How to Stay Healthy on Vacation

While we all love a nice getaway, many of us find ourselves struggling to stay healthy on vacation. It’s challenging to keep up with our weight, healthy eating habits, and exercise routines when you’re away.

You spend the last few weeks before a trip trying to get “bikini ready” by dieting and exercising like a maniac. Then, when you’re finally on vacation, all thoughts of calorie restrictions and workouts go out the window. After the getaway, you come back home to find you’ve regained all the weight you worked so hard to shed. You either stay in a funk for a while or go back to the excessive dieting and exercising in yet another attempt to lose those pounds. Up and down go the numbers on the scale, the cycle never ends, and thus is life. This is a completely unsustainable way to maintain your health.

 

Surely there must be a better way to stay healthy on vacation and maintain it even afterward.. right? Right!!

 

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It’s been an exciting, travel-filled summer for me, with both domestic and international trips. I was sure I would be gaining plenty of weight because I was eating some delicious, rich foods. But hooray I maintained my weight and habits (actually even lost 2lbs!) without having to restrict myself.

I admit that I’ve faced these challenges time and time again when I am away from my home and my typical routine.  Through trial and error, I’ve figured out a simple, realistic approach to keeping my wellness level up before, during, and after a getaway. I hope this helps you stay on track and understand how to stay healthy on your next vacation.

Let’s dig into this, shall we?

 

MAKING CHOICES THAT ALIGN WITH YOUR WELLNESS PRIORITIES

Without structure and a routine when on vacation, it’s easy to lose sight of your wellness priorities.  For me, these priorities include honoring my body and maintaining a spiritual practice, among other things. I disregard these priorities by not resting enough (I get too excited and try to see and do as much as possible), throwing caution to the wind with food and beverage choices, and not making time for exercise, prayer, my thoughts. But there just isn’t enough time for everything, am I right?

So we’ve got to be intentional and creative to make the best choices for optimal results.

First, you have to release the mindset of feeling like you must to stick to a specific diet/exercise regimen while you’re on vacation.  Stop worrying about gaining weight. It’s times like these that the whole “have balance” philosophy comes into play. While you might be great at staying disciplined in your usual day-to-day schedule, when you’re on vacation it’s OKAY to indulge a LITTLE and relax. Now, on the other hand, you shouldn’t throw caution to the window and completely overindulge.

Well of course treating yourself is okay, but sometimes we overdo it and cross that fine line where treating yourself TOO much actually ends of hurting you.

Try your best to uphold your wellness priorities and healthy lifestyle without making it feel like a duty. Be intentional with your actions and choices.

 

EXERCISE WITHOUT EXERCISING?

I must applaud those of you that get up early and workout on vacation.  If you’re like me, working out just isn’t too appealing when you’re away. Some challenges that occur are lack of facilities, not enough space, or you’re too tired from staying out late the night before.  Not all is lost, however, because there are still plenty of ways to stay active, and in turn stay healthy on vacation!

Prevent yourself from gaining weight and getting out of shape by staying active as much as possible.

Some easy ways to get a little exercise without actually exercising can include: Walking, swimming, jogging, hiking, bike tours, stretching, local/ free yoga 

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A kayaking tour in Portugal was a fantastic form of exercise with a view

 

DIET AND NUTRITION

When it comes to food, it’s a little more challenging but here’s my strategy. Stick to simple breakfast options like nutrition shake, smoothie, or fruit and nuts so you are sure to start the day off nuritionally strong. I loovveee brunching, but limit it to just once or twice a week.

For lunch and dinner, whatever you choose to eat think about the option to share your dish. You are less likely to overeat this way.  I recommend checking out Yelp to review restaurant menus in advance.  Also consider visiting the nearest farmers market to try out local snacks and produce.

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A yummy meal in Costa Rica, with plenty of veggies

You know how much I love vegetables and plant based foods so it should not be surprising to you when I suggest focusing on getting vegetables into your meals. I know this can be difficult to do on vacation, but start small and try to aim for vegetables in AT LEAST one meal a day. That is the bare minimum you should strive for.

 

Limit dessert and decadent treats. Don’t make it a daily habit to have these.  In all honesty, desserts are my weakness ESPECIALLY on vacations. I’m tempted to try the best ice cream shops and all the famous desserts. A few strategies for this: share the sweet treat, make the rest of your meals healthy and load up on veggies, limit sugar in your diet with all other meals.

And most importantly, carry your own snacks with you because you never know when you’ll be stuck at an airport or in a position where you’re hAngry and the only options are fast food.  Coming up this week I will share with you some of my favorite healthy travel snacks. 

One final tip is to never have two unhealthy meals in a row. Always follow an unhealthy meal with a healthy one. This keeps me accountable to making sure that next meal will be nutritious and nourishing.

 

Whatever you do, don’t be miserable on vacation because you’re worried about getting “fat.” Check in with yourself to ensure your not overindulging. Don’t completely abandon the good stuff- fruits and veggies; And find creative ways to stay active.

Enjoy your trip, #treatyoself, and honor your wellness priorities. 

 

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A delicious dulce de leche donut at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn

YOUR TURN

What are your wellness priorities and how do you stay healthy on vacation?

Have you had a bad travel experience because you were worried about dieting and weight gain? Share your story or any advice.

 

 

Cheers,

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Favorite Healthy Living Tips & News of The Week- 4/20/16

Welcome to my weekly wellness roundup of interesting things to know related to health living, there is so much information out there but so little time to take it all in. Now you can get the top tips and news related to healthy living all in one spot!

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10 Tips for Stunningly Gorgeous Skin –  via KrisCarr blog

It’s not just the food we eat that affects our health. The products we use on our skin are easily absorbed into our bloodstream, thus have an impact on our well-being. Kris Carr shares her natural skincare and beauty tips in this week’s blog post. She even includes a link to the EWP’s database where you can look up some of your favorite beauty products and see what their toxicity rating is!

“Beauty isn’t shallow when it comes from the inside out.”~Kris Carr

 

Why You Should Instagram Every Meal – via ThriveMarket blog

New research is indicating that posting food pics actually makes your food taste better! Steve Holt writes that “consumers who took photos of foods they perceived to be healthier before eating them rated those foods higher than consumers who didn’t take a photo.” So maybe if you’re not a fan of a certain “health food”, say broccoli for example, taking a beautiful photo of it on a plate may make you more likely to enjoy eating it, maybeee? What do you think?

 

Silent Killers of your Metabolism—via Infographic Journal

This is a pretty cool infographic on how factors like stress, sleep deprivation, toxins, and excess of sugars are not only slowing down our metabolisms, but contributing to this country’s increasing obesity trend. Check it out to increase your awareness and learn about the simple steps you can take to revive your metabolism and revitalize your health.

 

Plyo Circuit Workout– via Popsugar

This is a challenging set of plyo circuits you can do at home with no equipment. My current workout routine is mostly weight lifting with some yoga. I was looking to do something different at least one day a week. That’s when I stumbled across this gem of a workout. I encourage you to try it out. It’s tougher than it looks, but definitely a great workout to incorporate into your usual routine.

 

I hope you enjoyed this week’s weekly wellness roundup of my favorite healthy living tips and news.

What was your favorite article?

What else did you learn this week related to healthy living?

#KnowledgeisPower

 

Happy Hump Day,

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20 Ways Exercise Can Literally Make You a Better Person

Why do so many of us fail to maintain a consistent fitness regimen? Usually it’s because we lose motivation after failing to see results. That happens because we exercise to a achieve a long term physical goal, but in reality we want results NOW. Because it takes some time to see these physical benefits we begin to lose hope and eventually give up altogether. If we change our perspective on exercise and decide to workout for the instant benefits, knowing we actually WILL see results immediately, suddenly the thought of sweating it out at the gym becomes a bit more alluring. Right?!

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I’m no good at waiting around for things, like most of us, I want to give 100% up front and reap the benefits as soon as possible. The same is true for exercising. When I first heard that exercise could make me a better person I was a little skeptical. Then I thought about it more, adopted this new outlook on exercising, and realized YEAH, it really does make me a better ME! That’s when I committed to the idea that working out was an investment worthy of my time.

 

Here’s a list of all the amazing benefits of exercise that you can enjoy instantly-

 

  • More Energy
  • Better Focus
  • Improved Sleep Quality
  • Mental clarity
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Sparks inspiration and motivation
  • Strengthens your Heart
  • Teaches Patience
  • Boosts creativity
  • Makes you a better role model
  • Reduces PMS
  • Builds self esteem
  • Improves posture
  • More conscious of making healthy food choices
  • Improves your relationships
  • Great time to catch up on personal development (like podcasts and audiobooks)
  • Teaches Discipline
  • Increases productivity
  • Makes you smarter
  • Boosts happiness

 

Exercise because you love yourself…

… not because you feel the need to achieve a specific physical aesthetic or a certain number on the scale. If you achieve everything on this list by exercising, not only will you enjoy exercise more consistently and be more active, but you will find it easier to let go of whatever weight you’re holding on to.

So every time I am dragging my feet to do some sort of exercise, I remind myself that I’ll be better for it, and I think of all these reasons listed above.

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Now there are a couple of caveats with this whole thing. You MUST find a form of exercise that’s enjoyable for you. If weight lifting is not your cup of tea, then try yoga. If you’re not keen on the idea of running, then start with walks or hikes. Begin with workouts that will elevate your heart rate yet but won’t completely wear you out. If you hate the type of exercise you’re doing, then you won’t feel happy at the end of it and you definitely won’t stick with it. Find the right type of physical activity for you and start reaping the benefits of exercise asap! 🙂

 

 

Be Your Best Self & Live Your Best Life

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How to Get Your Fitness Groove Back

How to Get Your

 

Recently I found myself in a serious health and fitness slump lasting several weeks. Oopsy! It happens. There had just been so much excitement lately and I was grateful for every minute of it– traveling, hosting guests, celebrating, and just life in general! Life gets busy. That’s just a fact! But how does one stay healthy when they’re so busy? How do you pull yourself out of a slump? I’ve learned it’s important to live a little, not take yourself so seriously and find YOUR version of balance. 

The old me would have freaked out and felt guilty for getting a little fluffly and “slipping up”. New me (balanced me) is more forgiving. Instead of cutting calories like crazy or doing extreme exercise to try to mitigate the damage, I re-focused and re-motivated myself. The hardest part about getting back into a health and fitness routine is the actual getting started part. We all know WHY we should adopt these healthy habits, but just can’t seem to work up to taking action. That first step is THE most difficult, but once you take it the momentum begins building up. It may feel like your momentum is dead and gone, but you absolutely can bring it back to life.

 

Here’s what I do to pull myself out of a slump & get my groove back–

Get Inspired baby!

I am a very visual person so I’m very inspired by photos. Platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube really help spark my fire. So while it doesn’t help burn calories, it will get you into a better mindset. So scroll away and pin that sh*t. I’m also very big on reading so I enjoy checking out other blogs and news related to the wellness arena. Reading other people’s’ stories especially motivates me to get off my tush and get back to those healthy habits asap. And a killer Spotify playlist helps get me in the right mood to get moving and be active. 

Be warned, however, that sometimes images online and in the media have negative effects on us. They might actually make us feel bad about ourselves because we think we have to aspire to these false body images. If you find yourself feeling this way then redirect to more encouraging forms of media or just avoid this step altogether.

Check out one of my previous posts for more on finding inspiration and getting motivated.

 

Weaning off the addictions..

All those biscuits, chocolates and pizzas taste soooo good they become addictive. One of the toughest things to overcome after I’ve gone on a bender are the cravings! It’s amazing how quickly the body becomes addicted to the sugar, salt, fat and chemical additives of foods. Choosing a spinach salad over a warm burrito suddenly becomes a ridiculous thing to do. At this point, I just give in to the cravings…if it’s convenient, that is! So I make it very inconvenient. First, I clean out my cupboards of anything unhealthy or foods I tend to binge on (goodbye tortilla chips, see you later almond butter).  Second, I make it a point to eat out only once (max twice) a week. Ensuring that most of what I consume is homemade will already help me eat a little better.  And once I add consistent exercise back into the equation, things start to get a lot more comfortable and controllable.

 

Getting my fitness groove back..

Consistent exercise makes me a better person. For real! We all know that nutrition is 80% and exercise is 20% of our results, but the two are so very connected. When I workout, I feel better about myself which in turn, makes me want to fuel my body with nourishing, healthy foods. Boom! That’s where the magic happens. This works for me because I want instant gratification. Working out instantly makes me feel better and confident about getting back on track.  When I slip up, I always focus on finding my exercise routine again, THEN I work on nutrition. It works best for me this way, but you might find a different “formula” for yourself.  

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Once I’m inspired, I find a little motivation. I take that tiny bit of motivation and exercise. At first my workouts are short and I kinda hate it but I come back the next day, and the next, until it becomes a habit again. I start building up that momentum and feeling good, remembering how awesome I feel after a good sweat sesh. Then I slowly start becoming more conscious of my food decisions because I like feeling this good and I don’t want to undo that. Day by day I keep up with the exercise, the nutrition, and keep the fire burning with positive inspiration. Sure, things come up in life and I get off track but I don’t drown in guilt or punish myself (and neither should you).

Always remember to just go back to basics until you find that groove again.

 

Your Turn

I would love to know how you maintain YOUR balance. How do you get your groove back after a setback?  We stand to learn so much from each other so share, share, share! <3

 

If you’re struggling with finding your way to a healthy routine shoot me a message. I reply to all of my emails and love getting to know my fellow readers & help them find easy solutions to their challenges. PrescribingHealth@gmail.com

 

 

With love,

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Costa Rica: Living la Pura Vida

When I started this blog my focus was on health related topics like food, fitness, and overall wellness. As I’ve grown this past year I have realized just how comprehensive health is. It is not simply defined by the fuel we put into our bodies or the exercises that shapes us. Healthy living is more than the number on a scale or even the positive mindset we work so hard to foster. To live in good health, to live well, is to live freely, simply, and with optimism. I was really able to comprehend this on my recent visit to Costa Rica. The “Pura Vida” lifestyle is easy to embrace as it reminds me to take it easy.

I was in Costa Rica for about a week visiting my husband who was there finishing up a project with his graduate program. He had lived there for several years when he was younger, but this was my first time stepping foot in this country. I was excited to see where he spent his childhood and experience the Costa Rican culture. We had a rental car, making easy to travel between cities and explore.

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La Selva Biological Station 

I spent the first night in La Selva Biological Station, in Sarapiqui, where I got to experience Costa Rica’s beautiful wildlife and forests. In just 24 hours I saw monkeys, all types of loud and colorful birds, two sloths (plus a baby sloth), a poisonous red and blue frog, and wild pigs. Everywhere I walked I had to be vigilant or I might easily miss some wonderful creature! The weather was hot and humid, with some rain (even though this was dry season). This area is secluded from much else so all our meals were provided by the Station, buffet style. This was my first introduction to the fruit in Costa Rica. The papaya, pineapple and watermelon were the best I have ever tasted.  During the day there are hikes offered with a tour guide, or you can go on your own. In the evenings there are night tours where you are sure to see all kinds of crazy looking insects, amphibians, and reptiles (think NatGeo type of creatures!).  After a day, I was pretty much done oo-ing and aw-ing at the wildlife and was ready to pack it up and move on to our next destination. It’s a fun place to see and explore, but after a day or two there isn’t much else to do.

Arenal Volcano National Park

Our next stop was Arenal Volcano National Park. The terrain noticeably changed as we drove further away from Sarapiqui, from green lush landscapes, to dry sparse lands.  Towards the end of our two hour drive, we saw a sloth in the most random of places. He was hanging off barbed wire on the side of the highway. We turned around and pulled over to see if our eyes were deceiving us. Hanging so still and looking a bit stiff, we wondered if this sloth was dead?! A tour guide, along with two tourists happened to pull over as well. The guide told us the sloth was indeed alive and sleeps for up to 16 hours a day. Talk about getting some beauty sleep! Usually, these animals are found in wet, rainy areas sleeping high up in trees so I was surprised to find him here of all places.  Why he settled upon the most uncomfortable of napping spots I don’t understand. I really wanted to touch him, but the guide scared me when he mentioned sloths can bite. Seeing the sloth was a big highlight for me. I can’t get over what an interesting animal they are.

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After this brief, but exciting slot spotting, we continued on our way to Arenal. It’s a pretty small town, but loaded with restaurants and shops (for tourists, that is). The small park in the center of town is a great place to stop for a rest, as you can see the top of the arenal volcano from here on a clear day. There are hotels after hotels here advertising all kinds of tours and hikes (zip lining is quite popular). And all of the hotels have hot springs, too. We enjoyed the hot springs at our hotel, especially the natural pool with the wet bar. We were told the best days to hike up the volcano were sunrise or sunset, as this is when you get the best views of the volcano. Unfortunately, most of the time the volcano was barely visible due to the thick blanket of clouds hiding it. I mean you almost wouldn’t even know there was a massive volcano there because of how well the clouds covered it up. We did catch a breathtaking view here and there allowing us to snap some photos, especially just before sunset. I wouldn’t recommend hiking to the volcano if it’s an especially cloudy day because you won’t see much. Instead, Karim and I went to La Fortuna waterfalls. It was a short hike, down several flights of steps, but delightful and worth the $12 entrance fee.  Once we reached the waterfall we were able to swim in it. While the water is incredibly cold, it was so refreshing and our bodies seemed to get used to the temperature pretty quickly. A little ways down from the waterfall is a stream/run-off that’s shallow, calmer, and warmer so we spent more time in this area. I’d recommend bringing drinking water, bug spray, towel, your bathing suit of course, and maybe swimming shoes because there are a lot of rocks at the water’s edge.

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Two days in Arenal was sufficient. There isn’t much of a night life so take full advantage of all the day time excursions. As far as food goes, our favorite by far was Chifa La Familia Feliz. This place served Peruvian/Asian influenced food.  We loved this place so much we ate here twice. The chef is friendly and warm, coming out to shake your hand and welcome you personally. All of the food is fresh and flavorful. You can tell by the plating and type of cuisine that this chef definitely has professional culinary training. And best of all, it’s totally affordable. So if you visit Arenal, don’t leave without eating here.

Tamarindo Area & Playa Langosta 

Our next,last, and most anticipated stop was Tamarindo, Langosta beach. We spent the bulk of our time here mostly surfing, laying out by the beach, watching sunsets, enjoying the main street’s shops and restaurants. The beach area was so laid back and relaxing. Having rented an AirB&B near Barcelo hotels, we were able to cook some of our meals at home. There were plenty of nearby grocery stores but the AutoMercado had the best selection and prices. When we did eat out, we found many places did not accept credit cards, so carry around some cash. U.S. Dollars were accepted, but at a slightly worse exchange rate. Prices in this area are similar to U.S. prices.

Some of the food spots we checked out and would recommend are: Green Papaya, Patagonia, Sharky’s, and Falafel. As you might know, I don’t eat meat but to my surprise, eating plant based was pretty easy in Costa Rica. Most of the restaurants always offered some sort of vegan option.

During the day we spent our time at the beach. Neptuno’s Surf Shop offered great deals on surfing. For $35 they provide semi-private 2 hour lessons and for $10 you can use the surfboard all day long. If you’re not into surfing, you can beach hop. While Langosta beach is beautiful, Playa Conchal was it’s own kind of beauty. The sand was made from an infinite number of crushed seashells (many of which were still whole). No surfing is allowed at this beach so it’s calm and quiet aside from locals selling drinks like pipa fria (cold coconut) and Imperial (the national beer). There are a lot of other beaches to check out all along this western pacific coast of Costa Rica. If you don’t have a rental car, shuttle buses are offered that will take you to these places.  

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Just because you’re in the beach area, don’t think you won’t see wild life. I was standing in the back porch of our airbnb near the main pool area when suddenly I see a black furry creature walking towards me. I don’t know why, but I thought it was a cat at first only to realize it was a lonely little monkey!  During my stay in Playa Langosta, I also saw a baby skunk and a racoon– different type of “wildlife” but still! Haha.

Costa Rica was a great place to visit. If, and when, you go there be sure to check out more than one area of this diverse country. You’ll find that each place has something wonderful and totally different to offer than the next.  The people are friendly and laid back with their “pura vida” attitude. The food is fresh and delicious, especially my favorites- the fruit (pineapple, papaya and watermelon) and the traditional gallo pinto breakfast. The simple beauty and optimistic way of life here was soothing to my soul. I’ll definitely be back. So if you want the relaxation of the beach, exploration of wildlife and nature, and adventures like hiking and ziplining Costa Rica is a THE place to visit. 

 

If you’ve been to Costa Rica too, I’d love to hear some of your favorite experiences and places to check out because there is so much I didn’t get to see and do (maybe next time!).

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Pura Vida,

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Ramen Romance: Easy, Gluten-free, Vegan Recipe

Matters of the (4)


 

 

ramen recipe

In honor of Valentine’s Day this past weekend, my husband and I celebrated by doing something a little bit “unconventional” compared to what other couples do on this day. We decided to stay in and cook up ramen! First, let me stop you right there– this is not the same type of ramen you ate in college. Ok let’s continue… So last year we started a new Valentine’s Day tradition where we decide on a recipe we would like to recreate together. We had such a fun time with this, we did it again this year and wanted to try our hands at making ramen. When we lived in Portland, Karim was on a very serious quest for ramen. There were so many great ramen spots there to explore and we’ve really been missing it since moving to North Carolina, so we thought what better dish to cook up on this day of love!

Earlier in the day I did most of the prep work by washing and chopping the veggies and garnishes. That evening we poured ourselves some white wine and got to work cooking up our very first homemade ramen.  I have to admit I did not believe in our skills and was prepared for a not-so-great bowl of noodles. But, we outdid ourselves and it turned out to be delish! I couldn’t believe how easy it was. It was the perfect warm, comfort food for a cold winter Sunday night. ramen recipe

This recipe is totally vegan and gluten free, but you can add pork and a soft boiled egg like Karim did. What I love about this dish is how customizable it is! Even the flavor of the broth is totally up to you. I usually find it to be a bit too salty when I eat it at restaurants, but at home I am the one to decide how much salt or spice to add and can load up on the veggies.

So when you try this recipe out, put your own twist on it. I can’t wait to see your version of ramen 🙂

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Enjoy!

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ramen recipe
Gluten Free, Vegan Ramen Recipe
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ramen recipe
Gluten Free, Vegan Ramen Recipe
Print Recipe
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat
  2. Once the pot is hot, add oil, garlic, ginger and onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally for 5 o 8 minutes or until the onions have browned along the edges.
  3. Add 1 cup of the mushroom broth to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the bottom.
  4. Add the remaining 3 cups of mushroom broth + 2 cups water, tamari, and mushrooms. Stir.
  5. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer on low for at least an hour, or up to 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. The longer this cooks, the more the enhanced the flavor will be.
  6. Taste your broth and adjust the seasonings a needed (add salt, sriracha, or additional tamari if desired).
  7. When your about 30 minutes from serving, start prepping your toppings (green onions and carrots*) then the noodles.
  8. NOODLES: bring pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add ramen noodles. Allow to boil for 3 minutes, then separate noodles with fork. Allow to cook for another minute, then drain and rinse with cold water.
  9. To serve, put 1/4 of noodles into bowl then pour broth over it. Top with carrots, green onions, cilantro and any other garnishes*
Recipe Notes
  • Store your broth (separate from the noodles) in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Additional toppings for your ramen: tofu (or other protein of choice), bok choy, cilantro, soft-boiled egg.
  • To make the tamari roasted carrots, chop up about 1 cup of carrots in coin-sizes. Toss with tamari and garlic powder. Roast at 350F for 25 to 30minutes.
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Stress and Your Heart: Is there a link?

Welcome to part II of our Matters of the Heart Series. Last week was all about heart healthy living for disease prevention and today we’re talking stress. Can stress really cause high blood pressure or give you a heart attack? Read on to find out..

stress

We all have a lot on our plates, constantly balancing our day to day responsibilities with jam packed social calendars, extracurriculars, and personal hobbies. People are really busy! When we get a little too busy though, stress sets in with a death grip. Now I know sometimes a little stress can be a good thing, in that it lights that fire under you to check things off your long to-do list, but there is another side to that coin.

The consistent presence of stress in your life, can contribute to physical health issues.

Managing your stress appropriately can help reduce your risk of heart disease and chronic illness. When we embrace a positive mindset, we are more likely to eliminate destructive habits and find better alternatives to deal with our worry. This is why a healthy lifestyle is more than just eating clean and working out. It’s about the holistic approach– understanding the importance of health in all areas of life, including mentally and emotionally. If these areas are not taken care of, they can translate into physical illness.  

When in a state of stress, a chemical and hormonal chain reaction takes place within the body triggering inflammation.  While research has not yet proven that this directly affects risk of heart disease, there is evidence that stress influences your heart (and your health) in other ways. Stress can cause some people to behave in ways that increase their risk of heart disease. Think about it..  We don’t always handle stress in the best ways. Some folks eat to calm down (I could argue peanut butter cures all your problems…just kidding!). Other people throw themselves into their work.  What unhealthy choices do you fall back on when you’re under stress? When experience stress, we tend to make less than favorable lifestyle choices especially surrounding diet, exercise, and habits like smoking or drinking.

6 ways to manage stress and help your heart

Want to turn your stress around and help your heart in the process? Try these six simple tips.

  1. Listen to your body. Your body’s response to stress may be a headache, back strain, or stomach pains. Stress can also zap your energy, wreak havoc on your sleep and make you feel cranky, forgetful and out of control. If you find yourself with strange symptoms like these, your body may be telling you to slow it down. So pay attention.
  2. Stay positive. Laughter really is the best medicine. Laughter has been found to lower levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation in the arteries, and increase “good” HDL cholesterol. Overall, embracing a positive mindset and practicing gratitude can help you handle stress appropriately. 
  3. Meditate. Traditional meditation focusing on inward thoughts and deep breathing has been shown to reduce heart disease risk factors (like high blood pressure). You can also sit quietly, close your eyes and listen to relaxing music. Yoga, prayer and even journaling can also prove to be relaxing for the mind and body.
  4. Exercise. Every time you are physically active, whether you take a walk or play tennis, your body releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins. Exercising not only melts away stress, but it also protects against heart disease by lowering your blood pressure, strengthening your heart muscle, and helping you maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Unplug. Avoid emails, TV news, and sometimes even social media.  It’s impossible to escape stress when it follows you everywhere. Take time each day—even if it’s for just 10 or 15 minutes—to escape from the world by doing something else with your time. Find an activity that is restorative and allows you to forget your burdens for a moment, such as reading, sports, adult coloring books, or any other activity you enjoy.
  6. Create a Self Care ritual. Take a bubble bath, listen to music, or get a massage. Any technique is effective if it works for you.

There will always be stress in your life but it’s your choice how you let it affect you. You may not be able to control the stress that comes into your life, but you can control your reaction to it and that makes a world of a difference.

Is your stress leading to destructive, unhealthy habits? How are you planning to take control of it and help improve your health? 

 

 

Thanks for reading,

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Health is where the Heart is

This month I’m sharing a series called “Matters of the Heart,” where you will find weekly posts about all things related to heart health, on both physical and emotional topics. I am doing this not in honor of Valentine’s day, but really because it’s American Heart Month. Bringing awareness to heart disease should be important to all of us because aside from being the leading cause of serious illness and disability in the U.S., it is also the number 1 killer of Americans. Even more tragic, is that many of the deaths related to heart disease are preventable and treatable.

heart health

 

Imagine if disease could be prevented, reversed, or even eliminated… What if you could avoid “inheriting” the high cholesterol that runs in your family, the uncontrolled blood pressure, or obesity gene? Can you actually have a say in how long and how strong  your heart will beat on? Envision yourself having a hand in living a longer, energized life that allows you to partake in celebrations and enjoy family & friends…. I’m not here to tell you I’ve found the secret to  longevity or immortality, sorry! But I AM here to share with you that prevention is key to fighting disease and embracing life. You CAN make huge impacts to your quality of life with small, consistent changes.

So how can we fight the battle against disease, especially heart disease?

Focus on health rather than weight. The number on the scale may fool you into a false sense of satisfaction, like thinking you’re “skinny” but it does not give you immunity to illness. Let’s not fall victim to crash diets and endless cardio.  Instead, change your mindset around health and wellness. Strive to eat and exercise with the intent of strengthening your heart and protecting your body from disease.  It’s important to take care of our health, get regular check ups, and listen to our bodies.  Make disease prevention your main focus and motivation for being healthy. You absolutely can prevent/heal/fight disease by living a healthier lifestyle.

You may already know what changes you must make to maintain optimal heart health and live your best life, now it comes down to remembering WHY these changes matter.

You may feel amazing right now, but think about those bad habits you can’t seem to shake and the consequences they could be causing you in 5 to 10 years from now. Is it worth it? Having worked closely with patients suffering from heart disease for a little over two years, I have seen first hand how disabling and fatal this disease is. On the other hand, I’ve been given the privilege of seeing many reverse their disease or preventing it from worsening by embracing a heart healthy lifestyle; in doing so, these folks have changed the entire trajectory of their lives.  That’s what I want for you, too! Take control of your life by committing to healthy changes.

Ditch the excuses and bad habits. It’s time to make some real changes.

This is your season to adopt simple, healthy practices that can positively affect the course of your life. Know that I am here to help you along the way.  This American Heart Month, please consider what you and your loved ones can do to promote a heart healthy lifestyle.

Here are just a few things you can do to set yourself up for success in health.

  • Eating whole, balanced, nutrition-dense foods
  • Exercising daily
  • Obtaining regular physicals and blood work
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Managing/ preventing any chronic diseases

Start by committing to doing just 2 to 3 of these at a time and pay attention to the huge impacts you’ll experience from such small, but consistent changes. What greater benefit could there be than living healthfully and actively into old age with no dependence on medications and almost no risk of heart disease or other chronic conditions.

 

How will you protect your heart?

 

What habits are you implementing into your lifestyle to maintain top-notch heart health?

 

 

Until next time,

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** Learn more about American Heart Month here **


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Two Dollars and a Dream- Creating Your Wealth

DREAM

Did you take a chance, but didn’t win the Powerball? Sorry to hear that, but the good news is you still have a chance at getting rich! All it takes is two dollars and a dream.  

May I present to you Madam C.J. Walker, America’s first self-made millionaire. She was the first woman in history to start with nothing and earn her own fortune. This inspiring woman dared to dream when all odds were against her, took a chance, and created her own wealth by turning her biggest struggle (hair loss) into her greatest success (a line of women’s hair care products).     

 

A DREAM DEFERRED 

We all have dreams in life.  They may change, take time to achieve, some may flourish, while others wither away. The dream for me was always to help people improve their well-being AND become rich, too, so I became a pharmacist.  I now realize my intentions were a bit materialistic, but don’t tell me you have never had a similar selfish dream of doing something great while making a lot of money.  Well, this dream turned out to be a classic example of how money won’t make you happy. I was working too much, constantly felt sick, stressed, and as a result neglected my health and relationships.  Sure I was making good money and I was sort of helping people, but was it worth my health and happiness? Was it really the dream I had in mind? (Please note: This is not at all meant to say that I do not have full respect and love for the profession of pharmacy)  Looking back on this time, I realize how I let my dreams wither away for a while and just settled.

 

REALIZING THE DREAM

Finally frustrated with how unfulfilled and unhappy I was, I decided to make a change. That change was to give myself permission to start dreaming again!  After working solely as a pharmacist for about a year, I realized I wanted to make a bigger impact on health and wellness by focusing more on prevention rather than treatment (which pharmacists are doing a lot more of these days, by the way).  I wanted to help people feel good about themselves inside and out, bring awareness to the connection between our diet and diseases, and prevent/minimize medication dependency.  More than that, I wanted to feel good about myself and stop neglecting my own health.

I underwent extensive training at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to become a holistic health coach.  I did tons and tons of research to become an expert in my new found passion, and combined it with my PharmD knowledge. I became my first client, practicing what I was preaching by infusing positive changes into my own life. Not only did I heal my body of asthma, excess weight and stress— but I found my joy, my energy, and renewed my health.

Let me just tell you, in all honesty, this took A LOT of work, both internally and externally.  I had to deal with so many personal fears, limiting beliefs, overwhelm and anxiety, but I want you to know this: YOU are worth investing in. Your DREAM is worth investing in. These kinds of investments will help you create true wealth, no matter what odds are against you. Just take a look at how much Madam Walker had to overcome– poverty, racism, abuse, and much more, I’m sure.

dream

 

CREATING MY WEALTH 

Today I can say I have been able to not just lose weight, physically, but emotionally too. I’m not 100% where I want to be yet, but I am well on my way. (We’re all a work in progress, right?)  I’m still practicing pharmacy, but in a new and exciting setting of corporate wellness! I’m practicing as a health coach, too AND investing in myself a lot more. I get to do the thing that brings me joy everyday by helping clients successfully reach their health and wellness goals.  The dream took time to actualize, and continues to be a work in progress, but changed my perspective on the real meaning of being rich. I wasn’t after the money this time, I was after the improvement of my health and the value of my life.   Walking on this journey helped me to realize that THIS is what real wealth is all about.  It’s about impact and not at all about money.  It is a different kind of wealth–  the kind that enriches your life with purpose, passion and fulfillment. Money can’t buy health, precious moments, true friendships or a new life.

I don’t want my life to be defined by the abundance of my possessions, but rather by the richness of my works.

For me, finding fulfillment and true wealth in my life was about believing in the worth of my dream, making a career shift and taking time to invest in my personal health and relationships. What is it for you?  You don’t need to have it all figured, but you do need to be willing to invest in yourself.  You don’t need other people to believe in you for you to believe in yourself.

 

I know everyone was worked up about the Powerball and a little disappointed not to have won, but hey, you took a chance and gave it a try.  Now why not take a chance on yourself?

It’s true you only need $2 and a dream to stand a chance at winning, but those $2 come in a different kind of currency: faith and action. Today I hope you invest in renewing your faith and aspire to take meaningful action in achieving your dream.  Like Madam Walker, let us create our own rags to riches story.

 

So let’s go get rich! How will you start living a richer life today?

Health is Wealth,

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Eating Healthy while Eating Out

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eating healthy

We all know we should be “eating clean” and making better food choices as much as possible, but why is it so difficult to actually DO? If I am preparing my own meals at home, then it’s not much of a challenge at all. When I’m traveling, don’t have control over my food or there are too many options, however, that’s when I fall into poor eating habits. One of my biggest struggles with eating healthy was when it came to dining out.  This was especially difficult for me because I love love love trying new restaurants and different types of cuisines.

When my husband and I first moved to Portland,OR in 2013, we  were excited to experience the amazing food scene (especially brunch). We basically made it our hobby to dine out and try new foods. We still, however were eating healthy whenever we ate at home and continued working out. After several weeks of enjoying our new hobby together we noticed a standstill when it came to our fitness progress. Our love for eating out and attending many social events was not loving us back.  We learned that the saying “you can’t outwork a healthy diet” was all too true.

I chose to address this situation with a simple solution of simply not eating at all anymore.  But can I tell you how sad this made me feel!  Dining out is often a common way of celebrating, socializing and networking. I experienced major FOMO (fear of missing out), but I kept telling myself if I went out to eat I would not find anything healthy on the menu. On one occasion, I tried meeting friends at a restaurant but ate at home before going. Well that was awkward..just watching them eat was not a fun experience. Another time, I just ordered the house salad which was boring and did not fill me up. I proceeded to go home and stuff my face because I was still so hungry. Another fail! I’m pretty sure people were getting annoyed by my healthy eating obsession. I needed to find balance!

After much trial and error, and I wish I could say it happened over night but it didn’t, I created a plan & guidelines for myself to stick to whenever I dined out. They’ve helped me maintain balance so that I can enjoy new restaurants, celebrate with friends, and still try new, delicious cuisines guilt-free.

 

 

eating healthy

 

 

ALWAYS LEAVE LEFTOVERS 

With my new strategy in place I can eat out and eat healthy but still enjoy foods I love. How I do this is by first, choosing healthy options from the menu. But what if I see something that sounds absolutely delicious or that I’ll never get a chance to try again? What if I really want pizza? Ok, in this case rather than deprive myself completely I will order that dish, enjoy it, but leave half of it!

Restaurants often serve super sized portions and we don’t even realize how much we are eating. We think we are enjoying a normal amount of food, but often the servings sizes are double and triple what they should be.  This is called portion distortion.  I leave half of my meal and it’s actually a treat because then I have left overs for the next day’s lunch or for my husband to enjoy.

 

SHARING IS CARING

Another option for enjoying great food without the guilt, is to share! Yes, share with your friends. This way you’re automatically having a smaller portion size.

 

DECIDE WHERE YOU WANT TO EAT & CHECK THE MENU IN ADVANCE

This is my biggest tip to you when it comes to eating healthy while dining out. If you can have a hand in deciding what restaurant to eat at, you stand a better chance at finding a place with somewhat healthier options on their menu. The good news is that nowadays more and more restaurants are including healthier meal options (and in some cases even the nutrition facts) onto their menus. I love Yelp! Try this app out when researching places to eat.  It’s an easy way to see food photos, read tips and reviews before showing up to a place. Whether you have a hand in choosing the restaurant or not, always try to take a peek at the menu beforehand and decide what you’ll be ordering in advance.

 

THINGS TO AVOID

The first thing to avoid is that warm, irresistible complimentary bread they bring to the table at most places.  I would advise don’t have any, but if we are being more realistic let’s settle on limiting yourself to just one piece.  If you’re like me, though, and lack a bit of control, just politely ask the bread not be served at your table altogether.

Something else I watch out for when dining out are those lovely adjectives that make the food sound oh so delicious. Words like crispy or smothered are red flags for me! I do my best to steer clear of anything fried or covered in any creamy, oil-based sauce. This includes salad dressings (ask for it on the side).

Sometimes I find the chef is willing to prepare a dish without oil or butter, or make it grilled instead of fried. You never know if you don’t ask. Which bring me to my next tip…

 

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK

Just because there is seemingly nothing on the menu that meets my criteria for eating healthy, it doesn’t mean it’s not possible. There have been quite a few times where I ordered few of the side dishes and voilà, I had a complete meal.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for an alternative to those french fries.  More than likely, there is a salad or steamed veggie option available.

 

DON’T GO TO DINNER HANGRY

Ok remember this one and plan ahead! Do not ever go out to eat when you are full on hangry, because you never know how long the wait might be and add to that the length of time it takes for your food to get to your table. When you are super hungry, you’re less likely to think about portion control or make good food choices.

Speaking of good choices…

 

ALCOHOL WEAKENS YOUR WILLPOWER

Slow down on the cocktails. Not only are you drinking unnecessary calories and sugar, but alcohol diminishes your willpower. You’re more likely to make poor choices and eat more than you intended when under the influence.

 

 

More and more restaurants are becoming aware of the need for improved nutrition and are offering healthier options on their menu, making it easier for you and me to dine out stress-free.

Fast forward 2.5 years, my husband and I now live in North Carolina and are exploring a brand new food scene. I’m now much more comfortable with dining out and feel confident that I’ll be able to make healthy choices. I still, however, limit the amount of times I eat out to once or twice per week. This is what I have found the best balance with. I encourage you to find your own balance when it comes to living healthy and eating better. Try out the strategies that have helped my husband and I stay healthy without sacrificing our social life and love for good food.

eating healthy

 

So now you know my biggest obstacle when it comes to eating healthy,

WHAT IS YOURS? 

 

Health & Happiness, 

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