What Does ‘Organic’ Really Mean?

This word seems to be on many people’s lips these days, but with it comes great burden and so much confusion!

So, let’s start with a basic definition…

Organic produce (and other ingredients) are grown without the use of:

  • Pesticides
  • Synthetic fertilizers
  • Sewage sludge
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) and/or using bio-engineering technology

Also, animals that produce meat/poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.

When it comes to bath, body & cleaning products and cosmetics labeled as ‘organic’, this refers to the product itself, as well as how the ingredients were grown, produced and/or processed to create the product.

Organic food & food products with ‘organic’ on the label

The demand for organic food, specifically produce, has skyrocketed over the past two decades, with the growing concern over our exposure to pesticides driving the buying and consumption of organic foods.

Research and several experts have validated the idea that if you want to reduce your exposure to chemical residues (such as pesticides), the best way to do that is to choose more organic products in your health routine. (more…)

Meal Prep: The Shortcuts You Need to Know

A big part of feeling successful in your healthy eating regime is planning and preparing your meals ahead of time — so you’re not tempted to just stop at the fast food drive-thru on your way home from work!

So, why not bring back the tradition of good ‘ol home cookin’ and start eating healthier, more nutrient-dense meals… at home?

I know you are saying “Heidi it’s way too time-consuming to cook all meals from scratch.” However, if you plan in advance AND do at least some of the meal prep ahead of time, healthier home-cooking habits can be established far more easily than you think!

It really doesn’t matter what type of diet you follow either – whether it’s vegan, gluten-free, keto or diabetic-friendly. Nor does the size of your kitchen need to limit you – just a few basic pieces of cooking equipment is all you need to get started.

Believe me I know you’re busy, busy, busy and time really can feel like a luxury these days. So, I’ve chopped, diced, and puréed everything you need to know about MEAL PREP, including all the best shortcuts.

What is meal prep?

Meal prep does involve planning ahead and preparing your meals in advance. Basically, you’re cooking complete or near complete meals in advance so all you have to do is reheat them at meal time. This generally works best for lunch & dinner, but I’ll show you how to do it for breakfast too.

However, the prep part can’t really happen until your meal planning is done first. This can be hard for some so keep a running list of meals as ideas pop in your head during the week. Then during the meal planning process, you need to decide what meals you’re going to prepare, make a grocery shopping list, and then buy all the ingredients. Then you get to prepping! (more…)

Life “Hacks” of the Longest-Lived People

Think living a long and healthy life well into your nineties or even one hundred years old is only for those lucky few who hit the genetic lottery? Think again. Lifestyle factors, i.e. the things you do every day over the long-term – can add up to increase the number of quality years in your lifespan.

Look no further than the people of Blue Zones for proof of how powerful everyday habits are when it comes to staying healthy for the long haul.

Blue Zones are regions around the world where people have very low rates of chronic disease and live longer compared to other populations. They are located in regions of Greece, Sardinia, Costa Rica, Japan, and California.

Because these communities are home to the greatest number of people who live healthfully into their nineties and even hundreds, researchers have studied them to determine just how they age so healthfully.

Do you have to live in an actual Blue Zone to guarantee longevity? No you don’t! You can adopt some of the well-studied lifestyle traits of these folks to promote health and longevity right where you are.

Here’s the top 5 life “hacks” of the world’s longest living people:

Eat a Plant-rich Diet

Blue Zone residents eat a mostly plant-based diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains. Animal foods aren’t avoided – they eat smaller portions of meat a handful of times per month.

You don’t have to become a strict vegetarian or vegan, but it’s important to eat a variety of plant foods daily – they contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants that help decrease inflammation and protect you from chronic disease, like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

A simple rule of thumb is to fill half your plate with vegetables at every meal. Yep, every meal!

Include Healthy Fats

Eat heart healthy unsaturated and omega-3 fats in the form of olive oil, nuts, avocados, and fish.

Getting enough omega-3’s helps decrease disease-causing inflammation and keeps your heart and brain healthy.

Eating enough fat also keeps you feeling fuller longer, which can help prevent overeating that leads to weight gain – bonus!

Stop Eating Before You Feel 100% Full

This can be the tough one. Avoid the clean plate club. Eating slowly chewing your food thoroughly gives your brain and stomach time to register that it’s had enough to eat. Blue Zone communities avoid overeating and eating beyond feelings of fullness, which again, can help prevent weight gain.

Drink Red Wine

Enjoying a glass of red wine once a day increases your antioxidant intake, which is thought to decrease inflammation and help prevent heart disease. Of course, moderation is key. Four ounces of wine is considered a glass and drinking more than that is associated with negative health effects.

Move Your Body Throughout the Day

Have you heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking”? As in, it’s not good for your health to sit for extended periods of time. Lack of physical activity and prolonged sitting is linked to weight gain, obesity, and increased mortality. Be sure to look for opportunities to add movement into your regular routines.

You might try:

  • Stretching while you watch TV
  • Take an after-dinner evening walk
  • Park farther away from your destination
  • Choose stairs over elevators
  • Take standing and stretching breaks at work
  • Use a stand-up workstation, and fidget while you work (or dance!)

The world’s longest living people live active lives that include daily physical activities, like gardening, walking, and manual tasks.

Are you looking for support on your journey to get healthy? Join my free Facebook group, a safe place for tips, healthy recipes, fun challenges, and coaching with no judgement.

RECIPE: Mediterranean Bean Salad

 Ingredients

2 15-oz cans of beans, drained and rinsed (use black, cannellini, kidney, or garbanzo beans)

1 English cucumber, chopped with skin on
1 bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 cup cherry tomato, halved
1 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
¼ cup virgin olive oil (= longevity oil!)
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 whole cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano or 2 tsp fresh herb
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Combine beans, cucumber, pepper, onion, tomatoes, and olives in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl or sealed jar with a lid, whisk or shake together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper.
  3. Toss salad with dressing and enjoy at room temperature or refrigerate unused portions.

 

REFERENCES

Power 9: Reverse Engineering Longevity

Why People in “Blue Zones” Live Longer Than the Rest of the World

13 Habits Linked to a Long Life (Backed by Science)

The True Health Benefits of Exercise

Exercise. It truly can improve your health on all levels. We’re not just talking about losing weight, being fitter and stronger, although that is definitely an added bonus. We’re talking about overall health and longevity.

Regular exercise improves your heart health, brain health, muscle and bone health, diabetes, and arthritis. Beyond those, it also reduces stress, boosts moods, increases your energy, and can improve your sleep.

Convinced yet?

The benefits of exercise come from improving blood flow, and reducing inflammation and blood sugar levels. They come from moving your muscles (including your heart muscle) and pulling on your bones.

And you don’t need to go overboard on exercise to get these amazing health results. As little as 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days/week is enough.

You don’t have to do a particular kind of exercise. All four types of exercise have health benefits. They are:

  • Endurance (brisk walking, jogging, yard work, dancing, aerobics, cycling, swimming)
  • Strength (climbing stairs, carrying groceries, lifting weights, using a resistance band or your body weight, Pilates)
  • Balance (standing on one-foot, Tai Chi)
  • Flexibility (stretching, yoga)

Don’t forget, all exercise counts, even if it’s not doing a sport or happening in a gym. Weekend hikes, walking to the store, and doing household chores also count towards your weekly exercise goal.

Let me take a minute to prove to you how healthy exercise really is. Here are a few key points. (more…)

Productive or Just “Busy”? 17 Ways To Be More Productive Every Day

Noun: ‘productivity’ The state or quality of producing something; the effectiveness of productive effort.

How many excuses do you hear yourself saying every day? “I couldn’t get this done today because… OR I didn’t have time to do that because…”

Sometimes all it takes to be more ‘productive’ is to simply stop sabotaging yourself and get out of your own way. Yep I said it – get out of your own way! By not confronting procrastination and all the “I’m too busy” excuses are shining examples of ‘standing in your own way’.

“Tomorrow becomes never. No matter how small the task, take the first step now!” ~ Tim Ferriss

So, you have got to prioritize achieving results ahead of staying in your comfort zone and stop making excuses! You’ve probably also heard the phrase, “work smarter, not harder”?

Well, in this post I’m going to give you a ton of ideas on how to do just that… without making excuses.

Here are 17 “no excuses” ways to be more productive every single day:

  1. Clean out the clutter in the space intended for productivity – whether that’s your office, the kitchen or anywhere in your environment that requires you to GSD (Get Sh*t Done)!
  2. Use positive instead of negative self-talk. You would be surprised how impactful negative self-talk (which fuels our limiting beliefs) can be for flat-lining productivity!
  3. Make your goals manageable – not unrealistic and unreachable.
  4. Set out the next day’s goals the night before. Revisit them for 5 minutes in the morning.
  5. Systems and routines (over “goals”) are always the answer. Make priority lists not ‘To Do’ lists – and make it “tickable”. Checking off that box can be so rewarding!
  6. Create a plan that’s designed for action and automate repetitive tasks – again, systems!
  7. Don’t multitask – I know, this probably goes against everything you have ever done and what you’re actually trying to do now but consider that doing multiple things at once (too many balls in the air) causes you to do each task much more slowly and less efficiently than if you were to just focus on just ONE task – and do it really well!
  8. Spend mornings GSD’ing, i.e. do your most important tasks before lunch.Follow the Pareto Principle as it applies to productivity: “80% of the output or results will come from 20% of the input or action.” Think of it as 80% of your work is done in 20% of your time. For most people, that time is right after waking up, so try to take advantage of the first few hours of your day.
  9. Robin Sharma says, “Get up at 5 am. Win the battle of the bed. Put mind over mattress. This habit alone will strengthen your willpower so it serves you more dutifully in the key areas of your life.”
  10. Identify your time thieves and energy vampires. It’s exactly how it sounds 😉Do this: identify the activities and tasks that distract you, interrupt your workflow or send you down the “rabbit hole”. Curtail all those bad habits that keep you from performing at your best and you’ll dramatically improve your results!
  11. Avoid distractions, e.g. turn off your phone notifications (aka, time thief!)
  12. Check email in the afternoon and set aside a specific time period to do social media (more time thieves are afoot!) – trying not to peek & peck at both of these all day long, i.e. don’t spend your day simply putting out fires!
  13. And if possible, focus on what you do best and delegate the rest, so you can really optimize your productivity.By delegating the things that you’re not so stellar at, and that someone else can do better in a fraction of time or cost – isn’t that just the definition of ‘productivity’
    = the effectiveness of productive effort.
  14. Recognize your accomplishments and build in rewards for effort – but not necessarily for the achievement itself.
  15. Drink more water.Did you know that being just mildly dehydrated can lower your work performance by 25-50%?!
  16. Get an accountability partner – someone to literally keep you on task and moving forward.
  17. And finally… don’t say ‘yes’ to everything. ‘No’ is perfectly acceptable once in a while 🙂

RECIPE

 When you need a brain boost and just a touch of bliss in your day, grab one (or three!) of these dark & delicious beauties and you’ll be feeling energized and inspired in no time 😉

Bliss + Brain-boosting Choco Bites

Ingredients

½ cup coconut oil, unrefined
½ cup cacao powder, unprocessed (not Dutch)
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1 ¾ cup finely shredded coconut, unsweetened

*If you’re allergic or just don’t like coconut, you can substitute it with a combination of flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and/or coarsely chopped almonds – but do a combo and not the full amount of any one of those substitutes.

Note: flax & chia will both draw moisture and will make the bites drier.

Preparation

Heat coconut oil and cacao powder in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until smooth and coconut oil has melted, then remove from heat.

Whisk in maple syrup and vanilla extract until well blended.

Add shredded coconut (or other nut/seed combo), and stir vigorously until well combined. It will look soupy!

Cover mixture and place in fridge until firm enough to easily form small bites (~ 20 mins).

Line a flat storage container with parchment, and shape the chilled chocolate “dough” into 1-inch balls – or larger if you dare!

Place on prepared surface, and loosely cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer until firm (~ 30 mins).

Enjoy straight from the freezer or store bites in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 10 days. They can also be frozen in a freezer-safe airtight container for 2-3 months. (But they’ll never last that long!)

 Dark chocolate benefits:

  • Can lower blood pressure
  • May improve blood flow
  • Helps lower the risk of heart disease
  • Can enhance cognitive processing, learning, memory, and recall

 

REFERENCES

Healthline – 17 Healthy and Practical Ways to Break Out of Laziness

https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-stop-being-lazy

Forbes – 7 Ways to Be More Productive

https://www.forbes.com/sites/francesbridges/2018/07/26/7-ways-to-be-more-productive/#8648417d9f78

Lifehack – How to Be More Productive: 4 Tiny Tweaks That Will 10x Your Productivity

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/more-productive-4-ways-that-really-work.html

Medium (The Startup) – How to Be Productive: 10 Ways to Actually Work Smarter

https://medium.com/swlh/how-to-be-productive-10-ways-to-actually-work-smarter-16fea8087ead

Actioned – How to Be More Productive: The Ultimate Guide

https://www.actioned.com/how-to-be-more-productive/

AquaCooler Direct – 10 Facts: Dehydration and Its Effect on Productivity at Work

https://aquacoolerdirect.com.au/blogs/news/10-facts-about-dehydration-and-its-effect-on-employee-productivity

University Health News Daily – Chocolate Benefits for Your Brain: Memory and Mood Improvement

https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/memory/2-chocolate-benefits-for-your-brain-improves-memory-and-mood/

Creating a Mindset for Health

So much of health is all about habits and actions, but where do these all stem from? What if we don’t have to make as many changes as we think we do? What if there was one powerful thing that makes a lot of difference?

That thing is mindset.

Mindset is sometimes called “the story we tell ourselves.” It’s our attitude toward things in our life. And we have control over our mindset. Yes, we do.

And research is showing that it may be far more powerful than we thought.

Here’s a quick story about a fascinating mindset study.

Researchers at Stanford University looked at a bunch of people’s health and wellness lifestyle habits, as well as health markers.

What they found was that the people who thought they were a lot less active had a higher risk of death than the general public. And, they also had up to 71% higher risk of death than people who thought they were more active. Even if they actually weren’t less active!

How is this even possible that people who simply thought they were less active had higher risks, even if it wasn’t true? (more…)