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7 Tips For A Happy Healthy Holiday Season

Happy Holiday Season! I love this time of year, everyone seems to be in a generally better mood. Let’s keep the good moods coming and plan for a happy healthy holiday! Here are my 7 tips for a happy healthy holiday season!

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Prioritize Sleep: Try to get a solid 7-8 hours every night! Only stay out late on the nights you know you can sleep in the next morning. Have to be up early? Turn in early!

Have a Nutrition Game Plan: This will make a huge difference! I wrote a post at Thanksgiving with tips for making healthy food choices here. Prioritize your vegetables and protein!

Less Coffee, More Tea: Around the holidays we tend to look to caffeine for that extra little boost. After your regular cup of coffee, try to get any additional caffeine from green tea. Preliminary research is linking green tea to reduced cortisol (stress hormones) levels, while it’s too soon to recommend an optimal dose there are still many other benefits to its consumption. You can read more about it here.

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Increase Your Anti-inflammatory foods: The holidays are filled with lots of delicious goodies! Unfortunately, these goodies have very little nutritional value and can cause inflammation to increase in the body. Combine that with lack of sleep and increased stress and you have the perfect environment for an unhappy gut! Adding in foods such as fresh fruit and veggies, turmeric and ginger can help decrease inflammation in the body. Please check with your Dr before adding in turmeric if you are on any medications as it may cause an interaction. You can find a delicious turmeric milk recipe here.

Be Kind To Your Gut: Along with the above tips try to be mindful of what your putting in your body. Making sure that at least 80% of your food intake is still veggies, meat, healthy fats and whole grains which will keep you feeling satisfied. An overload of refined sugar and white flour creates a breeding ground in your gut for bad bacteria and can be difficult to reverse. I like to pass on most sweets and save room for the ones I really love……chocolate peanut butter balls! After a big plate of veggies and turkey it’s easy for me to just have on or two because I’m not hungry.

Simplify Christmas: Christmas is a very busy time of year. It should be something we look forward to, not dread. This year I decided I was going to buy the people closest to me a simple gift they will enjoy and not worry about buying tons of presents or finding the “perfect” gift. We got a small tree that I am decorating today and I’ll pull out a few decorations. It can be so easy to lose site of the true meaning of Christmas, it was never meant to be about the show but rather about love, joy and peace. You can read a blog post about this topic by one of my favorite authors, my mom, here. This Christmas try giving out of LOVE, celebrating with JOY and taking time to enjoy the PEACE that this special celebration was meant to bring.

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

 

 

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

I hear this question so frequently that I decided to address it here. Many times I’ve sat down with clients and had them tell me that no matter what they do, they cannot lose weight. I believe them. I’ve received private messages, texts, and emails with lists of diets and exercise regimes clients say they have stuck to religiously. I believe them.

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When your car isn’t working, do you go out immediately and buy a new engine? Or do you take it to a mechanic who can take a look under the hood and tell you exactly what is going wrong? Hopefully you chose the latter. When it comes to health, fitness, and weight loss we tend to rely on ourselves to find the answers. Instead of finding out why our body is reacting the way it is, we google weight-loss, and pick the diet working for somebody else. We hop on the diet or fitness bandwagon, sometimes unknowingly making things worse. If you have a flat tire, changing the oil isn’t going to fix the problem. For years the mindset was that if someone was overweight, they were lazy and ate too much. For years doctors have told people to eat less and follow the food guide, but we have gotten more sick. We have blamed the sick person for too long without ever looking under the hood to see what is really happening. I have had multiple clients who come to me eating less than 1500 calories a day who are NOT losing weight. I have had people come to me that eat Paleo, and workout an hour a day, but still cannot lose weight. Unless I can sit down with you and dig around under the hood, I cannot begin to guess why you cannot lose weight. That being said, I have noticed some commonalities, and I am going to address them below.

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Hormones

This is not a female-only problem. I have had male clients who live high-stress lives, and have cortisol issues. So many things in our daily lives affect our hormones. The makeup we put on our faces, the pollution we are breathing in, the type of exercise we do, all of these things have an impact on our hormones. Many of this can be taken care of with proper rest, relaxation techniques, and a healthy diet. The hardest part for most people is this doesn’t happen overnight. It can take months to help someone properly balance out their hormones. If you’re waking up tired in the morning and feeling wired at night, you might be dealing with imbalanced cortisol levels. If you’re dealing with stubborn belly fat that won’t leave no matter how much weight you lose, you might be dealing with high estrogen. The list of side effects for hormone imbalances is long, but luckily most people can re-balance with simple lifestyle and nutrition changes. This is not a quick fix solution, but hopefully it’s a life changing one.

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Sleep

I cannot stress enough how important sleep is. If you do not get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, make that your goal. Sleep is important for not only rest and recovery, but for resetting our hormones. Melatonin is a natural supplement that many people use to help aid them in reestablishing a sleep cycle. You can also try shutting off all electronics an hour before bed, writing down anything that stresses you out in a journal, or participating in some bedtime yoga. Food can be a huge sleep disruption for many people, especially when it comes to food intolerances.

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Food Intolerance

With 1 in 8 people choosing to go gluten free, and 60% of North America having an intolerance to lactose, it is safe to say that food affects us. Food intolerances used to be scoffed at by the medical community, but are now being recognized as one of the instigators to inflammation, poor mental health, disrupted sleep, arthritis, and a host of other problems. All of these things can impact your ability to lose weight. I have guided many clients through a two week elimination diet to help them safely remove foods that may be bothering them, and then reintroducing the eliminated foods to pinpoint the culprit. I do not recommend trying an elimination diet without the proper guidance, but when done properly it can be an important tool.

You Are Special

Anyone watch Barney, and remember this song?

“You are special, you’re the only one
You’re the only one like you
There isn’t another in the whole wide world
Who can do the things you do

Oh, you are special, special, everyone is special
Everyone in his or her own way
Oh, you are special, special, everyone is special
Everyone in his or her own way”

There is no one-size-fits-all diet or exercise regime. It’s important to look at yourself as a unique individual when talking about health. Do not be discouraged when something that works for someone else doesn’t work for you. You just haven’t found the right fit yet.  Don’t forget to enter your email in the “follow this blog” box, come January I will be sending out a newsletter once a month and announcing a BIG surprise!

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

 

How To Build A Balanced Meal

Our standard North American diet is anything but balanced. Often when we think of balanced we think of such phrases as “everything in moderation.” While this phrase has great applications in other areas of life we need to stop using it in reference to food. There are some foods we need a LOT of, some foods we need SOME of and other foods we need very LITTLE of, if at all.

What should my plate look like?

LOTS of vegetables

SOME protein, fat and a healthy carbohydrate

LITTLE processed food, sugar and trans fats

Start by filling half your plate with vegetables. This could be a leafy green salad, steamed vegetables, raw vegetables or a mix of all three. Start by adding in the vegetables you like the most and then slowly introduce some new ones.

Next include a good source of protein. This could be chicken, beef, lamb, fish or a variety of other meats. You can also consume your protein from non-animal sources by including quinoa, rice and beans, nuts and seeds and many other vegetarian options. A palm sized portion of protein is a good place to start, although many men need 1-2 servings.

Now you need a source of healthy carbohydrates. You can achieve this by adding in whole grains, sweet potato, squash, rice and a variety of other sources. Most of us have inactive jobs and do not require the amount of carbohydrates that are currently in our diets. 1/5 of your plate will be enough for many people. If you have an active job, or exercise frequently, you may need to increase the amount.

Don’t forget a healthy source of fat! Fat will help keep you feeling full and satisfied. It is also important for regulating hormones and keeping your brain healthy! Try to include 1-2 TBSP of healthy fat in your meal. This can include avocado, coconut oil, flax seeds, olive oil dressing and many other sources.

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If you signed up to follow my blog you received an “Intro To Nutrition” graphic in your inbox. This image is from that handout. You can still receive the whole handout by entering your email in the “follow this blog” box.

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

Should I Follow A Meal Plan?

I’ll be honest, there was a time in my career where I was strongly against meal plans. I had let other peoples opinions decide for me rather than asking myself “what is best for me?” Like anything else, I believe that meal plans can have their place and time when done properly.

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The Back Story

When I was working as a personal trainer I would frequently get asked for meal plans by my clients. At the time I wasn’t a registered nutritionist and wasn’t willing to operate outside of my scope of practice. When I started developing my business I had to ask myself “what do I believe in terms of nutrition?” It didn’t take me long to realize I wanted to have an open mind, I can’t possibly already know everything so why would I put myself, or my clients, in a box? We often form our opinions based on our own experiences and interactions. It’s easy for me to say that because something didn’t work for me it won’t work for you, but that isn’t true! Always do your own research and form your own opinions! I provide clients that are part of my beet program with a flexible meal plan. This means that I provide them with a variety of combinations and balanced meals that they can mix and match. I keep it very simple, and use the plan to teach them how to build a healthy meal on their own. It isn’t a plan they should just follow blindly, it is a plan they should learn from and be able to move on from. It is a stepping stone on their health journey. The plan is only set up for a two week duration, at the end of the two weeks the client is ready to try and build their own meals. If you are considering a meal plan, there are some important questions you should ask yourself:

Will this make my life better?

This should improve your health, if it is causing mental stress it probably isn’t the right approach for you. Obsessing over a meal plan is going to cause more harm than good. On the other hand, if its going to make your life easier by eliminating some of the decisions that need to be made about food, then it can be a very positive experience.

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Will this teach me something useful?

Often our initial reaction is to jump in and follow the plan to a T. This is not a realistic approach, life is unpredictable. If you can view the meal plan as a learning tool, and not as a constraint, you will have a better experience. If the meal plan isn’t set up in such a way that you know the why of it, then you should look for a different plan. I set all my meal plans up with labels for carbohydrates, fat, protein and vegetables. This way my clients learn the proper portion sizes and how to recognize a well balanced plate themselves.

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Be A Forever Student 

Speaking in absolutes is necessary at times but when it comes to the health and fitness industry there is still so much more to learn. What we think is the best way to workout today, may not be the best way tomorrow. The same can be said of diet, we need to be willing to keep an open mind and realize that it’s not that we were doing it wrong before, its that we can do it better now. Every day we should be able to do it better if we are open to learning. Be a forever student!

Want to receive a nifty graphic that provides you with an introduction to basic nutrition? Enter your email in the “Follow this blog” box and it will be in your inbox Monday morning!

Eat your veggies!

Charity

 

Gluten Free Chocolate Donuts!

Donuts! Need I say more? I’ve been gluten free for 10 years, one of the treats I miss is donuts.  Anytime we hear of a gluten free donuts we jump at the opportunity to buy them. The only problem with most gluten free donuts is they are FILLED with sugar. These delicious dark chocolate donuts are sweetened with maple syrup and consist of mainly eggs and coconut oil!IMG_5532

What you will need:

4 eggs

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup Maple Syrup

5 TBSP Rice Flour

2 TBSP Tapioca flour

1/3 cup of cocoa

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

 

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Melt coconut oil and Butter. Add maple syrup and eggs, blend until smooth. Mix all dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and cocoa) and add to wet ingredients. Mix until smooth. The mixture will appear very runny, that’s ok! IMG_5537

Pour the mixture into a greased donut pan and place in the oven at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Let cool and top with your favorites! I made an icing out of butter, maple syrup and cocoa. You can also add coconut, sprinkles and nuts.IMG_5534

Eat your veggies…..and your donuts!

Charity

What’s in your “Coffee”?

The holidays are almost upon us, and Starbucks has already rolled out their holiday drinks. Instagram is filled with Peppermint Mochas and Caramel Brule Lattes! While most people know that baked goods and holiday treats contain a lot of sugar, we often overlook our beverages. Today, I want to share some of the nutrition facts of the popular holiday drinks and also offer suggestions for making better choices. There is nothing wrong with having a peppermint mocha while out Christmas shopping, but if the mocha has replaced your morning coffee it has become a habit and not a treat. Here are the calories and sugar content of the popular holiday drinks.

Grande Peppermint Mocha
444 calories
54g of sugar

Grande Gingerbread Latte
440 calories
54g of sugar

Toasted White Chocolate Mocha
420 calories
53g of sugar

Not only do each of these drinks equal a meal in calories, they are mostly “empty” calories. Even though the drinks average 15g of protein and fat per beverage, outside of that they are mostly liquid sugar. I have no problem with calories if they are nutrient dense, and give your body what it needs. These are mostly “empty” calories because they contain little nutrient value.

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Order a simple beverage 

Coffee itself does not contain sugar. There are many drinks at Starbucks that contain little sugar and have a bold and creamy coffee flavour.

Grande Almond Milk Latte
100 calories
5g of sugar

Flat White-Whole Milk and Brewed Espresso
220 calories
17g of sugar

Americano-Hot Water and Espresso
15 calories
0g of sugar

*This beverage is quite creamy and a little added cream goes a LONG way

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“But I don’t like coffee…”

First, we cannot be friends. Second, why are you buying a coffee beverage if you DON’T LIKE COFFEE? It might be time to ask yourself, “Am I buying coffee or am I buying sugar?” You can buy sugar everyday if you want to, but you need to call it what it is. If you’re buying the beverage because you need the caffeine, but you want to mask the coffee flavour, there is a simple way to cut back. A flavoured Grande Latte has four pumps of syrup in it. Start by asking for one less pump and eventually work your way down to one pump. This will significantly lower the sugar content, and you may surprise yourself by developing a liking for the coffee flavour.

Save your sugar for your favourite treats! If that’s a Mocha from Starbucks on Christmas Eve, go for it!

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

 

Personal Update: Good Things Are Happening!

Hello Friends!
It’s been a while since I posted an update on my own personal journey, so here it is. There is so much I could tell you about! So, in order to keep it organized and short(ish) I am going to break things up by category. If you haven’t read my earlier post about my health journey you can read that here.

My Business

Starting my own business was not easy, I opened myself up to criticism and possible failure. I was scared. I am happy to report that thus far it has been a great experience and the business is growing every month. I have a project I am working on for January that I am excited to share with you all, keep an eye out for that! I am also VERY excited to announce a partnership with 17Barbells, I’ll be involved in their programs as a nutritionist and coach. I wasn’t sure if coaching was something I would go back too but realized I really do miss it. Eatreal4life will be my main focus but I feel that coaching will only inspire me further in my mission to help others regain their health. You can find more info on the Eatreal4life Facebook page.

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My Health

I originally had a whole post about this, but it was WAY too long. So here is the condensed version. I recently had some blood work done and was happy to get positive results. My cholesterols, triglyceride count and blood sugar were all perfect. When I was in University my results were not so pretty, my body was so sick that none of my results were optimal. As someone who eats the opposite of the governments recommended food guide, it was great to have results to back up what I’ve been doing. I wasn’t expecting to see such good results because I’ve been feeling under the weather the last 6-8 weeks. This summer was awesome, but very busy and it finally caught up with me. The week before my brothers wedding had a lot of late nights and the consumption of food I don’t normally eat. When we arrived home from the wedding I crashed pretty hard and couldn’t seem to regain my health. It also didn’t help that I had a severe gluten reaction the weekend before thanksgiving. I spent three days in bed and experienced about two weeks of bad anxiety. It was recommended this summer that I have some more testing done, to see if there were any red flags that could be identified. The testing came back and was very insightful. It turns out that there are two cycles in my body that do not do what they should. One of the cycles explains why I can’t absorb B12, and only further indicated my need for regular shots. The second red flag explained why I have such extreme ups and downs with my health. My body cannot eliminate catecholamines like most people’s can. This means that certain hormones in my body build up, rather than being filtered out like they are supposed to. Luckily, adding some vitamins and minerals should significantly improve this problem. Since starting the supplements I have noticed a difference, the biggest difference being that my lymph nodes aren’t swollen behind my ears, they’ve been swollen for almost two months. I also have had increased energy that seems to be building every day. I am still 150lbs and have maintained this for 5 months now. I have not focused on my weight at all and feel that this is a natural place for my body to be at. Its amazing the side effects of good nutrition.

IMG_4781These pictures are a few years apart. The one on the right is from a month ago. Even thought I’ve been feeling under the weather I am still a much healthier person than the picture on the left!

My Training Routine and Diet

Due to the above issues, the last 6-8 weeks in the gym have been tough. I don’t appear to look any different, but I definitely don’t feel as strong as I did before. My focus right now is on building my immune system so I’m just accepting where I’m at rather than stressing about it. My diet is pretty much the same as it was this summer, I still consume a ton of vegetables! I do need to put my focus back on to keeping my fat consumption up and my carbohydrates(mainly grains) low, as this seems to work best for me. The focus right now is staying healthy and happy!

 

Never stop pursuing health. You are worth it. I truly believe it needs to be a life long journey! There will be many ups and downs, but the better prepared you are the less damage the downs will have. If your ready to take the next step on your health journey, I would love to help.

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

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