Monthly Archives: February 2014

Is Coconut Oil Really Good For You?

coconut

Often, we are told how bad saturated fats are for our health. Whether it is by our doctors or news articles, we are sold just how bad coconut oil is because it is a source of artery-clogging saturated fat.

Well, coconut oil has been criticized when it is actually one of the good fats. It has been used in hospital formulas to feed critically ill patients and is a major component of baby formulas because it provides the same nutrient value as human breast milk. Coconut oil is used to treat a number of common illnesses and considered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be a safe, natural food.

It was discovered by the people that live in the Islands of the South Pacific that these natives were robust and healthy eating traditional native diets. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis are almost unheard of, but when they abandon their traditional diets for the Western foods, they find that their health deteriorates, and the more the Pacific natives move away from the diet of their ancestors, the closer they come to the diseases of the West like diabetes, gout, obesity, and atherosclerosis.

Time and time again, we are told to limit our fat intake to reduce the risk of heart disease and should consume no more than 30% of our total calorie intake per day.

However, the Polynesian people consume large quantities of fat in the form of coconut oil, as much as 60% of their total calorie intake.

What people do not understand is that there are many types of saturated fats and they affect the body differently. The plant source that is found in coconut oil is different from what is found in animal products.

Coconut oil is used to treat patients that have digestive and malabsorption problems. It is commonly given to infants and small children so that they can digest their fat. Studies show that coconut oil helps to support and strengthen the immune system. The difference is the nature of the fat molecule, which is found in coconut oil. The molecules of all fats and oils are called fatty acids. There are two methods of classifying fatty acids. One is based on the amount of saturation found within fats and oils (saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated). Another way of classifying fats is based on the molecular size or length of the carbon chain within each fatty acid. Within fatty acids there are long chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached. They are known as short chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium chain fatty acids (MCFA), and long chain fatty acids (LCFA). Coconut oil is mostly composed of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA), also known as medium chain triglycerides (MCT).

The majority of fats and oils found in our diets, whether they are saturated or unsaturated or come from animals or plant source which are comprised of long chain fatty acids (LCFA). Anywhere from 98 to 100% of all the fatty acids consumed are LCFA.

There are so many uses for coconut oil aside from cooking – check out this list of 4 beauty uses!

Have a fabulous day!

Karen

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Eat Your Way To Sexy & Smooth Skin!

Healthy Skin!

We’ve all heard the expression “you are what you eat”, and your skin is no exception.

Simple Fact:  Your skin is your largest organ! It is our protective covering and our first line of defense to fight illness and disease. It is also a passageway to our bloodstream. That being said, what you apply topically on your skin, as well as what you eat, will affect the overall health & appearance of your skin.

First off, we need to HYDRATE the skin. That means drinking plenty of water.

You need at least the recommended 6-8 glasses/day. If you are physically active, live in a warm climate, or feel thirsty, you may need to up your daily intake.

Also, as we age, skin tends to become dehydrated a lot more quickly, causing it to wrinkle, so ample hydration is key.

Eat your superfoods!

If it’s good for your health, it’s good for your skin too!

Some examples:

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish, such as herring, sardines, and salmon. Other sources of omega-3s include flaxseeds & walnuts. Omega-3s are known to decrease inflammation and may reduce the risk of acne and other skin problems.

Vitamin C helps produce collagen & prevents cells from damage caused by free radicals. Great sources are oranges, pineapples, tomato, strawberries, & bell peppers.

Vitamin E helps limit sun damage & signs of aging. Almonds are a terrific source of Vitamin E.

Vitamin A revitalizes skin by increasing cell production and rebuilds tissue. Eggs and dark leafy greens are good choices.

Beta-Carotene is needed for growth & repair of tissue. It is found in abundance in orange foods like carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, and cantaloupe.

Other fabulous foods to include to boost your skin health:  dark leafy vegetables, avocados, mushrooms, berries, and, surprise, dark chocolate.

Did you know that your skin is a “breathable” organ? 

Up to 60% of what you apply topically on your skin will be absorbed into your bloodstream, and children absorb even more than that!!!!

Imagine that products you’ve been using for years actually contain harmful ingredients and could damage your health. If so, your first instinct would be to find a healthier alternative, pronto!

Heightened awareness and potential dangers have caused consumers to take a closer look at what they put on their skin and demand safer alternatives.

Many cosmetic companies do NOT list their ingredients, aka toxic chemicals, because they are not required to do so.

Several of these toxic chemicals are linked to a host of problems including:  allergies, skin rashes, cancer, headaches, fertility & reproductive issues, birth defects, hormone inhibitors, and more.

Some toxic chemicals that should be avoided:

  • Parabens – often found in deodorants & moisturizers, parabens are hormone inhibitors & believed to accelerate tumor growth
  • Artificial fragrance & color – may trigger allergies, asthma, and some colors contain lead & harmful dyes
  • Toulene – found in nail polish, hair color products, and some fragrances, this chemical is linked to kidney & liver damage, which may affect fetal growth
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate – a foaming agent found in shampoos and body/facial washes, it dries out the skin & is linked to eczema, hair- loss, rashes, and dry and scaly skin.
  • Formaldehyde – used as a preservative, formaldehyde is known by several different names & should be avoided at all costs, as the side effects are numerous
  • PEG’s – found in numerous skin & personal care products, this is anti-freeze and should be used in for your car, not your skin!
  • Paraffin/Mineral Oil/Petrolatum – clogs pores, causing toxic build-up
  • Phthalates – found in plastics, it is a known hormone disruptor
  • Triclosan – used in anti-bacterial products, it is a pesticide, harmful to the environment, and a suspected carcinogenic
  • Sunscreens –Google some of those ingredients and you will see that they cause possible damage to DNA and many are known carcinogens

*****Of course, there are more, but you get the point. If you wouldn’t EAT it, it doesn’t belong on your SKIN.***** 

You can look up what’s in your skin care by visiting one of my favorite sites:

http://www.ewg.org

Have a great week! Karen 🙂

Why You Need Sleep & Tips For Better Sleep!

sleep

The “fight or flight” syndrome – you’ve heard of it, right? Accompanied with the image of the saber-toothed tiger dashing after a hunter, getting ready to attack. You often get into this situation, don’t you? In modern times, we’re not literally in that frantic position, but our bodies are often reacting as if we were fighting for our lives. Our adrenal glands, located on top of each kidney, are forced to work overtime in an effort to deal with stress from all sources:  injury, disease, work, family, finances, environment, etc.

It’s hard to imagine these small endocrine glands, essentially the size of a walnut, responsible for the manufacture and secretion of vital hormones such as cortisol, estrogen and testosterone. The cortisol production is crucial for the body to combat stress. Whereas thousands of years ago the stress was a finite amount of time – you either outran the predator or survived or you were eaten – nowadays, stress seems to be a state of being for so many people.

Although not getting along with a boss or missing a bill payment are not life-threatening like the saber-toothed tiger, our bodies react to the stressors in a similar fashion. The body starts to feel unsettled. More and more cortisol is produced because the body believes it needs massive amounts of energy to run for its life. This happens over and over again throughout the day:  getting the kids ready for school and getting yourself ready for work, traffic, spilling coffee on your new suit, your assistant calls in sick and you’ve got to send out 20 packages today, the babysitter is late picking up the kids from school and taking them to soccer practice, your late afternoon meeting runs over and you leave the office late so family dinner becomes you eating leftovers alone. And all this is going to happen again tomorrow!

Here’s the problem:  chronic stress can overload the adrenal glands to the point of exhaustion. For some, the fatigue will become overwhelming and the adrenals will no longer function properly to provide the energy and resources the body needs on a day-to-day basis. When someone is exhausted, a natural suggestion is to get more sleep. That’s not always easy with adrenal problems because insomnia is a common symptom. There are, however, steps you can take to prepare yourself for sleep, which is certainly one of the best ways to refresh and rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit.

For better sleep and to heal your adrenal glands:

  1. Go to bed at the same time every night between 10-10:30pm.
  2. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and sugar in late afternoon/evening (or remove them completely from your diet to avoid any rollercoaster-like blood sugar surges).
  3. Keep a gratitude journal near your bedside. Every night, list five things for which you are grateful. Remind yourself that even though you may feel fatigued, there are wonderful aspects of your life and many reasons to heal.

Karen 🙂

7 Ways Juicing Can Help You Lose Weight

juice

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years, you would have no doubt heard about the amazingness of juicing. But did you also know that a juice elixir can also be a healthy and safe way to lose weight? When drunk in complement to an existing weight-loss plan, juicing provides a high level of quality nutrition, which will assist in weight-loss. Read on to find out how.

 

1.  Easy Digestion

One of the best benefits of juicing fresh fruit and vegetables is that drinking them (as opposed to eating them) makes them really easy for your body to digest. If you are to juice say a couple of tomatoes, celery, cucumber, spinach, and carrot, you will make a delicious and easy to drink fresh vegetable cocktail that will provide a huge amount of nutritional benefits to your body. If you were to actually consume those same vegetables raw, from a plate, in one sitting, you would find the process to be quite difficult. It would take a lot of effort to eat and digest the same quantity of food. But by juicing those vegetables, you get to drink in one glass a dense quantity of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients really easily.

2. Reduction in Cravings

When you drink a glass of freshly made vegetable or green juice, you are loading every cell of your body with detoxifying minerals. By drinking your veggies and fruit, you are giving your body all the amazing nutrients that it needs to heal, stay healthy, and reduce the risk of illness. In turn, you will also find that you experience a reduction in cravings, particularly for sweets or processed foods. This is because you are feeding your body all that it needs. Your body won’t be sending messages to your brain that make you crave particular foods that contain certain minerals or vitamins that you might otherwise lacking. It is in this way that you will start to lose weight, often quite quickly. You simply won’t be eating the bad foods that make you gain weight, and you won’t feel like you are even depriving yourself of these foods like you might if dieting.

3. Tasty Fuel

It is also handy to know that green juices taste great! You can make your juice really flavorful by adding in lemon, mint or ginger to really add a tasty punch to your juice. You will enjoy the flavors of the juice so much that you will choose to make a juice rather than eat another less healthy snack food. It is also worth noting that juice you make at home on your own is a much better option than that which is store bought. Fresh juice made with a base of vegetables is going to contain much more nutrition than the kind that comes from a carton. Even fresh, store-bought juices will often have sugars and other additives as well as preservatives added to the juice. This kind of juice means you are drinking a lot of unnecessary calories. On the other hand, a homemade vegetable and fruit juice delivers nothing but goodness that is healthy fuel for your body.

4. Filling Snack or Dessert

Another amazing thing about juicing is that by drinking a freshly made juice, your appetite shuts off. This is because your body (which is amazing at knowing just what it needs!) is getting all that it is looking for. You will feel satisfied and satiated, much more than you would by eating empty calories in junk food. Your body will feel revitalized, not sluggish or heavy, and instead of searching for more food even after you have just eaten something, you will find that you don’t really want or need anything more.

5. It is not a fad diet

Once you start making juicing a regular part of your lifestyle, and start to experience all the health benefits and begin losing weight without a struggle, you will realize that incorporating fresh juicing into your life is definitely not a diet fad. Unlike regimented diets that are difficult to follow and which can often make you gain weight, juicing works in such a remarkable way that you will want to include juicing in your life forever. Unlike fad diets, you will never feel deprived or hungry. Not only that, but other aspects of your health will also improve. You might notice your skin is clearer, your eyes are brighter, and your nails and hair grow more quickly. You will also have more energy and you will start to feel amazing. Juicing will seriously become a way of life you will want to follow forever!

6. You invest in your health

In order to start juicing regularly, you will need to invest in a juicer, which initially will mean setting aside a bit of money. You might feel like this is an expense you don’t want to have, but by making that purchase, you are committing to your health and weight loss. It gives you a reason to stick to the concept of juicing for long enough that you will start to notice the difference in how you feel. It is also an investment in your health and well-being, so not only does juicing help you to lose weight, but it will save you money in medical fees in the future.

7. Fun and Variety

In order to lose weight and to stay motivated, life needs to be fun, right? Juicing is the ideal way to bring this into your life. As you start to get into juicing, you will find it great fun making new combinations of fruit and vegetables cocktails. You will make all kinds of unique and interesting drinks, and you will find that you never get bored from the endless variety of beverages that you can make for yourself and others. You will also want to share these drinks with others, which will also mean getting encouragement and support from those around you as you continue your weight-loss goals. Support is super important when it comes to making, and sticking to, healthy changes in your life.

Really, juicing is a fabulously fun, easy, and healthy way to shed those unwanted pounds without any struggle or deprivation. You have got nothing to lose by starting to make green juicing a regular part of your lifestyle. To get you started, here is a delicious and easy juice to kick-start your weight-loss:

Trim and Delicious Green Juice

4 carrots

2 apples

1 cucumber

½ beetroot (peeled)

1 rib celery

1 lemon

1-inch piece of ginger

Run the vegetables through your juicer and enjoy! Karen!

 

 

Get A Stronger Core!

 

6 Simple Exercises for a Strong Core

 

One way to develop an eye-catching mid-section, strengthen your core and back regions is to incorporate abdominal exercises that work all areas.  These exercises develop your core and tighten the tummy, which is designed as a stand-alone workout or add to your circuit training workouts.   I also love to do these exercises as part of my 3 and 11-day detox programs alternating with yoga or gentle walk in order to flush out the toxins and keep me moving.

 

The first exercise is what I refer to as the Jack Knife sit-up.  Lay on your back.  Hands and feet meet in the center. Slowly extend arms and legs away from center of body.  Don’t touch floor with arms or feet.  Hold and bring back to center.  Do these for 1 minute. Try to do 25-30 reps.  If you are a beginner, bend the knees and bring them up to midline and back down.

 

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Leg extension with a workout bar is to use a bar and hold the bar in front of you and just lower the legs while keeping the hands and workout bar in place overhead at waist level.  Drop legs 6” from floor, hold then bring back up to the bar.   If you don’t have a bar, place hands under lower back and lower legs to floor, approximately 6” from the floor and back up to mid-line.  Do each exercise for 1 minute/rest for 1 minute.

 

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Now take the same bar and alternate it from side to side in order to work the oblique.

 

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If you are a beginner, stop when you need to rest and then continue to complete as many reps as you can in 1 minute.

 

 Another great abdominal exercise you can do if you don’t have a bar is to simply do the Classic Scissor Crunch.  Lay on floor, hands on head not behind head, so you can avoid pulling the neck and alternate legs to elbow.  Right elbow to left knee and reverse, count that as 1 rep. What I refer to as a double count.  Do for 1 minute. 25-30 reps.

 

 

 

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The next exercise is great for your whole core, The Classic Plank.   When done with the scissor crunch, flip over on your mat, place hands under shoulders, lift lower body in straight line, flat back and hold for 1 minute.

 

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The last one is the Classic Crunch.  Lay down on your mat, knees bent, hands on head so you don’t pull the neck, lift ½ way and back down, repeat.  Complete as many as you can in 1 minute.

 

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Complete all exercises, each one for 1 minute/1 minute rest between exercises.   When you are done with all exercises, you will have completed one (1) circuit. Rest after each circuit for 2-4 minutes. Repeat circuit 2 more times up to 5. Complete 2-3 times a week and you on your way to an eye-catching mid-section, while strengthening your core and lower back region.

 

Have a great day!

Karen 🙂

 

Simple & Elegant To Take Care Of Your Body!

calm

If you have never heard of Ayurveda, here’s the skinny:  Ayurveda translates to ‘knowledge of life’ or ‘science of life’.  Ayurveda is to India what Traditional Chinese Medicine is to China.  Ayurveda is about living in communion with the shifts of the seasons and the rhythms of the sun and moon throughout the day. It is an ancient practice that both supports wellness and recovers health. The principles are universal and can be practiced by anyone with a desire to feel more connected to their health and wellbeing.

Because you’re involved in a seasonal detox, you’ve already begun to practice one of the Ayurvedic principles, so adding these 3 simple daily practices will increase your body’s ability to withstand the stress of daily life and the toxins you can not help but be affected by.

If you haven’t already, begin to add these 3 practices into your routine. Do them sequentially and stay with it.

Banish Bad Breath – Upon rising, eliminate, brush your teeth and scrape your tongue.  Did you know that you will remove more sticky plaque from your mouth with a metal tongue scraper than you will by brushing your teeth?  Here’s a simple video to show you how it’s done.  Do this before put anything into your belly.

Rinse Your Belly – By now, you have an understanding that a clean digestive system works so much more efficiently and uses less energy that a clogged up, gummy one. To keep your system clean and start with a clean stomach, drink 16 – 20 ounces of warm water first thing.  This has three primary effects for your body.

  • Number One – Okay, actually it’s about ‘number two’. It is especially helpful to promote movement and train the body so that will eliminate through the bowel more easily. Do you have to add lemon?  No. Will it hurt to add lemon? No. Just make the water body temperature and you will get the greatest benefit.
  • Number Two – Clean pure, warm, body temperature water first thing in the morning will help to clear out any leftovers in the stomach. This way yesterday’s food that may not have fully digested will not mix with today’s undigested food, kind of like getting a new plate for your breakfast instead of using the dirty one from last night’s dinner.
  • Number Three – It hydrates you! Your body wakes up dehydrated. It’s been starved for water for at least 8 hours. Because optimally, your body is about 70% water when you start your day with all your internal electrical systems flowing, you will think better. Which means you will make better food choices.  Better food choices now mean that your next seasonal detox will release a little more deeply.

Oil Up – The daily practice of Abhyanga is a hot oil self-massage. This one practice will nourish your skin and body on a level that is superior to any other skin treatment. Remember, you skin is your largest organ. Once you start the habit, you’ll find it doesn’t take long to add it to you daily morning routine.

How to Abhyanga 101

  • Warm your oil to body temperature.
  • Pour a small amount into your hand and add oil as you need it.
  • Massage into hands. Then begin with the neck, working your way down towards your feet, because this is a grounding massage. Long strokes on the bones and circular strokes on the joints. Until you reach the feet.
  • When done, get into a hot shower and let the hot water rinse over you. The hot water will open your pores and press the oil into the skin. This is not only nourishing but protective. If you want to use soap, use it on your pits and privates. There is enough chlorine and other detergents in the water to ‘clean’ you.
  • Dry off as you normally would.

These are so simple, easy, and actually elegant ways of taking care of your body that will promote daily detox in a toxic world.

Enjoy them!

Karen 🙂

Oatmeal Protein Pancakes!

Love this blog post with a great recipe for oatmeal protein pancakes!

Fitness, Health & Everything Else

Oatmeal Protein Pancakes!

Hey Guys,

Just wanting to share my yummy breakfast with you! This post is inspired by Heidi Vasquez, follow her blog:

Fitness Dreams and Eating Clean

Ingredients:

-1/2 Cup Quaker Oats
-4 Raw Egg Whites
-1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
-1 Truvia Sweetener Packet
-Dash of Cinnamon

-2 Tablespoons Chocolate PB2
-Drizzle of honey

Directions:

-Mix the 1/2 cup oats, 4 raw egg whites, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and packet of Truvia non calories sweetner into a bowl.

-Oil pan with coconut oil, adds great flavor! Pour in the mixture

FLIP once one side is evenly cooked

-Once your pancake is complete, top with Chocolate PB2 (Yuuummmm!) and drizzle honey! ENJOY!

Awwwww, now I’m hungry for ‘second breakfast’!

~Jess

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Smoothies For Breakfast!!!

smoothie

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and sometimes it just doesn’t fit into our schedule the way it should. How we begin the day will determine how the rest of the day goes. It will determine if we feel energized or if we feel dragging with a lack of energy. What we put in our bellies is directly related to how we physically feel. So if you are a skip breakfast and grab the coffee mug morning person then this blog is totally for you.

We all need and crave energy. I know I do! Sometimes it is so easy to want to grab a quick bowl of cereal or even forget breakfast and just get through the morning on 1-2 cups of coffee for the energy needed to survive the day. I don’t want you to just survive through the day though; I want you to thrive through the day. I also don’t want you to go on the “crash and crave” roller coaster for the entire day. If you begin your morning with caffeinated coffee and sugar, you will crash, and you will be either too tired to make it through your responsibilities or you will be reaching for another cup of coffee to get through a few more hours.

Smoothies are another quick alternative to a fast breakfast that can help energize us throughout the entire day. When you toss in some greens, a little fruit, and a healthy liquid like coconut water you are bound to feel energetic and ready to take on the day. Starting the day with a smoothie also gives you well needed antioxidants which help protect our bodies from free radicals, and it is a great low glycemic start. Eating a low glycemic breakfast will help curb your sugar cravings for the entire day and it will also help with not crashing.

Next time you want a quick breakfast, try a delicious smoothie that will leave you feeling energized and motivated. A morning smoothie will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to produce natural energy and naturally boost your metabolism. So, what are you reaching for tomorrow morning? I know I will be pulling out my blender and getting ready for some long lasting energy.

Here are 42 great smoothie recipes!

Have a great Friday – Karen

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