Health Secrets Revealed- 4 Reasons why you should add ALOE to your daily routine!

Aloe, my young discovery

This green catus-y looking plant can easily be overlooked by many, but inside those sharp thick leaves lies a very soothing magical natural medicine. I still remember my first encounter with this strange plant. I grew up with one in my parents front yard and always stayed away in fear that I would be stabbed by one of its prickly leaves. I was about 9 years old when I had a major fall while rollerblading. I came inside with blood dripping down my shins (I still have scars on my knees from that eventful day) crying for my mom. She cleaned up my knees and went outside to chop off one of the leaves. She brought me over to the sharp plant and showed me this sticky gel that was inside. She squeezed the gel onto the cuts and there was this instant sense of relief.

Photo Cred-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe

Photo Cred-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe

From then on I new this strange plant was something I would always want near by. Soon I learned it could also be used for those painful summer sunburns and often feel much better than many of the standard aloes we could find at Target.

My second run in with this crazy plant

In college, I ended up with shingles 4 times in 2 years. The “fix” for Shingles was usually steroids and pain killers. Well after getting this terrible illness 4 times in a row the pain pills had destroyed my stomach. I had stomach pains all the time and terrible acid reflux. Any time I had a glass of wine or a cup of coffee I knew trouble would come soon after.

After a few years of dealing with this uncomfortable lifestyle I finally started to do some research and came across the solution! Aloe! The plant that once healed my burns and scraps could also heal the insides of my tummy? What?!

After trying various brands and combinations I have found this one to be most effective. This Lily of the Dessert Stomach Formula not only provides tummy relief from the aloe itself but also from the other magic ingredients!

You can pick this up from most health food stores as well as my favorite website: http://www.vitacost.com/lily-of-the-desert-aloe-herbal-stomach-formula

Why should you start drinking aloe?

  1. Balances stomach acid- so many of the foods we enjoy are very high in acidic content
  2. Aid in digestion
  3. Helps to promote regular bowel cycle
  4. Helps to heal the tummy and digestive track

My Sweet Addiction- PeanutButter Chocolate PowerBalls!

The Snacking Challenge

I eat 5-6 times per day and many of these meals are often on the go. I am always on the hunt for that tasty mid meal snack that can boost my energy and keep my tummy full. However, it can be truly difficult to find a ToGo snack bar that isn’t either full of ingredients I do not understand or is not pretty expensive.

The Snacking Solution

It was time to come up with a nutritionally balanced and cost effect snacking solution! After much tweaking and experimenting the PeanutButter Chocolate PowerBall was born!

The PeanutButter Chocolate PowerBall

Ingredients:

  • 1c gluten free oats
  • 1/2c almond slices
  • 1/2c walnut pieces
  • 1/2c unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2c vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp chia
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4c natural PB
  • 1/4c honey

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl mix oats, almonds, walnuts, coconut, chia, and cinnamon.
  2. In a small bowl mix vanilla, peanut butter, and honey.
  3. Mix the wet into the dry until consistency is even.
  4. Roll into small balls and place in the fridge.
  5. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Then enjoy! Keep left overs in the fridge for later of snacking :)

PeanutButter Chocolate PowerBalls

This tasty snack is also an awesome sweet tooth soother :)

Your Positive Thought for September

Today…

How many times have you woken up with the thoughts of yesterday in your head? Maybe it was that mistake you made at work, the parking ticket your received during your lunch break, or the disagreement you had with your spouse? Mistakes can be hard to get over.

Forgiving ourselves can sometimes be much harder than asking forgive-ness from others.

I am completely guilty of this. I too have a hard time letting go.

But in all this negative self talk we miss out on this brand new day!

Will Rogers Quote

Start on a Clean Slate…

It is important to start each day as a new beginning. Enjoy the fullness of each day by waking up in a good mood, a smiling face, and the mindset that today will be AMAZING.

How to recover from yesterday?

If it is a disagreement with a friend, co-worker, or spouse try to solve it that day! There is so much truth that comes with the cliche “Never go to bed angry”.

At the end of the day write down all the things that bothered you from the day. As the pen ink leaves the pen and meets the page allow these negative thoughts to leave your mind; forgive yourself.

Write down ways to avoid making these mistakes again. We can truly “learn from our mistakes”. If it’s a parking ticket, look at this as a lesson to really watch the traffic signs.

Start each morning SMILING!

Even if you are exhausted, hurt, or upset… just keep smiling and focusing your energy on the happy thoughts… on the things you are grateful for! Before you know it your mood will be boosted!

Your September Workout- Conquering the KettleBell

My First Impression…

I have to admit the first time I was introduced to this block of solid metal I was quite intimated. Watching individuals swing this heavy piece of equipment around made me a bit nervous for them and others around. A colleague of mine, Frank, finally convinced me that I just had to try the Kettlebell, with promises that my workouts would forever be changed by mastering my fears of throwing metal around.

It was a bit awkward at first but wow was he right! My legs, back, and core had never felt something like this before. And yes my workouts have been forever changed by the Kettlebell.

A piece of exercise equipment to invest in!

Kettlebells are available almost everywhere now, even Target! Now ladies, as much as a plastic pink 8 lb Kettlebell seems like the perfect tool for you, skip it. Invest in the real deal! We exercise because we want our bodies to change, correct? To change we must be challenged. Challenge yourself with a 15lb-25lb Kettlebell. I purchased mine from Perform Better, keep an eye out for their great sales! Check them out here:

Kettlebell

http://www.performbetter.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product2_10151_10751_1004711_-1_1000420_1000156_1000156_ProductDisplayErrorView?utm_source=google%2Bproduct%2Bad&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=kettlebell

Many gyms now offer access to Kettlebells but if you are one that has a hard time making it into the gym I highly suggest keeping one for the house. Kettlebell workouts can be done inside or outside. All you need is the Kettlebell.

What to do with this Solid piece of metal?

Now what to do with this hefty lug of metal? You can do so so much, I love the Kettlebell because it requires muscular recruitment from the entire body. When doing Kettlebell exercises think: hips and core! Here are 3 of my favorite lower body dominant exercises:

1. The Kettlebell Squat

holding Kettlebell with shoulders retracted, feet a bit wider than hip width, squat hips back with abdominals engaged, Kettlebell between legs, then return to standing squeezing the glutes and lower abdominals standing tall. Hint: try these facing a wall first, you want to keep your chest directly over the knees (don’t hunch forward).

Kettlebell squat

2. The Kettlebell Goblet Squat

holding the Kettlebell upside down, with a hand on each side of the handle, repeat the same move as above.

Goblet Squat

3. The Kettlebell Swing

this is a hip dominant exercise – do not rely on your upper body strength to swing the KettleBell – I promise you will burn out more quickly – drive with the hips and core! Squat hips back, Kettlebell swings between the legs, then squeeze the glutes forward, tighten the lower abdominals and allow the momentum of your hip movement to swing the Kettlebell to shoulder height. Pull the Kettlebell back down to start position and continue the movement. This should be a quick movement, think cardiovascular demand!

Kettlebell SwingKettlebell Swing

Check out this YouTube video for the entire series-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGcF_2mg_o0

Conquer the Kettlebell

Once you get over the fear of swinging metal I promise your body will thank you! Enjoy!

Christy’s Meatless Corner- Spinach Lentil Bowl

Feel like you have no time to make a healthy lunch?

Think again! Try this quick and easy healthy lunch trick!

This recipe is quick, easy and filling.

No need for cooking, just grab go!

This recipe is also great for last minute dinner idea or an easy snack.

Ingredients:

  • 1 heaping handful of spinach, washed and cut
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1/2 cup bruschetta spinach lentil salad

Directions:

Place ingredients in bowl. Mix together, enjoy!spinach lentil salad

 

Could it be any easier?

 

Health Secrets Revealed~ 10 Reasons why you should use Apple Cider Vinegar

I have to be honest…

a few years ago when I thought of apple cider vinegar I thought, “marinade or salad dressing component”.

How I discovered the magic…

Like many great things I discovered the amazing-ness of apple cider vinegar out of sheer desperation. A few years ago, I had come down with this terrible sinus infection. I tried every natural remedy I knew but I just couldn’t get rid of the darn thing. I ended up scheduling an appt with the doc. At the appt he confirmed, sinus infection and sent me on my way with three prescriptions… one for a nasal spray, one for a day pill, and one for a night pill. I thought… really? 3? 3 prescriptions? 3 different chemical compounds in my body!? Plus I had just spent $30 on my co-pay and what would most likely be another $60-$90 at the pharmacy… all that could amount to $90-$120 day… a really nice outfit!

So instead of the pharmacy I went to google and began my research. I read several different natural remedies and reviews and found my healthy combination. Next I headed over to Whole Foods (not where I buy my regular vitamins because of their high prices but desperate times do call for prompt action), and picked up a few different supplies (apple cider vinegar being one) all for less than $30. Within a few days I was feeling like myself again! Plus no crappy terrible side effects, something I would have suffered with the prescriptions!

What is this stuff used for…

A boyfriend repellent…haha. Ya this is true. The smell of this stuff is quite strong and can be rough, Anthony almost runs out the door whenever I put it in hot water ;). This is the only real drawback of the magic apple cider vinegar (ACV), a side effect you can get used to.

  1. Sore Throat Cure- in a mug of warm water mix 1 tbsp honey, 2 tbsp ACV, and a couple dashes of cayenne pepper
  2. Digestive Balance- dilute 1 tbsp ACV in water or tea and enjoy pre-grub
  3. Clear Skin- pour a little diluted ACV on a wash cloth, rub on your clean face… this helps to neutralize your skin’s pH
  4. Toe fungus?- kill the fungus by applying some ACV to a cotton swab and directly on fungus
  5. Energy Boost- skip the 5 hour energy and add a shot of ACV to your afternoon water
  6. Remove the White Flakes- spray 50/50 mix of ACV and water into your hair then rinse… bye bye dandruff
  7. Itchy Red Skin- whether you are having a reaction to something or spent to much time in the sun toss a 1-2 cups in the tub and soak
  8. Aftershave- get rid of the aftershave burn with a mix of 50/50 ACV and water
  9. Sugar reducer- ACV has been shown to reduce glucose levels in diabetics; of course ask your doc
  10. Ear Pain- drop a capfull of ACV in the ear canal, lay on side for 20mins then flip, do other side

Where to find ACV..,

Apple Cider Vinegar is available and most health food stores and many grocery stores… I think even Target may carry it!

I usually order ACV here:

http://www.vitacost.com/bragg-organic-raw-apple-cider-vinegar-32-fl-oz-3

Bragg’s has become my favorite brand, esp when taken orally.Bragg-Apple-Cider-Vinegar-Organic-Raw-074305001321

Want to learn more about ACV? Check out these awesome sources:

 

 

Christy’s PowerPilates- The Spine Stretch

What does the Spine Stretch do?

The Spine Stretch focuses on articulation and spinal flexion, while offering a hamstring string stretch and pelvic stabilization. This exercise goes hand and hand with our posture theme for the month!

What muscles does the Spine Stretch focus on?

  • CORE
  • Hip Flexor
  • Spinal Erectors (helps spine stay up straight)

How to show your spine some love…

Seated high on SITS bones, legs extended and slightly wider than hips, feet flexed, arms extended forward at shoulder height and width. Inhale grow long through the spine, lifting ribs away from hips.

Spine Stretch

Exhale scoop abs and spine into a ”C” shape while maintaining upright pelvis, stretching forward as if lifting up and over a beach ball, tuck the chin to chest, hold. Inhale began to roll the spine up each vertebra at a time as if roll up a wall behind you.

Note:If you have tight hamstrings, keep a slight bend in the knees

Spine Stretch

Hints to keep in mind…

-Keep pulling the shoulders down away from your ears as you round the spine forward

-Fight to keep the pelvis from rolling back onto the tailbone, pelvis stays upright as the spine moves

-Keep the ribs closed, don’t let them splay open as you inhale away from the lower body

-Once in forward stretch, create opposition of abs and arms reaching away from each other

-As you roll up to seated position make sure you are initiating from your CORE and not lifting your head to come up. Your head should be the last part up

-Roll up as you sit tall, not back

-The focus is not how close you can get to the toes but more about keeping the pelvis upright

The Simple Side dish YOU must make! Baked Cauliflower

Cauliflower can be such a plain veggie.  Growing up I ate it raw only if covered in Ranch dressing or steamed only when lathered in butter, neither of these methods being even remotely healthy.

The Cauli Facts-

The nutrients in this brainy looking veggie help support the body’s detox system, antioxidant system, and anti-inflammatory system. These three systems help the body function optimally and protect the body from illness and even cancer. The nutrients in Cauli have been linked to warding off such cancers as bladder, breast, colon, prostate, and ovarian!*

Roasty-Toasty Cauli-

Cauliflower is somewhat taste-less on its own and will take on whatever seasonings you use. The fun about that is it is a blank canvas for you to play on!

I served this Roasty-Toasty Cauli with a big juicy burger so I wanted it to explode with flavor!

Ingredients-

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • garlic powder
  • pink sea salt
  • cayenne pepper
  • paprika
  • tumeric
  • 1 lemon
  • olive oil

Directions-

  1. Rinse cauliflower very well. Shake dry. Break into pieces then set on paper towels to fully dry. Slice the larger chunks of cauliflower for even baking.
  2. Preaheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Spread foil on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Spread cauliflower evenly on baking sheet.
  5. Season evenly with garlic, sea salt, cayenne (to your spice desires), paprika, tumeric, and drizzle with olive oil.Cauliflower
  6. Bake 20 minutes. Flip and stir cauliflower.
  7. Baked another 20 minutes.
  8. Check for done-ness by by poking a large chunk of cauliflower with a fork- should go in smoothly. If not done stir and return to oven, checking every 5 minutes.
  9. Remove cauliflower from oven and top with fresh squeezed lemon juice.Cauliflower
  10. Serve with your choice of protein, I picked this burger-Burger

 

 

*Check out more Cauli Facts here: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=13

Christy’s PowerPilates- Pilates Principle #3 Alignment

What is alignment?

Alignment has everything to do with posture. Due to modern day living, most peoples’ spines are not in an ”ideal postural alignment”. Jobs these days require a great deal of sitting starring at computers and long driving commutes, only to come home to sit some more. Whether it be watching T. V, playing video games eating dinner or spending more time on the computer. Our bodies were not designed for this type of abuse.

How is your life affecting your alignment?

Improper alignment doesn’t just apply to jobs but modern day technology as well. Next time you are at the computer or on your phone, take note of how your spine is positioned. Is it rounded? Is your neck shearing forward or rounding down? Are your shoulders rounding in towards each other? Are you favoring one side of the body versus the other? All these factors cause a great deal of pain. When our spine isn’t aligned it causes stress not only on the muscles and joints but the organs as well. Think about it. If your spine is rounding forward, your upper body is collapsed on to your lower body. This causes low back pain, crushing of the organs making digestion complicated.

What is the proper alignment?

When you are sitting, think of elongating the spine , lifting the chest up and pulling the belly button up and in towards the spine. Aligning your spine and using your CORE allows the shoulders to relax and the head and neck to move more freely. It also relieves the stress of the hips, legs and feet. This is all due to taking that pressure out of the lower back and making the CORE and spine a solid unit.

 

seated posture

What are the benefits of good alignment?

  • Improves muscle function
  • Increases range of motion
  • Improves circulation
  • Offers a trimmer appearance
  • Takes pressure off compressed organs
  • Helps the body to move efficientlyPilates Posture

How to stand in proper alignment?

  • Stand up straight feet hip width apart
  • Distribute weight evenly
  • Pull CORE up and in/pelvic floor lifted
  • Drop tailbone down to the ground
  • Close ribs as if wearing a corset
  • Lift chest up
  • Shoulders pulling down and back towards each other
  • Head and neck long/tuck chin as if holding a peachstanding posture

Positivities- Be Gentle

So often I feel as though we are in a world that is all about PUSHing yourself to YOUR ultimate limit!… “Go BIG or go HOME”, “RUN until you drop”, “If it’s not hurting it’s not hard enough”.

While I do believe in consistently progressing your life forward, challenging your old habits, and striving for your goals it is also very important to do so in a healthy way. Maxing out, overtraining, or jumping onto some fad juice only diet is only going to lead to injury, burn out and a very unhappy body.

Health is an everyday process not a three month summertime bikini shape up.

Be Gentle

In this life we are gifted one body to care for. We only get this one body, this one temple.

How will you care for yours?