Monday, April 29, 2013

High Cortisol: The Need for Speed

A while ago I was listening to a podcast called "Balanced Bites" (a paleo podcast) and the guest on their show was Sara Gottfried (Harvard-educated gynecologist who treats the root causes of health problems & Yoga teacher).  She is well known for showing women how to adjust their hormones NATURALLY.  I was so excited to hear what she had to say on the show.  I was taking notes like mad.  She just recently came out with a book called "The Hormone Cure" and was giving tips from her book.  I loved all of her tips so much that I knew I had to buy her book immediately!  So I asked for her book for my birthday.  It was definitely my most anticipated gift because I couldn't wait to get started!  I knew I would love it because all of her tips MADE SENSE and plus they were SIMPLE too!  

In the beginning of her book she has a checklist of symptoms for different hormones that may be off balance.  I knew I was dealing with a lot but I was blown away when all categories had 6-8 checkmarks for each category.  In other words my hormones are out of WACK!  I kinda knew that already but the survey was a TERRIBLE eye-opener.  

The biggest one that stood out above the other hormones was HIGH CORTISOL!  I already knew why my cortisol was so high---Working out so much!  I had this epiphany about 2 weeks ago--- I was working out TOO HARD!  I had tried looking into so many things to help calm my mind---nothing worked UNTIL I took my workouts down a notch.  I was flabbergasted when I knew in my GUT  that that was the source of most of my problems.  I LOVE my workouts so I thought they were helping me with my stress but they were doing the absolute opposite---they were RAISING MY CORTISOL.  Here's how I knew my cortisol was too high:
  1. Losing sleep, waking up around 2am and couldn't fall back asleep
  2. Quick to irritability
  3. Feeling wired yet tired (at night)
  4. Sugar cravings
  5. Skin conditions
  6. Anxiety
I was feeling all of these symptoms + some.  These are some of the symptoms in the questionnaire to identify if you have high cortisol.  After 2 weeks of doing ABSOLUTE ZERO intensive training, my sleep has gotten better, I am less irritable, I'm not feeling so wired at night.  My anxiety has calmed down.  

Now, I know that I can implement my workouts back into my regular routine...BUT SLOWLY.  Looking back, I never took a week off from training.  Even Olympians take time off from training.  But I wasn't.  I was stressing my body out way too much.  So the difference is I needed to take more breaks.  

So my goal is to really slow down because I've noticed AMAZING benefits already.  For approximately a month I will mainly be focusing on YOGA and WALKING to help lower my cortisol back to normal levels.  I will revisit my checklist to see that I only have 2 or less symptoms to know that I can implement 1-2 intermediate workouts and see how I feel.  Who knows?--It may take some time to lower my cortisol and that's ok.

And honestly I obviously have myself to blame.  I constantly have this "NEED for SPEED."  I am constantly rushing myself all the time. I like to be a fast worker.  Here's the areas that I rush myself with:
  1. Rushing to get ready in the morning; showering, putting on make-up, even putting clothes on.  Can't we just enjoy being nakey for a little :)
  2. I eat too fast: I need to enjoy my food more
  3. Driving to work: I wouldn't say I'm always to late, But I am always driving kinda fast to work.  That gets my heartbeat going--cause I'm preventing myself from being late.
  4. Rushing from one class to another at work. I work all over the school
  5. Rushing to the grocery store and pick the foods that I need
  6. Rushing to get Dinner Ready
I could go into a lot more detail on all the things I "LIKE" to rush in.  Anyway this is another area I need to calm down in.  But the more I thought about it, we are TRAINED from elementary-age to work fast, get assignments/ projects done.  Everything has a deadline.  And if we want to be noticed we need to be competitive.  That competitive side in us causes that Fight or Flight part of us to take over.  I was training my Fight or Flight to take action every second of my day.  I needed to train my brain to slow down and LIVE in the moment and take everything in.  I am not kidding---after a couple days I have noticed a huge change in just making an attempt to calm down.  Even just slowing down my movements because I'm constantly going-going-going.  So that's my goal too, To let myself slow down and BREATHE more.  

I can't wait to share more from this FABULOUS book, THE HORMONE CURE, by Sara Gottfried.  Women from all ages can learn from this book.  In fact, quoted from THE HORMONE CURE, 

"A common myth about hormones is that you don't need to worry about them until menopause  The truth is, many hormone levels, such as estrogen and testosterone start to drift downward when you're in your twenties.  Some hormones, such as cortisol, may spike too high and pull other hormones offline."

This may be the most beneficial information I've taken from this book!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Should You Buy Organic Foods?

I have battled with this idea of "Organic" food for a while now.  I find it very confusing that most nutritionists/ Health guru's are stressing the importance of purchasing only organic fruits, vegetables, meats etc. BECAUSE I never had organic foods in my diet growing up.  So why all of a sudden are we hearing that we must eat only organic foods now???  I get the whole "getting toxins out of you" benefit of eating organic foods BUT they still spray "organic" foods with FDA approved sprays.  You could go deeper and deeper into TOXINS and how everything is DANGEROUS to your health.  I tried to play that game and I found myself getting more and more frustrated and I started to FEAR everything.  I started to only buying organic foods because I FEARED "TOXINS" in my food.  This FEAR became a little obsessive and even became stressful, so I took a step back and evaluated the changes I had made with buying more organic foods.  Knowing what I know about avoiding less toxins I told myself that I wouldn't FEAR everything around me but that I would just DO MY BEST with the money I have.  So instead of trying to do everything all at once, I only buy a couple organic foods every now and again.  Here are my favorites:

1. ORGANIC Spinach: I feel that I'm getting tons of vitamins with my spinach salads and I also put it in my smoothies.  I can buy a huge package of this and it lasts for a while.  Or if it starts to wilt, I like to freeze it and then just use it for smoothies, soups etc.
2.  Organic Red Cabbage: Red cabbage is very affordable, It lasts for weeks in my fridge. I love adding cabbage to my salads to add color and crunch!
3.  Organic Granny Smith Apples*:  I buy my apples in bulk at Costco and they're delicious! Great source of fiber and low sugar.
4.  Frozen Organic Berries*:  I buy a huge bag at Costco as well, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries! Great for antioxidants
5.  Organic Garlic: this is very affordable and it lasts a long time.  Garlic has many benefits- Antioxidant, antibiotic, aphrodisiac :)
6.  Organic Eggs:  This is a new one for me.  I was listening to a podcast about how eggs are basically like poison, they have tons of hormones and antibiotics.  This has been a personal choice for me because I really don't want additional hormones messing with my system.  Also, I eat eggs every day.  If I was eating eggs maybe a couples times a month, maybe this wouldn't be a big deal to me but I eat them all the time so I didn't want to chance buying super cheap eggs without exactly knowing what the hormones and antibiotics may be doing to my system.  Plus you can find organic eggs on sale all the time.  You just need to look around.
7.  Organic Cinnamon-  I bought mine at a local health food store.  I was surprised how cheap it was, less than $3.  I thought why not?!?  The benefits of cinnamon are astounding-regulates blood sugar, contains fiber, calcium, iron, manganese, balances hormones etc.  I wanted a pure source of this amazing spice :)
8.  Organic Sauerkraut-  I love sauerkraut   You can buy a large jar for around $3.  I love the benefits of Sauerkraut because it's a natural probiotic to help heal the gut.

* I don't always buy Organic

So instead of buying organic foods just to buy organic foods I look at the benefits of foods and I evaluate which ones are most important to me so I can get the best source of that benefit!  Cost is important too.  If certain organic products are just not in my budget then I don't add them to my grocery list.  I do what I can and that's all that matters.  I feel more at peace with at least making an effort.  Organic foods have lots of great sales and I just try to be on the outlook for them!  And really it's doable.  Quality food really matters to me!  So I try to make sacrifices in other areas to purchase quality food.

So all in all, is organic food an absolute must?? I would say no.  BUT I've made the choice to make an effort to have some organic foods available to me so I can reap the full benefits from some ROCKSTAR foods!

Workout Week #12

This quote has been my focus this week.  I'm trying to give my body a bit of a break but still effectively strengthening it at the same time.  I think I've been so caught up in HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) that I thought the only way to get fit was with HIIT.  That is SOOO not the case but honestly I just loved the challenge.  But it was time to include some workouts that would not beat up my body so much.  We are not made to do HIIT all the time, or run long distances.  I would say the safest, most effective workouts would be YOGA and WALKING.  If that was all you did and you ate healthy, you still would create a ROCKING body.  Mostly because YOGA and WALKING is not stressful on the body whatsoever.  

Now I use to be a big runner.  That was my main form of exercise but over the years I've tried many different workouts and surprisingly, running is the last thing I will do now.  I find it very boring.  So I only do it once and a while.  So if you're not a runner, don't get down on yourself.  It's not the most effective way to get in shape.  I think most people LOVE to run is because they kind of get this "RUNNER'S HIGH."  Which is awesome, I get  that feeling when I do yoga, cycling, weightlifting as well.  I don't like to over-do-it with running.  And not because the media says that but personally I find that I'm more hungry after I run, and I keep eating to fill the tons of calories I just burned.  And it's rough on my body.  I feel like my whole lower body swells from the lactic acid build-up.   I rarely go running and I'm in the best shape I've ever been.  And that's mostly because I always change up my routine!  

(My Workout Week, Couple weeks ago)

Monday: P90X Yoga
Tuesday: Bob Harper's Ultimate Cardio Body
Wednesday: Jillian Michael's *NEW* Hard Body
Thursday: REST
Friday: P90X Yoga
Saturday: 1 hour Walk, outside
Sunday: REST

RED= Mostly Strength workout
BLUE= Purely Cardio

Friday, April 12, 2013

My Favorite Moisturizer: Vitamin E Skin Oil

I've tried many different kinds of face moisturizers.  I've tried Cetaphil, knock-off brand of Cetaphil (haha big mistake), Clinique moisturizer, Olive Oil and Coconut Oil.

I would say Olive Oil and Coconut Oil are the best choices out of that bunch, but still my skin wasn't reacting the way I wanted it too.  I started to really think what the heck could possibly help my skin....I had this old bottle of (wal-mart brand) Vitamin E Skin Oil.  The lightbulb went off in my head.  Vitamin E Oil heals scars, wrinkles etc.  Obviously I don't have to worry about the wrinkles quite yet, but either way it has a "HEALING" ability.  And my skin needed healing, not just softness---Coconut oil provides a wonderful softness but I never felt like it went deep under my skin to help heal my skin--Try it out and see what you think, you may love it--It just didn't do everything I wanted it to do-Let me know what you think!

So anyway, I went to a Whole Foods grocery store and purchased Derma e Vitamin E Skin Oil. I LOVE this product!! I saw an immediate difference after the first time I used it.  My pores had shrunk, it didn't leave my skin looking blotchy or red.  It has erased/decreased any facial scars.  And it only takes a little to do the job!   I only use maybe 2 dabs of the oil and spread it all over my face.  It doesn't leave my skin feeling too oily or shiny.  I also love that it's not too expensive.  It will last you a long time as well.

I'm really thankful I came across this HEALING moisturizer!  It has helped my skin a lot!  If you have sensitive skin like me, I highly recommend checking this product out!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Workout Week #11

Monday: Bob Harper's Body Rev Cardio Conditioning
Tuesday: Jillian Michaels' Banish Fat Boost Metabolism
Wednesday: 45 minute hike, outside (uphill & downhill)
Thursday: 45 minute walk, outside
Friday: P90X Yoga + 45 minute hike outside (uphill & downhill)
Saturday: REST
Sunday: 40 minute walk, outside

RED= Mostly Strength workout
BLUE= Purely Cardio

Saturday, April 6, 2013

No Bake Cookie Dough Oatmeal

I have been craving some peanut butter and chocolate lately--You know like those Amazing NO-Bake Cookies.  What I love to do is recreate the recipe but in a way that my body will appreciate, 
you know--not keep me up at night and so forth :)

I didn't want to make 2-3 dozen.  Just a fat 1-serving size for ME!

And I was being a little impatient and therefore wanted to 
satisfy my needs at that very moment...NO WAIT!

Something fast and easy.

So I experimented by putting together my absolute, favorite dessert ingredients!
And I came up with this.  It's raw.  It's healthy and I LOVE IT!

serves 1

1/3 c oats
1/4 c shredded unsweetened coconut
1 spoonful natural peanut butter
2 spoonfuls cacao powder*
2 spoonfuls sliced almonds
1/3 c almond milk (I used vanilla, unsweetened)
2 spoonfuls raw honey

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and ENJOY! 

*or cocoa powder, what is the difference between cocoa and cacao powder? My Friend Leanna says it perfectly HERE.

My FAVORITE Organic Make-up: 100% PURE

As you know from a previous post, I mentioned my issues with finding a skincare/ make-up line that I can count on to help my skin.  I struggled with different companies, (clinique, especially).  So next step was to find a PURE make-up with no chemicals and also listed ALL the ingredients for me to look at.  The more I thought about it, Clinique never listed the ingredients on their products.  That worried me a little.  What exactly was I putting on my skin?? Who knows?!?

 I remember listening to a JILLIAN MICHAELS podcast and her make-up artist-- PAIGE PADGETT (Green Beauty Expert) was a guest and she talked about how important it is to have natural make-up on your skin.  I thought it was interesting but didn't really pay too much attention to actually USING PURE MAKE-UP.  But after trying so many products that was leaving my skin just HORRIBLE.  I thought it was time to investigate and experiment.

My first trial was with ECCO BELLA.  I bought their Sunscreen & Liquid Foundation.  I really liked it and still do.  I still use it from time-to-time for a nice blemish concealer.  It's a bit heavy for me though cause I FINALLY figured out that I shouldn't be buying liquid foundation, I should be buying powder make-up because I'm more susceptible to oily skin (I'm really slow on this make-up thing).

Next, I decided to try 100% Pure, which is highly recommended by Liz Wolfe (author of Skintervention- Which I highly recommend checking out).  I knew I could trust her judgement.  So I made a couple purchases as an early birthday present :)   I was SOO excited to try out their products.  It literally took 2 days to ship, because they're based in California.  The items I purchased was Healthy Flawless Skin Foundation Powder in White Peach along with a Kabuki brush-- Which is INCREDIBLY SOFT on the skin.  I was really scared it may be too pale but it's PERFECT!  It more-so blends with your skin color. It makes my skin look so soft (but not powdery-like some I've used)  I feel like I could wear it all day.  It stays on all day too!  I would say though you may need a concealer for those annoying blemishes.  I also purchased a face scrub, called Carrot Facial Scrub--Which I am obsessed with.  Right now that's all I use to wash my face with (as an experiment, because it's so PURE), because my skin is super sensitive.  It leaves an amazing softness and glow after washing.  And it's not rough at all.  You can use the scrub as often as you like, which I use it daily, 2 times a day.  It doesn't DRY out my skin, it leaves it feeling amazing!

Neither of the products I've purchased irritate my skin.  Both products make my skin feel and look amazing!

The only downfall of this company is that they SELL OUT FAST!  If you take a close look, some of their products are SOLD OUT.  I was fortunate enough to be interested in items that were not.  I e-mailed them asking when some of their products may come in, they promptly informed me 6-8 weeks...EEEK! Sucks, but I just plug in my e-mail, and they will inform me when certain products are back in stock.

I'm definitely going to look into some of their other products---cleansers, moisturizers, lipsticks, mascara.  AHH I'm so excited!  I "100%" trust their company- Mostly because they list ALL their ingredients which come from natural resources- mostly Fruits & Essential Oils!  How cool is that!

So Definitely check out their Website, 100% PURE!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Coconut Flour Pancakes

I love how easy it is to make these pancakes.
Coconut flour is sweet so it smells like cake batter when you're making them!

I've made these pancakes 3 times already.
It doesn't leave you feeling unsatisfied.

And even better if you're trying to avoid grains :)

makes 2 med or 1 large

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp coconut flour
2 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
coconut oil, to cook in
shredded coconut


  1. Whisk 2 eggs first, add 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp coconut flour and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract.
  2. Pour onto heated saucepan with coconut oil.  Pour batter into sauce pan.  Flip when bubbles start to form.

*Serve with honey or maple syrup, shredded coconut & bananas!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Workout Week #10

Last Week's Workouts:

Monday: Personal Training with Jackie Warner: 30 Day Fast Start
Tuesday: 1 hour run, outside
Wednesday: Jillian Michaels Trouble Zones
Thursday: REST
Friday: REST
Saturday: Jillian Michaels Six-Week 6 pack + Jillian Michael's *NEW* Hard Body (Level 1 workout, only 24 minutes)
Sunday: Jillian Michaels *NEW* Hard Body (Level 1 workout) + 25 minute walk, outside

RED= Mostly Strength workout
BLUE= Purely Cardio