The Sexy Language of Your Body

BODY BY ORI ART

 

Stomach gurgles. Heartburn. Excess weight. Belly bloat. Creaking joints.

Sexy language? Hmm, maybe not.

Nonetheless, your body is speaking to you and it doesn’t like being ignored.

You’re not expected to always understand its translation, but you must at least attempt to hear it out.

If you’re not paying attention, now is the time to pull up a chair and LISTEN UP. (*double snap*)

YOUR BODY SPEAKS. IN. THE. LANGUAGE. OF. SYMPTOMS.

Brittle finger nails, check. Pimply skin, check. Stomach pain, check. Bloating, check. Excess weight, check. Frequent colds, check. Missed periods, check. Depression, check. Burnout, check. Screaming uterus, check. Every possible symptom under the sun, check, check, check.

Some symptoms shout a lot louder than others, competing for your attention. “Pick Me! Pick Me!” 

While some are completely manageable, albeit just a tad (read: extremely) annoying. Gurgling intestines, I’m looking at you!

The point here isn’t to make a goal out of achieving a symptom-free state of bliss where you never so much as even have to feel a whisper of movement from within. And it’s definitely NOT about shutting your body up from talking to you all together.

No way!

You want those pathways of communication clear and open, flowing smoothly right up until that very last day you breathe in your final sweet breath. Because how else will your body sound its alarm system after you’ve ingested some grossly contaminated food other than expelling it violently into the toilet?

The point is you need to listen, carefully. That’s your job: to remain open and curious about the language of your body, sexy or otherwise. Not to become complacent or let those symptoms run your life, or to chalk things up to being “normal” or part of the inevitable “joys of getting older”. (And just to be clear, it’s also not about subduing or muffling those symptoms with medications, although sometimes that might be necessary).

It’s about having guts, really. To put on that sexy little detective hat and step up to the plate to take an honest and hard look at how you’ve been living, and examining every area of your life with a fine tooth comb. Of course, it goes beyond just the food you put into your mouth, silly. You knew that, though.

It’s also about recognizing which areas need changing, and then having the courage to try changing them, should you deem that a worthwhile pursuit. And then, of course, having the humility to pick yourself up off of the floor (wiping the dust of that booty in the process) and trying again when you don’t get the results you had hoped for the first time around.

So…the moral of the story is: never forget that your body is always talking to you and that her mother tongue is the language of, you guessed it, symptoms (yes, it’s that good I must repeat it).

Pain is a call for change, but to change your endgame you’ll need to roll up those sleeves and do things a bit differently; because as you know, to keep on trucking along doing the same old thing but expecting different results is just crazy thinking. You instinctively know this though deep down in your gut. It’s just another one of the many ways your body is always communicating with you!

Until next time,

Elaine

5 Strategies for Keeping Healthy Over the Holidays

Holiday hangtime

This article is slightly adapted from the original version published here.

The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes the celebrations, parties and social gatherings. While many people equate this time of year with over-indulgence and getting off track with their health goals, this doesn’t have to be the case at all.

With the following tips, you can have your holiday cake (and eat it too!) while still fitting into the same dress size when the New Year rolls around.

1. Be Selective. You don’t need to deprive yourself during the holidays but set your standards high. Would you rather have the generic store-bought cookies that taste just alright, or Grandma’s homemade plum pudding served up with love? Skip the mediocre stuff that you can easily have any time of the year and save your indulgences for those few treats that you really look forward to enjoying over the holidays.

2. Keep it “Business as Usual” in the Daytime. Most holiday gatherings and parties tend to occur later in the day and around the dinner hour. If you can keep the rest of your day relatively “clean” and in order then you don’t have to sweat a few indulgences later on. Make it a point to get in as much of the good stuff earlier in the day with a heavy emphasis on veggies and greens.

For example, you could start your day off with an alkalizing green drink, snack on veggie sticks between meals, and make lunch a huge raw salad topped off with some quality protein and/or healthy fat. Don’t forget to hydrate with plenty of water and swap out some of those caffeinated drinks with herbal teas.

3. Party Smart. Fill your plate with plenty of salad and vegetable-based dishes and opt for smaller portions of calorically dense foods. Skip the fried hors d’oeuvres in favor of the vegetable crudités, olives, bean-based dips, and quality cheeses. Limit your helpings of carb-rich and sugary foods, which can negatively impact blood sugar, and balance them out with plenty of protein-rich foods like seafood and lean meats.

Limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks, especially if you have many social gatherings lined up where you know you’re going to be drinking. Opt for wine or spirits mixed with soda water, and skip the sugary drinks and cocktails. Sparkling water mixed with a bit of unsweetened cranberry juice, fresh mint and pomegranate seeds makes a festive and refreshing alternative to alcohol.

4. Keep on Moving. Although the holidays can be busy, it’s not the time to throw your exercise priorities completely out the window. If you can stick to your regular workout routine then great, but at the very least commit to getting outside and walking for at least 20-30 minutes each day. If you’re staying with family recruit a walking partner to take morning walks with you, or round-up the troops for a post-dinner stroll and use the time to connect with your loved ones.

5. Start Each Day Fresh. Even if you do happen to go a little overboard indulging, this doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel until January. This is self-destructive to the core. Remember that each day is a clean slate. Get back on track as quickly as possible by reverting back to the tips mentioned above and you’ll be further ahead by New Years.

And lastly, if you need some extra motivation, keep this fun quote in the back of your mind:

“Summer bodies are made in the winter”

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

xo Elaine

 

5 Steps to Getting Results that Stick

Have you ever found yourself saying, “I know what to do, I’m just not doing it”?

Maybe you’re excited to start a new diet plan. This time is going to be different, you tell yourself.

You start off strong but then work suddenly becomes hectic, or maybe you go on a trip or spend a weekend visiting your family. In other words, life happens and gets in the way of your new plan to eat healthily.

We’ve all been there at some point. But here’s what you need to know.

The best health plan is worthless if you can't actually execute it in your real life ~ via @elainebrisebois Click To Tweet

That’s right.

You can know all the tools of the trade – know the best health practices, have a great meal plan – but unless you’re able to take consistent action, and not continually get thrown off course when life gets in the way (as it inevitably will) you’ll never get the lasting results you desire.

The reality is, changing our deeply ingrained habits and behaviors is no easy task.

It doesn’t matter if your end goal is weight loss, clearing up eczema, healing digestion or improving health markers related to blood pressure or cholesterol.

It’s tempting to want to overhaul our lives in one go. And sometimes that works for a while.

BUT if you’re somebody who continually finds yourself back at square one starting all over again with your diet, or unable to create healthy habits that actually work for your lifestyle, then please read on!

5 Steps for Getting Results that Stick

1. Revisit your “WHY”. So you want to lose weight. Great. Why? Grab a pen and paper and take 10 minutes out of your day to make a list of all the reasons. Looking great in a bikini is fair game but try to dive deeper. Come up with at least 5 or 10 meaningful to you reasons on why you want to lose weight. How will things be different in your life? Consider how not losing the weight is holding you back, regardless if those limitations are self-imposed or not.

Perhaps you want to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy, or reduce your risk for health complications like cardiovascular disease or Type 2 Diabetes later down the road. Maybe you just want to feel more confident in your own skin or make shopping for clothes a more pleasurable experience. There’s no right or wrong answers, but the reasons must be meaningful to you.

Now that you have your handy little list keep it somewhere safe. You’re going to refer to this list every time things get tough and you want to give up. This list will serve as your reminder as to why you started down this path in the first place. And no it’s not simply to torture yourself, you have a more meaningful agenda at play. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.

2. Identify your Biggest Constraint(s). In other words, what’s that one thing that holds you back the most from experiencing the health you want. If you could just remove this one obstacle then things would be easier and you’d likely get results faster.

Is it your lack of organization or ability to prepare healthy meals for yourself? Is it the regular “drinks” out with friends that leave you feeling crappy the next day and constantly skipping your morning workout? Is it the daily coffee habit that exacerbates your IBS and leaves you feeling anxious? Is it the nightly stress eating or sugar binges?

You may have a long list of obstacles you believe to be holding you back, but it’s really important to zero in on the one (maybe 2) things that stand in your way the most. This isn’t always glaringly obvious and might require some investigative work, but once you’ve pinpointed it you’re going to make it your sole focus (for now).

3. Set Your Limits BUT Under Commit. This is where you commit to smaller actionable steps that move you closer to your end goal. But wait! Before you go committing to removing gluten, sugar, coffee, and alcohol all at once for 2 months starting on Monday – stop. Remember, you’re just choosing the one (maybe 2) biggest constraint(s) from step 2. This isn’t to say that you can’t handle more; you’re just not going to commit to doing more. It’s all in the semantics! This means you’re free to accomplish more, but you’re not going to make it a commitment.

It’s important to only make commitments that you’re 90-100% confident you know you can complete. In other words, before making the commitment ask yourself, “How confident am I on a scale of 1-10 that I can actually complete this goal”? If your answer is anything less than a 9, I encourage you to reduce the commitment to make it easier.

For example, let’s say you chose a lack of exercise as your biggest constraint from step 2. You might commit to working out 2 times per week for 30 minutes. Remember, you can always workout more than you say you will, but unless you’re absolutely confident that you can do it consistently every week don’t commit to more.

Another example might be giving up something, such as alcohol. There are a few ways you can tackle this. One, for example, might be to commit to only having 2 drinks per week (on the weekend only) for the next month. Then at the end of the month you’ll reevaluate. On the other hand, you might do better giving yourself absolutely no wiggle room at all because you know a few drinks might lead to a few more, in which case committing to no alcohol whatsoever for a set period of time might actually be easier for you.

You get to choose for yourself. The whole point is to only make commitments you know you can keep, knowing full well you can always up your efforts later once you have a few wins under your belt. Just remember:

Doing things well consistently trumps being perfect intermittently ~ via @elainebrisebois Click To Tweet

4. Reward Behavior NOT Results. While we don’t have direct control over whether the scale goes down 10 pounds by the end of the month, we do have direct control over our behaviours. This concept is sooo empowering because it sets you up for repetitive small wins that boost confidence and motivate you to keep on going.

For example, if your biggest constraint from step 2 was lack of physical exercise and you’ve made the commitment to workout for at least 30 minutes 2 times per week, then at the end of the week as long as you’ve checked the box 2 times on working out for 30 minutes then you’ve succeeded. Yay! This is why it’s also easiest to make commitments that are unambiguous – meaning either you completed it or you didn’t. There’s no gray area in between.

Now that you’ve got working out 2 times per week under your belt, maybe you’ll decide to boost your commitment to 3 times per week; or perhaps you’ll decide that 2 times per week is just perfect for you right now and you’ll move on to tackle a different obstacle, like that 3 pm coffee you know you don’t really need!

5. Get Support. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to join a 12-step program or hire professional help. The point is to set yourself up to win by eliminating any potential challenges.

It might mean nicely telling your co-worker to stop offering you her home-baked cookies because you’re trying to eat healthier and they’re just “oh so tempting”. Or maybe it’s letting your friends know that you’ve decided to cut back on alcohol for a while so they know to stop offering you drinks when you go out. It could also mean having a friend to go for after-dinner walks with, or to call when you know your tendency for emotional eating is at its peak. Having a nutritionist or coach who can hold you accountable and who you can regularly check in with can also be very helpful (*wink*wink).

In the end remember that it’s consistent action that will continually repel you forward and lead to lasting results.

Hope you found this helpful!

xo Elaine

As always, I love hearing from you. In the comments below, feel free to share your own thoughts on how you’ve successfully created new healthy habits that have stuck with you over the long-run. Also, if you found this post helpful, I’d really appreciate it if you could share it with somebody you know who could benefit!

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