Monday, April 28, 2014

Featured Interview: Sarah {MABBA competitor}

Happy Monday everyone!  Today I am bringing you a lovely interview that I did with a friend and fitness buff, here in Winnipeg.  Ms. Sarah just finished her second MABBA competition this year and while I was doing her fitness photoshoot, we got to talking about bodybuilding, the intense training and the feedback she gets from other people. So, I thought it might be neat for people who might be considering competing or those that wonder how easy it is to get the body of a fitness competitor.  Without further adieu, here is my interview with Sarah!


T: What motivated you to start training?

S: I have always been in shape and have loved the gym.  I had never been trained by a professional though and previous to having a baby had been interested in the possibility of doing a fitness competition one day.  After having Amelia and putting on and keeping a tiny bit of extra weight I felt there was no better time than now to train to compete.  I googled, in search of a trainer, and found Katie at Fit-Fire Fitness and here I am today;  I just finished my second competition.  Other than wanting to get into the best shape of my life I also wanted to challenge myself to go into the spotlight and show myself off on a stage.  I have never really been on a stage or been the center of attention (nor wanted to be).  I never took dance classes or anything growing up or anything that required me to be on a stage in front of people (other than piano recital and Christmas concerts for elementary school).  Training to compete gives me the challenge to better my physique but also challenges me to get out of my comfort zone by show off a little and challenging my confidence.

T: What was the hardest thing to overcome when you started training?

S: The hardest thing was changing my diet and eating clean.  I loooooove food and love my sauces and gravy's and sugars, etc….so taking all that out of my diet was very hard.  The posing practice was always tough because I am not naturally flirty or "sexy" so it was hard to put on that bubbly "fa├žade" and prance in front of a mirror, let alone a crowd of people! I am still very much working on my stage presence and confidence.




T: What was your biggest motivation?

S: My motivation was the challenge I was giving myself.  I just wanted to get into the same shape I was before I had a baby and into even better shape!  It also motivated me thinking that I was increasing my confidence and challenging myself outside of my comfort which only makes me a better person I feel.  In the end my only competition is myself.

T: I know you said that you wanted people to know that even though you look super healthy right now, you aren’t at all. Can you explain this in a bit more detail?

S: I'll first mention that I am not a doctor or a nutritionist or anything like that so this is mostly in my opinion and understanding.  I mentioned to you that I am not necessarily healthy at the moment because it is true, being so close to a competition when I shot photo's with you (a day after I competed) I am at a very low body fat percentage.  My percentage was less than 8% and is less than 8% within the last month of training and at competition day.  It is said that to function at a normal level women should have at least 11% body fat and 12% for men (I believe those are the stats, but, again, I am not a doctor).  I may be eating healthy by eating in small portions and often and eating very clean (which is good) but I am also working out A LOT and putting my body through a lot of stress with all the training I do in the gym.  I'll also mention that we are playing with our diet a lot especially the last couple of weeks before competition we are eliminating a lot of fats/carbs and dairy as well as the last 1-2 days before competition where we are depleting our water which is clearly not a healthy thing not to mention the day of competition where we are trying not to drink any fluids at all! (water is very important to drink! While training I drink at least 1.5 litres just while I work out!)  It is not realistic for me to think that I will keep this body post competition nor is it healthy.  A competitor does this for that big day and once that big day is done we will put that body fat back on and won't look like we do on stage all year round…and if we do? In my opinion it is not healthy or normal to look like that all the time…unless someone is just naturally blessed with that body then good for them and I am jealous!



T: How did you feel after your first competition when a bit of weight came back on? Were you sad? Disappointed? Etc.

S: To be honest I was aware that I would put the weight on so it didn't bother me as much as you or I may think…I was, however, a little disappointed that I didn’t have that body for very long.  I immediately bloated up and felt like I put back all the body fat within a week of the competition!  After my first competition I just ate and ate and ate which I regretted because I felt I could have and should have continued eating clean.  My trainer made sure I knew, while I was training, that it was not realistic to have that body at all times and to be aware that I may not look like that after the competition and that I would bloat up.  I think knowing this helped me not be too disappointed as I was already prepared and aware.

T: What surprised you the most during your journey?

S:  I was pretty amazed by how quickly your body starts changing from eating clean.  I immediately lost probably around 5% body fat within a month, I believe, when I first started (I started at around 20% body fat when I first started training for my first competition).  All the changes and all the new muscles I saw develop was just amazing….I have never felt the striations of a muscle until I trained to compete.  My muscles have come so far in their growth and it is pretty cool to watch happen!



T: Is healthy eating/working out something that you think you will keep doing?

S: I will definitely continue eating clean as much as possible (with cheats along the way of course!)  There are so many new recipes out there now a days with the new "eat clean" craze, so I plan to take advantage of these recipes and continue to find ways to still enjoy flavours of food but also try and make clean choices at the same time.  I love working out; it is my biggest passion so I will definitely continue with my fitness and trying to grow (I want a bigger bum!) as well as compete again.  I haven not been to the gym in almost a week and I am so excited to go back today I can hardly wait to get to the squat rack!  It is not about weight loss for me though (I definitely don’t need to lose weight but only gain it) it is about weight gain in the end because I want to increase muscle and be healthy.

T: To somebody who wants to start training for a fitness competition what would your biggest advice be? (aside from getting Teri to do your “after” photos bahaha!)

S: Have a good trainer that is looking out for you! There are so many trainers out there just looking for your money so be wary!  I have heard so many competitors say how upset they were when they bloated up after and tell me that their trainer didn't prepare them for that or give them a post competition plan.  I was very lucky to find my trainer (Katie at Fit-Fire Fitness).  She supports me 100%, is there for me to ask questions at any time and doesn’t make me feel stupid when I ask the silly questions (which I do weekly).  She cares about all of her clients well beings and makes sure she helps you set realistic goals.  You need a trainer who cares to give you a game plan for after the competition and help you understand the changes your body will go through.  Do not try and train yourself for a competition.  You need a trainer who knows what they are doing.  The other big advise would be to be aware that the body that is produced for a competition is not something that is kept all year round.  You have to be aware of your body and love it even with 20+% body fat and be aware that your body fat will go up after competing.  Many competitors go through a "post competition depression" so you just have to be very strong willed and know these things and be aware to avoid becoming depressed post competition.  Have a good support system but also be good/strong support for yourself by knowing yourself and your body.  Be prepared also mentally that there is a good likelihood that you may not place in top 5 in your first, second or third competition….Do not set yourself up for disappointment in that way.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Attention Ladies!!

Omigoodness!!  I totally have to share some awesome stuff with you!  Since I am doing a boudoir session in June, I have gone a bit crazy as far as acquiring outfits for the shoot goes.  The hard part is that I am a plus size lady and not in the super lovely curvy way....more like a ruler with the odd bulge here and there, so finding lingerie that A)fits and B)is flattering has always been a struggle.  Then I found Yandy.com and my life has been forever changed!! Not only do they have a massive selection of beautiful lingerie, but it is relatively inexpensive and they have everything from the very sweet to the extremely erotic (if that's your thing). 


But seriously, for plus size ladies this is a gold mine!!  I literally spent a few hours just going through all the things and narrowing it down to a few outfits!!  I am so excited about how these garments made me feel and I think it is important for ladies to do that for themselves from time to time.  It will be even more awesome when I have my boudoir session (though I am slightly nervous...most of you know that I love to show off my Grumpy Cat face when a camera is on me).  I have posted a few phone pics of me in 2 of the outfits so you can see the fit of them, so if you have an aversion to bigger ladies in skimpy clothing, close your browser.  The first one is a bodysuit (SO comfortable) and the second one is a negligee and panty set.  Seriously, check out their site!!  You also get stickers and I was impressed with the time frame of delivery!



Anywho, I just wanted to share that with you, because if you are a plus size gal like me who likes to look sexy but not pay hundreds of $$, then this is the place to go.  I will certainly order from them again!! YAY!
 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter is Over...

....so let the diabetic coma commence....Happy Easter Monday, everyone!!  I hope you found yourself surviving after a weekend full of chocolate, sweets, and suppers!  I didn't fare so well, but it wasn't due to Easter.  It was a result of me having to help my sister prepare for a wedding dessert table on Saturday and therefore, I consumed copious amounts of sugary baked goods.  Oh man, did I ever feel sick.  Yesterday wasn't much better, however, as I had an all day photo shoot and the only sustenance we had at the studio was Timbits and coffee...while I refrained from eating ALL of them, I piled them on top of all the other crap I ate the day before.  Interestingly enough, however, I have been craving protein like there is no tomorrow....and green juice.  All I think about is making green juices...perhaps a 3-day detox is in order, hmmmm.


One of my pleasures from the weekend was taking Ms. Madi to her ballet class on Saturday morning and it was sooooooo cute!  Seriously, I cried a bit because of the cuteness.



I also had the pleasure of attending my first fashion show with Stephanie on Saturday night and it was quite fun!  Dee-Karpa's designs were beautiful and it was cool because we had seats in the front row!! YAY!  It was nice to get out and it was beautiful enough outside that I didn't even wear tights under my skirt!! Scandalous, I know.




Oh!  I wanted to share the recipe for the most delicious oatmeal cake thing I have ever made/ate.  It was absolutely fantastic and really easy to make!  The hardest part was not eating it all!  You can check out the recipe over at mindbodygreen.com!  Seriously, the yummiest!!

Lastly, for Easter my momma gave me a basil plant and it smells so lovely.  I think I may give urban gardening a go this year.  It's nice to have my own herbs when I want them!  In fact, I used some of the leaves for a delicious chicken, basil, goat cheese pizza for this evening!!



Anyhow, stay tuned over the next few days because I am going to have some features on some lovely ladies that are sharing their knowledge on health and wellness!  Plus I tried out some new activities which you definitely need to hear about!!  Have a great week!! Ps. enjoy the sun and this little picture I found and thought was hilarious:


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Blog Post Full of Small Rants (with a bit of swearing)

Do you ever have those days where you accumulate all of your thoughts and just have a lot of negativity hanging around taking up space?  Well, I do and normally I would write in a journal, but this is essentially my journal.  Here are things that I have been feeling anger/frustration/sadness towards lately.  The purpose of this post is not to make you feel negative or sad, but for me to have a vent session.  Plus there are some positive things at the end!!

motivation, inspiration, quotes, home decor

Rant #1:  Health Food Stores Vs. Grocery Stores

Does anyone else find it interesting that we have grocery stores and then we have health food stores?  I was thinking about this the other day when I went into Superstore and then in my mind said "Oh! I need to get such and such at the health food store" and realized that those grocery stores and health food stores are 2 different things.  That is also alarming because most people buy ALL of their groceries at the Superstores, Safeways, Costcos, etc. and yes, I know they have an "organic" section and what not, but it really only recently became this way.



Rant #2: The Inability of the Government to Put People Before $$

After watching numerous documentaries I am extremely pissed off with the government and the difficulty that local producers/farmers/bakers have in preparing food for local people and even just their families.  They say it's for the safety of the community, but I am sorry, I find that to be a massive amount of bullshit.  Small local businesses go through a lot more inspection, red tape, and harassment from the provincial and federal government than the franchised, big name corporation restaurants and its horrific.  If they truly had the community's interest at heart, they would not allow so many preservatives, chemical laden "food" items, etc. that come through the corporate restaurants, but instead they are picking on the little guy.  Personally, I would much rather "take my chances" with eating a burger made from local bison meat with local produce on a homemade bun, than I would grabbing a "hamburger" from a fast food chain store.  I just want there to be consistency...meaning if local restaurants/farmers/producers are subject to daily healthy inspections so should EVERY restaurant, including the franchises.Anyhow, I plan to work with local advocacy groups to make the laws easier for local producers....our voices need to be heard.  If you want to know what documentaries I watched, just shoot me an email or check back a few blog posts.

(photo credit: http://www.bayoucityoutdoors.com/clubportal/ClubStatic.cfm?clubID=3&pubmenuoptID=11318)

Rant #3: Haters

I hate how people hate on people for being healthy or achieving a goal.  I understand that a lot of it has to do with a person's insecurity about themselves, but it absolutely angers me.  If a person feels their priority is to get healthy, that's their choice.  You don't know their story, you don't know what they are dealing with, etc.  Stop hating it and let them be pleased with their accomplishments.  And before you complain that "all I ever see is their fitness photos in my news feed...", please take a look at the numerous baby/dog/cat/selfie photos that probably fill your own Facebook wall.  And if your life is fabulous and you don't post excessively on Facebook, you aren't on it enough for people's accomplishments to matter.  The golden rule, if you can't say anything nice about someone...shut the hell up.




I think that is good for now.  I don't want this to be a completely negative post, but those are a few things that really tick me off and I just had to vent.  Now, I shall enjoy some yummy tea now that I have removed these negative thoughts.  On a positive note, tonight I create the best Fa-MEAT-a EVER!!  I roasted the peppers in the oven, plucked some fresh organic cilantro, put some salsa on the wrap and topped 'er off with good ol' ground turkey in cumin.  Yum, yum, yum. 




 Ooh also!  There is another documentary set to come out about the addictive properties of sugar....I cannot wait to watch it (then you can probably expect another rant post :P).  Here's the teaser:

http://www.takepart.com/video/2014/04/15/fed-up-trailer?cmpid=longt



Sunday, April 13, 2014

I Recently Got into Swinging

No, not like that you bunch of pervs.  This morning I found myself, clad in yoga gear, hanging from a hammock suspended from the ceiling at Monica's Danz Gym.  Today I threw myself full force into Aerial Yoga and had a pretty amazing time!  My lack of flexibility didn't prove to be too much of a problem and I recognized early on that there is a huge trust factor in throwing all of your body weight into a hammock sling that is a few feet from the ground.


We started off doing the standard yoga type exercises, just incorporating the hammock and keeping your body lifted off the floor.  The first move we did was literally like being put into a little cocoon.  The hammock spreads out and surrounds the body as you focus on breathing, relaxing, and trusting.  About halfway through was when we started to get a little crazy and did some inversions where we wrap our legs around the sides of the hammock and then hang upside down, wrapped up in the cloth.  It is quite liberating and took me right back to the days of hanging upside down on the monkey bars at school.

http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/22/a4/c2/22a4c2e3f4365f5b7647c7280cf048cc.jpg
(image from: http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/22/a4/c2/22a4c2e3f4365f5b7647c7280cf048cc.jpg)

I am planning on doing a short video for the blog in about 2 weeks to show you the different types of poses that we go through!  If nothing else, it will be funny for you to watch me attempt to maneuver "gracefully" through the hammock.  I strongly recommend this class to anyone wanting to get into something new and I am going to actually sign up for 6 classes, but you can go for just a drop in which costs $20.  It is totally worth it! 

At first I didn't know that this activity even existed, but I had seen it on Bethanny Frankel's talk show once and thought it looked really fun.  




I am quite happy that not only is this offered in Winnipeg, but it is literally 10 minutes from my home (faster depending on the lights). If nothing else, the class will make you feel like you are part of Cirque de Soleil...at least for a few minutes, until you glance in the mirror and see your posture and the faces you making trying to get into position.
How did it make me feel?  Super energized.  You spend a bit of time being upside down which gets the blood flowing to all parts of your body and relieves the pressure from all of the other lower body parts.  I remember when I was in South Korea, the outdoor workout parks would have inversion tables for this reason alone...plus you grow a couple inches (in height, guys.  Sorry.)  What I found extremely intriguing, was that at the end of the class we went back into our little cocoons and my spine area felt cool and refreshed.  I feel so good and so energized!  I think I will go back for Friday and Sunday classes!  And don't forget to check back in a few weeks for the video post on it ;)




Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Little Less Pop and Lock

I just want to start of by giving a big thank you to everyone who read, shared, and responded to last night's post.  I definitely appreciate the support and it motivates me to learn more about PCOS so that I can hopefully educate other women about it.


Anywho, I wanted to take today to tell you about my visit to....the chiropractor!!  Yes, that is correct!  I have this weird issue with my right shoulder (I mentioned it before I think) and I have been experiencing lack of mobility and even though I felt great after my massage, I wanted to see if there was something else that could assist in providing me some relief.  My mom told me about this place called Performance Chiropractic in the south end and advised me that they are more about holistic healing and really cool techniques, so I decided to give it a shot!

During my appointment she asked what was wrong with my shoulder and so I advised her on the issue and then she took this little gun type thing and started pressing it into my shoulder, back, neck, etc.

Essentially it bops all the bits back into place, I am guessing and it is pain free, but extremely powerful!  It is called the Koren Specific Technique.  The best part, is the fact that there is no cracking, popping, or twisting and instead you sit there and let her bop you with the little machine.  She also checks the alignment of the skull, the base of the neck and the rest of the body and then works her magic!  When I first got there, to show the limited movement I tried to do a full arm circle and could not.  At the end of the appointment, I could not only do full arm circles, but there was no pain...AT ALL!  The unfortunate thing is that it is not something that heals it forever and until the right muscles and joints are working together efficiently (through stretches and exercises that she taught me) I will have to continue to go as long as I want.

 
So, yes, I am on the road to recovery in regards to my right side!  I also have been getting my massages and last time I fell asleep it felt so good :D  I love back rubs and back scratches, so I think I may have found a new addiction!


 I also purchased one of the exercise balls from Pilates Manitoba so I could do some of the work at home...I found that when I was doing the floor exercises my core was much stronger and my lady problems were not as severe.  Plus, it is fun to throw around the house!
Lastly, tomorrow I am going to be participating in a majorly fun activity and I will write all about it (hopefully!) tomorrow!  I am so excited!!  Enjoy your weekend!


Friday, April 11, 2014

Coming to Terms

I know when I set out to write this blog I stated that I didn't care about losing weight necessarily and that it wasn't the primary goal.  Well, I tried.  I really did, but of course it was always in the back of my mind.  Yes, yes, the ultimate goal was and still is to get healthy and fix my lady problems and what not, but it still sucked when the weight wouldn't go down and it made me feel crappy about myself.


The other day, I came across a super inspirational video about a woman, Whitney Thore, who used to be athletic and small (like I once was) but eventually her PCOS and various hormonal issues caused her weight to creep up. After battling her new (and larger) body, and hating herself as a result of it, she finally had enough and came to terms with the body she has.  She is now an ambassador for body acceptance everywhere and watching this video kicked me in the ass.  Check it out here:



So, what did I learn from this?  I need to be satisfied with where my body is NOW.  At least I have one.  At least I am healthy.  80% of the time I am eating clean, healthy food and drinking a lot of water.  I get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.  I don't smoke, I don't drink alcohol, I have never done drugs (aside from copious amounts of Advil once a week every month).  I get sick once a year, if that.  Overall, I am relatively healthy.  So why am I the weight I am?  This is the question that frustrated me every single day.  What am I doing wrong?  What can I do differently?



Well, what I can do differently is that I can stop worrying about my body's size and instead, appreciate it for what it can do .  I am able to dance in ballet and while yes, I look much bigger than the other ladies in the class, it hasn't stopped me from attending ANY of the classes or practicing at home.  I am capable of doing TRX to the point of almost throwing up, but powering through.  I am able to go for walks with my boyfriend and enjoy the fresh air. You get my point, despite my size, I am capable of many things.  In fact, my naturopath did say that my body will be handy for if I ever get extremely sick and cannot eat, then my body will have something feast on before it gets to my muscle mass. (Thanks?)



Today, I went into Addition-Elle and bought a beautiful underwear set and admired their amazing clothes.  I went online the other day to look at all the amazing plus size garments and loved the body confidence the models displayed.  Today I decided I wanted to be one of them.  Someone who maintains a healthy lifestyle, but accepts the hand they're given!  I don't want to be the person that spends 3+ hours/day in the gym to achieve and maintain a figure that is not meant for me. I want to be a positive role model for all those 12 year old girls that are going through what I went through.  I want to show them that despite their size, they can be strong, funny, smart, caring, and beautiful.  I spoke with Jill, one of the models from Panache who is transitioning from their "regular" models to the plus model department and I asked her if it was difficult.  She told me that it was easier for her...there was less stress and while all the other girls were eating next to nothing, she could maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle that was not revolving around a diet.

And before anybody even THINKS about commenting on the above picture saying she isn't "plus size" please realize that the modeling industry has crazy standards in regards to that.  Jill is a curvy model and thus is in the plus size division.  There is nothing more that I hate than ladies hating on each other....there is not reason for body shaming of any size.  Just as it is unacceptable for someone who is a size 4 to shame a size 22, it is also unacceptable for a size 18 to put down a size 10.  Stop the body shame, ladies, there are bigger things for us to worry about!! (but this is for another blog post)  



I want to be the role model for the big girl who is built like a brick shit house (thanks, Dad) and does not have perfect proportions for a "curvy" model.  For all the "ruler" shaped body types, I want to be someone they can look to and say, "Hey! I can look good wearing that or doing that!"  I want to inspire girls AND boys to recognize their biggest potential lies in their heart and soul and not in their clothing size.  I want to work with body positive organizations that help individuals except themselves for who they are and it's recognize that it's not about changing the views of society, but changing the views of the individual for themselves.



 I will no longer tell myself that I must be lazy because I am overweight or I must eat horridly because I am over 200 lbs.  My weight gain has come over the past few years and while I am certain my past eating habits did contribute to it, I am no longer the person I used to be (good-bye my 20s!) and the changes in my metabolic and hormonal balances make it more difficult to lose weight as efficiently as most people.  Just because I am accepting my body for where it's at right now, doesn't mean I am going to use it as an excuse to eat shitty food or stop working out.  In fact it's the opposite.  For me, it's not as simple as cutting down on the food, working out more, and taking all the right vitamins but rather an effort to find what works for me.  Perhaps that will be my contribution to the world....I will find the right way to eat and workout to help other women who struggle from PCOS and similar hormonal imbalances.

(Ps. this is NOT the right way :P)

Essentially, I want to look in the mirror and not look at the roundness of my face with disgust.  I don't want to feel the urge to use the liquify tool in Photoshop whenever I see a picture of myself and I don't want to hate myself for what I look like.  I want to flaunt my squishiness and love my fat for it keeps me warm in the winter (and God knows we spend a lot of time there) and I want to smile when I see myself in the mirror.


So, I know this blog post was slightly rant-y but it was driven by passion and my excitement for my self-approval.  So what can you look forward to in this blog?  The same kind of things!! My research and findings as I learn more about food and science, my new activities that I try that scare the hell out of me, and my self acceptance and love!  Despite your size and your struggles, join me in loving you for YOU and not your pants size!





Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I Accept My Fate...

....I pretty much ate non-stop today.  Why, you ask?  Well, to be perfectly honest it is because the devil is apparently housed in my uterus and this makes my brain think I am continuously hungry for ALL the things.  While I didn't eat anything horrendous....I just ate continuously.  I ate rice cakes with organic pb and bananas...at MIDNIGHT!! Ugh.  Peanut butter makes me feel gross so I shall accept whatever fate awaits me tomorrow morning. sigh. 




That being said, I started off the day quite well with a pre-made breakfast.  It's a recipe you have probably seen kicking around Pinterest and Facebook and I finally got around to making it!  Essentially you mix together oatmeal, chia seeds, raspberries, banana, greek yogurt, a smidge of honey (or maple syrup) let it sit overnight in a container and by morning you breakfast will be ready to go!  I believe for exact measurements you can search no-cook refrigerator oatmeal and there are a number of ways to create this delicacy!  Give it a go, you will not be disappointed.


In other news, I am so incredibly happy that it is getting warmer!! For 2 days I have been able to venture outside with a hoodie on!!!  No jacket required!!  Last night, Ryan and I went for a walk after dinner and it was quite lovely (but got chilly on the way home!)  It was nice to breathe fresh air, spend some time laughing and chatting together, and just getting refreshed.  Today, however, I wore sweatpants, did some photoshoots in my basement and worked on photos.  Didn't really feel like moving too much.



Saturday, April 5, 2014

Holistic Health Happiness

Remember a few posts back, I introduced to you Heather Schiller, my Pilates instructor and holistic educator and I told you that I would be writing a blog post dedicated to all the fun information she provided us, well, today is the day!



While I won't go over everything (you don't have enough time to sit and read it all, plus it's a good excuse to visit Heather for more info!) I will touch on the few things that definitely stood out for me!

Every week of Pilates was dedicated to helping combat and learn about 1 area of improvement so I have separated them here for you, so you can learn about each thing as we did.

1. HEALING INFLAMMATION

"Inflammation is an immune response to injury, toxins, allergy or infection.  It surfaces as redness, pain, heat, and swelling in the affected area."  We have all seen and felt inflammation when we experience a bruise, cut, or sprain, but we can also experience inflammation in our gut, which is the most problematic place to experience it.

"More than 70% of our immune system cells are found in our gut, so what we eat largely contributes to how our immune system responds."  The unfortunate thing about this is that every body is different and therefore what affects one person maybe a wonder to another.  This is why it is important to stay from diets that focus on ALL people because no 2 people are the same.  Work with a naturopath, nutritionist, dietician, holistic health coach, etc. to go through tests and find out what is hurting and helping you in terms of food and use that knowledge to create your own "diet."

There are 6 main causes of inflammation:
1. toxicity
2.infection
3.allergy
4.nutritional deficiency or excess
5.injury
6.emotional trauma (mental stress)

Foods that elevate our blood sugar contribute to inflammation, such as processed foods, refined sugars, starches, refined white flour, fast food, etc.  Interesting items that can contribute to inflammation are vegetables in the nightshade family like eggplants, peppers, tobacco and tomatoes.  These foods have alkaloids that can affect nerve-muscle function, digestion, and joint flexibility.

So, since a lot of these things happen to us without our knowledge or ability to prevent them, we need to take precautions to help our bodies' immune system work at its best.  We can do that by consuming anti-inflammatory foods!  This includes fresh vegetables and fruits, green tea, healthy oils, Omega-3 fatty acids, meat, nuts, seeds, beans, etc.  By consuming a diet rich in fresh and organically rich foods, we can help heal the digestive lining and prevent other forms of inflammation throughout the body.

2. OXIDATIVE STRESS

A lot of people are unaware as to what oxidative stress is and the best example I can give is when you cut an apple in half.  If you dribble lemon juice (high with antioxidant vitamin C) on one half and not on the other and let the 2 halves sit out in the air, you will notice that the one half will turn brown (without the lemon juice) while the other one stays fresher longer (with the lemon juice).


 (The one on the right shows more signs of aging as a result of being exposed to the air where as the left apple has been preserved a bit longer with the antioxidant properties of the lemon juice :D)

Oxidative stress is something that is going to happen to us regardless of whether we want it to or not...it's called aging.  For most of us, however, we help this process along by subjecting ourselves to high amounts of stress (!!), too much sunlight, process foods, pollution, excess smoke, alcohol, and drugs(prescription included).  Our energy lessens, our skin becomes wrinkly, our posture is hunched, and more and more healthy complications start adding up. 
(This could be you ^^) image by Sandy Powers

How do we combat this?  It's not by slathering tons of anti-aging lotions or getting a daily shot of botox.  I hate to tell you, it's what we all know to be true: eat your vegetables and fruit!  Foods in high doses of antioxidants will help to provide clear eyes, strong gums and teeth, healthy muscles, tissues, and organs and provide a greater energy.

Well, what foods are high in antioxidants?  Essentially all fruits and vegetables provide us with these in their own way.  The green fruits and vegetables help protect against cancer, improve eyesight, and help reduce birth defects.  The yellow/orange fruits and vegetables give us Vitamin A which maintain healthy mucous membranes and healthy eyes, reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and improve immune system function.  The red fruits and vegetables may help reduce risk of several types of cancer, especially prostrate cancer.  They also protect cells from damage.  Purple and blue fruits protect cells from damage and improve the health of blood vessels, skin and the brain in addition to having been link to improved memory function and healthy aging.  White fruits and vegetables may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and may help reduce risk of stomach cancer and heart disease.

3. DIGESTION AND IMMUNE SYSTEM

This information was provided to us by Heather, but from an article in Specific Carbohydrate diet Lifestyle by Jordan Reasoner.

Everything that happens to our gut impacts us.  The gut is responsible for almost everything that happens in our body.  If it's sick, we are sick.  If it hurts, we hurt.  Heather talked to us about Leaky Gut Syndrome and the best way to explain it is that the intestinal lining has become more porous, with more holes developing and the screening out process our intestines are responsible for will no longer function properly leaving a lot of really nasty stuff in our bodies. 

"The intestinal lining is the first mechanism of defense for our immune system.  The outer layers of intestinal cells (epithelial) are connected by structures called tight junctions.....During normal digestion process the tight junctions stay closed, forcing all molecules to effectively be screened and only pass into the blood stream through the mucosa cells."



The body then reacts to these "foreign" bodies in the blood and fights like crazy.  the liver gets called into action and tries to screen out particles that your intestinal lining was supposed to take care of.  More often than not, the liver cannot keep up with the constant flow of waste into the blood and all the toxins and other pathogens start to accumulate in the body.  Now, the immune system kicks in and goes essentially ape-shit to get the bad things out of the body.  This causes inflammation.  Because your body takes care of the big problems first, it is preoccupied with the inflammation and ignores the smaller fights like filtering out the blood, calming the inflamed areas of the body, fighting bacteria, etc. and this is where you find yourself fighting chronic fatigue, MS, IBS, Colitis, etc.  It is suggested that if you are having any food sensitivities to more than a dozen foods, you likely have a leaky gut.  

"When you have a Leaky Gut condition, the damaged microvilli along the intestinal lining cannot manufacture the digestive enzymes they need to break down the food for proper digestion.  The resulting condition allows food molecules to flow into the bloodstream that have not been completely broken down into the nutrients your body needs."

Causes of Leaky Gut:

Diet
Chronic Stress
Inflammation
Medications
Yeast
Lack of Zinc


To get properly diagnosed definitely see your naturopath, holistic health coach, or family doctor and then discuss treatments with them, but here are a few that are standardly the route to take to fix Leaky gut Syndrome:

~diet restriction:  eliminating sugars, starches, grains and any other foods alleviate the inflammation and starves out the yeast overgrowth.  Check out the SCD Diet for more information.

~nutritional supplementing: supplementing with a good multi-vitamin, large amounts of Vitamin D and Zinc will help help the intestinal lining to return to normal.

~probiotics: The diet gets rid of the bad bacteria and you need a constant feed of good bacteria so Acidophilus is a must.

~digestive enzymes: These help to properly break down the foods we eat.

To find out more about Leaky Gut Syndrome in more detail, head here.

It was during this discussion that Heather introduced us to Kefir, which is an acquired taste but insurmountable in health properties.  You can buy Kefir and Kombucha from your local organic store and I bought a bottle of Kombucha from Organza to try.  It was carbonated and "neat" tasting.
 
 (image taken from: www.precisionnutrition.com)


4. INCREASE ENERGY

10 ways to increase energy:

1. Reduce or eliminate caffeine ~ it dehydrates, causes blood sugar to go up and down and makes mood swings more frequent.
2. Drink water ~ before you go to sugar or caffeine, have water and wait to see what happens
3. Eat dark, leafy green vegetables ~ green is associated with spring, the time of renewal and refreshing and vital energy.
4. Use gentle sweets ~ avoid sugar and chemical artificial sweeteners and opt for maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave nectar and stevia or use sweet vegetables like yams, carrots, and beets.
5. Get physical activity ~ go for a walk. Get some oxygen flowing.
6. Get more sleep, rest, and relaxation ~ when you are tired or stressed, your body will crave energy.
7. Evaluate the amount of animal food you eat ~ eating too much meat can lead to low energy but so can too little so just experiment.
8. Take time for yourself ~ find activities that restore your energy and enjoy alone time. ( I took up painting!)
9. Get in touch with your spirituality ~ whatever you believe and however you connect, do it.
10. Get rid of relationships that drain you ~ see if you can transform those relationships by communicating and setting boundaries.  And if nothing works, end the relationship.




It was during this week that Heather encouraged us to try a new leafy green in our meals, like kale, collard, or otherwise.  However, during the time, I neglected to follow through, however now that I am juicing every day it will be a better way to do it!  I use all sorts of leafy greens in my morning juice and have even begun to include spirulina into my drink.  Spirulina sounds disgusting, smells like a fish tank, but has amazing health benefits.  When mixed in my juice I cannot even taste it! 



 It has been shown to be one of the most powerful alkaline foods to take in, as well it is fantastic for cleansing the liver, all of the good things.  It is pretty spendy (the bag in the picture cost me about $24), but I only use about a tsp to a tbsp in each drink (depending on how courageous I am feeling).  I posted the recipe for my favorite green drink on my Facebook page, but I will include it here for those of you who read this, but are not on my Facebook page!





In addition to juicing to get in my fruits and vegetables, I have also received my first supply of Juice+ and we will see how that goes!  I have been diligent for the last 2 days haha, so let's hope that continues, but it's something that I understand the science of, and therefore am passionate about!  For those of you that hate swallowing pills, they even have gummy versions, but I would eat them all at once, so that was a no go for me.


My last bit of news is that I participated in a TRX class at Pilates Manitoba 2 days ago and it was probably one of the hardest workouts I have ever done in my entire life.  They are circuits and you are using essentially your entire body mass.  I was fine at all them except the abs ones....I was actually close to throwing up, that's how awesome it was. Anyhow, I think I will go back and do it next week because it totally kicked my ass.  Also, I felt ALL my muscles yesterday as a result, so that is good hahaha!

 
Have a great weekend and eat healthy, drink lots of water, get lots of rest, and be happy!! <3