cooking, family, habits, healthy eating, healthy living, lifestyle, weight loss, yoga

The Skinny

Yoga for Weight Loss

People practice yoga for many ‘mind and body’ health changing solutions. Some people practice yoga to help them achieve mental clarity and improve their ability to concentrate. Others prefer to practice yoga simply because they want to exercise.

If your reason for doing yoga is to lose weight, you have to consider exercises that not only help you to achieve peace of mind and stretch your muscles, but also serve as a good workout to help you shed those extra pounds.

Yoga Classes and Exercising

Yoga is not a high-intensity exercise; however yoga classes usually run from 75 to 90 minutes of non- stop activity. This means that you will be working your muscles all-throughout this period. Whilst you perform these exercises, they will lengthen, strengthen and balance not only your muscles but your entire body.

You may also do core work by practicing chaturanga poses. Like any other weight loss activity, you may have to indulge in practicing these yoga exercises 4 to 5 times a week in conjunction with eating a portion-controlled balanced diet.

Experts suggest that the best first step towards losing weight is to increase one’s physical activity, so choosing yoga for weight loss is a good first step! All you have to do now is to choose the right exercises to perform.

Yoga Styles Ideal for Weight Loss

Vinyasa and Ashtanga are two styles of yoga that are ideal for people wanting to lose weight. These classes will usually last for 90 minutes.
Indulging in Vinyasa and Ashtanga Yoga will also provide you with cardiovascular benefits as you burn those calories. At the same time you will be still stretching and toning your muscles. Vinyasa and Ashtanga Yoga can also provide you with some weight bearing exercises to improve your bone health.

Yoga Improves Digestive Health to Help Promote Weight Loss

Yoga classes expose your body to different kinds of moves, such as forward twists and bends. These moves help release gas by compressing your abdomen. There are also yoga moves that will enhance blood flow to your digestive tract and bowels thereby improving your digestive health.
A weak gastrointestinal tract can hamper your body’s ability to lose weight. This is because a weakened or damaged gastrointestinal tract can lead to poor digestion which can inhibit weight loss. With the help of several yoga moves you will be able to stimulate your gastrointestinal tract and unleash its vital force to help improve your overall digestive health.

For best results, start performing your yoga exercises on an empty stomach.

Yoga Teaches You To Focus On Your Body

One subtle factor that yoga has that will power up your weight loss efforts is its ability to make you focus on your body. This allows you to be more aware of your body and how it feels as you go through your daily activities. This self-awareness will lead to a shift in the way you treat your body.

You will more likely begin to eat only when you are hungry and not just because you feel the desire to eat that delicious snack. It will soon become easier for you to feel satisfied and stop eating before you feel overfull.

Regular practice of yoga can significantly help in your development of ‘mindfulness’ especially during mealtimes. You will become more conscious of your habits in regards to your food preparation, portion sizes and your manner of eating.

If you follow a nutritional plan and practice your yoga exercises regularly, yoga can definitely help you lose weight.

Yours in good health, Elle

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Aging And The “Middle Age Spread “

The phrase ‘middle-age spread’, by its own definition, is considered synonymous with aging. Unfortunately, for too many it has become an accepted part of life and growing older. It is as if we believe it is normal or inevitable, rather than a dangerous sign of poor lifestyle choices.

Distinguishing Subcutaneous Fat from Visceral Fat

Abdominal fat is also referred to as ‘visceral’ fat. If you have excess abdominal fat, you should do something about it, and the sooner the better. Abdominal fat has been linked to many health risks. Health professionals and organizations use waistline measurements as one indicator when performing health checkups.

Although subcutaneous fat is not as dangerous as visceral fat, neither of these should ever be allowed to accumulate in the midriff area.

Subcutaneous fat is the fat that you can grasp or pinch with your hands, located just below the skin. Visceral fat is much more dangerous to your health than subcutaneous fat.

Visceral fat is located deep within the body’s abdominal cavity, out of hands reach. Excessive amounts of visceral fat have been linked to different kinds of metabolic disorders, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, gallbladder problems and cardiovascular disease.

While where the fat accumulates in the body is partly determined by hormones, gender and genes, it also reflects a person’s lifestyle habits and choices.

The Dangers of Abdominal Fat

Studies reveal that abdominal fat cells are biologically active and any excess can significantly disrupt the normal functioning and balance of hormones.

Abdominal fat releases cytokines which are immune system chemicals, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The release of these bio-chemicals can also affect the body’s insulin sensitivity and it may lead to blood pressure issues and blood clotting.

Another reason why visceral fat can be dangerous to your health is due to its proximity to the portal vein. The portal vein is responsible for carrying blood from the intestinal area into the liver.

When visceral fat releases substances such as free fatty acids, they are carried into the portal vein and then travel to the liver, affecting the production of blood lipids.

An increase in the amount of visceral fat equates to increased insulin resistance, higher levels of the bad LDL cholesterol and lower levels of the good HDL cholesterol. 

Visceral fat has also been shown to secrete proteins that contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, which is a condition that leads to clogged arteries. This puts the person at a higher risk of having a heart attack.

How to Stop the Middle-Age Spread

If you are around middle age, living an unhealthy lifestyle, dining on processed foods, sitting in front of the television or computer all day, drinking high volumes of soft drink and/or alcohol, you will most likely be able to look down and see your very own ‘middle-age spread’.

Avoiding any physical activity and eating a diet high in carbohydrates is a surefire way to a bigger belly and putting yourself at a higher risk of lifestyle diseases. 

A study showed that exercising vigorously for eight consecutive months helped participants reduce their visceral fat by as much as 8%. This may sound great to some people, but just watching what you eat and reducing your sugary, high carb foods can reduce that bulge even quicker than exercise can!

Sit-ups and other spot exercises may help in tightening the abdominal muscles, but it can’t reach visceral fat. Getting rid of excessive abdominal fat isn’t possible without paying attention to your eating habits. Plain and simple. So steer clear of refined grains, pasta, fizzy beverages, high sodium and sugary foods.

Instead, fill your body with real whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, fish and meat that hasn’t been processed. You can start your day with an egg or two, instead of pancakes and syrup. Making that one simple change will help reduce your midriff bulge, making you feel and look better too!

Yours in good health,

Elle💋


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cooking, family, habits, healthy eating, healthy living, lifestyle, Vegetables

Survive & Thrive ~ A Healthier, Happier, YOU!

There are many things that impact your health, some positive and some negative. It’s up to you to do all that you can to avoid the unhealthy ones. Of course, it won’t always easy. Obstacles sometimes get in the way. But, by learning more about the following five factors, which positively impact your health, you’ll be well on your way to better health. The factors covered in this report are quality nutrition, hydration, detoxification, oxygenation and alkalization. Hopefully, you’re already familiar with a few.

Quality Nutrition

Everyone needs to be concerned about quality nutrition, regardless of where they feel they stand health-wise. There are so many benefits to proper nutrition that it’s somewhat difficult to know where to begin. Here are some of them for your consideration.

Increased Productivity

Recent data indicates that eating foods that are unhealthy for you actually puts you at a higher risk of productivity loss. Some studies put that number as high as 66 percent. All the more reason to think of healthy food as fuel for your brain, don’t you think?

Fewer Wrinkles

Foods that contain a high water content help to moisturize your skin. They also contain antioxidants, which help to reduce the likelihood of cell damage and keeps your skin younger looking for a longer period of time. Go one step further and include foods like salmon, on the menu. Salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids that are also beneficial to your skin.

Saves Money

By sticking to a healthy diet, you generally have fewer medical bills. In addition, you’ll probably eat less, which means you’ll save money on groceries. This is especially true if you’re one to eat a lot of sugary treats and/or fast food meals.

Less Cravings

It probably won’t happen immediately, but eating healthier is a great way to reduce cravings. Lean proteins and complex carbohydrates do an excellent job of stabilizing your blood sugar. This helps to alleviate a rapid drop in blood sugar, which causes a craving.

Healthier Smile

The calcium in milk and other dairy products helps to strengthen your teeth. Yogurt is known to contain microorganisms that are helpful in fighting the bacteria that causes bad breath. Research indicates that Omega-3, found in fish, may even reduce the chances of gum disease.
Longer Life

Although nothing is guaranteed 100 percent, quality nutrition goes a long way in helping you to live longer. Several studies indicate the possibility of low-meat, vegetarian or diets high in nut consumption very well adding years to your life.

Happier Disposition

The next time you feel a bit gloomy, why not take a minute out of your day to eat a banana or a couple of pieces of dark chocolate? The average-sized banana contains 10 mg of dopamine. Dark chocolate is packed to the brim with polyphenol. Both of these substances are known to give your mood a boost when you need it the most.

An added benefit to all of these things is the fact that learning to eat healthier automatically makes you more knowledgeable about nutrition. So, not only are you helping yourself, you’re helping your family as well. What could be better than that?

Hydration

Staying hydrated is extremely important for overall health. What many people don’t realize is that drinking plenty of fluids is also necessary for optimal heart health. This is especially true in warm weather.

Every single cell in your body needs water. So do your tissues and organs. The body requires water to lubricate joints, maintain proper temperature and remove waste products.

Keeping your body hydrated helps your heart pump blood through your blood vessels. It also helps muscles work more efficiently. In other words, when you drink the proper amount of water or other fluids your heart doesn’t have to work as hard.

Water Is Best

Water is the best thing to drink, when it comes to staying hydrated… especially when you’re exercising. If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy the taste of water alone, try eating fruits and vegetables that have a high water content. These include, but are not limited to:

  • cucumbers
  • iceberg lettuce
  • celery
  • radishes
  • tomatoes
  • green peppers
  • watermelon
  • citrus fruits
  • strawberries
  • cantaloupe

As you can see, you have plenty of healthy choices. For additional options, doing a quick search engine search will bring up many other suggestions.

Sports drinks are recommended in very hot weather. However, if you’re trying to steer clear of added sugar and extra calories, you might want to think twice. Any sugary drink, such as soda or fruit juice, tends to be harder on your stomach. And, anything with caffeine in it actually causes you to lose fluid, which obviously defeats the purpose.

How Much is Too Much?

You’ve probably heard or read somewhere that you need to drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water per day. While many people still believe this to be true, some physicians will tell you that it depends on things like climate, the type of clothes you wear and whether or not you’re exercising.

Never let the fact that you feel thirsty be an indication that you’re getting dehydrated. If you’re thirsty, you’ve ALREADY reached that point. If you perspire more than average, you need to drink more fluids. If you have a medical condition such as diabetes, you need to drink more fluids. If you’re elderly or pregnant, you need to drink more fluids.

Believe it or not sometimes when you feel hungry, you actually might be thirsty instead. If you’ve eaten within the last two hours, try this trick. Drink a glass of water and wait approximately 10 minutes. If after that time, you no longer feel hungry, you’ll know you were dealing with dehydration.

One of the best ways to monitor your hydration level is to keep track of the color of your urine. If it’s pale or clear it means you’re properly hydrated. If it’s dark, you need to drink more liquids.

Don’t ever take dehydration lightly. Not only can it lead to painful issues such as headaches and swollen feet, it can also lead to life-threatening conditions like heat stroke.

Detoxification

If you’re feeling sluggish and lacking energy, it may be time to consider body detoxification. Detoxification, or detox, is the process of cleansing the blood by removing impurities in the liver, where toxins are naturally processed. This allows the body to process and removes toxins more efficiently, which leads to improved health and a better quality of life.

Should You Detox?

 It is recommended that everyone detox at least once every year. A detox program can help alleviate symptoms that are otherwise unexplainable, such as fatigue, skin irritation, allergic reactions or even bags under the eye. Even if you don’t feel like anything is amiss, detoxing helps to cleanse the whole body and leaves you feeling fresh and rejuvenated.

Cleansing Your Diet

 There are many different detox recipes and programs to choose from, all focused on cleansing the body and eliminating toxins. One very popular and tasty way to include cleansing foods into your diet is detoxifying juices and smoothies.

Replacing one meal a day with a detox smoothie goes a long way toward getting rid of toxins and maintaining your metabolism. Stay away from pre-packaged shakes or other chemically enhanced products – the best ingredients to use are all-natural fruits and vegetables. Popular options include:

  • raspberries
  • blueberries
  • oranges
  • apples
  • spinach
  • kale
  • bananas
  • tomatoes
  • carrots

Any natural fruits or vegetables will do, especially those rich in fiber or vitamin C. With so many healthy foods and flavors to choose from, you can concoct a smoothie that suits your taste and is an excellent addition to your diet at the same time.

Fasting

 Taking a break from eating gives our digestive system a chance to rest and rejuvenate. This means it will be more efficient when it’s time for it to work again. In order to give your digestive system a break, replace your meals with juices or smoothies for a day or two of fasting. This will be easiest if you do it on a day off, so that you can rest and avoid situations that might otherwise tempt you to eat. This detoxifying method may not be much fun during the actual fast, but it will be worth it afterwards when you feel energetic and refreshed.

Stay Away from Toxins

 Toxins that we take in either through food or our environment get in the way of our body’s healing processes. Stay away from refined sugars, saturated fats, coffee, cigarettes, and alcohol. Also, try to use natural alternatives to both cleaning and personal care products, to avoid exposure to minor levels of toxins.

Oxygenation

Oxygenation is the process of oxygen molecules making their way into all tissues of the body. Oxygen is not only necessary for breathing, it also plays an important role in every metabolic process, which occurs in the body. Another term for oxidization is “medical oxygen saturation.”

How Oxygen is Used

Our bodies use oxygen for a number of different processes. When we breathe, the oxygen in the air that we inhale is diffused into our bloodstream. This oxygen-rich blood makes its way through our bodies and find places where oxygen is needed. Oxygen molecules in our body combine with certain enzymes to help out with many of our body’s processes. A waste product of these processes is carbon dioxide, which is transported back to the lungs.

Restoring Oxygen Balance

There are several easy things you can do to help restore your oxygen balance. This includes:

  • drinking an adequate amount of water
  • adhering to an alkaline diet
  • exercising daily
  • breathing properly

Without the proper amount of water, all body functions are diminished. Filtered water is the best choice, because of its smaller groups of water molecules, which provide better overall hydration on a cellular level.

Adhering to an alkaline diet is explained in more detail below. In a nutshell, it refers to eating more plant-based foods such as kale and spinach and eating less processed and animal-based foods. Along with the diet, it’s helpful to take an iron supplement. Women need at least 18 mg, daily. Men require no less than 8 mg per day.

The type of exercise you choose is completely up to you. Walking, biking and hiking are particularly good choices to help oxygenate your body. In fact, in this case, it’s actually more beneficial to walk for 15 minutes a day, as opposed to working out at the gym for two full hours.

Yes, there is a proper way to breathe. Whenever possible, avoid breathing from the chest. It’s much better to breathe slowly from your diaphragm and through your nose. Twelve breaths per minute are usually adequate.

Oxygen and Detoxification

A major factor in our health is how efficiently our bodies make use of nutrients on the cellular level. Another factor is how effectively waste and toxins are removed. Our body has several ways of getting rid of cellular waste. Much of it is dissolved into water and leaves the body through urine and sweat. But, some of this waste can only be neutralized by oxygen molecules, in a process called oxidation. Because our bodies need oxygen to process waste, avoiding environmental toxins and maintaining proper oxygen balance leaves us feeling great and could even help prevent disease.

Alkalization

Alkalizing your body is another wonderful way to stay healthy. Simply put, alkalization is shifting your body’s pH to the proper level. In the event the thought of this makes you nervous, there’s no need to worry. It’s actually much easier than it sounds. The end goal is to have a body which is more alkaline than acidic.

Optimal pH Level

When your body is highly acidic, it tries to balance itself out by getting nutrients from your cells and bones. That’s bad. The optimal pH level, to strive for, is just a little over 7. Once this number is reached, it greatly reduces the possibility of disease and cellular damage.

When your body reaches this level, it’s generally easy to maintain, as long as you know how to do so. The process involves replacing the acid you eat and drink with foods that alkalize.

Increased Health Benefits

There are many benefits to an alkaline diet. Statistics indicate that if your diet consists of at least 70 percent of alkaline foods, you’ll improve your quality of life substantially. Health benefits include an increase in energy, a more restful sleep, a slower aging process, a clearer mind and increase protection against certain kinds of cancer. That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

Foods to Avoid

There are several foods and beverages to avoid on an alkaline diet. The top five categories include:

  • processed sugar
  • meat
  • dairy products
  • coffee
  • soda

Cutting down or eliminating these foods not only helps to balance your pH level, it makes you healthier overall.

Foods to Enjoy

There are many types of foods that are great for increasing your alkaline level. You don’t have to partake in a boring diet in order to get healthier. Think about incorporating some of the following items into your meal plan. It’s probably simpler than you think!

  • leafy greens
  • Chia seeds
  • almonds
  • beets
  • bananas
  • garlic
  • figs
  • lemons
  • melon
  • tomatoes
  • and broccoli

Consequences of an Unbalanced pH Level

When your pH level is out of whack, it has the potential of affecting your health in many ways. Excess acid is stored in fat cells. The reason for this is that the fat neutralizes the acid. There is good news, however. Once you reach a pH level of 7, it’s entirely possible to lose as much as a pound of fat per day.

Your arteries are affected by pH levels, as well. Why? When your body is highly acidic, it automatically produces cholesterol to protect the arteries. High cholesterol can lead to heart attacks. The upside to this is, just like the excess fat cells, the extra cholesterol will disappear once your body is properly alkalized.

Believe it or not, there’s also a possibility that you’ll shrink, if your pH level remains off balance for long periods of time. This occurs when calcium begins to dissipate from your bones due to the acid.

Once your body begins to balance out and become more alkaline, you may experience something that is often referred to as “alkalize and energize.” This simply means that you’ll start to automatically feel more energized and ready to take on the world. Congratulations!

Taking Things Slow

When it comes to information about these five factors, which positively impact your health, this is just the tip of the iceberg. However, it gives you a great starting point. What you do with the information is, of course, up to you.

If you feel overwhelmed, as many individuals do, tackle one area at a time. You’re not going to feel transformed overnight. Obviously, it’s going to take some time. But, with patience and due diligence, you’ll start feeling much healthier before you know it.

 

At that point, all of your hard work will be more than worth it!

Hugs, Elle

back to school, cooking, family, healthy eating, healthy living, kids, lifestyle, Vegetables

How To Pack School Lunches That Your Kids Will Actually Eat

 

Summer has come to an end and school has started. That of course means it’s time to get back into a school year routine. Part of that routine in many households is packing school lunches. Packed lunches are a great option when your child isn’t too fond of what the school has to offer or you want a little more control over what your child is eating.

Packed lunches are a great option when your child isn’t too fond of what the school has to offer or you want a little more control over what your child is eating.

Of course if your child has dietary restrictions or food allergies, packing lunches is a must. Frankly, packing a lunch allows you to include healthy foods your child will actually eat and it doesn’t have to cost any more than what you would be paying for lunch at school.

Of course packing a lunch every day doesn’t do any good if your child doesn’t eat it or ends up trading most of it away for junk food. The key then is to find things that your child loves and enjoys eating.

The best place to start is to get your child involved. Depending on the age of your kids, you could even put them in charge of making their own lunches. Not only do you know that they’ll pack something they will eat, being in charge of packing lunch will teach them responsibility.

Start by talking to your kids about what they want in their lunch box. Make a list of options and then head to the store so you have everything you need for the first week of school. Getting the kids as involved as possible will make sure that they end up with lunches they will eat. For older kids that may mean making their own lunches (under your supervision of course).

Younger children can help. Even your kindergartner can wash grapes and put them into a container, or pick a snack for his lunch box. Get in the habit of making lunches together the night before. Over time you can give the kids more and more responsibility for their lunches. This alone will help make sure they eat what they’ve packed. After all, it’s the lunch they made. Along the way you’re teaching them independence and important life skills.

Of course you want to encourage your kids to pack and eat healthy foods. Insisting on all healthy, organic food options all the time may not be your best strategy though. Strike a balance and make compromises. If your kids pack and eat a healthy wrap or salad for example, let them have some cookies for dessert. Teach them to make good choices, but don’t freak out if they decide to pack some cookies or gummy treats. Your goal is to get them to eat fairly healthy and make smart food choices, not restrict all access to junk food, causing them to trade with friends for forbidden Twinkies.

Much love, Elle