Three Questions To Clear Your Brain

Three Questions To Clear Your Brain

Often when I talk to client I hear...  “Well, life has been crazy but… normally…” 

And out flows the perfect world scenario. When things are going well and you have time to plan, prep, and focus. You know, when things are running smoothly. 

As if this is typical. As if this is life.

The reality is life gets lifey. 

If you knew you were going to die in 24 hours

If you knew you were going to die in 24 hours

What would you do?

You've probably heard this question or a variation on it before, it's a good one.

We get caught up in the doing sometimes we forget the living.

Do you have a moment right now? If yes - continue reading. If no - come back to me.

Okay. Here we go.

Grab a blank sheet of paper.

Plantains (are magic)

Plantains (are magic)

Plantains are amazing. This is something I have known for a LONG TIME, but even knowing this true fact - I NEVER PURCHASED A PLANTAIN MYSELF.

I finally did and I cannot believe it took me so long. They are delicious and easy to prepare. Which is why friends I encourage you - no - I challenge you - to buy your very own plantain this week and cook it... see what happens.
 

You. Food. And Worth.

I am good. I am bad. 

One of the first things I do with a new client is a food journal review. The same statements come up again and again:

“I was really bad on this day"
“I was having a major cheat day"
“Oh, this is what it looks like when I am really good"

And so on.
These lines are said with a laugh, but words are powerful. And these words - that declare a person good or bad - have deep roots and jagged edges.

It breaks my heart.

You are not good or bad based on what you eat. You are just making choices.

Some are more nourishing than others, but it is all a spectrum.

I can relate. I get where it comes from and have been guilty of it myself. Which is why I know how powerful it is to change the narrative.

You can start by looking at your motives - why are you trying to eat healthy? To look good naked, to play with your kids, to avoid disease?

Whatever the motive - the common thread is to gain something in life that makes you feel better.

The words you consume can be more deleterious than the food you eat. They can have more of an impact on your body. The relationship you have with yourself and your food matters.

And it is important to know that no matter what you have eaten today you have value as you are right now. 


We are overfed and undernourished

I really can't say it enough

Your entire body runs on nutrients.

Each cell runs on nutrients. 

The cells are surrounded by a bilipid layer aka two layers made up of fat. Fat that you need to consume because it is an essential nutrient (high quality fat that is). 

Each of those cells make up tissues and the tissues make up organs. Which is all made possible by the nutrients you consume. 

Those organs they make up systems. Your digestive system, your skeletal system, endocrine system, immune system, and so on. All of this is made possible BECAUSE OF NUTRIENTS.

Now those systems, in combination, make up us - the organism. And guess what? We. Run. On. Nutrients.

Which we get through what we consume and MORE IMPORTANTLY what we absorb

Let that sit with you.

This is why I preach whole food, high quality, nutrient dense. It is the best fuel to run your body.

Vegetables, grass-fed/humanely sourced meat, eggs, good quality fat. I am even cool with grains, beans, and nuts that have been properly prepared aka soaked or sprouted or fermented.

It is worth noting when solving for nutrient density and what the body actually absorbs well - grains are not the best choice. Organ meats and herbs, however, they stack high up there!

You need decent nutrition to run your body. 

And water, you need that too.

Mindset is a jerk

Your brain is your best and worst friend. 

Thoughts are tricky things. 

What I see over and over is misguided motivation. A "motivation" that is fueled from self loathing. 

The interior dialogue that goes something like "If you don't do this you are lazy".

"If you don't go on your run today you are terrible."

"If you don't hit up yoga you are worthless."

Or the track playing might be something more like "You are so fat and ugly you don't deserve that piece of cake."

Or "What is wrong with you why can't you stick to anything?!"

Or "You just ate that whole bag of tortilla chips you have no self control!"

Or something else where you relate an action to your worth.

It's exhausting.

And painful. You are building an extremely rigid relationship with yourself and the activity that is bound to break. 

So what do you do? 

You start to pause.

Every time you notice yourself in a pattern of limitation.

Take a moment and pause. 

Does this belief or thought serve you? 

Does it open or constrict your body?

Ask yourself.

And then ask yourself -

What is something that you like about yourself? What goal are you trying to achieve and why? What kind of life do you want to lead?

The act of pausing pulls us out of the automatic reaction and allows us to be present and proactive. 

Believe you can change. 

Bring in self-compassion which allows for elasticity and sustainability when it comes to achieving actual lifestyle change.

Permanent results. 

4 Reasons Why I Don't Love A Salad

When people think "health food" they often think SALAD!

You see it all the time. It is what is popularized in sitcoms, commercials, movies, and more. I still remember seeing the Stephen King movie "IT" and one of the main protagonists was chubby as a child. The adult version of him is slim. Everyone was like "WHAT IS YOUR SECRET"??? and his answer "SALAD" (and working out, but mostly SALAD). That has stuck with me for, what, twenty years now? 

The idea that SALADS are health food is pretty deeply ingrained. 

 

 

And to be clear I am not saying that they aren't healthy, but what I am saying is that they are not always the most supportive food. 

So let's break it down into 4 reasons I don't love a salad:

REASON #1 - DIGESTION

We live in a world of compromised digestion. Most people have issues in their upper and lower GI. Issues like gas, bloating, acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation, distension, belching, and so on. When digestion isn't up to snuff eating raw vegetables can be super tough. It takes a lot of work to break down the outer barrier of a plant i.e. the cellulose. Which needs to happen to extract all the lovely nutrients (aka vitamins and minerals) inside. Raw veggies can irritate rather than support the gut.

A good alternative is cooked vegetables. You can do stews, roasted veggies, lightly steamed, pan fried, slow cooked roasts with vegetables, and even juicing (at times). There are a TON of other ways to get the nutrition in without aggravating your digestive tract.

REASON #2 - SATIETY

Now, this depends on the salad. If you have a salad with a ton of chicken or if it is a steak salad - you may not face this problem. However if your meal is JUST A SALAD and it is mostly leafy goodness reaching a point of satiation can be elusive. You might reach it in the moment, but how soon after are you craving something again? When a salad is just leaves and a few vegetables - you aren't getting a lot of fuel in and it is natural to crave something shortly after. 

REASON #3 - HIDDEN SUGAR & BAD OIL

This is really a question about dressing and the quality of the dressing. A lot, a lot, a lot, of dressings contain a crap ton of sugar. And a lot, a lot, a lot, of dressings - even good organic dressings - use highly processed canola or vegetable oil which is awful for the body. These fats are damaged which causes inflammation in the body and the creation of free radicals (which we do not love). Why are they damaged? The high heat process used to create these oils is the problem. Fats are unstable, exposing them to high heats and then putting them on a store shelf (in a clear plastic bottle) is a sure fire way to get crappy quality oil. And bad fat is just a bucket full of harm. 

REASON #4 - NUTRIENT DENSITY

This again depends on the type of salad. There are a lot of fantastic salads out there, but there are also a ton of really bare bone, not so awesome salads. Pay attention to what is in the salad. Is it iceberg lettuce or mixed greens? Are there organic, locally grown, in season vegetables or off-season, bulk bought, commercially grown vegetables? It matters. 

CONCLUSION 

Salads CAN be a great option, especially if your gut health is optimal, but really be mindful of what is in the salad. 

Just because it is a salad, doesn't make it health food. 

But if you are going to eat salad, here is one I love and endorse: http://www.brainbodygut.com/blog/2014/11/28/rainbow-kale-salad-with-a-peppery-kick-recipe

 

Tidbit Tuesday | What is your relationship to food? [VIDEO]

Okay. So we are taking a walk on the slightly woo side.

In this Tidbit Tuesday I come to you with a thought experiment. How do you approach your food? Why? Because the relationship you have with what you eat really does matter - watch to learn more and to see my sleepy face. 

It isn't all about food

What you eat DOES matter, but it isn't the whole picture.

The world of nutrition is jam packed full of different people preaching different approaches. You can find whatever you are looking for - articles to support your beliefs - to tear them down - whatever you need the internet has your back.

My standpoint is that you need to find what works for you. And what works for you today, may not work tomorrow - also what does "work" mean? Health? Weight? 

These clarifying questions are excellent to ask when you are trying to create change.

Now, back to my point.

It isn't all about food.

What do I mean by that? Well. I could tell you THE PERFECT DIET FOR YOU and if you are so stressed out following that diet, it isn't going to work.

If you follow that diet, but still only manage to get 5 hours of solid sleep that night. It isn't going to work.

If you follow that diet, but keep supporting bad relationships in your life. It isn't going to work.

If you follow that diet, and have a terrible internal monologue. It isn't going to work

If you follow that diet, but don't believe you can actually change. It isn't going to work.

Food plays an important role in healing.

But your mind.

It is more powerful.

Learning how to be kind to yourself. Kind to your path. Your progress. Developing patience. These things can be more impactful than the perfect meal plan.

Why I don't eat gluten

This is a story of my face

On the left is my 20th birthday, on the right is now (I am 35 but you can just call me 29).

On the left is my 20th birthday, on the right is now (I am 35 but you can just call me 29).

I have many, many, many stories of how I came to be interested in nutrition, health, and healing from within - but - the story of my face is pretty much the origin story.

When I was 14 I saw my first dermatologist. She told me that what I eat does not affect my skin. She gave me retin-a, an astringent, and put me on an antibiotic. I took her word as gospel and began the regimen. Through the next few years she never took me off the antibiotic, she just changed what type I was on. 

Thinking back on it, my skin was pretty ok. Before seeing her I had never had cystic acne I just got the occasional breakout. 

Fast forward to me being 19. I am still on antibiotics - so for those of you counting - that is pretty much 5 years of non-stop antibiotic'ing. Which. Is. Crazy. I mean nuts. For the minimal problems I had, being on something so consistently for so long with so little benefit... it is horrifying. 

So there I am 19 years old and I head off to the Netherlands for my sophomore year of college. In the Netherlands I cannot get my prescription filled, so it is the first time in forever that I have no antibiotics in my system.  And I CAN DRINK BEER LEGALLY!!! And it is the NETHERLANDS! CHEESE!! BREAD!! ALL THE THINGS!!! WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE !!!!!!! !!! ! !

My face went nuts.

I got cystic acne that just wouldn't go away. It was painful literally and emotionally. I remember going to bed and wanting to wake up and have it all be a nightmare. That I would wake up and have clear skin. 

I drank (we all drank) a ton in the Netherlands. I drank to forget about my face, my body, my insecurities. 

I bought all the products I could find. All the masks. All the creams. All the astringents. Nothing helped. The one thing that seemed to help was the sun, so I got super duper tan. 

When I got back from the Netherlands I was happy to be in a land of healthcare once more. A place where I could once again tackle my acne, because - it was all about the drugs - it never occurred to me to think that what I was eating had an impact.

This blows my mind now.

So my junior year of college I got myself on Accutane. The saying with Accutane is that it gets worse before it gets better - and that is certainly true. My face became peely and dry. With Accutane I had to be on two forms of birth control because the medication can cause birth defects, I had to get my blood drawn every month, because they needed to make sure my liver was a-ok. Pretty serious stuff. But I didn't care. I just wanted my skin to be normal. And it worked... for a bit. 

I had a few good years.

And then everything came back with a VENGEANCE. At this time I was living in Seattle... and it got bad. Really, really, bad. Worse than it had been in the Netherlands.

It crushed me. 

The first thing people see is your skin. I remember thinking, well I can't go camping because if I go camping I wouldn't have make-up and that is JUST NOT OK. 

There was the time that a street bum shouted at me... shouted... "NOXZEMA!!!!"

Which sucked. I would do a lot of mental gymnastics to convince myself that people weren't seeing what I was seeing. That it wasn't that bad. And then Mr. Streetbum chirps up. Or that random stranger on the bus who tapped me lightly on the shoulder and wanted to talk about Proactive - AS IF I HADN'T TRIED PROACTIVE!!

I tried everything.

I went to a fancy spa that had special acne facial treatments and I bellied up money that I really couldn't afford. My first consultation I cried... I remember that I was in a show where I had to be on stage that night. The woman consulting with me told me how "brave" I was to be going on stage with a face that looked like mine.

GAH. Kill me. 

So I shelled out the money.

Got poked and prodded.

And occasionally things got a teeny tiny bit better. 

And then, one day I went to a different esthetician and she said to me "Annette, have you ever considered you might have an allergy?"

What.

No.

Because I am made of hearty midwest stock. We don't have allergies to things like dairy and gluten. PAH! BAH! A gluten allergy is soooo Seattle. And plus that one dermatologist SAID that what I eat doesn't affect my face! SO NO I HADN'T. 

So for the first time I actually considered it. 

And that was my first step. 

My first step to truly understanding how connected EVERYTHING is.

It seriously blows my mind that I ever thought what I consume had no impact. This includes all the antibiotics I had blindly taken for so long. They killed my happy gut flora. Which made my gut a sad place that couldn't, and still has problems, properly digesting food.

Wheat exacerbates this problem. Keeping it out of my life has helped me heal. And the great thing about healing is that the more you do it, the more you can get away with - 

I will never go back to eating much bread, but if I really want a piece of bread I am okay to have it a few times a year. That is a choice I get to make, but now I know the consequences. 

My face was a big motivator for change and though it really sucked - like really, really - I am also grateful. It helped me grow and learn and understand what health and nutrition actually look like.

There are a lot of people that don't have super obvious symptoms and only figure it out when the whole machine is broken.

I am happy I had a catalyst for change. 

 

You can change

Belief is crucial

It's our beliefs that drive our behavior. 

We may want things in life. 

More money, better relationships, more sleep, to lose weight, a more active lifestyle, more down time... and so on.

But what do we believe we can achieve?

What do we believe we deserve?

It is important to visit these questions. If you don't truly believe you can change, or believe you deserve to change - you won't. 

Tidbit Tuesday | Absorption & Digestion aka CHEW yo' food! [Video]

Digestion is SUPER important, but we so often overlook it. Here is yet another reminder to chew (your food).

You guys! Chew. Chew. Chew. Because - you are what you absorb. AND Absorption, it starts in your mouth :D