Inspiration to Get Moving

Here’s a little inspiration to get you thinking about what you want to see from yourself. This video makes me want to put my running shoes on and determine to make it happen. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m working on it every time I get back out there!

What motivates YOU?

Sugar… It Does a Body BAD!

There is no use denying it — sugar is highly addictive and there are probably more people addicted to it than any other substance we put into our bodies. It’s scary when you think about how pervasive and hidden it is in our foods. The vast majority of processed foods pushed at us are loaded with sugar. Even foods you wouldn’t think would have any reason to have sugar in them! So why is it there? Because it keeps us coming back for more, and the companies know it! Repeat buyers = big profits!

That’s just one reason why eating whole living foods is so important to your health. With whole foods, you know exactly what you’re getting. If it comes in a box, can, jar, or bag — who knows what’s in there?! Sugar has many forms and names, too, so when you’re reading labels you might not see that sugar has been added because they don’t just come out and say sugar.

Sugar is definitely hard on the body and we should do our best to avoid it for the most part in our diet. I still use sugar in natural forms, but even those I use very sparingly. A word about fruit — yes, fruits are typically high in natural sugars, and I usually stay away from drinking fruit juices because the sugar concentration is high. However, eating fruits in their whole form should be fine for most people because the fiber of the fruit accompanies the sugar and the body knows how to handle that. It’s when there’s a flood of sugar entering the body without any fiber that causes havoc to our systems. Green smoothies are an excellent way to get our taste for something sweet, because we’re taking in all that fiber and all those greens together with it.

It’s the refined sugars and artificial sweeteners you need to run from. They are no good in any scenario. They are poison to your body and if you don’t think you are addicted, just try stopping your consumption of them and see what happens. Your body might react just like it’s been deprived of a drug fix — headaches, mood swings, fatigue, lethargy, rage, irritability, skin breakouts… Not pretty!

Those chemical artificial sweeteners are just as bad and have no place in anyone’s diet! There are plenty of resources on the internet for you to look into the effects of consuming these toxic chemicals, so I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here, but as you can probably tell, I’m strongly against them! You can check out more info on aspartame here (aka Equal, Nutrasweet). Here is another excellent article about Splenda and other sugars and their effect in a woman’s body, particularly.

Enjoying sweet things now and then is not bad. After all, we were created with taste buds that love them. Your best bet is to stick to natural forms of sugar, and avoid refined sugars as much as possible.

Natural sugars I use

Agave Nectar — There are several forms of agave – raw, light, and dark. I typically only use the raw as it would be less processed than the other two. There is a lot of disagreement over whether or not agave is actually a good or bad sweetener. Using it in moderation seems to work for me. Every body responds differently, so you’ll have to test this by seeing how your body responds when you use it.

Raw Honey — Notice I said RAW honey. I believe in the value of raw, unfiltered honey and know it is very beneficial to the body. The reason you want to make sure it’s raw is because it’s the living enzymes and other bee goodness in the raw version of honey that assists the body in healing. Heat processed honey is no better than refined sugar — in fact, it’s been shown that many manufacturers actually feed their bees high fructose corn syrup to increase their honey production — so guess what’s in that honey? Yep, high fructose corn syrup! But you won’t find that on the label!

Pure Maple Syrup — Pure maple syrup is pricey, so I use it sparingly for certain things. Certainly, once you’ve tasted the real thing, those sticky, thick, syrups with maple flavoring you may have been used to using will never do it for you again.

Dates — Dates are great to use in many different kinds of recipes to add a little sweetness. They are also nice for a sweet treat just to eat by themselves. There are many good reasons to include dates in your diet.

Stevia — Stevia is probably the best way to add sweetness without any negative effects on your body. You have to be very careful not to use too much, though, because it’s very concentrated and leaves a bitter taste if you overdo it in a recipe. Just learn where the “sweet spot” is and you will love using it.

Start Something New

start of something new(image source)

It has been  F O R E V E R  since I’ve written! I’m happy to be back, inspired with new ideas and ready for change! I love writing and I have missed it so much! I really have no excuse for ignoring my blog for so long; just have not invested the time into it.

Today is my birthday, and kind of like New Year’s Day, I usually spend the anniversary of my entrance into the world reflecting and taking stock of where I am and where I’d like to be. What better day than today to kick start a new beginning?

I think I’ve come a long way, baby, and yet there are many more tweaks to be made. Unfortunately, I tend to procrastinate and get lazy without accountability, so that’s what this blog is for me. It keeps me honest, which is probably why I’ve been avoiding it — because I’ve been messing up lately with my food (not so healthy) choices.

Enough of that nonsense! I’m ready to get back on track and hopefully even inspire a few people along the way.

My reality is that I am a relentless perfectionist with obsessive and addictive tendencies. Therefore, even in good things, I can be extreme in an unhealthy way and I torment myself beyond reasonable. I try hard, but I get stuff wrong sometimes. I imagine if you’re human, you’ve got some issues and hangups that get in your way, too.

So, I decided once and for all that there is absolutely no reason to bother having yet another blog on these “interwebs” if I am just going to be adding to the noise and not be willing to open up for real. There are enough blogs telling people how to be healthy. What we really need is more honesty about the challenges of real life. And, since I can’t seem to silence the words in my head screaming to be written, then apparently my words, thoughts, struggles and triumphs do have purpose. At least I hope they do!

So, here I am back at it — Welcome to Grace & Greens 2.0.

What If It’s Not What You’re Eating, But What’s Eating You?

We can do everything right with our eating habits and exercise, but if we are not careful, we can let our emotions run wild and wreck our efforts to be well. That’s why it’s so important to not only fill up on good, healthy food, but to make sure you’re keeping your spiritual tank full, too.

I can think of so many times that I’ve caught myself obsessing in my thoughts. For me, being an introvert who spends a lot of time thinking about the issues of life, I sometimes forget to take those thoughts captive and bring them to God in prayer.

When we are tempted to fill in the missing blanks in situations where we don’t have enough information, we end up creating a false story in our mind that almost always ends up in bringing us down. Instead of believing the best, we fear the worst. Then we start acting accordingly. We need to stop this because it feeds fear, anxiety, anger, resentment, hurt feelings — and these things will eat you alive! The body begins to respond to these negative emotions by releasing all kinds of stress hormones and pretty soon it affects your health in a bad way.

Don’t go there! Decide as soon as you start slipping into an emotional pit that you will NOT waste a moment of your God-given time on this earth to entertain such foolish thinking. You are made for more than that. Forgive all offenses quickly and completely. Turn your worries into prayers. Transform your fears into opportunities to praise God for His goodness in your life. It’s not as bad as your mind wants to think it is!

It’s taken me a lot of years to get to this place, but I’ve finally realized that for my own health and well being, I must learn to lighten up about things I’m faced with in this life. I can’t afford to take life so seriously that I dwell and dwell and dwell on stuff until it makes me sick. Worrying about what people think was a giant sensitive spot for me. I finally faced the fact that it is impossible to please everyone all the time. People won’t always understand me or why I do the things I do. Sometimes, I’ll make them downright mad. There used to be a time I couldn’t live with the idea of anyone being mad at me. But you know what? I found such freedom in letting all that people pleasing nonsense go.

As God has changed me in this way, He has also helped me to be more compassionate and forgiving towards the actions of others, too. Because the truth is, we all want to be loved, and when we act out in negative ways, it’s usually from a root of not feeling loved. The only way to keep a right perspective is to only look to God to fill your empty places. Never look to another human being to fill you up. They can’t do it. They weren’t made to. When you let people off that hook, it completely takes away the need to be offended because you never expected them to fill you up in the first place.

Jesus is all you need. Look to him to guide you to health and wellness. It’s not just about the physical food you put into your body. Yes, you need to make wise choices and stop putting garbage into your body. But that alone is not enough. Your willpower and determination are not even enough. It takes total trust in God, knowing He is more than enough.

“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.” ~ John 6:27 (The Message)

image credit: home grown hospitality

The Best Medicine

Laughter is probably the best medicine in the world for counteracting all the negative things we deal with in life. I know I sometimes forget to have fun and I find myself getting too serious at times. When I get too serious, I don’t feel well. When I laugh, I feel great!

The next time you’re feeling stressed or a little blue, why don’t you seek out some fun things to lighten your mood? It’s great therapy to have a good laugh!

I love this video about the elderly couple doing some spontaneous entertainment at the Mayo Clinic. Maybe you’ve seen this before — I know it has made its way around the internet!

The second video is worth watching too. You’ll hear a little more about the couple and their mission in life — to put smiles on people’s faces and bring joy to others. What a great mission!

Enjoy :)

 

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What a great reminder for all of us to lighten up a bit! Click here for an excellent article showing the many ways laughter benefits your health.

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A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. ~ Proverbs 17:22

Count Your Blessings

Yesterday I received some news in the mail I had been waiting for. It was something I had been counting on for a great need. I opened the envelope anxious to see what it said and my heart sank with the words in the “we regret to inform you” letter.

Immediately, my mind went in a thousand directions. My heart started racing. I felt my face get hot. As my shaking hands held this unexpected news, my first human reaction was to think, “What are we going to do now? How will we make it work without this thing we were counting on?

Hope deferred makes the heart sick… Proverbs 13:12a

But also in that same stack of mail was another letter. I opened this one, still holding on to hope that this one would be good news. “Congratulations…” and with that one word, I was able to breathe again. Thank you, God. You knew how badly we needed this to come through.

We really needed both things to come through, but one did and the other didn’t. That’s how life works. We don’t get to live a life where there are no disappointments. Encountering hardships and pushing through in spite of them are what empower us for greater things in life.

It was tempting to let my mind dwell on the disappointment, trying to solve the future in that moment. But the truth is, I can’t change a thing about it. It is what it is, and I find myself realizing that even in this disappointment, I still have so much to be thankful for.

As I began to think on all the ways I have been blessed, provided for, and protected, I knew it was going to be alright. Things will work out. I believe that because I have a long track record of experiences to recount how God came through with just what was needed at just the right time.

So, I choose to continue counting all my blessings, and eventually, I have to just stop counting for a while because there is no end to the goodness of God in my life. The negatives are a very short list in comparison.

Studies have even shown that people that practice gratitude are healthier in general than those that are negative complainers. Here’s an interesting article on the subject.

If I would have let myself dwell on the news of the first letter too long, I would have ended up making myself physically sick. I was already experiencing physical changes in my body when I first encountered the news. However, by choosing to accept the negative and then redirecting myself to focus on my gratitude for the good news that came, I felt better. The anxiety left, I felt the calm return, and I had a good night’s sleep.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17:22 NLT

Don’t carry around a broken spirit. Make the choice to lift your head and see all the good that surrounds you. No matter what problems you are facing in your life — though they seem many and too large to overcome — I’ll bet your blessings far outnumber them, still! And if you keep a thankful heart, you just might be surprised at how those mountains will move out of your way.

Oh, and it’s good for your health, too!

image credit: http://printables4scrapbooking.com/archives/count-your-blessings

Celebrate Your Progress the Right Way

Does this scenario sound familiar? You watch everything you eat all day long and you’re so proud of your willpower to not eat anything “bad” all day, so you reason that you “deserve” an ice cream at the end of the day.

… Or, you worked out today and you think you have “earned” that chocolate cake.

Rewarding yourself with food is a BAD IDEA!

Doing this can set you up for failure. For one thing, it makes “good” food the enemy as if it is a punishment to have to eat it, so you rationalize that you should be able to reward your good behavior by allowing yourself a cheat.

Second, junk food is not going to make you feel any better — because it’s junk!

You deserve better than that!

In order to be successful at eating right consistently so that you can live a healthy life, you need to have a proper relationship with your food. Food as comfort is so common in our society. And it’s dangerous to your health.

Have you noticed any of these emotional connections in your habits?

- You’re tired, so you need Starbucks coffee for a boost.

- You’re bored or procrastinating about something, so you head for the cupboards for something salty and crunchy.

- You’re overwhelmed, so you go for the ice cream because it takes you back to childhood when you were carefree.

- You’re feeling hurt, so you will hurt anyone who gets in your way of the chocolate, because chocolate is associated with love.

- Or maybe it’s the big, heavy, homestyle cooking that is your comfort…

Do I sound at all like I’ve had any experience with these habits? You bet I have!

Eating for emotional reasons are habits that we have ingrained in ourselves over decades and they aren’t always easy to identify. Or, break!

Just remember this — if you think you’re hungry when you really shouldn’t be, drink a glass of water. If you still want something and you aren’t willing to eat fresh fruit or raw veggies, then you’re not really hungry. It’s an emotional craving.

What you need to do is decide to either give in to the craving, being fully conscious of what you’re doing — or — change your environment.

Go for a walk and try to connect with what emotion is driving you to want to eat junk food. Are you feeling hurt about something? Angry at someone? Just plain irritable?

Walking it out is a great way to get your perspective back. Pray about what’s bothering you. You’ll be amazed how quickly the craving will pass when you purposely redirect your attention elsewhere and confront your feelings instead of feeding them.

By all means, YES, you SHOULD celebrate the progress you make in your healthy lifestyle!

It truly isn’t easy living in a world where everything centers around food and you are bombarded with unhealthy choices at every turn. When you reach milestones in your goals you DO deserve rewards. Little rewards encourage you to keep going.

Just find alternative rewards — Buy a new outfit in your new size! Have a night out to the movies (bring your own healthy snack!). Get your nails and toes done! Get a massage — that’s WAY better than those stupid cookies!

Don’t undo all your positive efforts in those weak moments!

The next time you’re tempted to reward yourself with a hot fudge sundae, tell yourself, “You are not a dog!!”

 

 

image source: motivationintohabit via tubmlr.com

Organic vs Non-Organic Produce – What to Buy?

One of the first things you realize when you switch to a whole food plant based diet, is that you’re consuming a LOT of produce! The more you consume, the more important it is to buy good quality, clean food.

Well, with grocery prices going up lately, I realize it’s a challenge to get the most for your money, let alone pay more for organic.

You’ll have to decide your own comfort level and budget for choosing organic versus non-organic. One of the things that drives my purchasing more towards organic, besides the pesticide issue, is that I appreciate the hard working small farmers and really want to do my best to support them. I also feel I am voting with my dollars for more clean food. I try and buy local as well to support my local communities. These are some of the things that are important to me.

Thankfully, there is an organization called the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and they have taken the time to test pesticide levels in all kinds of produce. Check out their Shopper’s Guide to Produce.

Generally, I try to buy most of my produce organic, since that’s the majority of what I consume now. However, there are times when the organic choices are just ridiculously expensive or unavailable. That’s when I pull out my handy “Dirty Dozen & Clean 15″ list. If it’s on the dirty dozen list, I rarely make an exception and stick with organic only. If it’s not, I’ll go ahead and buy the conventional.

click here to download this printable guide
(also available as an app for your smartphone)

There are a couple of things like bananas and carrots that are not on the dirty dozen list, but I would never buy these non-organic simply because I consume so much of them. I don’t want those toxins building up in my system. The other non-negotiable for me is any leafy green. I have begun growing my own greens and some herbs to help limit produce costs. (Note: I don’t have a yard with space for a big garden. I just plant in pots in my condo courtyard. It works!)

Just make the best choices you can — and, whatever you do, keep eating those fruits and veggies!!

{recipe} Sour Cream & Onion Dip/Dressing (dairy-free)

There are times since going dairy-free that I really miss that “creamy” texture in certain foods. Before going on this journey to better health, I had no idea the versatility of plant foods to become something you didn’t expect they could.

Like nuts that can transform into cream. Who knew???

This is a delicious sour cream and onion flavor that you can use thick like a dip or thin it down with more water for a salad dressing. I also use this as flavoring for kale chips, which turns out wonderful! When they dehydrate, the flavor of the red onion intensifies and actually becomes a little sweet.

Sour Cream & Onion Dip/Dressing

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked several hours)
4 Tbsp lemon juice (juice of approx 2 lemons)
1 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 cup water (to desired consistency)
2 Tbsp fresh chopped chives
2 Tbsp finely chopped red onion

Directions:

1. Drain and rinse cashews (discard soaking water)

2. Pulse chop cashews in food processor until finely chopped.

3. Scrape sides of food processor and turn on adding lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and salt while machine is running.

4. Add only as much water as needed to reach desired consistency. Continue processing until creamy and well blended.

5. Pour into a bowl and stir in chives and onions, mixing until well incorporated.

To Make Kale Chips:

1. Clean and tear kale into chip size pieces.

2. Toss desired amount of dressing with kale, using hands to fully incorporate into the kale.

3. Dehydrate for 1 hour at 145 degrees, then reduce to 105 degrees for 4-5 more hours (or until crispy)

With one batch, I can usually divide it in thirds and use some as dip for veggies and wraps, some I mix in a dressing bottle with a little more water, and of course, I make a batch of kale chips with the rest!

My favorite recipes are ones like this that are so versatile because I can get more mileage out of my time investment in the kitchen!

Did you know that dental problems can be linked to gluten intolerance?

There’s not much in life that I can’t just tolerate if I have to. In fact, I have a pretty high tolerance level. But, after all the problems I’ve had with my teeth and gums over the years, the dentist became one of those things I began to avoid like the plague! Counter-productive, I know, but I really hated dealing with it, so I just didn’t!!

Well, did you know that dental problems can be linked to gluten intolerance?

Strangely, this is one of the things I discovered when I eliminated gluten from my diet. For years I resisted going to the dentist, because I dreaded the pain and discomfort and bleeding — and the chastisement for my gum issues. I often had deep pockets and they were always warning me I would need gum surgery if things didn’t improve. I don’t think they believed me when I told them that, YES, I AM FLOSSING!!

No matter how much time I spent caring for my teeth, it was always the same story. Bleeding and inflamed gums! Sometimes, they would just spontaneously bleed without me even touching them. What a mess!

Well, an interesting thing happened within a short time of leaving gluten behind. I noticed my gums healing! The inflammation went away, they stopped bleeding and they got stronger and stronger. When I realized this, I did what I always do when I want to know something — I googled everything I could find out about it! I was amazed to see how common this connection really was. I never would have put the two together.

Finally, I got the nerve up to go back to the dentist to see what my condition was and to take care of some issues I had refused to deal with before. I went for a cleaning and checkup and, guess what??? I was praised for having such healthy gums and practically no tartar in my whole mouth! There was no bleeding and no deep pockets in my gums. I left the dentist overjoyed for the first time that I can remember!

Unfortunately, I still had a couple of cavities left over that I’d been putting off dealing with for a long time. I knew with all the positive changes I was making in my life, that I could no longer overlook this important area. So, now it was time to get things in order. Those issues are now being taken care of and healing is underway.

After all the health issues I’ve had that seem to lead back to gluten intolerance, the more I’m convinced that this was a major root source of many of my problems and illnesses. Now that my body is no longer fighting like the dickens to deal with all that gluten I was stuffing in, it can now focus resources on building health and vitality.

I can tell you from experience — eating all those breads, cookies, cakes, crackers, pizza, and other gluten-filled treats doesn’t taste near as good as how wonderful it feels to know my body is gaining health every day. I don’t miss that stuff at all because I feel so good not eating it!

Perspective is everything when it comes to being successful in committing to a healthier lifestyle. It’s not hard at all when you experience the joy of RESULTS!

What do you keep holding on to, that maybe you would benefit by eliminating it from your life? Stop putting such a high value on certain food products (that you THINK you can’t live without) to the point that you value the temporary enjoyment of eating them greater than the health and wellness you could be enjoying in your body.