6 Things You May Not Know About Weight Loss

Weight Loss
By Be Well Health Coach Jenny Sansouci

Struggling to lose weight? Here are 6 things you may not be considering.

Your Hormones Could Be Out Of Balance

If you’re seemingly doing “everything right” but for some reason you just can’t seem to get any weight off, you might want to consider getting your hormones checked. All the time we see people struggling with weight loss that actually have an issue with their thyroid hormone, which has a big impact on regulating weight. If that’s the case, the thyroid can often be boosted naturally (depending on how severe the thyroid condition is). For women, the estrogen/progesterone ratio in the body can also directly affect weight loss. Higher levels of estrogen relative to progesterone could be causing you to keep weight on. Get your levels checked, and then discuss the next steps with your doctor.

It’s Sugar, Not Fat, That Keeps The Weight On

Most of us know by now that the low fat craze is over, but just in case you weren’t aware — fat isn’t something to be afraid of, if you’re choosing the right kinds of fats like avocado, coconut, and grass-fed butter (yum). The real culprit when it comes to losing weight is sugar. Sugar from any source, even natural sweeteners like maple syrup, honey and fruit, can cause you to keep on extra weight if you’re eating them frequently.

Bad Digestion Hinders Weight Loss

Even if you’re eating all the “right” foods, if your digestion is off it can keep you from losing weight. If you experience bloating, constipation, gas, or other digestive discomfort, you’ll want to clear that up before you can really experience the weight loss you’re looking for. A good quality probiotic, drinking more water, and taking a magnesium supplement at night is a good place to start, or if you’re really experiencing digestive discomfort, a gut-cleaning cleanse might be in order.

You Could Be Overdoing It On Grains — Even If You’re Gluten-Free

(more…)

Posted by on May 08, 2015 | 1 Comments

Stop Sweeping!
(And 4 Other Easy Ways to Detox Indoor Air)

Sweeping Dust Cloud

Even if you live in a city like I do, the air inside your home may be more polluted than the air outside of it. Some of the contamination of our indoor air quality comes from things like wall paints, glues in carpeting, and flame retardant chemicals leaking out of furniture. While it would be great to replace your sofa and mattress, rip up all your carpeting, and repaint every wall with milk paints, this is unrealistic for most of us.

Instead, I often suggest that my private clients try the following simple, free (or almost free) tips to reduce a variety of sources of indoor air pollution:

1. Open Windows

This may feel counterintuitive if you live in a city, where car exhaust seeps through every screen. Nevertheless, outdoor air is usually cleaner than indoor, thanks to things like carcinogenic formaldehyde that lurks in glues found in carpets and plywood furniture, and neurotoxic flame retardants used in upholstered furniture.

So whenever you can, throw open the windows, especially if you live in a rural environment. In many cities, certain air pollutants tend to be at their lowest levels in the morning, so urban dwellers should open windows first thing and then close them up around 3:00 p.m.

2. Replace Your Shower Curtain Liner

Soft plastic items like raincoats, shower curtain liners, and inflatable beach balls are often made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which contains hormone-disrupting phthalates. (Often these items will be very stinky, so you’ll know immediately when you open them that they are made of vinyl).

Just one toxic shower curtain can release enough volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to seriously compromise the air of a small bathroom, so replace any PVC shower curtains or liners with a fabric version, such as a Bean Products hemp shower curtain.

3. Put Down the Broom

Flame retardants and other toxins accumulate in household dust, and sweeping sends plumes of dust into the air, where toxins are more easily inhaled.

Instead of sweeping, use a vacuum to banish dirt and chemicals. Ideally, you’ll use a HEPA-sealed vacuum that effectively traps toxins, and one that is RoHS certified so that the vacuum itself doesn’t contain flame retardants (I know—nothing can be simple!). One brand that fits the bill is Miele.

PS: A wet mop is also better than a broom when it comes to clearing your home of toxic dust. (more…)

Posted by on May 07, 2015 | 0 Comments

Be Well Kitchen: Amie’s Easy Homemade Cashew Bars

Homemade Cashew Bars

Photo Credit: TheHealthyApple.com

If you like Lara bars, you’ll love this homemade cashew bar recipe. It’s gluten, dairy, soy and refined-sugar free. It’s super easy to make and tastes delicious — much better than snacking on processed bars with a long list of ingredients!

Makes 2 Bars

  • 4 Tbsp. raw cashews
  • 2/3 cup pitted Medjool dates
  • Dash of pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • Pinch sea salt

Blend all ingredients in a small food processor until combined. Transfer mixture to a flat surface and roll into small balls or cut into two bars.

Note:
Double the recipe if you only have a larger food processor so that you have enough mixture to blend.

Posted by on May 05, 2015 | 0 Comments

5 Reasons Why Hydration Is Essential to Health:
Let’s Drink to That!

Drinking Water

With summer and rising temperatures fast approaching, it’s the time of year when we’re more likely to remember to stay hydrated. Fact is though, it’s important to hydrate no matter the season, and if you work-out a lot or spend a lot of time in the heat, it’s even more so. Though you might not think of hydration as being mission critical, your body knows otherwise and thirst is probably your most reliable indicator along with the color of your urine – but don’t wait till you’re parched. So, rather than putting yourself through the headaches, brain-fog, skin problems that dehydration can bring, here are a few pointers on how and why you need to top off your tank – and how to do it better:

Drink Better to Think Better

Your gray matter. Roughly 75% of it is water, so it’s easy to see why getting even moderately dehydrated can have a negative effect on brain function and cognitive performance. Studies indicate that hydration, or lack thereof, can impact mood, concentration, alertness and motor skills – as anyone who’s spent too much time in the sun, or suffered through a heat wave, can probably attest. Those feelings of confusion, brain-fog and headache are signals that you’re in serious need of fluids, but it’s best to hydrate with pure, plain water long before you get to that point. Next time you’re feeling mentally foggy, try drinking a glass of water or two to re-energize your brain instead of coffee or a sugary treat.

You’ll Breathe Easier

It’s not just your brain that needs regular H2O TLC, but also your lungs, which need enough hydration to keep its mucous lining from getting too thick. Without enough water, your lungs have to work harder to do their job of swapping oxygen for CO2. If you exercise regularly in an under-hydrated state, chances are you’ll boost inflammation and set yourself up for exercise-induced asthma. Keep your body – and, by extension, your lungs – well-watered and you’ll be breathing easier on the treadmill, elliptical or ‘round the track.

Give Sludgy Stomachs and Erupting Skin a Liquid Assist

When you’re not drinking enough, the colon has to look elsewhere to get the water it needs to function smoothly, so it winds up pulling water out of your stools, making them hard, and harder to eliminate. In other words, dehydration and constipation go hand in hand, so keep liquids flowing to aid digestion and facilitate elimination. Staying hydrated will enable what you eat to move more easily (and comfortably) though your body, and your digestive system to extract the nutrition and carry away the waste products: no pain, no strain. To help keep skin looking and feeling healthier, try scaling back on chemical-laden potions and pay more attention to staying hydrated instead. Hydration promotes circulation which enables the skin to facilitate healing and repairs, and flush away cellular debris as needed.

Every Color Tells a Story, Don’t It?

(more…)

Posted by on May 04, 2015 | 0 Comments

Our Favorite Meditation Apps

Ananda Meditation App
By Be Well Health Coach Amanda Carney

Living in a world where we are constantly bombarded with to-do lists, busy schedules and the struggle to find balance between our work and social life, it can be incredibly beneficial to your physical AND mental health to create a regular relaxation practice.

Working at The Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, I often see Dr. Lipman recommend meditation to his patients, encouraging them to find calmness and stillness throughout their day to help them deal with the everyday stressors that can cause damage over time.

Where do they begin? Here are some of our favorite meditation apps that we recommend and use often at Be Well.

Headspace

This app is referred to as your very own “personal trainer” for meditation.  You start out with a free 10-day challenge, committing to meditate for 10 minutes each day.  After the 10-day challenge, you can then choose to upgrade to receive continued support.
www.headspace.com

Buddhify

This app contains over 80 customized meditations that you can incorporate during your day, encouraging the listener to create a meditation practice wherever they are!  At work?  Taking a walk outside?  Going to sleep? There’s a meditation for wherever you are in your day!
buddhify.com

Calm

This app offers much versatility, allowing the user to begin with a complimentary 7-day program where the basics of meditation are introduced.  From there, you can customize your meditation practice by choosing from guided meditation sessions, nature scenes or music tracks, and for their subscribers additional guided meditations are available along with a 21-day meditation program.
www.calm.com (more…)

Posted by on May 01, 2015 | 1 Comments

Ingredients for All Day Energy: 8 Healthy Snack Ideas

Avocado and Walnuts
By Be Well Health Coach Laura Kraber

The basic rule of healthy snacking is to increase the protein and fat of your snack and limit the carbohydrate and sugar content. For example, apple slices topped with almond butter provides the fat and protein required to increase and sustain your energy, as opposed to an apple on its own which will only stave off the hunger for 30 – 60 minutes.

By turning your snack into a mini-meal that can fuel you for 2 – 3 hours, you will reduce sugar cravings, maintain your energy throughout the day, and help stabilize your mood. As nutritious as your snack may be, adequate sleep and hydration are the other required ingredients for sustained energy. Before starting to even think about healthy snacking, please focus on getting 7—8 hours of sleep each night and don’t forget to sip your 8 glasses of water throughout the day.

Once you’ve incorporated a regular schedule of restful sleep and consistent hydration, try including one of our recommended mini-meals before or after lunch, depending upon your schedule and when you need it most.

1. Avocado sprinkled with lemon and sea salt: depending upon your hunger quotient and the size of the fruit, half an avocado or a whole, small avocado, makes an easy and delicious snack that is quick, satisfying and rich.

2. Eggs:  Not everyone is a fan of hard-boiled eggs, but chopped and mixed with arugula or other salad greens and topped with olive oil and balsamic, a hard-boiled egg goes down easy and fuels your body with 6 grams of protein and an array of vitamins and minerals.

3. Chia seeds pack a powerful punch of protein, calcium and minerals. Chia seed pudding can be as easy as mixing 2 tablespoons of chia seeds in a ½ cup of milk – dairy, almond, hemp or coconut – with a sprinkle of cinnamon, stevia, and sea salt. Other add-ins include vanilla, unsweetened cocoa powder, pumpkin pie spice or blended fruit or avocado. Let it sit in the fridge for 30 – 60 minutes to thicken and/or blend in a mini food processor or Vitamix.

4. Hemp hearts:  Another great seed to try is hemp hearts: mix up your own homemade trail mix of unsweetened coconut flakes, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, dark chocolate chips and sea salt. Or, sprinkled on top of a salad, 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 10 grams of protein. (more…)

Posted by on Apr 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

Artificial Sweeteners Threaten Your Health

Artificial Sweetener

It seems self evident that consumption of sugar sweetened beverages would be associated with increased risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D). And in fact, this has been demonstrated in multiple studies. This is understandable when you consider what a powerful slug of fructose is delivered by each can or bottle of this stuff.

So it is that the term, “sugar free” is being exploited to death by soft drink manufacturers because of the mistaken public perception that choosing artificially sweetened drinks would be a healthier choice. It is a mistaken perception as now we’re seeing studies that have demonstrated that the risk for T2D is also dramatically increased in individuals who choose not to drink sugar sweetened beverages, but opt for those that contain artificial sweeteners.

In a recent report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, French researchers evaluated more than 66,000 women over a 14 year period and found that those who favored sugar sweetened beverages did in fact have an increased risk of T2D, by about 34%. Incredibly, those choosing artificially sweetened drinks had a risk increase for T2D that was more than twice what that amount.

In trying to explain this seemingly paradoxical finding, the authors speculated that artificially sweetened beverages, because they don’t cause the body to secrete insulin, may therefore not stimulate the satiety response. This lack of appetite suppression may ultimately lead to increased calorie consumption in the form of other foods.

(more…)

Posted by on Apr 28, 2015 | 1 Comments

7 Ways to Embrace the Art of Optimism

Thumbs Up

Optimism – it does both your mind and body good. In fact, numerous studies indicate that optimists generally enjoy healthier hearts, brains, immunity and tend to live longer than their less upbeat counterparts. In short, if we all took a page from the Pharell Williams songbook and worked on getting “Happy,” our health would reap a number of benefits.

Truth be told, for some people, optimism is easier said than done. Let’s say you weren’t born with an innate abundance of optimism, or perhaps life’s challenges have tamped down some of your enthusiasm, then what? The answer is to teach yourself a few of the skills that can help develop a greater sense of optimism and resilience. This health-supportive turn of mind is learnable. Just like eating well or staying fit, it becomes easier with a little practice and, of course, a roadmap.

To follow are a few ways to help guide yourself in a more optimistic direction. Try adding one or two and keep adding new skills to your repertoire over time. As your experience with and capacity for optimism grows, you’ll be on your way to becoming that healthier, upbeat person you wish to be. In the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, “Choose to be optimistic, it feels better,” to which I say “amen.” So, let’s get started:

1. Gratitude – Make a Note of it Every Day

Live like an optimist and celebrate all the gifts and blessings you have – not what’s missing. At the beginning or end of each day, in a journal or on your calendar, jot down three simple things you’re grateful for, no matter how inconsequential they might seem. Periodically revisit the ever-growing list to keep you connected with that sense of gratitude and appreciation for all the things that go right in life every day.

2. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Have a little empathy: Don’t flip the bird at your fellow drivers. Don’t berate the coffee guy when he mangles your order. Don’t go bananas when your plane is 10th on the runway. To behave more like an optimist, learn to embrace patience and let minor irritations go. Consider it an informal exercise in Zen. Learn to go with the flow and limit slash-and-burn freak-outs to actual emergencies (and even then, do so sparingly). 

3. Look for the Silver Lining – It’s In There

When things get tough, the optimist looks for the silver lining in the midst of adversity. So should you. By making the effort to find the good and extract the lessons from a difficult situation, you lessen the sting and can bounce back more quickly. Rather than dwelling in fear and regret, learning to be more resilient – to bend without breaking – will enable you to greet future challenges in a can-do frame of mind, with patience and wisdom versus fear and regret.

4. Have Faith You’ll Get Beyond the Bumps

(more…)

Posted by on Apr 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

Low-Carb Swaps

Collard Wrap
By Be Well Health Coach Katrine van Wyk

Rest assured, you can still have some comforting, familiar dishes when cutting back on carbohydrates or cutting out grains. Here are some of my favorite healthy swaps for pasta, bread and wraps.

Vegetable Noodles

Try making noodles or spaghetti with vegetables like zucchini, sweet potato or carrots. If you are looking to cut down on calories, carbs and starches, these “noodles” are sure to satisfy that pasta craving! Use a spiral slicer or a mandolin to make thin, long spaghetti-like strips, dress with some fresh tomato sauce or a nutty pesto!

Kelp Noodles

This is another great noodle or pasta alternative made from the sea vegetable kelp. It has a nice chewy texture and requires no cooking. Eat it cold tossed with a pesto or an almond butter sauce. Deliciously satisfying.

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a wonderful comfort food! Roast it and scoop out all the insides – it will look a little like spaghetti and is delicious with some stew on top or a nice bolognese. Here’s a great article on how to cook it.

Lettuce and Collard Greens Wraps

Instead of bread, wraps or tortillas, try using leafy greens. Boston lettuce and romaine works great as little cups or shells to hold minced meat and some guacamole, while the larger, sturdier collard greens work great as wraps. Fill them with vegetables and leftover chicken for a quick lunch or snack.

Root Vegetable Medley

Roast a variety of root vegetables – turnips, carrots, daikon radish, beets etc. You can also toss in some Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and onions! Serve it as a side dish with dinner and use the cold leftovers as a salad topping the next day.

Posted by on Apr 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

Be Well Kitchen:
Simple Roasted Chicken with Veggies

Roasted Chicken
By Be Well Health Coach Amanda Carney

This hearty dish is delicious and simple, making it one of my favorites to make on a regular basis.  With everything being cooked on the same baking sheet, the cleanup is extremely easy AND the vegetables are flavored with all of the chicken’s juices. Additionally, this meal makes for really good leftovers.

You will need:

  • About 2 pounds organic chicken – I like to use bone in breast and some legs.
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 pound brussel sprouts
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, whole, skin removed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • About 1 tablespoon dried herbs (oregano, parsley, thyme, etc)

Feel free to use other hearty veggies as well, such as sweet potatoes or beets.

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Chop veggies in big pieces – halving brussel sprouts and coarsely chopping broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Place chopped veggies and garlic cloves on a large baking sheet (lined with wax paper if you want to save on cleanup), drizzle with olive, and dust with salt and pepper.  Using your hands or a large spoon, mix veggies around so they are evenly coated in olive oil, salt and pepper mixture.
  • Next, rinse chicken pieces and blot dry with a paper towel.  Drizzle with olive oil and dust with salt and pepper.  Place on baking tray over veggies and sprinkle with herbs. You can also use red pepper flake if you enjoy a little “kick.”
  • Place baking tray in oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. You can check this by using a small knife and making sure that the inside of the chicken is not pink.  If you see pink, bake for another 5-10 minutes and check again.
  • Once cooked, remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.  You can either serve chicken on the bone or remove before plating.  If you’d like, add more salt, pepper and/or additional herbs. Serve and enjoy!
Posted by on Apr 23, 2015 | 0 Comments