wellness

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.

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. 

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. 

How to unlock the jaws of a sugar craving?

Eat protein. 

It is a pretty simple test, but does require prep.

First, you have to have protein with you.

I'd like you to have animal protein. The kind you have to chew (ie no shakes). 

Eggs, chicken, steak, pork.

The less processed the better. 

The test:

When you hear the cries for skittles (WE NEEEEDS THEM)...

...or a pastry (PUHLEEASE)

...or a donut (I MUST)

...or even dried fruit (BUT I AM TRYING TO AVOID THE DONUT!!)

1. Eat 2, 4, 6 ounces of your protein option first -

2. Wait 20 minutes (set a timer if you need to) and see - do you still really want the sugary delight? 

If the answer is YES? Well, ok.

If NO. Excellent!!! You are rewiring your brain! Let's celebrate with a self hi-five! 

Rinse. Repeat.

 

A New Beginning

When do you start?

Do you wait until there is a special day? Until a new month? A new year? Until tomorrow?

Do you wait until your birthday?

Until after the 4th of July?

Until after your friend's 30th birthday bash?

Or do you start now?

There are things in life you want. 

Sometimes you just have to start.

And keep starting.

Until you are doing. 

I was so sick last week

Sickness is no joke.

There is the good and the bad of it. The good, for me, was that I was so so so utterly sick that I could. not. possibly. do anything. 

And this is good?

For me yes. Because it meant I had no guilt for lying inert on my bed mainlining Netflix. There was simply nothing else I could possibly do. That was good.

The bad is that I felt awful. 

Super awful. 

And sad. 

That was less than optimal. 

Let's get back to the good. I had an epiphany.

During the week of ill I did not (read: could not) work out. 

After that week, I was think resume schedule per normal. Get back on it! Get it! Win it! And then I thought... HOLD THE PHONE... I don't need to do that AND I don't want to!

So. I am not going to!

I am actually going to LISTEN to my body and HEAR that it is still recouping and pushing it IS NOT THE WAY.

You guys. Epiphany.

I have a choice here. 

Fitness and health are my jam, but I got a whole lifetime to move closer to my goals forcing me into a week where I don't really want to - for no real reason makes no sense. AND it could prolong how long it will take for me to get well so that also makes no sense.

So... consider. What do you have a choice in?

What sucks you dry?

What steals your energy so hard that you are a shell for too many moments of your day?

Negativity abounds. You can find PILES of it if you go looking.

The news.

Social media.

Paperwork.

Politics.

Reality TV shows.

Your coworkers.

Gossip.

Family.

Snarky friends.

Your own brain. 

The list goes on. 

And on.

So the question becomes what do you have control over?

What can you choose minimize?

I'll leave you with that thought and see myself out.

3 Ways to Make your Morning More Awesome

You know what you need? More morning awesome. 

And lucky for you, I am here to give it to you.

Now, I love mornings. It is the time I feel freshest and light with the possibilities of the day. This is the feeling I'd like to give to you. Here is my short list of tips:

Tip #1 - Give yourself a Hi-Five

That's right. A self hi-five (a personal fav). Simply think "Hey, Self, today is going to be rad." And hi-five your other hand. Ridiculous? Yes. Fun? Yes.

Try it.

Tip #2 - Positivity (whether you believe it or not)

Trick your brain. Whether you are having a rough go of it or loving life, starting your day with the intention of positivity will be a miracle sauce for the foundation of your day. 

Think to yourself "I love my life" or "Man! There are so many possibilities for today!" Again, whether or not you believe it NO MATTER it has the potential to put a bit of spring in your step.

Tip #3 - Smile

We are going to trick the brain AGAIN. Smiling has a physiological impact on the body. It actually signals that things are pretty great and triggers pleasure receptors in the body. Who doesn't want to trigger those?

Mornings can be tough, but infusing them with a bit of levity can help to bring some awesome into your day.

Status or Health?

I hate running.

I like sleep.

I used to do more of the former and less of the latter.

I ran more because that is what you do.

That is what health is, bearing down on the thing you hate and doing it.

RIGHT?!

WHO'S WITH ME?!!

I'd put my running shoes on, trudge outside, pick a jam that might distract me from the misery, and I would... jog. Sigh. Not EVEN a runner, a jogger. Man it sucked. 

And sleeping. Sleep is for the weak!

I have too much to do. 

I am really busy. 

IF I SLEPT I WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO GET UP EARLY TO GET IN MY RUN AT THE ONLY TIME I CAN GET IN A RUN.

JEEZE PEOPLE. Do you not understand my life?

But.

What if that sleep would do more benefit than that terrible awful run?

What if setting the alarm at a grueling time is doing more harm than good? 

These were questions I had to figure out for myself. 

I often hear people commend other people for getting barely any sleep, I hear contests of busyness, I hear people in awe their friends who crush the gym 7x per week.

What I commend is the person who is strong enough to listen to what the actually need. 

To sleep when their bodies crave it.

To recover when their muscles beg for it. 

To stop running if they hate it.

The people that really try to understand health and what that pursuit truly means. 

That is what I find inspiring. 

3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Kick More Ass

Why are lists so seductive? 

Quick distilled information. That's why!

So here you go I have refined for you THREE things you can do right now to kick more ass: 

Number 1: Breathe

I've said it before. I will say it again. Take a moment to pause and look away from the thing you are doing (aka reading this) take a deep breath in, feel your belly expand, your shoulders expand, hold it one moment, and let it go for a count of 10. Good job.

There are so many ways to breathe, but just taking a deep breath like this will center your body and create a tangible force field of awesome around you. Don't believe me? Try it.

Bonus points for doing a cycle of five.

Number 2: Focus on the thing you are doing

I know, super sexy. 

Seriously though (after reading this), stop, think, what is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you could be doing RIGHT NOW? Got it?

Cool.

Now do that thing. Shut all the everything else down and set a timer for 20 minutes. Use an app, use your phone, go analog and look at a clock. Just - at this moment - put 20 minutes of focused time on the thing you need to do.

Focus is like magic pixie dust. Enjoy. 

Number 3: Write a friend a note

You have probably seen the Upworthy or heard about random acts of kindness - or maybe not. No matter. 

Your mission is to connect.

Be slightly vulnerable. 

Make sure those out there know you care. 

So pick someone you enjoy, someone you respect, someone who makes you smile, and drop them a line. Email will do, but can you imagine what getting an out of the blue physical card would be like in today's world?

Trees be damned* a card is pretty legit.

***

And there you have it my quick and dirty list of things YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW! RIGHT NOW to uplevel your day.

*I kid, I love trees

The Downward Cell Spiral

Why does nutrition matter?

Sure. I know chips aren't the best. Yeah, yeah, yeah I know that processed food isn't ideal. But c'mon I am living a life. I work out most days. I don't drink soda. So that's good right? 

I am all for people enjoying their lives, but do you know why nutrition is so important?

It is how you feed your body. 

And, your body is made up of cells.

You are feeding the cells, which make up the tissues, which make up the organs, which make up systems, which make up you.

Your cells NEED certain nutrients to FUNCTION

This is why what you eat IS so important, let me take you on a journey...

First up we have up we have:

  • Nutrient Deficiency - which means you are not getting enough vitamins, minerals, aka nutrients for your body

Next we have:

  • Cellular Inefficiency - so without these nutrients our cell energy is diminished

And you know, this doesn't sound SO bad, but then: 

  • Organ Inefficiency - begins to occur. This looks like mal-digestion, malabsorption, decreased circulation, lack of detoxification, lack of vitality

Okay so the wheels are beginning to go, but WAIT, there's more!

  • Detoxification Impairment - cells go from lacking energy to full on fatigue which means repair and rebuilding capacity is reduced

And then:

  • Further Organ Distress - the full system of the organ (aka heart, liver, pancreas, intestines, etc.) loses it's innate understanding of how to function (That sounds bad)

Yikes, sounds like buckets of no fun, next:

  • Inability to repair and rebuild - overall degeneration from the inside out :(

Which leads to:

  • Organ & System Dysfunction - just taking it up a notch, the internal systems are having a lot of trouble performing

And now you the human begin to notice:

  • Subclinical Systems - you begin to notice symptoms, but they are subclinical meaning they are not something that would get you a diagnosis, you might just consider them an annoyance. But, man, some serious ish is happening

And finally we take you to:

  • Disease - cellular, organ, system, and organism (which is you) breakdown and now we perk up and now we notice

This ALL starts from nutrition, which is why I find nutrition fascinating and which is why it is TRULY the foundation of what creates you.

Ay! Look up there at my Menu Bar!

I am taking clients! I know you are excited.

I just added a FREE CONSULTATION page to my site, get to it by looking up at the menu or clicking here (so many options).

The cool thing is I added in an Appointlet integration which allows you to schedule RIGHT ON MY CALENDAR (be amazed). 

I am right in the THICK of my Nutritional Therapy Training course and have just completed my client evaluation module. I learned how to give people a Nutritional Assessment Questionnaire which is pretty rad. It helps to pinpoint what is going sideways with different body systems and focusing efforts on what is the highest priority for YOU.

And it is all about you.

I am combining this new skill with my already impressive mass of knowledge in HEALTH. NUTRITION, and SPECIAL DIETS (oh jeez, I know so much about special diets). To be a lethal healing machine! That's right LETHAL HEALING.

So the doors are open. I am ready to work and for you!

What Do You Struggle With?

You are awesome.

You have value just being you sitting there reading this post. You don't need to do anything more than exist to already be winning today. 

What I am curious about is what do you struggle with? 
What are the lifestyle changes you'd like help with? 
What do you need support on?

Give me a word, a sentence, a story. I'd love to hear from you.

It is easy to think that everyone is like me, they struggle with what I struggle with, they'd like help where I'd like help and then I remember... NOPE.

Everyone has their own challenges and priorities and asking is the only way to know what actually matters.

You rock. Let me know how I can help you rock MOAR.

A.