thirteen obstacles to conquer along the way. I was asked to join this event eight months prior and thought it sounded like a lot of fun. We solicited other women ranging in age between 20-52, formed a team, and called ourselves “Lethal Ladies”.
What entices people to pay good money to slosh around in the mud? Initially, for me it was a new challenge that would take me out of my comfort zone, something to work toward, focus on, and train for. In hindsight, I see it’s benefits were so much more.
My training for the event wasn’t too different from my usual workouts: running, yoga, cycling, and strength training, but I did add workouts at the track with teammates. This was one of my favorite aspects because friendships became stronger and it was nice to workout with others. Typically, I work out alone because of my schedule, so sharing the journey with others was nice. Camaraderie is such a great gift.
As 'Mud Day' approached, I didn’t really feel nervous, but wondered how it would be: perhaps grueling? Would I be able to do all of the obstacles? Would it be really crowded (I hate to run in crowds)? Would my nagging Achilles injury act up? Mudderella claims “if you can run a mile, you can do Mudderella”. Well I run a lot and felt pretty confident in my abilities and the “bring it on!” attitude of my team members helped build excitement.
On event day, we awakened early, drove almost two hours north to the venue. As I stood at the starting line with my Lethal Ladies teammates, amid a sea of brave women of diverse ages, shapes, sizes, I felt so … empowered … and happy. I was proud to be standing there with my friends, especially with my 23-year old daughter, Katy.
The first mile was hot. Slick with sweat, we paired up to piggy-back a teammate at the first obstacle. I thought for sure I’d drop Becky because sweaty legs are slippery. Thankfully I didn’t. We went through wooded trails that wound around to the next obstacle. In the beginning, I’d run around mud slicks, but after a couple of miles it really didn't matter. Might as well go right through it!
Wading through thick murky, stinky water (there was a definite stench of manure) wasn’t the most pleasant experience, but it had to be done! (I just wanted to avoid getting it in my eyes and mouth). Sliding down, face-first through a tunnel into this rank water was nasty. Yet, at the same time, it felt good to cool off. The heat had deteriorated my standards, I guess.
On we went, crawling army-style through dark tunnels, climbing over ten-foot walls, jumping into water-filled trenches. We were soaked, stinky, mud-caked, and attracting flies (that’s when you know you stink!). Yet, when I looked around at my teammates and other women, there were only smiles and laughter! It was amazing! WOMEN are amazing!
We all conquered something on that course. Katy had to maneuver around a frog in a water trench (she’s not a frog fan) and cope with the fact that she reeked of fertilizer (as we all did). Deb hesitated but made it through the thick, muddy waters with encouragement from Karen. As I jogged with our youngest team member, Samantha, she called out words of encouragement, “Way to go ladies! Keep up the good work!” She’s a good motivator.
I am particularly impressed with two of the young moms on our team, Kaitlyn and Danielle. They both have young children and jobs –busy lives that don’t always allow time for exercise, so training wasn’t always an option for them. However, not only did they kick butt but they did it with a smile and never a complaint! Such strength and willpower!
Donna discovered that she likes to run. Karen ran as much as her knee would allow, displaying her strength and stamina. Chris soldiered on with a smile the entire way. Becky ran, climbed, and crawled with strength and determination.
We walked across the finish line in our squishy sneakers, sodden hair and clothing, muck-filled, mud-covered, grimy, with a whiff of eau de manure, and it was all good. Our sense of accomplishment, strength, unity, and pride over flowed! In fact, many of us promised to participate next year for our sidelined teammate, Tammy. Lethal Ladies 2.0!
Why do I share this story with you? I’m a health coach so this blog always ties-in with wellness. All aspects of life are wellness. Every day, our choices either strengthen or weaken our wellness. I choose to enhance mine as often as possible through healthful eating, exercising, healthy relationships, and leaving the coziness of my comfort zone to try something new. It all counts!
Step outside of the box and into some mud!