Self Love

This week’s blog post is inspired by the beautiful Laura LaBeau over at Soulfully Fed LLC, who wrote an inspirational post on her blog this week about women and empowerment. It struck a cord with me because I struggle with the same things she describes myself. For years I have compared myself to others and found myself wanting. I have, and many days still do, put myself down for my size, how much bigger I feel my legs are than the “normal woman”, how I am almost 30 and still single. I can always find something critical to say. Something clearly must be wrong with me because I haven’t met someone, right? Wrong.

I believe that the greatest love of all is the love we have for ourselves. After all, how can we truly accept the love of someone else if we don’t feel the same way inside? Over the past year I have been slowly working on this and learning to truly accept ec8445362ee8eec0a460a4cbc68cf512myself just the way that I am, regardless of size, relationship status, number of friends, how much cheese I eat, or whether or not I go out on a Saturday night. Changing a pattern of thinking that has been an unwelcome part of my daily life for the past 10-15 years is a daily, almost hourly, thing. I use essential oils and positive affirmations. Use techniques to shift energetic blockages and negative emotions. I try to tame the “negative Nancy” who always decides to make an appearance when I’m in front of the mirror. I try to take comments I see on Facebook with a grain of salt, reminding myself that people often only post about the positive things in their lives. I tell myself that I am on my own path and that everything I deserve in life is coming to me in its own time. But it’s hard. Really, really hard.

My heart aches when I think about how I treat myself. What I say to myself sometimes when I get dressed in the morning, after I eat a slice too many of pizza or an extra piece of bread. I would never, ever treat another human being with the same amount of criticism. And that’s what it all comes down to. My parents always told me to treat others how you would like to be treated. Well, it’s time to turn those words of wisdom inward. Treat yourself with the same amount of respect and love that you show to the most special people in your life. We only get one shot at this life, only one body to work with. And I sure as hec would rather break bread over a delicious meal with people I love than not let myself eat cheese or bread or meat for fear of how it will make me look. I’ve done the restrictive eating thing and it is not sustainable in a normal, happy life. The key is finding your balance.

I know I am not alone in this struggle. I hear women complain about their bodies daily. It saddens me that, as a society, we are obsessed with looking a certain way and having this “ideal” life. Young girls are exposed to this stuff every day on the Internet, on TV, and from images plastered on magazines they see on shelves at the market. The age when girls start to worry about how they look keeps getting younger and younger. It’s time we recognized this and started doing something about it. Teaching our daughters, sisters, nieces, friends, and cousins that everyone is beautiful just the way they are. You don’t have to look a certain way to be happy and find love, and often those people we inspire to be in magazines are often not happy and don’t have the “perfect” life we think they do anyways.

As a health coach, I want to share my story and my struggles with women and work together with them to find their flow, their own place of love and happiness. It’s not one size fits all. We are all built differently and are meant to live a life that is unique to us. Everyone has their own journey in this life to discover and make their own. Yeah, I’m not perfect and I love sugar like everyone else, but who wants a perfect coach anyway? 🙂

The lovely Laura LaBeau from Soulfully Fed LLC also nominated this blog for a Liebster Blog Award. There are a few things involved with being nominated for this award, including answering questions and sharing random facts about myself (I’m bending the rules a bit… sorry Laura!). As I am choosing this week’s post to bare my soul, I thought it would be a great opportunity for my readers to learn a little bit more about me. Enjoy and thanks Laura!!

  1. What did you do on the happiest day of your life? Two days come out on top as the happiest days of my life. They are the day I met my puppy Tucker when he was about 6 weeks old and the day I brought him home for the first time. He turns 5 in March and I can’t believe how fast the time has gone. IMG_0637
  1. Where were you and what were you doing on 9/11? I walked into my 11th grade history class when I first saw smoke coming from the Twin Towers. We watched live as they crashed and as a plane flew into the Pentagon. As I lived less than 20 miles from the Pentagon, it was pretty scary. My dad was actually there that day at a meeting, which I didn’t know at the time. Thankfully he was on the opposite side of the building.
  1. What’s your favorite quote? “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return” from Moulin Rouge
  1. What are you most afraid of? That I will be alone forever
  1. If you could give advice to your 15 year-old self, what would it be? Don’t waste your time comparing yourself to others, you are perfect just the way you are. And pursue a career your really, truly love from the bottom of your heart.
  1. What’s the best thing about yourself? My laugh
  1. What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever done but had fun doing it? I think many a night from college fall into this category…
  1. Where did you grow up? I moved a lot when I was younger since my father was in the Navy. I spent most of my childhood in Virginia Beach and the Northern Virginia area. I graduated from high school in Northern Virginia, so consider myself from there.
  1. What do you do for a living? I’m an accountant and aspiring health coach
  1. What is your favorite hobby? I have a few, but lately my favorite hobby is writing
  1. What makes you creative? I never thought of myself as creative until I started this blog. Writing and cooking are my creative outlets.

11 random facts about yours truly:

  1. I have two different colored eyes
  2. I write right handed but play all sports left handed
  3. My go-to drink at Starbucks is a Café Americano with half and half, no sugar
  4. I would choose public transportation any day over driving (I’m a city girl, no suburbs for me)
  5. My favorite city on the planet is London, San Francisco is a close second
  6. My current food obsession is cheese
  7. If I went back to university I would probably become a physical therapist
  8. I secretly wish I knew how to ski (and was good at it)
  9. My current cocktail of choice is a Moscow Mule
  10. If I could travel anywhere in the world right now I would go to Australia and New Zealand
  11. I played soccer for about 20 years and also played in college, but these days prefer individual sports such as running, biking and yoga

Peace, love, and happiness,

The Yogi~Foodie

Food Label Reading 101

Whether you are just beginning your health journey or have been on this path for a while, you have probably heard about the importance of reading food labels somewhere along the line. But did anyone ever take the time to really explain it to you? What should you really be focusing on? No matter your health goals, understanding what is in the food you are buying is important. So I’ve broken it down for you and provided you with 10 key items to know next time you hit the grocery store.

  1. Serving Size: How many servings are you actually consuming in the food you eat? It is easy to lose track (especially with drinks) and have too much. If you read your label you’d be amazed by how small the servings are on popular food items such as cereal, potato chips, and ice cream. Keep in mind that all of the information on your food label is for 1 serving, so if you have more than 1 serving, note how those numbers will change.
  2. Calories: A calorie is the measure of how much energy you get from a serving of food. Keep in mind that not all calories are created equal. For example, an apple, which is about 100 calories, is much healthier for you than a 100-calorie snack pack. Focus on quality, not quantity. If you are aware of the type of calories you are putting into your body, you will find that calorie counting is not necessary.
  3. Fat: There are a few different types of fats you will see on your food label –
    1. Saturated Fat: This type of fat most commonly comes from animal sources (meat & dairy) and raises the level of bad (LDL) cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends 5-6% of daily calories should come from saturated fat, though many Americans eat way more than this.2015-01-24 11.51.22
    2. Trans Fat: This type of fat is created through the hydrogenation of liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. They are inexpensive to produce, last a long time, and give foods a desirable taste and texture (a win-win for food companies!). Trans fats increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Bottom line – avoid buying foods with partially hydrogenated oils if they are listed as an ingredient on your label!
    3. Unsaturated Fat: There are two types of unsaturated fats, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Polyunsaturated are omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, which are essential to and can’t be made by our bodies. Omega-3 fats are the most important and are found in high amounts in walnuts, flaxseed, and salmon. Common foods with monounsaturated fat are olive oil, nuts, and avocados.
  4. Cholesterol: There are two types of cholesterol, good (HDL) and bad (LDL). HDL cholesterol helps carry cholesterol away from organs and to the liver where it can be removed. LDL cholesterol is linked with an increased risk in heart disease. Raise your levels of HDL cholesterol through exercise, eating fish and other omega-3 fatty acids, avocados, coconut oil, limiting your intake of refined sugars, and not smoking.
  5. Sodium: The daily intake recommendation of sodium is 1,500 milligrams, but Americans commonly get way more than this due to the large amount of pre-packaged foods we eat, which are high in sodium. Too much sodium in your diet can lead to increased blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. Decrease your sodium intake by limiting the amount of salt you add to your food and eating less pre-packaged, processed food.
  6. Sugar: You will notice that there is no % daily value measurement next to sugar on your food label, which I personally think is preposterous, but that is a topic for another post. There are some natural sugars (lactose in dairy and fructose in fruit) that are fine to eat, but steer clear of the added stuff. There are many aliases for sugar on your ingredients list such as dextrose, fructose, honey, malt syrup, rice syrup, sucrose, xylose, molasses, corn sweetener, high fructose corn syrup, lactose, maltose, agave nectar, barley malt, beet sugar, and caramel, to name a few. The recommended daily intake of sugar for women is 25 grams (100 calories) and for men is 37.5 grams (150 calories).  This is not very much. See a past post from my Sugar Series on ways to decrease your sugar consumption.
  7. Carbohydrates: It’s important to note that the type of carbs you eat is way more important than the amount. I cringe inside when people talk of eliminating carbs from their diet. Carbs are an important part of a healthy diet and provide the body with glucose, which is converted to energy to support bodily functions and physical activity. They also provide the body with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Limit refined carbs and focus more on whole grains such as whole wheat bread, quinoa, millet, rye, and barley. Carbohydrates are also found in vegetables, fruits, and beans.2015-01-24 11.51.43
  8. Fiber: Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that can’t be digested by the body. It helps regulate blood sugar and hunger levels. High fiber foods include beans, berries, whole grains, peas, greens (kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts), nuts and seeds, squash, cauliflower, and sweet potatoes.
  9. Artificial Colors and Flavors: Artificial coloring is everywhere, especially in food marketed to children. Common kinds include Yellow #5, Blue #1 and Red #40. There are a lot of debates about the effect of these products, but I believe that anything artificial in your body is going to have a negative effect. Studies have linked artificial flavors to ADHD and hyperactivity in children. Many dyes commonly used in the U.S. have been banned in Europe.
  10. Ingredients List: Keep in mind that ingredients are listed in order by their quantity in the food, with the first being the highest. A good rule of thumb is to avoid foods with ingredients you don’t understand. Chances are it is not natural! Also, the lower the number of ingredients the better. Better yet, stick with foods that have no ingredients lists at all! Those are the best for you and will keep your body happy and healthy.

Peace, love and healthy eating,

The Yogi~Foodie

The Tale of the Two Wolves

tumblr_mk78aufXjC1r8859io1_500During my most recent appointment with my naturopath, we got to talking about life, happiness, sadness and everything in between that we as humans feel on a daily basis. She told me a Cherokee Indian legend called the Two Wolves. It stuck with me after our session was over and since then, my mind has continually gone back to the words in this story. Over the holidays I was reading a fiction novel and the story came up again. I couldn’t believe it. Given how I feel that everything in our lives happens for a reason, I thought it was a sign that it was time to share these words with you all and how they have impacted my life.

Two Wolves – A Cherokee Legend

An old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kind, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Every day we have a choice to make. A conscious choice. We can choose to give in to the black wolf and be angry, bitter, negative and resentful towards others and towards our lives. Or we can choose to feed our white wolf and spread love, hope, joy, positivity and compassion. It is really that simple.

Throughout my 20s I have suffered from occasional bouts of sadness (I refuse to use the other word). Maybe this is normal, maybe it isn’t normal, but that doesn’t matter. My sadness stems from this need that somehow grew in me to be perfect, in all aspects of my life. For some reason, I chose to believe that I needed to have a successful career in business, look a certain way, and act a certain way in order to have a happy and fulfilled life. As a result, for years I did not live a life that is in line with how I truly am. I experienced disappointment, loneliness, and a feeling that things just weren’t right.  I tried living in California, hoping maybe a complete 180 degree change would be good for me (it was, but not in the way I expected). If I thought something would bring about a change for the good, I normally did it, no questions asked. But of course life isn’t going to turn out perfectly and exactly as we dream.

Eventually my body sent me a message that I needed to wake up and listen to what it wanted, in the form of adrenal fatigue, thyroid disease and hormonal imbalances. And I am slowly trying to do just that. I still may be working in the business world, but I am also writing this blog and am in school to learn about nutrition and health coaching. I put time into my schedule to do the things that I love – yoga (meditation is just not my thing), reading, cooking and drinking wine. Slowly but surely I am working to discover what it is I really want out of this life, why I am here in the first place. I haven’t gotten there quite yet but life is a journey, if we had it all figured out it wouldn’t be very interesting, would it?

While I have heard for years that happiness and fulfillment in life starts from within, I never really, truly got it until I heard this story. Maybe it’s the vision of the two wolves constantly at battle with each other (I am a competitive person after all…). Sometimes I do feel like I am battling myself from within, so it works for me. I turn 30 in a month and am really looking forward to turning over a new leaf. What I went through in my 20s is my past and I can only learn from it and have a better life because of it.  Time to move on sister.

I am making a conscious choice to feed my white wolf, discover and live my truth, put positive energy out into the world and do exactly what I want to do. Every single day. What wolf will you choose to feed?

Peace, love and happiness,

The Yogi~Foodie

Fed Up

2014-05-07-FedUpPoster2Last night I watched a fantastic documentary called Fed Up, which is narrated by Katie Couric and discusses the reason behind today’s obesity epidemic in the United States. It fired me up and reminded me why I am so passionate about nutrition and health. I want to shout about it from the rooftops and share with as many people as I can the concepts this film introduces. So naturally I start writing and come to my favorite place to share my knowledge.

We live in a society that is obsessed with weight and how we look. We jump from diet craze to diet craze, force ourselves to go to the gym, count our calories and eat low fat foods. Yet we are bigger than ever. Approximately 30% of Americans are obese and 40% of those who are thin have the same metabolic issues as those who are obese (just because you are thin doesn’t mean you are healthy). If we keep it up at this rate, 95% of all Americans will be overweight or obese in 2 decades and by 2050, 1 in 3 will have diabetes. YIKES. What on earth happened?

The film introduces a novel concept – maybe our approach has been wrong all along. Nutrition and health leaders in our society tell us to eat less and exercise more, but is this really working? Case in point – from 1980 to 2000 fitness memberships doubled, but over this same time period the rate of overweight Americans also doubled. And they say exercise will solve the issue? I don’t think so, not by itself at least. So what has changed in the past 30 or so years that has gotten us to where we are today? Food.

Let’s start with a quick history lesson. It all goes back to 1977 when the first dietary standards for Americans were released. They stressed the importance of a low fat diet, giving birth to the low fat and fat free diet craze. But it’s important to note that when fat is taken out of food it doesn’t taste that great. So what did food companies add to make their food taste good? Sugar. Since 1977, Americans have doubled their daily intake of sugar. It is in everything. Imagine the aisles of your local grocery store. About 90-95% of the processed foods on those shelves have added sugar.

So why is all of this sugar so bad? Fructose, one of the key components in sugar, can only be processed by the liver. When the liver is overworked (say when you are consuming a sugary beverage), it relies on the pancreas to help it out. The pancreas then releases excess amounts a lovely little hormone called insulin. Insulin is an energy storage hormone and stores the sugar your body is processing as fat. At the same time, insulin blocks messages from getting to your brain that you are full. The result? Excess fat is stored while at the same time your body feels hungry, tired, and cranky.

The film also says that calorie counting does not work. Yep, you heard me. Let’s explain with a little example. Imagine you have a handful of almonds in your palm, which is approximately 160 calories, and a soft drink that is also 160 calories. If we use the calories in/calories out concept, these two foods should have the same effect on our body right? Not so much. The almonds have fiber in them and take longer to digest, so they will keep you full and satisfied for a longer period of time. The soda, as I explained above, will be stored as fat. And diet drinks with no calories? They are just as bad. Artificial sweeteners produce the same insulin response, make you crave more and trick you body into thinking that more sugar is coming.

How about instead of focusing on calories, tracking every single thing you put into your body, and buying low fat instead of full fat we focus on quality, not quantity. Eating real foods grown from the earth and cooking more at home. If you consume the majority of your diet from natural foods calorie counting will not be necessary. So where can you start? Here are five things you can start today to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.

  1. Stop consuming soda (diet and regular), fruit juices and sports drinks. These are all laden with sugar, including your morning orange juice, which has about 4 tsp (for perspective, the American Heart Association recommends a daily allowance of 6-9 tsp). Drink more water! Don’t like the taste? Add lemon, lime or fresh/frozen fruit.
  2. Switch from white bread products to whole wheat bread products. Most of the nutrients in flour are removed in white bread, the most important of which is fiber. Fiber keeps you full for longer, so you are less likely to crash and be starving 2 hours after your morning cereal (sound familiar?). Look for 100% whole grain on your food label.
  3. Stop eating low fat and fat-free. Hopefully I have explained this above. Just remember that when the fat is removed, sugar is added back to make the food taste better. I find that when I eat full fat products I am satisfied quicker and end up eating less.
  4. Stop adding table sugar to your food. This includes in your cereal, grapefruit or coffee. Give your body a chance to get used to the flavor of natural, unsweetened food.
  5. Read your food labels. Understand all of the different names for sugar (cane sugar, corn sweetener, high fructose corn syrup, honey, fructose, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, carbitol, concentrated fruit juice, galactose, xylitol, maltodextrin, sorbitol and zylose, to name a few). No matter the type, your body processes them all the same. Focus on packaged foods with small ingredient listings and remember that they are in order based on the amount in the food, with the first ingredient being the most.

For more information on sugar and how to reduce the amount you consume, check out the website, which is my favorite source of knowledge on the topic.

Peace, love and real food,

The Yogi~Foodie

Thoughts for the New Year


Happy New Year everyone! I love the fresh start that a new year promises. As many of you know, I love to try new things, change it up, and begin something new. It probably comes from moving around every few years as a child. I was constantly forced to start over. Of course it is never easy and I tend to take on a few of these types of projects at once, but I think that is part of my nature. This past year I went back to school for health coaching, started this blog, began building the foundations of a possible future business of my own and got a new job. I was pretty busy!

Despite all of these positive things, there were some down times as well, which I think is par for the course in the path of life. Life isn’t always going to be all fun and games 100% of the time. The downs can be significant, life defining even. And what matters is how you handle them. I try to learn from them and recognize that they happen for a reason and will shape me into the person that I am meant to be. It’s not an easy perspective to take while you are in the thick of things, but it’s an important one. But enough looking back… Onward and upward!

I have never really been one for resolutions. Ever since I had a resolution to learn the complete dance to Thriller (which definitely did not happen, though I do know parts of it…), I have decided that resolutions are just not for me. They seem too clear-cut and final, inflexible and unchanging, only leading to some future disappointment for my inability to “follow through.” So this year I decided to make a list of focus points for 2015. Advice or gentle reminders that I’d like to try to keep in mind, if you will.

  • Have compassion for myself in addition to others.  Don’t try to be or look like someone you aren’t supposed to be.
  • Appreciate my body and how it supports me every day.
  • Pay attention to the signs my body is giving me. When it is tired, rest, and when it wants to dance, shake your booty.
  • Practice self-care, every day.
  • You don’t have to be perfect to be happy, successful and content. You just have to work hard and try your best.
  • Never let anyone make you feel like you are not good enough.
  • Every day is a new day, a new opportunity.
  • Who cares what others think. Be your true self. Anyone who is not okay with that is not worth your time.
  • You will never get anywhere comparing yourself to others and living a life that isn’t in line with who you are.
  • Embrace new opportunities and don’t let fear get in the way of your dreams.
  • Anger and negativity create bad energy. Try to understand the reason for your feelings and find a peaceful resolution.
  • Regret is a waste of time. You can’t relive the past so get over it and move on.

I always start each year with a vengeance, excited for new possibilities. Usually this excitement fades as I inevitably fall into my old routine. But this year I am going to try to approach things differently. This year I have a milestone birthday, which is really reminding me that life is short and should be lived to the fullest. So let’s bring on the fun and adventure. Carpe diem folks.

Peace, love and new beginnings,

The Yogi~Foodie