Live Healthy With Laura

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Every week or so, I will try to update you on the latest health tips, recipes and articles that I find interesting and useful. Please keep reading and checking back for my updates!

 

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Healthy Recipes To Start Off The New Year!

Posted on December 29, 2015 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Well, Christmas is over and the New Year is right around the corner! It's time to reevaluate how we are treating our bodies and get in the kitchen to makes some healthy food for fuel! Today, I am sharing with you two of my favorite go-to healthy recipes that are simple yet delicious! I am sharing a quick smoothie that works as a wonderful breakfast or lunch on the go as well as one of my favorite healthy yet decadent cookie recipes! 


First up is my "Blackberry and Banana Power Smoothie":


*Ingredients: 

-1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt

-1/2 cup of quick oats

-1 pkg of Stevia 

-1 small, ripe banana

-1/4 cup of blackberries

-1 tbsp of chia seeds

-1 cup of ice

-3/4 cup of water


*Directions:

In a food processor or blender combine all of the above ingredients, pour into your favorite glass and ENJOY!


Next up is one of my favorite desserts that I tend to make around the hollidays however they can be enjoyed all year long.If you are a chocolate lover as I am then these gluten free "Nutella No Bake Cookies" are for you:


*Ingredients: 

-3 cups of quick oats

-3/4 cup of Nutella

-1/2 cup of natural peanut butter

-3 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder

-5 packets of Stevia in the Raw

-3/4 cup of coconut oil (melted)

-1/2 cup of gluten free rice baking flour


*Directions:  Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and then place medium sized spoonfuls on a greased baking sheet (preferable with waxed paper) about 1 inch apart and set it in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes. ENJOY! 

Note: Makes about 16 cookies


I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as my family does! Remember, healthy eating does not have to be boring or bland! Have fun in the kitchen and get excited about eating well in 2016! 


Living a "Balanced" Lifestyle...What's It Really About?

Posted on December 2, 2015 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (1)

"Let me start off by saying that I absolutely detest the word "diet". In my book it is a word that basically entails an ALL or NOTHING mentality which I find just plain miserable and which I do not believe lasts. That being said, I want to share with you what the "80/20 lifestyle" means to me and what a difference it has made in my overall health, fitness and my day to day enjoyment and experience with food!"~ Laura Heflin


About six years ago I will admit that I was a bit of a "yo-yo'er" with my relationship with food. I would eat extremely healthy to the point of depriving myself of my favorite foods for weeks at a time and then I would GORGE when I couldn't take it anymore. I would either not be eating enough or be eating WAY too much in a day's time. It wasn't healthy and it honestly wasn't satisfying at all.


Then I started studying nutrition and digging deeper into learning what a balanced, long lasting, healthy lifestyle was all about. One day, about one year after marriage (and after I had put on 12 "love" pounds) I decided to give this 80/20 lifestyle a try.


I truly can't begin to tell you how much better I felt after a few weeks of seeking this "balanced" lifestyle! I was no longer deprived, starving or stuffed, fatigued, irritable or discouraged...AND the scale was dropping! I decided I no longer wanted to obsess over a certain number on the scale but instead I wanted to FEEL my best and be the best, fittest and healthiest version of myself possible!


Here are a few lifestyle "rules" I picked up on a few years back and now follow each and every day...I encourage you to try your best to follow them!


1. Allow yourself an indulgence each and every day (between 100-150 calories). I generally go for dark chocolate, half a candy bar or brownie or a Skinny Cow fudge bar!


2. Twice a week have a splurge meal! (I generally save these for date night and usually go for some pasta or a decadent dessert). This is great for fat burning because it challenges your metabolism to burn at a more efficient rate over the next 48 hours. This also works to diminish cravings and keeps you from feeling deprived.


3. PLAN to keep food with you at all times (in your purse, glove compartment, desk drawer etc) Such as nuts, peanut butter, whole grain crackers and counter stable fruits. This will keep you from having too many "20's" in a weeks time.


4. PLAN ahead of time for special events or holidays (where you know that indulgent foods will be present). Aim to eat leaner, clean and move more in the days leading up to the event or day.


5. ALWAYS take 5 minutes each week to assess how you are doing. Ask yourself: "How am I doing? Am sticking to eating clean about 80% of time this week...or has it been more like 50% of the time? What do I need to adjust to reach this balanced equation?" Be HONEST with yourself but not negative and if necessary cut back where you need to diet wise and increase your activity.


6. Make sure to take time for YOU each day. It is NOT selfish and it is part of being healthy and of a sound mind. Remember, stress raises our hormone cortisol which can trigger our body to conserve fat. Relaxing each day can actually help you reach your fitness goals so take at least 15 minutes a day to unwind!


 

Okay so enough with the "rules". Let me give you a real life example of how I recently used the "80/20" lifestyle method to keep me on track!


My husband and I went to the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate our anniversary. Let me tell you, this is one place I most definitely do NOT aim to eat clean. It is one of my favorite places to indulge. However, that being said, the previous couple days before and the day of our anniversary I truly watched what I ate. Instead of having a sweet that day, I saved it for that evening and I also added an EXTRA 15 minute cardio workout to my day during the baby's nap. Because I was extra mindful before my splurge meal, I was able to relax and ENJOY it without feeling guilty! Then, the next day I was right back on track with clean eating and my early morning exercise routine!


So now do you see? It really is simple and truly all about just seeking balance to feel your best and live the most satisfying life possible! Let's pledge together to say goodbye to the "all or nothing" mentality where guilt and gluttony are present and say hello to a happy, healthy and BALANCED new you as we say hello to this new year!

 

 

Kissing Gluten Goodbye!

Posted on September 18, 2015 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (1)



Up until a couple of years ago, I ate gluten on a daily basis. Now, I avoid it and I want to share with you today why going gluten free has been one of the healthiest decisions I have ever made for myself. Please keep reading to learn why!


As I have blogged about before, I believe in living a healthy life style. I do not believe in dieting. I do not believe in ever starting anything today (nutrition wise) that you will not be able to continue doing the rest of your life. I believe in fueling and exercising one's body so that they can be the BEST version of themselves possible. I believe in eating ALL of the food groups (including carbs). I do, however not believe all carbohydrates are created equal. It is my belief that many can be harmful to your health. By "many" I mean those that contain gluten. Gluten is primarily found in wheat, barley spelt, kamut and triticale and rye based grains and foods.Gluten is a protein and it is derived from the Latin word "glue" and it acts as just that. It gives foods an elastic, chewy like texture as well as volume and bulk.


Here are some of the "side effects" that have been reportedly been linked to gluten over the past few years:

• weight gain

• fatigue

• bloating

• joint and muscle pain

• cramping

• gas pains

• headaches

• thyroid disease

• dementia

• Alzheimer's

• asthma

 

As you can see, reports show that it can literally effect the body from head to toe. The question is, how exactly? Well, the fact is gluten is simply not easily processed by the body. Studies have shown that it causes inflammation in 80% of our population. It was once thought that only those who were diagnosed with Celiac disease should avoid gluten. However now, countless studies, tests and surveys have shown that the intake of gluten can have negative effects on most everyone's in several ways.

 

For those with Celiac Disease, when gluten is consumed, it greatly irritates and damages the lining of the wall of the small intestines. This initially can cause bloating and gas but later (and with enough gluten consumption) can cause the small intestines to become inflamed. Then, the scary part is that once the small intestines have become damaged, it can no longer properly pass the nutrients from the food into the blood stream like it is programmed to do and therefore they individual is left depleted of vitamins and minerals.

 

Now, for the many others with non- Celiac gluten intolerance (many have this at some level and go undiagnosed) the body reacts in a different but still destructive way. In this scenario the immune system identifies gluten as a threat and it builds up antibodies against it to attack it. Over time, these immune system attacks and flare ups cause inflammation throughout the body and put the consumer at risk for a host of healthy issues and diseases.

 

It is my personal belief that most everyone has some level of intolerance to gluten. Our culture in general is known for consuming gluten often several times a day. So, it would makes sense that even those with only a slight degree of intolerance to gluten could suffer from some of the above side effects.

 

So, let me flash back to five years ago when I really started studying and becoming passionate about nutrition. I read and studied so many different topics but gluten was not one of them that was touched on too deeply. It wasn't until about 3 years ago when an abundance of articles and studies were released on the benefits of going gluten free. Now, I personally do not have Celiac disease however I figured I would give it a try to see how I felt. Flash forward one month later and my goodness, what a difference it made! I had more energy, better digestion, clearer complexion and was able to maintain my weight with much more ease than I had previously when I would eat gluten on a daily basis.

 

Another thing I discovered was that going gluten free was really quite simple! I just made substitution for my bread, crackers and grains and I enjoyed experimenting with new recipes (thank you Pinterest)! While out to eat for Italian (my favorite date night splurge) for example, I would simply ask for a gluten free pasta substitution and I would enjoy my meal just the same.

 

As I said, going gluten free is NOT a diet, it is part of a healthy lifestyle and it is all about substitutions. Like I always say, there is a healthy version to everything!

 

Some wonderful gluten free options include:

• brown rice

• rice cakes

• brown rice crackers and pasta

• coconut flour

• rice flour

• quinoa

• millet

• oatmeal

• popcorn

• corn tortillas and cereals

• buckwheat

• sorghum


Here are some of my personal favorite Gluten Free products: 



These are just some of my favorites, but there are many others. Don't be afraid to give them a try! I want to challenge you to gluten free for just 21 days. I want you to see and feel the difference as I have! Trust me when I say that I would never promote a lifestyle or diet change if I myself did not truly witness the difference in myself. When we eat well we feel our best. I want to encourage you to give a gluten free "diet" (lifestyle) a chance. I truly believe you will find that the benefits are endless!

 

 

"Hara Hachi Bu"

Posted on June 9, 2015 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (1)


I think it is safe to say that at one point or another, we were all instructed by our parents to "clean our plates" as children at least on one or more occasions . Since the Great Depression, it has been a very common practice and saying. Unfortunately though, in the past century America's obesity rate have sky rocketed. If I am being honest, I find this "rule" to be very contradictory to one's health and wellbeing. I believe the issue in our culture is that we have stopped listening to our body's brain cues and asking "Am I satisfied? Have I had enough to eat?" Instead, we simply turn our bodies on to auto pilot and do not stop eating until our plates are spotless.


I myself must admit, this has been one of my biggest struggles throughout the years. I have had to "re-wire" my brain to listen to my body and it's stomach cues. I have had to train myself to really enjoy food and not practice what I call "the art of zombie eating". Truthfully, I have had to cancel my membership to the "clean your plate club" and I have had to take on a new culture's way of life. It is what the Okinawan's in Japan call "Hara Hachi Bu". Please, keep reading to learn how it has changed my life and how it can change yours.


The Okinawan's, have been found to be the longest living people on earth. Some not uncommonly living well past 100 years old! They treat their bodies with respect. They exercise it and nourish it with clean, whole foods on a daily basis. They have a very healthy relationship with food. Their portions are perfect because they do not follow a "one size fits all" mentality. Instead, they simply listen to their own bodies and eat till their heart's and stomach's are content. What "Hara Hachi Bu" means to them is stopping when they are satisfied or 80% full and LEAVING the rest of the food on their plates.


As I have discussed before in previous blogs, the body takes 20 minutes to register a meal. So, when one puts their fork down when satisfied, their body is given the time to process the meal and realize it has had plenty to eat a few minutes later. Stopping when full, almost always stretches the stomach. So, I have found practicing "Hara Hachi Bu" is one of my favorite, healthy lifestyle principals to follow. Take a moment to reflect on this fact: Over days, weeks, months and years those few bites you leave on your plate at each meal add up to thousands of calories (and quite a few pounds you could have packed on as well)!


I will be honest and tell you this is easier said than done and has taken me LOTS of practice. I am a busy, working mommy with limited time to eat on most occasions. Sometimes, I still over eat but I really have come to appreciate food in a whole new way and hate the feeling of being "stuffed". It takes 21 days to form a habit and I believe we can all follow this way of life if we really try. It throws the word "diet" out the window and truly allows you to enjoy food. Whether it is pasta, salad or a dessert, food can all be enjoyed in moderation. I promise the more you practice, the easier it gets!


One day you may be exceptionally hungry and require more calories than the previous day and that is okay! Listen to your body because it really has a reason for every cue it sends out. Once again though, the key is to stop when you are satisfied. Slow down, chew and enjoy your food and get into the new habit of leaving at least one bite left on your plate at every meal. Truly, you will find that the more you practice "Hara Hachi Bu", the more attainable a healthy weight is.


Here are a few tips and tricks to help you follow "Hara Hachi Bu" on a daily basis:

1. Slow down enough to taste and enjoy your meal (remember it takes 20 minutes for you body to register what you eat).

2. Put your fork down between each bite.

3. Graze and eat several small meals throughout the day to keep you from coming to the table overly hungry.

4. Chew each bite at least 10 times.

5. Enjoy your surroundings and conversation with who you are with (it's not just about the food)

6. Once you have eaten half of your meal, put your fork down and re-evaluate how full your stomach is feeling (remember the goal is to be 80% full and feeling comfortable and satisfied)

7. When out for dinner, ask for the "lunch portion" if possible

8. To avoid wasting food, always ask the waiter for a small box and take the left overs home for the next day or to share with a family member.


 

Just last night while out for a delicious Italian dinner with my good friend I practiced "Hara Hachi Bu". I had ordered one of my favorite pasta dishes. I ate slowly and enjoyed spending time talking with my friend. I took time to taste and enjoy each bite and I felt extremely satisfied. I left about five or six bites left on my plate and didn't feel the urge to clean it. Then we split a delicious piece of tiramisu and I left feeling wonderful and totally fulfilled. Flash back to a few years ago, that plate most definitely would have been cleaned and I would have left uncomfortably full and with a feeling of guilt. A healthy lifestyle and the practice of "Hara Hachi Bu" is all about freeing yourself from the chains of dieting and or binging. It is truly a rewarding, happy and wonderful life. Please, give it a try!


*picture source: http://catalystfitness.typepad.com/nutrininjas/2010/11/hara-hach-bu.html

Live Well....Age Well!

Posted on March 12, 2015 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (1)

 

 

"Aging is inevitable, but how does it start? Is there a turning point where our bodies just start to "break down"? Is there anything we can do to slow this process or postpone this from happening. The short answer is yes and yes. Keep reading to find out how and why aging occurs within our bodies and what we can do to give our bodies a youthful, revitalizing boost from the inside out!" ~ Laura Heflin

 

It all narrows down to free radical damage. First, let's review on what free radicals are exactly. In definition, they are "atoms that are lacking or missing an electron." These atoms are always on a hunt for their missing piece and make it a practice to rob our healthy cells in attempt to become whole again. This of course leaves our once healthy cell, damaged and it's DNA misconfigured. Unfortunately this is a chain reaction that does not stop unless we have a bountiful amount of "antioxidants" within our body to fight back.

 

These nasty free radicals are the product of air pollution, pesticides, cigarette smoke, alcohol, consumption of metal (like mercury), unhealthy fat consumption (trans and hydrogenated fats) , ongoing emotional stress and sun exposure.

 

Free radical damage causes us to not only age and become damaged on the inside (alzheimers, cancer etc. ) but also become aged and damaged on the outside due to our bodies collagen being constantly broken down and destroyed.

 

Collagen is the #1 protein within the body found most abundantly in our skin, muscles, tissues and tendons. It is the building block of our outer shell that keeps our skin plump and youthful and our bones, muscles and tissues strong. By age 40 our body begins to slowly produce less and less.

 

Therefore, without a proper antioxidant force to replenish our cells, we become aged both inside and out and are left with (gasp)....wrinkles and age spots!

 

 So the question is, how can we fight against and protect our bodies from these damaging free radicals and reduce the appearance of aging? Well, thankfully there are many ways we can do this on a daily basis! Here are some of the most vital ways to stay healthy and youthful from the inside out!:

 

Get Moving

Excercise improves circulation which improves the look to our skin giving us a fresh, dewy glow.It also helps us eliminate toxins from our bodies that otherwise could break down our collagen. As often as possible, aim for 30 minutes 5 days a week!

 

Go To Bed

Melatonin, the hormone produced while we sleep by our pineal gland, attacks free radicals 200% more than Vitamin E (which can damage skin and break down collagen)...that's amazing! Sleep also works as a hormone balancer as well as a mood and glucose stabilizer. Lastly, it helps protect the heart from heart disease allowing it to do it's job and pump blood more thoroughly throughout our bodies.  Remember, 7-8 hours is the key!

 

Lower Your Sugar

A diet high in sugar causes the breakdown of our bodies collagen and elastin which are two, vital skin proteins that keep our skin plump and smooth. Aim to keep your sugar grams under 25 a day (this is simple with a little food label reading).

 

Drink Your Water

Staying hydrated is extremely important for our health both inside and out. The human body is made up of 70% water so we must be diligent to replenish our stores daily. Though it may sounds excessive, it is recommended to drink at least 1/2 your body weight in ounces (add lemon or Crystal Light Pure for taste if needed). One of the best ways to accomplish this is to keep a glass of water at arm's reach at all times. The more accessible it is, the easier it will be to drink all day long.

 

Lower Your Stress

Stress raises our blood pressure and breaks down collagen making us look worn down and aged. Therefore, it is vital that we keep our stress levels to a minimum. Taking time for ourselves and fun activities despite our busy lives will help us feel more relaxed. Also, making it a point to get enough sleep and exercise are also key to keeping stress under control!

 

Eat The Rainbow

What we put into our bodies can either rejuvenise our skin or wear it down. Therefore it is very important for to eat your fresh fruits and veggies daily. They are excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins (especially vitamin C which boosts collagen production) and minerals. In a sense, they are the perfect food for our skin. Eating a variety of these will allow your body to benefit from many, different types of phytonutrients!

 

Each day try to "eat the rainbow":

 

*Eat your reds and pinks (apples, cherries, watermelon, tomatoes, pomegranate, grapefruit).

 

*Eat your purples (plums, grapes, blackberries)

 

*Eat your greens (spinach, kiwi, avocado, brocoli)

 

*Eat your yellows and oranges (bananas, squash, pineapple, nectarines, carrots, sweet potato)

 

We may get away with an unhealthy lifestyle for some time without any visible repercussions. However the way we live and treat our bodies from day to day WILL be unveiled in the appearance of our skin at one point or another. 

 

Truly, the real secret behind staying youthful is NOT found in a bottle. It is truly, based on how we live and treat our bodies. It is true that aging is an inescapable part of life. However it IS possible to age "gracefully" and at a less rapid pace IF we give our body what it needs. Always remember, when you live well your body will thank you and you will age well in return!


picture source: http://www.agein.com/

 

It Takes Discipline...But You Can Do It!

Posted on December 28, 2014 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)


"Have you ever heard the saying "no pain no gain?" Of course you have. We all have and we all know it to be true; but more often than not we would rather be handed things that matter (such as our health) without putting any or very little effort towards it. The truth is, there will always be an excuse to eat badly and skip a workout. Unfortunately though, one day it can and will catch up to us ."~ Laura Heflin 


We are only given one body in this life and it's our job nurture it, exercise it and take care of it. Each and every one of us have various, hectic lives. Whether it's the college student who is juggling studying with working part time, the stay at home mom who is up to her elbows in dirty laundry or the business owner who works 60 + hours a week, it's safe to say we are ALL busy individuals. That being said, we simply cannot let our crazy lives dictate how we treat our bodies. Sometimes we have to get creative. Sometimes we have to wake up early or go to bed late. Sometimes...it just takes discipline.


Now, please do not misunderstand me. I do not believe a healthy lifestyle is in any way a miserable life walking on egg shells. Instead, I believe whole heartedly that it's an incredibly rewarding and wonderful life! As I said, we are only blessed with one body to take care of on this earth. What we put in our bodies and how much (or how little) we move and use our bodies not only can determine our energy level and overall mood but also it can dictate the longevity and quality of our life as well.


So let's get to the bottom of why so many find it so hard to lead and maintain a healthy life. I have narrowed it down to three main dilemmas:


#1: Priorities

In order to feel your best you have to really WANT to be healthy. Instead of viewing a healthy lifestyle as a burden or a chore we should see it as a wonderful opportunity to daily condition and nourish our bodies. It simply has to be a high priority. It won't just happen. Just as if you were perusing a career path or a college degree... it takes work and dedication. However, in the end it is very rewarding! So, ask yourself: "where on my ladder of priorities does my health lie?" Does it keep getting rejected and pushed down to the bottom? If so, it needs to be moved back up to the top! Remember, we can't the best version of ourselves if we don't take care of our health first and foremost! To do our best and be at our best, we must feel our best. Taking care of our health must come first.

#2: Sneaky Time Killers

Have you ever really evaluated the time you spend in front of a screen (aside from work)? Whether its Facebook, Instagram or email it's safe to say most of us are guilty of killing time when it comes to social media. Truthfully, I must admit that I used to catch myself checking one or all of the above for a total of five times a day (or more)! It's easy to complain that we are too busy to work out and plan healthy meals but the truth is, if you really evaluate your day...we have more time than we think! Personally limiting my internet browsing (of any sort) to only a few minutes in the morning and my TV watching to no more than an hour in the evening has helped me accomplish so much more! I challenge you to enter 2015 with a new perspective and to limit your screen time in order to make more time for your health. You won't regret it!

#3: Lack of Planning

As I have blogged about before, a little planning really does go a long way! For instance, I personally find that taking 20 minutes on the weekend after my grocery shopping trip to cut up veggies and fruit and put them in baggies has made healthy eating throughout the week so much more attainable. Also, I find that if I schedule my workout as an appointment in the mornings at a certain, reasonable time (based on that days schedule) I am much more likely to squeeze in that 30 minute sweat session than if I were to just assume I would "find the time at some point". The truth is, if you don't plan to be healthy you simply can't nourish and exercise your body properly. It takes planning but it truly pays off big time!


 

Now that the New Year has made it's debut (how did this year blow by so fast?), let's strive to have the discipline it takes to take care of our health. Let's make stop pushing it to the side and instead make it a high priority. Life is way too short to not feel our best! 2015 doesn't have to be just another year. It can be the year of new beginnings and a new healthy lifestyle! Are you with me?


picture source: http://pyour.com/tag/healthy-lifestyle/

 

Grocery Shopping For Your Health: Plan, Shop, Save!

Posted on September 6, 2014 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (2)


"I too often hear "it's way too expensive and time consuming to eat healthily". Well truthfully, I must disagree. I believe that yes, some healthy foods are slightly more expensive than a non healthy, processed item but in general, grocery shopping and purchasing clean, whole foods on a budget is possible. I know this because I do it!" ~Laura Heflin


      I want you to keep in mind that feeding our bodies well will ALWAYS pay off in the long run in regards to one's health. We are what we eat. We cannot run on rotten empty calories all day long, day after day, year after year. So, let's make a conscious effort to purchase carefully in regards to the foods we feed our bodies.


        For starters, I think it's important to never leave the house without a grocery list and always make sure each of these are included within the list: proteins, fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains and healthy fats. When you PLAN ahead of time to shop for healthy, whole and balanced foods and you STICK to the list, it really is easy to eat healthy for that coming week and budget at the same time. I highly recommend taking 20 minutes once a week to brainstorm about which healthy meals you plan on making for you or your family ( www.eatingwell.com is a great resource!) Start with what you will need for a balanced breakfast, then go on to deciding on some wholesome snacks (at least one between lunch and dinner), then lunch, and then dinner.


THE TRICK IS TO ALWAYS...THINK "CLEAN":


Always ask yourself "how far did this food come to get to my plate?". It should be a short journey! Stick to 5 ingredinets or less as often as possible and you will be well on your way to "clean eating"! Here are some examples:


• carrots, celery and hummus VS. chips and dip

• lean boneless, skinless chicken tenders VS. breaded chicken nuggets

• old fashioned oats or cereal VS. sugary junk cereal

• whole grain bread VS. white bread

• 100 calorie fudge bars VS. full fat ice cream

• lean hamburger meat VS. hot dogs

• whole grain tortilla chips or Sun Chips VS. Dorritos or Pringles

• Greek yogurt cups VS. pudding cups

• all natural almonds VS. trail mix


Do you see what I mean? It really isn't difficult and many of the above foods I mentioned do NOT have to be brand named foods! In fact I would say at least half of the grocery items I buy are not!


Here are some of my affordable, healthy grocery staples I typically buy each week:

• fresh fruit (whatever is one sale but kiwis and apples are my favorite NOTE: I do buy organic apples because I believe any fruit that you eat the skin of should not be engorged in pesticides of any sort))

• fresh veggies (carrots, cucumbers, peppers, onions etc)

• frozen spinach (to add to my morning omelet) and frozen broccoli (to quickly steam for dinner)

• eggs (I buy Eggland's Best when they are on sale but any brand is just about as good)

• whole grain bagels or "Bagel Thins"

• Greek yogurt cream cheese

• Chia seeds (one bag lasts a long time)

• Garbanzo and Black beans (one can of each)

• Oatmeal ( I like to buy Quakers Old Fashioned 1 minute Oats) NOTE: this is so much cheaper and healthier than buying the individual packets with added ingredients!

• Plain Greek yogurt (the grocery store brand is totally fine with me)

• all natural walnuts or almonds

• reduced fat cheese sticks

• lean meats (boneless skinless chicken, beef, fish or turkey)

• Smart Balance peanut butter

• canned salmon and tuna

• Tea bags and instant coffee

• Small zip lock bags

• Brown lunch bags


When I leave the grocery store I want my cart to be full of balanced, colorful, whole foods. When I achieve a healthy grocery shopping trip I am that much more motivated to eat all of the wonderful, clean foods I have purchased and I enjoy the "feel good" benefits that come with it.


FOOD PREP IS ESSENTIAL:

To me, if I don't take a few minutes each weekend to make my healthy produce more easily accessible to me during my busy week, I find it more of a stressor to eat clean. Therefore (as I've blogged about before), each weekend for about 20 minutes I take out my zip lock baggies and fresh veggies, fruit, oats and nuts that I purchased after my shopping trip and I divide them into individual daily portions for the next few days. This makes it SO much easier for me to just grab and go (especially as a busy, working mommy)! My typical baggies end up consisting of:

• 6 bags of carrots

• 6 bags of diced onions (for my morning omelet)

• 6 bags of walnuts or almonds

• 6 freshly washed apples (cut into slices if I want)

• 6 bags of oats or chia cereal (one of my favorite on the go whole grains to eat for an energy boost)

*Here is a snap shot of a few of my weekly baggies I keep in the fridge:




MY CHALLENGE TO YOU:

Take a moment to look at your fast food receipts from the past month and add up the total. See how much you could save if you resisted going by the drive through and instead purchased clean, whole foods from the grocery store. Then, I want you challenge you to take a little extra time this week to set that budget, write that (balanced) grocery list and enjoy grocery shopping for your health and the health of your family as I do. Do what you have to do to feed yourself and the your loved ones well. Clip coupons, grow your own garden, buy in bulk etc. Healthy eating should be at the top of your priority list. Personally, I don't look at giving up junk food as a sacrifice because I know that the healthy, feel good benefits of eating clean are SO worth it. If you give it a try I truly beleive you will too!


picture source: http://www.adclinic.com/2012/03/rules-for-healthy-grocery-shopping/#.VAuPufldWKU

 

Healthy, Happy Mommy...Healthy, Happy Baby! (My Personal Tips For A Healthy Pregnancy And Postpartum Recovery)

Posted on June 11, 2014 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (1)

       

        On May 12th, 2014 I gave birth to my first child, a baby girl whom we named Scarlett. I was in love from the moment I met her but truly my love began the moment I discovered that I had a life growing inside of me. My husband and I had prayed for a baby for quite some time so it was truly a wonderful surprise and blessing!


        I felt so honored that God chose ME to grow this little one. I wanted to do my "job" well! I knew I just couldn't throw all caution to the wind and get lazy in regards to my health. I wanted to give my unborn baby the best start in this life possible! Since I was the only vessel she had to nourish and grow her, I wanted to eat as well as possible and stay very active throughout my pregnancy (all which have been proven to create healthier, happier babies). It was my goal to not "let myself go" but instead make a daily effort to eat as clean as possible and move my body in some way...even when I didn't feel like it.


        Though I did consider myself to be healthy before I got pregnant, I must say I took it up to the next level when I became pregnant...and I am so glad I did! The benefits (which I will share at the end of this blog) were unbelievable!


Here is how I personally stayed healthy throughout my pregnancy:


My Nutrition


Every morning I made it a goal to start my day off with a healthy breakfast in order to give myself and my baby an energy and vitamin boost. I would generally make an omelet with veggies (pan "fried" with coconut oil) and serve it with fruit and 1/2 of an avocado or I would eat oatmeal with chia seeds and fruit as well. Throughout the day I also made a great effort to graze every 2-3 hours in order to keep my glucose stable and to give myself (as well as my baby) constant nutrients. I would PLAN the night before to carry certain mini meals with me (no matter where I was or what I was doing). I would generally eat nuts of different sorts, fresh fruit, whole grain sandwiches, Greek yogurt and veggies with either peanut butter or homemade hummus (if I had a little extra time that day). Dinner was generally a lean meat and a green veggie. I also drank LOTS of water (plain or with lemon) and kept it with me at all times. In addition, I limited my salt intake and I did not count calories but instead just made it a goal to listen to my body and eat as healthy as I could. 


**My Indulgences**

As I previously wrote, I never looked at my pregnancy as an excuse to eat badly and "let go". That being said, I live and will always live by the 80/20 lifestyle. The majority of the time I ate very clean, fresh foods (close to nature). However, the rest of the time I allowed myself to indulge guilt free! I typically would have a couple pieces of dark chocolate daily (there are studies that show pregnant woman who eat chocolate have happier babies...yay!) Then, about twice a week I would give myself a "splurge meal". Sometimes my husband wanted to go out for Italian, sometimes I was in the mood for ice cream, pizza, fajitas, burgers etc. Whatever I craved, I indulged in...but only twice a week and in moderation. 


My Fitness Routine


Being active is something I have always enjoyed. It truly is a wonderful energy and mood booster for me! When I found out I was first pregnant I made it a goal to do my very best and continue that aspect of my lifestyle...no excuses allowed! I continued with my 10 minute morning routine of yoga, my 3-4 days of fast pace walking (on an incline) on my treadmill and my strength training (alternating upper body and lower body every other day) using light dumbbell weights. I did however make some necessary modifications and slow my pace down a little while on the treadmill. I also stopped doing my usual abdominal routine and switched to a less intense, pregnancy approved one. Throughout my 1st, 2nd and 3rd trimester I made a daily effort to move my body in some way every day. There were days that the last thing I wanted to do was exercise but I always tried to anyways. Each and every time I did, I felt better afterwards and was glad I had made the choice to move instead of just be a couch potato. As the saying goes: "the only workout you will ever regret is the one you've missed"!


**My Fitness Dilema** 

When I hit 20 weeks pregnant my SI joint suddenly became displaced and I no longer was allowed to walk on the treadmill until it was healed (doctors orders). Despite my condition, I chose to let go of my disappointment and look for another form of cardio my body could handle. After trying a few different things, the exercise bike proved to be the perfect alternative for me! After it was healed I was able to return the my usual walking...until it happened again at 36 weeks pregnant on the other side. Once again, I was confined to the exercise bike but still did not let it get me down and continued to stay active.

 

           Now, I am human and I'll admit there were many times I wanted to skip a work out or indulge more that I should have. However, I can honestly say that I really did try not to do that. I reminded myself that living this healthy lifestyle was not just for me but for my unborn baby. In the end, it all paid off! Throughout my pregnancy, I had minimal fatigue and swelling, wonderful blood pressure, and was able to maintain a healthy weight.


           Despite being a high risk pregnancy, my baby girl was born one day after her due date at 6 lbs. 8 oz,  and was19 in. long. She also had the apgar scores of 9 out of 9. After 17 hours of labor, 25 minutes of pushing and no epidural my sweet Scarlett was finally in my arms healthy, happy and calm as she could be! I felt so joyful because I had prepared my body for this "marathon" and I did it! Additionally, my recovery was overall wonderful and swift!


        I truly want pregnant women to feel their best and enjoy pregnancy as I did. I truly want to inspire other mommy-to-be's to look at pregnancy as a great opportunity to thrive! When we, as women, take care of our bodies before, during and after pregnancy, it is much more enjoyable and fulfilling. We can live every day knowing we are doing everything possible to grow a healthy baby and also remain a healthy, happy mother for them once they're born! Now, what possibly could be more rewarding then that?

 

Coffee... For A Happy, Healthier You!

Posted on April 3, 2014 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

steaming-coffee-cup1

"Who doesn’t love their steaming, morning cup of coffee? I know I most definitely do! Throughout the years there have been several debates on whether or not coffee is beneficial to our health or harmful. Fortunately, over the past couple of years, multiple studies have shown that coffee offers amazing benefits for our health and has even been referred to as a “super food” (or beverage that is).These benefits are so wonderful that coffee can simply not be ignored! Unless you have a medical condition permitting you to drink it or you absolutely abhor the taste, I cannot recommend it enough that you start or continue to “indulge” daily!" ~Laura Heflin

 

Here are some of the top, reported benefits coffee can offer us daily!:

#1. Coffee is a natural mood booster and has also been shown to significantly improve and reduce our risk of depression. It works as a brain stimulant and it helps our brain release the feel good chemical "dopamine".

 

#2. Coffee can improve our focus and energy. It does this by blocking the production of a neurotransmitter called “Adenosine” which can us sleepy and groggy. So, perhaps that’s why coffee is mostly known as a morning ritual that helps “get us going” for the day.

 

#3. Coffee has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by 65%! It does this by acting as a stimulant to our central nervous system. Our brain is like a muscle and must be exercised and stimulated constantly to stay in shape. So, in a sense, coffee gives our brain a work out! Keep in mind though that the studies that have proven this to be true have shown that one must be a “moderate” coffee drinker (about 3-5 cups per day).

 

#4. Coffee is a natural fat burner! It does this by boosting our metabolism (the rate at which our body burns calories) by as much as 3%-29% (depending on the individual). Once again, coffee is a stimulant. Amazingly, is has the ability to send signals to our fat cells within our tissues to break down.

 

#5. Coffee offers us a source of vitamins B2, B3, B5, Potassium and Manganese.

#6. Coffee is a great source of cancer fighting antioxidants (specifically “flavanoids”) and has been shown to especially lower the risk of specifically, colorectal and liver cancer. So along with eating fruits and veggies (“the rainbow diet”), enjoying coffee daily is just another insurance policy for our bodies against cancer.

 

#7. Coffee may lower ones risk of having a stroke. Though the opposite used to be believed, research has now shown that (due to coffee’s high antioxidant (flavanoid) content), it also functions as an anti-inflammatory within our bodies. A stroke is caused by a lack of blood to our brains. Therefore, it is vital to keep blood flow passing through our vessels at an efficient pace. This is where coffee’s flavanoids step in! Coffee in a sense helps keeps our blood vessels relaxed and flexible allowing blood to properly and thoroughly flow and reach our vital organs.

 

Now, please keep in mind that even a healthy food or beverage can also be just as unhealthy for us depending on how it’s prepared. What you put IN your coffee does make a difference! I personally use one packet of all natural “Stevia” and a small pour of all natural half and half creamer. If you choose to use the sweetened, flavored syrups and creamers then please be aware of the large sugar dose you are taking in. If that yummy French Vanilla creamer is the only way you drink your coffee then that is fine. However, let me suggest that you count that as your dessert for the day. Enjoy it…but count it for what it is: a healthy drink with a massive amount of sugar mixed in.

 

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to drink coffee. Just always keep balance in mind when it comes to your health. My lifestyle has and will always be based on the 80/20 rule (80 % healthy and clean/ 20% indulgent). I myself enjoy a Starbucks, sweet frappacino or latte from time to time. However, when I do, I keep in mind my sugar has reached its limit for the day.

 

Okay, now back to the point I’m trying to make about coffee. As you have just read, it’s not only delicious but it’s actually very nutritious ! With so many wonderful healthy benefits it can offer, do you need any more convincing to drink up? I know I don’t! So how about you go brew yourself a steaming cup (if you haven’t already) and enjoy your java “boost” today!

 

**Picture source: http://www.lynnegolodner.com/soul-searching/makes-difference-house/

**Statistics source:  http://authoritynutrition.com/top-13-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee/

A Healthier Lifestyle For A Healthier You This Winter!

Posted on January 20, 2014 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (1)
       

Time has flown by and 2014 is here! The holiday season has come and gone but these chilly winter months have most defiantly not. This time of the year can be an enjoyable, cozy time spent with family and friends. However, it can also be a time spent sick in bed. Countless viruses are lurking these days and we have to protect ourselves as much as possible. ~ Laura Heflin 


Now, keep in mind that just because it may be “flu season” it does NOT mean we are doomed and sure to get to get sick! In fact, there is a lot we can do in our everyday lives to lower our risk and keep us healthy all winter long! 


*Here are some of my favorite, immune boosting tips I encourage you to follow each day:


 Eat your colors (and keep you sugar intake low)!

Vitamin C is the # 1 immunity boosting vitamin. If we don’t get enough, our immune system will simply not be as strong as it could be. It is important to eat at least 2-3 servings of Vitamin C rich foods daily (especially in the winter months). The rule of thumb is to aim for a rainbow colors in your diet daily. There are many food sources bountiful in Vitamin C however the most potent are:

  • Kiwis
  • Oranges, Lemons and Clementines
  • Grapefruits
  • Green and Red Bell Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Dark Leafy Greens (Spinach, Kale etc.)
A hefty dose of refined sugar (unlike the natural sugars found in fruits) have been shown to lower your immune system's stregth for up to four hours! So, keep your refined sugar grams under 25 per day.

Exercise!

Exercise offers our bodies numerous health benefits…especially in the winter months! Not only will it help keep the “winter blues” away by increasing our levels of the happy chemicals dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. Exercise will also give our immune system a major boost! How? It get’s our stagnant white blood cells (which fight infections, bacteria’s and viruses) circulating throughout our body at a much more efficient and effective pace. That way, they can quickly wipe out any bugs that we come into contact with before their yucky, damaging quest even begins!


Sleep!

The common saying “sleep is the best medicine” may go in one ear and out the other but it’s true! Our bodies immune system can simply not function properly if its not given time to rest. We require good, quality sleep each night in order for our bodies to “reboot” each night. Vital infection and inflammation fighting antibodies and proteins called “Cytokines” are significantly reduced within our bodies when we don’t get enough sleep. So, essentially when we choose to skimp on sleep (to stay up and watch that favorite TV show or finish that work project) we are choosing to weaken our body’s protective shield. Studies show that adults require 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep on most nights in order to keep the immune system functioning properly. So, hit the sheets early tonight and help your body protect itself from these circulating, nasty bugs! You’ll not only enjoy being more rested but you will also be able to enjoy a healthy, sick-free winter!


Stress Less!

Stress in life is inevitable and we all deal with various levels. Some stress is very normal in life and can actually be healthy. The issue is, when stress and anxiety become constant and relentless day after day that our health can be compromised. In a nutshell, when our body is under stress the hormone called Cortisol is released into our blood stream. This automatically puts our body in “fight or flight mode” and gears it up to defend itself (as if it were in a life threatening situation). Obviously, Cortisol is very essential and necessary but only in small, brief releases. When our bodies our constantly under stress, excess Cortisol is released into our blood stream and builds up overtime. The issue is, when this hormone is released it weakens our antibodies and white blood cells in the process. So, once again another lifestyle factor has lowered our body’s defense system and we are at a greater risk of getting sick. In addition to that, if we were to come down with an illness, our body would have a much harder time recuperating.

 

Now, please don’t let all of this overwhelm you! It really isn’t that complicated. Simply, incorporate the following tips into your day to day routine this winter and enjoy being "sniffle" free!: 

 

  •  Aim for at least 3 fresh, fruit servings a day (preferably fruits from the list above).
  • Keep your "sweet treat" to a limit of 100 calories per day to ensure you are keeping your sugar intake low enough (but still not depriving yourself).
  • Try and fit in 30 minutes of cardio exercise starting TODAY! 3-5 days per week is ideal. (choose an exercise or activity you enjoy! This way, you will be more likely to keep it up. Think: Jogging, Walking, Zumba etc.)
  • Go to bed early tonight! As with anything, you must PLAN to get enough sleep. It won’t just happen. (Aim for 7-8 hours per night)
  • Take at least 15 minutes per day for yourself to unwind. Do whatever makes you feel good (read, take a warm bath, sip tea by the fire etc.) This will help your body cope with day to day stressors and keep you Cortisol levels low.
  • Wash your hands before every meal or snack.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes while in public.

 

All in all, it is possible to stay healthy during the winter months! However as you’ve just read, we must take the necessary steps to take care of our bodies (so our bodies can protect and take care of us)! So, let’s make an effort together during these chilly months to eat well, sleep well, stay active and stay healthy! May we all have a happy, healthy and blessed New Year!


photo source: http://helpyourselftohealth.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-to-prepare-your-immune-system-for.html

A Real Mommy's Guide To Healthy Living!

Posted on October 25, 2013 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (1)

 

 

"Though I am not a mom yet, I have definitely witnessed  (and experienced while growing up) how a mother's health and lifestyle reflects on her family. As I've blogged about before, when we feed and exercise our bodies properly, we have more energy and more vitality for our life and for everyone in it! "~ Laura Heflin

 

Without a doubt, a mother has many responsibilities aside from herself and she requires a lot of energy to do it! If she doesn't properly nourish her body and take care of it, she can easily become worn down. As the saying goes "if mama ain't happy...ain't no no one happy"! Also, let's not forget that children look up to their parents from a young age. If they see healthy eating and exercise in a positive light, they are more likely to want to practice healthy living as they mature and get older.

 

I am blessed to say, that growing up I had a mother who was a very healthy example to me. She raised and homeschooled six small children and still managed to excercise and put healthy, home cooked meals on the table. I will always be grateful to her for that healthy jumpstart in life! It inspired me to want to continue to eat real, clean foods and stay active. I know there were many stressful days and it wasn't always easy but still, she did the best she could. I admire that hard work and determination to raise a healthy family.

 

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing several mother's here in the area. They were gracious enough to share their practical "how-to's" on maintaining their health as busy mom. Continue reading to see how  these local, busy mom's manage their household and their health at the same time.

 

Here were the questions I asked and the various (anonymous) responses I received:

#1 How often do you workout and how do you find time despite your work schedule?

· Mom #1: ." I workout 4-5 days a week and make it the first thing I do in the morning, that way I can assure it gets done!"

· Mom#2: "I am a stay at home mom so I have a babysitter come to my house 2x a week and then I will lift weights at my house 2x a week with the kiddoes. I try to include my 1 year old in the workouts I do at home. She likes to put on workout clothes and use 1lb weights to lift with me."

· Mom #3: "I work out on average 4 times a week. I make it a priority and I try to find someone to work out with. Also I get snacks and water out for my kids BEFORE I work out because inevitably they are thirsty and hungry."

 

#2 What's your typical breakfast and how do you plan to eat healthy through out the day while out and about (work, errands etc)?

· Mom#1: "Typical breakfast - 1 egg, 1 egg white scrambled, sometimes with cheese, a small green smoothie, and coffee. Then I eat the exact same thing for snacks every day till dinner, that was I don't find myself eating bad things or forgetting to eat!"

· Mom#2: " A typical breakfast for me is oatmeal or raisin bran with a side of yogurt, dried fruit or cheese stick. I try to keep healthy snacks on hand throughout the week, such as hummus with carrots or pretzels, cheese sticks, almonds, dark chocolate, natural fruit roll ups etc."

· Mom #3: "I usually have yogurt and fruit for breakfast. It's definitely a challenge to eat healthy when you're out and about. I usually try to do Chickfila and get the char grilled chicken and fruit."

 

#3 How do you indulge guilt free and keep yourself from deprivation?

· Mom #1: "To keep from eating sugary stuff all day I tell myself to look forward to dessert and that to really enjoy that dessert I have to eat right during the day. Also I keep in mind that I should eat that dessert soon after dinner as opposed to late at night."

· Mom #2: "? I try to abide by the "all things in moderation" principle when it comes to food. My guilty pleasure is French fries, so I will buy a healthier version in the frozen foods section and bake them or make my own from scratch." I love Chickfila fries, so I will occasionally order a small or split a medium with one of my kids."

· Mom #3: "I eat gluten free and organic chocolate or sweet snacks with fruit and almonds."

 

#4 How do you practice portion control and no join America's "clean your plate club"?

· Mom #1: " A smaller plate definitely helps portion control and that is a choice you have to make before you eat dinner. Also usually I have a bowl of cereal for lunch (because I seriously love cereal) and if I feel like my portion is getting out of control then I pull out the measuring cups and see how much a serving is and shockingly usually that is filling."

· Mom#2:" I just started a new rule for myself - when serving my plate, I will give myself 2/3 of what I think my portion should be. Then when I'm ready for more, I will get a little bit at a time. I end up eating less!"

· Mom #3: " Sometimes I use smaller plates, I generally eat a small portion of meat with larger sides such as black beans, white beans, broccoli and/or sweet potatoes. One of the most important food principles for me is to not eat past 8pm. That has saved a lot of calories and over-eating in general."

 

As you can see, these busy mom's have made the choice to be conscious about their health. It does take discipline but in the end, your energy, health and family will benefit! I truly believe that here in America, we must make some changes to better the younger generations. Healthy living is taught and is learned in the home.

 

As I previously said, children from a very small age look up to their parents and want to be like them (even though they may not always admit it). If they see their mother cooking healthy, clean meals and staying active then this will not be a foreign concept to them when they are older.

 

Obesity is on a rise and we must make some changes today, starting in our homes. So, if you are a parent, I want to encourage you to start or continue taking care of your health. I promise, not only will you feel better, you will also be loving and benefiting your children greatly by doing so!

 

*picture source: http://www.dietsinreview.com/diet_column/10/announcing-new-mom-to-mom-newsletter/

 

 

 

 

Coconut Oil For A Healthier You!

Posted on July 31, 2013 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (0)

 

 

"I have cooked with olive oil as long as I can remember. Incorporating healthy fats in my diet is a high priority of mine each and every day. Over the past few months though, I have been giving a new oil and super food a chance...coconut oil! I absolutely love it! Through my research and personal experience while using it, I have found that it's health benefits actually outweigh many other healthy and more popular oils."~ Laura Hefln

 

 

         The benefits of coconut oil truly go on and on. However, before I discuss those benefits I want to first address one confusing aspect of coconut oil. The fact is, coconut oil is a form of saturated fat (known as the "bad" fat). That being said, coconut oil (along with palm oil) is one of the rare plant derived forms of saturated fat (not from an animal source). Therefore, the body processes it quite differently and benefits greatly from it! Instead of clogging our arteries, this medium chain fatty acid is easily broken down by the liver and is converted straight to energy instead of fat. So, please rest easy and know that this super food is nothing to be afraid of at all!

 

Here are more of the proven, health benefits coconut oil can offer you:

#1. I found it fascinating that coconut oil has been proven to reverse and help prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (this runs in my family so I am encouraged by this). The brain needs a certain amount of healthy fat to be properly nurtured and coconut oil does just that. There have been multiple studies showing this but the following YouTube video is truly amazing and I highly recommend you watch it!:

*Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMw3d3ohx_s

#2. Coconut oil has also been shown to increase metabolism because once again, it is easily broken down by the liver and is quickly made available to the body as an energy source. This medium chain fatty acid is treated much differently than long chain fatty acids are (found in vegetable oils). It is fortunately not a "dangerous" fat but instead a very beneficial one that will give us the energy boost we need. That is the main reason I eat it in the morning when I'm still feeling groggy. (It is said to benefit those with hypothyroidism who's metabolism may be lacking).

 

#3. Because coconut oil has been shown to increase metabolism (the rate at which our bodies burn calories), it has a been shown to help with weight loss. When your metabolism is running at a nice, speedy pace, weight loss is much easier to achieve.

 

#4. One very unique characteristic of coconut oil is it's high lauric acid content (typically found in human breast milk). It is in fact, made up of 40% lauric acid (the best source available other than breast milk) and it is said to increase immunity and protect against viruses and diseases. It also has been shown to lower cholesterol and help one maintain a healthy blood pressure.

 

#5. One of the best things about coconut oil is that it's virtually tasteless and it is safe to cook at a high heat (unlike olive oil that can produce dangerous, free radicals at smoking point). So, you can stir fry or bake with it safely while preparing a meal for you and your family...without anyone even realizing you added it in!

 

#6. Many people suffer from digestion issues such as IBS and constipation. Coconut oil has been shown to significantly reduce those symptoms by soothing the digestive tract and the colon.

 

#7. Coconut oil is excellent for balancing hormones. It is important to understand that our bodies require a certain amount healthy fats in order to build the hormones we need. With all of these "fat free" diets out there, it's no wonder there are so many hormonal deficiencies among young women these days! Among the benefits for young women, studies show as well that women going through menopause have less side effects (such as hot flashes), when they consume coconut oil on a daily basis.

 

#8. Lastly, one thing I love about this fantastic oil is the fact that it can also be used topically. I have personally found it to be a great, all natural moisturizer that is very gentle on the skin and easily absorbed . It is especially beneficial for very dry skin and eczema. It can even be used in place of shaving gel and eye makeup remover!

 

         Now as I said earlier, there are quite a few benefits coconut oil can offer. If I tried to list them all, this blog would be quite long! However, I did try to highlight the most important ones in hope that you will give it a try. Just one tablespoon a day is all you need to reap the rewards! It can be purchased in the organic isle of almost every grocery store. (I try to buy the least processed,"unrefined" coconut oil if I can find it. )

 

         For the past couple of months I've personally been adding it to my eggs or oatmeal each morning and I just love the energy boost it gives me! I also am a big fan of the buttery texture it adds to me breakfast! Now all of that said, it's your turn to see what I've been going on and on about. What do you have to lose? Go ahead and give this new super food a chance and discover all it can do for you!

 

picture source: http://www.guideglobal.com/treat-your-hair-and-scalp-to-coconut-oil/

 

Healthy Foods With An Unhealthy Reputation

Posted on May 28, 2013 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (3)

“You are what you eat” has always been my motto. When you make an effort to eat clean and avoid processed foods, your body thrives and feels the benefits. When you fill your body with processed, manmade foods it feels depleted. So, without a doubt, it is vital to be conscious of what we feed ourselves."~ Laura Heflin


         

          Going to the grocery store can be the perfect place to practice reading food labels and to pick and choose only the most nutritious foods for ourselves and our families. There are some very obvious foods we should be eating such as fresh fruit and veggies, lean meats, whole grains and low fat cheeses and yogurts. However, I believe that there are some foods that many try to avoid due to their unhealthy reputation. Though some foods may have rightfully won their place on the “bad” list, I believe some of those foods should be reconsidered. You may be surprised to find that by carefully reading food labels, you will discover some “bad” foods are in fact are beneficial to our health. There are so many unhealthy foods with an unhealthy reputation that I could talk about but I want to shine light on some of the major ones I feel many are missing out on.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Let’s start first with the forbidden mayonnaise. This delicious, sandwich indulgence has been labeled as a high fat, high calorie spread that should be avoided at all costs. Well what many are missing out on is the large dose of heart healthy mono and polyunsatured fats. With soybean oil as being one of it’s main ingredients, this spread is actually a boost to our cardiovascular system, blood pressure and overall health. Now, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing so it’s best to practice proper portion control and stick to 1-2 tbsp of this spread. Now, with portion control in mind, please by all means go and enjoy some delicious mayo guilt free!




        Now, let’s shine some light on a childhood, favorite food…peanut butter. This creamy, nut spread is often known as a high calorie, high fat treat. Unfortunately, once many glance at the back of a peanut butter jar and read “16 grams of fat per serving” they instantly put it right back on the shelf. They do this without realizing that they are missing out a heart healthy, protein packed food source that quick and convenient while on the go. Peanut butter is loaded with lots of monounsatured and polyunsaturated fats that decrease ones risk for coronary artery disease (by raising the healthy HDL cholesterol and and lowering the unhealthy LDL cholesterol) improve circulation and keep us full for a longer period of time. Now, it is caloric (about 200 calories per serving) so it is good to practice portion control with this heart healthy food. That being said, enjoying a portion of peanut butter (about the size of two ping pong balls) on a sandwich or with a serving a fruit or veggies daily is nothing but beneficial for your health. So please, eat up! (Please note that I do believe buying “all natural” peanut butter is vital in order to avoid the chemically altered hydrogenated oils in regular peanut butter.)




           Steak and burgers…who doesn’t love them right? I think most people do. But, red meat isn’t exactly accepted as health food by many. In fact, red meat typically carries an “artery clogging” reputation thanks to its ability to raise cholesterol. However, what many do not understand is that it is not the meat that is to blame for putting our health in jeopardy. It’s the fat. Red meat on its own actually offers an abundance of protein (that build and conserve muscle), B vitamins (that regulate our metabolism and mood) and iron (that helps distribute oxygen all throughout our body). Beef should and can be consumed safely up to twice a week in my opinion. When we avoid it completely, we are truly missing out on a wonderful, nutritious food! Now, Mcdonnalds, greasy burgers do not count nor do the typical marbled steak house steaks. You do have to be mindful of what type of red meat you eat. Always aim for the leanest possible (top sirloin, flank steak and 90% lean beef etc.)… but then take pleasure in enjoying it!


          

             Popcorn is one of the all time favorite, movie treats that is loved by nearly every American. However, this food tends to be labeled as a “sodium and saturated fat bomb”. Most people think of it as treat. However, this crunchy complex carbohydrate offers a load of whole grains, fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. In fact, some recent studies have shown that one serving of popcorn contains more antioxidants than an entire days worth of fruit and vegetable! Now, you have to be careful to watch how your prepare your popcorn. Typical “movie theatre” popcorn is not healthy version of this super food. Air popped and drizzled with a little olive oil, sea salt, spices, or stevia is the way to go. All in all, popcorn can and should be eaten without guilt…and not just during a movie! Enjoy it daily if you would like.



          Well, I decided to save the best for last: chocolate. Most people like it (especially the female population). Chocolate in general is known as a “sinful indulgence”. However, this sweet treat is not sinful at all. In fact, its full of cancer fighting, heart healthy flavanoids and antioxidants, potassium, copper and magnesium. Now, please keep in mind that all chocolate is not all created equal. Dark chocolate (50-70% cocoa) offers a great deal more of antioxidants and vitamins than does milk chocolate.Dark chocolate not only has the ability to lower blood pressure but it can also help release the happy hormone known as serotonin. So, please indulge (daily if you wish)! However, portion control is key so stick to no more than one ounce per day.




           Now, I truly could go on and on about the many other healthy foods with an unhealthy reputation. However, my main goal is not to overwhelm you. Instead, I want to encourage you to get in the habit reading food labels and not judge a food until you do. As you see, there are many healthy “bad” foods out there that we should not miss out on! So, the next time you go to the grocery store, I want to challenge you to see how many healthy foods you can discover. You may just be surprised by how many you find!


picture source: http://gamerfitnation.com

Healthy Eating Out On The Town!

Posted on March 7, 2013 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (2)


         

          Let's be honest. Who doesn't like to go out to eat? I personally think it is such a treat to be served dinner at the end of long work week. I also think it is a great way to bring friends and family together to socialize and laugh. Now,  the majority of the time I do cook mine and my husband's meals at home. However, every couple of weeks we enjoy going out to one of our favorite restaurants instead. Thankfully, here in Fredericksburg, we never run out of options on where to go!  

              

           As I wrote in my last blog, a healthy lifestyle is all about balance.  So, I try and implement this by aiming to eat at home 80% of the time while dining out as a treat (not an every day event) the remaining 20% of the time. Going out to eat can be great, but I think it has to be done the right way. Unfortunately, many can tend to let their guard down and forget about what they're putting in their mouths. If we're not careful, overtime (with enough consumption of  saturated fat, sodium and excess calories) our health can and will be jeopardized. Here in America, portions are huge and healthy foods unfortunately lose their nutritional value once drenched in salt and fat. However, I believe that you can walk in and order at almost any restaurant and still be healthy... with a little practice! It's all about knowing how and what to order. Once again, living a healthy lifestyle means keeping nutrition as a high priority at all times no matter where you go. Whether at work, at home, on vacation or in a restaurant, we are responsible for what and how much we feed our bodies.

              

          It's not that complicated really and it's nothing to stress about. Eating out should be enjoyable, fun and guilt free! However, I do feel that it's important to follow some basic guidelines in order to keep ourselves healthy while dining out.


Here are a few things I keep in mind while ordering (and recommend you do too) :

  • First, pick a healthy, lean protein (chicken,fish or steak)
  • Second, add color to your meal (salad or vegetables)
  • Third...Substitute!This is something I do all the time (especially at dinner). I try and keep dinner "lean and green" and keep energy boosting carbohydrates during the day (when they're most likely to be burned). So, ask to skip the rice, bread, mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese that come with the meal and opt for a double serving of veggies instead.
  • Skip the bread that's served before the meal.Chances are it's not whole grain bread and it's smothered in butter (averaging at about 300 calories a piece)!
  • Avoid creamy, buttery, white sauces, dips and dressings (like alfredo sauce or spinach artichoke dip) and opt for a veggie based (or colorful) one like marinara which is much lower in calories and fat.
  • If you do decide to go for one of the above, then ask for the sauces and dressings to come on the side. This allows you to eat much less of it and still get the same, great taste.
  • Ask for a lunch portion of your entree if it's available. If it's not, always ask for a box before touching your meal and put half of it away for later.
  • Skip the soda and ask for water with lemon or an un sweet tea (that you can sweeten yourself with the Stevia).  
  • If the dessert looks too good to pass up, stick to the "3 bite rule". It has been proven that the first, three bites of any food are the best! Stick to three bites, enjoy the taste and leave feeling satisfied and not guilty.
  • Eat slowly! It takes your brain 20 minutes to register a meal and signal you to stop eating. If you eat quickly, you won't realize you have over eaten until it's too late.

 

Now I know all of these guidelines can seem a little overwhelming to remember. But I want to personally show you how simple it is to eat healthy anywhere you go! Over the past two months, I have taken snapshots of the meals I've ordered while out and about in Fredericksburg.  I have divided them into breakfasts, lunches and dinners from various restaurants here around town.


*Breakfast:


I love Starbucks! Not only is their coffee amazing but they have great breakfast options as well.Their "Spinach and Fetta Wrap" is one of my favorites! It's delicious and it offers protein, veggies and whole grains.


 

Since I can remember, IHOP has been one of my favorite breakfast hot spots. Now, they offer a "Simple and Fit" menu with many healthy options. My favorite entree to order is their " Blueberry Harvest Grain'Nut Combo". It comes with two whole grain, blueberry pancakes topped with banana slices (butter on the side), 2 eggs (made with egg substitute)  and a side of turkey bacon (that I ask to be added on). It's a great way to get my pancake fix while still keeping my health in check.


 

*Lunch:


If you've never been to Mimi'sCafe, then you need to go (they have carry out too)! I have never once been disappointed by any of their freshly made, home style entrees .  They have several, healthy options to choose from but my favorite has to be their "Grilled Salmon with Brown Rice and Steamed Veggies". Once again I'm getting a three for one deal of protein, whole grains and vegetables!


 

You can't go wrong with Basilico Italian Market and New York Deli! Everything, and I mean everything they serve is made fresh daily. They have great soups, salads and sandwiches (similar to Paneras which I love as well).  I have tried several different items off their menu but overall I have to say that their "Chicken Salad Salad" (substituting for all spinach instead of field greens) with balsamic vinaigrette dressing is my favorite.  I also like to order a side of their black bean soup which is amazing and nutritious as well. This meal is full of color, antioxidants, vitamins, protein and healthy fats (yes, mayonnaise is healthy in moderation despite common belief)!



*Dinner:


One of my favorite steak houses of all time is (and will always be) Logan's Roadhouse. They offer a little bit of everything and always make sure your meal has come out exactly as you asked (substitutions are allowed).  They have a great "Health Nut" menu offering several tasty and lighter options. Depending on my mood, I will sometimes order fish over steak. However, their steak is generally too good for my taste buds to pass up! My favorite entree to order is their juicy "Health Nut 6 oz. Cut Sirloin" served with a salad and a mushroom skewer.


 

I am a big kid at heart and so I must admit, Friendly's is still one of my favorite places to go. I was honestly surprised when this burger/ ice cream joint came out with their "Under 555 Calories" menu, but I must say I'm glad they did! I used to order just a grilled chicken salad but now they offer a few more, tasty and lighter options. Their "Chicken Ginger Stir Fry" (substituting the white rice for extra stir fry veggies) is delicious! It's the perfect portion of protein and veggies and its very satisfying as well.



          Now, if I really had a craving for something on a menu that was not so healthy (pasta, dessert etc.) ... then I would get it! I just wouldn't eat the whole thing and I would balance that food choice out with my other food choices that day (80/20 ). Once again a happy, healthy life is not about deprivation but all about balance!  I want you to enjoy eating out  as I do (without the guilt)! So, please be don't be afraid of it! Simply, be conscious of what you feed your body wherever you are and enjoy eating out on the town!


(NOTE: The above restaurants are just a few of my favorite places to go. I am also a fan of Italian cuisine from Bravo or Olive Garden, Thai Town 56, Ruby Tuesdays, Applebees, Salsaritas and many more.)


picture source: www.savingsangel.com

 

Living Life: 80/20 Style!

Posted on January 8, 2013 at 7:20 PM Comments comments (3)

             

             

               Well here we are once again, now having entered a brand new year. Once more, resolutions have been made and new goals have been set. Not surprisingly, statistics reveal that the majority of New Year's resolutions are in some way related to health.Some promise themselves they'll hit the gym six days a week. Some promise to cut out all sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods and eat clean from here on out. Some promise to never touch another soda again.Whatever their "healthy" resolution is, many decide in one way or another that they will be "good"... starting January 1st. 


            Now, as adamant as I am about treating our bodies well and making healthy choices, I must say that I absolutely detest these extreme resolutions. Why is this? Because they don't last. They are exhausting, unfulfilling and unrealistic. That being said, I truly feel that the root of the problem is the fact that we simply live in a culture that lacks balance. This "all or nothing", "good or bad" mindset towards healthy living must be stopped if we want to truly feel our best and thoroughly enjoy life.


             I believe God designed the human body to thrive off balance. Getting adequate amounts of sleep, eating mostly a balanced diet, getting a reasonable amount of exercise and making time for relaxation and fun (despite a busy schedule) is what the body needs. Depriving ourselves in any way is just not healthy. "Everything in moderation" is really what a lifestyle is all about. It doesn't mean you can't ever indulge in chocolate brownies, a sugary beverage or macaroni and cheese. What "moderation" means to me is eating well and filling my body with nutrient rich foods most of the time while feeling free to splurge once in a while...guilt free. 


            This is where the 80/20 lifestyle I live by (and teach) comes in. Again, each day I really do make an effort to eat fresh, real foods and drink lots of water. I also try to stay active and get at least seven hours of sleep per night. But as healthy as I strive to be, I will never deny myself my daily dose of dark chocolate or a pumpkin spiced latte in the fall.  I like to enjoy life and all of its simple pleasures. I don't feel deprived at all because when I'm craving something, I have it! Because I allow myself one small treat each day, I don't need a large amount of it to feel satisfied. It’s so freeing to know that I can have that indulgent treat every day and still be healthy (and so can you)! Once again, its all about moderation and balance.


             It's not all about food for me though. Simply making time to sit on my porch or watch a favorite TV show (while ignoring the dirty dishes in the sink) is an "indulgence" I give into from time to time as well. I believe developing a healthy relationship with food really starts with a healthy outlook on life as a whole. I myself, have been known to be very "type A" or a "perfectionist" so to speak. I'll admit that I enjoy having perfect order in my life and not letting things get out of sequence. However, over the past few years I myself have had to work at adapting balance through the 80/20 lifestyle. I have had to acknowledge my unhealthy trend that involved stressing out about multiple things, multiple times a day. In my opinion, that is just as unhealthy as eating badly. I must say, focusing on living a more balanced life has been very rewarding and fulfilling. It's all about having a healthy mindset. Once again, if you are treating your body well most of the time, then you must remind yourself that life's small indulgences can be thoroughly enjoyed (without suffering consequences).  Now, if you happen to indulge too much one day, then balance it out the next. Don't beat yourself up, but move on!


               You know your body better than anyone, so listen to it.  You know what you've been eating, how much you've slept and how active you've been. Be honest with yourself and if you see a lack of balance in one area of your life then make an effort to work back towards it. When we stop striving for perfection and replace it with the 80/20 mindset, balance can and will be achieved. Both you and your body will appreciate the consistency, stress relief and enjoyment this lifestyle brings. Start right now by asking yourself, "is there any food that I’ve been craving but have chosen to avoid?" If the answer is"yes" then I encourage you to allow yourself a small indulgence today (without feeling guilty)! I know you will find, as I have, when you are no longer feeling deprived, a small treat really goes a long way and healthy eating (the other 80% of the time) no longer feels like such a burden. So,let’s all start off 2013 together with a healthy relationship with food. Let’s really start enjoying a life of balance and freedom from dieting. Let’s start really living today!


picture source: http://www.psychologies.co.uk/tests/whats-your-relationship-with-food.html

 

Tis' the Season for a Healthy, New Mindset!

Posted on November 11, 2012 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (2)

              

            By: Laura Heflin

                It's that time of the year again when we all get gather together with our loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas! It is a time filled with the hustle and bustle of shopping, traveling, wrapping and ofcourse, lot's of baking and eating many decedent foods.  Now despite this wonderful time of the year, I can't help but to address one very, negative aspect: Holliday weight gain.  Unfortunately, during the winter months,portion control and healthy eating tend to get put on the back burner. Then,when New Year's hits, most can agree that they can see the imprint of it all left on their waistlines. This then leads to weeks of stressing out about "getting back on track". Does this all sound too familiar? Well, I want to encourage you that this year can be different!

 

               Let's start with the typical Thanksgiving day. It usually involves lots of cooking over a hot stove, cleaning house,  and driving to pick up relatives or last minute items from the store.  However, ironically enough, one thing it usually does not involve is eating! That is, until the "big" dinner later that evening. Now, let me say that I strongly believe one of the worst habits we have become accustomed to in America is skipping meals (especially on a Holliday).Why am I so against this? Because when our bodies are left deprived of fuel it looksfor energy anyway possible and in the quickest way possible. After hours without food, our glucose hits rock bottom and our brain doesn't have the power to properly process the food, taste and the amount we are eating. Instead, all we know at that time is that we are"starved"! So, what do we do? We eat quickly without really tasting and enjoying our food.  Then we realize a few minutes later (after our third plate) that we've overdone it when we feel uncomfortably,"stuffed like a turkey". Not to mention, we may have just consumed over an entire day's worth of calories in one sitting! Studies have shown thatthe typical Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner adds up to an estimated 3,000-3,500 calories. But how on earthis this possible? Well, here's the breakdown of the typical American Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner:

  • ·       Salad (with full fat dressing and croutons): 200calories
  • ·       1 Dinner role with 1 tbsp of butter: 145calories
  • ·       6 ouces of ham: 300 calories (the proper portionof 3-4 ounces is usually doubled)
  • ·       6 ounces of turkey: 340 calories(the properportion of 3-4 ounces is usually doubled)
  • ·       1/2 cup of gravy: 150 calories
  • ·       1 cup of stuffing: 320 calories  (the proper portion is 1/2 cup)
  • ·       1/2 cup of cranberry sauce: 190 calories
  • ·       1 cup of sweet potatoes: 300 calories (the properportion is 1/2 cup)
  • ·       1 cup of mashed potatoes: 300 calories (the properportion is 1/2 cup)
  • ·       1 cup of green beans: 100 calories
  • ·       1 small piece of chocolate fudge: 70 calories
  • ·       1 piece of pumpkin pie: 180 calories (1/8 of ofa 9 inch pie)
  • ·       1 piece of pecan pie: 480 calories(1/8 of of a 9inch pie)
  • ·       1 glass of wine: 90 calories
  • ·       1 cup of coffee with cream and sugar: 50calories


Add that all up and the grand total is... a whopping 3,215 calories!

              

               Now,let's just hit rewind for a moment. Let's just say we actually took the time to start out our day out with a healthy breakfast of eggs or oatmeal with fruit.Then, we followed our breakfast by "grazing" until dinner. Well primarily, I can tell you that we would definitely have more energy to cook and visit with family. Also, we would not be famished by the time dinner rolls around. We could actually take a minute this year to appreciate the beautiful, layout of food.  Then, we could pick and choose a portion of what looks best to us (instead of gobbling up everything in sight)! Additionally, if we took our time to eat, we would be able to really taste and enjoy our food!  Our body would be given well over the 20 minutes it requires to register a meal. Therefore, we would be able to stop eating before "stuffing" ourselves and genuinely leave room for a little dessert! All in all, we could successfully manage to enjoy ourselves thoroughly while saving an enormous amount of calories and guilt. What a difference a few small changes can make!


               All of these benefits aside, I want to bring to light what the "grazing" did or us. Because we chose to eat and not go hungry we were able to keep our metabolism (the rate at which our body burns calories) working at a very efficient pace.This of course, better insured us that we would burn off our meal and not overeat (making weight gainless of a risky factor). The "grazing lifestyle" is what I live by and teach because it works to help our body burn as efficiently as possible, stay energized and thrive (all year long)! I highly recommend you look past what our culture has taught us and try it foryourself. Trust me, you won't regret it!   


               Now, back to our main topic of healthy living during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Please keep in mind that for nearly one month we are often surrounded by mountains of food (at work parties, family and friend gatherings etc).  Therefore, we must make even more of a conscious effort to slow down, eat a balanced diet and watch our portions throughout the whole season (not just Thanksgiving and Christmas day). I also want to encourage you to stay active. Look for ways in your hectic schedule to fit in exercise. You may find it enjoyable to take a walk with visiting relatives before or after dinner. Maybe you power walk the mall for an hour or two while Christmas shopping. It really doesn't matter how you move your body...just so you do it! Remember, a busy life does not have to be detrimental to our health. I want to challenge you this Holliday season, to really treat your body well. I know by the time 2013 arrives, you will be very glad you did!

 

 

***One of my lovely clients quoted perfectly, her thought process when picking and choosing what she really wants to eat on a Holliday. Here's what she said:

 

"When I look at a Thanksgiving table with everything spread out beforeme, the way I choose what to put on my plate is simple. I avoid starchy, salty foods and look for the protein and veggies. First, I would start with the meat. A nice slice of white turkey meat withsome gravy since it's the holiday. I will make sure to drink plentyof water with this meal in case there is a higher salt content. Next,I will look for a healthy salad. A plain house salad with a smallamount of dressing or olive oil would be my first choice. I am not afraid to ask family to make sure they have a healthy salad optionprepared or to offer to bring one myself. Next, I would look for ahealthy rice. A brown rice is a good option. I might have a smallhelping of cranberry sauce since it is the holiday, but I would not even look at the starches and sugary vegetables and fruits. Save someroom for a few bites of holiday pie!"

 

***What I love the most about her response is that she doesn't feel the need to grab everything in sight. Instead, she picked what mattered most to her and left the rest on the table. Now, that's the way to go!

 

picture source: www.foodlve.com

statistics source: www.acefitness.org and www.walk.about.com

"Healthy Banana and Oatmeal Muffins"

Posted on September 5, 2012 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

I played around in the kitchen this week and came up with this delicious and healthy muffin recipe! I decided I would share it with you all. Enjoy!




*Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of buckwheat flour or pancake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of plain oatmeal or 1 pkg. of plain, instant oatmeal
  • 1 banana diced into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup of reduced fat milk
  • 1/4 cup of ground flax seeds
  • 1 pkg of Stevia 


*Directions:

  • Pre heat the oven to 325 degrees
  • Dice up the banana into small cubes
  • In a medium bowl combine all flour, egg, oatmeal, milk and stevia and mix well
  • Lastly, add in the banana and mix in well
  • Evenly distribute in the muffin tin
  • Bake for 15 minutes
  • ENJOY!

Carrots Are The New Tan!

Posted on August 30, 2012 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (3)

"A healthy glow  on the outside is a reflection of one's health on the inside right? Well, this is not always the case. The truth is, looks can be deceiving."~ Laura Heflin




      Unfortunately,today many are damaging their skin with harmful UV rays in an attempt to"glow". Though they may achieve their desired look, they are putting their body in harm's way and increasing their risk for many forms of skin cancers. Not to mention, their so called "natural glow" is no longer so natural after that point. I myself, have skin cancer in my family and therefore, have made a great effort to protect my skin. I don't sit in the sun very often and if I do, I'm slathered in sunscreen. In fact, I wear sunscreen every day rain or shine.  

    

         The good news is, it is quite possible to have a beautiful complexion without stepping foot in the sun! If one really wants to have a genuine, healthy glow it must be obtained in a natural, healthy way. Before, I go much further, let me state as I have before, that you do tend to reflect what you eat; but one certain vitamin takes this one step further! So more specifically, what is the best way to give our skin that"glow"? Well, after many studies the #1 answer is evident: "Beta Carotene" (among others). Beta carotene is a pigment found in many colorful fruits and vegetables (however it is mostly found in orange and yellow produce).It is a strong antioxidant (cancer fighting compound) that is converted into Vitamin A once consumed. In addition to functioning as an antioxidant, it also works to protect our vision as well as strengthen our immune system.  When consumed on a regular basis, Beta Carotene gives your skin a beautiful, golden glow that is 100% natural and can last all year long (a totally safe and benign "side effect")!

    


        I have found this to be true myself. I really am a huge fan of fruits and vegetables; however carrots are one of my favorites. I tend to eat them on a daily basis; a generous handful or about half a sandwich baggie to be exact. I love them for what they do for me on the inside, as well as on the outside (and I know you will too)!

*** There are many food sources of Beta Carotene such as:

  • carrots
  • spinach
  • brocolli
  • sweet potatoes
  • pumpkin
  • peaches 
  • cantaloupe


Truly though, if you eat fruits and veggies of any type on a daily basis then without a doubt, it will reflect on your skin!

    

          Before you go and eat a handful of carrots though let me stop you right there. There's something you may not be aware of! See, if you don't consume certain vitamins, such as vitamin A, with a fat source then your body will not be absorbing all of the beta carotene or all of the nutrients. In a nut shell, vitamins D, E ,A and K are "fat soluble" vitamins. This means they can be stored within the body. However, they require a healthy "monounsaturated" or "polyunsaturated" fat (much preferred over trans and saturated fats) source to be consumed simultaneously in order for the body to absorb them and get the full benefit.

***Some healthy fat sources are:

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • canola oil
  • flax seed oil
  • nuts and seeds
  • peanut butter 
  • fish


So, when I eat my carrots (or really any type of produce) I always try and combine it with one of these.


***My favorite "Beta- Carotene"/ healthy fat combos are:

  • carrots with peanut butter (my #1 favorite!)
  • peaches and almonds
  • sweet potatoes served with grilled salmon
  • spinach and egg omelet with a little bit of olive oil mixed in 

     As you can see, it really is simple to find ways to consume Beta- Carotene (Pro- Vitamin A). Once you make it a daily priority to eat a serving or two, you're body will benefit in more ways than one! Again, you will be strengthening your body's defense system against cancer, diseases, and age- related macular degeneration ( a common cause of blindness). With all of these healthy benefits, you will also be able to enjoy that summertime glow all year long and kiss tanning goodbye! Don't just take my word for it, try it for yourself and see!


(picture source: www.worldcommunitycookbook.org/season/guide/carrots.html)

 

Listen to Your Body...It's Talking To You!

Posted on August 3, 2012 at 10:00 PM Comments comments (1)

            "The human body is always sending out signals and constantly trying to communicate with us. If we learn to listen to these signals, we will feel our best and thrive. However, if we conform to the habit of pushing those signals aside, the body will eventually back fire."

~Laura Heflin



         We live in a crazy, busy world that never stops. To some, this may seem irrelevant to one’s health. However, often times because we tend to get so wrapped up in our day to day routine we forget to listen to what our body needs.We often tend to disregard our body's signals such as stress, fatigue, thirst,hunger, exhaustion, pain and even the urge to use the bathrooom.  Ignoring any signal our body sends out can be more detrimental then one may think. The truth is, when someone finds themselves feeling “burnt out”, their body has most likely been trying to warn them (in some way)  for some time. 

       

        When we learn to take care of our bodies, our energy and health prosper! I'm a firm believer that when one feels their best, they are better at everything thing they do and for everyone they love. It is not selfish and it is a must. The majority of people would agree that they feel highly depended on. Whether they’re a mother, father, husband, wife or employee etc. , it is true that the majority of their time is not their own.  I want to stress though, that it is vital to make time to take care of and listen to our bodies. One day you may feel amazing and then the next a little run down. Either way, there's a reason for your body's behavior. When we learn to listen to our body we can respond to its needs and thus, feel our best, do our best and enjoy life to a greater extent.

       

         Let me start by stating that usually the first thing to go when the body is under any form of stress is the immune system. You may find yourself getting sick more often when you are sleep deprived, stressed out, or over worked etc. This is one of the most common ways the body tries to let us know it's being deprived in some way). The body is on"survival mode" and not functioning at its best. In addition togetting sick, there are many other “signals” the body sends out in order to gain our attention.  


           Some common body "signals" that require our attention (and tend to be ingnored):


  1. Body Signal: Fatigue; Lack of Energy ... "I need to get some sleep and eat a  

          more balanced diet!"

  •  A healthy adult requires 7-8 hours ofsleep per night to function properly the next day.
  •  Include each of the five food groupsdaily and consider taking a daily multivitamin with      breakfast. A vitamin defficiency can leave the body feeling worn down and more fatigued than usual.

       2. Body Signal: Dark Urine (pale yellow to nearly clear is best)... " I need to

              drink more water (I may be dehydrated)!"

  •   A healthy adult should aim for 2/3 their body weight in ounces of water per day. (Remember     the body is made up of 70% water!)

       3. Body Signal: Hunger Pains..." I need to Eat! My fuel (glucose) supply

              is low!"

  •  Your body is asking for fuel. Don't ignore this else your metabolism and glucose will take a hit leaving you lacking energy and the ability to burn calories and fat efficiently  (make sure to include protein at everymeal to keep glucose level).

       4. Body Signal: Irritability; Feelings of Anxiety; Sudden Onset of Poor

             Memory…" I need a physical and mental break! "This is not a luxury; it is a mental

              health requirement!

  •   The brain's chemical messengers (known as “neurotransmitters” and “hormones”;) can  be disrupted when the body's fighting against an overload of stressors.
  • The human body requires downtime in order to function properly. Your body will try to tell you when you have been working it too hard. Put your feet up and aim for at least 20-30 minutes of relaxation per day. (Though life is busy, you must MAKE time for relaxation in order to have the energy for your other tasks).
  •  Aim for at least 20-30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per day. (This will release “endorphins”, known as the “feel good hormone” which leave thebody feeling refreshed and with an overall feeling of well being).

       5.  Body Signal: Constipation…"Load up on fiber because my digestive tract

              needs help!"

  • Eat plenty of fiber rich fruits (especially those with the edible skins), vegetable and whole grains. Fiber is the body’s “tool”it uses to aid the digestive tract and colon in efficiently   digesting and processing our foods.

NOTE: In some cases, there can be other reasons for the above body signals. If any of these last for a prolonged period of time see your doctor for further evaluation.


           There are so many things our body will tell us each day, if we only stop to listen! Once again, when we take the time to care for the bodies we were given, there is a much great chance that we will avoid that physical and mental "burn out" that comes up to bite so many of us. Regardless of how busy we are or how much we are needed, we must have our health and well being as a high priority. Clearly, when we choose to listen and respond to our body's signals, we will feel healthier, stronger and more clear minded. So, do yourself a favor this very moment and ask your body how its feeling today. If you take a deep breath, relax for a moment, tune out your surroundings and listen...I bet you'll get an answer. 



(picture compliments of: www.stress-problems.com


 


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    Happy grazer
  • "I first spoke with Laura 3 or 4 months ago about nutrition...since then I have lost 20 pounds! I feel so much healthier now."
    Rebecca
    Bek