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We are slaves to the idea that the only way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more.  Calories in – calories out, right?  If it was really this simple, wouldn’t we all have figured it out by now – would it really be a constant fight between our food and our bodies?  No, it wouldn’t.  

So, nerd-ing out for a quick second, the calories in – calories out argument makes total sense when we look at thermodynamics – energy is conserved in a closed system.  

BUT, our bodies are not closed systems.  We have a cascade of chemical reactions happening all the time.  This is the heart of the mind-body connection.  It may sound a bit woo-woo, but research has proven that there are profound effects on the chemistries of stress, relaxation, pleasure and depression.  

Marc David, author of The Slow Down Diet (you should read it!), describes metabolism as this:

“Metabolism is the sum total of all the chemical reactions in the body, PLUS the sum total of all our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and experiences.”

So let’s break down one of those chemistries – let’s talk about STRESS.  

Stress begins as a physiological response that alerts the body that it is in danger – for our caveman ancestors, this may have been a hungry animal, but in our modern lives, it could be an angry boss, screaming kids, or piles of unpaid bills.  Our body knows no difference – our adrenal glands kick in, releasing hormones that increase our heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension.  

When we stay trapped in this flight-or-flight physiology, our bodies are in survival mode.  The body is being told “hold on to everything – a famine is coming” or “reserve your energy – we’ve got to outrun this bear.” 

This stress lowers our metabolism and shuts off our ability to burn fat.  

Yes, that’s right – our bodies will hold on to fat when it is in a stress state.  And for many of us, that chronic low-level stress is always there.  

We have got to slow down.  Then and ONLY then, can our bodies calm down enough to work properly and let the excess weight come off.  

You don’t need to pound it out on the treadmill for 5 minutes longer to punish yourself for that piece of cake after dinner.  Maybe take a yoga class and instead of “stressing” in your shavasana that you’re not burning enough calories, flip your thinking.  Your biochemistry shifts from stressed (sympathetic nervous system) to relaxed (parasympathetic nervous system) – your metabolism jumps right on board.  

“There is more to life than increasing it’s speed” Ghandi 

Do you find yourself thinking in the calories in, calories out mode?  Does it make sense that less is actually more when it comes to your body and its ability to use energy efficiently (aka your metabolism)?  

I’d love to hear from you!  Does this make sense and have your thoughts shifted at all from reading this?

xo,

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I’m often asked “what is the number one thing that I should be doing to lose weight?” (or “have more energy”, “be sick less often”, …etc.)  

The truth is, there isn’t really a key item approach to achieving those goals you’re working to accomplish.  You need a whole arsenal of healthy habits that you consistently practice over time – drinking water, moving your body, eating a nutrient rich diet, taking proper supplementation, and reducing your toxic exposure.  (It may seem like a lot, but I promise, it’s easy to do once you take steps to create habits :)

But there is one skill that we can all develop…and is often overlooked and it is absolutely critical to your long term health.  The secret skill – getting your booty into that kitchen and start cooking from whole, fresh ingredients!

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Trust me, I totally get it that when we work full-time, have an overloaded social schedule, need to get in our daily workouts…it can feel tough to find the time to get in the kitchen and prepare a meal.  But could you believe that cooking could actually make your life a lot easier?!!  Cooking can give you more energy, save you money, and even make you look better! And with a little planning, it doesn’t have to be super involved to have a huge impact on your life.  

Here are a few tips that helped me navigate my kitchen as a newbie {healthy} chef:

Start with recipes containing 5 ingredients or less.  When you’re first starting to cook, recipes that contain tons of ingredients and different cooking methods can quickly become overwhelming.  Creating delicious meals does not have to be complicated, and some of the most simply prepared dishes can have a tremendous amount of flavor.  

Boost your confidence by finding a signature dish and then start playing with it!  By fixing a dish 2 or 3 times, it’s amazing how confident you can become not just with that particular dish, but also with all the ingredients that go into it.  Once you’ve familiarized yourself, you can start substituting spices, veggies and proteins to really make the dish your own.  Plus, you can whip that dish up in half the time once you know what you’re doing!  

Join a CSA.  Joining my first CSA last summer was probably the best thing that ever happened to me as far as the kitchen is concerned.  Kohlrabi?  Blossom Squash?  I would have passed right on by them at the farmers market!  But by having a pre-chosen box of vegetables delivered to you every week, you are forced out of your comfort zone and learn how to prepare veggies that you may have never actually bought yourself.  

Learn a few good never fail flavor combos.  It can be hard to veer from a recipe when you’re new to cooking, because the last thing you want is for it turn into a complete disaster!  But as you start experimenting, you learn no-fail combinations that are destined for greatness.  I’ve found that cumin is always good with a sweet potato dish, and lemon juice with brighten up any sautéed green.  Check out the book The Flavor Bible – it’s a great resource to begin experimenting with flavors to bring out the best tastes in foods.  

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And most importantly – never, ever forget to have fun!  Invite some friends over and share a glass of wine while you cook or light a candle, put on some music and make cooking dinner a relaxing “me-time” ritual.  

What are some of your best tips for navigating the kitchen?  Share in the comments below :)

Happy Cooking!

brooke.001

May
1
0

DETOX your body

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Last week, we talked a bit about how important your diet is in order to keep that hard working liver of yours happy and healthy. 

But in order to fully keep our bodies in toxin fighting order, it’s important to not just give attention to the foods we are eating, but also the products that we use on our bodies…make-up, lotions, laundry detergent, fragrance, the list goes on and on. 

There are about 85,000 chemicals that are in circulation in the US – and the vast majority of these have never been tested for safety.  Even crazier, there are more than 500 products that are sold in the US that contain ingredients that have been banned in the EU, Canada and Japan.  (source: ewg.org/skindeep)  That makes me a little bit angry…and it probably should you too!  

But the point in telling you this is not to scare you into living in a bubble or run into your make-up drawer and toss everything out – 

I’m telling you this because small changes over time can have HUGE impact.  

And when we start limiting our toxic exposure, our bodies are much more able to combat those toxins that we can’t control.   So what should you do? 

  Start with these tips in keeping your bodies in tip top detox shape…

1.  Sweat more!  Exercising regularly helps ensure those toxins are sweating right on out of you.  

2.  Switch to a natural deodorant.   I admit this one is a tough one, but it is THE most important product to switch out.  You’ve got lots of lymph nodes under your arms designed to release sweat…keeping them in seems really unnatural and just not a good idea.  Pick a natural product that contains NO aluminum.  Ava Anderson is a bit pricey, but has worked the best for me.  Food Babe recently wrote a blog post raving about Primal Pit Paste, but I haven’t tried it yet.  

PS.  If I’ve totally bummed you out because you were dying to wear that sleeved silk dress but don’t want gross pit stains…remember that like anything, it’s not what you do SOME of the time, but MOST of the time that matters.  

3.  Strike a twist-y pose.  I could go on and on about the benefits of yoga, but I’ll stick to toxins.  Many yoga poses, especially ones involving twists, help in releasing toxins from your organs.  Always follow your yoga practice with lots of water so those toxins can continue to be eliminated through your body.

4.  Ditch the parabens and phthalates from your products.  After the aluminum in deodorant, these are the next worst offenders.  These are commonly found in many self care products…but they are also known to be irritants, carcinogens and endocrine disruptors (aka hormone havoc)

5.  Don’t forget my last post on detoxing your diet.  Eating in a way that supports your liver and other detox organs will allow your body to naturally detox itself daily.  

 

Share some of your favorite detox methods below!  

xo,

brooke.001

Apr
24
3

What’s the deal on detox?

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It’s seems like every minute, there is a brand new “detox” – promising everything from a body that rivals Gisele’s or energy that outlasts the energizer bunny.  And even though there are lots of fancy products or crazy methods out there, the reasoning and method behind a detox is quite simple: to support your body in a way that allows the liver and kidney, your body’s primary detoxification organs, to cleanse and eliminate toxins that have accumulated in your body over time.  

But why is this so important?  

The problem is that now more than ever, our bodies are bombarded with toxins from the lotions we put on our skin, the air that we breathe, and all the pesticides, additives and preservatives found in our food supply.  That means that our poor little liver is working overtime to filter through all of this to ensure that harmful substances don’t enter our bloodstream and our bodies remain working properly. 

 Many of these substances get stored in our body as waste – and over time, this really begins to drag us down (think excess weight, groggy skin and decreased energy) and can even lead to more chronic and serious health issues down the road.  By incorporating foods that naturally support our liver and other detox organs, our body can cleanse itself of the waste that has been stored from a “lack of time”, if you will.  

 

Here are some of my top ways to incorporate naturally detoxifying foods into your daily routine:

 

  1. Eat those leafy greens!  Kale, spinach, arugula, chard, collards – strive to incorporate at least one…every.single.day.  You can read more about the benefits of greens in my blog post here.  
  1. Load up on the fiber.  Fiber is an essential component in allowing your body to properly eliminate waste.  It also helps you in feeling full.  Fruits, veggies and whole grains are all excellent ways to incorporate fiber into your diet.  
  1. Drink warm water with lemon.  At first I found this a little cooky, but you gotta trust me on this one.  Your liver will LOVE you if you start your day off with this little enzyme rich concoction.  You want to make sure the water is warm – not boiling hot, or it will kill all those beneficial enzymes.  I usually use half of my water from the kettle and then top the other half off with room temperature filtered water.  Use half a fresh (you must use fresh!) lemon for 12-15 oz. of water.   

 

Have you ever tried any sort of detox or cleanse?  Let me know how it went in the comments below.

To your clean, happy liver!

brooke.001

 

 

 

PS. Look for more posts in the coming weeks for more helpful detox tips!

Apr
10
0

Leafy Green Love

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Spring is finally here!  

I absolutely love hearing the birds chirping every morning, and the smell of grass when you go outside.  Spring is the natural season of renewal, awakening, and cleansing….
 
AND it’s the most perfect time to start incorporating an abundance of leafy greens into your diet.  
 
Leafy greens are one of the first new vegetables of the springtime, and are nature’s way of providing a way to naturally detoxify the body after the rich, heavy foods prevalent during the winter months.   They help neutralize acidic conditions that are caused by toxins that we are exposed to in our environment, as well as aid in improving our liver, gall bladder and kidney function.  
 

Greens are packed full of fiber, folate, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals.  These nutrients work together to purify the blood, strengthen the immune system, ease inflammation and counteract harmful free radicals.  If that wasn’t enough, they can also help in fighting depression, clearing congestion, improving circulation and keeping your skin clear and blemish free. 

 
Stumped on veggies that you can add to your go-to green list?  Here’s a short list of some amazing spring greens that you can look for at the farmer’s market:  kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens, arugula, dandelion greens, broccoli rabe, watercress, beet greens, bok choy, napa cabbage, green cabbage, spinach, leeks and asparagus.  
 
And if you aren’t familiar or haven’t cooked with most on the list, don’t despair!  Greens are actually one of the easiest to incorporate into your daily routine.  Start with the very simple recipe I’ve listed below. Then head over to your local Farmer’s Market and each time you visit, pick up a new green to try.  Soon you’ll find your favorite greens and wonder how you ever lived without them!  
 
What’s your favorite green and how do you prepare it?  Let me know in the comments below!
 
 
Brooke’s No Fail Kale
 
Prep Time: 2 minutes 
Cooking Time: 10 minutes 
Yield: 4 servings 
 
Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1-2 cloves crushed garlic 
1 bunch kale, chopped 
juice of half a lemon
pinch of salt 
 
Directions
1. Warm oil in pan on medium heat with minced garlic until aromas of garlic are released, about 2-3 minutes. . 
3. Add chopped kale, stir-fry for a couple of minutes. 
4. Add a splash of water, lemon juice and pinch of salt to pan, cover and let steam for 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if needed.  
 
 

Just because it’s winter is no reason to think that you need to forgo your efforts to eat seasonal veggies – there are quite a few superstar winter veggies that have a proven track record of promoting good health and keeping you away from the doctor’s office.  Check out some of these nutrient packed veggies next time you’re perusing the produce aisle…

Kale has really risen in ranks this year on the popular veggie list…and for good reason!   Low in calories, and high in vitamins A, B6, C and K, along with a healthy dose of fiber, iron and calcium, it’s one of the healthiest greens you can eat.  It also contains some important phytochemicals that may help prevent eye conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration.  And it’s SO easy to cook.  Sauté the kale with some olive oil, garlic, lemon and dash with some salt and pepper – you’ve got one healthy and delicious side dish!

I blogged about them in my last post, but sweet potatoes are WAY more nutrient packed than a regular old spud!  And when cooked, an enzyme in the potato breaks down the starch and turns it into maltose, giving it a wonderful sweet flavor.  Try cutting them up into bite sized pieces, drizzling some olive oil, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper – and roast them in the oven on 400°.

I discovered how awesome beets were when I realized that they don’t just come gel-like from a can like how my father used to eat them at Thanksgiving! Beets have a subtle, earthy sweetness and are loaded with heart-healthy folic acid and are an excellent blood purifier.  And don’t forget about those leafy greens at the top – they are actually more nutritious than the roots with double the potassium, folic acid, calcium and iron.  I suggest cooking beets with their skins on – it’s way less messy!  Trim off the ends and roast at 450° until tender.  Rub off skins once cool.  And those greens?  Saute in some olive oil and minced garlic.  Two nutrient packed side dishes in one, wow! :)