I know there are so many people that truly want to get healthy
but don’t know where to start. Then there are those that know what is good for them and what isn’t, but they still choose the unhealthy route. I see it in my health coaching practice.
Someone pays for my services because they want to feel their best. We start by making small changes that will last over time. It is truly a blessing when I see real results. But it is frustrating when others complain about not being healthy, eating and drinking too much and not taking time for themselves to actually accomplish anything.
To these people, I say “get out of your own way!”
Here are 8 steps to guide you on your path to health, IF you are truly ready:
1. Put yourself first. Your health should be one of your top priorities. If your car runs low on gas, you fill it up. You put air in the tires and change the oil every three months. Some people actually take better care of their vehicles than themselves. It is time to put yourself first and make the effort to gain better health. No one is going to do this for you.
2. Stop making excuses. We can make enough excuses to talk ourselves out of almost anything. Trust me, I did this for years thinking "oh I will start eating better tomorrow..." If you eat bad in the morning, that doesn't mean you have to eat bad the rest of the day. I know how it is when you are hungry and there is a drive-thru on the corner. But we all know that is the worst choice when it comes to food. Instead of driving thru a fast food restaurant, find somewhere that you can get a healthy salad with grilled chicken instead. I hear people say they don’t have the time for eating healthy, exercising or anything else that is good for them. But they do! You just have to stop making excuses and get real with yourself as to why you are choosing unhealthy options. Once you admit this, then you can figure out how to make room for health in your life.
3. Use what you have paid for. I know people that purchase great, healthy recipe books and never look past the cover. Dust it off and seek out something new. How many exercise DVD’s have you purchased that never made it out of the plastic wrapper? I personally just donated a pregnancy DVD (brand new) and my daughter is almost 12. I had high hopes of using it, but just never scheduled the time. And how many people have their purses and coats hung over the treadmill bars? Clean it up and jump on!
What about the gym membership you signed up for last January and went a few times? If you have already invested the money, put it to use.
4. Grocery shop. This is one simple thing you can do but is very hard for some people. I used to get intimidated and flustered at the store trying to figure out what to buy. It took a few trips with a list and now I can get in and out in less than 30 minutes. I personally go at least twice a week so I always have fresh fruits and vegetables. Making the time to shop for healthy food means when you are hungry, you have good options already at the house. There is no need to go out for dinner.
5. Plan your menu. When you first start your path to eating healthy, planning out your meals is essential to being
successful. You will only do this for a few weeks until you figure out what you like and what you will actually cook and eat. Then it becomes so easy to grocery shop as you already know how to feed your family since you planned it out and stuck to it for a few weeks.
6. Don’t say, “Oh I could never live without…” This could be bread, milk, beef, nuts… the list goes on to what I have heard. Be open to trying new foods and making healthier substitutions. You really can survive without macaroni and cheese from a box, I promise! By saying you could never live without a certain food automatically shuts your brain off to being open to new and delicious alternatives.
7. Schedule exercise or movement into your week. We schedule conference calls, meetings, dentist appointments and the list goes on. But most people don’t actually schedule exercise into their life. This means you are less likely to get active. Block out 30 minutes of your day and take a walk. Or check
the schedule at your gym and put a yoga class into your planner. By doing this in advance, you are more likely to stick to a routine. Find something that you like and that motivates you to get moving. It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, just get out there and get your heart rate up!
8. Get creative. Do you have a stack of journals that you haven’t opened or art supplies that haven’t been touched? Get them out and get your creative juices flowing. This is something that is great for your health. It is calming and relaxing while allowing your brain to focus on something besides work, chores, kids, etc. And if you think you aren’t creative, that just isn’t true. We all have creativity inside of us that just hasn’t had the opportunity to come out.
Often, we are our own worst enemy when it comes to our health
We know we should do things differently, but just don’t make it a priority. Get out of your own way, stop making excuses and schedule health into your life. If you find there are obstacles, identify them and work to overcome them. Start with small changes if you want to see lasting results. If you change everything in one day, you will most likely set yourself up for failure. Take it one step at a time…your body will thank you for it.
If you need help making changes in your life, please check out my Winter Clean Eating Program HERE!
Today I want to share further information about cleanse, detox,
toxins, clean eating and the basics of an elimination diet.
I get asked these questions often and want to help you understand what all this really means for you and your health.
What is the difference between a cleanse and a detox?
Both detox and cleanse focus on bringing your body into perfect
balance, or homeostasis, where the organs self-regulate to keep the body’s internal environment stable.
A detox focuses on releasing toxicity from metals, chemicals found in cleaning products, cigarette smoke, food and drink, etc. from the body, sometimes from specific organs and/or the blood stream.
A cleanse focuses mainly on cleansing the organs on a deeper level and removing unwanted wastes that accumulate in the colon, digestive tract, and liver that can lead to disease or gut imbalances such as candida, parasites and unwanted pathogens.
In my Winter Clean Eating Program, Eat to Nourish, we are combining the principles of both a detox and a cleanse. Often a cleanse goes deeper into the organs and can include some fasting or a liquid diet for a short amount of time, but I do not believe you need to take this approach to get results. We are ditching the fasting, the pills, and the powders, and focusing instead on improving your digestion. You will only eat whole, seasonal foods that are designed to support your body’s natural processes of detoxification and cleansing.
What is a toxin?
A toxin is any substance that can be harmful to the body, causing allergies, intolerances, sensitivities, bloating, digestive upset, or an overall feeling of sickness. These can be from eating harmful foods, using toxic loaded personal care products and even the air we breathe. You cannot escape toxins
permanently, but you can work to cleanse/detox your system from them.
What is clean eating?
This is a phrase that has become very popular in the past five years. Clean eating is a way of life. By avoiding foods that are processed or refined, which may contain nitrates, chemicals, and pesticides, you reduce your exposure to free radicals that can harm your system and cause disease. By choosing ingredients in their most natural, whole state, including clean animal- or plant- based proteins, and preparing them in healthy fats, you reduce inflammation in your body, balance your pH levels, and improve vitality.
What is an elimination diet?
An elimination diet, such as this program, aims to uncover hidden food allergies and sensitivities and improve your digestion by discovering which foods are right for your body. You eat amazing, whole foods for a week then slowly introduce foods afterward. Your body will tell you what works and what doesn’t.
By cleaning out your digestive system and balancing it with whole foods, you are getting a clean start to finding out any hidden food sensitivities.
I hope this helps to clarify some of the terms associated with my programs. There is not much
better than knowing how to eat correctly for your body. It is truly amazing! For more information on how to get started: Winter Clean Eating Program
I love this time of year when I get holiday cards from friends
that include letters about the fantastic year they have had.
They mention all the milestones their children have reached and the
amazing trips they took. I have had years like that before…but not this past one. Which is exactly why I didn’t send out a letter about my Very Bad Year. No one wants to hear all that. They just want to know the good, not the ugly. And that is totally understandable.
Instead, I figured I would share my letter (if I were to do it, which I am not) here with all of you!
I can officially call the year 2013 the "Year of Michelle’s Breakdown." It really started around the holidays last year. I just felt off…I couldn’t really put my finger on anything specific other than I didn’t feel right. Once January hit and school started back for my daughter, I began to have stomach aches and nausea pretty regularly. It started when I went out of the house. Then it happened at home and did not stop.
You know that feeling when you are driving and you almost get hit by another car? Well, I pretty much
had that feeling for three months. It got to the point where I literally could not leave my house. The only time I did leave was when my husband would drive me to the doctor or the ER because I knew I was dying. I just didn’t know why. I lost too much weight as I literally couldn’t eat a bite of anything. I had every possible test run and every doctor came back telling me I was perfectly fine and healthy. BUT I WASN’T!
I was at my lowest point, just lying in bed crying and wishing it would all go away. And it did… once I
checked myself in to a psychiatric hospital. You can read about that here.
How could I end up with a diagnosis of extreme anxiety and major depression? Well, for starters, if
you have extreme anxiety, you are most likely depressed about it as it limits your life completely. Anxiety is a nasty problem to have and can literally ruin your life. I went to one counselor who had been working in the business for over 20 years and she told me, in front of my husband, that I had the worst case she had ever seen. Well, I do strive to be #1 most of the time, but this wasn’t a trophy I wanted to display on the mantle.
At the hospital I was put on pharmaceutical medications. I fought it for so long and knew this was the only way out at the time. I tried every single holistic method I could and absolutely nothing worked. But the medications allowed me to get my life back, sort of. The biggest problem was that they left me feeling completely sleepy all day, every day. I also feel like I went through the last 9 months like a zombie, no real highs or lows….just mediums.
I researched every possible article on anxiety that I could find on the internet. And I was shocked at how many people actually experience it. Not many get to the point where I did, thankfully. But it is common and it is sad that more people don’t discuss it. I felt completely alone and knew there was no way I could explain any of this to someone that had never experienced it. Even my poor husband was at a loss at trying to understand. I can remember begging him one day to take me to the ER and he didn’t want to
because he knew what would happen: they would run tests and nothing would show up wrong. I went so many times that I will be paying off these medical bills for the next few years, lucky me.
So what I found was that there HAD to be something wrong in my head (literally!). I found a Functional Medicine doctor and went to see her about 6 weeks ago. She ran a bunch of tests and discovered I have a parasite and candida. I wasn’t expecting those two as I eat really clean and haven’t taken antibiotics in years. But the best news I got was from a blood test she performed which measured my organic acids, amino acids and minerals, among a few more. This test revealed I was low in EVERY SINGLE CATEGORY. So normally that would be bad news, but it is great news because now I have found the source of this horrific anxiety. My body basically isn’t absorbing the amino acids and vitamins most likely due to the parasite. This for me was proof that I am NOT crazy! There are medical reasons behind my issues that eating all the healthy food in the world wouldn’t fix until I found the root problem. And for that, I am so thankful.
I am now treating the parasite, then will follow up with a candida treatment and am supplementing the amino acids in the meantime. I am not fully healed yet but, for the first time all year, there is light at the end of this tunnel!
So really, this anxiety tore through me and my family for the better part of 2013. How do you write that in a letter to all your friends and family? Well, you don’t!
So now that I have shared all this, I can tell you that this year has been life changing for me in so many great ways. I have learned to appreciate the little things and I work daily to not sweat the small stuff. I have learned to put myself first and make sure that I am whole and healthy. I am calmer and more in touch with my feelings than ever before. I literally hadn’t cried once since my mom’s funeral 4 years ago but this year I have given myself permission to shed tears if I need to.
And it wouldn’t be a proper letter if I didn’t mention that my awesome 6th grade daughter played club volleyball in the spring and is already practicing for the season starting in January. She barely weighs 80 pounds but has mastered her jump serve and I couldn’t be more proud of her. I am thankful that she weathered the storm of this year with me and came out just fine.
I am thankful for my incredible husband that supported and loved me every single day of this year, through all the hard times. I cannot even imagine what he felt the night he left me at the psychiatric hospital. I know it was hard for him as well. But through it, we became even closer and stronger. And that, at the end of the day, is what really matters.
So 2013 was a rough year, but we made it through. I am anticipating a much better holiday letter next year! So stay tuned!
Note: I am sharing this very personal story publicly in hopes that it can help others who have been in my shoes to know you are not alone. Mental health issues, when not treated, can lead to so many devastating things, including suicide. My feeling is that there needs to be more help out there for people that need it. I went through probably 20 doctors that basically dismissed me and offered no help. It's not their fault, they just probably weren't trained to identify issues like this when all my physical tests came back negative. True change starts by having these open conversations and when we let go of the shame behind it.
"When our bodies become toxic, it means that our natural means of ushering out metabolic waste from a normal human metabolism, environmental pollution, and what has become known as the Standard American Diet (or SAD diet) have exceeded the threshold for what the body's innate detoxification system can tolerate on its own. With this toxic load, every system in the human body can become affected. From our head to our toes and everything in between, toxicity makes us sick!" --Dr. Mark Hyman, Functional Medical Doctor & Teacher
Cleansing and eating "clean" is such an important and productive process for your body. Our bodies need to clear out the built-up waste in our systems to leave you feeling lighter and cleaner.
Some people do a detox or cleanse in order to lose weight, but it is so much more than that. Sure, it will result in weight loss but it will also improve your digestion, improve your metabolism, uncover any hidden food allergies and decrease inflammation. Inflammation is at the root of all major, and minor, illnesses. These are things such as chronic colds, brittle nails, hormonal imbalances, dry skin, dry hair and constipation...just to name a few!
Every food you consume, every breath you inhale and everything you touch each day brings contaminants. This constant barrage forces your liver to work hard to detoxify your body daily. There is no way to avoid these toxins so our bodies have to work that much harder to process them. When we stop and give the body a rest by eating whole, clean foods, your body will naturally detox and reset itself. This will leave you feeling amazing!
So why is detoxing in the Fall a good thing? For starters, it prepares your body for the winter months both physically and emotionally. It helps to prevent common winter illnesses and attaining a clearer and more focused mental state. We could all use that, right? Our bodies tend to build up toxins over the summer months of heat that can lead to coughs, migraines and stuffy noses in the coming weeks. Fall is a wonderful time to slow down and move the focus inward, purging the toxicity that is keeping us from being the best version of ourselves. It is similar to the trees losing their leaves; you are shedding what is no longer serving you as you ready yourself for the coming cold months.
During a Fall Cleanse or Detox, we honor the lungs and the large intestine.
Physical: Optimal delivery of oxygen. Supports healthy immune system and good digestion. Preventative against colds and winter congestion.
Emotional: Release feelings of sadness and prevent the "winter blues."
Physical: Cleanse and support for healthy functioning, better support of the immune system and optimal digestion.
Emotional: Release negative emotions that are not serving the body well. Letting go.
Hopefully this helps to understand why cleansing in the Fall is so vital and important to our health in the coming winter months. It really is essential to keeping your immune system up and running at its best to protect you!
My first Fall Clean Eating Group Program began today and we have an amazing group that are committed to cleansing in a fun, healthy way. That group is now closed but the second group is now open for registration and will begin November 4th. In addition, if you are looking to get started on your own schedule, there is a DIY option available as well.
I highly recommend joining in this Fall with my incredible program and support the entire step of the way. You will be so glad you did!
I have always worked full-time since my daughter was born so I haven't had the chance to be a "PTA Mom." I was always willing to send in $20 for whatever the PTA needed, but I just didn't have the time to volunteer myself. This year, my daughter started middle school (6th Grade) and I decided that I would find time to be more involved. I am realizing how fast these years are flying by and want to make sure I don't miss anything. I also want to know what is going on with her and the school that she spends 8 hours at each day.
So when I saw there was an opening for the "Healthy Lifestyles Chair" I immediately signed up. I didn't give myself time to second guess it or list all the reasons why I couldn't do it. How could I not make time for something like this?
So tonight I am sitting here trying to put together my official Plan Of Work for this position that apparently has no history or guidelines to work from. I have been reading until my eyes are crossing about what other schools in Texas have done. What I am discovering is exactly why we need more health information in our schools.
Here are a few statistics that I came across that are really alarming:
Most kids, and lots of adults, naturally reach for a Coke or energy drink when they are thirsty or feeling tired. It has become a full blown habit. And we all know that habits are hard to break.
Every time we drink a sugary soda, we are consuming a huge amount of sugar and completely empty calories. So what do we do? What can I do with this position I have volunteered for? I think the answer is education. Many kids have no idea how bad these sodas and energy drinks are for them. Did you know that one 20 ounce can of Coke has 17.6 teaspoons of sugar? Drinking just one of these a day could contribute enough extra calories to equal 27 pounds a year. Now that is just crazy!
Here is what I propose for parents out there:
I still have to finish writing my POW for the PTA. I am not even sure where to start! But I am going to do my best to fulfill this position as best I can.
This article I wrote originally appeared on Mind, Body, Green July 27, 2013.
I had an article run on Mind, Body, Green a few weeks ago and had great response from readers. They changed my title to "10 Signs You're Eating Right for Your Body" but I still like mine better: "10 Side Effects of Eating Healthy."
In case you missed it, here is the full article:
Two years ago, I made it my mission to eat a healthy diet filled with whole foods and fresh vegetables. This wasn't just a personal decision, I did it for my family as well. (Back then, my idea of a veggie was fried okra or a red pepper slipping into my chicken fajita). Needless to say, it took me a while and lots of experimenting, but it was the best decision I've ever made (besides marrying my husband, of course)! Now that I know what foods work for me, I wanted to let you know what you can expect when you start to make fresh vegetables a staple of your diet.
1. You poop regularly.
Let's just get this one out of the way. So many people don’t talk about it, but going #2 is vital and you should be doing this every day. I know people for whom “normal” is once a week. That is so far from normal and I cannot even imagine
how uncomfortable that must be. Eating healthy means pooping regularly.
2. You maintain a healthy weight without stressing or obsessing.
Perhaps obvious, this is an amazing side effect! So many people struggle to reach and maintain a healthy weight. If you makeover your diet to real, whole foods, your weight will go down and stay down. No need to count calories, fat grams, weigh your food on a scale, or count points.
3. After dinner, you actually have the energy to go see a movie.
So often, my husband and I would go out for Mexican food planning to see a movie or get a drink afterward. But once we
walked out of the restaurant, we were both so bloated and full that all we wanted to do was go home and get on the couch. If you have a sensible dinner, you'll have all the energy in the world to dance til midnight if you choose.
4. Your clothes fit better.
This is true until they start to fall off. You'll find the first few weeks that your favorite jeans are a little baggy. And then one day you have to go buy a belt. Then you'll have to go buy a new pair of jeans. (I don’t know about you, but going into the Gap and picking out a smaller size was for me, a very good day.)
5. Your sex drive goes up.
Yep, this is true! When people feel and look better, they are more open with their bodies, which leads to you-know-what.
I've read quite a few stories from men who go meat-free for a month and have had amazing results in the bedroom.
6. You sleep better.
When I used to make a habit of eating things that were bad for me, I'd sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with a horrible stomach ache. I used to assume I had a stomach virus, because I had no idea it because I was eating the wrong foods for my body. I now lay my head down, turn on my meditation app, and am in dream land in no time.
7. You're happier.
This is a pretty broad and bold statement, but when you feel better, you're generally happier. You will find yourself talking to strangers and maybe even giving advice to people at the grocery store. I find myself holding doors for people, letting a rushed driver cut in front of me and not even minding. Feeling healthy makes you happy, happy, happy.
8. Your friends think you're a little weird.
Expect this side effect at the beginning. When you go out and they order the usual high-calorie, fatty and greasy food, while you order an amazing salad, they're going to think you've lost your mind. Don’t worry, after time, they'll get used to it, but you'll have to listen to their justifications about how crazy you are for a while. Even better is going to a coffee shop and ordering hot tea or making a yummy smoothie in the break room at the office. This will make their head spin.
9. You stop taking over-the-counter meds.
I used to have major allergies that would turn into full blown sinus infections several times a year. I cringe when I think of how many rounds of antibiotics I used to take, or how I'd get ticked off if they didn’t give me a Z-Pak. I have not had any of these infections in well over a year now. Others completely reversed, (yes, reversed!) their Type 2 diabetes by doing
nothing other than changing what they eat. Could food be the miracle drug we're all looking for?
10. You want to tell the world your story.
This will happen as you slowly change your thinking and your habits. Once it's been a few months and you've experienced all the side effects above, you'll want to shout it to the world!
Go ahead, you might just save someone’s life.
This article below, as seen on MindBodyGreen.com
This is a hard subject to speak about as some might judge or label me, but I want to share my story in hopes that it can help others avoid the nightmare I was in for three months.
I can trace back my first anxiety/panic attack to a week after my mom died in 2009. I decided I needed to get away after dropping everything in my life, including my job, to take care of her for a year while she battled her second round of breast cancer. It was my first trip alone and it was going well until I decided to take a taxi into Playa to do some shopping. Something told me it was too dangerous to do alone. As I waited for the taxi, I started to sweat and immediately felt so queasy like I was going to throw up. I assumed it was something I had eaten or maybe I had accidentally drank the wrong Mexican water.
I didn’t experience this again until I started traveling heavily for work in 2011 and 2012. Almost every time I ended up getting “sick” in my hotel or while navigating the ridiculous turnpikes in New Jersey. I had to fly home early from Florida once and decided I needed to figure out what was going on.
I had every test done through my gastroenterologist and all they could tell me was that I had a leaky gut and some inflammation in my stomach. They promptly gave me acid reflux medication and sent me on my way.
I tried every single holistic method to control my anxiety. I did deep breathing exercises, drank tea and tried meditation. I even went to a place that hooks your brain up to a computer for an hour trying to change your patterns. I took every supplement that I could find that was supposed to help with anxiety. I went to an acupuncturist, a naturopathic doctor, therapy and many other places to seek help. I changed my diet drastically as well.
From there, I was okay through Christmas and in January everything started to unravel. I was getting nervous and sick at my house, which was my safe haven. And it wouldn’t stop. I was in a constant state of panic and couldn’t sleep, eat or even function. I was literally a prisoner in my own home. I went to the ER more times than I care to admit thinking I was having a heart attack or dying. They really couldn’t help me and would give me an IV and some Ativan and send me home. I would feel better for about 4 hours and then right back to where I was before.
Over the next three months my weight got so low that I would have to go in for IV fluids since my anxiety was so high that I couldn’t eat…not a bite. I had to spend the night in the hospital once in order to get my nourishment back to somewhere near normal. From there, it got to the point where I couldn’t even leave the house to take my daughter to school which is actually in our neighborhood. I was terrified and didn’t want to admit that I had a problem that had nothing to do with anything physical. How do you admit to yourself that it’s your brain causing all these horrific physical ailments?
My mother –in–law showed up one Saturday at our house and freaked out when she saw me. My hip bones were sticking out and I just looked incredibly unhealthy and sick. My very supportive husband and I decided that we had to do something to get me well. I had been seeing a psychiatrist who was continually changing my medications which was making me even sicker. It was the worst thing I have ever been through.
That night I made the hardest decision and checked myself into a psychiatric hospital where I spent the next week focusing on myself. I was so against taking medication but finally admitted it was my only option at that point. At the hospital, I got the right medication and medical help to gain back my appetite and finally feel okay.
I was on a floor with patients dealing with anxiety and depression so as you can imagine, it was a very calm atmosphere! I was able to see that I wasn’t “broken” and that I wasn’t alone. I had an instant support group of people that were going through some of the exact same things that I was. We were able to learn from each other and help encourage each other.
After leaving the hospital, I completed five weeks of out-patient DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) where I learned to deal with my brain’s “false signals” of danger. I learned so much about myself and my triggers. I started seeing a new psychiatrist who is much more in line with my needs and beliefs. I also go to my Life Coach who has been amazing in helping me move forward and face my fears.
How did I end up here?
I am an only child and both my parents died at a young age of cancer. Being a single mom during this time, I never took the time to grieve or deal with my emotions around both these huge losses.
I worked full-time at a job that had me on the road several times a month going to strange cities and having to navigate them alone.
I was in school and had weekly lessons and lectures which took up most of my free time.
I was having custody battles with my ex-husband.
I was in the process of creating my own Health Coaching business from scratch.
I had a daughter that had volleyball practice three nights a week and all day tournaments every Saturday.
If I did something, it had to be perfect. There was no room for error in my head. I had such ridiculously high and unobtainable expectations for myself.
Just thinking back, it’s no wonder I hit rock bottom. I just couldn’t handle it all. Since then, I have learned to put myself first because when I don’t, I am no use to anyone around me.
How I put myself first:
I spoke to my boss and cut out the travel aspect of my job. I am now home with my family every night and that is really what is important in life.
I set small goals. I was 10 weeks behind in my school work so I set a goal to do 2 hours daily until I caught up. Sticking to my plan and goals allowed me to catch up with ease.
I get a pedicure or a massage at least once a month. These are treats for me that allow me to disconnect from everything, if only for an hour.
I use essential oils that are calming and relaxing, as well as some that help me focus better during my work day.
I started my Health Coaching business very slowly and am working up from there. I now understand that slowly growing my business is better than a rapid growth that I couldn’t manage.
I walk my dog more and ride bikes with my daughter.
I fall asleep every night listening to a guided meditation that I downloaded on my phone.
This entire experience has been a blessing in many ways. I have learned so much about myself and what is really important in life. I still have to be cautious daily to not go back down the anxiety road, but if it happens, I now have the skills and knowledge to keep myself healthy.
My mission as a Certified Health Coach is to make the world a happier, healthier place, one person, one meal at a time, with love and gratitude. I work to inspire others to live a life of prevention and overall wellness!