How to Live Your Healthiest Happiest Life

Something I have always had a huge fascination with is centenarians and longevity. What can we all do in our day to day living to live a longer, healthier and happier life. This Spring I started my Integrative & Holistic Health and Nutrition Coaching certification and I was over the moon excited when one of the guest lecturers was Dan Buettner. Dan is the person behind the ‘Blue Zones’ which not only focuses on longevity secrets in terms of what you as an individual can do, but also how you can transform your community to live longer and better.

Dan, in partnership with National Geographic, has researched communities around the globe that have the highest life expectancy. Blue Zones are places in the world where people not only live longer, but healthier as well than anywhere else on earth – without medication or disability. To date, five Blue Zones have been identified:

  • The Italian island of Sardinia
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Loma Linda, California
  • Costa Rica’s isolated Nicoya Peninsula
  • Ikaria, an isolated Greek island

So, what’s the secret? This is the part that I love. The number ONE indicator of how long you will live is how long you THINK you will live. It’s your attitude. Your positive spirit. Your optimistic outlook. And a close second? Your DAILY fruit and vegetable consumption.

In fact, 80% of the factors that determine your longevity are to do with lifestyle and environment, with the remaining 20% via your genetics. There are a few common denominators that they have found across the board with the five Blue Zones:

  1. Natural Movement – moving every single day. Not a specific type of ‘workout’ but natural movement like walking and yard work.
  2. Daily Ritual of Prayer – this doesn’t have to be faith based. Meditation or naps to help reduce your stress can also work. I think the key here is that it reduced your stress. We know that stress can cause everything from weight gain to cancer, so ensuring we do what we can to keep it low is really important.
  3. A Strong Sense of Purpose – I love this one. Do you have a strong sense of purpose? Do you wake up every single day with a positive intention or goal? Are you tuned in on why you are here on earth? And pardon the cliché, but do you know what your why is?
  4. Eat Wisely – the interesting thing about the diets of the five Blue Zones is that there isn’t a magic item that everyone was eating. They were eating mindfully. They were eating until they were 80% full. They were eating plenty of fruits and vegetables every day.
  5. Plant-based Diet – the five communities that were studies all had this in common. Very little meat, lots of beans, nuts, fruit and veggies. They ate their biggest meal in the morning. They pre-plated their meals rather than family-style, which had them eating less.
  6. Connection – while we can have the healthiest food on our plate, if we don’t have healthy and strong connections, we are not ‘getting it’. With all of the Blue Zone communities family was NUMBER ONE. Who you spend your time with is a key factor in your health and longevity.

I think this is some really good food for thought (insert obvious nutrition joke here). While what we are eating and how much we are exercising are important, they are not the be all and the end all. My favorite take-aways? Your attitude is the number one life expectancy indicator, so wake up happy, grateful and optimistic. And of course, the common denominator about connection and community. It is wonderful to have a positive attitude for your own health and wellness, but when you can take it one step further to those you love, you are really winning at the health and wellness game. And for parents, pre-plating your kids food can help ensure they are eating enough fruit and veggies at every meal.

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BOUTIQUE GYMS IN WINNIPEG DIVERSIFYING TO STAY AFLOAT THROUGH THE COVID-19 EPIDEMIC

While Manitoba’s chief public health officer has extended the current public health orders suspending non-critical businesses and operations in the province until April 28, boutique fitness facilities in Winnipeg are really feeling the pressure. Yoga studios, kickboxing gyms, and personal trainer fitness facilities have been ordered to be closed since March 17, 2020. With no income on April 1, and little to no government support for them, they are finding it difficult to stay afloat during this unprecedented time in history.

Like many, smaller fitness facility owners started their facilities to bring health and wellness to Winnipegers. During this pandemic, our health is being recognized as our number one concern, and their facilities are not able to provide the physical fitness component to their members’ lives. While they completely understand and respect the reasoning for social distancing and having to close non-essential businesses at this time, their livelihood is at serious risk.

As true health and wellness professionals, many owners are diversifying their offerings to provide fitness and much needed motivation and connection to their members. Examples include:

  • Infinity Health Coaching – providing both free and paid options for online strength training and HIIT workouts to all Winnipeggers, as well as online accountability one-on-one coaching for clients to help with nutrition, stress management and fitness.

 

  • Fit Women & Girls – providing online workouts, both Youtube and Live videos, through their social media channels to give those who are self-isolating added motivation and ideas on how to stay fit during this pandemic.

 

  • Winnipeg Women’s Kickboxing & Muay Thai – providing online workouts four times per week to their members who wish to pay a nominal fee to help the facility stay afloat during this pandemic. 45 minute workouts include body weight and free weight exercise, cardio-vascular routines and kickboxing single and partner drills.

 

  • The Yoga Barre – providing free barre and yoga classes via their Instagram story @tyb.live. They also have a Karma Class Pass for a nominal fee for members to have more in-depth workouts each day.

 

  • Various Provincial Sport Organizations, such as Cycling Manitoba and Manitoba Rowing Association, are coaching their High Performance and provincial team athletes via online workouts using technologies such as Facebook Live or Zoom.

While this is an unprecedented time in history, it is important to find the positives each time, and do our best to keep our health and wellness top of mind. With the immense amount of added stress, physical fitness is more important now than ever. Exercise has direct stress reducing and mood boosting benefits as it helps increase the production of the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, also known as endorphins. Exercise also reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Kudos to the leaders in Winnipeg’s fitness industry for diversifying their offerings for their clients needs.

 

14 Steps to a Healthy Digestive System

I believe there are two major systems that we need to pay smart attention to when it comes to our health. First, your immune system – ensuring it is strong and clean will keep you away from sickness and disease longer. Second is your digestive system. After losing my mom in 2013 to cholangiocarcinoma, cancer of the bile duct, I made a mindful decision to really start to pay attention to my digestive health. When you think about it, everything comes in and out of our digestive system, and 80% of our immune system is IN our digestive system. So, having a clean and healthy one makes perfect sense if we want to live longer and healthier right?! If you’re still with me, keep reading.

Issues with your digestive system can come out in many forms, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, indigestion, gas, acid reflex and more. Basically, everything that is super uncomfortable and can be super painful. But digestive issues don’t stop there. They can cause problems throughout your entire body. Allergies, autoimmune disease, acne, chronic fatigue, mood disorders, brain fog and even cancer can all be results of digestive system issues.

Now that we know what we DO NOT want, what can we expect from having a clean and healthy digestive system? First, when your digestive system is healthy, you absorb nutrients much better and in turn feed your cells more vitamins, minerals, protein, carbs, water and (good) fats. In turn, it more efficiently gets rid of yeast, allergens, toxins and the like.

Secondly, when your digestive system is healthy, your immune system is stronger. Definitely a win-win. Third, a health digestive system reduces inflammation in your body. When your body is experiencing ‘bad inflammation’ you are putting yourself at risk for a host of issues and diseases including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression and cancer. Lastly, a healthy digestive is great for your brain health. For more on brain health and what foods are best to eat for that big ol brain, see here.

What can YOU do, starting today, to get your digestive system healthier? LOTS! Here are my top 14 tips:

  1. Eat foods that are high in fiber including whole grains, raw vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts and beans.
  2. Add a pre and/or probiotic to your day. I use Pearls Acidophilus Probiotic by Nature’s Way. This will increase the good bacteria in your stomach, which is what you definitely want.
  3. Incorporate digestive enzymes into your day. They help your digestivetract properly break down foods that contain difficult-to-digest proteins, fats and carbohydrates. I typically take one before a large meal, or a meal that my body isn’t used to – so basically when I eat out. If your system is in rough shape right now, I would suggest one before every meal to get started.
  4. Hydrate yourself! Are you drinking enough water? I am the worst for this. But it really is key to a healthy digestive system.
  5. Try to eat consistently at the same time every day. Whether you are intermittent fasting or eating morning, noon and night, make your times the same each day.
  6. Eat the same foods as often as possible. Your digestive system will get used to breaking down the same foods and make it easier on your system. It isn’t as boring as it sounds – same healthy ingredients, different ways.
  7. Workout! Another great reason to get moving is that it is great for your digestive health.
  8. De-stress! I know – easier said than done on this one for sure. But think about how crappy your stomach feels when you are stressed out. People over eat, under eat, get constipated, have diarrhea – a whole slew of digestive problems. Do your best to lower your stress levels.
  9. Do not overmedicate yourself. Whether we are talking antibiotics or over the counter medications, try to heal your system naturally before you run for a pill. Of course, sometimes these are needed, and you should listen to your doctor or health care professional, but running for an Advil for a dull headache or a Tums because you feel like you need to burp is wreaking havoc on your body.
  10. Eat real food! Especially nutrient dense foods like kale, spinach, salmon and more. For my list of best foods to add in, see here.
  11. Eat healthy fats! A scoop of raw organic coconut oil in the morning is great for this. Also, think of nuts, avocados, fatty fish and extra virgin olive oil.
  12. In the morning, add a one ounce shot of raw organic apple cider vinegar to your water. It’s not the best tasting thing, but don’t worry, you’ll get used to it. And what it does for your digestive system is exceptional, so worth the sour face in the beginning.
  13. Slurp down a spoon full of aloe vera in the morning. It’s a fairly refreshing taste, and can be purchased at your local health food store. This helps clean your system daily.
  14. Listen to what feels good in your body! After finishing a meal, if you have heartburn, indigestion, feel sluggish, have diarrhea – why are you going to eat this again? Food should not do this to you! For some reason, your body is not agreeing with what you just ate or drank. So, stop. And just the same, if after eating a meal you feel energetic, sharp in the mind, and your body feels good, do that more. Sounds simple right?! We think so too, but people reach for antacids instead of not eating what hurts them.

Like what you read? Feel free to comment below on your experience with digestive strength or issues. And be sure to sign up for our newsletter here for the best information on health for women!

Eating Nutrient Dense Food – What It REALLY Means

A few years ago, I made a significant shift in my thinking as it relates to my health. When we think about health long term and making sustainable decisions that can last a life time, the idea of constantly counting and measuring our food can be not only overwhelming but exhausting in its own right. Rather, making decisions about the food that you eat should be simple. Eat nutrient dense real food. Food should be something you enjoy cooking, eating and digesting, not something that you and your body have grown to hate.

But what does it mean to eat ‘nutrient dense food’? This is simply the amount of nutrients you get for the amount of calories you take in from a given food. High level of nutrients with low levels of calories is the goal. And ‘nutrients’ are macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

The easiest way for me to think about this is how much processing has to go into this to make it something I can eat. Is it a fairly simple food? Can I pick it from a tree or garden? If so, it’s usually bang on. When I am making decisions at the grocery store I think to myself – is this going to help me on my healthy journey or create issues or blocks for me? Think about how eating this food is going to make you feel – is it easy for me to digest? Will it support a strong immune system? Will it help me with my energy and sleep? Nutrient dense food will do all of this and more.

So, what are the best of the best? Here are my top nutrient dense foods:

  • Salmon
  • Kale
  • Garlic
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Berries, especially blueberries
  • Eggs
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Green Veggies, especially Broccoli
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Quinoa
  • Spinach
  • Avocado
  • Seeds, especially Chia Seeds and Hemp Seeds
  • Red Peppers
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Beets

Equally as important to WHAT we’re eating is what we’re cooking it in and topping it with. You can have great intentions by eating salad every day, but if you’re deep frying a piece of chicken in corn oil to put on top of your salad and dousing it is high sugar, high calorie dressing, you’re missing the health boat. When I look at the calorie count for restaurant salads I am blown away. Many are over 1500 calories…FOR A SALAD!! Yes, you’re getting you veggies in, but need to be mindful of how you’re getting them in too.

Making at home salad dressings is a great way to keep things on the up and up. Using apple cider vinegar, healthy oils such as avocado oil, coconut oil, hemp oil or extra virgin olive oil are a great base. Adding seasoning that is low in sodium is a great way to pack in the flavour. And you can never have enough Turmeric by the way…it’s loading with tons of health benefits.

When cooking meat or veggies, the same rules still apply about what we’re cooking things IN. Cooking spray or corn oil are crap. Stick to any of the above suggested oils or try ghee or butter. Remember – real is good, fake is bad.

When you’re adding sauce to your food, be sparing. Especially with store-bought sauces. Did you know that BBQ sauce has on average 12 grams of sugar per serving and ketchup has 8? These are HIGH! Same goes for salad dressing – you take away your ‘good meal’ idea when you cover it is sugar. Four grams of sugar is approximately one teaspoon of granulated sugar. And who only puts one serving of something usually on things? Portion control is key for sure here too.

Here’s what I think it really comes down to. When you are choosing your food, you are choosing for health or not for health. It’s not a statement of judgement. It’s simply the truth. That doesn’t mean you’re never allowed to have a piece of cake again. But when you are making your meals and choosing your food, be mindful of is this healthy for me? And even more specifically, is this going to support my immune system strength and my digestive system health? If yes – put it in the cart. If not, make another choice. It really is all about our choices and how they affect the way we feel inside and out.

Our Top Skincare Tips for Women Over 35

Aging is a fact of life. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be blessed to do it for many, many years. But let’s be real – most of us want to stay looking young and having that fresh-faced glow. From genetics to lifestyle factors, there are so many elements involved in maintaining younger looking skin. A few key lifestyle factors include daily exercise, not smoking, limiting your alcohol intake, sleeping eight or more hours per night, and keeping your stress levels low.

At 42, I definitely look younger than I am. I am often asked what my secret is to younger looking skin. The above lifestyle factors are definitely important, but some specific nutrition and skin care regime moves really help. In this week’s blog, I will share my favorite anti-aging skin care tricks with you.

Nutrition plays an important role in how your skin looks. Caring for your skin from the inside out. To me, that means few if any refined or processed foods, little to no sugar, little to no meat. Things to add would include eggs, avocados, hemp seeds and coconut oil. Drinking plenty of water to keep you skin hydrated is also really important. Overall, increasing the antioxidants in your diet with fresh fruits and veggies is also key.

Next, the weather elements can wreak havoc on your skin in Canada. Think about how your hands feel on a cold day if you forget your mitts. They feel dried out, sore, and even cracked. The same thing happens to our faces and necks if we don’t cover up. In the summer, the sun can do tons of damage too. Ensuring you use a moisturizer with an SPF of 30 or more is key. Cover up with a hat and high-quality sunglasses, or stay in the shade if you can – the more exposure to the sun the older our skin will look.

In terms of skin care, I try to keep it simple. One of the most important things we can do for our skin is to ensure we wash our faces and remove all of the makeup every single night before we go to bed. I try my best to be chemical free in my home and with my skin care products, so ensuring I use a gentle wash that is glycerin, paraben and sulfate free is important. I also like to read the ingredients to see what is really in there.

Next, I use a gentle exfoliator two to three times per week. In the summer, it is really important to do this at night NOT during the day, as that leaves your skin wide open for more damage. I use ‘Everyone for Every Body Face Exfoliator and Mask’. It’s super affordable and gentle on my skin…I have sensitive skin, so that is important when I am looking for great skincare products. Exfoliating gives your skin a young glow and leaves your face feeling fresh and healthy.

Once my skin is clean, I use Clinique’s Clarifying Lotion. It is a true game changer for great skin. The purpose of this step is to take away flakes and refine pores to showcase a clearer complexion. It removes dead cells from the surface of your skin helping moisturizer immerse deeper into your skin.

Once every week or two, I like to use Brie’s Botanicals Renew Serum. I have oily skin, so my face works best if this is used about every ten days. Her entire skin care line is really terrific, she is a local Winnipeger and a total gem of a human. If you haven’t used any of her products, I would strongly recommend checking them out here.

The final step is moisturizer! I honestly sometimes feel like I have tried the majority of what is in Sephora for this one. I need something that is not going to clog my pores, is anti-aging, has an SPF (daytime), and has little to no chemicals in it. I’m sort of high maintenance! For daytime, I use Origins Plantscription SPF 25 and I absolutely love it. For nighttime, I found this super cool Canadian company called Annanda Chaga Mushrooms. From my many years in the sun and not always protecting my skin, I started getting brown spots on my cheeks in my late 30’s. I wanted to do something about it that wasn’t going to chemically peal my face off! This company has a terrific nighttime moisturizer called Chaga Mushroom Skin Cream. I’m obsessed. Use this code to get 10% off your order if you’re interested in trying them out.

Every person’s skin is different. While we all want to have beautiful, glowing skin, it is also important to remember that we earned every single one of those laugh lines and wrinkles and they are beautiful.

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The Scoop on Poop

I wonder why children have such a fascination with their poop. They like to talk about it, they like to show it to anyone who will look including parents and siblings. Whether it floats or sinks, is green or brown, thick or thin, they have to let you know what’s up.

I’m not sure at what age this no longer become socially acceptable to talk about your poop out loud. Even my 10-year-old calls me into the bathroom from time to time to show me her poop. Maybe this isn’t a normal thing and it’s just my family that does this? If you’ve ever had a child that has had issues with constipation, then you more than likely have seen your fair share of poops and have requested to see it on the daily. Gross, I know.

Regardless of when we stop talking about it as children and grown-ups, we all need to ensure that we’re having a look at our “bowel movements” as an indicator of what’s happening inside of us. Good or bad, we need to see in order to know when it may be time to either change something in our diets or seek medical attention.

Poop, (aka stool or feces) is a normal part of the digestive process. Poop is made up of waste products that are being eliminated from the body. It may include undigested food particles, bacteria, salts, and other substances. Poop can vary in its color, texture, amount, and smell. Differences are fairly normal and most times you see changes (including on the colour chart below) they usually resolve in a day or two. However, some changes in poop indicate a more serious condition.

So… what is “normal”, healthy poop?  

Well to start, it should not be very difficult or painful to pass. It should be brown (medium to dark), have a soft to firm consistency and come out in one piece or a few pieces. If you there is blood in your stool get medical attention right away.Most people go once per day, some twice – some even more or less. However, it is suggested that, at minimum, you should go at least 3 times per week.

What colours can and should poop be? Other than brown, there are a whole array of colours your poop can be! Here’s an easy chart to see what colour means what and why it may be happening…

 

Colour of Poop Possible Concerning Reason as to Why? Other less concerning reasons as to Why?
Black Gastrointestinal Bleeding Iron Supplements, black licorice, bismuth medication
White or Gray Liver or Gallbladder Issues Anti-diarrhea medication may cause this.
Green Too much bile and not enough bilirubin. Spinach, kale, or other green foods.
Red Gastrointestinal Bleeding Hemorrhoids or after eating beets, red berries or tomato juice.
Orange Blocked bile ducts Rifampin Antibiotic can cause orange poop or eating orange foods rich in beta-carotene – carrots, sweet potatoes
Yellow Too much fat – possible absorption issues or difficulty producing bile.

Most people will experience variations in color at some time. Usually, this is because of diet or some other minor cause. However, anyone who experiences changes in poop color that last for two or more weeks or has red or black poop, should see their doctor.

The point of all this all is not just to say the word poop 17 times in one blog (believe it or not!). We all need to monitor any changes in the smell, firmness, frequency, or color of our own poop as it can indicate if there is a problem. Don’t be scared or embarrassed – check out your poop (18!) daily!

 

 

 

 

 

10 Best Foods for Brain Health

Our brains. What an interesting place they can be! Our brains take messages from the world and give them meaning for us. They store so much information in our memory – from the way it feels to have a hug from your mom to what chocolate tastes like to what you learned in grade 12 Algebra. The brain controls our thoughts, memory and speech, movement of the arms and legs, and the function of many organs within our body. Treating our brain as best we can is imperative for long term health.

When I first started Intermittent Fasting one of the things that attracted me most to it was the idea of helping to clean our body and brain for more optimal health. Essentially, when we sleep, our brains and body cells are being cleaned. We wake up feeling fresh and energized after a good night sleep. When we continue to fast for a little bit longer, it allows our body to continue to clean its’ cells rather than jump right into digestive mode. I really like that concept.

But other than intermittent fasting, what can we do from a nutrition side of things to help our brains be the healthiest they can be? There are a few foods that are known to be great for boosting brain health. These foods include:

  1. Berries – a strong antioxidant, berries help our memory stay sharp as we age.
  2. Dark Chocolate – this powerful antioxidant helps support cellular aging.
  3. Broccoli – high in antioxidants and vitamin K, this super veg is a winner on all fronts for your big brain.
  4. Avocados – this good, healthy fat is great for your brain and your mood by helping release the ‘feel good’ chemicals in your brain.
  5. Oily Fish – What makes oily fish so good is that they contain the active form of Omega 3 fats, EPA and DHA, in a ready-made form, which enables the body to use it easily. The less work our body has to do to use the nutrients, the more energy we have for other body tasks.
  6. Seeds and Nuts – another win for omega 3 fats and antioxidants with these powerhouses.
  7. Kale – this veg promotes great gut health. There is a HUGE connection between our gut health and our brain health. We would suggest reading more on this here.
  8. Eggs – vitamins B6 and B12, folate and choline are all found in eggs which are great for brain health and boosting memory.
  9. Coffee – the caffeine and antioxidants in coffee are great for brain health. So maybe it’s not just our imagination that we feel sharper after our first cup of joe!
  10. Turmeric – according to Healthline.com, Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can directly enter the brain and benefit the cells there.

Reducing our sugar intake, switching white carbs for better sources of carbohydrates such as whole grain bread or quinoa, and not over doing it with alcohol, are all things we should make note of when we talk about our brain health. Staying physically active is also really important, as is staying mentally active – doing brain games, crosswords and sudokus for example are all great for our brain and overall longevity and health.

It’s really important to remember that we are our own best advocates for our health and wellness. It is up to you and you only to ensure you are making good choices when it comes to your nutrition and overall health. You need to make YOU a priority, and part of this is eating a nutrient dense diet and staying active through all stages of your life.

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Intermittent Fasting: An Ancient Practice for a Modern World

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, famously said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Hippocrates and many of his contemporaries were proponents of long term fasting as a powerful way of healing the body, heightening mental acuity, enhancing spiritual connection and promoting longevity.

Fasting is currently gaining a buzz in the media, but this ancient therapy has been used for thousands of years to reverse health conditions and reset the body and mind. The question is, does one have to do a long and difficult fast in order to reap the benefits of this amazing therapy.

The answer is No. Science is showing the increasingly popular lifestyle of Intermittent Fasting to be just as effective as long term fasting in receiving the myriad health benefits. Intermittent fasting or “IF” is easy to fit into your busy modern schedule and it promotes healthy and sustainable body composition by stabilizing blood sugars and burning fat while improving energy levels, mental clarity, muscle and skin tone and helping people reach their health goals much quicker.

The secret lies in taking an insulin and digestion break for 12-20 hours at a time so that the body can become insulin sensitive once again and tap into fat reserves as fuel as well as allowing the body to go into repair mode, which can only happen when not digesting food.

There are a few different methods of IF, one of the most popular being the “16:8” ratio. The faster typically stops eating after 8:00pm, fasts while sleeping, skips breakfast, then has lunch around noon when they begin their 8 hour “eating window” from noon until 8:00pm achieving a 16 hour fast. The point of IF is NOT calorie restriction, but rather, to shorten the “window” of eating so that the body can flip from digestion mode into repair mode. You may find you will naturally eat less, yet feel very satisfied. This is due to the stabilization of blood glucose levels and the restoration of proper singling of the hunger satiety hormones.

“The HOW”: during the day…

It is recommended to first begin by consulting a health care practitioner to decide if IF is right for you and then to begin by slowly increasing your fasting window each day until you are at the desired ratio of hours spent fasting versus eating. When fasting, drink plenty of spring or mineral water, and even some tea or black coffee if you choose. I recommend using “Fasting Days” by Innotech Nutrition, as a supportive supplement made in Canada which is a doctor formulated, nutrient complex powdered drink mix specifically designed for intermittent fasting that acts as an all-natural low calorie drink to prevent hunger while maintaining your electrolytic balance. (read to the end of this article for a PROMO CODE for this supplementing option).

At Noon Eat a healthy lunch with a balance of protein, complex carbohydrate and fats. My favorite choice to gently break the fast is to consume a blended protein smoothie with a scoop of high-quality protein powder, coconut milk, a cup of frozen berries and a big handful of greens or a greens powder.

At 4pm Snack on a handful of trail mix, veggies and hummus or a piece of fruit with almond butter.

At 6pm Have a satisfying dinner with a serving of protein, plenty of leafy green salad and/or steamed veggies with healthy fats such as grass-fed butter, coconut oil or avocado, avoiding excess grains, starches and sugars.

7pm Another healthy snack if you’re feeling hungry.

8pm Stop eating and begin your fast.

“The WHY”: Some of the benefits of this “insulin and digestion break”:

    • Autophagy – when insulin production is turned off a mechanism called Autophagy gets turned on. Autophagy means, “self-devouring”. Your body searches out and consumes “bad cells” and recycles the materials to produce new and healthy cells. This is showing promise in reducing the risk of many types of cancer and to slow cellular aging.
  • Stem Cell Production – fasting stimulates stem cell production which allows for self-renewal and reversal of many cellular and mitochondrial diseases. Studies are showing an increase in longevity and reduction of inflammation with IF.
  • Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Production – studies show that fasting triggers the youth hormone known as “HGH” which improves sleep, increases muscle mass, improves skin tone and joint strength, as well as energy metabolism and fat burning.
  • Healthy Sustainable Weight Loss – IF is much different than calorie restriction diets. Calorie restriction shuts down then spikes glucose making the dieter feel deprived and fatigued causing a rebound effect and the inevitable “falling off the wagon”. Fasting however, uses up stored glucose and shuts down insulin production thereby allowing us to become sensitive to insulin once again, stabilizing blood sugar levels, and gaining more energy without the crashes. With fasting we become “fat-adapted” or fat burning, which is the body’s preferred source of fuel because it is stable, plentiful and sustainable.
  • Digestive system and gut microbiome rest and reset: studies show that IF restores microbe diversity in the gut, increases our tolerance to “bad” bacteria, and restores the integrity of the epithelial lining allowing us to absorb nutrients better, all of which has a beneficial outcome for our immune system which is 80% or more found in our gut. This in turn can elevate our mood due to the Gut-Brain Axis and the fact that our neurochemicals are mostly produced in the gut.

In summary, intermitting fasting is a modern take on the ancient therapy that is an extremely beneficial and sustainable lifestyle for both your body, your wallet and the planet. Imagine that the simple answer to our health woes was not found in the pursuit of what we needed to do more, but in what we need to do less. And as we allow the inner physician to do its work, we are also allowing this natural force of well-being to aid the planet in healing too.

About Natalie Reimer Anderson, our Guest Blogger!

Natalie Reimer Anderson was a former professional athlete and high school teacher before being sidelined by a debilitating autoimmune condition that caused her to pursue recovering her health full time. She is now known for her inspirational personal story of overcoming her

illness through cultivating the mind-body-spirit connection to optimal health. As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Fitness Trainer and Life Coach for over a decade, she combines her expertise of intermittent fasting, cellular nutrition, and fitness hacks along with mindset training and cognitive therapies to transform lives from cell to soul.

W: Nataliereimeranderson.com

E: hello@nataliereimeranderson.com

IG: @blondesovereign

If you would like guidance to properly begin your Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle contact Natalie today! Use this Innotech Nutrition Coupon Code to receive 10% off Fasting Days or any of their products: Nat10

Losing Weight After 50

It may seem like as you get older, losing weight gets increasingly difficult. It’s easy to blame our age or slower metabolisms as to why we aren’t looking or feeling as good as we want. Well unfortunately this is no longer a good excuse. Even though your metabolism may have slowed down, your weight gain is mostly due to being less active and having muscle loss. Fortunately, these are two things we can do something about.

Do we have the time and energy to work out as much as we did when we were in our 20s? Ummm no. Those were the days when we didn’t have kids, weren’t in the thick of our careers and had much more free time.

But now that we are in our 40s and 50s, we have to make our health a priority. We have to carve out time and pay attention. We have to set goals and get to work.

Here are a few things to do to help you be successful in achieving your fitness or weight loss goals:

  1. Set more than one goal. Don’t just set a goal based on the scale. Set goals to include a fitness component (example: jogging non-stop for 20 minutes) anda nutrition component (example: drinking 6 cups of water a day). Setting a variety of goals will help you feel more frequent success and positivity and help to keep you staying on track.
  2. Talk to the professionals. First of all, consult your doctor to ensure you are healthy enough to start an exercise program or if you have any specific issues that need to be considered such as IBS, Diabetes, or injuries (current or past). Make sure you are honest with all professionals you consult about your issues as this will ensure you are safe and programs are tailored to you. Some people you may want to consider hiring either for a one time or multiple sessions include personal trainers and dieticians/nutritionists. Let’s face it, if we were experts in these areas we wouldn’t be needing to get some help here. These pros can make the process much more enjoyable and increase your likelihood of success.
  3. Get moving – more often. Seems pretty basic but it’s a big move. Take the stairs, walk around on your coffee break, plan a coffee walk with a friend rather than sitting and sipping. These will all help to increase your metabolism.
  4. Workout. A few things about working out:
    a. Do something fun – whether it’s a dance class or swimming, find something that you enjoy doing – it will make all the difference.
    b. Buddy Up – whether it’s a friend or family member you meet for your workouts or a group fitness class, getting your sweat on with others makes you more likely to stick with it as you are accountable to others.
    c. Add weight lifting to your routine. This is especially important as we get older. Not only does this help with maintaining muscle to aid in keeping our weight gain at bay, it also helps with balance.
  5. Nutrition is so important! This is probably going to make the biggest impact on your weight loss. A few things (other than talking with a certified dietician/nutritionist) to consider:
    a. Be mindful about what you are eating, how much and when. It’s easy to scarf down an entire bag of chips subconsciously while watching Netflix!
    b. Increase your protein intake. Getting enough high-quality protein in your diet is not only important for weight loss but also critical for stopping or reversing age-related muscle loss. Some examples include lean meats, protein shakes, beans and legumes.
    c. Drink lots of water – try to have this be your more frequent drink of choice!
    d. Eat whole, nutrient dense foods – vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, poultry, fish, legumes, and whole grains, are packed with nutrients essential for maintaining a healthy body weight, such as fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
    e. Cook more at home and eat out less. Know what you’re eating. Eating out often usually means eating high fat, sugar and salt and highly processed foods. This will likely save you money too!
  6. Sleep! Not getting enough quality sleep may harm your weight loss efforts. Many studies have shown that not getting enough sleep increases the likelihood of obesity and may hinder weight loss efforts.
  7. Finally, be patient. Just because you start on a path to a better, fitter, healthier you, doesn’t mean it is going to happen quickly. It takes time. But it WILL happen. Just be patient.

Just because you haven’t made yourself a priority in the past, doesn’t mean it has to stay this way. You are worth the effort.

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Is Snacking Good or Bad for Me?

Is snacking good or bad for you? Well wait, what is a snack any ways? Do you mean late night snacking, chips and double-stuffed oreos? Or are we talking about a quick snack before I go to spin class? Well, I guess that depends on how YOU define snacking. I never like to classify anything as “GOOD” or “BAD”, but I want to answer this question for you, and give it to you straight!

One of the MOST common questions I receive from my IG community, and clients — “What can I have for a Healthy Snack?” So this blog post will review snacking from a few different view points, but mostly focus on the practical tips and answer the questions–what can you snack on? Let’s get started.

What is snacking?

There are many different ways to define snacking, but the way I think of snacking, is consuming small amounts of food between meals. This can include both food or drink, but the key is smaller portions, ie snacks are not meals! This is different for everyone, and it seems to be the busier we are, the less time we have for “sit-down” or conventional meals, and therefore we rely on snacking to get all the fuel and nutrition we need for the day. When we use snacks to replace our meals, we have to be strategic, as it is far too easy to overeat, choose highly processed foods, and then just continuously graze, and many of us actually consider ourselves grazers.

Is there a difference between snacking and grazing?

Yes. I grew up on a farm, so if you don’t get this reference, I apologize, but I’m sure you all have seen a cow before….think of a cow in a field…sauntering along leisurely, munching on the grass here and there, walking a bit, eating some more, chewing, walking, eating…for hours on end. This is grazing. You can imagine the challenge that this brings for humans. It encourages us to eat MINDLESSLY and when we are not mindful (ie mindless) about what we eat, we tend to eat more than our body needs, and we tend to ENJOY IT LESS, and why would we ever want to eat more, and enjoy it less, shouldn’t it be the other way around? Snacking on the other hand is more intentional and deliberate, almost strategic and doesn’t blur into one long eating event. Snacks are timed to bridge the gap between your meals.

Bottom Line: Grazing encourages mindless eating, snacking is intentional, so do your best to eat with intention on your journey to living your best life.

When is the best time to snack?

In a perfect world, we would all eat very intuitively, meaning, eat when we are hungry, stop when we are full, but to be honest, I can only think of ONE person that I know who does this…the rest of us tend to fall somewhere between the spectrum of totally starving and uncomfortably full. Actually, if you have any kids, or are around kids, you will notice that they are quite good at eating according to their body and how they feel/what they need. But as we grow into adults, we tend to fu*% things up by going on weird diets, trying to lose weight, gain muscle, trim up, tone up etc. It is through this process of up and down, erratic food intake that we lose our sense of proper hunger and fullness cues, and our intuitive eating becomes less reliable, and we need to train them again.

So to keep it simple, I like to follow some general rules of timing for snacks/meals that will also help you plan your day, and plan your snacks. As a rule, to avoid that extreme hunger, meals can typically be spaced 4-6 hours apart, of course there is variability here, but I’m trying to be concise and give it to you straight okay? If you eat breakfast at 8am, then you would want to have lunch by 12-2pm. If you eat lunch at 1pm, then supper no later than 7pm, you get the idea. But GUESS WHAT? We are not robots, and try as we may, life will get in the way of our perfect meal timing, and that’s where snacks save the day! Yassss!

Snacks can be strategically eaten to bridge the gaps between meals and to keep you from becoming that hangry beast…and I will admit, I am the MOST beastly when hungry, and not living my best life at all. To keep you living your best life, use snacks when you have large gaps of time between meals. Snacks are also very important when we do any time of exercise or activity, they will help you push through! Here is an example of timing, if you eat at 8am, and plan to eat lunch at 1pm, but you have a last minute conference call or meeting that doesn’t end until 3pm. YIKES- 8am-3pm (7 hours) you will be ferociously hungry and will eat everything in sight at your next meal, you have no willpower when you are this hungry. As a solution, plan for a snack at 1pm when you would have your lunch, this will keep you in check until you can eat your actual lunch. Same thing when you leave work or school, if you have running around to do, try to fit in a workout, chances are you will need that snack to get you through.

Bottom Line: Have a snack if your meals are too far apart, but don’t forget to eat your meal.

What about LATE NIGHT MUNCHIES?

DUN.DUN.DUN. What is it about the witching hours when the sun goes down that we get sooo peckish and just wanna go ape on all the food in sight? I honestly don’t know. But what I do know, is that most people struggle with evening mindless snacking, myself included. I start off with good intentions. My Peanut Butter Yogurt Whip maybe with an apple. Then I will have a melba toast or regular toast with peanut butter…then after that….I still want more, I will sometimes find myself just eating peanut butter straight from the jar–WTF? Am I even hungry? No. For whatever reasons we snack (and there are many reasons and rarely is it hunger) the problem is, it becomes a habit, a habit that would be good to break, but will take time, however here are some of my go to snack options for sweet or salty cravers:

SWEET:

  • Peanut butter whip yogurt

  • Ryevita cracker with almond butter and honey

  • Yogurt with granola

  • Energy bite (click here for FREE enery bite masters guide)

  • Fruit with yogurt or nut butter dip

  • Small amounts of any dessert is OK, just watch that portion

SALTY:

  • Que pasa tortilla chips and salsa

  • Thin triscuit crackers with cheese

  • Trailmix (portions please)

  • Chee cha puffs — great replacement for chips

  • Popcorn

  • Chip/Popcorn: my favorite trick is taking 3 cups of popcorn, and then a handful of your favorite chips (just a handful) and crushing them into your popcorn, tossing it all up and wam bam, thank you mam’ your entire bowl of popcorn, tastes like your favorite chips.

Bottom Line: Mindless snacking in the evening is rarely fueled by hunger, so rather than focusing on what you’re eating, maybe you should focus on what’s eating you?

What is a good snack anyways?

I am going to share with you, my perfect snack formula, it makes the ideal “between meal” fuel. Snacking on the right type and combination of foods will give you that energy boost that we demand from our snacks, you know to get you through that mid-day slump. To understand that “right” combination, let me #throwback to Canada’s Food Guide concept of food groups, because most of us have at least seen this before. Don’t roll your eyes at me! A dietitian referencing the food guide, YES! Now, CFG identifies 4 unique food groups distinguished by the nutrients that group provides for our body. Meaning, each food group provides a unique set of nutrients that are important for our overall health. As a reminder….the 4 food groups are: Vegetables & Fruit, Grain & Starches, Milk & Alternatives, Meat & Alternatives. The RIGHT snack combination should balance 2 of these food groups, so keep that in mind. Let’s get into it.

The Perfect Snack Formula

  1. Should contain 2 or 3 of the 4 food groups. The simplest combo would be a protein and carbohydrate (tuna & crackers, apple & cheese) as some examples. But the point is, any ONE item will likely not satisfy you or fill you up, like just carrots, just apples, just cheese, just nuts, combine two and get that synergistic benefit and a variety of nutrients.

  2. Should range between 150-250 calories per snack. Remember, snacks are smaller portions of foods and using a calorie range will help you determine how much of your favorite snack food you might eat, this will also discourage you from eating half a jar of peanut butter or a whole brick of marble cheese with your crackers as a snack.

  3. Should containt fibre and protein because they are your friends, try to get enough of both at a snack (5g of protein, 3g of fibre)

  4. Should be low in added sugars, if you can keep it single digits then you are a rockstar (less than 9 grams)

  5. Should contain “clean” ingredients that you might find in your own pantry. This is easier if you are making it at home, but for pre-packaged stuff, look for short, simple ingredient lists and no artificial ingredients.

  6. Snacks should be easy to Assemble and portable–like energy bites, balls, or bars!

Some Favorite Snack Recipes

Here are a few of my favorite snack recipes to help you along your way and keeping the above tips in mind. You may also want to try some pre-packaged snack products— I am working on a blog for this so stay tuned!

To answer the question from the start…Is snacking good or bad for me? Snacking is good for you, in fact we rely on snacks for fuel and energy. MINDLESS snacking, is not good for you, snacking for the sake of eating satisfy other needs, that go beyond our nutrition needs. Here is a recap:
  • Plan for snacks! Have a snack if your meals are too far apart, but don’t forget to eat your meal.

  • Avoid grazing as it encourages mindless eating, snacking is intentional, so do your best to eat with intention on your journey to living your best life.

  • Re-think WHY you snack when you’re not hungry– Mindless snacking in the evening is rarely fueled by hunger, so rather than focusing on what you’re eating, maybe you should focus on what’s eating you?

  • Try the perfect snack formula above!

About Jessica Wylychenko our GUEST Blogger! 

Jessica is a registered dietitian helping runners eat smarter, to run harder. She works with you to become a more well balanced, well-nourished runner so that you can hit your PR’s and reduce your risk of injury. Jessica believes food is fuel and should be used to nurture the body, but food is also enjoyment, more importantly enjoyment than anything else.

www.saladsaresweet.com