Lifestyle

Healing Beyond the Plate

This rather lengthy post is an opportunity for me to re-introduce myself to those of you who are newer to my practice. It summarizes my evolution over the past few years and reminds us that we are all constantly evolving and growing. I hope you’re up for the challenge at the end!

 

It wasn’t a very smart combination. A birthday weekend away in the mountains for my 13-year-old daughter and 5 of her friends and my commitment to dive into my new book on mindful meditation and daily consciousness (Wherever You Go There You Are”, by Jon Kabat-Zinn). Two great concepts on their own, but when combined, well, let’s just say it may not have been as well thought out as I had hoped. While they were engrossed in their phones and adventuring in the forest with the sole intent of capturing cute photos of themselves to share, post and like, I was snuggled warm under a blanket on the deck overlooking the green forest, reading and rereading passages about “capturing your moments”, “waking up” and “doing non-doing”. Needless to say, there was time without phones on day 2.

 

Why am I, a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, sharing about meditating? For those of you new to my role as an NTP, it encompasses not only the foundation of eating whole, nutrient-dense foods, but also of examining your life in its entirety and finding what makes you uniquely happy and healthy. In this fast-paced, instant gratification, keeping up with the Joneses life we are living in, it is likely that your health-physical, mental and emotional-is being affected by not only the food you eat but your thoughts and the habits you have created for yourself. Unconsciously. Did you know that we spend the majority of our day in an unconscious state? Some of us up to 95% of our day! This means we are living, reacting and behaving based on automatic responses we have created for ourselves. Some of these responses developed in childhood and may even be a survival response while others are simply the development of habits. Think of driving, brushing your teeth and reacting to your children in certain situations. We do much of this mindlessly, or without thought.

 

Since my initial evolution of transitioning from consuming mostly processed “food-like substances” to plates full of nutrient-dense whole, real food to feel better, I have come to the realization that my overall health is connected to more than just what’s on my plate. While my digestive issues cleared up, my energy improved, I was sleeping better, my blood sugar was stable, my PMS symptoms had lessened-I still wasn’t quite where I wanted to be. To find optimal health, both at a cellular level and an emotional level, I needed to look at all areas of my life. Over the past year and a half I been focusing my energy on examining my unconscious and conscious behaviors, exploring my past to discover why I do the things I do, say what I say, feel what I feel. This second phase of my evolution has included self-reflection, therapy, more acupuncture, sound healing, journaling and now meditating. I am listening to healing music, reading books and am following The Holistic Psychologist on Instagram. I am not alone in this journey, many around the world are awakening to the notion of “self-healing”. I am enjoying this work and am enjoying the many changes I have made, from how I parent to how I cherish alone time and value time in nature even more than before.

 

I am sharing all of this with you because we are all on a journey and we all evolve as we go. I now envision my life as a road made up of many pavers. Each new day a new paver goes down. The road is not yet complete and the pavers have not been placed ahead of me. It is created as I go, each moment I live leading to the creation of the next moment. I have been grappling with meditation for about a year now, a little nervous to get started in case I didn’t really know how or in case I couldn’t do it “right”. Wherever You Go There You Are has explained meditation in such a simple way that I am ready to take it on.

 

“Meditation is not about feeling a certain way. It’s about feeling the way you feel. Meditation is about letting the mind be as it is and knowing something about how it is in the moment. It’s not about getting somewhere else, but about allowing yourself to be where you already are.”

According to healthline.com, the science-based benefits of meditation include:

  • Reduces stress
  • Controls anxiety
  • Promotes emotional health
  • Enhances self-awareness
  • Lengthens attention span
  • May reduce age-related memory loss
  • Can generate kindness
  • May help fight addictions
  • Improves sleep
  • Helps control pain
  • Can decrease blood pressure

Sounds pretty amazing, am I right? So I propose a question, a challenge of sorts, to you.

How conscious are you in your day?

I’m not asking you to start meditating per se, just think about where you are with this right now and where you might want to go. Would you be able to commit to one conscious moment each day? Could it be the first moments of a meal? This would also allow your nervous system to get into the parasympathetic state, or “rest and digest”, which is imperative for proper digestive function. Take time to become aware of your body and how you are feeling. Focus on your breath. Then notice your food with all your senses. Allow yourself to be where you are and feel the way you feel.

Can you commit to a mindful, conscious moment every day this week?

Welcome to Evolve Nutrition+Wellness, where we are always evolving.

XOXO

Aimee

Please share with me in the comments! Do you meditate or practice mindfulness throughout your day? If not, what is holding you back? If you do, have you noticed any changes in your health, your emotions, your responses to those in your life? I’d love to hear!

Happy, Healthy Cows (and the benefits of grass fed meat!)

Driving home on I-5 after enjoying Spring Break in Southern California sparked a great discussion in our car about happy, healthy grass-fed cows and those living on the “ranch” about halfway through our 6 hour drive. The hills were so green thanks to the immense amount of rain we’ve been having this year. The cows have room to roam and endless amounts of healthy grass, the food their bodies are intended to eat and digest, on which to graze. The other, let’s call them sad cows, were packed in on dirt (and other substances that are brown), eating side by side out of troughs. My guess is they were eating corn and soy based fed, and not the non-GMO organic type.

 

My 12 year old daughter decided to become a vegetarian after seeing how sad and unhealthy these cows appeared. I certainly support her not consuming meat from these cows, as their meat can be inflammatory, has more unhealthy Omega-6 fats and the fat is where the toxins from possible antibiotics, glyphosate and other chemicals from their food is stored. I tried to share with her, however, that the happy grass-fed cows are eating a diet they are intended to eat, grass, that is full of vitamins from the sun and minerals from the soil and as a result it contains more healthy Omega-3 fats as opposed to more Omega-6s (and all those vitamins and minerals!).

 


  • lower amounts of total fat
  • a healthier ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids
  • more minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc
  • increased levels of beta-carotene
  • increased amounts of vitamins B1, B2 and E
  • increased amounts of conjugated linoleic acid…a potential cancer fighter

 


 

When you think about it, it kind of sounds like they are what they eat?!? Hmmm…what an incredible concept! (sorry for the sarcasm…just had to do it)

I am saddened and frustrated when my clients have been told to eliminate beef from their diets for health reasons. Grass-fed beef can be part of a HIGHLY nutritious, balanced diet and beneficial for your overall health. If you are discouraged by the price just eat less of it and fill your plates with more nutrient dense veggies. You can also subscribe to an online delivery if you can’t find it locally, like @butcher_box or @primalpastures. We’re having grass-fed beef taco salad for dinner tomorrow (except, of course for my new vegetarian)…what’s your favorite way to enjoy grass-fed beef???

5 Ways to Love Your Heart this Valentine’s Day

I love Valentine’s Day. I’ll take any excuse to tell those I care about how important they are to me. That includes telling you how much I care about you and your heart health. Heart disease is the number one killer of both women and men. There are simple steps you can take, every day, to tell your HEART how much you care about it and how you want to help it keep beating happily for many, many years to come. While it sounds like a  Nutritional Therapy Practitioner would mostly care about nutrition, I focus on the individual as a whole and how both food and lifestyle can help support a well-balanced, healthy body with less chance of developing dis-ease.  Studies have shown that common atherosclerotic heart disease is not  genetic, but rather a result of both eating an unhealthy diet and unhealthy lifestyle habits.[1] 

You should feel empowered! You have a lot of control over the health of your heart!

 

Which of these nutritional and lifestyle recommendations can you incorporate in your daily life? Pick one to work on today and for the week ahead, then add another. Incorporating any of these, or even better, all five, into your life will make your heart-and the rest of your body-thank you! (I saved one of my favorites for last so be sure to get to number 5!)

 

1. Eat more colorful vegetables and fruits.

There’s a very good reason why eating more vegetables comes up all the time. The more colors on your plate, the more protective properties such as antioxidants, phytonutrients,  vitamins and minerals you are giving your body. Antioxidants help protect your cells from damage done by free radicals which are unstable molecules that can harm cellular structure and eventually can led to disease. Free radicals are difficult to avoid and can be caused by both internal and external sources, such as environmental pollutants, radiation, pesticides, cigarette smoke, alcohol, bad oils, inflammation and even exercise. Troubles can start, however, “when the critical balance between free radical generation and antioxidant defenses is unfavorable”.[3]  This is when oxidative stress occurs, potentially leading to a variety of conditions including heart disease.

 

Some fruits and vegetables* with the most potent antioxidants include:
  • blueberries and other berries
  • dark colored grapes
  • artichokes
  • apples
  • dark green veggies
  • sweet potatoes and other orange vegetables
  • citrus fruit
  • Two other top sources of antioxidants include green tea and nuts, especially walnuts

*Organic fruits and vegetables are highly recommended, especially those whose skin you eat

 

2. Drink More Water

Our bodies are 55-60% water. The liquid portion of our blood, or blood plasma, is made up of 92% water.[4]  When you are dehydrated your blood volume decreases, requiring your body to retain more sodium in your blood, which then leads to high blood pressure. Thick, viscous blood is harder to circulate throughout your body, raising blood pressure even more. [5] Drink more water and help that blood flow freely!

Ways to Drink More Water
  • Drink a glass when you wake up, before doing anything else
  • Have a stainless steel or glass water bottle with you at all times; on your commute, at your desk, on errands and at kids’ events
  • Set a water timer on your phone for every 30-60 minutes and take a few sips of water
  • Aim to drink ½ your weight in ounces of clean, filtered or mineral water each day

 

 

3. Move Every Day

The best exercise for your heart is the one you will do every day! Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, states in Put Your Heart in Your Mouth that “moderate but consistent exercise is the best for your heart and your overall health.” You don’t have to run a marathon, just get out there and MOVE!

According to an analysis of 22 studies that included more than 320,000 adults, modest activity—even as little as one hour of walking or gardening per week—was linked to lower rates of heart attack, stroke, and death from all causes. One study found that people who did moderate exercise just 15 minutes a day tended to live an average of three years longer than their inactive peers. [6]

 

Ways to Move Daily
  • Don’t insist on the closest parking spot! Park farther away, walk a little more and/or take the stairs
  • Walk your kids to or from school
  • Make a date with a friend to go for a walk or hike
  • Explore new trails with your family on the weekends
  • In a pinch for time? Choose a 7 minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout on an app…everyone can make time for that!
  • Set a timer to get up and walk for 5 minutes if you are sitting for hours at a desk (and use the bathroom because you are drinking so much water!)

 

 

4. Prioritize Quality Sleep

Quality sleep and enough of it is essential for both heart health and overall health. A 2011 summary of findings from 15 studies found that people who slept fewer than 6 hours a night had a 50% higher risk of dying from coronary heart disease seven to 25 years later.[7]  They also found that taking a half hour or more to fall asleep makes you 52% more likely to have ischemic heart disease. Sleep deprivation has been linked to high blood pressure, increased calcium deposits and an increased chance of developing metabolic syndrome which further increases your chance of heart disease.  [8]  Love your heart and make getting 8 hours a night a priority!

 

How to Improve Your Sleep
  • Create a regular sleep routine, including turning off all electronics at least 30-60 minutes before sleep
  • Create an optimal sleep environment in your bedroom (window treatments to block all lights, cool temperature, cozy bed and linens)
  • Add calming essential oils, like lavender, to your routine in diffusers or on your pillow
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime
  • Keep your sleep schedule 7 days a week, but add some additional sleep on weekends if you need it
  • Take relaxing, meditative deep breaths as you prepare for sleep
  • Going to bed before 11:00 pm gives you more restorative sleep because you are sleeping with your natural circadian rhythm (even if you get the same amount of sleep going to bed after midnight!)

 

 

5. Connect with Others and LAUGH!

Isn’t that a great one?  Meaningful connections with other people, people you enjoy spending time with, has shown to reduce your blood pressure and improve your heart and overall health. If you felt like you needed an excuse to make fun plans with your family and friends, you now have it! Laughter can reduce your blood pressure, improve your heart health, relieve pain and reduce anxiety and stress. Do something every day that makes you happy and in doing so you will create positive, healing biochemistry in your body. [9]

 

Ways to Connect
  • Make dates with friends
  • Watch silly cat videos (or whatever makes you laugh!)
  • Find a funny show to watch together with your family (Ellen’s Game of Games is a good one!)
  • Have a family game night and play games that make you laugh, like Apples to Apples
  • What makes you laugh and smile?? Figure it out and do it!

 

I hope your day is full of reminders of how much you are loved and valued. Be sure those reminders come from you as well-love yourself and do something to show that love every day.  If you are interested in working with me one-on-one to develop a wellness plan for you based on your specific health goals, please schedule a complimentary discovery call on my services page. 

 

Disclaimer

The information provided in or through my Website is not to be perceived or relied upon in any way as medical advice or mental health advice, nor does it create a practitioner-patient relationship in any way. I am not providing health care, medical or nutritional therapy services or attempting to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure in any manner whatsoever any physical ailment, or any mental or emotional issue, disease or condition pertaining to any individual outside of an established patient relationship that I currently may have with that person. In addition, my Website, Programs and Services are not intended to be a substitute for the professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment that can be provided by your own Medical Provider (including advanced practice nurse, physician, physician’s assistant, or any other licensed health professional), Mental Health Provider (including psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, counselor, or social worker).  The information contained on this Website or provided through my Programs and Services has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

 

 

 

Sources

[1] The End of Heart Disease by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/

[4]

https://www.sharecare.com/health/blood-basics/what-is-blood-plasma

[5] https://www.livestrong.com/article/150464-the-effects-of-dehydration-on-the-cardiovascular-system/

[6] https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/how-much-exercise-is-optimal-for-heart-health

[7] https://www.tuck.com/heart-disease-and-sleep/

[8] https://www.tuck.com/heart-disease-and-sleep/

[9] Put Your Heart in Your Mouth by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD

Clean Up Your Cleaning Products!

I am slowly making changes to live a healthier, cleaner, less toxic life. While this obviously includes increasing organic foods, eating more fruits and vegetables, grass fed beef and raw dairy, it also includes environmental toxins that my family and I are exposed to on a daily basis, like cleaning products. What at first appears to be overwhelming-how can I replace every single product I use for cleaning? the expense! the research for all those products?!-has been simplified by a small company called Branch Basics. I heard about them through another Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, I visited their site and loved what I learned, especially the simplicity of it! They have 1 concentrate that is plant and mineral based, free of harmful preservatives, biodegradable, not tested on animals and non-GMO. You get different spray bottles for different cleaning purposes (all purpose, streak-free, bathroom, etc.) and you simply add the indicated amount of concentrate, water and can then add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to give it more power and/or a scent that will make you happy while you clean.

I have been using it for a few months and love both the cleaning power and knowing that I am not breathing in any harmful chemicals during my nightly cleaning of the kitchen counters. It might seem like a small step, but all those nights add up to a lot of toxic fumes. They even have a foaming hand soap container and the concentrate can be used for laundry!

While my mission is to help busy moms better care for themselves and their families, I am hoping that if you are like me and making small steps towards a cleaner life, you will give Branch Basics a try. It’s simple, clean and the packaging looks great too. Please visit their site to learn more and use the link below to get $10 off their products.

Get $10 off all Branch Basics products!