Mindful Running Guide

Photo by Bruno Nascimento 

Photo by Bruno Nascimento 

I have recently discovered a desire to run. I have NEVER been a runner, mostly because my knees are bad and asthma is something that I have been dealing with from a very young age. But, when life gives you lemons sometimes you roll with it and find ways to focus that energy that may have been designed to hurt you to work out for your good. Why I had this epiphany in the dead of summer, I will never know insert eye roll but once a week I have been taking my talents to Prayer Mountain to get in a run, followed by some meditation and prayer.

Now, because this is a hiking trail in the midst of nature I find myself a bit nervous about injuring myself and no one being able to hear me or being attacked by an animal or something! Mindful Brittany says “just focus on the good in the moment and do not think about “what could” happen” but, teacher and mommy Brittany take over sometimes and say, “be prepared and aware!”

Important Safety Tips For Runners:

Make Sure You Can Hear Everything Around You: As much as we enjoy a good tune while working out, when you are running it is essential to still be able to hear everything that is going on around you. In large part because our brain naturally triggers to sound faster than the things that we see.

Be Aware Of Your Surroundings: Working out is oftentimes used as a method to “zone out” but when you are running, specifically alone, it is important to make sure that you are paying attention to everything that is going on around you to make sure that you remain safe.

Use Familiar Routes: When you are used to running in a certain area you are more likely to notice if there are any changes that should cue you to adjust your pace or train elsewhere. Because most people run alone, being proactive when it comes to safety is really important to avoid injury.

Invest In Safety Gear: Wearing reflective clothing, carrying mase, a walking stick, or even a whistle is a good rule of thumb in case you find yourself in a situation where you need assistance and maybe your cellular device is not working.

The key is safety and being able to get the best out of your run. Aftershokz Trekz Titanium is a necessity because of the design of these headphones. They allow you to listen to your favorite jams while still being present by not covering your entire ear area. They are lightweight, convenient and durable! I have two pair and have yet to have any problems.

My Fit Approach family is making sure that one of my readers has a chance to win a pair of their own! So make sure that you enter the giveaway and invest in a pair for yourself!

What are some hints you have for this newbie runner?

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Please Note: Some of the products mentioned in this post were sponsored. All comments about these product are my own and I have and will always remain transparent about my opinions. I will not endorse any products that I would not and do not use in my own fitness journey.

Give Your Joints A Break, Work Out In The Water

Photo by Todd Quackenbush 

Photo by Todd Quackenbush 

I was introduced to interval training in the water when I was a not-so-skilled track and cross country runner in college. Those days, my coach had me deal with my sprained ankle by water running. With my track clothes on, I would jump into the deep end of a pool and run - with absolutely no idea that there were things to consider such as form and intensity.

I know my coaches knew something back then that I didn’t: water training works. Now, water training isn’t new; it has been around centuries. Sadly though, if you ask anyone what they know about water training, they usually only think of rehabilitation and for medicinal purposes. Because of this stigma, the average athlete or fitness enthusiast might doubt a water workout as a viable way to train. Yet countless Olympic athletes use the method year after year with podium results.

Thus, we have an amazing fitness method which just hasn’t hit mainstream.

For me, I came a long way from those early years of practically drowning. I had the opportunity to be trained by some major players (Shirley Archer and Sharon Svensson) and then I honed those concepts and integrated more variety and intensity drills for training and my clients and classes. I also used water to train for ultra running and ironman events, and eventually, to rehabilitate after some major bicycle accidents.

Water training is truly a platform in which you can work at any level. For example, after my knee surgery, I couldn’t walk on land without crutches, but I could walk in the water due to the effects of buoyancy and minimized gravity. Once I was given the green light to get back to harder workouts, I slowly increased the intensity and the variation of exercises until I could run on land again (something my doctor told me would be unlikely). Since the surgery, thanks to water training, I have participated in other ironman and ultra running events.

Photo by chrissie kremer

You may be thinking, “Why should I use the water?” Maybe you are new to fitness or are not dealing with any injuries so you just don’t see the reason to include it. Well, all I can say is that with a society bent on increasing fitness at all costs, I keep thinking about joint health.

More and more people are getting involved with land-based fitness classes, marathon & triathlon training programs, high-intensity Cross-Fit or Spartan events, and there isn’t much thought to the pounding the body is taking, specifically the joints. Joint health today could be analogous to our past obsession with sunbathing. All of us children of the 60s and 70s paid no mind to sun damage as we rubbed oil on our bodies for a deeper tan. Well, this caught up to us, didn’t it? Joint health may have the same future.

Research has shown that a 150-pound runner could actually experience 600-900 pounds of impact force with each stride, and we’re looking at 2,000 strides per mile! Now, I’ve run some LONG events, so training in a non-impact generating environment has been a game-changer for me.

Consider changing your workout a day or two a week and hit the pool (or ocean) for a deep water focused workout. Your joints will thank you in another 5-30 years!

Here is a Total Body Workout for you to try: This workout is approximately 50 minutes in length. To start, perform a water-based warm-up of approximately 5-7 minutes of all the intended main set exercises. The workout can be performed in a HIIT or MISS type training (High intensity interval or medium intensity steady state); all depends on your needs for the day. To increase intensity, use gloves or resistance bells (just watch over gripping; first timers may experience major forearm fatigue). Recovery between each section as suggested or as needed!

Photo by Mike Wilson 

Photo by Mike Wilson 

  • Pyramid: perform the following (1,2,3,4,3,2,1) [approx. 10:30+ sec.]
  • Water Run: 4x’s 15 sec. on/ 10 sec. recovery jog
  • High Knees: 3x’s 15 sec. on/10 sec. rec. jog
  • Karate Kick: 2x’s 20 sec. on/ 15 sec rec. jog
  • Cross Country Uppercut: 1 min. on/30 sec. rec. jog
  • Repeater: Perform series 4 times through. 20 sec. on/15 sec. rec. with a 1 min. jog between series [approx. 10:00 min.] UpperCut Punch, Straight Shot Punch, & Hook Punch.
  • Eddies: [approx. 4+ min.] Perform 1 rep. each:
  • 1 min. Water Run Eddy at 85%+ effort, rec. 45 sec.
  • 45 sec. Water Run Eddy at 85% effort, rec. 40 sec.
  • 30 sec. Water Run Eddy at 85 % effort, rec. 30 sec.
  • Repeater: Perform series 3 times through. 30 sec. on/15 sec. rec. with a 1 min. jog between series [approx. 4+ min.]
  • Cross Country
  • Water Run
  • Backward Cross Country (legs only): 3x’s 20-30 sec. on/ 15 sec. rec. jog
  • BreastStroke
  • Cross Country Pop-Up
  • Run

Cool Down & Stretch

When you do a water workout, it will be hard work. Oddly enough though, it is also refreshing. So much so that right when you are done - you feel great. It almost will feel like you didn’t worked out. But, don’t be fooled; if you work as hard as I do, you shouldn’t be surprised if you feel a wee-bit tired a few hours later!

Workout adapted from Deep End of the Pool Workouts: No-Impact Interval Training and Strength Exercises. Author, Melis Edwards has over 30 years of experience as a running and triathlon coach, personal trainer, fitness instructor and athlete, having participated in Ironman distance triathlons, and the Western States 100 mile endurance run. Ms. Edwards holds a Master’s Degree in Health Promotion, a Bachelor’s in Health Education, and several teaching and training certifications. Check out www.hitmethodfitness.com for more info. Water Run: Fairly intuitive, but remember to use opposite arm and leg movements and keep your body vertical with a slight lean forward. Use a nice long stride since there’s nothing holding you back.

High Knees: Like playing hacky sack under water. Try keeping your arms above your head for an extra challenge.

Karate Kick: Unleash your inner action movie star and strike two foes at once! Keep your legs bent while they pass under you, but strike out front and back at the same time. Try adding opposing punches to level up this move.

Cross Country Uppercut: Move your legs like a cross country skier (long strides like running, but keep your legs straight without locking your knees), while using your opposite arm to deliver an uppercut punch a la Rosie the Riveter. The twist is especially good for your obliques. (For regular Cross Country, use opposing limbs for similarly long strokes.)

Eddies: This is an intense drill which is all about working against the water. Run forward for five seconds, then turn 180 degrees (a u-turn) into wall of swirling water created behind your body (i.e., the eddy) and continue with the Run. The key to making this drill extremely challenging is timing; turning just before the water starts to give way as to not lose the intended effect of trying to “run up stream”. Breaststroke: Use your legs to do a water run while mimicking a traditional breastroke with your arms. Start with your arms in front of you and push the water to either side in a sweeping motion. Cross Country Pop Up: Think about inverting the original cross country stroke. Rather than the active portion being your legs moving away from the body, think of spreading them to power your torso straight up out of the water like an octopus uses its limbs to propel itself forward. This one is fun once you get the hang of it, and it’s a serious workout for your core!

Workout adapted from Deep End of the Pool Workouts: No-Impact Interval Training and Strength Exercises. Author,  Melis Edwards has over 30 years of experience as a running and triathlon coach, personal trainer, fitness instructor and athlete, having participated in Ironman distance triathlons, and the Western States 100 mile endurance run. Ms. Edwards holds a Master’s Degree in Health Promotion, a Bachelor’s in Health Education, and several teaching and training certifications. Check out www.hitmethodfitness.com for more info.

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Go With Your Gut: The Importance Of Gut Health

It took me a while to realize just how important gut health is to each individual’s overall well being. The condition of one’s gut can lead to things like heightened eczema and low immunity levels which can cause your body to be unable to fight off certain diseases.

Did you know that the majority of your immune system is located in your intestinal track? That means there is definitely a whole lot of bacteria present. Note that there is “good” bacteria as well as “bad” bacteria. So, the question then becomes how do we differentiate between the two? Well, good bacteria can come in the form of maintaining a diet rich in raw and fermented foods. Yogurt, kefir, fermented fish = good. Starchy, processed foods and sugars = not so good.

One thing I am guilty of as a mom is covering Peyton with antibacterial soap and washing her hands every 5 minutes even though some research has shown that playing in the dirt and letting your kids get a little dirty actually can help to develop their digestive systems. Baby steps, y’all, I still have my travel antibacterial soap, baby wipes, and Lysol in tow.

Knowing that,it is important that I supplement my OCD tendencies and germaphobe personality with ensuring that my household is equipped with the tools needed to build up “good” bacteria in our digestive systems because my sick days are looking pretty low these days.

Here are my top 3 ways to fight off bad bacteria and protect your gut!

Stock Up On Fermented Foods and Drinks: This is my number one because this gives me an excuse to drink all of the kombucha! Anyone who has been rocking with FitXBrit for awhile knows how I feel about my booch. I am learning to open up and try different brands but my go-to is Health-Ade.Cultured drinks are jam packed with probiotics which is always a good thing. You can also try foods like kimchi, natural yogurts, and fermented veggies as well.

Try A Probiotic Supplement: If you may be at a place where you feel like you have done so much damage that even your dietary changes may need a boost, you may need to invest in a supplement. I was presented with the opportunity to try out hyperbiotics, which is already the 31 selling supplement on amazon and I can definitely see why. Since we know that our human cells are pretty much outnumbered by the number of bacteria living in our bodies a probiotic supplement definitely allows you to be proactive in the matter.

Photo by Dan Watson 

Photo by Dan Watson 

Use Natural Soap and WARM Water vs Antibacterial Soaps: Research is showing that when overused antibacterial soaps cause us to get rid of the “good” bacteria that we need and may be increasing certain resistant strains of bacteria.

Your energy levels, your weight, your digestive system, your mood and even things like hair and skin health can be traced to gut health. Brain function, teeth, joints and heart health can all be enhanced by making simple decisions to take care of our gut.

Is this new information for you? If not, what are some of the ways you ensure that you feel your best by maintaining a healthy gut?

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It Starts At Home

Image Juan Carlos Puebla for FitXBrit

Image Juan Carlos Puebla for FitXBrit

I truly believe that health and wellness is something that involves all aspects of our life. If you are exercising all day and night but follow each sweat session with feeding your body crap, what did we really accomplish? Deciding to pray and meditate and ending each session with taking in negative thoughts and surrounding ourselves with people who tend to bring out the worst in us can be counterproductive as well, don’t you think? So, as we embark on a full wellness journey it is important to highlight the importance of the quality of your living space.

Yes, the air you breath and the conditions of your space play a huge role in the your overall health and that is a factor that most people do not even take into consideration. Indoor air quality can actually be worse than the outdoor air. When you think about it, most of us spend a majority of our day at home, school, or work, which basically enhances the notion that indoor air quality and being aware of the conditions of our space is essential. Indoor air quality that is lacking in quality can significantly impact the health of anyone that is subjected to the space. This is even more important when we look at those that suffer from asthma, allergies, and/or any respiratory condition.

What do we do with this information? How can we ensure that we are doing everything we can to create a positive environment for everyone that enters our controlled space?

Try These 3 Things To Boost Your Indoor Air Quality.

Invest In Some Greens

There are some plants that have been credited with improving air quality. The Boston Fern is the most common plant used in this matter because of it’s ease of maintenance indoors. They even rank number 9 on NASA’s list of 50 air-purifying plants, and they also were found to be most efficient at removing formaldehyde.

Reduce or Eliminate The Type Of Products You Are Using To That Contain Harmful Chemicals

Image Juan Carlos Puebla for FitXBrit

Image Juan Carlos Puebla for FitXBrit

This is probably the hardest for me! I used to be addicted to the smell of lavender Pine Sol. I am a big smell person in general so products that contain harsh and harmful chemicals normally pack a strong smell with them, which I used to see as a benefit! Now, not so much. I am slowly eliminating my “go-to” cleaning products and am replacing them with products that will enhance my indoor air quality. I am not a 100% sold on any particular brand or method yet, and so far I have only been using Ms. Meyer’s brand and am open to any other suggestions.

Invest In An At Home Air Monitor

Image Juan Carlos Puebla for FitXBrit

Image Juan Carlos Puebla for FitXBrit

Recently I was presented with the opportunity to try Netatmo’s Healthy Home Coach, which focuses primarily on the air quality of your space. Peyton and I both suffer from asthma and recently she has been experiencing some nosebleeds at night as well. Come to find out in her room specifically the air is drier than the rest of the house. It also detects the best noise level for sound sleeping and instead of just highlighting the potential problems, it also tells you how to fix them. All with the swipe of your smartphone.

Did you guys even know that indoor air quality was a “thing” to be concerned with? What things do you do in your space to ensure ideal situations?

Please Note: Some of the products mentioned in this post were sponsored. All comments about these product are my own and I have and will always remain transparent about my opinions. I will not endorse any products that I would not and do not use in my own household. 

Mindful Monday's

Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.

Mindfulness is a trend that has been sweeping the western world for a couple of years now. Everyone is realizing that it is just as important, if not more, than maintaining your physique. Thanks to Sprouts , I traded in an after work happy hour for a Mindful Happy Hour on the rooftop of the Alexan Luxury Apartment Homes located in Dallas, Texas with my favorite fitness friends that just so happen to be my Dallas Fitness Ambassador Babes.

We were greeted with a healthy spread courtesy of Sprouts filled with a ton of my go-to lunch box snacks for Peyton! My favorite part about shopping at Sprouts is the in-store nuts, trail mixes, and spice bins. I have never been to a location that doesn’t have them and it is usually where I stock up on our granola, green bean chips, and whatever else Peyton is inclined to try for the week. Fruit and vegetable trays, cheese spreads and crackers paired perfectly with my new favorite adult beverage, jalapeno margaritas, made possible by Dulce Vida. I am not a huge drinker anymore but this drink was AMAZING and so smooth that I had to indulge.

After catching up with the other boss babes we unplugged (like literally, we were instructed to put up our phones and everything, definitely a no-no for a room full of bloggers) and took in some guided meditation from Ana Jones. Now, meditation is tricky because sometimes it is really hard to zone out and connect. Maybe it was the jalapeno margs or maybe it was the awesomeness that is Ana but I achieved a level of zen that I can honestly say I have never experienced before. In all transparency I have had a rough couple of months on a personal level and this was just the escape I needed. I am literally counting down the days till summer break so I can schedule a class to experience Ana again!

To top that off I immediately took in a chair massage from Spa Kneads which was like a little piece of heaven! I love the mobile massage concept and will definitely be giving them a call for girls night in. BP (Before Peyton and child related expenses) I used to have a Massage Envy membership and what I can definitely guarantee you is that this experience superseded anything i had experienced before. Knowing that you can book services at your home, work, or as a gift to someone else is a really cool concept.

Restore Simply presented chai spice tea blends and educated myself and the other ambassadors on the different wellness teas they offered and their simple and modern approach to ancient healing science using different blends, it was such an experience. The entire evening was really geared toward teaching us how to take care of ourselves for ourselves. Instead of introducing a whole bunch of products that would make us seem more “fit” we were equipped with tools, knowledge, and resources to really Live YOUR Fit, and you guys know how I feel about that. I also made my own personally curated body scrubs and body mist using Aura Cacia essential oils, which is an affordable essential oil brand that finds it’s way into our home rotation quite frequently due to the great quality, and price. Sprouts carries this brand as well as others. Don’t know where to start when it comes to essential oils? Well, when you go to any Sprouts I can guarantee you will be greeted by a team member that can guide you through the basics and help you determine what oils are right for you. How cool is that?!

So, what do you guys think about a mindful happy hour? Is this something you would be down for? Trade in a noisy lounge or restaurant for a peaceful date with the outdoors and friends?!

All Images: Dallas Fitness Ambassadors

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Life On The Go: Mind, Body, and Family Balance

All Images Juan Carlos Puebla for FitXBrit

All Images Juan Carlos Puebla for FitXBrit

At the beginning of the year when everyone was picking their word that would help represent what they were pouring into the new year I jumped on the bandwagon. The first one being “intention,” meaning that I no longer wanted to just do things just to be doing them. There needed to be a plan, a purpose, and end goal, with every move that I made. My second word was “balance.” I chose balance because I have an addictive personality and tend to put all of my focus on one thing at a time, no longer was that OK. I realized in order to achieve the stability that I continuously crave in my life that it would require me to evenly distribute my time and efforts towards the things that I hold close to my heart: my family time, finding my own personal peace, and maintaining a lifestyle rich with healthy choices minus the dread.

Balance does not mean completely filling your day with every activity possible, while ensuring that they serve all of the vital areas of your life. What it does mean is that you examine your priorities, decide what is most important to focus on for that day, then set boundaries as it relates to everything else. As the saying goes, "do not bite off more than you can chew."

To achieve this it has required a little bit of cross promotion. Things like going for hikes at our “secret place” allows me to tackle all three priorities, but more than anything it has forced me to get organized and plan ahead. I have to take time at the beginning of each day to to assess what needs to be done. This consists of me making a list of the things I want to accomplish and the resources I may need to get things done. Outdoor time is great in that it allows me to be physical, enjoy time with my mini Peyton, and relax my mind. Connecting in all three of these areas definitely helps me to recharge which makes me more efficient throughout the week.

However, the reality still remains that with a toddler you have to expect the unexpected which goes back to the whole stay prepared and have a plan thing I touched on earlier. Keeping my car stocked with healthy snack options, Peyton's Nuby 360 Wonder Cup-3D Grip (coming this May to Babies R Us), change of clothes, books, toys, and my new obsession Shower Pills has really saved me.

You never know when you may have to transition from an outdoor activity to an impromptu “play date,” or last-minute catch up dinner with a friend. The Shower Pill is so clutch for these circumstances.

What is Shower Pill? It is an anti-bacterial wipe for your whole body that leaves you feeling refreshed and “unsweaty.”

-Extra thick like a washcloth

-Kills 99.99% of germs including Staph

-Aloe Vera & Vitamin E

-Quick dry solution, no sticky residue

-Light fresh scent

-Hypoallergenic & Gentle on Sensitive Skin

-Paraben & Alcohol FREE

From 5/1 to 6/15/17, you guys will receive 20% off your ShowerPill orders with code BRITTANY.

What are some of your “must-have” items for a busy life on the go? How do you achieve balance in your day to day life?

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5 Foods To Boost Your Immune System

About a month ago I got really sick! Turns out, I had strep throat for the second time this year and it was no better than my first go-round. I am going to have a moment of transparency here. Being a single-mother is hard guys. I have lucked up in so many other scenarios with my parents really stepping up and taking Peyton when I get super sick so that she doesn’t get it but, last week my mom was on a cruise and I was watching her pup so, it was just me, my terrific two-year old, and two rambunctious dogs. But, guess what? I handled it and it was actually a good experience because it allowed me to get to the point where I stopped putting limitations on myself and my creator (more on that another day).

Because I definitely see food as medicine and know that there are specific foods that we need to incorporate into our diets to boost our immune system, I sought the advice of Sara Siskind, Certified Nutritional Health Counselor and founder of Hands on Healthy.  Sara has come up with 5 of her favorite immune boosting foods you can add into your diet to help you feel your best!

Eat colorful fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals.  Reach for red and pink grapefruits, oranges, kiwis, and berries. Choose cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. These fruits and veggies are not only loaded with essential vitamins and phytonutrients, but they are also rich in antioxidants which give your immune system a boot and help build up your digestive track.

Add in pistachios as a heart healthy, protein rich snack. Pistachios are also rich in antioxidants and the heart healthy fats to help your body absorb vitamin E.  Vitamin E is needed by the immune system to fight off invading bacteria. Pistachios are also rich in vitamin B6 which also helps prevent infection and create healthy red blood cells your body needs. Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites are an easy way to eat pistachios on the go or simply adding to your lunch bag.   

 Look for omega 3 fatty acids and selenium which are found in shellfish, salmon, mackerel, and herring.  These foods help white blood cells produce a protein which helps clear flu viruses out of the body. Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the body by clearing the lungs pathways. This can help protect from colds and respiratory infections.

Make yogurt your go-to breakfast or snack. Yogurt contains probiotics; “healthy bacteria” that your body needs to keep your immune system strong and keeps your digestive free of disease causing germs.  Yogurt is also filled with protein that keeps your body energized and strong.

Image Akhil Chandran

Image Akhil Chandran

Spice up your food with turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon.  These spices are especially known to contain antioxidants that help to protect your cells and keep inflammation in the body down.  I add turmeric to soups, eggs, rice, and poultry. Fresh grated ginger brings warmth to any beverage. Cinnamon can be sprinkled on oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, and easily added to anything you bake.

I truly believe that by adding these foods into my diet, I can aid myself in warding off yucky germs. What do you think? What are some foods that you use as medicine?

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Let Fear Be Your Teacher

We all have fear. It’s a driving force behind many of our actions, and non-actions. When we can learn to utilize fear as a tool, we can experience great fulfillment and peace in our lives. In particular, we can feel empowered and not cower to the very things we want to accomplish such as positive relationships, self-confidence and at large, living our purpose.

To learn from fear, we have to first identify the root issue – the underlying symptom or experience that is hiding behind fear. Most all anxiety is a result of unresolved emotions.  Understanding the limitations of the mind helps us transform negative thought patterns into positive, transformative healing. Here’s the 3 step process:

Realize You Are Not Your Mind

Your mind is here to do important functions. To think. To analyze. To rationalize. It will also give warnings of pain, danger or concerns. Fears of the mind are signals that something is out of balance inside (or outside if we are in actual danger!). We heed the warning and recognize that although this moment feels scary in our mind, we need to address the real issues at hand, which is often deeper than we want to admit. You are much bigger than your mind. The emotional, spiritual and physical bodies are equally part of your experience, with each having a mind of sorts and it is these areas where we need to give more attention. The mind will always alert you of danger and warn you of pain, but it also can be deceptive and create false illusions from the limitations of its thinking.

Feel, Don’t Think

One of the quickest ways to get into healing from mental stress or fear is to bring your awareness to your emotions. When making decisions or any time your mind is reeling, simply ask yourself “What do I feel?” We often forget to check into our gut and emotions as we depend so much on our rational mind to make decisions. When the mind signals “danger!” or fear, know that your mind is often reacting out of limitations or false illusions to the world, or that there is certainly something inside that is out of balance or integrity. Perhaps fear rears its head when you start a new job. That’s likely self-worth issues from old shame speaking. Knowing that fear shouldn’t stop you, you have the opportunity to go deeper into your awareness and pay attention to the real emotion in need of attention.

Be Present

Once you are aware of your feelings, the best thing to do is be present with them. Practicing meditation or simple acts of conscious mindfulness can bring a stressful or scary situation down to a manageable one that may not be nearly as threatening as the mind was suggests. Getting control of the mind and being willing to accept your emotions allows you to be present to life, not distracted and worried but plugged into your authentic experience. This is when you experience freedom to feel, act and make choices for yourself that are positive and healing.

Leah Guy is author of the new book The Fearless Path: A Radical Awakening to Emotional Healing and Inner Peace. She is also a transpersonal healer, survivor and media personality. For more info visit www.LeahGuy.com/book

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It's Deeper Than Dieting

The 4 Building Blocks of Functional Nutrition

Functional Nutrition is the basic philosophy that the human body is designed with the ability to regulate, repair and defend itself when given natural whole food nutrition.  

The 4 Building Blocks of Functional Nutrition health model helps you understand the basic nutrient needs of your physical body. The building blocks are four specific nutrient groups that each offer essential, specific benefits for your body's cells and systems.  

Each building block ties into and supports the others, working together to support the cellular foundation of your life. This strong cellular foundation provides the benefits we experience as energy, vitality and radiant health.


A superfood is a whole food which acts as a powerhouse of concentrated nutrients, offering a lot of micronutrients for comparatively few calories.

As most Western diets lack micronutrients, adding superfoods to your diet is extremely beneficial. A great superfood will contain micronutrients such as minerals, vitamins and amino acids. Try these easy upgrades:

• Sprouted and organic multigrain breads and cereals. These are preferable to processed white or wheat.

• Organic nut butter. Try almond butter on your toast instead of any type of margarine spread.

• Organic rice, nut or grain milk.  Pasteurized dairy is not digestible and soy is hard to digest.

• Locally grown produce. You may even find local organically raised meats.  Local farmers and your body will thank you!


Digestive nutrients help your body to correctly break down foods into usable elements. This means that food is more effectively absorbed into your blood, where it becomes the fuel for all the cells in our body. Friendly bacteria and food enzymes help to efficiently and completely turn food into energy for life.

Most traditional cultures around the world have fermented or cultured foods that provide powerful health benefits, including immune function support and optimized digestion.  However, in industrialized nations, most fermented foods are heated, sterilized and processed or pasteurized and offer zero digestive benefits. Some simple changes to ensure better digestive nutrients include:

• Lots of fresh raw vegetables and fruits.  If fresh enough, they are filled with natural food enzymes.

• Add organic, non-GMO miso to your meals.  This is a healthful fermented soy paste you can use to flavor salad dressings and other dishes. Be sure not to over-heat or you will destroy the beneficial bacteria and enzymes.

• Eat live culture fermented foods. Kombucha, live-culture yogurt and raw sauerkraut are examples you might find locally made.

• Get a good water filter for drinking and cooking.  This helps preserve the good bacteria in your gut.


Antioxidants are molecules that safely neutralize free radicals and help protect your cells from premature aging due to the wear and tear of metabolism and daily life. Because of pollution, toxins and stress, we have a greater need today than ever before for antioxidant nutrition.

When your body is low on antioxidant protection, your immune system spends tremendous energy in assessing cellular damage, trying to repair damage or in removing damaged cells.  At this point, the damage begins to cause chronic inflammatory diseases in one area or another.

  • Eat at least five servings of fresh fruits and colored vegetables daily. The old adage, ‘An apple a day’ was right!  Just add in blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes, carrots…any food with natural color.
  • Find time to play!  We all need time to relax…and not in front of the TV!

  • Find and use a whole food based antioxidant supplement daily.

Not all supplements are created equal.  Use only natural whole food complexes, enzymes, and extracts.


Regenerative nutrients are foods scientifically proven to enhance and support healthy genetic expression and adult stem cell production. Your environment, lifestyle and dietary choices interact with your genes and can in fact, help you have the strongest genetics possible.

With the right nutrients, and depending on your age, your body will produce adult stem cells to replace older or dying cells, keeping your body in a state of vital health. Some lifestyle and food options to consider when thinking of regenerative nutrition include:

REMOVE these habits and foods:

  • Smoking

  • Excess alcohol (more than two drinks a day)

  • Processed meats

  • Baked, processed carbohydrates

  • Hydrogenated or trans fats

ADD in these habits and foods:

  • Exercise

  • Adequate sleep

  • Nutrient dense foods which are low in calories, i.e., superfoods.

  • Fiber rich foods

  • Antioxidant rich foods

  • Omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as cold-water fish, nuts and seeds

The 4 Building Blocks enlighten you about foods that are essential for good health.  With this information, you are empowered to make the best food and supplement choices for your desired outcome.

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Author Bio:For nearly 20 years, Barbara Swanson has researched functional nutrition and how it affects the body. Swanson has taken her findings across the U.S., Canada and United Kingdom, teaching and lecturing her field of study for over a decade. Today, she works out of Ashland, Oregon where she is the owner of a nutritional marketing and consultant company. She has recently published her nutritional handbook Beyond Foods. You can find more information on Swanson and her book at www.thefunctionalnutritionhandbook.com.


How to Change Your Environment to Improve Your Health

The number of serious and chronic health issues facing children, individuals, and families continues to increase year after year. Some of these health concerns include an increase in diabetes, cancer, heart disease related diagnosis, mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, digestive disorders, obesity, and asthma, These health concerns affect not only our physical health, but just as importantly, our emotional and spiritual health. Important steps to better daily health includes advocacy, education, empowerment, and action. Taking control of your health is one of the greatest gift you can give yourself. By creating a healthy environment, you are creating the opportunity for overall wellness on many different levels.

Tips For Creating A Healthy Environment

  • What concerns do you have about your health or what goals have you set for yourself in terms of overall wellness? Keep a journal and make this a priority in your life. If you suffer from a medical condition, get your medical records and become your own advocate.
  • Look at the food you eat daily. Most people consume the Standard American Diet (SAD) that is composed of chemicals, preservatives, added sugar, “white” flour, unhealthy oils, GMOs, pesticide and antibiotic residue, artificial coloring and flavors, and more. The SAD is typically void of the proper nutrients our bodies require to sustain maximum health. Can you begin to make small changes each week to transition to a Green, Living, and Alkalizing Diet (GLAD)? Including whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, pasture raised meats, wild caught seafood, and healthier oils in your daily diet is important. Read labels and know where your food comes from. This also includes your beauty products and cleaning supplies. For example, the average women is exposed to 168 chemicals daily from her beauty products and most of these have never been tested for human safety.
  • Get the proper amount of sleep each night:

    School age children (6-13 yrs.) 9-11 hours per day

    Teenagers: (14-17 yrs.) 8-10 hours per day

    Younger adults: (18-25 yrs.) 7- 9 hours per day

    Adults: (26-64 yrs.) 7-9 hours per day

    Older adults: (65+) 7-8 hours per day

Image Nomao Saeki

Image Nomao Saeki

Due to stress and increased daily demands, we are living in the sympathetic nervous system or the fight, flight, or freeze mode. In this state, our body is constantly releasing hormones to compensate. The parasympathetic nervous system, or rest and digest, is where we want to reside. Sleep is a very important process that assists our body in recovery and rejuvenation from the inside out.

  • Proper hydration is important. Drinking adequate water daily is essential for normal bodily function. Water intake can also include incorporating juicing, smoothies, teas, broths, and soups.
  • Get the body moving! Exercise is important for the lymphatic system and removal of toxins from the body. Develop a daily routine of getting some form of exercise.
  • Mediation/prayer is a great way to center and balance yourself in this fast- paced and stressful world.

So what role does your environment play on your health? Which of these tips do you plan on incorporating into your daily routine?

From Elizabeth DeRosa of Finding The Way Integrative Nutrition Health Coach & Author

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