June 22, 2017

7,000-Year-Old Home Remedy and Its 20 Uses

Simple and easy.  That's how I like to roll during the summer.  Too much of anything adds to the heat of the season.  I mean, here in Northern California we are experiencing a heat wave.  This morning during my 5am run, I was panting in tandem with my 2 dogs.  My tank top was drenched.  

Simple and easy summer do's includes homemade remedies.  One of the easiest products to use for internal and external health prevention and treatment is...da da da da...apple cider vinegar! Yes, very exciting.  Sorry that it's not Leatherby's ice cream.  Keep wishing.
New medical research suggests that apple cider vinegar (ACV) ingestion can help acid reflux, lower blood pressure, improve diabetes, and support weight loss.  But ACV's usage isn't new; historical records show that apple juice has been fermented into vinegar since before 5000 BC!
The benefits of ACV come from it’s powerful healing compounds, which include acetic acid, potassium, magnesium, probiotics, and enzymes.  I know acetic acid sounds formidable, but it has the ability to kill dangerous “bad” bacteria and at the same time, foster the growth of beneficial “good” bacteria. Because acetic acid kills unwanted bacteria when it comes into contact with it, it essentially acts as a natural antibiotic. This means ACV naturally provides numerous benefits related to skin, digestion, and immunity health without any side effects.
Additionally, ACV is a good source of polyphenols. Research supports the role of polyphenols in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, osteoporosis, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. (Try repeating neurodegenerative 3 times fast.)
Make sure you buy your ACV with "raw, organic, and unfiltered with the 'mother' intact" on the label.  The "mother" just refers to the cloudy strands, or in other words, the probiotics.  I like this brand. You can find it in any local market.
Here are the top 20 reasons you should be using ACV everyday!

Apple Cider Vinegar Health Uses Infographic List

1. Detoxes Body
ACV is a liver and lymphatic tonic which can help detox your body.  It helps balance your body’s pH and stimulates cardiovascular stimulation, bowel motility and lymphatic drainage. 

2. Naturally Conditions Hair
ACV can be used as a natural hair conditioner and makes your hair shine.  Take an old shampoo bottle and fill it with 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar and 1 cup of water.  Pour this on your hair after shampooing three times per week for best results.

3. Whitens Teeth
ACV is a natural teeth whitener. Take your finger and rub apple cider vinegar on your teeth for 1 minute.  Then rinse your mouth with water.  The pH of apple cider vinegar can remove stains from your teeth, which helps naturally whiten.

4. Treats Acid Reflux and Heartburn
Some of the main causes of acid reflux and heartburn are an imbalanced stomach pH and lack of enzymes and probiotics.  Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water and drink it five minutes before meals to relieve acid reflux.

5. Kills Candida (Yeast)
Millions of people around the world struggle with candida and yeast.  The side effects can be bad breath, lack of energy, UTI’s and digestive issues.  ACV contains probiotics and a type of acid that promotes the growth of probiotics which help kill off candida. Remove sugar from your diet and consume 1 tablespoon of ACV 3 times daily as part of a candida cleanse.

6. Regulates Your Body’s pH
ACV contains acetic acid, which is acidic in nature but has a more alkaline effect on the rest of your body. Balancing your bodies pH can reduce your risk of chronic illnesses like cancer and can dramatically increase your energy.

7. Supports Weight Loss
A study published in the Journal of Diabetes Care found that consuming ACV could promote weight loss because it reduces sugar cravings and improves detoxification.  Another study found that supplementing with the acetic acid found in ACV reduced body fat in mice by 10%.

8. Cleans without Toxins
The anti-bacterial properties and the balanced pH of ACV make it a perfect household cleaning product. Fill a spray bottle with 50% water and 50% ACV then spray windows and counters for cleaning.

9. Soothes Sunburn
Put 1 cup of ACV in a lukewarm bath along with ¼ cup of coconut oil and lavender essential oil to ease sunburnt skin.

10. Improves Diabetes
Medical research has proven that the acetic acid found in ACV can balance blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity and insulin responses. Pour ACV on salads or consume 1 tablespoon in water before meals.

11. Heals Poison Ivy
ACV contains potassium, which can help reduce swelling and inflammation, thus reducing side effects of poison ivy. (I need to remember to put a small vial of this in our camping first aid kit.)

12. Repels Fleas on Pets
Mix a 50/50 solution of ACV together and soak your pet in a tub.  Do this one time a day for several weeks to rid your pet of a flea infestation.

13. Lowers Blood Pressure
In a 2009 12-week study, they found that consuming ACV lowered triglycerides and blood pressure significantly.

14. Fights Seasonal Allergies
Another amazing treatment of ACV is for allergies.  ACV helps break up mucous in your body and support lymphatic drainage.  It also supports the immune system and can clear your sinuses.  Put 2 tablespoons in a large glass of water and drink three times daily for allergies.

15. Kills Fungus on Toes and Skin
The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal compounds in ACV make it a great natural remedy for skin and toenail fungus.  Simply rub on the area of fungus two times daily.  Also, using a mixture of coconut oil and oil of oregano is great for killing fungus.

16. Tones Skin for Eczema and Acne
The pH of ACV makes it an excellent remedy for skin issues. Rub it on the effected skin or use it as a wash, and then put coconut oil and essential oils on the area to support further healing.

17. Eases Varicose Veins
ACV is excellent for varicose veins because it improves circulation in the vein walls and is anti-inflammatory.  Combine it with witch hazel and rub on veins in circular motion and you should see improvements in two weeks.

18. Natural Deodorant 
Bad bacteria and yeast are a major cause of body odor. The armpit can stay damp which also makes it a breading ground for bad bacteria. Simply dabbing some apple cider vinegar on your fingers and running it into your armpit can kill yeast and neutralize odors, keeping you smelling fresh all day.

19. Cures Colds and Sore Throats 
ACV is the ultimate remedy to cure a cold and sore throat fast because it’s loaded with vitamins and probiotic-boosting acetic acid. Take 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in one glass of water three times daily to cure a cold.

20. Reduces Warts 
Put apple cider vinegar topically on the wart and then cover with a bandage. Leave on overnight and remove in the morning. You may see results in one week, but it could take longer.

May 11, 2017

Fullness Factor

Eating whole foods isn't a diet. It's simply what God created for humans to subsist on. Erroneously, our society has become so used to accepting fast food, boxed dinners, and grab-and-go-100-calorie packs as how eating is done, that refusing to partake is seen as denying pleasure or dieting. And heaven forbid, you might actually get hungry in several hours if you aren't bloated with simple carbs, chemicals, and refined sugar.

That's one of the myriad benefits of consuming whole foods as opposed to grazing on convenience snacks: you are satiated and energized. Your digestive system works efficiently, and you will feel true hunger hours later. Unfortunately, too many kiddos constantly snack on fruit snacks, goldfish crackers, and juice; parents wonder why they won't sit down to eat at the dinner table!

There's a fullness factor.

A little over 20 years ago, a group of researchers developed the Satiety Index, a list of foods ranked by how well they keep someone full over a two-hour period. The researchers developed the index by having a group of participants eat 240-calorie portions of specific foods. These individuals then rated their feelings of hunger every 15 minutes over the next two hours.

The researchers found that some foods, like potatoes, were more than three times as satisfying as white bread. See the theme here? A whole food (potato), simple and always delicious, satisfies and sustains, whereas store-bought white bread full of bleached flour and high-fructose corn syrup and preservatives and zero minerals doesn't keep its consumer satiated.

Three factors that help determine how highly a food ranks on the Satiety Index are the amount of water, fiber, and protein in the food. Beans and lentils, which are both packed with fiber, score well. So do high-volume foods, such as green leafy veggies, thick squashes, and fruit.

Still not sure what foods you should be eating to keep hunger at bay? Here are just a few that have been shown on the Satiety Index (and at the MyLife Workout Kitchen - so official!) to keep you sustained.

Breakfast will be perfect with an egg omelette, or nosh on a few boiled eggs for a snack, or create a simple quiche for dinner. All other proteins are measured from eggs, not only in the bodybuilding world, but in the food industry. Everyone knows that eggs have protein in the yolk and in the white, but what you may not know is that yolks contain large amounts of choline, which helps in fetal brain development for pregnant women. It also breaks down bethane, a chemical that produces hormones related to happiness.


Add some flavor to your next meal by dicing up an avocado and adding it to your lunchtime salad. Adding just half an avocado to a meal can increase your satisfaction—and make you less hangry for the next 5 hours. And who doesn't love guacamole? These green powerhouses are packed with monounsaturated fats, keeping blood sugar levels steady and your skin glowing. Containing both vitamin K and folate, avocados help prevent blood clots in the brain (protecting against stroke) as well as help improve cognitive function, especially both memory and concentration.

Chili Peppers
This one might surprise you. Not only can a little spice fire up your metabolism, but capsaicin, the compound found in hot peppers that give them their kick, can also help control your appetite. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that adults who added a teaspoon of red pepper to their meals ate significantly fewer calories, chose more of the lower-fat food options, and reported less feelings of hunger, compared to those than who had a placebo.

Cacao is chockfull of flavonols, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which lower blood pressure, and which improve blood flow to the brain and heart.  Researchers out of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark found that cacao promotes satiety and lowers the desire to eat something sweet for up to five hours afterward. 

For a vegetable with such few calories (just 16 per cup), celery offers a bunch (pun intended) of benefits. Its high levels of antioxidants and polysaccharides act as natural anti-inflammatories.    Celery is crunchy and refreshing with a dollop of almond butter, guacamole, or salsa. 

Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is one of the most versatile and delicious foods out there. With 77 known benefits and uses this dense yumminess can aide any skin, digestive, or nutritive issue. And when it comes to your brain, it’s full of benefits, too. Coconut oil works as a natural anti-inflammatory, suppressing cells responsible for inflammation. It can help with memory loss as you age and destroy bad bacteria that hangs out in your gut. 

Bone Broth
Bone broth is amazingly effective in healing your gut and, in turn, healing your brain. This ancient food is full of health benefits, ranging from boosting your immune system, overcoming leaky gut, improving joint health, and overcoming food allergies. Its high levels of collagen help reduce intestinal inflammation, and healing amino acids like proline and glycine keep your immune system function properly. It is simple to make: place a whole chicken carcass, rib bones, pork bones, etc etc in a crockpot, cover with water, pour in 1-2 tablespoons white vinegar, and cook on low heat for 1-3 days. Some of the broth can be frozen if not used within 2 weeks. Use the broth in soups, of course, or as the liquid for cooking whole grains or even in homemade dressings.

May 4, 2017

Training for Life

There is no one perfect workout for everyone. Some have injuries, others are novices, some even hate to sweat. All techniques, styles, and movements will do you some good, though. But, if lean muscle mass and strength is your goal, the exercises you choose and how you execute them is a game-changer. If you're training for muscle hypertrophy (more mass), you train with heavy weights for low repetitions. If you're into bodybuilding, you choose moderate loads for slightly higher rep targets. If you're an athlete and want to develop your muscular endurance, you use lighter weights and more reps to develop more aerobically efficient muscles.

But what if you're not interested in focusing specifically on strength, size, or endurance? What if you want a little of each because you're an average joe/jane, seeking strength to keep up with life's demands. You want to thrive and have energy and moderate your bodyweight for long-term health.

That's where "training for life" comes in:

1) Start your workout session with a 20-30 minute cardio session to warm up (running, fast walking, elliptical machine, recumbent bike). Or...plan on high intensity 30-60 spurts of jumping rope or plyometrics in between weightlifting sets. 

2) Weightlifting begins with low weight and a high amount of repetitions. For example, a female would use 10-pound free weights for bicep curls and perform 15-20 repetitions.

3) Work 2-3 muscle groups per day. For example: Monday is triceps, abdominals, and legs. Tuesday is back and shoulders. Wednesday is biceps, abdominals, and legs. Thursday is back and shoulders. Friday is chest, abdominals, and legs. Saturday is biceps and triceps.

4) Each training day perform 16-20 sets for that muscle group. Yep, you read that correctly: 16-20 sets for each muscle group.

5) At the end of your session, with 2-3 sets left, change the weight to 5-10% heavier and lower the repetitions performed. For instance, a female would use 15-pound free weights for bicep curls and crank out 8-10 repetitions if she had commenced her workout with 10-pound free weights.

6) Stretch. 

This way of working out, exercising, training -whatever term you want to use - will cover all components of fitness: strength, endurance, coordination, balance, and flexibility. 

Others will ask you: "What are you training for?" And you will reply, "Oh, I'm just training for life!"


April 27, 2017

4 Peanut Butter Alternatives to Go Nuts Over

Peanut butter.  An American staple.  So yummy by the spoonful or mixed with...oh yes, chocolate.

Why do we consume it plentifully?  Because most brands are loaded with refined sugar and hydrogenated fats, easily manipulating our tastebuds.   And, peanuts are a technically a legume, not a nut, rendering a higher carbohydrate dose.

But now we have "natural" peanut butter brands or make-your-own at the market.  Still, some of us who are health geeks (you'll never guess who I'm referring to) don't have a taste for waxy peanut butter.  We prefer less carbohydrates and more fat in our spread?  Yeah, that's it.  Bring on more fat!

Anyway...almond butter became the craze years ago.  I bought into the fad, and am now an almond butter snob.  I have to have Trader Joe's No Salt Crunchy Almond Butter in my pantry at all times.  At all costs.

After all, I savor it everyday.  My afternoon snack is precisely the following:

  • Fruit (oranges, apples, pineapple, or strawberries)
  • Dusting of cinnamon and ginger
  • Sprinkle of unsweetened coconut chips
  • Another sprinkle of cacao nibs
  • Generous dollop of Trader Joe's No Salt Crunchy Almond Butter

Have I mentioned the details of my almond butter enough yet?  I told you I'm an almond butter snob.  That brand is the best-tasting and the best price to boot.

But you may be sick of almond butter just like I got sick of peanut butter!  So here are some delicious alternatives:

Cashew Butter
Cashew butter is velvety-buttery.  Because of its light color it works well as a frosting substitute or as a base in other desserts.  Nearly 70% of the fat calories in cashew butter come from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. 

Sunflower Seed Butter
Sunflower seed butter's texture is similar to peanut butter's.  This is an excellent alternative for kiddos with nut allergies.  Nutritional highlights include high levels of unsaturated fats along with a range of minerals including manganese, copper, phosphorus, and magnesium. It's also a great source of vitamin E. 

Tahini is simply sesame seed butter.  In it are organic compounds which consist of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, copper, zinc, fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, protein, and tryptophan.  An interesting characteristic about this paste is that it becomes thicker when water is added to it instead of becoming thinner, therefore it serves as a creamy thickener in foods.  It can also be a binder in meat dishes, as an alternative to processed bread crumbs.  Tahini may be used as a creamy addition instead of mayonnaise to lemony, garlicky salad dressing. 

April 20, 2017

Music is to Mood as Exercise is to Muscles

Music is to mood as exercise is to muscles.  They both uplift!

Music is a vital part of fitness.  What?!  Yeah, experts say that listening to music during a workout increases endurance by 15%.  

Yes, music is always in the background wherever we go, it's part of church service, and we intentionally play it in the car (or rather, the kids do).  But when it comes to a yoga session or a zumba class, music is a vital addition.

Two sports psychologists, Karageorghis and Priest, examined the psychological effects of music during treadmill running.  They found that music "encourages the movement pattern to 
synchronise with the beat of the music, reduces perceived effort used to complete the task by transferring their attention away from the physical sensation of fatigue, influences psychomotor arousal, and improves mood of the exercise participant."

I can attest to those four effects of music on my psyche while working out.  While weightlifting, if fatigue sets in and I want to give up, I crank up the tunes on my iPod to a song with inspiring words, and something clicks for me.  I start pumping again.  Music really does give me a push.  

Dance music has a fast beat for workouts, but the repetitive phrases about partying are irritating if not downright stuuuupid.  Psychologists have stated that repetitive music like this has a negative effect on the brain.  So, I'm always searching for music with a catchy beat and positive messages for my own workouts as well as for my fitness classes.

Here's my playlist to share with you:

Let it Roll by Madilyn Paige
Spotlight by Madilyn Paige
Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
Footloose by Kenny Loggins
Stronger by Kelly Clarkson
Miss Independent by Kelly Clarkson
Firework by Katy Perry
Part of Me by Katy Perry
Can't Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake
I Want Crazy by Hunter Hayes
Titanium by David Guetta
Without You by David Guetta and Usher
Ghost by Ella Henderson
Something in the Water by Carrie Underwood
See You Again by Carrie Underwood
Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars
Happy by BYU Vocal Point
Your Love Keeps Lifting Me by BYU Vocal Point
Cool the Engines by Boston
Don't Look Back by Boston
Let's Get it Started by The Black Eyed Peas
You Make My Dreams by Hall & Oates
Time by Hootie & the Blowfish
Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus
If Today Was Your Last Day by Nickelback
Life is a Highway by Rascal Flatts
Stand by Rascal Flatts
Me and My Gang by Rascal Flatts
Roll with the Changes by REO Speedwagon
Try Everything by Shakira
Jump by Van Halen
Shake it Off by Taylor Swift
Welcome to New York by Taylor Swift
Just Like Fire by Pink
Scars to Your Beautiful by Alessia Cara
How Far I'll Go by Alessia Cara
Road Less Traveled by Lauren Alaina
Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
I Came to Win by Jenny Jordan Frogley
Somebody's Hero by Jamie O'Neal
Fighter by Christina Aguilera
Lemonade by Alex Boye
On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons
Best Day of My Life by American Authors

April 13, 2017

The 3 Main Spiritual Food Groups

Fleur-de-lis, or lily flower is a decorative symbol.  Kind of trendy.  Kind of classic, though.  After all, it was used in French heraldry throughout the ages.  Like then, it denotes being at one.

I have a blingey fleur-de-lis in my office (how nice is my hubby to let me accessorize with pinks and purples wherever in our house) with a hot pink base color, black accents, and glitter detailing the edges.  Love it!  It's a symbol for what my business, and ultimately my purpose as a trainer and nutritionist, is - to promote wholeness of body, mind, and spirit.

We can't exercise and eat right, but neglect mental and spiritual strengthening, and believe we are "healthy."  These 3 components of our selves - body, mind, and spirit - feed off of each other.  Our thoughts dictate our actions; our spiritual heaviness affects mental clarity.  Just like my dogs who use all of their legs to function...if 1 leg were missing, they would be off-kilter.  Sure, they would improvise without the missing component, but they would not move at their best.  In the same manner, we need our bodies, minds, and spirits working in tandem for wholeness.

One of those components, spiritual health, is easily neglected.  Or is it just that we are so distracted by the sensory world that our physical self dominates?  The technology, the running around, the talking, the stress are the antithesis of spiritual fortification.  In fact, those everyday bombardments strip away layer after layer of peace, joy, connection to God.

But, the very way our spirits are strengthened is in the resistance of those bombardments of the sensory world.  Just like the physical body gains muscle by weight, the spiritual self progresses by resolving, deciding, and handling the weight of the world.  In fact, yoga master, Paramahansa Yogananda, wrote in his book, Autobiography of a Yogi, that meditation isn't about sitting in a quiet bambooed-floor room and closing your eyes without anything on your schedule.  Meditation is for clearing your mind when your in the throes of chaotic life!  (This was my favorite part of his book.  And to think, that yoga originated from creating comfortable poses for the monks to sit in while meditating for hours at a time.)

In other words, spiritual clarity, or peace, joy, and connection with God, may be felt while you are discussing (ok, fighting) an issue with your teenager or listening to your work colleague ramble on about her marital problems for the hundredth time.  It's like literally feeling your abdominal strength while you're performing a plank.  It is working!

So how can we get spiritually strong?  How can we build up our soul reserves for the daily grind?

Prayer is different that meditation.  The former is work whereas the latter is relaxation.  Prayer is actively asking, spiritually wrestling, and humbly soul-searching.  Meditation is simply breathing thoughts away until the mind becomes blank.  And so, prayer is connecting with our Heavenly Father through our spirits just like we connect with family and friends by talking, listening, and enjoying one another's company.

Scripture Study
There are 4 books of scripture that I use for spiritual food: the KJV of the Holy Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price.  What makes scripture different from a novel or even an inspiring memoir?  God wrote it through the hand of prophets.  Something happens to your mind and your heart when you read the words.  Your heart becomes so full that you spiritually, mentally, and physically want to act and become what it says!

We've discussed the difference between prayer and meditation.  Is pondering somewhere between the two?  Well...pondering is still between you and God, but it's more listening on our part.  Instead of thanking, talking, and asking (sometimes venting), we are letting the answers and insights come as we consciously make connections between the concepts we've read in the scriptures.  We don't go about our other tasks.  Rather, we're still sort of in the cloud of this together-with-Him time.

These 3 practices are the 3 main spiritual food groups.  You need all of them for their spiritual values and compounds.  And just like physical sustenance, we need to partake of them everyday.

March 30, 2017

Becoming More

My siblings and I are spread out geographically, so we plan family reunions every 2 years.  When we meet, there are hugs and how's-life-goings.  And of course as an aunt, I exclaim to my nieces and nephews, "Look how much you've grown!"  The young cousins change physically as well as mentally and spiritually by learning new subjects in school, developing their talents, and being involved in several extracurricular activities.

As I see their growth, it causes me to reflect on my own development.  I swear I feel like a 20-year old because I have so much more to learn, but then time has gone by so rapidly that my body tells me I'm a senior citizen.  Have I reached my goals?  Am I progressing spiritually, physically, and mentally?

Or am I on a plateau?

I'm moving.  Oh, it's a fast pace.  I'm scurrying and worrying and checking off lists.

The question is: am I changing?

Tony Robbins, famous life coach and motivational speaker, wrote:

"Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more."

Well said, Tony, in your gravelly voice.  I agree with you that life is precious and should be used to ultimately serve others.

But to "become more," doesn't it require time and effort?  Commitment and discipline? If I focus on myself, am I sacrificing my responsibilities?

Yes, and that's why personal growth is last on a woman's list.  She is nurturing her husband, children, grandchildren, the neighbors, her extended family, other church members, the PTA board, and the soccer team.  She doesn't have time to develop her own talents or to enjoy her hobbies.  And the brain power to be creative?  Uh...no.

When it comes to exercise, too many women equate it with being selfish.  She's taking time for herself to lose weight, to be vain, to fit into her before-babies jeans, to be whatever.  She should be cleaning her house, crafting, making a casserole for the sick neighbor, researching online about cheap summer getaways, coupon clipping.

Or is it a woman's excuse to not give a dang?  To "let herself go?" To actually "make time for herself" by sitting in front of the TV and eating cookies 'n cream double-churned ice cream?

What I have been telling my clients for years and will continue to preach from my studio gym's soapbox is that taking care of your health is taking care of your responsibilities.  You will have the stamina, physical umph, and flexibility to play with the kids, to stand for hours at a time at the school bake sale, to physically care for a sick family member.

Let's face it, mental stress and emotional creativity takes physical endurance.  They are linked.  The physical foundation of a person will foretell how effective he/she will be spiritually, emotionally, and socially.

That's why exercise is so empowering.  Physical progress = spiritual progress.  There's something about lifting a heavy weight in an early-morning workout that effects facing a burdensome task later in the day...because the physical weight was conquered, the emotional weight can be wrestled with.

Personal growth can be literally felt when putting workout consistently on your schedule.  As you do more push-ups, lift heavier weights, and repeat a greater amount of squats, you sense accomplishment.

You're no longer on a plateau.

You are physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally moving.