3 Ways to Regain Life Balance ⚖️

If you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, pressed for time, and stressed, join the club! Only a minority of people report feeling peaceful, equanimous, and blissed out these days. The good news is that you can take a step in that direction and reap a bunch of benefits. Here’s how:

1. Identify what’s important to you, your mindset, and what throws you off balance. Once you identify your values and your non-negotiables, you can simplify and cast off the unimportant to-dos. Maybe rainbow-organizing your pantry and linen closets are a “nice to have” but family time is more of a priority right now. In terms of mindset – have you noticed how some people seem relaxed and carefree as they go about their duties while others seem rattled with the same amount of work? Leading a calmer and more peaceful life often has to do with our personal experiences, belief systems, and coping mechanisms…all of which influence our mindset and our thoughts. By changing those, we can change our behaviors and results.

Consider what throws you off-balance. Is it a last-minute request to participate in your child’s extracurricular activity? The pressure you put on yourself every year to balance not just work but with making each holiday or birthday ‘perfect’ for your family? Or does getting inadequate sleep cause you to feel easily rattled the rest of the day? There is a well-established link between our emotional state and our physical one. By adopting a more peaceful mindset, we can avoid chronic diseases and live longer.

2. Know the signs of an imbalanced life and burnout. Symptoms include headache, sleep disorders, anxiety, tense and stiff muscles, and digestive woes. The stress we’re under can contribute to poor immune function, focus and memory. It can also be detrimental to fertility and sex drive and even accelerate the aging process. Noticing these symptoms early in your life can help prevent you form sliding into burnout or into chronic disease states.

3. Add + subtract. We’re going to let our inner nerd out a bit as we reveal how much we loved stoichiometry and balancing equations in high school. Without complex chemistry and math, just imagine playing with weights on a scale – add another stressor to one side and notice how the beam shifts, especially if there aren’t enough restorative activities in the other scale pan. Here are some ideas to find your own balanced equation:

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Royal Coco-cacao Smoothie Bowl

Did you know that purple is one of the colors of representing royalty? What better way to start your day than to treat yourself like the queen or king you are! This beautiful bowl, with toppings like coconut and cacao, will leave you feeling full and energized. Ready to eat? Here’s the recipe:

Prep time: 5 minutes

Servings: 1-2

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Ingredients

4 large strawberries

1/2 cup blueberries

1 cup non-dairy milk (we used hazelnut milk from Elmhurst)

2 tbsp hemp seeds

2 tbsp cacao nibs

2 tbsp shredded coconut

1/2 tbsp chia seeds

Instructions

Blend all ingredients, except shredded coconut and cacao nibs, until desired texture is achieved. Top with shredded coconut and cacao nibs or other favorites.

A Case for Morning Routines

Have a better tomorrow by learning about morning routines then building and implementing your own! (Video version available here in our Go with your Gut free Facebook group).

Benefits of a Morning Routine

1. With a set morning routine, you’re on auto-pilot and the morning flows fairly seamlessly. The alternative is jumping all over the place as you feed the dog, get dressed, check your voicemail, and look for your keys.

2. Peace is a result of a well-planned morning routine; instead of feeling scattered and stressed, you can enjoy your cup of coffee or tea and know that you are ready for the day.

3. Feeling organized about your day – you can see your appointments and activities laid out, and you have a plan to achieve your most important goals, even building in self-care!

Life before a AM Routine

We’re speaking for ourselves here, but you can likely relate.

1. Inconsistent wake (and sleep) times. Sometimes we’d wake at 6am, or 8:45am or 11am…this left us feeling discombobulated and stressed as we struggled to fit in all our appointments and to-do tasks. Even worse, we’d work into the night and then create a self-perpetuating problem of inconsistent waking times.

2. Adrenaline rushes. Running around grabbing work materials, finding the outfit we planned on wearing was in the laundry hamper and having to figure out an alternative, looking for keys or an umbrella…and then hoping and praying traffic to get to meetings on time. Mornings were full of stress and anxiety.

3. Forgetting water and/or lunch. This lead to us either skipping lunch or buying a $13-20 lunch when we had perfectly good food at home. What typically followed was both food waste and money waste (from lost groceries and eating out).

This way of living cost us time, peace, and money. Something needed to change. Tired of the results we were getting, we decided, “No more of this chaos, we’re getting organized with our mornings.”

Our First Attempts at a Morning Routine

We’ve read all these articles about successful people who wake up at 4am or 5am, so we decided to enlist willpower and sign ourselves up for a 6am boxing class (during the snowy/icy winter season). Spoiler alert: it didn’t work. Why? For one, it didn’t work with our life and sleep schedule. We don’t go to bed at 8pm or 9pm typically and so we were always tired in the mornings. For two, we like food; the problem was fueling ourselves around this class. If we skipped breakfast, we’d typically feel faint during the 1-hour high-intensity workout. If we ate even a small snack 15-30 minutes ahead of time, we felt nauseous.

Reading about the great achievers, such as Richard Branson and Tony Robbins, showed me that some of these morning routines were 2-3 hours long. That was never going to work with our lifestyle so we had to create our own flexible 30 minute AM routine with exercise included. We’ve changed it throughout the years and kept it flexible to support where we are in life. Here’s what it looks like now (we’re big fans of alliteration, as you’ll see):

1. Wash and water – we brush our teeth first thing and then drink 1 cup of water before jumping into exercise…

2. Strength-training and skincare – we’ll play a very short podcast and bust out squats, full push-ups, ab work, bridges, ‘superhumaning’ (laying on the belly and lifting arms and legs), and pull-ups. All done in about 6 minutes! Then we’ll typically wash our face and body and get dressed.

3. Bunnies (pets) and breakfast – we have two (unbonded) bunnies and we’ll let one out as we prep our coffee or tea and breakfast. About halfway through, we switch them out. Typically we’ll also do our ‘mental/spiritual gym’ exercises. For your purposes, insert dog/cat/kid(s) where we have bunnies listed.

4. Launch into life – we go into the office and check the day’s calendar and our most important goals; we set alarms and put the phone on airplane mode (as needed); we’ll also take breaks to do household activities (e.g. laundry) during the day

This is not a *perfect* morning routine. Use this for inspiration to create your own routine. Now that we’ve created a customized morning routine, the only regret we have is not starting earlier in life. High school, college, and post-college could have been SO much easier and not filled with stress and anxiety. Peace is a gift we can give ourselves with a simple morning routine. The key is to make it work for YOU!

So what do you think? Do you already have a morning routine? Is there a way to improve your mornings by putting them on auto-pilot?

Fluoride: Cavities & Hypothyroidism

Fluoride is most effective when applied topically to the surface of the teeth. Therefore, it seems unnecessary for over 3/4 of U.S. tap water to contain the chemical for consumption. Fluoride was introduced in the 1940’s as a tap water additive because it helps kill cavity-causing bacteria on people’s teeth. However, none of our body’s biological processes require fluoride to function. Fluoride is not a nutrient, it is a chemical. Check the fluoride-containing toothpaste labels – it contains a warning to contact poison control if a pea-sized amount, or more, is swallowed.

Dental fluorosis, a sign of excess fluoride exposure, shows up on teeth as white or brown stains on the enamel and is a permanent condition. Some studies showed that 30-40% of children and adolescents have this condition.

The Center for Disease Control also warn mothers of babies and toddlers about using fluoridated tap water in infant formula as there “may be an increased chance for mild dental fluorosis.”

There’s concern for adults as well; fluoride may increase underactive thyroid disorder, also known as hypothyroidism.

Recent studies have suggested a link between fluoridation and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A multitude of studies, both in humans and animals, show fluoride impairs learning and memory as well as IQ scores.

Adults excrete about 60% of fluoride through their kidneys, whereas adolescents clear about 45%. For teenagers, findings from a study at Mount Sinai suggest that fluoride can be detrimental to kidney and liver function.

Fluoride’s potential negative effects include kidney and liver damage, thyroid dysfunction, bone (and tooth) disease, impaired protein metabolism, and may cause brain (and pineal gland) damage.

Look below at the chart; you’ll notice that the rates of cavities have decreased for all countries – including those that didn’t fluoridate their water. 

water-fluoridation-cavities
Chart from Newsweek

The rates of cavities in the population have declined since fluoride was added to the water post-World War II, but what could explain this drop for countries that didn’t fluoridate theirs? Well, a variety of factors could be at play since the mid-1940s, including: access to dentists and regular dental care, better education about dental health, toothbrush and dental care technology. If Austria and northern European countries are seeing a decline in dental caries without fluoridation, is it worth the potential risks to our health to have fluoride in ours? Only you can decide.

What’s the Safe Level of Fluoride then?

Right off the bat, it’s important to know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies fluoride as a drug when it is used to prevent or ameliorate disease. All other water treatment chemicals are added to improve water quality or safety, but fluoride is the only chemical added to water as a medical treatment (though, as you’ll see below, the FDA calls fluoride an ‘additive’). Whether you asked for it or not, whether you need it or not, you’re being medically treated every time you drink tap water (or bottled water with fluoride).

Here’s a bit of interesting information: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services puts the recommended fluoride level (‘healthy limit’) at 0.7 ppm (Parts Per Million) whereas the EPA drinking water “maximum contaminant level” (MCL) is 4.0 mg/L (which further down the page is said to be equivalent to ppm). It’s in rather recent times that the ‘healthy limit’ was lowered to 0.7ppm from between 0.7 and 1.2 mg/L (again, mg/L being equivalent to ppm).

Even though there’s a ‘legal limit’ to set for fluoride, the water you drink, especially from the tap, may contain 5x more than what is healthy.  It’s tempting to think that fluoride is regulated by the FDA and therefore has undergone the same testing that medicines do; however, it is isn’t regulated by the FDA and hasn’t been rigorously tested, because it is considered an ‘additive’ and not a medication. Consider also that most fluoridation chemicals added to tap water are by-products of chemical manufacturing (such as aluminum) and from the phosphate fertilizer industry. This is ‘industrial grade’ and not ‘pharmaceutical grade’ fluoride being allowed into tap water.

Bottom line: do your research and determine how much exposure to fluoride you are comfortable with; make decisions on your water filter treatment accordingly.

Hint: reverse osmosis is one of the best ways to filter fluoride (and other chemicals) out of your drinking water – find out more in Is Your Water Safe?

Self-care: Simple Sugar Scrub

Winter’s dryness inflicts all sorts of maladies on our skin. Here’s our scrumptious 3-ingredient recipe to exfoliate your skin and help keep it smooth & hydrated. Give it a try this weekend to indulge in something other than, or as an adjunct to, binge-watching Netflix (we suggest Bling Empire – watch lives of luxury and feel luxurious).

Ingredients

1 cup raw turbinado sugar

1/2 cup olive oil

3 drops essential oil of your choice (we recommend peppermint to energize and uplift or lavender to help relax)

Instructions

Put sugar in small mixing bowl, add olive oil until you get to your desired texture, then add the drops of essential oil. Mix well. You may want to transfer the mixture to a glass or plastic jar.

In the shower, gently rub the sugar scrub over your body. Enjoy and follow with a bath or shower. Your skin should feel slightly oily because of the olive oil and soak in fully shortly afterwards. Employ safe shower techniques as the mixture can cause shower/bath to become slick.

Caution: do not exfoliate if your skin is sunburned, otherwise irritated or where there are cuts or sensitive areas. Always do a patch test first.

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White sugar, given what it does to our internal biochemistry, is best used on the outside of our bodies (hence, the Simple Sugar Scrub). Even if you don’t eat a pint of ice cream or drink soda every day, there is a very good chance you’re still getting more added sugar than is serving you. 

This is the time to explore how headaches/migraines, candida, digestive health, infections, fatigue, foggy thinking, and more have connections to sugar. Address the challenge of losing weight while you improve body composition, confidence, and experience more natural energy! Learn more & join our next challenge group.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasted Root Vegetables

The beautiful part about a pan of roasted vegetables isn’t just their bright colors, but that you’re able to experiment with different types of root vegetables (e.g parsnips) and use them in a variety of ways during the week. We love putting the roasted vegetables in a grain bowl or on salads.

Yields: about 6 servings

Ingredients

2 medium sweet potatoes

3 medium beets

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cut the veggies into similarly sized pieces. Place the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to ensure all pieces are lightly coated and add salt and pepper. Roast for about 30, turning once, until all the vegetables are tender. Garnish with fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary and thyme work well), if desired.

DIY Hippie Granola

Mr. Chef recently ordered granola and seeing it was a reminder of how we miss the crunchy grain-seed-sweet mixture of it all. What we don’t miss are ingredients that include questionable vegetable oil sources and excess sugar. The good news is that it’s possible to have the best of both worlds – a delectable, crunchable mixture AND have it be higher in fiber and protein from ethical, whole food sources. We made a fresh batch today and are sharing the recipe with you. Go with the flow and have some granola-y, groovy mornings. Can you dig it?

Prep time: 15 minutes, cook time: 40-45 minutes

Makes about 6 cups

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups rolled oats

2 cups chopped (or sliced) almonds

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup dried fruit such as raisins or goji berries

1/4 cup hemp seeds

2 Tbsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix oats, almonds, coconut, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl then add olive oil and maple syrup. Use rimmed baking sheet and spread mixture out evenly. Bake about 40-45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until golden and toasted. About 30 minutes in, add hemp seeds and goji berries to bake for the last 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely and transfer to airtight container. It should keep (if the delicious granola even makes it this long :D) for about 2 weeks.

Water Wars: Bugs & Politics

In 2017, 5.3 billion people drank water from safe sources – meaning local water sources that were readily available and free from contaminants, while 2.2 billion people were drinking from water sources that weren’t managed safely.

The following numbers are provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding water sources and accessibility:

1.4 billion people have basic services, meaning an improved water source located within a round trip of 30 minutes & 206 million people with limited services, or an improved water source requiring more than 30 minutes to collect water

435 million people taking water from unprotected wells and springs & 144 million people collecting untreated surface water from lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.

Drinking water that is not treated properly and poor sanitation practices is associated with several diseases including cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. Let’s take a look at this more specifically. What’s in the water that can lead to disease?

Cholera– caused by ingesting Vibrio cholerae found in water or food items that have been contaminated by feces from a person infected with Cholera. Cholera can also result from eating raw or undercooked shellfish.

Rotavirus is the leading cause of diarrhea. Most of the germs that cause diarrhea are spread through drinking water or eating food contaminated with feces.

Dysentery – often caused by Shigella species (bacillary dysentery) or Entamoeba histolytica (amoebic dysentery), dysentery can be diagnosed when an individual is exposed to water and food that has been contaminated by with feces. Additionally, a person can be diagnosed with dysentery when touching human or animal feces without washing their hands in an appropriate manner.

Hepatitis A – a disease characterized by inflammation of the liver, it is caused by eating food or water contaminated with feces. Moreover, Hepatitis A can be caused by inadequate sanitation and poor personal hygiene.

Typhoid Fever – caused by Salmonella typhi bacteria, this is a significant health threat for children in developing nations. Although it is rare in countries with modern water quality improvement infrastructures in place, typhoid can also spread through contaminated food and water or through close contact with an infected individual.

Polio – yet another illness that can result from water and food contaminated with feces. It can also be passed through direct contact with someone who has the virus already. Untreated polio can lead to nerve injury and ultimately paralysis. Polio has largely been eradicated in the world due to modern medicine.

Global & Local

Surely safe drinking water is largely an issue in for other countries; the U.S. doesn’t have these problems, right? Wrong! 4.32 million cases of acute gastrointestinal illness occur each year due to drinking water from public drinking water systems. This number does not include the number of illnesses that arise out of private wells, recreational water, etc.

There is still a lot of research being done to understand the full extent of waterborne illness in our country. Waterborne illness symptoms look different depending on the virus or bacteria involved, including gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, stomachache), respiratory illness (coughing, shortness of breath, pneumonia), wound infections, and infections involving the ears, eyes, and skin. With that said, research about water quality are of the utmost importance. Our adult bodies consist of 60% water, and we need water to survive.

Water Politics

At a certain point, there may not be enough water to sustain life on this planet. Governments and corporations have been working together and suggesting that water privatization is the best solution for this problem. Is it? Maybe. Maybe not. As more public sources of water are sold or ‘rented out’ to corporations, some are sounding alarms. Water is a precious commodity and, as a commodity, its price can fluctuate. Corporations may be able to raise prices on this essential nutrient and control who is able to obtain it. In other words, water may end up going to the highest bidder. On the this side of the debate are also those who say that water is a human right and should be universally available, not just for those at a higher income level.

Chocolate & Banana Nice Cream 🍨

My guilty pleasure recently has been Ben & Jerry’s The Tonight Dough” our early morning client mentioned. “I think I need to break up with it though. I love the flavor but I don’t like how it makes me feel afterwards.”

We get it. Sometimes the foods we love taste good on the tongue and then hit us a bit later with a painful stomachache or bloating. Since we are on Team Ice Cream, we have learned to find, and make, better options.

It may be late summer, but it’s never too late for ice cream, in our humble opinion. What’s even better is when the ice cream loves you back – and for clients with lactose-intolerance or dairy protein sensitivity, or those who just want a healthier option, this is a recipe for you.

Oh, and for those of you who remember Smucker’s Magic Shell – you can have your own chocolate syrup that transforms into a crispy topping. Ready, set, let’s make!

Ingredients

1.5 bananas (ripe bananas are sweeter)

1/4 cup cashews

1/2 tbsp of maple syrup (optional)

3/4 ounce of chocolate (a few squares, depending on the brand)

Dash of sea salt

Instructions

Peel the ripe bananas and stick them in a bag and into the freezer. It will take about 12 hours for it to fully freeze, so this will either have to be planned in advance or keep a nice stock of peeled bananas for when the craving strikes. Stick chocolate pieces in a double boiler to melt down. When the bananas are frozen, put them into the blender along with cashews, and maple syrup. Blend until smooth, crystalline consistency. Transfer to a bowl and carefully pour melted chocolate on top. Sprinkle a dash of sea salt and enjoy this decadent dessert!

Lose the ‘Quarantine 15’ this Quarter!

The kids are in school and fall is right around the corner. You know what this means- temperature drops, staying indoors & more baking. Or does it?

Instead of doing what we’ve always done, and getting the results we’ve always gotten, it’s time to make a different choice this fall and winter. To decide in favor of our health instead of against it. To surprise ourselves with how healthy we can look and feel, and how good our lives can be. 

Maybe this is the perfect time to move yourself from the back burner to the front. You’ve pushed your needs and your niggling health issues aside to focus on taking care of the people important to you.  Now it’s time to cease being in denial and face what is going on in your body and your mind. If weight gain has been a feature of the coronavirus quarantine, now is the time to take control and reclaim your body’s composition, immunity, and vitality.

The doors to Lose the ‘Quarantine 15’ are currently closed – we will open them periodically throughout the year. Join the waitlist and be the first to grab your seat!