Tuesday, September 24, 2013

5 Ways to Feel More Sexy, Beautiful, Comfortable & Confident in Your Own Skin TODAY

Can you relate?

I found this in a journal from high school. And I'm looking at this picture now, thinking, I actually look pretty sexy! I was worried about that belly "hanging out"? To be honest, I was.

Flip through any women's magazine for a glimpse of the photo-edited feminine beauty standard. Unrealistic models are everywhere. And they have become our Models. You don't need a magazine to know what I'm talking about, do you?

Back in high school, I wanted that. Bad. I was in a constant battle with my body. I spent most of my life sucking my belly in to look sexy. Or exercising non-stop. Or only eating vegetables. Maybe you've been there - it's no way to live! To battle with your body feels powerless, will-less, miserable and frustrating.

When do we get to define and be our own flavor of sexy, of beautiful?

When do we get to feel comfortable and confident living in our own skin?

When do we get to love and partner with our bodies?

Never, if we hold ourselves up to the impossible and improbable.
Never, if we believe the messaging that we're never good enough.
Never, if we constantly judge ourselves and each other.
Never, if we're always sucking it in, and ignoring its signals.

But we CAN choose to feel sexy and beautiful, comfortable and confident
RIGHT NOW, if we decide it's not something someone else gets to define.
Right now, if we choose to love ourselves just as we are.
Right now, if we allow our imperfections to be the most beautiful parts of us.
Right now, if we give ourselves permission.
Right now, if we change our minds to be our body's best friend, and let it be ours.

5 Ways to Feel More Sexy, Beautiful, Comfortable & Confident in Your Own Skin TODAY:
(Sarah Jenks of Live More Weigh Less is a HUGE inspiration for this list! Check her out!)

  1. Wear clothes that you feel amazing in, that flatter your body. Don't have any? Don't wait to "lose that weight" ... decide you deserve to feel amazing NOW. Buy something new today if you have to. Love those curves up!
  2. Do your hair. Moisturize your skin. Wear red lipstick. Dab on your favorite scent. Taking care to adorn your body is an affirmation of love! Sarah wisdom: A lot of us get nervous about drawing attention to ourselves. It can feel vain, uncomfortable and even dangerous. I need you to know that it is empowering, safe and fun to add a little flare to your face. I think you'll see that this simple act will completely change your whole day.
  3. Stand up straight. Walk with your shoulders back and your chest out for a whole day. Breathe in the air! Flirt with the world. What you project, you get reflected back. Try it right now... feels different doesn't it? And yes, I fake it 'til I make it. All the time.
  4. Get dressed up, heels and all, for no reason whatsoever. As Sarah Jenks would say: If people ask you what's the occasion, say "I decided that it's time to start dressing how I feel." Own it.
  5. Drink green juice and smoothies. These feel more powerfully energizing than coffee to me. My current favorite green smoothie = half a cucumber, one apple, 6 kale leaves, a handful of mint, juice of a lemon, half a cup of blueberries, 2 tablespoons of ground flax. Be flexible. When you get in your greens, you'll feel light, lively and high up on top of the world. And proud of yourself, as you should!
What are you choosing to do today?
How does it feel?? Share a picture or comment below!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tired of trying to control yourself with food? Try this super simple exercise instead!

Does "Eat This, Not That" food advice make you feel a little tight, contracted, restricted, or icky inside? To be completely honest, Alisa Vitti's blood sugar diet plan that I recently shared made me feel a little bit too controlling with my food.

How did I know it was making me feel too controlling? Well, I noticed I was thinking way to critically about my meals, I was feeling bad about anything outside of the plan that I ate... and I wasn't having that much fun. I've learned to pay attention to that feeling. When I don't, it usually leads to an all-out crazy binge. This time I noticed what wasn't feeling good before I went there.
Me in middle school!

I've spent a lot of my life in control mode. Growing up, I couldn't control a lot that I wished I could: what the other girls said about me; my parents' relationship; my homework situation. So I controlled what I could.

Or, what I thought I could... my outward appearance. I wore the smiling "I've got it all under control" mask that allowed me to look like the success I wanted to be, but that kept me tight within a box that gave me no satisfaction and left little room for self-expression. I became depressed.

I tried to control my body, eating healthy during the day so I could have whatever desserts I wanted at night and special occasions. I exercised constantly to keep my unruly body in check. Looking back, I can see that I was thin, fit and beautiful, but at the time, all I saw were the bulges, the pimples, the hairs, the ugly.

It drove me CRAZY that I was focusing so much energy on perfecting my body, but it was the one thing that continued to be messy, imperfect, uncontrollable, unpredictable. My weight fluctuated. I got sick. My skin would break out with out warning. My belly was bloated. I got my period out of the blue.

Eventually, after much anxiety and unbalanced diet (at that point, my diet was whole grains, soy products, sweet treats and hardly a drop of fat or protein otherwise), I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It was a wake up call and a real inner surrendering. It was beyond my understanding. I was deeply frustrated and angry with my body. After all I'd done to feed and take care of it?!

Things is, I'd never really been taught how to take care of my body properly, holistically. I didn't really know what it needed to work and flow, what would really make it feel good, balanced, energized. Yes, I obsessively read Seventeen all through high school, looking for the latest diets and belly flattening tips and tricks. I knew about whole grains and vegetables. But that wasn't health.

This is why a big part if my mission today is to put real, biologically and nutritionally sound and accessible information out there for women. It would have saved me a lot of pain and misery to have had information like Alisa Vitti's Womancode book back then (psst, pass it on)!

But it also matters what you choose to do with all of that information. Even the WomanCode blood sugar balancing protocol that I shared is a diet and won't work for everyone's body and tastes. The old me would have gone into strict diet mode with that plan, thinking THIS was finally the answer to being thin and happy (and that's a whole other issue)! The real problem was, I wasn't asking my body or listening to the signals it was sending me about what it needed or wanted.

My suggestion for any diet or nutrition advice you hear?
Take the information and try it if it sounds appealing to you. Pay very, very close attention to how it makes you feel. Take what works, leave what doesn't. Listen to your body. Here's the easiest way to do that!

Here's a super simple way to do that!

Know a friend who would love this? Pass it on!

The body doesn't lie. Your experience is ultimately your experience. If you don't know what feels good for you... Well, all I know for sure is that no one else can truly know that for you. You could say its a major part of the quest I'm on... to find out what lights my fire, what fuels the energy in my body and in my life so I can create more of those experiences.

Any time you hear about any approach to eating that appeals to you, I invite you to simply play with it. No need to adopt it as your holy grail right off the bat. Maybe it will be great! Maybe it will suck.

During my time at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition we were exposed to over 100 approaches to diet and lifestyle in 10 months, some of them directly contradictory! I had to feel out what resonated and then just play. I'm still playing, and my body is ever evolving. And my body never lies.

I used to think it was something I had to control but I've found that when I try to really work with it, in relationship with it (I listen, I ask questions, I make time for it, I take care of it, I pour love all over it), we are a spectacular team. And when we're really in sync, I'm on top of the world, I can do everything I want to in my life, I have the energy to show up as my best, beautiful self!

So play! Take what works, leave what doesn't. Stay curious. Don't judge yourself on what you can make work for you and what you can't. Instead, use your growing body awareness to judge what you want to keep doing and what you want to do differently, based on what works and feels good and what doesn't.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A New Sugar for Your Pantry

I love a decadent bite of sweets... but as you might have noticed, I'm also very conscious of my blood sugar. Is it possible to have both? Yes!

I want to introduce you to one of my favorite sugar substitutes...
Coconut Palm Sugar!

I love it for many reasons:
  • It is a granular sugar and can be subbed in 1-for-1 anywhere you would normally use white or brown sugar, even in baking.
  • It tastes lightly like caramel, slightly nutty... mmm!
  • It's minimally processed (taken as a sap from a coconut palm tree, like maple syrup, then simply dehydrated) so is full of an amazing array of trace vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other macro-nutrients. Eating processed sugar actually pulls the missing minerals right from your bones! Yikes.
  • It's considered to be one the most sustainably produced sugar available, a by-product of coconut fruit production that doesn't even affect the productivity of the trees!
  • It has a low Glycemic Load (meaning a serving of it has a relatively small effect on your blood sugar levels), and so, in moderation, won't rock your blood sugar boat.
What's "Glycemic Load" anyway?
Maybe you've heard the terms Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load before. And they can be very useful terms when you know what they mean. Here's the quick and easy way to remember what they are...
  • Glycemic Index is a 0-100 scale indicating how how quickly a carbohydrate (such a sugar) breaks down in your body and goes into your blood stream. An orange, for example, has a glycemic index of about 45, moderately fast in breaking down its sugars.
  • Glycemic Load is a 0-50 scale that's actually way more useful, because it also takes the quantity of what you're eating into consideration. It lets you know how much of an overall effect a carbohydrate will have on your blood sugar. That orange only has a glycemic load of 5, and so has a relatively low impact on your blood sugar. If you're eating multiple oranges, the impact on your blood sugar, and thus the glycemic load will go up.
  • On of my favorite nutrition reference sites, Self Nutrition Data, gives extensive but comprehensive breakdowns of nutritional data, including Glycemic Load. Check out oranges!

Where to get Coconut Palm Sugar
Whole Foods: sometimes in bulk bins or sold in bags in the baking section. And, you can even buy coconut palm sugar on Amazon... really!

Now, my favorite part... What to do with it!
Like I said, try subbing it into your favorite baking recipes (I've even gotten to the point where I reduce the sugar amounts in things like cookies... just be careful about your dry/liquid ratios when baking!). Here are a few low-glycemic coconut-palm-friendly recipes...

Homemade Nectarine Jam
3 ripe nectarines
1 tablespoon water
optional 1/2 teaspoon agar agar flakes or fruit pectin
  1. Pit and dice 3 ripe nectarines, skin on and put into a small pot with about 1 tablespoon of water. Turn heat to medium-high to get cooking, lid on to steam cook and soften fruit. Stir frequently.
  2. Remove lid and turn heat to low when the fruit bubbling, soft and starting to get jammy. Stir often to prevent sticking!
  3. You may add an optional 1/2 tsp agar agar (a tasteless seaweed thickener) or fruit pectin. Allow liquid to evaporate until you've reached your desired consistency. It will thicken further when it cools. 
  4. For Nectarine Rose Jam, add 1/8 cup dried rose petals (I plucked them from the tea section and removed stems and cores) or 2 teaspoons rose water when you turn the heat down. *Only use fresh petals if you know personally they were grown without pesticides. Most fresh store-bought roses are loaded with chemicals!*

PB Cookie Dough Dip
Adapted from ChocolateCoveredKatie.com. This makes a great party dish (don't tell people the ingredients, they never guess) and is one of my favorite blood-sugar balancing midafternoon snacks!

1 can chickpeas or white beans (1.5 cups, drained & rinsed very well)
3 tbsp oats (ground flax will also work)
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar (or sweetener of choice)

heaping 1/8-1/4 tsp salt (are your beans salted or not?)
heaping 1/8 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup natural peanut butter (or of choice)
up to 1/4 cup milk of choice, only if needed
1/3 cup dark or bittersweet chocolate chips (or use part cacao nibs for less overall sugar)

  1. Add all ingredients (except for chocolate chips) to a good food processor (not blender), and blend until very smooth, adding milk as needed to achieve a smooth, cookie-dough consistency.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the chocolate chips. Serve simply with spoons (my favorite), dark cocoa cookies, graham crackers, pretzels, or unsweetened banana chips.

Enjoy & Savor! Post your favorite Coconut Palm Sugar recipes and recipe makeovers below...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Eat to Balance Your Energy, Mood & Drive

Balancing your blood sugar is the foundation for having the energy, stable mood, happy digestion, clear skin, and sex drive you want. All of that, yep. It all starts with your blood sugar.

I'm reading Alisa Vitti's WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source right now and it's totally rocking my world! If you like knowing how your body works so you can work with it, THIS is your go-to book. Trust me, I've read a lot of books about taking care of your body and this is the best practical, informative handbook I've picked up that connects all the dots.

Here's a selection of Alisa's steps for managing your blood sugar and busting your cravings for sweets all day long (and yes, my dudes, this goes for you too)!

  • Drink at least 8 oz of water immediately upon waking - try it warm with lemon.
  • Eat breakfast within 90 minutes of waking, and have a good quality protein (such as eggs, salmon, hemp protein shake...)
  • Don't consume caffeine of any kind before breakfast.
  • Minimize carbohydrates in the morning to 30-50 grams (read your food labels - 2 slices of sprouted whole-grain bread have about 30 grams) depending on whether you're a fast or slow burner.
  • Eat lunch within 3.5 hours of breakfast.
  • Eat the majority of your daily calories at lunch (this is when you're active and using them!).
  • Try to have only one complex carbohydrate (brown rice or black beans, not both).
  •  Incorporate at least one good-fat food (like avocado, olive oil, sunflower seeds) to keep blood sugar more stable and prevent you from craving simple carbs later in the day.
  • Eat dinner within 2.5-3.5 hours of your snack.
  • Stick to a meal of vegetarian or animal protein (lentils, tempeh, salmon, etc...) and raw or cooked vegetables.
  • Avoid grains and sugar of any other kind. If you consume sugar at night when you're least active, the resulting glucose in your bloodstream is more likely to be stored as fat than used as energy.
  • Schedule dinner so you'll be going to bed 3.5-4 hours after you last eat.
Get more tips on how to live in your "FLO" at Alisa's site FLOliving.com...