The Four Areas of Your Life You Need to Be Feeding

The Four Areas of Your Life You Need to Be Feeding

(Part one of a five-part series on gratitude and nutrition)

This week marks the first ever Health Coach Week and I am so excited to celebrate! Becoming a health coach has been the most incredible journey and continues to bring me joy and fulfillment. (Learn more about my experience here.)

The most powerful thing I learned from my health coach training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition is the concept of primary foods.

Joshua Rosenthal, the school’s founder and director, developed the idea that nutrition comes from all areas of life, not just what we eat. In fact, food is secondary to our relationships, career, physical activity and spirituality. These four areas are what he calls “primary foods” and they have a greater power to nourish our health and happiness than what we eat.

Having an understanding of this concept is vital to creating the health and happiness we all seek. The idea of primary foods and secondary foods is a simple system that needs to be in balance. When one area of your life is out of balance, it most likely throws off something else. Having an awareness of this helps you pinpoint where you want to focus when things feel “off.”

For example, this past year I was struggling with sleep. As every parent knows, having an infant means giving up sleep. Since I am someone who thrives on 8-9 hours of solid sleep a night, getting by with less took its toll on me. As a result, I did not exercise, my excuse being that I was too tired. I also had a bad habit of prioritizing work over taking care of myself. I used my son’s nap times and his time with our babysitter to work on my business rather than exercising or sleeping. I found myself exhausted, cranky and frustrated, and craving comfort food. Little by little I gained weight. After a while my clothes didn’t fit the way they used to. Bottom line, I felt yucky.

Having an awareness that my primary foods were out of balance and that I needed to focus more on myself helped me regroup pretty quickly. Rather than going on a diet, which would have only made matters worse since I was already feeling deprived, I indulged myself in more naps and more “me” time, and began viewing exercise as a treat rather than a chore.

In no time at all I was back on track feeling great again. I attribute being able to make this major lifestyle shift almost effortlessly to my gratitude practice. As soon as I started feeling off, I cracked open a fresh copy of the Gratitude to Bliss journal where I listed my intentions and described how I envision my bliss to be.

“In my bliss, I am well rested and feel amazing in my body. My clothes fit well and feel luxurious. My energy is high and my mood is great.”

Every night before bed I write in my journal, appreciating myself, my time, my family and whatever else I am thankful for. This keeps me focused on the important things and filters into my day so that I am better able to make decisions – like prioritizing exercise – that benefit both me and my family, even when I’m tired.

I now make sure to get a workout in before anything else. This allows me to sleep better even though I sometimes only get 5-6 hours a night. Regular exercise also keeps my metabolism up, my weight in check, my cravings down and my mood positive. Overall, I have more energy and my day flows more smoothly. I feel great because every area of my life is being nourished.

As a health coach, I believe a daily gratitude practice provides the soil in which you can plant your deepest desires. It is the solid foundation you need for making lasting changes that bring you closer to living the life you dream for yourself.

When gratitude is at the forefront of your mind as a result of your daily practice, it’s easier to see that feeling rested is more important to you than crossing things off your to-do list, or that having lunch with a friend is more nourishing than eating an organic salad at your desk while you work.

Everyday life has gotten so focused on “doing” that so many of us, myself included, often lose sight of the simple joy in just “being.” This lack of joy can really throw things off and cause your whole life to get out of balance. It can leave you feeling undernourished and running for a hot fudge sundae when all you may really be needing is a hug, or a nap, or a bike ride.

Tweet now:
A daily gratitude practice provides the soil in which you can plant your deepest desires. @Gratitude2Bliss

In the follow-up to this five-part series on gratitude and nutrition, I plan to delve deeper into each primary food and how keeping an active gratitude practice can help you stay in balance!

For now, think about your own primary foods. Which of your relationships are nourishing you and which are draining you? Are you getting enough physical activity? Enough sleep? Are you feeling fulfilled in your work? Do you feel connected to something, a higher power perhaps, or simply to your true self? Please share in the comments below.

As always, thanks for reading!

Gratefully yours,

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The Gratitude Smoothie

The Gratitude Smoothie

I don’t know what it is about spring, but every year I feel completely transformed and alive with energy.

I love this time of year and I love living in New York, a place where if you’re paying attention, tiny miracles abound – the sweet tweets of birds reappearing after a long, icy winter, tiny new leaves sprouting up through dead grass and dirt, bright purple crocuses sprinkling the landscape with color, and sun-shiny mornings that flow into warm, inviting afternoons.

This past weekend my family and I attended a Passover Seder on Saturday and an Easter breakfast on Sunday. What I love about these spring holidays is how they both celebrate hope, freedom, and renewal.

Perhaps that is why I feel so good this time of year. For me, spring is a time to get outside and be free! It is a time to let go of layers (gloves, hats, scarves be gone!), to shed excess weight (hello exercise!), and to bring in yummy delicious foods that energize me and put a spring in my step.

To help YOU celebrate spring, I give you the Gratitude Smoothie Recipe…

gratitude_smoothie

1/2 avocado – rich in good fats to fuel your brain and keep you satisfied
1/2 banana – high in potassium and fiber
5 fresh or frozen organic strawberries – rich in antioxidants, help reduce sugar cravings
1 handful organic spinach – rich in B vitamins and folate
1 sprig of parsley – has a cleansing effect and is a symbol of fertility
1/2 tbs cacao powder – rich in magnesium and antioxidants and a natural mood booster
1 cup water – energizing
1 cup ice – invigorating
1 sprinkle Vitamin G – rich in serotonin and a natural stress-reducer

Blend and serve!

The gratitude smoothie can help you start your day remembering that:

  1. You are free to love your body.
  2. You are free to nourish yourself with whole, energizing foods.
  3. You are free to live without symptoms, cravings, worry, or fear.
  4. You are free to choose positive thoughts and to surround yourself with positive people.

Tweet Now:

I am free to choose positive thoughts
and to surround myself with positive people. @Gratitude2Bliss

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So now I’d like to hear from you! Please share in the comments below, or on my Facebook page, what you love about spring!

 

The Gratitude-Exercise-Sleep Connection!

The Gratitude-Exercise-Sleep Connection!

(part three of a five part series on gratitude and nutrition)

This week’s post brings us back to our conversation on Primary Foods, with our focus on physical activity! (For more on primary foods, check out The Four Areas of Your Life You Need to Be Feeding).

Physical activity is one of the primary foods your body must have to stay in balance.

According to a study done by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, two of the leading researchers in positive psychology, people who kept a weekly gratitude journal over a nine week period reported spending 19% more time exercising than those who didn’t keep gratitude journals.

To understand why this happens, let’s take a look at one of the many physiological effects practicing gratitude has on the body:

Engaging in thoughts of gratitude has been proven to boost levels of serotonin in the body.

Low levels of serotonin can cause loneliness and depression and can also trigger carbohydrate and sugar cravings, causing a viscous cycle of ups and downs.

When you boost serotonin naturally through your gratitude practice, however, you are effectively giving yourself the energy you need to get out and exercise. I don’t know about you but I find it much easier to exercise when my mood and energy are up.)

When you exercise, your body produces even more serotonin, as well as endorphins which lift your mood even more (think “runner’s high.”)

Along with physical activity, our bodies also need adequate sleep. What many people don’t realize is that when you sleep, your body is actually working to remove toxins and balance hormones. So when you deny your body sleep, your hormones can quickly get out of balance causing you to crave sugar and other comfort foods in lieu of exercise.

Researchers at the National Institute of Health discovered that feelings of gratitude activate the hypothalamus which is responsible for many essential bodily functions including sleep. The hypothalamus has a huge affect on metabolism, stress and eating.

Another crucial aspect of practicing gratitude – something I know to be true from my own experience– is that when I’m focused on what I’m grateful for, including my body, I find it easy to reward myself with a good night’s sleep, prioritizing my health and happiness over work or other distractions. I’m also more likely to see exercise as something I “get to” do rather than something I “should” do, and I choose activities I enjoy the most, like yoga or going for a brisk walk along the water.

So it’s easy to see how a simple 5 minute daily gratitude practice can lead to more exercise and better sleep, more energy and a better mood, and ultimately greater health and happiness for yourself!

5 minutes of gratitude improves exercise, sleep and mood!

 

Tweet now:

5 minutes of daily gratitude improves exercise, sleep and mood! @Gratitude2Bliss

For more info on how to get started with your gratitude practice, click here: Getting Started with Gratitude!

 

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So now I’d like to hear from you! Please share in the comments below, or on my Facebook page, how gratitude helps you exercise more or sleep better.

5 Reasons I Love to Cleanse

5 Reasons I Love to Cleanse

This has been one rough winter here in New York, but Spring is almost here (yay!) and that has me thinking all about cleansing.

While there are certain things I do all year round to stay clean – like avoiding junky food, junky products and junky thinking – I like to take two weeks out each spring to refresh my healthy habits and add one or two new ones.

When I do a cleanse, I use this time to let go of what I no longer need in order to make space for new growth. Spring is the perfect time to do this because nature is right there with me, supporting me as I make room for new life to bloom.

For me, cleansing has become a way of life (I even co-wrote a book about it!) and it is very closely tied to my gratitude practice. In fact, I see cleansing as a practice too. It is found in many cultures and religions in the form of fasting. Cleansing a way for me to take extra special care of myself for a few weeks each spring and to show my body how much I appreciate it.

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Tweet Now:

I love my body and everything it does for me. @Gratitude2Bliss


Here are five reasons why I love to cleanse:

  1. To me, cleansing is one of the highest forms of self-love. When I cleanse, I am telling my body, “You matter to me,” and “I love you for all you do.”
  2. Shedding excess weight and toxins from my body clears up my mind and my spirit.
  3. When I cleanse, I am practicing healthy habits that I can then take with me, one at a time, into my daily life. It’s the perfect training for a healthy life.
  4. Cleansing keeps me connected to my body in a new, fresh way. It helps me notice how my body feels as a result of how I treat it.
  5. Cleansing helps me feel excited about life. As I clear away old stuff, I feel energized and excited to welcome in new, fun experiences that are coming my way.

Remember that not all cleanses are the same and not all cleanses are right for everyone. Where you are in your lifestyle and what your goals may be will determine how you will want to cleanse.

LM_signatureSo now I’d like to hear from you! What questions do you have about cleansing? What is your favorite way to cleanse? Please share in the comments below.

The Most Important Factor in Being Well

The Most Important Factor in Being Well

February is National Cancer Prevention Month.

I love the term prevention. To me, prevention is about honoring the body and prioritizing healthy choices. It is a positive term. It conveys trust in the body’s ability to heal and thrive.

When we think of prevention in these terms, we remove any fear or negativity from the equation and stay focused on the positive.

Last year my company was awarded a grant through the Livestrong Foundation’s Big C Competition which “is a one-of-a-kind competition to generate innovations that improve the daily quality of life for the 32.5 million people around the world living with cancer now.”

You can check out my winning entry here.

I’m sure you already know that healthy choices such as avoiding stress, eating whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals, drinking plenty of clean water (at least 64 oz/day), exercising regularly and getting adequate sleep all serve to keep your body in tip-top shape and avoid illness.

But did you know the one thing many of us holistic types agree is the most important factor in staying well?  Loving yourself.

Tweet Now:
Loving myself is the most important thing I can do to stay well. @Gratitude2Bliss

And that is where practicing gratitude comes in.

Keeping a daily gratitude practice helps you stay focused on the positive. And when done effectively, your practice helps you stay connected to yourself and to appreciate yourself in ways you haven’t before.

As you begin to appreciate all the good things in your life, you get clearer about what matters to you most. You – often unconsciously – begin making choices that support your best interest.

Choices that support your happiness, your health and ultimately your bliss.

The result? You end up loving yourself more. You take better care of yourself and you become kinder to yourself.

What I love most about this practice is that it only takes a few minutes a day!

So in honor of Cancer Prevention Month, please write down three things you LOVE about yourself – either in your journal or in the comments below.

Be well and thanks for reading!

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Please share three things you LOVE about yourself below! Don’t hold back, you are absolutely wonderful so let it shine!