Thank you for taking the first step of improving your health and vitality. The following resources will support you in building life-enhancing, health promoting habits. Remember that the smallest rituals done the majority of the time (not all of the time) will make the most amount of difference. Honor your evolution, trust the process, and celebrate the milestones along the way.
It is easy to get lost in the world of nutrition and health and often you feel off balance because your foundation is what has gone missing. Think of these as the cornerstones of your health and vitality.
Take inventory (scale of 1-10, 1 = needs support and 10 = smooth running) of how you are doing in each one of these categories.
Choose the two lowest fundamentals and brainstorm TWO concrete action steps for each one to experiment with for one full week.
Shallow breaths move your nervous system more towards flight or fight. Deep breaths engage your relaxation response.
Oxygen provides fuel for all cellular and body function, is used in cleansing, represses bacteria and helps to purify your blood.
The more you practice deep breathing the more the body will automatically (muscle memory) stay calm in the midst of increased stress.
Deep breathing provides a nourishing internal massage for many of your vital organs.
Check your local air quality before going out for extended outdoor time www.airnow.gov.
Even 3-5 minutes of deep breathing (try it in reclined with a heavy prop on your belly like a bolster) will create huge shifts.
Your body is mostly water: muscles (75%), blood (82%), the lungs (90%), brain (76%), bones (25%).
Dehydration slows down the body’s ability to transport vital nutrients and reduces energy production.
Water helps to regulate temp, carries oxygen & nutrients to cells, converts food to energy, cushions organs and joints, and aids in detoxification.
Filter your water (carbon based or reverse osmosis) to remove unnecessary chemicals (especially fluoride http://fluoridealert.org)
Drink 25-35oz of room temperature (or warm) water per 50lbs of body weight.
Avoid drinking too much with meals as to not dilute hydrochloric acid in the digestive process.
Carry a stainless steel water bottle around with you as a reminder to drink and as a way to keep more accurate consumption measurements.
Lack creates lowered brain activity, decreased immunity, a drop in growth hormones, reduced nervous system functionality, and emotional instability.
Create a winding down ritual that is technology free. Avoid screens one to two hours before sleep.
If you are using tech lower the device light output and use a filter (nightshift for iPhone, f.lux for Android/PC/MAC).
Ensure your room is extremely dark, cover up any and all LED light sources.
Keep your room temperature from 65-72 degrees (depending on personal comfort), people tend to get better sleep in a cooler room.
Even 30 minutes, four times a week of movement has a direct link to reduced inflammation, lowered blood pressure, increased metabolism & blood circulation, better sexual vitality, enhanced sleep, increased executive functionality in the brain, and balanced weight loss.
Lack of movement will create quicker body fatigue, excess of lactic acid, and decreased strength and flexibility.
Not moving also wrecks metabolic function, reduces the action of insulin, and weakens the bones.
Even a relatively low to moderate level of physical activity will lower your post-meal blood sugar, insulin levels, and triglycerides, as well as reduce your waist circumference.
Change up how you move your body and make sure it is FUN! Explore yoga, biking, swimming, hiking, Zumba, dance, walks, running, and kickboxing.
Incorporate weight bearing exercises several times a week for bone strength and healthy weight maintenance (muscles help burn fat).
Weekly GOAL: 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity (jog, yoga, dance). 1.5 hours of vigorous-intensity (running, Zumba, sports), 30 sets of high-intensity (sprinting, jump-rope, resistance training)
Distress shuts digestion down, increases the probability of weight gain, and creates free radicals throughout the body.
During stress, serotonin & GABA (correlated to positive mood) begin to decline, while cortisol and adrenaline flood the body (in excess they increases blood pressure, create blood sugar havoc, and reduces immune response).
De-stress with a bath, gardening, 20-minute nature walk, cooking, taking 1-5 minute breaks during the work day, legs up the wall, meditation, art, massage, foot rub, journaling, or a sharing circle.
Make to do lists.
Plan out and schedule your week (including time for fun and decompression).
Family, friends and a sense of community yield the greatest boost in life expectancy.
Quality is what matters most. Take time to cultivate several close reciprocal connections.
Find community through yoga studios, potlucks, special interest classes or www.meetup.com.
Do activities that deeply nourish you (vs. distracting you or creating more busyness).
Laugh, invite touch into your life, have sex, eat luscious nourishing foods, get a pet, volunteer, make music, and so much more!
While there is endless nutrition information and dietary theories out in the world, the principles below will support you in building foundational habits for healthy eating, high density nutrition, and supportive weight maintenance.
Ability to step back and gather data.
React less, respond more.
Notice emotional patterns as they relate to food.
Track how different foods impact your energy, mood, and digestion.
One of the easiest ways to build the muscle of awareness is through mindful eating:
Chew your food for at least 25-30 bites.
Put your utensil down in between bites.
Eat without media distraction.
It takes 20 minutes for your digestive system to communicate satiety to your brain. Slow chewing = less over consumption.
Your stomach doesn't have teeth, much of digestion starts by breaking foods down in the mouth.
Every individual is diverse in their constitution, ancestral background, and genetic makeup. All these factors make a difference.
One woman's medicine is another's poison.
What nutrients will support my body right now? Age? Season? Stress? Activity level? Gender? Goals?
How far away from the source is it? How much LIFE energy does it contain? Will it nourish or deplete me?
Exists on a spectrum, some processing is often ok, but most disrupts the food (or product's) original intention.
Holy ? applies everywhere:
Oils: Choose unrefined, unprocessed oils (read more about what types below in healthy fats)
Sweeteners: Use coconut sugar, maple syrup, raw honey, and stevia. Avoid HFCS, white sugar, agave nectar, and artificial sweeteners.
Salt: Sea salt hands down. It contains 60 essential trace minerals and has a mineral profile that is comparable to that of our own blood.
Dairy: Grass Fed. Conventional cows are fed unnatural diets of soy and corn. Goat & Sheep milk products are more easily digested.
Eggs: Pasture raised.
Fish: Sustainability and heavy metal toxins are an issue. In general smaller fish are less toxic. Get educated or download the app at www.seafoodwatch.org
Chicken/Meat: Grass Fed, pasture raised, happy cows and chickens. Read more here about decoding labels.
Grains: Whole grains, mostly Gluten-Free, soaked overnight, or utilizing sourdough culture (for bread/crackers).
Herbs & Spices: Turmeric, cumin, curry powder, cayenne pepper, ceylon cinnamon, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, sage, etc. Organic is best.
Home: Your shampoo, cleaning products, wall paints, cooking pans, pillows. Ask yourself am I surrounded by manmade chemicals or am I surrounded by nature? Teflon pans leech chemicals at high heat, polyurethane foam (in couches and mattresses) spews out chemicals for at least 5 years, cleaning sprays create toxicity in your indoor air, and on and on.
Processed flour, sugar, and refined seed oils are THREE huge issues in modern western imbalances as they promote inflammation and overeating.
Most every meal has a vegetable focus for hydration, vitamins & minerals, and antioxidant properties.
Have a mix between raw and cooked veggies based on your digestion and the season.
Ensure you are consuming enough fermentable fiber veggies such as garlic, leeks, onions, scallions, shallots, artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke, asparagus, bamboo shoot, beets, burdock root, savoy cabbage, cassava, cauliflower, celery, chicory and dandelion root, daikon, fennel bulb, collards, dandelion, kale, mustard, spinach, jicama, mushrooms, okra, butternut squash, sweet potato and yam.
Everything in moderation, including moderation.
Rotate through different vegetables, fruits, nuts & seeds, meats, fish, etc.
This ensures your body is receiving diverse nutrients and isn't getting aggravated by too much of the same thing.
It doesn't have to be complicated, swap almonds for macadamia nuts in a smoothie, use chard instead of kale, trade in quinoa for brown rice, eat sardines one day and salmon the next.
Part of rotation involves the seasons, pay attention to how your cravings and food needs shift based on the weather and your surroundings.
Polyunsaturated fats or Omega 6 oils (soy, corn, safflower, sunflower) create inflammation.
Omega 3 fats (grass fed dairy & meat, fish like sardines, anchovies, salmon, sea bass, halibut, other white fatty fish) are all anti-inflammatory.
In the past the omega 6 to 3 balance was 1:1 today (because of processed foods) it is 1:20.
While fish oil is heavily promoted it is important to ensure that you are actually consuming whole fish throughout your week.
Omega 6 from whole food sources (avocados, walnuts, flax, chicken, etc.) is not a huge concern compared with refined seed oils.
Keep in mind that most restaurants use heavilyy refined omega 6 oils in their cooking as they are cheap.
Butter, ghee, whole milk yogurt, raw milk, whole eggs.
Almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, avocados, coconut kefir.
Olives, olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, lard.
Strive for no more than 20g of ADDED sugar daily.
Enjoy more whole fruits vs. fruit juices (although low sugar green juices are much better) and be mindful of over consumption of dried fruits.
When consuming fruits eat more low sugar fruit (Berries, Grapefruits, Papaya, Guava, Melons, Kiwi) more often, especially if you are working with weight-loss or blood sugar imbalance.
However fruit sugar is processed with ample fiber so if you are general good health it will not create problems unless consumed in excess. Read more here.
Compromised gut health is related to a host of disease states including allergies, autoimmune, mood disorders, chronic fatigue, etc.
90% of your immune system resides in your gut.
If digestion is weak your body will have a harder time assimilating nutrients and producing energy.
It is vital to eat enough fiber, especially from vegetable sources.
Every six months to a year it is important to take a probiotic (2 capsules, 20min after a meal) for 30 days, as routine maintenance.
If you are on antibiotics or other harsh medication follow treatment with probiotics (www.prescript-assist.com).
Read more on gut health here.
Want to dive in even more deeply into many of the above concepts. Read science based articles at http://chriskresser.com.
You can also search for specific topics you are curious about.
Willpower can only take you so far. It is your environment that will either set you up for consistent success or continual setbacks.
The Framingham studies showed the relationship between the company we keep and how that influences our behavior.
For example if the 3 people you spend the most time with are obese (due to lifestyle) there is a 50% chance that you’ll be overweight.
Beyond people we can expand this to media and our living environment.
A visible water bottle will help you stay more hydrated, placing your running shoes by the door can remind you to go for your walk, booking time with friends to go for a hike and cook a healthy lunch creates accountability, setting an alarm at 10pm to remind you to go to bed can shift sleep quality, etc.
Amygdala in the brain. 2/3rd of its functionality dedicated to scanning threats.
In evolutionary terms it was important to recognize threats to increase survival.
Today while most people are not under constant danger, they are under constant stress.
This amplifies focusing on the negative and what isn't working.
Since we are already designed to focus more on the negative it requires intentional work to shift the balance.
Celebrating your victories is extremely important as it pushes back against the negative bias. Even if it is small, it is worth celebrating.
Especially because of the negative bias, it is important to acknowledge how well you are doing.
How can you gain learning even from a setback?
Where can you be even kinder to yourself instead of being harsh?
Compassion is a key prerequisite on the path of living and particularly when attempting to make substantial life shifts.
21 days to change a habit is sadly misleading and unsubstantiated.
It takes at least 3 months (more often 3-6) to form new habits.
The good news is that you don't have to enact your habits 100% of the time. If we strive for 51% of the time the body will start to build neurological connections that strengthen the new habit.
It is vital to set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
Better to set smaller goals and celebrate doing more than to set huge goals and come up short.
Add IN vs. Restrict:
Restrictions make it more tempting to have what it is we are not allowing ourselves to have.
Instead of depravation what can you ADD in?
The more high quality foods you are consuming the more your body will start to crave those foods.
Slowly you will be able to crowd out the lower quality foods.
80% bring your A-game forth and follow the guidelines for high quality eating and living.
20% of the time give yourself a break. If you are going out or visiting your best friend that isn't eating the same way you are, go with the flow, enjoy the love they put in, celebrate the company.
Your body is intelligent enough to be able to compensate when the majority of the time you are focused on high quality.
While in general eating packaged foods equates to low quality products there are some exceptions to the rule. These products and brands (although always read ingredients to ensure not too much added sugar or refined seed oils are in there) are very high quality and tend to produce products which consider human health, sustainability, and high nutrient density. You can can find them at many Coops, Whole Foods, and Online.
While it is wonderful to take time, get creative, and create culinary masterpieces, many need quick healthy foods to support a busy lifestyle. When you can make time, make time, but if you are in a busy spurt utilize these simple high nutrient density meals to keep yourself fueled and nourished.
Keep it simple
Incorporate protein rich foods (to support blood sugar and insulin regulation)
Change it up
For poached eggs bring water to boil, pour in 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, turn heat off, crack eggs into pot, cover, let cook 6-8 minutes based on desired consistency. Best if yokes are somewhat liquid. Strain and serve.
For soft scramble, add 1/2 cup water (per two eggs) to pan then mix two eggs in bowl and pour eggs into pan with water, stir until eggs cook, avoid over cooking the eggs.
For boiled eggs it is key for the yokes to still be somewhat liquid, usually 4-6 minutes once water has started boiling. Use a timer.
Can use vegetable stock instead of chicken
Can use a pasta sauce (no sugar) with veggies/herbs if short of time
Use butter for cooking fat
Bacon is optional
Make 2 poached eggs
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (or substitute other berries)
1/2 cup macadamia nuts (soaked for at least 8 hours, can swap in almonds, or pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup coconut milk (lite from a BPA-free, no sugar added can)
1/4-1/2 cup water (if smoothie too thick)
Sprinkle of ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon
Scoop of grass-fed high quality whey protein
1 banana (ensure not overly ripe as sugar content goes higher) or 1/2 an avocado (consider adding one date to help sweeten)
BLEND together and enjoy!
Soak oatmeal or quinoa overnight, drain and cook with fresh water
Use 2-3TBS of grass fed butter or ghee
Honey is optional
Sprinkle in some pumpkin seeds or other nuts
Make Lunch the largest meal of the day. Take your time to ensure proper digestion.
Dinner a bit smaller but still filling (so blood sugar is not disrupted while you sleep)
Can of fish (tuna, sardines, salmon, mackerel, anchovies) ideally in water, BPA free can.
Mix a tablespoon of paleo mayo with fish.
Cut up 2 stalks of celery, carrot, green onion, 10 cherry tomatoes, 2 radishes, chopped fresh parsley, and any other veggies you enjoy.
Add veggies to fish, mix up, sprinkle in a bit of turmeric, sea salt, black pepper, olive oil, and lemon.
Eat salad with a side of plantain chips, steamed greens, or sauerkraut.
Use just egg whites, poach yoke or consume raw in a smoothie.
This recipe is for salmon but you can swap out and use sea bass, halibut, or any other wild caught, high omega 3 fish.
Feel free to use other white fish (sea bass, halibut, etc.)
Use paleo mayo instead of homemade (to save time)
A soup is a great way to get amazing vegetables into your eating routine.
Soup can be a main meal (usually more for dinner) but will still need a side dish of something (go for lighter animal foods here fish, eggs, lean meats)
Some soups include an animal protein in them already.
Sauté almonds on medium heat for 3-4 minutes continually stirring or moving almonds by shifting pan.
Turn off heat, sprinkle in tamari, keep stirring or shifting so almonds get coated.
Place almonds on large plate to cool.
Sauté cashews on medium heat for 3-4 minutes continually stirring or moving almonds by shifting pan.
2 minutes in sprinkle in some curry powder and sea salt and continue stirring or shifting pan.
3 minutes in sprinkle in a few drops of water and stir/shift to better coat cashews.
Place almonds on large plate to cool.
Organic popcorn and ghee.
Whole milk, grass fed yogurt & berries.
Celery sticks, nut butter & berries.
Plantain chips, salsa & guac.
Olives, pickles, and nuts.
Use tamari instead of regular soy sauce.
Skip the sugar and mirin.
Make sure sesame oil is unrefined.
High quality jerky or animal based energy bar.
(best viewed on a computer or tablet)
The following meal plan will set you up for success for two weeks. You can use this template indefinitely by keeping the same meal templates but swapping out recipes (i.e. make a different soup, swap halibut for salmon, etc.). If a meal has X2 that indicates to make twice the amount as you will be using the leftovers for another meal in the next few days. If a meal has X2F that indicates to make twice the amount and freeze it to use in another week. If you are not eating an ample amount of poultry, beef, or pork you can use many of the recipes below and substitute fish, legumes, or tempeh (in moderation) instead.
Many of the recipes are intended to give you ideas, but if you feel very overwhelmed keep it simple. If you are okay with eating more leftovers you can actually use this week one and spread it over two weeks by making more of every meal.
Poached eggs, steamed broccoli w/ cumin, olive oil & lemon.
Macadamia nut smoothie.
(recipe in previous section)
Whole goat yogurt, berries, pumpkin seeds, granola.
Almond nut smoothie.
(recipe in previous section)
Salmon cakes, steamed zucchini & summer squash. X2
Black bean, cucumber, tomato, avocado, goat cheese, cilantro, lime, olive oil salad.
Leftover fish salad.
Paleo wrap or corn tortilla, sliced turkey, avocado, tomatoes, green onions, parsley, olive oil & lemon.
Sweet potato onion soup, side of steamed kale. X2F
Salmon cakes, steamed zucchini & summer squash leftovers.
Lentil soup X2F, side of steamed chard.
Portobello pizza, leftover spinach & onions.
Pistachio crusted salmon X2, leftover sweet potato mash, side salad.
Sweet potato onion soup leftovers, side of steamed kale.
Make Greek style meatballs X2F (for tomorrows lunch)
Plantain chips, salsa & guac.
Celery sticks, nut butter, & berries.
Popcorn w/olive oil.
Poached eggs, steamed Bok-Choy w/turmeric, olive oil & lemon.
Pumpkin seed smoothie.
(recipe in previous section)
Smoked salmon on sourdough leavened bread, steamed veggies.
Yogurt, berries, macadamia nuts, granola.
Simple mills pumpkin almond flour muffins & bowl of berries.
Soft scramble, smoked salmon, yam hash, steamed chard.
Greek style meatballs, side salad.
Fish salad, leftover creamed spinach.
(recipe in previous section)
2-3 soft boiled eggs, fall vegetable salad
Leftover Greek style meatballs, side salad.
Leftover fish tacos.
Paleo wrap or corn tortilla, sliced turkey, avocado, cucumber, green onions, cilantro, olive oil & lime.
Leftover lentil soup, steamed veggies. Prep veggies/dressing
(for tomorrows lunch)
Fish Tacos X2.
Leftover cauliflower chowder, streamed veggies.
1/2 avocado sprinkled w/olive oil, sea salt, lemon, raw cheese, olives.
Jerky, high quality protein bar.
Cooked sweet potato, avocado, green onion, wrapped in Nori