5 Summer Reads to Boost Your Health

Recommended Books for Your Wellness Journey

I divide the books I read into two categories – brainless and brain fuel. The brainless ones are purely for entertainment – action, romance, drama, fantasy, etc. In other words, I don’t have to think too much because they do all the work for me. The brain fuel ones are books that educate me and help me to expand my mind and my life. That may sound a bit heavy for summer reading, which is why I’m a strong advocate for mixing in both. If summer is your best chance to read, by all means make the most of it! Use it to entertain and educate.

To help with the brain fuel type, I wanted to share some recommendations that are very personal to me. These are the books that helped to start me on my integrated wellness journey or have been pivotal along the way. I share them with you in hopes that they’ll help to boost your health and wellness as well. Enjoy!!

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Eating with Intention

How to Let the Energy of Your Food Fuel You

Grabbing something to eat, running through the drive-thru and throwing something together. All phrases that certainly reflect our lifestyles and all too often, our approach to food. While doing any of these every now and then is fine and can even be done in a healthy way, letting these phrases describe our overall attitude toward food means that we could be missing out on some of the huge benefits of what the food we eat can really do for us.

Transformational and Energy Medicine Specialist Jean Atman works with people on aligning their energy in every facet of their lives, including through the food they eat. In this Q&A, she explains how eating with intention can change your entire relationship with food and how its energy can fuel you.

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Container Gardens for Healthy Living

Tips from a Pro to Help Get You Started

Growing your own food is about as intentional as it gets when it comes to connecting your mind, body and nutrition. There’s just something about planting a seed or a starter plant, caring for it, watching the vegetables, fruit or herbs emerge from what you planted, harvesting and then eating it that’s about as fulfilling as anything you can imagine. I grew up with a Dad who only knew how to garden the Texas way, which meant that we always had a HUGE garden that could feed us plus our neighbors if needed. While I can’t say I appreciated picking beans out in the hot summer sun as much as I probably should have, as an adult, I’ve certainly gotten back to my roots and truly understand the value of what he was doing for us and teaching us to do for ourselves – even in my little slice of suburbia as compared to the farm I grew up on.

While my entire property isn’t as large as my dad’s garden was, I have learned that it is possible to grow food in whatever space you have – whether it’s a backyard, a patio, a deck or a screened-in porch. That’s where container gardens come in. They make it so that growing our own food – at least to some extent – is something we can all do no matter our income or space limitations. Because Bountiful Backyards specializes in edible landscaping, I went to Operations Manager Keith Shaljian to find out how we can fuel our health with container gardens and to get some tips on how to get started.

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Courtesy: Bountiful Backyards

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Understanding the Dangers of Belly Fat

4 Keys to Taking Control of Your Waistline and Your Health

As women, we often tell ourselves and have often been told that belly fat is just part of what happens to us as we start to get older. Another thing we hear is that it’s a superficial issue, and we should learn to accept ourselves the way we are – that only teenagers don’t have a little flab around the middle. While fitness instructor, nutritional expert, mind-body serenity coach and author Adita Lang says that she’s all for women loving and accepting themselves, it’s false to think that belly fat has to be an inevitable and relatively harmless fact of aging. In fact, Adita is 52, and she doesn’t have extra weight around her middle.

Yes, she is a fitness and nutrition expert, but it just goes to show, it’s not something that has to happen or even should happen. It also goes to show why we want to take our advice from someone like Adita, who not only knows and teaches about health and wellness, but who also truly lives it as well. That’s why I went to her to better understand the dangers of belly fat and to find out how we can all take control of our waistlines and our health.

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Benefits of Cooking for Yourself While on Vacation

7 Tips for Making Cooking a Fun and Relaxing Part of Your Vacation Routine

Summer vacation means keeping things simple and easy. Which for many, means very little to no cooking. But when it comes to what we eat, giving someone else or packaged convenience foods the power over what fuels us during this sacred time off can backfire if we’re not careful. With a little extra planning and a willingness to think outside the box, cooking for yourself can become an important and meaningful part of your next vacation. That’s why I’m taking a look at what those benefits are as well as 7 tips for making it a fun and relaxing part of your vacation routine.

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Breaking Your Caffeine Addiction

8 Steps to Recovery From a Former Addict

A pot of coffee a day and two sodas. That was my daily caffeine fix for most of my early adult life. Sometimes I could even be found with a cup of joe in one hand and a diet coke in the other. That’s 1,040 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day or much more than twice what’s considered to be a safe amount. When I was in my late 30s, I cut back to two cups of coffee in the morning and a soda to get me through the rest of the day. But after more than three decades of drinking more caffeine than should ever be consumed (yes, I started with a regular soda habit when I was very young), the damage had already been done. I was wired!!! I couldn’t function without the stuff, there was no doubt that I was addicted, I was definitely feeling the health effects of it, and it was time to get caffeine out of my life.

I made my decision one day and stopped cold turkey with coffee and soda the next. It was surprisingly much easier than I thought it would be, and while I can’t say I went into it with a plan, the way I did it definitely worked and apparently included several recommendations from medical experts – although I didn’t know it at the time. That’s why I want to share what I’ve learned about caffeine addiction as well as the steps I took to free myself in hopes that it might help make the journey for others as relatively painless as mine was.

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Eating for Wellness

Tips for Healthy Eating

Are you tired of being bombarded with all the newest information about what you should and shouldn’t eat? Are you confused about what healthy eating even means? Or are you simply saying, “I have three kids who all have different activities, drive-thru it is.” If you answered “yes” to any or all of these, you’re not alone, and please, let me say from the beginning, there is no judgment here. We’ve all been there, done that. But if you’re reading this, you must be at least a little interested in finding out what eating healthier could look like for you. That’s why I want to help cut through some of the noise and get you on your way to eating for wellness as quickly as possible. Your health and quality of life depend on it.

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10 Recommended Healthy Holiday Recipes

Options for Any Occasion During the Holidays

We all have our traditional favorite recipes that we have to have during the holidays – many of which may not be the healthiest. That, of course, is perfectly fine. It is the holidays after all! But if you’re trying to come up with at least a few ideas that are a little to a lot healthier or at least “healthy-ish,” you may feel stumped as far as where to get some ideas. That’s why I’ve put together this list of 10 recommended healthy holiday recipes. I’ve done the legwork for you with these, and I can vouch for how they turned out. I also offer notes on how to make many of them allergy-friendly if needed and many are already paleo, vegan, or vegetarian as is. You’re sure to find an option here to fit any way of eating and any occasion during the holidays.

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A Realistic Guide to Staying Healthy During the Holidays

How To Fit Good Nutrition and Exercise Into a Busy Holiday Schedule

As wonderful and exciting as the holidays are, let’s face it, they can also be busy and demanding. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does put even more constraints on our already packed schedules. Navigating them and all of the extra decadent food that’s sitting around without losing sight of our health and wellness can be tricky at best and overwhelming at worst. It’s tempting to say that we’re going to put all thoughts of exercise and eating healthy on the back burner until after the first of the year, but that’s really not doing us any favors and may actually take away from our enjoyment of the season.

Caring for ourselves while doing everything else that needs to be done and that we want to do is a fine line to walk. That’s why I asked American Council on Exercise (ACE) Director of Product Development and personal trainer Lauren Shroyer, MS, ATC,  for some advice that can help all of us. In this Q&A, she offers a realistic guide to staying healthy during the holidays as well as tips for fitting good nutrition and exercise into a busy holiday schedule. She even offers a sample workout that can be done quickly and with no equipment.

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Safe Food Storage Containers

Addressing the concerns over plastic, what to use instead and how to use plastic correctly

Food storage containers are like socks and underwear. For most of us, there are so many more fun and exciting things we’d rather buy. The fact of the matter though is that these containers are some of the most used, most important parts of our kitchen and our everyday lives. If we don’t give them the thought they deserve, they could be causing us a lot of harm. How? Because the plastic storage containers, baggies and plastic wraps that most of us grew up with might be leaching chemicals that are proven endocrine-disruptorsinto our food if not used exactly right, and let’s face it, most of us aren’t using them exactly right.

This is a topic I don’t take lightly because I know I’m behind the curve in addressing this issue in my own kitchen. While we are transitioning to safer products, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. That’s why I turned to the mountains of research available out there and to chef, nutritionist and award-winning cookbook author Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN for guidance for us all. As a topic that she’s well-versed in, she steers us in the right direction when it comes to safe food storage containers, and if we do use plastic, how to use it correctly.

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