As a middle-aged woman, who recently took a few large risks professionally and has many more left to go, I can attest to the deep feeling of fear that burns in your stomach when you make choices to seek new opportunities. The fear that these risks won’t work, the fear of judgement of others, the fear that maybe this was the wrong choice…. However, every time I go back to the why… the reason I made these choices and made myself vulnerable, I remember that it is worth it, and always will be. I needed a personal and professional change in my life so I could be more physically and mentally present in my kids’ lives. So I made a big career shift, took a few big gambles and in doing so have landed on a winding path that requires continual growth, learning,resetting, and changing. And while I’m not 100% certain where this path will lead,I know it is well worth the journey with all of its unknowns and fears. The lessons I’ve learned, the people I’ve met, the communities I’ve become a part of, has all been incredible and if I’d played it safe, my life would not be as enriched as it has become over the past two years. It’s also allowed me to not only be more present in my kids’ lives but to show them what bravery looks like, what hard work looks like, and to show them life is a great adventure with so many opportunities, as long as you are open to being a little vulnerable because that is where the lessons are learned and the spirit is strengthened.
When you understand the five factors that influence your identity, you can start on the road to becoming all of who you were meant you to be. The first two factors are chemistry (how you are made) and connections (your relationships); you are a product of the way you are created and of the relationships in your life. The next two factors are your circumstances and your consciousness.
Circumstances are the things that happen to you and around you—none of which you control. You are a product of the trauma, troubles, suffering, shame, shock, pressures, and pain that have shaped your life. Perhaps even abuse has affected your identity. If you’ve ever experienced a catastrophe or a series of failures, those too have left an indelible mark on who you are.
Consciousness is how you talk to yourself. “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life”
Your thoughts don’t have to be true to hurt you; you just have to believe them. If you tell yourself, you can’t run a marathon, then you won’t give yourself the ability to try. If you’re afraid you can’t do something, then you won’t. Your thoughts run your life!
If you’re like many people, your thoughts are filled with the lies you’ve heard from others. You repeat those thoughts in your head. As you let them simmer and fester, they go deeper into your consciousness and begin to shape your identity. The truth is, if you talked to your friends the way you talk to yourself, you probably wouldn’t be friends with them anymore.
Though it’s true that your thoughts shape you, it’s also true that you can change the way you think.
Remember: Your circumstances may be out of your control, but your thoughts shape you, start to think good thoughts, and it will be easier to see the positive in situations, rather than automatically seeing the negative. This will lead to you living happier, thinking more highly of yourself, and being more present with your friends & family. You don’t need the approval from someone else, you need your approval from yourself.
Your circumstances and consciousness have shaped who you are up until today. But, moving forward, the way you respond to your circumstances and the thoughts you choose to believe will shape the rest of your life.
Things to think about:
- What is your natural response to a difficult situation or circumstance? Do you run away or face it? Do you worry or trust?
- Who or what around you influence your thoughts in a negative way?
- How do you need to change the way you think?
Healthy Eating Simplified:
With all the conflicting information on nutrition and diet, it’s easy to feel confused when it comes to healthy eating. But don’t worry, we are here to help you eat like a nutrition expert. If you follow my step-by-step formula, putting together nutritious, satisfying meals can be easy. The most important thing you can do when it comes to nutrition is “get back to basics” and ditch highly processed foods. This means focusing on whole-foods that have minimal ingredients. Ideally, the base of your diet should be a collection of colorful produce and leafy greens, with high-quality proteins and fats sharing second place on your plate.
If you are seeking a personalized meal plan and accountability, see our Basic Nutrition page on the website for more information about our services and programs.
HEALTHY EATING 101: DITCH THE PROCESSED FOODS & EAT A VARIETY OF COLORFUL FRUITS AND VEGETABLES FROM THE EARTH.
“Eat the Rainbow” to promote health, and I don’t mean Skittles candy. Variety is key to ensure that you’re getting enough fiber and micronutrients. Plant foods are a wonderful source of antioxidants and have many anti-inflammatories. WE recommend eating a wide variety of colorful veggies and fruit, as well as varying your sources of high-quality fats and proteins. opt for eating at least 5 different plant-based colors per day. To do this, try experimenting with new foods and spices. It keeps food interesting, bright, and flavorful.
Focus on Fiber, Protein, & Fat:
You want your meals to contain a good mix of fiber, protein, and fat. These macronutrients are the Three Keys to Satiety. They help keep blood sugar levels in balance and leave you feeling satisfied instead of deprived after meals. Try to fill 1/2 your plate with veggies, working your way up to 3/4 veggies, which is ideal. Next, focus on high-quality protein, healthy fats, and low-sugar fruits.
Eat to Balance Blood Sugar:
We recommend limiting foods that de-stabilize blood sugar. Try to limit your intake of sweets and starches, including those from whole-food, natural sources. Caffeine can also have a negative effect on blood sugar. These foods not only destabilize blood sugar they also feed the “bad bugs” or microbes that we don’t want in our gut. Last, but not least, make sure you are drinking enough water. Hydration is important for keeping blood sugar levels at healthy levels. Try to drink most of your liquids away from mealtime to improve digestion.
Maintaining stable blood sugar is vital for overall health. Limit excessive sweets & starchy foods to keep blood sugar balanced.
“One-size-fits-all” Doesn’t Exist:
Because everybody is different and there is no “one-size-fits-all” diet plan, we encourage you to keep an open mind, try new things, and find what works best for you. If you’re struggling with chronic health issues, then it’s especially important that you learn to pay attention to the way that different foods make you feel to pinpoint any possible allergies and sensitivities. You can learn to listen to your body’s signals and fine-tune your diet over time. Your nutritional needs aren’t a static thing. They change day by day. Some days you need more protein, some days you need less. No matter what the diet, the goal should be to have as much nutrition and variety as possible.
Learn to Eat Intuitively:
Learning to listen to your body when making food choices is called “Intuitive Eating” and it’s a process that takes time. But the pay-off is worth the patience. If you learn to listen to your body’s signals for hunger and satiety you shouldn’t need to count calories or keep track of macros. When you eat intuitively you learn to build balanced, colorful meals with sensible portion sizes. You eat mindfully and stop eating when you’re full. You’ll know you’ve hit the “sweet spot” with your diet when you can easily maintain a healthy weight, your energy level is good, and you generally feel your best.
Proper hydration is one of the most important aspects of maintaining good health. Try starting your day with 8-12 ounces of filtered water before moving on to your morning coffee, or tea. Sip water throughout the day to improve absorption. If you drink too much at once it can go right through you and you will end up peeing most of it out. If you are having a hard time staying hydrated, even when drinking enough fluids, then you may want to add a tiny pinch of mineral sea salt to your water. You can also add mineral drops, electrolytes, or lemon juice to combat dehydration. Coconut water can help keep you hydrated and is a better choice than typical sports drinks, but don’t overdo it, because it contains quite a bit of sugar.
BASIC HEALTHY EATING FORMULA
A variety of Leafy Greens cooked or raw. Most greens can be eaten raw, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to digest. If raw greens give you indigestion, then opt for sautéed or steamed instead. Baby greens, such as baby kale and baby arugula, are often more tender than their adult counterparts and are great raw, or cooked.
Non-Starchy & Starchy Veggies for fiber and complex carbs. If you are avoiding grains and beans, then bulk up your meals with hearty veggies. Even if you aren’t avoiding grains and beans, I still recommend including at least 1 cup of hearty veggies per meal.
High-Quality Protein from whole-food sources such as pasture-raised eggs and meat, wild caught fish, nuts and seeds, peas and legumes, if tolerated. The quality of animal products makes a huge difference in nutritional content (these foods can be expensive, so do the best you can with your budget)
Healthy Fats like avocado, coconut, fatty fish, olives and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Don’t fear fats! They are essential for health in many ways. You need them for brain health, to build healthy cell walls, and to absorb fat-soluble nutrients, such as Vitamins A and E. I recommend eating high-quality fats with every meal.
Optional, but highly recommended:
For gut health, we recommend including traditionally fermented foods such as Sauerkraut, Pickled Veggies, Kombucha, Kefir, Yogurt, etc…These foods can help improve digestion by adding beneficial microbes into your digestive tract. If dairy is a no-no for you, but you want to enjoy yogurt, er recommend looking for a high-quality coconut yogurt that is free from additives and fillers.
Spices & Seasonings are essential for keeping things interesting in the kitchen & also increase nutrient density. Turmeric and Black Pepper work together to fight inflammation in the body, as do ginger, and cinnamon. Experimenting with new spices is the best way to add a fresh take to “old” ingredients.
Garnish is like the icing on your healthy eating bowl. Microgreens are beautiful, tasty, and often pack in more nutrients than their adult counterparts. Black sesame seeds, black cumin seeds, red pepper flakes, and nori seaweed flakes are wonderful additions to a meal. Dill, fennel greens, cilantro, parsley, thyme, oregano, and other herbs all add nutrients while also making food pretty. And let’s be honest, pretty food really does taste better.
Since most things in life aren’t “black and white”, remember that certain health conditions may require a specialized diet where you must avoid or limit foods that are generally thought of as nutritious. If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic health condition that requires you to follow a special dietary protocol I’m here to help. Contact me to schedule a free consultation and we can discuss the ways in which Basic Nutrition can support you on your nutrition and health journey. For those of you without special needs, the basic nourish bowl formula should do the trick. You can always check out our Instagram @the_basic_eats and @basiclivingbr for more healthy eating inspiration, fitness tips, and more.
5 HABITS OF MINDFUL EATING
An effective method of improving our relationship with food.
WHAT IS MINDFUL EATING?
Mindful eating is a simple method of becoming hyper-focused on the present moment, and being aware of your senses while eating food. It can help manage eating habits, and make people feel better about their body.
The purpose is not counting calories, or tracking macros (carbohydrates, fat, or protein), and mindful eating has little to do with weight loss, although it is proven to help with losing weight. The intention is to help individuals understand and enjoy the food they eat, and remove stresses associated with overeating unhealthy foods. Mindful eating can be a fun way to make mealtimes social, or a time to reflect and savor the moment as a solo experience.
Benefits of mindful eating:
There is tons of research associated with the benefits of mindful eating, most notably the pioneering works of Jon Kabat-Zinn (leader of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School). The mindful eating method helps us understand why ‘diets’ aren’t effective in the long-term.
Simply put, diets fail to focus on behavior change. Since its introduction into dietary behavior change programming, mindful eating has become a successful strategy that improves individual success.
Some Key Benefits Include:
- Reduced gas and bloating after meals
- Reduced binge-eating
- Reduced stress-eating and anxiety
- Improved digestion
- Improved self-control around foods
- Improved nutritional intake
- Improved weight loss results
HABIT 1: THE RAISIN EXPERIMENT
The raisin exercise is a good starting point for mindful eating. It’s a sensual food experience that helps tune sight, touch, smell, and taste; becoming fully aware of the moment. This exercise is designed to introduce your senses into the act of eating, helping you savor and experience the foods you eat.
Give it a try: Grab a raisin and hold it in the palm of your hand or between your finger and thumb.
Sight: Take time to really focus on it; gaze at the raisin with care and full attention—imagine that you’re an alien from outer space, and have never seen anything like this before in your life. Let your eyes explore every part of it, examining the shape, colour, texture, and any imperfections.
Touch: Move the raisin around between your fingers, feeling the texture. Try this with your eyes closed to enhance your sense of touch. Is it hard, soft, sticky, dry? Does it make a sound as it moves between your fingers? Notice what you are feeling about this object.
Smell: Hold the raisin near your nose. Inhale the aroma and notice how your body reacts.
Taste: Place the raisin between your lips and just hold it there for a few seconds. How does that make you react? Move it into your mouth, but don’t chew yet…is there a taste? What’s happening inside your mouth? How does that make you feel?
Finally, slowly begin to chew, noticing what each bite feels, and taste like. Move it around your mouth. Chew the raisin into mush before you swallow. How does it feel as the raisin travels to your stomach?
Sense how your body as a whole is feeling after you have completed this exercise.
HABIT 2: JUST ASK "WHY"
The human body creates many prompts to tell us when to take action. One of these prompts can be described as a ‘rumbly stomach’ or ‘hunger pangs’, which tells us that we are hungry, and our body needs more energy. If we don’t respond to the natural ‘hunger’ prompts we may experience low blood sugar levels and feel unwell. Because hunger is a physical feeling, we can satisfy the prompts easily with any type of food source.
However, things become complicated when our psyche gets involved. Psychological hunger, as it is known, pushes us towards snacking and overeating. It comes from the emotional desire to eat, with no physical signs that your body needs energy. This is associated with cravings, boredom, and emotional eating. Research suggests that boredom is the most common reason for psychological hunger. Why do you think cinemas sell popcorn and other snacks? To entertain you through the boring parts of a movie! But with the help of behavior change and mindfulness, we can fight back. The act of removing yourself from the boring situation that prompted the desire to snack, will satisfy your psychological desire to eat. This can be as simple as going for a walk or changing the playlist or asking ‘why do I want to snack?’.
HABIT 3: SLOW DOWN
After you start eating it can take up to 20 minutes for your body to decode the signs of fullness. Slowing down when consuming food will allow enough time for your gut and brain to communicate. This will also help reduce overeating, and aid in better digestion.
Here’s our top picks for a more satisfying feed:
Set a timer – Before you begin dinner in the evening, set a timer on your phone for 20-minutes. Take a few deep breaths to center yourself and try to take 20-minutes to eat your meal. Relax, and focus on your food.
Pause – If you find it difficult to sit down and make a meal last for a whole 20 minutes, put your fork down between each bite.Swapping the fork for chopsticks can help you slow down, too.
If you still struggle to pause, leave the table to fetch a glass of water. Or step outside and take three deep breaths, then return to your meal.
Chew for 20 – Chewing breaks down food into smaller pieces. This aids in better, easier digestion – making us feel fuller quicker. In the first 5-minutes of your meal, take smaller bites than usual and try to chew 20 times before swallowing.
HABIT 4: REMOVE DISTRACTIONS
Whether it’s wolfing down subway in the car or crunching on chips while watching YouTube in your lunch break, distracted eating is not uncommon. A review of 24 studies by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that distracted eating encouraged people to consume more food throughout the day and led to a poor relationship with eating.
Applying the mindful eating principle, we can avoid the distraction trap. Try one of these simple habits to assist in a distraction free eating experience.
Basic is a company that strives to Encourage + Inspire, Healthy + Active Lives and we know that a healthy life is heavily affected by our mental health. Something that Jennifer (co-founder), and I (Nely) both do is practice gratitude. It has made us both be better business partners and happier people. A gratitude practice is just being intentional and consistent about noting what you are grateful for. It can be very informal. For example, at night before you go to bed you could think to yourself about what you are grateful for from the day. Your gratitude practice can also be more formal. Write down each day what you are grateful for and/or tell someone else about it. The part that really makes it a practice is that you do it at the same time, and you do it every day. It is a ritual for you.
At Basic in the workplace we have even implemented some gratitude practices at the office by going through our “High & Happy” at the end of the week. Our Highs are work related accomplishments of tasks that we completed- they are as small as getting the printer fix, it’s about finding the little things to be happy about or proud of each week. For Happy we do work or personal life things that made each of us happy that week. It helps us be present and more in-tune to the small steps we take as a company in the right direction and checking in with everyone to make sure that we are all living the lifestyle we strive for at Basic, inside, and outside of the office.
SO HOW CAN GRATITUDE CHANGE YOUR LIFE?
I get it…you might be skeptical. How could the simple act of writing down what you are grateful for each day really change your life that much?! From my own experience, I will share just a few of the ways my gratitude practice has changed my life.
Whenever I get anxious (which those who know me, know that this is quite often), I try to turn my focus to what I’m grateful for. Try it. It’s hard to be anxious and grateful at the same time. Gratitude wins, and anxiety fades. Having a steady gratitude practice helps me focus on the positive, rather than the what-ifs, maybes, and worries.
-BRINGS ME TO THE PRESENT
Thinking about what I’m grateful for shifts me right to now. Whatever is happening right now that is beautiful and worth pausing on for a moment. It’s easy to get lost, focusing on re-hashing the past or worrying about the future, but right now, this moment at our feet, is the only one that we have. Gratitude practice has made me feel more present.
-CHANGE FOCUS TO WHAT YOU HAVE
This kind of goes along with being more present, but with a little different twist. Sometimes when we are so goal-oriented and always striving and reaching to be better, it gets easy to forget to be grateful for what we have and what we’ve already achieved. I get caught in this trap at times. Have you ever noticed how always thinking about what you want gets very unsettling? You feel like you are lacking, but really your life could be very full. You’ve just wandered and are focusing on the wrong things. A gratitude practice helps you focus on what you have, and you start to realize just how full and amazing your life is.
INITIATE A RIPPLE EFFECT:
Starting small, finding gratitude for the simplest things leads to more gratitude. You start to see things you are grateful for everywhere. And as you carry this attitude and practice forward, you begin to attract more good stuff. Something as simple as writing down what you are grateful for each day, shifts the way you look at life. This creates space for more and more of the good stuff.
TIPS FOR HOW TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE:
- DECIDING RIGHT NOW: Choose to start your own gratitude practice. Find an empty journal or get a new one you’re excited about.
- SET A TIME: Choose the time of day you will consistently write down what you are grateful for. We find it works best as part of your morning or nighttime routine. Basically, right when you get up or right before you go to sleep.
- JUST 1-3 THINGS A DAY: Find the simplest of things you are grateful for and write them down. Going for a walk, a sunny morning, a coffee date to catch up with a friend, etc.
Even more amazing would be to tell the people you jot down in your journal that you’re grateful for them. You’ll make their day!