the gentle art of “no” [to unlock joy]

the gentle art of “no” [to unlock joy]

 

No = Joy. The two sound contradictory, right? 

 

Before you answer, pause… take a deep breath! And now think hard about the last time you truly said no to clear free space in your schedule. 

 

If you’re like me, that may be a distant memory. But guess what? The word “no” is the lock and key to “white space” which is the “fertile ground” for joy and freedom. 

 

This time of year the capacity to say no seems compounded with complications. Partially because our obligations increase but also because there are so many silent pressures nagging at us. If it sounds like I know what I’m talking about I DO because I’m the first one to agree to some things that I later regret. 

 

But here’s my commitment [and subsequent challenge] to you, I am wholeheartedly invested in fine-tuning the gentle art of “no” in order to unlock pure joy this season. And in order to make this a tangible + actionable goal, I’ve laid out a roadmap below that I would absolutely adore some company in following. Are you with me?… GREAT!

 

step one – pause

While it’s tempting to pacify an ask with an immediate yes, a five second pause is the most powerful antidote to the emotional rollercoaster [and time vacuum] of unraveling a flippant commitment. Those five seconds might just feel like the longest 5 seconds of your life, but they will also serve as the most gratifying 5 seconds you spend all day if they prevent you from committing to something out of angst or fear. Once you’ve paused, consider starting your sentence in this gentle way: I can’t commit right now but very much appreciate the kind offer. In this way you are setting your boundary beautifully [which is admirable] but also honoring the asker by thanking them for thinking of you. 

 

step two – define your priority for the day

The word priority comes from the latin root ONE. Yet how many times have you heard the term “priorities.” I used to write it at the top of my checklist every day only to feel defeated that 30% of the checklist was not accomplished. Instead of putting the unrealistic expectation on yourself to have “priorities,” consider isolating [from your checklist] what is non-negotiable before you put your head on the pillow. Chances are by putting so much intentionality into that one thing before all the rest will not only enable you to say “no” more easily if an obligation conflicts with that priority but it will also clear space in your mind for joy and contentment [instead of defeat and anxiety].

 

 

step three- build your list of “I don’ts”

Along the lines of lists… [can you tell I’m a list maker?], it’s time to build a list of what you don’t do. In this day and age we are presented with a myriad of ways to overextend ourselves, making it hard in the moment to un-commit if we don’t have well defined boundaries for what we do. not. do. Consider journaling this weekend with the your page titled…”I do not:”  Here’s the start to my list, if you are curious:

 

I DO NOT: 

  • check email before 10 am
  • turn my phone off airplane while in bed [to check something that will usually just make me anxious before I hop out of bed]
  • mindlessly snack between meals
  • eat standing up
  • drink on monday – wednesday evenings

 

Now it’s your turn. You’ll be surprised by how easily this list of don’ts will untangle you from the turmoil of feeling scattered depletion. If I live out my “I do not’s,” I feel in the driver’s seat with both my food choices and my interaction online.   

 

step four – practice

I’m making this sound easy. But it’s not! It’s actually quite difficult and will only get easier with practice. Consider it a “muscle” that you must flex at the gym before you can start using it for the heavy lifting of the holidays. My commitment is to practice this as often as possible even if it’s just in more superficial ways. Xfinity asked me yesterday if I’d like faster internet that would make my life so much better. A 5 second pause later, I kindly said no- my life still seems pretty great without it. But then I was asked just this morning if I could commit to helping with a baby shower the same week I’m traveling. A [harder] 5 second pause later and I can proudly tell you I was able to say “no” only to feel a wave of relief wash over me, not because I don’t adore my pregnant friend but because I know she wouldn’t want me resentfully helping with anything that overextended myself. In fact, are you ready for this? She said she respected me even more for defining my boundary so clearly. #nailedit

 

step five – don’t apologize

In full transparency, I have yet to master the art of not apologizing after giving someone news they don’t want to hear. But it’s part of this roadmap because it plays a pivotal roll in finding both the time and energy that you deserve. And if the process of setting boundaries leaves you in a position of apologetic fear, it’s not going to give you the freedom you crave. Practice setting a boundary and pausing before explaining yourself. You’ll be delightfully surprised by how smoothly this goes especially in relation to saying no to food. If anything, you’ll find others want to set the same boundaries!

 

step six – fight for joy daily [as though it is a form of tangible “nutrition”]

And here is the best part… joy. It’s something we crave at a soul level but don’t usually have time to actively pursue. But by honing in on your ability to set your boundary, say no and un-commit, you now have time and space for joy. What a refreshing thought. So what brings you joy? Do you have a list? If you’re struggling to even think of one thing you’ve done today or plan to do today that brings you joy [outside of sugar and stuff], now is the time to start building out that list. Joy is as important to the body as vegetables are. Gasp! You could be eating like a rabbit but if you’re devoid of joy you won’t experience the true freedom of DEEP nourishment. Here is my final challenge to you [and myself!]: savor two “doses” of joy daily. Journal your joy. Celebrate your joy. And share your joy. 

 

By practicing the gentle art of saying no, I’m confident you’ll be able to reflect back on this season as a season of JOY. 

 

Oh and should you need a subtle reminder on the daily to fight for joy, I created a little present for you, my joyful soul…

 

Click HERE to download the desktop background I currently have on my screens to remind myself that joy truly is a reflection of deep wellness. And it begins with the word NO. 

 

xx,

 

Ellie

 

celebrating with gusto and not guilt

celebrating with gusto and not guilt

 

With thanksgiving RIGHT around the corner, every blog, market, and cooking show is bursting at the seams with creative ways to serve a memorable meal on November 22. Rarely though is there a practical solution regarding how to maintain a SANE perspective when the frantic feeding frenzy begins.

Don’t lose hope. There IS a way to confidently savor a holiday meal without a bulging belly or lingering guilt. 

Below are the top 3 ways I’ve personally found and professionally created to provide freedom for others [with my #1 secret for portion control to BOOT!]

eat with gusto

 

Before we can even have a discussion about WHAT or HOW MUCH to eat – I need to draw your attention to HOW to eat. There’s a moment in the movie Amelie where it highlights the simple pleasures in life, one of them being the pleasure of cracking the top of a crème brulée. I get giddy thinking about doing that. OR, think about the crispness of sweet potato fries or the smoothness of chocolate. Food is meant to be fully enjoyed. Once you have filled your plate, enjoy, savor, and zestfully DINE on whatever you have chosen. We eat with more than our taste buds. If you SLOW DOWN and take a moment to savor the array of color you design on your plate [almost as though it is art on a canvas] you will remember so much more than feeling like turkey stuffing post meal. Feel the textures. Let your taste buds come alive. LET yourself go “OOOH my goodness this is so good.” As the plates of greens + turkey and gravy make their way to you, don’t just settle for foods you think you SHOULD eat. Now is the time to upgrade your choices by reaching for the foods that strike your fancy based on their beauty + color + smell. Thanksgiving hosts dishes made with LOVE from friends and family. By choosing to indulge in these foods with INTENTIONALITY you will indulge in far more than the food alone. The experience itself is worth savoring with more than just the taste buds.

 partake with practical portions

 

Now that you’ve chosen your foods and are gleefully about to dive into the foods you have chosen it’s time to starting thinking about SIMPLE ways to stay within reasonable limits sans calculator, graph, gram or cup measurement. Intuitive eating would prevent us from having to think about portions at all. But seeing as it is a skill set typically trained out of us at the ripe old age of 3 I’ve got a secret for you that will prevent you from sacrificing your sanity during the holidays. Better yet, these tactics can be beautifully implemented on a day to day basis.

  • Vie for vegetables FIRST. By eating veggies first you’re giving your body an abundant source of FIBER and most importantly the vitamins and minerals it CRAVES. Aim to consume 2 “fists”- yes, FISTS of vegetables before diving into anything else on the plate. You’ll notice if you put your fists together they happen to be relatively equivalent to 1/2 of a plate.
  • Power up on your protein SECOND. Once you’ve savored your fists of vegetables, it’s high time to power up on the protein scene. Whichever proteins you’ve chosen will suffice whether it’s turkey, cornish game hen or duck, aim to consume a “palm” of protein. While this may seem shy compared to your uncle Joe, let that settle before reaching for more and you might just be pleasantly surprised how full you feel in about 20 minutes.
  • Cherish your carbs THIRD. Now that you’ve filled up on vitamins + minerals + protein, all the stuffing, sweet potatoes, and rolls are calling your name. You’ll have an incredible sense of satiety + sanity instead of anxiety and haste as you dive into these more indulgent foods last. Don’t forget about that pecan pie too! When you’re thinking about an appropriate portion of carbohydrates… aim to savor 1/2 fist portions of whichever carbs you have chosen, setting your fork down between each bite to intentionally + intuitively decide if you need more. Recognize that you’ve been able to taste test the best of what the table has to offer allowing you to sit back with a sigh and engage in conversation instead of post meal guilt or discomfort.

Finally…

 give yourself permission to say no…

 

Even when your sweet grandmother encourages you to go back for that third helping of her “famous sweet potato pie,” confidently remain rooted in what you know makes you feel alive + energized. Don’t choose out of guilt or appeasement. Just because others are eating everything offered in portions they may or may not feel good about, you are experiencing freedom though devotion TO yourself instead of discipline AGAINST yourself.

 

Now off you go- savor, celebrate, and BE nourished!

 

mirror, mirror

Mirror, mirror on the wall… This is the start of the well-known mantra by the Evil Queen in Snow White on her journey to become the fairest of them all.  Desperate and crazed to hold the title of most beautiful, she feeds Snow White a poisonous apple in an attempt to kill her.  Unfortunately for the Queen, she fails in her quest, ultimately resulting in her own demise.

 

And with this seemingly innocent fairy tale and others like it, our society’s obsession with beauty, weight, youth, and all-around physical appearance, is ingrained in our thoughts from a ridiculously young age.

 

While most of us don’t go as far as trying to kill off our competition, I would venture to guess that the vast majority of you reading this have at one point injured your own spirit, pride, and self-esteem with negative self-talk stemming from unrealistic goals and expectations.

 

If I’m being honest, more times than I’d like to admit I mutter my own mantra as I look at myself in the mirror. It goes something like “mirror mirror on the wall, I am NOT the fairest of them all” and then it’s usually followed with a slew of negative thoughts and harsh words centered around my body, my weight, cellulite, grey hair, my aging skin, etc.  When I stop to think about it, I can find the beauty in EVERYONE I meet, no matter their size, age, how they dress or how they look. I wonder why its so easy to look at someone else and see the beauty they have just glowing inside them, but when it comes to myself, the person I know the best, I get stuck on the outside. Even worse I let these thoughts and beliefs about my appearance dictate how I feel about my entire persona. Research shows I’m not alone, 69-84% of women exhibit body dissatisfaction, putting us at risk for depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and eating disorders. Not only that but a study published this year found evidence of body dissatisfaction beginning in girls as young as  3 to 5 years of age. 3 years old!!! To me this is horrific. It appears that their dissatisfaction mirrors that of their mothers. So, ladies, I beg you, let’s break this cycle!

 

A negative body image is usually a distorted view of reality, but what is real is that it can significantly impact our mood, our performance, and our relationships. And I know, I know… just being positive about your body is easier said than done, but I have some real-world ways to at least take a step in the right direction.

 

  1. Exercise. Women who exercise tend to have better body images than women who don’t. Research indicates that strength training and yoga are especially good at boosting your body satisfaction.
  2. Turn off the social media. If looking at social media gives you a bad case of comparison-itis, know that you are not alone. Studies show that looking at Instagram pictures of both celebrities and attractive peers left women with worse moods and increased body dissatisfaction. So put away your phone and do something more productive like talk with your loved ones, read a book, get up and take a walk, or close your eyes and practice taking some deeply nourishing breaths.
  3. Focus on your health, rather than the number on the scale. I work with women every day to re-evaluate their goals and motivation for losing weight. And while I do believe it is possible to accept and even love your body how it is now, and still want to change it, making the focus of this journey about health rather than arbitrary numbers is so much more rewarding. You are so much more than the number on the scale or your dress size. Instead, place the focus on how eating healthy makes you feel and how your body grows strong as you work out.
  4. Use positive self-talk. Say it loud and say it proud… I dare you. Look in the mirror and say something nice about yourself. Something that is not related to your image. Are you a wonderful, loving wife? A self-less, caring mother? A person that’s always there for a friend in need? Then say it out loud and say it often. I know if feels silly at first, but this type of practice can have profound effects on your self-worth. So powerful in fact, that I say let’s chant this new and improved mantra together:

 

Mirror mirror on the wall…. Today  I will accept myself once and for all.

 

References

 

Body Image. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/body-image

Brown, Z., & Tiggemann, M. (2016). Attractive celebrity and peer images on Instagram: Effect on women’s mood and body image. Body Image, 19, 37–43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.08.007

Perez, M., Diest, A. M. K. V., Smith, H., & Sladek, M. R. (2018). Body Dissatisfaction and Its Correlates in 5- to 7-Year-Old Girls: A Social Learning Experiment. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 47(5), 757–769. https://doi.org/10.1080/15374416.2016.1157758

Runfola, C. D., Von Holle, A., Trace, S. E., Brownley, K. A., Hofmeier, S. M., Gagne, D. A., & Bulik, C. M. (2013). Body Dissatisfaction in Women Across the Lifespan: Results of the UNC-SELF and Gender and Body Image (GABI) Studies. European Eating Disorders Review : The Journal of the Eating Disorders Association, 21(1), 52–59. https://doi.org/10.1002/erv.2201

 

the truth about fats

Those of you who are Simply Nourished fans know we loooove to preach the benefits of good fats in the diet. Besides being your body’s preferred fuel source, fat helps you feel full longer, is needed for the absorption of vitamins, and is a building block for cell membranes and hormones. What IS clear is that fats deserve a prominent place on your plate. What’s NOT so clear is what type of fat deserves that place.

Every day I see news clips, magazine articles and blogs with flashy headlines either demonizing or celebrating fat. Truly, I don’t think there is any other nutrition element that is as hotly debated as fat. And with so many mixed messages out there it’s no wonder my inbox is flooded with emails from confused clients asking what they should eat. Questions like: “Should I have full-fat dairy or fat-free dairy?” “What about saturated fat?” And “what’s the deal with coconut oil?” Speaking of coconut oil, did any of you see the recent nutrition scandal where a Harvard professor called coconut oil “pure poison”? Yep, during a lecture she referred to it as poison due to its saturated fat content and the risk of heart disease. Truth be told, there is some controversy around saturated fat and how much we should have in the diet, but calling coconut oil pure poison is an unfair accusation. Not only that, what continues to amaze and downright anger me is that public health officials and institutions like the American Heart Association continue to point a finger at saturated fat, but never mention what I believe truly is pure poison – industrial oils such as soy, corn and vegetable.

Now I know some of you are shaking your heads and feel super confused because you’ve heard over and over again that these unsaturated fats are GOOD for you and should replace saturated fats. Well hold on tight while I explain that this is some of the WORST nutrition advice I’ve ever seen. In my book it’s right up there with the low fat, eat as many carbs as you want message. Let me explain.

But before I do, I want to take a little detour into inflammation.

chronic inflammation – at the root of disease

Inflammation is part of your body’s immune response. When working correctly it is a short-term response to fight pathogens and help your body heal. The problem arises when our body’s inflammatory response goes into overdrive and does not turn off. This chronic low-grade inflammation is at the root of so many of the disease that plague us, from heart disease, to diabetes or cancer. Diet and lifestyle play a huge role in how our body responds to inflammation and the type of fat you eat plays a pivotal role in either promoting or quelling your body’s inflammatory response. Once you understand this basic principal you’ll see why I think industrial oils are one of the top things you should be avoiding in your diet.

Now back to fats…..

unsaturated fats, the good and the ugly

Unsaturated fats are the type we tend to hear as the “healthier fats.” They are often liquid at room temperature, like your cooking oils. When it comes to unsaturated fats there are two types – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA’s). Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil and avocado. I won’t be going into detail on them in this blog post, but rest assured- they are a healthy part of your diet. So go ahead and fuel up on your avocado toast and toss your salad with an olive oil-based vinaigrette. Instead we’ll turn our attention to the polyunsaturated fats.

There are two types of PUFA’s that I want to draw your attention to, Omega-6 and Omega-3. Both of these types of fat are essential, meaning we must eat them since our body cannot make them. Many of you may be familiar with the omega-3’s. They are the type of fat that we get from fish or from supplements. They get good press and rightly so. Since they play a significant role in your body’s anti-inflammatory response and we want to focus on getting this type of fat. The best sources are from marine animals. Think fatty fish like salmon, anchovies and sardines. The problem is that most of us don’t eat enough of these fish and with the risk of mercury contamination, we really need to be careful about where they are sourced from and how much we consume.

Omega-6 fatty acids sit on the other side of the see-saw from omega-3’s. They help our body when our immune system needs to turn on inflammation. Omega-6’s are needed in the diet, but it should be in balance with omega-3’s. American’s however eat way too many omega-6’s, tipping the see-saw in favor of inflammation. Since most of us are living with chronic inflammation, eating these fats in the quantity we do is like putting kerosene on a flame we are trying to control. It just doesn’t make sense.

Experts believe that we should eat a 1 to 4 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids for optimal health, but we tend to average a ratio in the range of closer to 10:1 to 20:1!

avoid industrial oils

The reason for this is simple. Many of the fats we see in restaurant meals and processed foods come from industrial fats. Industrial fats and oils is the term used for the food grade oils that are highly processed and refined. Basically, they have to come out of some sort of industrial processing plant. These include soybean, corn, sunflower, and canola. They are incredibly cheap to make so we see them in just about every processed food. Look at the any food packaged food, sauce, margarine or dressing in your pantry and I guarantee the large majority of them will have one of these types of oils.

Combine the cheap and widely available industrial oils with the message to eat more unsaturated fats, and the low amount of omega-3’s in our diet and you’ve got the perfect inflammatory storm. That’s why I see these highly processed, super inflammatory, ubiquitous fats as “pure poison”.

balance your fats

The best way to balance your fats? Follow these simple steps
1. Avoid processed foods whenever you can and read the ingredient list on the label
2. Cook with olive oil, avocado oil, ghee and coconut oil.
3. Eat wild caught sustainable seafood
4. Consider an omega-3 fatty acid supplement
5. Enjoy avocado, nuts, olives, and seeds

References

Buckley, C. D., Gilroy, D. W., & Serhan, C. N. (2014). Proresolving Lipid Mediators and Mechanisms in the Resolution of Acute Inflammation. Immunity, 40(3), 315–327. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2014.02.009
Drayer and Michael Nedelman. (2018). Coconut oil: The facts behind “pure poison” claim. Retrieved October 11, 2018, from https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/22/health/coconut-oil-pure-poison/index.html
Franz, M. (2014). Nutrition, Inflammation, and Disease. Today’s Dietitian, 16(2), 44.
Gropper, S., & Smith, J. (2013). Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing/Cengage Learning.
Rakel, D. (2018). Integrative Medicine (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
Tabas, I., & Glass, C. K. (2013). Anti-Inflammatory Therapy in Chronic Disease: Challenges and Opportunities. Science, 339(6116), 166–172. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1230720

Invincible Immunity

Fall is in the air and while fall is by far my favorite season, I can’t help but recognize what’s right on its tail, winter and it’s sidekick, cold and flu season. Just as some of our animal friends are taking advantage of the fall abundance to prepare for winters challenges, we should be doing the same thing too. Embrace this season of change with some nutrient and lifestyle shifts to prepare you and your immune system for the winter months ahead- laying the groundwork now can help keep those winter colds at bay.

As both a holistic and clinical nutritionist, I look at this time of transition from summer to fall from two angles. On the traditional side, it is a time to strip away the unnecessary, both in life and in food. As summer vacation’s come to an end and kids go back to school, this is the perfect time to set new routines and rhythms that create balance, consistency and ease in our daily lives. On the clinical side, it’s a time to focus on nourishing the body with the elements it needs to strengthen our body’s defense system.

lifestyle nourishment to foster a strong immune system

When we look at traditional medicine side of immunity- fall routines abound. In Chinese medicine fall is the season of metal. And just like metal is refined by a metal smith, we too need to determine what needs to be removed and stripped away from our daily routines. The organ of focus for this is the large intestine (a key player in immunity!) and throughout the fall we are encouraged to let go of the old and make room for the new.

Ayurvedic medicine identifies the fall as vata season; a time of cool, dry and windy conditions. It is a time to be filled with warmth in the form of loving relationships, routines and a focus on being grounded. Foods focused on providing oils and warmth (think spices and cooked foods) will help to keep vata in balance.

If you tend to juggle unnecessary commitments, fall is the time to embrace the growth from summer and let go of what no longer serves you.

The clinical side of immunity looks more at the nutrients your body needs to renew itself daily and defend itself optimally. I am always fascinated by how the science we conduct in our modern world supports these ancient traditions. But before we jump into the key recommendations for optimizing your immunity, let’s get a brief biology lesson in your immune system.

immunity 101

The immune system is an intricate network of specialized cells, each with a unique role in fighting infection. Everything from colds, to inflammation or cancer prevention, relies upon the immune system. The different types of immune cells act as tiny soldiers, battling foreign invaders to keep your body healthy. Some of these cells act as intelligence scouts searching for danger and alerting the rest of our body when danger is encountered. Other cells act as front-line combatants, responding to these signals and attacking foreign invaders. The regulation of immunity depends on cell communication. There are literally thousands of biochemical processes that occur on every single cell, at every second! Our immune cells create a series of signals that tell the body to ramp up the immune response. Cells also signal when the coast is clear, and the immune response can be resolved.

Just like any other army, our tiny immunity soldiers need ammunition to fight. And that ammunition is food. Without a rich supply of key nutrients, to nourish and support the immune system, a break down is likely to happen. Here are the top 5 immune boosting foods:

rev up your immune potential

1. Probiotic-rich foods keep the gut bacteria healthy and in balance. Remember how traditional Chinese medicine focus on the large intestine during the fall season? Well, the gut and the bacteria that resides within it is one of the key fortresses in your body’s defense system. Beneficial bacteria like those found in probiotic-rich foods help create a physical barrier along the digestive tract and also crowd out harmful bacteria before they can multiply. Rotate kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir and kombucha into your diet to reap these GI strengthening benefits.

2. Unfortunately, more than 40% of Americans are walking around with a deficiency of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is implicated in a number of chronic illnesses and it plays a significant role in immunity. I encourage most of my clients to get their vitamin D levels checked by their doctors and if low consider supplementing with D3. Our bodies make vitamin D from the sun, but in winter months it becomes a challenge to get enough sun, especially if you live in a northern climate. Cod liver oil, mushrooms, fish [like salmon and sardines], and egg yolks are great ways to get vitamin D in your diet.

3. Eating cruciferous vegetables can help the liver to flush the body of harmful substances. Cabbage even has a compound called glutamine, an amino acid, which helps repair and replace injured gut cells (an important primary defense against sickness). In addition, cruciferous vegetables have a number of powerful antioxidants that help to reduce chronic inflammation (a result of an immune response that won’t shut down). Incorporate a cruciferous vegetable into at least one meal a day.

4. Ginger root is a warming, anti-inflammatory spice used in traditional Asian cooking. The active compounds in ginger – gingerols and shogaols – have powerful anti-microbial properties that can create a negative environment for viruses and bacteria to multiply. Sip ginger tea, add fresh ginger to smoothies or use it to add flavor to dressings, marinades and stir fries.

5. Garlic is truly an immune boosting superstar. It contains the active molecule, allicin, which helps us to fight off infection and bacteria. In addition, it contains a sulfur compound (also found in egg yolks, onions, and cruciferous vegetables) that has been shown to enhance the activity of defense cells, creating a stronger immune response.

Reference:

Mischke, M. (n.d.). An Ayurvedic Guide to a Soothing and Stable Fall Season | Banyan Botanicals. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/seasonal-guides/autumn-guide/

Aranow, C. (2011). Vitamin D and the Immune System. Journal of Investigative Medicine : The Official Publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research, 59(6), 881–886. https://doi.org/10.231/JIM.0b013e31821b8755
Arreola, R., Quintero-Fabián, S., López-Roa, R. I., Flores-Gutiérrez, E. O., Reyes-Grajeda, J. P., Carrera-Quintanar, L., & Ortuño-Sahagún, D. (2015).

Immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic compounds. Journal of Immunology Research, 2015, 401630. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/401630

Immune adaptations that maintain homeostasis with the intestinal microbiota | Nature Reviews Immunology. (n.d.). Retrieved September 9, 2018, from https://www.nature.com/articles/nri2710

Semwal, R. B., Semwal, D. K., Combrinck, S., & Viljoen, A. M. (2015). Gingerols and shogaols: Important nutraceutical principles from ginger. Phytochemistry, 117, 554–568. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phytochem.2015.07.012
Stay Centered and Energized During Vata Season. (2013, October 15). Retrieved September 13, 2018, from http://chopra.com/articles/stay-centered-and-energized-during-vata-season

Suttie, E. (n.d.). Living with the Seasons – Fall / Autumn in Chinese Medicine. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from https://www.chinesemedicineliving.com/nutrition/seasons/fall/
Gumenick, N. (1997). The Five Elements: Metal. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from http://www.5elements.com/docs/elements/metal.html

The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet. (n.d.). Retrieved September 13, 2018, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/research/advancements-in-research/fundamentals/in-depth/the-gut-where-bacteria-and-immune-system-meet

Whitaker, J. R. (1976). Development of Flavor, Odor, and Pungency in Onion and Garlic. In C. O. Chichester, E. M. Mrak, & G. F. Stewart (Eds.), Advances in Food Research (Vol. 22, pp. 73–133). Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0065-2628(08)60337-7

MORNING ROUTINES + WHY THEY MATTER

BUILDING A POWERFUL MORNING ROUTINE

Autumn is my favorite time of the year-perhaps because I grew up in Colorado surrounded by the splendor of changing leaves.  I revel in the season’s crisp winds, golden light and harvest foods because to me they provide a sense of inspiration to change in sync with the seasonal metamorphosis. Whether you live in a city with tangible change or not, a new season represents the opportunity to embrace new goals, new habits and ultimately new rituals. As I’ve studied the daily rituals of many creative thinkers, scientists, and producers around the globe I’ve seen one brilliant trend… a consistent morning routine.

 

THE DEEPER MEANING BEHIND A MORNING ROUTINE 

Having experienced first-hand the potency of a consistent + intentional morning routine, it’s now one of the first things I address with my clients. Why? Because morning routines are a reflection of your priorities [not only for the day but really in your own life]. The way we tee up our mornings sets the tone for the entire day. To give you something to work off of I’m going to break out my morning routine and let you cherry pick what resonates the most with you.

 

MY MORNING ROUTINE

5:00 am: wake-up [only looking at my phone to turn off my alarm and put it away.] Take a few moments to box breathe.

 

5:15 am: drink 16 oz water with 1/4 lemon. Heat up water for a Matcha Tea Latte, Coffee, or an Earl Grey Breakfast tea– it just depends on my mood that morning!

 

5:30 am: now that I’m fully hydrated I find my cozy sit spot- [designed just for my morning journaling]. This is the time I dive into my version of a 5 minute journal. My [robotic] therapeutic entries are:

 

  • how I will nourish myself today
  • how I will infuse self-care into my day
  • how I will engage in someone else’s life in a special way today
  • what I need to prioritize with my work
  • I call this my COMPASS for the day because if you look closely each portion relates to a direction. And all 4 compliment each other beautifully.
  • After I take a few moments to jot this down I take a moment to just quietly sip on my brewed tea/coffee d’jour and Grati-tate which is my oh so clever way of meditating on what truly brings me gratitude instead of falling prey to any fears that are pounding at my mind’s doorstep.

6:00 am: it’s time to get the blood pumping! This is when I hit my yoga mat, go for a quick run or walk my pup. I find it’s therapeutic to bring blood to the brain and to bring fresh new oxygen + life to tissue you are about to depend upon greatly for the rest of the day.

 

7:30 am: high time for nourishment. Now that I’ve “set my compass,” supercharged my cells + mind with new energy it’s time to nourish with some nosh. My favorite breakfasts are fat-forward as fat tends to give a longer sustained energy release.

 

8ish am: open up the first project of the day feeling refreshed + focused + energized to be my best self. I show up. [And you can too.] With a sound morning routine, you’ll be delighted by the impact it has on your productivity, the quality of your work and most importantly the clarity with which you respond to the big and not so big issues that arise [because they always do!].

 

6 TIPS FOR CREATING SPACE FOR A MORNING ROUTINE

[because that’s sometimes half the battle!]

 

  1. Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier… that means, going to bed 30 minutes earlier! #beautysleep
  2. Write out your morning routine
  3. Start with 5-10 min and only add 1 new thing at a time.
  4. Be “selfish.” Embrace this time to just be you.
  5. Change your morning routine with the seasons!
  6. Just. Do. It. You absolutely must commit to this for 2 weeks straight before you kick it to the curb.

Now off you go. It’s time to diligently practice your own version of a morning routine.

 

LOVING YOUR MORNING ROUTINE? 

We would love to hear about it.

 

navigating PMS with poise

NAVIGATING PMS WITH POISE

 

Rumor has it there are women out there who go through their monthly cycle with little to no issues. No mood swings, cravings, bloating or other symptoms of PMS. No cramps, tender breasts or break outs. Their flow is light and short- just a blip of an inconvenience in their month rather than a devastating time that has you literally down for the count. While these menstrual unicorns do exist, I have yet to meet a woman who has NEVER had at least some of these frustrations in her monthly cycle.

Issues with hormone balance are likely the culprit in your menstrual woes and getting to the root cause [think diet, stress, digestion, inflammation and liver health] can be literally life-changing for many women. While addressing these issues is the cornerstone to happy hormones [and ultimately a much happier you] some powerful “food as medicine” options can help you tame these nasty symptoms. Instead of your medicine cabinet, try turning to your kitchen pantry [or fridge] for some of my favorite nutrients and functional foods when it comes to PMS.

Four PMS taming nutrient superstars:

1. Vitamin B6

Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of vitamin B6 on premenstrual symptoms. The exact mechanism of how it works is not yet clearly defined, but researchers believe it may be due in part to its vital role in “happy” neurotransmitter synthesis, such as serotonin and dopamine. B6 also can play a role in decreasing cramping and menstrual pain because it is essential in the synthesis of prostaglandins [key players in your menstrual cycle].

Where to find it:
• Turkey breast
• Grass-fed beef
• Pistachios
• Sunflower seeds
• Nutritional yeast

2. Vitamin D

Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to a number of health concerns including PMS. Like vitamin B6, we are not sure its exact link to PMS but its role in calcium homeostasis seems to be where researchers are looking and believe they will find the connection. Adequate vitamin D, in conjunction with calcium, is needed to fully reap its beneficial impact on your cycle.

Where to find it:
• Sunlight – your skin makes vitamin D
• Fatty fish like salmon, herring and sardines
• Egg yolks
• Mushrooms

3. Calcium

Not just for strong bones, calcium is also a key player in your PMS symptoms. In fact, studies have demonstrated that calcium supplementation can be just as effective as oral contraceptives (the pill) in managing symptoms of mild to moderate PMS. Evidence indicates that excessive PMS may actually be a symptom of a calcium deficiency that becomes “unmasked” as estrogen levels change throughout the menstrual cycle.

Where to find it:
• Dairy
• Seeds such as chia, poppy and sesame
• Sardines
• Canned salmon
• Almonds
• White beans
• Dark leafy greens [not, many may be high in oxalates making the calcium less available for you to absorb]

4. Magnesium

The use of magnesium is currently being studied as a protentional treatment for PMS, menstrual migraines, severe menstrual cramping (dysmenorrhea) and symptoms of menopause. Subclinical magnesium deficiency is a growing concern due to poor diet and poor soil quality which results in reduced levels of magnesium in our crops and menstrual issues may be one such sign of a deficiency.

Where to find it:
• Green leafy veggies
• Avocados
• Nuts
• Flax, pumpkin and chia seeds
• Dark chocolate

Four “food as medicine” menstrual magicians

1. Ginger

When we think of the healing powers of ginger we usually think of it as a tummy tamer; however, ginger’s role in managing PMS may have you expanding your use of this root. Ginger has potent anti-inflammatory properties and can be used as a mild pain reliver. So how much ginger do you need to take in order to feel its effects? One study found that an eighth of a teaspoon, four times a day, for three day during menstruation had a similar effect at reliving menstrual cramps as ibuprofen! Another study found that drinking ginger tea reduced PMS symptoms significantly as comparted to both mint tea and a placebo.

2. Turmeric

These days turmeric seems to be leading the way as the latest superfood. It’s powerful medicinal properties are due to compounds called curcuminoids. From reducing inflammation to preventing cancer, the benefits of this spice seem limitless. It should come as no surprise that it has been used to manage the symptoms of PMS, painful menstruation, and menapusal symptoms as well. While turmeric teas and lattes can be a great was to add curcumin to your diet, turmeric is a great spice to add to veggies, rice, soups and smoothies too.

3. Dark chocolate

Some women CRAVE chocolate during their period and maybe this food can be seen like more than of an indulgence. However, not only is dark chocolate an excellent source of PMS minimizing magnesium but its powerful flavonoids also act to quell inflammation. In fact a recent study of 40 university aged women with dysmenorrhea [painful periods] found a significant decrease in menstrual pain as compared to the placebo.

4. Flaxseeds

High in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds should already be a pantry staple in your house. If they aren’t, perhaps this news will sway you. Adding flaxseed to your diet may be a great way to help with painful breasts that occur with your menstrual cycle. In addition to the beneficial fats, flax has lignans which act as phytoestrogens [normalizing estrogen metabolism]. Due to their mild estrogenic effects flax seeds are a great addition to your diet for the first half of your menstrual cycle (the follicular phase). 1 tablespoon of ground flax is enough!

References:

  • Amelia, R., & Maharani, S. I. (2017). EFFECTIVENESS OF DARK CHOCOLATE AND GINGER ON PAIN REDUCTION SCALE IN ADOLESCENT DYSMENORHEA. JURNAL KEBIDANAN, 6(12), 73–81.
  • Arfailasufandi, R., & Andiarna, F. (2018). The Influence of Dark Chocolate to Reduce Menstrual Pain in Primary Dysmenorhea. Journal of Health Science and Prevention, 2(1), 27–35. https://doi.org/10.29080/jhsp.v2i1.107
  • Bahrami, A., Avan, A., Sadeghnia, H. R., Esmaeili, H., Tayefi, M., Ghasemi, F., … Ghayour-Mobarhan, M. (2018). High dose vitamin D supplementation can improve menstrual problems, dysmenorrhea, and premenstrual syndrome in adolescents. Gynecological Endocrinology, 34(8), 659–663. https://doi.org/10.1080/09513590.2017.1423466
  • Benefits of Ginger for Menstrual Cramps | NutritionFacts.org. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nutritionfacts.org/video/benefits-of-ginger-for-menstrual-cramps/
  • Daily, J. W., Zhang, X., Kim, D. S., & Park, S. (2015). Efficacy of Ginger for Alleviating the Symptoms of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Pain Medicine, 16(12), 2243–2255. https://doi.org/10.1111/pme.12853
  • DiNicolantonio, J. J., O’Keefe, J. H., & Wilson, W. (2018). Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart, 5(1), e000668. https://doi.org/10.1136/openhrt-2017-000668
  • Ebrahimi, E., Khayati Motlagh, S., Nemati, S., & Tavakoli, Z. (2012). Effects of Magnesium and Vitamin B6 on the Severity of Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms. Journal of Caring Sciences, 1(4), 183–189.
  • https://doi.org/10.5681/jcs.2012.026 How To Seed Cycle + Why You Should For Glowing Hormone Health – The Chalkboard. (n.d.). Retrieved August 2, 2018, from http://thechalkboardmag.com/how-to-seed-cycle-for-your-period-hormone-health
  • Jensen, D. V., Andersen, K. B., & Wagner, G. (1987). Prostaglandins in the menstrual cycle of women. A review. Danish Medical Bulletin, 34(3), 178–182.
  • Khayat, S., Kheirkhah, M., Moghadam, Z. B., Fanaei, H., Kasaeian, A., & Javadimehr, M. (2014). Effect of Treatment with Ginger on the Severity of Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms. ISRN Obstetrics & Gynecology, 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/792708
  • Mirghafourvand, M., Mohammad-Alizadeh-Charandabi, S., Ahmadpour, P., & Javadzadeh, Y. (2016). Effects of Vitex agnus and Flaxseed on cyclic mastalgia: A randomized controlled trial. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 24, 90–95. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2015.12.009
  • Parazzini, F., Martino, M. D., & Pellegrino, P. (2017). Magnesium in the gynecological practice: a literature review. Magnesium Research, 30(1), 1–7.
  • https://doi.org/10.1684/mrh.2017.0419
  • Rohit, D., & Tiwari, A. (2018). Effect of Ginger Tea on Dysmenorrhoea among Adolescent Girls-A Literature Review. International Journal of Nursing Education, 10(2), 20–23.
  • Samieipoor, S., Kiani, F., Sayehmiri, K., Sayehmiri, F., Naghdi, N., Ghafari, M., … Bahmani, M. (2016). Effects of vitamin B6 on premenstrual syndrome: A systematic review and meta-Analysis. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 9, 1346–1353.
  • Shehata, N. A. A. (2016). Calcium versus oral contraceptive pills containing drospirenone for the treatment of mild to moderate premenstrual syndrome: a double blind randomized placebo controlled trial. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 198, 100–104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejogrb.2016.01.015
  • Thys-Jacobs, S. (2000). Micronutrients and the Premenstrual Syndrome: The Case for Calcium. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 19(2), 220–227. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2000.10718920
  • Vitamin D Status and the Menstrual Cycle: A Systematic Review | The FASEB Journal. (n.d.). Retrieved August 1, 2018, from https://www.fasebj.org/doi/abs/10.1096/fasebj.31.1_supplement.786.12
  • Wyatt, K. M., Dimmock, P. W., Jones, P. W., & Shaughn O’Brien, P. M. (1999). Efficacy of vitamin B-6 in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: systematic review. BMJ : British Medical Journal, 318(7195), 1375–1381.

“WHY CAN’T I LOSE WEIGHT ON THE PERFECT CLEAN DIET?”

“WHY CAN’T I LOSE WEIGHT ON THE PERFECT CLEAN DIET?”

 

You: A clean-eating, gym-going, do-it-all superstar.

The problem:  You can’t get the scale to budge. The harder you work, the cleaner you eat, the more you work out, the more things stay the same. Or worse! [gasp] The scale moves in the WRONG direction. UGH!

I feel your pain. I know how hard you work and the frustration you feel. I know this because I work with TONS of women in your same situation. But also, I know this because I too have suffered through this.

The solution: Read on! Spoiler alert – it’s not throw in the towel and binge on pizza and ice cream (although truth be told I certainly did my fair share of this too).

Why you’re not losing weight

Every day, at least one [if not ten] women just like you walk through the Simply Nourished doors. They walk in with their [seemingly] perfect diet and workout plan, but the stubborn pounds just won’t come off.  If this sounds like you then know this- there is help. And even more importantly, know you’re not alone! After working with so many women in this situation, including MYSELF I’ve got a list of my top 5 reasons you’re holding on to unwanted pounds and what you can do about it.

1. Your macronutrients need a macro overhaul:

If I had a penny for every time I heard weight loss is all about calories in vs. calories out, I’d be a very rich gal. I’m embarrassed to say that some of these pennies would have been paid out from my own pockets because fresh out of dietetics training many years ago this was my mantra. While yes, to a certain extent, calories do count, it should not the be the main focus of a healthy eating plan. Focusing on the right types of foods in the right amounts is so much more important and impactful.  

Even with the keto diet fad, I can’t tell you how many women still fear the F word [FAT] in their diet. I find this especially common in women my generation and older – those gen xer’s and baby boomers. I get it. Back in the 90’s fat was demonized. Eat fat and you’ll get fat. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Fat is an ESSENTIAL part of the diet. Literally, certain fatty acids, vital to your health, must be eaten – our bodies can’t make them on their own. Think omega 3’s in fatty fish, walnuts, and chia seeds. Healthy fats such as those omega-3’s and monounsaturated fatty acids found in olive oil and avocados can play a role in fighting inflammation, reducing hunger and increasing metabolism. So ladies, it’s time to embrace fat not fear it. While fat should be invited to every meal, I like to make it the guest of honor at breakfast. Fueling your mornings with fat will help keep you feeling full and energized throughout the day, while keeping your blood sugar levels stable.  

Want to learn more about fat…. check out Ellie’s blog for an in-depth look.

Protein is another macro that has to be prioritized for weight loss. So often I hear clients list off what they think is the perfect salad for lunch.  A rainbow of veggies such as spinach, kale, carrots, peppers and tomatoes, bursting at the seams with vitamins, minerals and fiber but often lacking one key nutrient necessary for weight loss- protein. Whether from animal sources such as poultry, seafood, beef, or pork OR plant-based sources such as beans, legumes, soy or quinoa, simply put protein must be prioritized! Protein helps you lose weight through a number of mechanism including increasing metabolism, maintaining muscle mass and reducing appetite. Ensure that a high-quality protein source is included at every meal AND snack, but if one meal should highlight protein it’s lunch. This will help you get through the rest of the day + will keeping cravings in check and energy levels high.

2. You’re cardio crazed

Physical activity must be a part of your weight loss plan. But when it comes to cardio it can be too much of a good thing. For weight loss to happen, interval training like HIIT workouts or resistance training is needed.  If you’re an elliptical lover or treadmill junkie, please don’t bench yourself. Instead ensure that you are doing strength training exercises and add some sprint intervals to your cardio routine. 

3. You’re subtly stressed

If you’re an avid Simply Nourished fan I know you’ve heard it before, but this issue is so important it bears repeating. Stress is public enemy number one when it comes to weight loss and dare I say your health in general. It zaps your energy and can increase your appetite, leaving you with cravings for sweets and other carb-rich comfort foods. It also works in sneaky, more subtle ways, like messing with your metabolism, hormones, immune system, microbiome and GI tract. 

Most of us know that going through stressful events have a negative impact on our health, but subtle, low-grade, constant stress is just as bad. And believe it or not, stressing about what you eat is considered one of those types of stress. Studies demonstrate that over attention to what you eat, and chronic dieting tend to backfire.

Now I know what you are saying… I’m too busy [and too stressed] to add stress management to my to-do list. But it’s much easier than you think. Just focusing on your breath and practicing deep breathing techniques can have a profound effect on your mood, stress level, heart rate and cortisol levels. And you can do it anywhere – in the car, while washing the dishes, while trying to fall asleep at night. Give this method a try. Breath in through your nose for a count of 4. Hold for a count of 4. Slowly exhale through your mouth for 4. Hold on empty for a count of 4. Repeat a few times and feel the tension melt away. 

4. You have a vitamin S deficiency

Vitamin S you ask? Yes, SLEEP. And while no it’s not technically a “vitamin,” a deficiency in it can be impacting your weight loss efforts. Women who skimp on sleep tend to have higher caloric intakes, imbalances in hormones such as insulin and leptin [key players in metabolism] and decreased metabolism. Make sure you prioritize sleep. Set up a nightly sleep routine that signals to you mind and your body that it’s time to get some zzz’s. And turn off the electronics. Light of any kind, but especially blue light from our tablets, TV’s, phones and computers is detrimental to melatonin [your sleep promoting hormone] release and ultimately our sleep.

5. Your hormones have gone haywire

As women we are more susceptible to weight issues due to our delicate hormone balance. Adrenal hormones, thyroid hormones and our sex hormones all play a role in our weight. As we age, our bodies naturally go through fluctuations in hormone levels. I know for me it feels like I went to bed at age 39 and when I woke up to 40 everything had changed. What worked in the past to keep my weight in check was no longer working and every year it seemed like a few more pounds snuck their way in. I’m here to tell you that just because your age may be going up, your weight does not have to. Through balancing hormones, managing stress and maximizing my macro’s I was able to get those stubborn pounds off and you can too!

Jen Scheinman, RDN

References:

Baylor, L. S., & Hackney, A. C. (2003). Resting thyroid and leptin hormone changes in women following intense, prolonged exercise training. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 88(4–5), 480–484. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-002-0737-7

Bloomfield, H. E., Koeller, E., Greer, N., MacDonald, R., Kane, R., & Wilt, T. J. (2016). Effects on Health Outcomes of a Mediterranean Diet With No Restriction on Fat Intake: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 165(7), 491. https://doi.org/10.7326/M16-0361

Gerling, C. J., Whitfield, J., Mukai, K., & Spriet, L. L. (2014). Variable effects of 12 weeks of omega-3 supplementation on resting skeletal muscle metabolism. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism = Physiologie Appliquee, Nutrition Et Metabolisme, 39(9), 1083–1091. https://doi.org/10.1139/apnm-2014-0049

Halton, T. L., & Hu, F. B. (2004). The Effects of High Protein Diets on Thermogenesis, Satiety and Weight Loss: A Critical Review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(5), 373–385. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2004.10719381

Khazaei, M. (2012). Chronic Low-grade Inflammation after Exercise: Controversies. Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences, 15(5), 1008–1009.

Lowe, M. R., Doshi, S. D., Katterman, S. N., & Feig, E. H. (2013). Dieting and restrained eating as prospective predictors of weight gain. Frontiers in Psychology, 4. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00577

Markwald, R. R., Melanson, E. L., Smith, M. R., Higgins, J., Perreault, L., Eckel, R. H., & Wright, K. P. (2013). Impact of insufficient sleep on total daily energy expenditure, food intake, and weight gain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201216951. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1216951110

Parra, D., Ramel, A., Bandarra, N., Kiely, M., Martínez, J. A., & Thorsdottir, I. (2008). A diet rich in long chain omega-3 fatty acids modulates satiety in overweight and obese volunteers during weight loss. Appetite, 51(3), 676–680. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2008.06.003

Pesta, D. H., & Samuel, V. T. (2014). A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats. Nutrition & Metabolism, 11. https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-11-53

Shiraev, T., & Barclay, G. (2012). Evidence based exercise: Clinical benefits of high intensity interval training. Australian Family Physician, 41(12), 960.

 

 

LIGHTING UP THE LIBIDO

LIGHTING UP THE LIBIDO

 

While the the intricacies of a strong libido aren’t something that we openly talk about it’s a conversation worth having especially if you’ve noticed yourself asking “where did it go?”.  

Statistically, 32% of women over the age of 40 lose their desire to have sex. So naturally it’s time to dig into the details…

Factors working against us:

 

Truth be told, the modern day lifestyle of a busy woman isn’t friendly to the human libido. Contemporary challenges to sex drive include: 

 

It’s a somewhat cruel irony, though isn’t it? On one hand we’re living in an increasingly stressful environment that zaps libido but also living in a marketing vortex promoting erotic rendezvous any and every given moment. Does it become an act of pure will? I’m here to say no it’s not an act of the will. But let’s first look at what makes for a healthy sex drive in the first place.

What is libido?

 

Sex drive is a constellation of complex hormonal and psychological factors. The intricacy of hormonal communication fluctuates consistently and is dominated by the following six hormones.

 

  • Estrogen +  testosterone- the two sex hormones most notably influenced by the mentstrual cycle; both rise during the first half coming to a peak at ovulation. Across the board, if estrogen creeps up too high in relation to testosterone, you might as well call it a night.Ctrl+Shift+E
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  • DHEA- is converted by the body into both testosterone and estrogen. If you’re noticing low peri-menopausal libido, don’t forget to check your DHEA levels. While levels of both testosterone and estrogen naturally decrease during menopause, a glimpse at their parent hormone can be telling of either current or future patterns of low libido. 

 

  • Prolactin– another notable hormone in the equation [that tends to decrease libido]. Both low thyroid function and pregnancy, increase the release of prolactin thereby decreasing libido as well. Makes sense, right? You don’t want to conceive if your body’s master gland isn’t running on full cylinders.

 

  • Dopamine + oxytocin- are the two neurochemicals that influence excitement and deeper connection. Sex therapists say ailing relationships simply need is a combination of excitement [a little dopamine kick] serves you and some extra oxytocin, built by bonding experiences such as hugging, holding hands, eye contact [all the things we savor in the “honeymoon stage” of our relationships].

 

Ok, so how do we influence the secretion of these hormones in a balance that serves our bedtime rituals well? 

Lifestyle and libido:

 

Before we dive into the “sea” of aphrodisiacs, let’s start with how you live your life.

 

  • Tame the stress– high levels of stress hormones have a direct and negative impact on sex hormone production [most notably testosterone]. If you’re noticing your first response when asked how you are doing is “busy” chances are high stress has been normalized. One of the best ways to bring back desire is to indulge in meditation, breathing exercises, yoga and any other activity that tells your body you’re not in danger. The last thing your biology wants is to reproduce when it feels threatened.

 

  • Exercise. But not too much! When you first experience the benefits of exercise, it’s tempting to believe more is better. Temper the urge to be a gym rat and instead hone in on strength based activities for short and intense sessions. Researchhas found that just 20 minutes of resistance training boosts testosterone and subsequently desire.

 

The deep “sea” of aphrodisiacs:

 

Now let’s take a detour to the “ intersection” of diet and sex drive. Unfortunately, the mysterious and erotic powers of the most popular aphrodisiacs have more to do with the placebo of ambiancethan anything but there are  foods containing nutrients which have been shown to boost the production of sex hormones. And you’ll be delighted to know they are a rare delicacy in and of themselves. 

 

  • Figs – nutritionally, figs give your sex drive a “one-two punch.” They contain magnesium, a mineral needed to produce both testosterone and estrogen as well as, the amino acid L-arginine, an amino acid that increases the production of nitric oxide, important for expanding blood vessels and increasing blood flow to… everywhere.
    • Try adding sliced fresh or dry figs to your morning yogurt or a salad.

 

 

  • Blackberries- the seeds on this summertime beauty are bursting at the seams with photo-chemicals that have been shown to enhance sexual endurance due mostly to the high levels of vitamin C.
    • Pop blackberries into everything from your morning smoothie to your evening salad.

 

  • Broccoli-  while not as glamorous, florets of broccoli contain indole-3-carbonil, which has been shownto reduce estrogen levels. If your labs indicate estrogen dominance, especially in relation to testosterone, eat those trees!
    • Roast a batch at the beginning of the week and you might just find it’s a go-to in the fridge when you feel a snack attack coming on.

 

  • Cacao- women have relied on this tropical treat for ages and for good reason! Cacao encourages the release of endorphins that increase pleasure, improve mood, and simulate the feelings of falling in love.
    • Instead of leaning on sugar-laden chocolate bars, opt for raw cacao nibs. Sprinkle them in your next batch of granola, munch on them with some trail mix, use in a salad instead of nuts or simply enjoy them plain.

 

  • Maca- while not a traditional food, maca is a Peruvian root that has long been historically used to increase strength, stamina, energy, fertility, and libido both men and women. You will most likely find it in powdered form. Start with 500 mg per day always under the supervision of a healthcare provider.
    • Add 1 tsp to your smoothies or any drink, of choice, which mitigates it’s natural bitter flavor profile.

 

A strong libido is something to be celebrated daily. Not only is sex a powerful conduit to wellness, it also is a brilliant reflection of hormonal vitality. Don’t ignore the nudges your body is giving you that it needs some attention. Instead seize the opportunity to weave elements of lifestyle design and targeted foods into your day to harness the energy of a strong libido.

Be nourished!

Ellie

AHA MOMENTS IN ITALY

AHA MOMENTS IN ITALY

 

I’m absolutely bursting at the seams with new inspiration and energy for what I do and who I am after just a little intentional time away.

Ever experience that yourself?

It helped that I was visiting my favorite country… Italy. And with each visit to Italy I’m reminded about a few critical ways to truly live by design … not default. I find it’s so easy in my day to day to get caught up in the [false] impression that more = better. I can tell when I get to this place of haste, my default response becomes “busy” when asked how I’m doing. I hate seeing myself get there but I’m feeling so empowered to change the script.

Here [on a silver platter] are my top tips for both myself and YOU to reverse the trajectory and carve out space to be your best self.

 

1. show up for yourself- I always love it when someone encourages me to do this but I really LIVED it these past few weeks. Walking the streets of Italy I simply loved how everyone seemed pulled together- dressed to impress. While I didn’t pack my whole wardrobe [thank you United weight limit], I woke up each day inspired to really show up. I popped a scarf around my neck, some bright green shoes and man I felt like a million bucks. Take it one step further into the world of food and I was even MORE compelled to show up. Sitting a table adorned with a simple flower, a bright white napkin and silverware intentionally placed, I felt like royalty. I tended to eat slower and really savor the whole experience. Are either of these two things out of reach in Denver? NO! So why haven’t I been doing them all along. My [lame] response? I don’t have time. I dropped a #truthbomb on myself on the way home as I journaled about all I had experienced. The fact of the matter is, I absolutely do have time for both. I have time to adorn both my body and my table with elements that truly make me feel special and mark each day as special. Will I be tempted to forego both for the promise of productivity? Of course, but here’s my pact to you [my faithful nourished champion] – I will make it a daily “meditation” to show up both with how I present myself and how I sit to dine. Are you in on this with me?

 

2. un-commit- “Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” – Josh Billings. While we live in a society that idolizes “busy-ness” I see in my daily practice the negative effects [on a deep biological level] from overcommitment. It stretches us both emotionally and physically, preventing us from producing our best work and unlocking our best selves. Uncommiting can be harder than simply not committing in the first place but often times we feel guilty saying no to something or someone we have already committed to, which of course triggers a pre-mature… yes! Here’s my challenge to you: pause [even just for 5 seconds] before you say yes OR no. Give yourself time to evaluate whether you can truly commit. This will greatly reduce the possibility of making a commitment you’ll regret. Here it is in a nutshell… if it’s not a hell yes than it’s a no. Deal?

 

3. eliminate snacking- When food and environmental cues to eat are sprinkled throughout our day, it’s tempting to have a few bites of this or a few bites of that between meals mentally “discounting” all the morsels by the end of the day. I’m speaking to this intelligently not because I’ve mastered the art of no snacking but because I too am working on eliminating the mindLESS snacking. I find it truly takes accountability and diligence in the food culture we live in but the payoff is well worth it. Not only will you experience an appetite before meals [the best first course!], but you’ll also gain a better understanding of where sugar and processed ingredients sneak in. We are designed to digest food to completion for upwards of 3-4 hours. Bringing new foods in while the body is still extracting nutrients from our last meal can put stress on the digestive system. Having experienced the absenteeism of snacking first in France and then to an even greater magnitude in Italy, I’m feeling so empowered to make it a principle in the protocols. Start now by simply tracking for 5 days straight what happens between meals. You might just surprise yourself!

 

4. escape- Last but not least I came away from my time in Europe, adamant to mandate periods of solitude and “white space” into my life. While the “productivity monster” in my brain tells me I don’t need it, I realize each and every time I escape that it is the only thing allowing me to differentiate between the essential tasks and the trivial tasks [both in life and work]. Space breeds creativity, concentration, and contemplation. But if we don’t intentionally carve out time in our daily + weekly + monthly calendar to escape into our thoughts without an agenda, we fall prey to the paradoxical disaster of the busy but unproductive lifestyle. If setting aside a full week sounds daunting, start with a day. Mark it on your calendar as a “tech holiday” and put everything [even your phone] on airplane mode. Consider this your strategy for efficiency because I guarantee you the time you take to escape will clarify what truly matters and you’ll slowly become addicted to the recharge it gives you from cell to soul.

Now off you go, commit [or uncommit!], escape, and truly show up for yourself today!

Ellie