My Top 10 Wellness Tips

10 tips

Keeping healthy goes far beyond the food we put in our mouths of course, but the food we choose to consume each day does play a huge role.

Sometimes though it’s easy to get caught up in the fine details of which particular diet is best, or in the subtle nuances of one particular health principle, rather than looking at the big picture story.

Recently I was asked to share some of my top wellness tips with a group of busy professionals, and I figured I would share the list here with you as well, since we can all use a gentle reminder now and then.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, it likely won’t be the first time you’ve heard me mention these tips, and by now they may even be second-nature to you. For others though, this list can serve as a reference point as to which areas could use some extra attention.

As I often say (and I’m sure I sound like a broken-record to a few of my clients – ha!):

Progress, not perfection.

Here they are!

1. Keep Hydrated. Always start your day off with at least one full glass of water before you consume anything else (i.e. coffee or food). Add some freshly squeezed lemon for a detoxifying boost that will also help to stimulate digestion. Drink water or sip herbal teas between meals. Raw veggies and fruit are also water-rich and provide hydration.

2. Get in the Greens. Try and include some leafy greens or green vegetables with at least 2 meals per day. For example, you might sauté some baby kale with your morning eggs, have a big green salad at lunch, and/or include some roasted broccoli at dinner. Greens are alkalizing and help balance out the acidity of other foods.

3. Think Vegetable-Centric. I’m not one for labels but I think we can all agree that vegetables are good for us! Regardless of whether you follow a vegetarian diet or a paleo-style approach, aim to make at least 50% of your plate vegetables – especially at lunch and dinner. Think of them as the star-performers!

4. Get Serious about Digestion. Healthy digestion is the foundation of optimal health. We are what we digest, absorb and assimilate. Suffering from regular heartburn, indigestion and bloating is no way to live life and is NOT normal.  Search “digestive health” on my website for specific tips for improving digestion and healing your gut.

5. Limit Sugar. Stick to a lower sugar diet and watch your sugar cravings magically disappear. Satisfy your sweet-tooth with fruit, sulphite-free dried fruit or a few squares of 70% or higher dark chocolate. I just posted a new recipe for my date-sweetened Raw Chocolate Energy Bombs. These are the perfect little snack to curb a sweet tooth and are balanced out with plenty of healthy fat and protein. Save the sugary stuff for occasional treats.

6. Don’t Fear Fat. Just be sure to choose the right ones! In with the avocados, coconuts, olives, salmon, raw nuts and seeds, whole eggs and butter, and out with the hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated, “man-made” fats – i.e. store-bought salad dressings, margarines, and commercial vegetable oils found in many packaged foods like cookies, crackers and chips.

7. Get Your Beauty Sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours of solid sleep per night for optimal health and regeneration. Upgrade your sleep hygiene if you have problems sleeping. Disconnect from all electronic devices at least a few hours before bed and make sure your room is completely dark – if not wear an eye mask to block out any light.

8. Move your Body. Stay active and exercise regularly. Get outside for daily walks, hit the gym, or take a class – whatever feels good to you. If you’re sitting at your desk all day stand up regularly and take mini stretch breaks.

9. Manage Stress. Stress is a silent killer. It disrupts our hormonal balance and can lead to a whole whack of health problems, not to mention make it impossible to lose weight. Take time out for yourself, get regular nature breaks, look on the bright side of things, and if possible develop a mediation practice to help diminish stress and anxiety.

10. Prep (a little). You don’t have to devote an entire Sunday afternoon to food prep but a little groundwork is necessary especially if you have a hectic work schedule and are dedicated to eating healthy. You’d be surprised at what you can get done when you get creative with your time, like throwing together a salad while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, or roasting a tray of vegetables while you’re doing the laundry. Aim to pack your lunch at least 3-4 days per week (if not more). Bring leftovers from dinner and stock your desk with a few healthy snacks so you’re ready when hunger-strikes rather than running to the nearest coffee shop for a sugar fix. Did I already mention my Raw Chocolate Energy Bombs?

As always I love hearing from you! In the comments below let me know which tips you’re already easily incorporating into your life and/or which areas you struggle with the most.

xo Elaine

Looking for a Healthy Snack? Try these!

Raw Chocolate Energy Bombs

Looking for a healthy snack to get you over the 3pm slump?

Look no further!

These little bites are packed with healthy fat, protein and have no added sugars. They’re the perfect little treat for curbing a sweet tooth while keeping blood sugar levels stable and providing a nice boost of energy.

They travel well too and are perfect for road trips, plane trips, and hikes. I personally love throwing a few of them in my bag for those occasions when I know I’m going to be out of the house for a while and will need something to get me through until I can eat again, like when I’m running errands or shopping. As you probably know, hunger is the antithesis to a successful shopping trip!

The variations to this recipe are endless, so feel free to swap ingredients and get creative. The ones below are nut-free so are also great for kids’ lunches too.

Recipe // Raw Chocolate Energy Bombs

Ingredients
– ½ cup of pumpkin seeds
– ½ cup of sunflower seeds
– 2 tbsp of raw cacao powder
– ½ cup of chopped dates (try Deglet Noor or Medjool)
– Pinch of sea salt
– 1-2 tbsp of water
– Shredded coconut flakes or raw cacao powder for rolling

Directions
1. Add seeds to food processor, and process until finely ground. Pulse in cacao powder, dates, and sea salt and slowly add water.
2. Form mixture into teaspoon size balls and roll them in coconut flakes, cacao powder or other topping of choice, and place on a parchment paper lined dish.
3. Store in refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 5 days or freeze them to last longer.

Makes 12-15 “bombs”

Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I was a young girl I used to bake chocolate chip cookies with my grandmother in her kitchen. I have fond memories of dancing around her kitchen and dining room waiting impatiently for the cookies to finish baking. It was always the same song playing on her old record player – Music Box Dancer by Frank Mills – my favorite at that time, and I think it was probably me that kept requesting she play it again.

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about these cookies so I decided to dig up her old recipe and put my healthy spin on them. Of course the original calls for shortening, white flour, and white + brown sugar. I swapped some of the ingredients and scaled back on the sugar and what I ended up with was a delicious and “healthier” alternative to the original. I’m not sure if healthy and cookie can go in the same sentence since these are still filled with chocolate chips and sugar – albeit a natural sugar. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a sweet treat and have a hankering for chocolate chip cookies, these are a great option. And yes, they’re gluten-free yet they’re still soft and chewy. This recipe is a win!

Recipe // Gluten-Free Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
– 1/4 cup of butter
– 1/2 cup of coconut sugar
– 1 egg
– 1 tsp of vanilla extract
– 1/2 tsp of sea salt
– 1/2 tsp of baking soda
– 1/2 cup of coconut flour
– 1/2 cup of quinoa flakes
– 3/4 cup of chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Mix flour, quinoa flakes, sea salt & baking soda.
2. Melt butter and mix with coconut sugar, add vanilla and (beaten) egg.
3. Stir in flour mixture. Add chocolate chips.
4. Bake for approx. 10-12 minutes @ 325 degrees.
5. Let cool for at least 10-15 minutes so they don’t break apart.

Makes approx 12 cookies.

Enjoy!

 

What do you value most in life?

Girl and sunset - edited smaller

Have you ever heard the story about the teacher and his empty glass jar?

I heard it once before but was reminded of it again when I stumbled upon it in a book I was reading over the Christmas holidays, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

The lesson contained within is so beautifully simple, yet so powerful.

As January approached and I naturally started thinking about my intentions for the New Year ahead, I started thinking more about this story and how it would serve as the perfect template for prioritizing my 2015 goals and plans.

And so that’s what I did.

More on that in a minute but first – the story!

There are different versions floating around, but I like the way this one is told the best. Either way the moral remains the same, as the rest is really just details!

I took this (slightly revised) excerpt directly from The Authentic Life by Ezra Bayda.

A Zen teacher stood before his students with a very large and empty glass jar.

He wordlessly picked up some round stones around the size of small plums and proceeded to fill the jar with them. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The teacher then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the stones. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They said yes.

Next the teacher picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students unanimously agreed. The teacher then produced a glass of water and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now”, said the teacher, “I want you to recognize this jar represents your life. The stones are the important things – the aspiration to realize your true nature, the wish to live more authentically, the perseverance and commitment to cultivate presence, gratitude, and kindness – and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter, such as your health, your relationships, and perhaps your job. The sand is everything else – the small stuff, including your house, your car, and your possessions.

If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the stones or the pebbles. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are important for your genuine happiness. Take care of the things that really matter first. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the water represented. The teacher smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked. The water just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a little more practice, to make your life even fuller.”

So…are you spending your time on the things that matter most to you, or are you focusing all of your energy on the small stuff?

Put this exercise to the test!

It takes as little as 5-10 minutes.

Grab a pencil and paper and start by creating 3 columns with the headings: Stones, Pebbles, and Sand.

Then go ahead and fill them in.

Remember that your “stones” are the areas that are most important to you, followed by “pebbles”, and lastly the “sand”.

There are no right answers. Your priorities are your own!

This is a great exercise to see if you are truly committed to what you say is most important to you.

Are your actions in alignment with what you say you value most in life?

For example, maybe you really want to launch that online business you’ve been dreaming up, yet you spend every night after work watching TV or surfing Facebook.

Or maybe you say your health is most important, yet every day you grab fast-food because you didn’t take the time to pack a healthy lunch the night before.

Or maybe you say you want to cultivate more meaningful relationships with your girlfriends yet you never pick up the phone to call them to see how they are really doing – instead relying on constant texting with no real connection.

Or maybe you really want to cultivate more presence in your life and commit to a daily meditation practice before your workday, yet each and every morning hitting snooze on your alarm clock is much more desirable to you.

When you’re completing this exercise you might first consider your big-picture life priorities, but you can also use this template to zoom in on any specific area of your life that matters to you, such as your health, relationships, spiritual practice or career goals, and fill out the 3 columns pertaining only to that one area.

For example, in addition to prioritizing my big-picture goals I also used it to prioritize my 2015 work and business goals so that I could get a clear idea of how I should be prioritizing my time and efforts if I want to accomplish certain larger projects this year that are important to me.

See I know it’s all too easy to get consumed by the smaller to-dos that if you’re not careful, you never get around to putting a dent in the big-picture goals you want to accomplish.  And even if the small things still need to get done at some point, I know it’s still important to prioritize my time accordingly to ensure that the most important stuff takes precedence.

This exercise is a great eye-opener, and even if you don’t complete it in writing you can still take the concept with you throughout the day to serve as a reminder to bring you back to what’s truly important when you find yourself losing focus.

As you lie in bed at night you might reflect back on how you spent your day, week or month.

Did you spend time cultivating the areas that are most important to you?

If not, what needs to shift?

Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!

What areas do you want to spend more time focusing your energy on in 2015?

Lots of love,

Elaine