A: Great question! The short answer: it depends. As with all things in health and wellness, there is no one size fits all model, and what your body needs may be different than your friends. The long answer: Consider why you are thinking of a cleanse. Have you recently been exposed to a large amount of toxins or chemicals? Do you have a chronic condition you are battling? Are you trying to jump start healthy habits? Are you hoping to kick some cravings? How you answer these and other questions not only determines if a cleanse is appropriate, but also indicates what would work best for you. Overall, if you are committed to doing some sort of clean up, I would recommend starting slow by removing some of the unneeded chemicals in your life and added sugars in your food. This can be as simple as not using coffee creamer to as complex as switching out not only food choices but your health, beauty and cleaning products as well. Shift to choosing mostly whole foods. If you can't buy organic make sure to wash your produce. Above all though I would recommend that you work with a professional who has experience and knowledge in this area before starting any type of detox or cleanse regimen. For more information on how to "clean up" your diet this spring give me a call and schedule a free 15 minute consult to discuss your options.
Most of us have heard of, participated in or been a victim of April Fools day, but less of us realize the other important holiday at the beginning of this month.
The first Wednesday of April happens to be National Walking Day! How do you think you should celebrate this day? By taking a walk of course. Research done by the American Cancer society has found that even just a little walking has a big impact. However, I encourage you to do more than just a little walking.
I have heard it scarily said that sitting is the new smoking and although I don't readily have the data to support this, I trust it to be true. In fact I see it with my clients. Those who struggle with chronic or inflammatory health conditions generally tend to have jobs that require sitting for an extended period of time. And unfortunately it's not just sitting itself that is the problem, it's sitting for extended periods of time. This means that it is best to move around throughout the day. Or at least reduce your sitting as much as possible. I still tell people to move when they can and if you can only do so after work then by all means do that. But if there is any opportunity to alter your day or your environment to allow more movement then you should definitely take that route.
One of my favorite reference to use with clients (as well as with friends and family) is the Blue Zones. In fact most of the education that I do with clients stems from the information that Dan Buettner and his team were able to gather and publish in regards to these scattered locations across the globe. What makes these places so special? This is where there are the most centenarians living, meaning the greatest population of people who live to be 100 in a small secluded area. I don't necessarily focus on the longevity aspect of living with my clients, rather I focus on the quality of life these individuals have. In fact an email from the Blue Zones website this morning was what informed me that there was such a thing as National Walking Day. As the article on their site will tell you, the individuals in the Blue Zones don't necessarily go to the gym or do a workout video when they get up in the morning or at the end of a long day of work, in fact very few of them would even consider "exercising". Movement is just a part of their day. Life is simpler in many of these areas, people live in close proximity and much of their food is sourced locally. This means that there are very few if any desk jobs, there is more walking to and from locations, and there is the need for physical tending of animals and gardens. Daily movement is just one area that the Blue Zones is #winning.
So what can you do? Aside from moving to a Blue Zone and completely uprooting your family and life- (I encourage you to do so if you can, although I have yet to get my husband to bit on that one...)- I would suggest you start simple. Too often we focus on how this or that WON'T work for us, but let's look at what you can do right now. Can you stand up? Great! Do that! Can you walk to the bathroom or to a neighbors desk or even down the hall? Great! Do that after you finish reading all this. :) Maybe you can't walk down the hall then just continue to stand up every so often. If you are literally glued to being seated take a few moments to move your feet around. There are many options for desk sitters on the market, one you can request a standing desk. These are quite popular and not so hard to come by anymore. You can also get something like a pedaling station under your feet or even a stability chair that works your core while you sit. If you aren't as glued to your seat then take advantage of every opportunity to move. Instead of sending an email to Suzy Q down the hall- go deliver the message yourself. Not only will this help you get movement in but also addresses the issue of our loss of connectivity with people. There is just something so much more valuable about a face to face discussion. If you can't remember or think to create opportunity for movement in the day then use your handle electronic devices to remind you. You don't even need a special app or device, simply set an alarm as a reminder. Try setting it every 30 minutes to remind yourself to get up and at least strand and stretch.
If you can take it a step farther consider walking over your lunch break, maybe you are in a location that you could walk to a coffee shop for lunch. Could you even walk to the school to pick your kids up? Sometimes I will purposely park a few blocks away so that I and they have a forced walk after class. There are so many ways to add movement into your day. Do not limit yourself to the confines of going to the gym or not. Set your life up so that it requires movement. Park further away, walk or ride your bike whenever its an option, Take multiple trips up and down the stairs at home when cleaning the house. Take multiple trips to carry groceries in - we are all guilty of fitting 15 bags on one arm to avoid taking two trips in....
Whatever you can do, do it! Here's a list to sum it up but don't be afraid to pave your own path (pun intended).
Q: I realize most people are trying to lose weight when they come to see you, but what about those trying to gain weight?
A: Great question , and you are right, outside of a hospital facility it is not as common for a dietitian to help someone gain weight, but it is a health concern for some people and I’m glad you brought it up. My suggestions vary from person to person but overall the goal is to make the meals and snacks you do eat more calorie dense without adding bulk. This is best done using fat. Fat has more calories per gram than protein or carbohydrates and is a tasty and healthy way to increase the calorie content of food. I would start by throwing away all the low fat stuff you use. Use real mayo, real sour cream, real salad dressing, etc. Start adding butter to your meals. I really like to use an unsalted grass fed butter. Switch to whole milk and real cream, it works well to add these whole fat dairy options to oatmeal or to use them in coffee. Try making a smoothie with some coconut oil , hemp or flax seeds, and some fruit. Add in some whole milk yogurt or kefir for added calories and a dose of probiotics. Drizzle olive oil on your salads, even eat some olives for a snack. If you like cheese add this to your eggs in the morning, no need to settle for the partial skim milk cheese sticks anymore, go for that sharp cheddar you like next time you have crackers and cheese. If it’s a whole food, real fat, then it’s ok to add it. Avoid adding trans fats or using candy and sweets to gain weight. This may help pack on the pounds but it won’t help your health.
Again, this is not a typical issue in the American diet and is very individualized. If you are trying to gain weight I would encourage you to come see me or another dietitian to help set up a plan that works for you based on the foods you like, the foods you tolerate and your schedule.
As a dietitian I often get asked "What do you eat?" My clients either think I am purchasing super expensive green powders and strange smoothie add-ins OR they think I secretly eat the foods I tell them to avoid yet somehow miraculously I don't suffer any adverse effects.
I love when they get to know me better and can understand that what I eat isn't complicated, its just simple, whole, real foods. I love it even more when these same clients start to understand that they too can eat in this simplified way and probably save a little money as well.
A typical trip to the co-op or grocery store for me involves about 30 minutes in the produce aisle and about 5 minutes everywhere else. I shop by season and price as much as possible. I love Harmony in Bemidji because it tells you where the food is coming from. This is important for managing our carbon foot prints and its healthy and helpful to buy local. I buy as little as I can in packages and try my hardest to be creative in my meal options. Food waste is also always on my mind when I shop. Even if a giant bag of pears (one of my favs) is on sale, I won't buy it if there is the slightest chance that we may not have time to eat them all, use them in a soup, or if I won't have time to preserve the extra in some way. I try to only buy foods in bulk that last a long time and can be frozen, cooked down to soup or roasted if they start to lose their appeal.
I try to cook with different foods as often as possible to help expand my families taste palate. But if Im short on time while shopping or the selections are slim I tend to shop the staple items and usually fall back on one of two of my staple meal creations. first choice is always veggie tacos, this is a family favorite and super fast. Basically any veggies are chopped and sautéed and then eaten in a wrap. In fact this is a great way to use up food scraps and reduce food waste. We even sometimes pull out random items from the fridge such as sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and pickles to put on top. The next fall back meal is roasted roots and a mung beans or a meat if we are so inclined. Although this one is easy, the cook time is a bit longer. Same principle applies. Chop the food, throw it on a pan, roast it in the oven, cook the meat or beans however we want and dinner is served!
The most important thing to remember in meal planning, shopping or cooking is veggies first! Now go out there and get cooking! And yes, that is a glass of wine in the image :)
A: That's a great question and the answer will vary slightly based on where you meal will take place. If you are hosting the meal then its an easy fix to create vegetable side dishes that are lower in carb. Skinnytaste.com has some great options. Or it can be as simple as including a veggie tray and/or a meat and cheese tray with your meal. Squash is an option as a lower carb vegetable so long as its free of added sugars. If you are going somewhere else see if you can find out what the meal will be, if there are no low carb options request to bring a side dish to share. Regardless of the location of the meal and whether or not you have control of the food choices, you definitely have control of your portions. So go ahead and try everything if you must, just be sure to reduce your portion size of the carb heavy items and load up on things like turkey and green veggies. And also be sure to take your medications. Don't lie to yourself about the carb count or neglect to test your blood sugar, its important on these days to be aware of whats going on so if you are on insulin you can dose accordingly. Last tip, get active. Go for a walk, play an active game with family, start decorating the house for Christmas. Just add some activity to help utilize all that extra energy you ate. And don't forget to enjoy the time with family and friends! Happy Thanksgiving!
Do you struggle to find quality yoga clothes in Bemidji? I know I do. One of my first goals in opening the studio was to carry a couple of lines of clothing that I felt were quality, somewhat sustainable and came in ALL sizes. After researching I have been able to find some brands that check those boxes. Right now my stock is limited but over the next month I will be getting in more styles, colors and an assortment of bigger body clothes so that women of every shape and size can feel comfortable and secure in their practice.
So come on in and check Core Health's own little boutique. It is brimming with yoga clothes and supplies as well as candles, books and other health and wellness paraphernalia.
Ever feel like your stomach is trying to tell you something? Well, it probably is and its about time you start listening! Gut health contributes to an array of medical conditions from simple acne to complicated autoimmune disorders.
Some guts scream and others slowly whine. There is no rhyme or reason to how our gut health is damaged or repaired. But that doesn't mean there isn't hope. Working with a nutrition specialist is a great way to start moving towards a happier, healthier gut.
Call or message me for a free consult. Lets get you started on the path to healing! Want more info? Check out this months InBemidjiMag for an article written by yours truly.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Q: During the school year our mornings are hectic and often rushed, what are some healthy breakfast choices that will be quick and easy to prepare?
A: Great question, and I will say that this is an area
that I am constantly working on myself. It is very easy to
fall into the habit of grabbing a quick sugar filled breakfast
item, however with a little bit of planning and some creativity, breakfast can
be quick and healthy.
One of the easiest healthy choices for breakfast is an egg. You may be saying
to yourself that you don’t have enough time to make eggs, well no problem,
make a big batch of hardboiled eggs the weekend before. Your breakfast
could be as simple as a slice of toast and a hardboiled egg or you could
dress it up a bit and slice the hardboiled egg and put it on the toast with
some cheese. Maybe dress it up even more and add cold roasted red peppers,
avocado, onion, pickles...the sky is the limit, if you like it put it on there.
Second, you could find one of those great recipes for egg muffins. These
are made the weekend before and the recipes are extremely easy to follow.
Third, did you know you can make scrambled eggs in the microwave??
It’s easy, crack an egg or two in a cup and cook in the microwave for 30
seconds, stir and cook for another 30. When all else fails think outside the
box and make a ‘non-breakfast’ choice. Example: last night’s leftovers,
a ham sandwich, etc. There are no food rules that say breakfast must be
cereal or toast.
What is the value in a workshop? Why pay extra for a "longer" class? What does a workshop even look like? What would I need to bring?
These are all questions I had before attending my first yoga workshop and these questions were at the forefront of my thoughts upon planning my own workshop. Although I survived and there was some value in not knowing exactly what to expect and in opening myself to the unknown, the pitta in me still likes to have a plan. This is why I am sharing this post. So that whenever you decide to take a workshop you are prepared and know what to expect. Hopefully that knowledge will encourage you to be open to the opportunity of a workshop.
To understand the importance of a workshop I have a couple of visualizations. The first is for experienced practitioners who not only do asana daily but also dabble in the other areas of yoga. The second visualization is for those individuals who are newer to yoga and/or only have a physical practice.
So first I want you to imagine all the different areas of a yoga practice, physical movement, breath work, meditation, etc- now see these as a working body and being different parts of the body. Visualize this however it works for you. Maybe the physical practice is your limbs or muscles, perhaps meditation is your mind. Now think of what nourishes all the areas of your body. Of course breath does but this is another conversation all together, but what about your blood? Your heart? Think of a workshop as the heart of it all. This is where everything connects. None of our systems or parts work without fresh nourishing blood being pumped to them. Participating in a workshop is like giving new life to your heart. Its strengthening it.
For the second metaphor I want you to picture yourself on an island. Imagine the physical practice of yoga is that island. Now visualize "mainland" a ways from that island. Mainland is all the other areas of yoga. You could probably survive just fine on the island for your whole life, just practicing asana and never moving beyond that. But imagine the opportunity that would open if you built a bridge to that mainland. Imagine the world that would be at your feet if you were able to cross into those other areas. It might seem a little terrifying to walk across the bridge but you see people you know on the other side of it and they seem happy and thriving, so your heart and mind tell you to do it. A workshop is that bridge. It is a way to bring your physical practice to another level, another area.
Regardless of what metaphor worked better for you or even if you are not a visualization type of person. The point is to understand the value and importance of a workshop. Workshops bring understanding to why we practice. They allow you to expand beyond the physical. They open you up to all the other modalities of yoga. They bridge the gap. This is especially important for yoga in the west as it is heavily portrayed as primarily a physical movement practice. And yes, that is a part of it, but there is so much more. Perhaps not every workshop is an amazing, earth shattering, life changing, enlightening experience. But remember each workshop , just like each class, is what you make of it. Yoga is a personal practice and coming to the mat is always a fresh chance to quiet the mind and experience life, but yoga itself is part of life, tis our every day actions and thoughts. We don't just practice yoga for those few moments on our mat, we practice it everyday all day and workshops remind us and teach us that.
Without further ado here is a list of what to expect and what to bring for most workshops. Although a huge disclaimer- just as every teacher is different, so to is every workshop. If you are really unsure and want to be prepared do not be afraid to ask, but also do not be surprised if you receive a vague answer such as "Whatever you think you need is what your should bring..."
Items to bring
What to expect
Does yoga ever feel complicated? Do you find yourself wondering what poses to do at home? Are you ever confused about how to start and how to end?
If you answered yes to any of the above then feel comforted that you are not alone.
Before I became a yoga teacher I was always wondering how to do yoga at home. Sure I could throw youtube on or watch a DVD, but then I spent the whole time watching the instructor, pausing to try the pose and then rewinding to do it as a flow. It was annoying. What I wanted was to be able to do a simple practice without an instructor. Something that I didn't have to think about but I could still reap benefits from.
As a teacher I have kept this in mind and have made it a point to always teach with the emphasis on doing the practice at home. One way I do this is by pointing out specific poses that can be done throughout the day at a desk or while standing. And the other I build their home practice is through the use of the sun salutations, specifically Sun A. The simplicity of the poses in Sun A as well as the limited number of them make this an ideal sequence to memorize and do on your own. In a Sun salutation you are able to practice all the aspects of any yoga sequence in a shortened flow that can be repeated as many times as a person desires.
Lets break it down:
You start in Mountain pose with your hands on each side of your body, facing forward at the front of your mat. On an inhale you will raise your hands up to the sky bringing them together in namaste and turning your gaze to rest on the two thumbs.
Then you will exhale and bending at your hips you will move into a forward fold.
It is ok if your legs are not completely strait or if your belly doesn't touch your thighs. In fact often times this won't happen for many years because of tightness in the back and in the hamstrings. It's important not to force yourself into this pose. Bend your knees if you find yourself barely able to fold forward.
On an inhale you will straiten your back, lift your head and turn your gaze forward. In this position you may need to slide your hands up your legs so that you can rest in a comfortable strait back. For some people they will be able to come into strait back while leaving their hands on the ground or coming to their fingertips.
After strait back you will exhale and place your hands on the ground and walk your feet back so that you come into a high plank.
Once you are in high plank you will want to ready yourself for chaturanga. Chaturanga is best described as a push up with your elbow hugged into your side. It is ok to come to your knees and then lower down or to lower your belly all the way down. For some people they will stop with their head about 2 inches from the floor in chaturanga. If you have a sore back it is ok to raise the bum a bit as you lower down. This is a good pose to build upper body strength and is difficult to do without variations.
After chaturanga you will inhale and push your head up and chest out into upward dog. It is helpful to have a slight bend in the elbows for this pose although many times we want to straiten them. It is also helpful to roll the shoulders back if possible instead of pushing them forward. Rest the top of your feet on the ground in this pose and either hold your body slightly off the ground or start your back bend at the waist and allow the entire leg to be touching the mat.
Next you will exhale and tuck your toes under pushing your hips back and coming into the most well known yoga pose, downward dog. Here you will hold for 5 even breaths. This is technically an inversion and inversion poses are very important for health. However, they should be done with caution for individuals with high blood pressure or other cardiovascular or vertigo issues.
To come out of down dog you will glance up at your hands and either walk your feet forward or walk your hands back to meet your feet. As you do this inhale and raise your head up and come into a nice strait back again.
Then exhale and forward fold
Inhale and raise your hands up...
And then exhale your hands down to your side.
As you can see this makes one full circle. You end as you began. This is a sun A.
Now go practice!