The Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen

I’ve had a lot of people ask me about farmers markets as well. Is their produce organic? Is it safe to eat if they say it is not organic? My advice is to ask whoever is selling the produce if it is organic, and if not, ask if it is pesticide free. Many farms can not afford to buy the organic license year after year, which allows them to make that claim. Most farmers markets only have pesticide free growers selling there, so just make sure to clarify.

Have you guys seen this posting? It’s so helpful for me when I’m going to the grocery store and am picking out my fruits and veggies. It basically tells you which produce items you can buy conventionally, or non organic, and which you really should do all you can to buy organic. They update this every month, which helps you navigate which foods are becoming more contaminated as time goes on.

The reason we buy some fruits and vegetables organic is that over time, we have added pesticides and growth hormones to foods in farms to help them grow to maturity, or larger, without being eaten by wildlife. While I understand farmers need to make a living, it’s hurting our population and making the foods we think are healthy not so. These chemicals build up in our bodies over time and cause long term damage.

If you’re interested in the farming side of this, check out the Netflix documentary The Biggest Little Farm, where a Los Angeles couple buys a farm and goes back to the old way of farming, letting the land and animals feed and prosper off each other. It’s a perfect example of how biodiversity leads to prosperity.

I know it can be expensive to buy everything organic so I hope this guide helps you when picking and choosing what to buy organic and what you can slide by without.

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How I Managed (and Still Manage) My Cortisol Levels

These days, there is a lot expected of us. Everyone is undergoing some kind of stress, whether it’s work or school or family life, or all three. Though most people think this is just a mental issue, stress affects the body in so many ways. One of these ways is through increased levels of cortisol, a hormone our body produces when it is experiencing intense strain. It is our fight or flight response, and it can often lead some individuals to gain weight rapidly, especially around the midsection (great, exactly what you need when you’re already stressed out).

When I was in college, I studied marketing at a business school that basically ingrained in us that if we didn’t get internships our freshman year, we would fail in life. So I did, and that marked the beginning of four years of working through school. Not only did I maintain a part time internship at a financial company while applying to the honors program (I know, nerd), I participated in multiple after school activities. This is normal for so many students these days, and even still, it wore me out to the point where I gained a whopping 30 POUNDS in a matter of three months. I also got walking pneumonia, a sinus infection, and bronchitis all at the same time that winter. When I went to a nutritionist the summer after my freshman year, she told me my cortisol levels were through the roof, and that if I didn’t learn to manage them, I would end up in the hospital from extreme wear and tear.

I was shocked – how could I have known? I was just doing everything that I was expected to do. I knew I had lessened my workout schedule (I was normally very active) due to being so sick for so long, but I didn’t feel like I was eating much more than I normally did. The truth was, my body was holding onto the food I was consuming and storing it as fat in case of additional trauma or the event in which it would need a supply of food. I was told I would have to take drastic measures at the beginning of healing, and then I would have to implement the basics of these methods to control my cortisol production for the rest of my life (it wasn’t like I was going to retire and sit on the beach any time soon).

So, that summer, I cut out all grains (I was already gluten free for years), dairy, sugar, and anything else processed. This was to decrease the amount of inflammatory foods that were going into my body, enabling this reaction. I also cut out all caffeine, which raises cortisol. I was instructed to do between 30-45 minutes of cardio every day in addition to strength training, and to take a rest day every third day in which I would just do some form of light cardio, like take a long walk and do some meditative yoga. Now, I eat grains but try to keep them unprocessed (still gluten free), I don’t eat eggs or dairy (I’m now vegan for a whole other reason), and I drink half-caffeinated coffee. I keep a similar exercise schedule, sometimes switching to one day on, one day off with resistance training.

As a summary, here is what you can do to keep your cortisol regulated and lose that excess weight:

  1. Cut down on the processed carbs.

Kicking carbs entirely might work for a few months, but isn’t sustainable in the long term. Try and get your carbs from whole foods, such as quinoa, oats, and vegetables. Potatoes are also a great way to supplement your carbohydrate intake. Stay away from sugar as much as you can (there are so many low-glycemic options now), but don’t stress the occasional candy bar.

  1. Ditch the dairy.

It sounds hard at first, but I am so glad I did it – it changed my life. Dairy is not meant to be consumed by humans and causes so many inflammatory responses, such as cortisol production. There are so many great dairy alternatives now that usually don’t feel like I am missing out. If you need or want recommendations, please email me! I’ve been doing this a long time J

 

  1. Cut back on caffeine.

If you can’t do it cold turkey, try making your next pot half-caf, and work your way down. Or stop there if that makes you happy (remember, the goal is to not stress). I would also recommend green tea, which has high levels of antioxidants and seems to affect some people a lot less than coffee.

  1. Exercise, but don’t overdo it.

Try to do 30-45 minutes of cardio every day in addition to strength training, and take a rest day every third day where you do some restorative yoga and meditation. I would also recommend taking a long walk or easy bike ride on these days just to get your blood flowing. Exercise releases cortisol from your body as long as it is done in healthy increments.

  1. Seek help from a nutritionist.

Nutritionists can be expensive, but I am so glad I went to mine when I did. I was in dire need of help and needed a professional to get me back on track. If you feel like you need further guidance and a more structured plan, please reach out to me and we can set up a time to discuss how my coaching could help you. I’ve been where you are, and I’ve gotten back on my feet – I know you can do it, too!

Below is me 30 pounds heavier than I normally am… and then two years later after finally realizing what was happening to my body and changing it from the inside out – in a healthy way! If you are struggling with this condition, please consider contacting me. I am here to help and know what you are going through.

old (2)new (3)

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Easy Ways to Get Moving When You’re Stuck Inside – Rainy Day or not!

The occasional rainy day is a blessing – cozy up in a old t-shirt under a blanket with some hot tea and a good show or book, and not feel guilty about it. Trust me, I get it. However, a few of these in a row can make me feel extbedroomremely cooped up and dying to get outside. Especially now with gyms closed and not having access to a treadmill to “go for a walk”, it can be hard to feel motivated to get off the couch. If you’re OCD like me, you wonder how you can possibly get your 10k steps in (yes, I said it and worse, I mean it).

Whether you’re binge watching Netflix or Hulu or working from home (or un-apologetically both, like me), try fitting in these few easy ways to get your blood flowing and burn some extra calories.

1. March in place.

It seems silly, and yes I do it. Sometimes when I am watching some trash TV I will just continuously march in place and get lost in the Kardashians. Before I know it, I walked 1,000 steps. It’s a quick, easy, low-impact way to get moving and earn that extra serving of chips.

2. Arm circles.

Forwards and backwards, big or small, arm circles will improve your circulation and get your upper body moving. Sitting hunched over your desk for too long? Get up and do these for a few minutes at a time. Make it a goal to do them for 5 minutes every hour that you spend working.

3. Go the long way to the fridge.

I do this at work, and my coworkers laugh at me, but they also ask how I eat as much as I do and still look as fit as I am. One of the ways I manage is to not take the easy way out. I started implementing this at home since I now work from my bedroom. If I want to make a cup of tea, I go downstairs, fill the teapot, and come back upstairs until it boils. If I want a snack with it, I bring my tea back up to cool and then go back down for my food. It seems silly, but doing one task at a time and running back and forth creates that little extra calorie burn that keeps your heart rate up.

4. Use your 15 to fit in a quick body weight cardio workout.

You don’t necessarily have to work up a sweat, but getting moving for a quick cardio workout in your home office will make the day go by quicker and give you more energy to finish off strong. I like to do a few simple moves like marching in place, in circles, or in a bridge, pendulum lunges, boxing kicks or punches, and bicycle crunches. Set your timer for 15 minutes and just keep moving!

5. Use the time you would have spent commuting to create a little heat in your body.

Since we aren’t driving to and from work, that gives most of us an extra hour or more, depending on your commute, to get moving (and less time for us Angelinos to complain about traffic). If it’s not raining, I go for a walk before work. If it is, I bounce on my mini tramp or go for a quick spin on the elliptical. If I’m sore, I’ll find some kind of project, like cleaning my bathroom or dusting the house, that requires me to be a bit more active than just sleeping for an extra hour. Since I’m already in sweats, might as well!

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