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Turmeric: The Wonder Supplement

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Many of my personal training clients often complain about inflammation and joint pain. Whether it’s from the occasional muscle soreness or more chronic inflammation, turmeric can provide major relief.

 

What is it?

Turmeric is a bright yellow aromatic powder from the plant in the ginger family. It’s what gives the yellow color to Indian curry and is used as a spice in many Asian dishes. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric and it contains many anti-inflammatory properties and is a strong antioxidant.

 

The amount of curcumin in the turmeric spice is very low (~3%) so that is why it is necessary to take a supplement with higher levels of curcumin. It is not easily absorbed into the bloodstream so be sure to look for an extract that contains black pepper to aid with absorption.

 

What are the benefits?

Curcumin contains many anti-inflammatory properties. Many studies have shown that curcumin fares equal or better to some well-known over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs but without the side effects (think digestion/stomach issues). Several of my clients with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis take this supplement daily to help with their chronic inflammation.

 

Curcumin also acts as an antioxidant helping to fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals cause oxidative damage and are related to many diseases in the body. Curcumin not only helps fight free radicals but it also helps boost the body’s own activity of producing antioxidant enzymes.

 

Other studies have shown that curcumin aids in the production of a brain growth hormone which can help delay or even reverse age-related diseases in the brain. In addition, there are studies that show it helps to strengthen the lining of blood vessels which aids in blood pressure regulation and other heart related diseases.

 

You can find turmeric or curcumin in your local pharmacy or health food store. It has made a world of difference for many of my clients.

Don't Stop Believin'....in YOU!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


This is a repost from last January but as we are midway through the month of January I thought it was timely to post again.

Now that we are 19 days into 2016 you may already be dreading putting on your workout clothes and maybe you’ve even skipped a few workouts. No judgment BUT here’s why you don’t need to give up yet:

 

#1 Habits Take a While to Create

Some studies indicate it takes approximately 66 days to form a new habit. Sounds like a long time, I know. You’ve heard the saying ‘Rome was not built in a day’; well that is also the case with habits. Whether you’ve decided to workout three times a week or lose 15 pounds understand that it is going to take a while for you to incorporate this change into your life.

 

#2 You Have to Work For It

There is no magic pill that you can take and wake up tomorrow 10 pounds lighter and toned to perfection. It takes work!!! Now that doesn’t mean that you should become obsessed and counting every calorie, step and pound. What it does mean is that you have to actually start in order to reach the finish. And the first step can sometimes be the hardest but I’m here for you every step of the way. So my advice is not to focus on the outcome but do the work in the present. You’ll get there!

 

#3 Remind Yourself WHY You Chose to Get Fit

OK, I realize I just told you in #2 not to focus on the goal but if you’re starting to have second thoughts about your fitness goals, stop and think about why you made these goals in the first place. Visualize the person you want to be six months from now. What does she look like? How does she feel?

There’s a reason why you made these goals and occasionally you may need to stop and tell yourself why you’re doing this and not to give up.

 

After all, the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself so be kind. Now go put on your workout clothes and sweat it out, my friend! Trust me, you’ll feel better once you do.

Life Lessons from My Dog

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


 

This past weekend was the worst one of my life. My partner in crime and best friend of 11 years died suddenly of a ruptured tumor near his kidney. My husband and I do not have children so in many ways Harper was our child. To those of you who have actual children, you may scoff at this idea but until you have actually walked in my shoes, please do not judge. The house seems so empty and everything reminds me of him in some way. The grief is very real and more than I ever anticipated. For those of you with dogs, you understand that the life span of your pets is but a heartbeat so we enter into the relationship knowing they will not outlive us. However, the bonds that are forged span a lifetime. We were very fortunate in that Harper’s sudden passing meant that he did not suffer. My last image of him is sitting in the surgical suite with one paw on my shoulder and him looking at me as if to say “Mom, I’m going to be fine. It’s just a little surgery.” He was also so reassuring in that way. Over the past few days, in between my ugly crying spells and reflection I’ve put together some lessons that Harper taught me over the years. Funny that we often think we are training and teaching our pets yet the lessons they teach us are far, far greater.


Love Unconditionally

Harper loved almost everyone and he instinctively knew when you needed his love the most. Just a few months after I adopted him, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I’ll never forget him coming to her bedside to lay his head on her hand to offer her some comfort. Many times over the years he would curl up next to me in bed and lay his head on my heart and comfort me as I cried or worried over some challenge. If he didn’t like someone, he would also become fiercely protective and I trusted his instincts about people and on several occasions he proved that he knew best when someone with questionable motives came around. However, he wasn’t biased over someone’s race, religion, sexual preference or lifestyle choice. People should really pay more attention to a dog’s behavior. The world would be a much happier and peaceful place.


Protect Your Loved Ones

We used to joke that Harper stayed on ‘high alert’ most of the time. It’s true he had a hard time relaxing but mostly he assumed the role of protector of the house, especially when my husband began traveling for work and we were at home alone. I realized this early on when I was living by myself and Harper woke me up barking like crazy. Of course, I kept telling him to be quiet. Finally he did calm down but he slept by the back door the rest of the night. When I walked outside the next morning to go to work, my car had been broken into and Harper was the only one who realized it! I never doubted him from that moment on.


Forgive and Forget

Harper used to sneakily get into the trash or better yet, he would somehow manage to sneak bacon off of a paper towel without so much as even touching the napkin. It was a skill, for sure, but he would be reprimanded. It didn’t take much; all I had to do was use a stern voice and his ears would go back and he would look down guiltily. However, a minute later he was back to wagging his tail and coming to cuddle with me on the couch. He got over our spats very quickly and resumed being the ‘happy-go-lucky’ dog I loved. And he forgave me many times when I would forget to pick up his dog food and he would have to eat rice for dinner. Maybe that was easier to forgive but the point is that he didn’t hold grudges and never dwelled on the past.


Live In the Moment

Harper lived each day (and each moment) to the fullest. You’d never catch him worrying about yesterday. Perhaps his biggest worry was catching that squirrel which we’ll discuss in just a moment. He was present in every moment and even in his final few days he was chasing squirrels, getting into the trash and snuggling with me on every occasion. He lived a life with no regrets and in so many ways he was my role model.


Never Give Up the Chase

Every single day Harper would wake up excited to face the day and run to the backdoor and literally jump off our back deck to chase the same squirrels. And every time he failed! The beauty is that he faced each day with the same excitement and the chase never got old. He motivated me so many mornings to go chase my day with the same level of enthusiasm.

 

My beloved fur baby has left me with so many wonderful memories. And his wisdom about living a full life each and every day will stay with me always. Go chase those squirrels, Harper! I’ll see you again one day.

Practicing Gratitude

Wednesday, November 04, 2015


 

One of the many routine stress busters I use is to keep a daily gratitude journal. Although sometimes I let the distractions and busyness of life take me away from the act of writing down my thoughts, it has been a useful tool for stress reduction. Science has proven that you cannot feel both stressed and grateful at the same exact time and I’ve found that no matter where I am, if I simply pause and redirect my negative thoughts into positive thoughts about what I am thankful for in life, there is an instant calm that I feel not only in my mind but in my body.

 

How to Keep a Gratitude Journal?

I recommend buying a special notebook and keep it by your bed. Every morning (or evening) write down a few things that you are grateful for that day. I’m a morning person so I like to wake up, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and use that quiet time to reflect. By writing down what you are grateful for in the morning, you can set the tone for your entire day. There are times, like I mentioned, that I may not actually write in my journal but I will mentally make a gratitude list at some point in my day. As I said, it is an instant stress buster. Also once you start the journal, it is fun to glance back and see all of the many things you have to be grateful for and it’s often a glimpse into your present moment. And these do not have to be deep thoughts either. For instance, today I wrote that I am thankful for my coffee and coconut milk creamer. Now I do go on to write about celebrating life and how I enjoy celebrating my life with the simple act of enjoying my coffee and creamer each morning. It really is about enjoying the simple things in life.

 

30-Day Gratitude Challenge

Now that you know the how and why to keep a gratitude journal I want to challenge you to do a journal for 30 days. With the upcoming US Thanksgiving holiday, November is a perfect month to practice gratitude. Feel free to share your thoughts on the Live the GoodLife Facebook page. Or snap a pic and share on Instragram @nansgoodlife.

The Many Benefits of Ashwaganda

Thursday, September 10, 2015

 


As a certified wellness coach I am constantly researching and experimenting with foods and supplements that will keep me at my healthiest. I’m a firm believer in taking herbal supplements to provide your body with added nutrients that you may not be absorbing through your food. Given that every person has a different genetic makeup and varying differences in lifestyles, there is no one supplement that fits everyone. However, ashwaganda is one supplement that will benefit most everyone in a positive way.

 

What Is Ashwaganda?

Ashwaganda is in the same plant family as the tomato with oval leaves, yellow flowers and small red fruit about the size of a raisin. The root and berries are made into the extract (gel, pill or dried form for tonics) that are ingested daily. Ashwaganda is commonly called ‘Indian ginseng’ and is known for its restorative benefits particularly to the immune system. It has been used in eastern medicine for over 2,500 years. It is a powerful adaptogen herb which essentially means that it helps restore, balance and protect your body.

 

Benefits

There are hundreds of studies on the many benefts of ashwaganda which include balancing hormones, reducing stress and anxiety, stabilizing blood sugar, reduce brain cell degeneration, improve immune response and prevent and treat cancer. (See Below for specific studies)

  •  
  • - Research from the Asha Hospital in Hyderbad found, in a study of 64 people with chronic stress, that Ashwagandha supplementation for two months decreased stress by 44% and decreased depression and/or anxiety by 72%.
    - Tokyo University of Technology researchers found that Ashwagandha slows the process of melanocyte stem cell phosphorylation, giving it the potential of blocking skin cancers.
    - Jamia Hamdard University researchers found that Ashwagandha reduces oxidative damage related to brain cell damage – making it useful for reducing dementia and Alzheimer’s risk.
    - Eight weeks of Ashwagandha supplementation increased endurance, respiration capacity and metabolic efficiency among cycling athletes, according to research from Guru Nanak Dev University.
    - Research from Texas’ Baylor University found that Ashwagandha reduced inflammation related to type I diabetes.
    - Research from the College of Pharmacy at University of Hawaii performed assays that found that Ashwagandha inhibited cancer-related cytokines.
    - Researchers from Jamia Hamdard University’s Pharmacy Faculty found that Ashwagandha reduces oxidative stress related to type 2 diabetes.
    - Researchers from Malaysia’s University Sains found that Ashwagandha reduced fatigue and increased general well-being among patients who were undergoing chemotherapy.
    - Researchers from Pakistan’s Quaid-i-Azam University found that Ashwagandha inhibited cancer cells from growing.

 

Many people (women in particular) often have hormone imbalances leaving them feeling tired, stressed, irritable and fighting to lose stubborn pounds. Since ashwaganda is an adaptogen it helps to balance thyroid levels so it can either stimulate a sluggish thyroid or slow down T3/T4 production depending on the body’s specific need.

 

Ashwaganda also contains powerful antioxidants that help fight free radicals that cause aging. This can be particularly helpful for the aging population to help prevent neurological diseases such as Alzheimers and dementia.

 

One of the more recent studies compared ashwaganda use to certain anti-depressant and anti-anxiety pharmaceutical drugs and found that it had comparable results. Plus, ashwaganda does not have the adverse side effects as those pharmaceutical drugs.

 

If you do suffer from chronic stress, mood swings, hormonal imbalances and low energy I strongly recommend you to try ashwaganda. Of course, consult your doctor if you are taking any pharmaceutical drugs specifically prescribed to treat any of the above issues as there could be some adverse side effects.

 

Here is the ashwaganda extract that I take daily: Ashwaganda root

Move More at Work

Monday, August 10, 2015

 

Do you have a job that requires you to sit at a desk for most of the day? Global studies show that we sit an average of 7.7 hours per day. Our society has become so sedentary, in fact, that many studies have proven the negative effects that prolonged sitting can have on our overall health. If you are one of the millions of Americans who has a desk job here are some tips to adding more movement to your day:

 

  • -Set an alert on your phone or desk to stand up every hour.
  • -Place your water bottle near your desk and drink. Every few hours you will either need to walk to the bathroom or refill your water bottle or both.
  • -Schedule a walking meeting. This is ideal if the meeting group is small.
  • -Take a walking lunch break with coworkers. Multiple benefits include absorbing vitamin D through the sun; stimulating blood flow throughout the body by walking; taking a mental break from work with conversation.
  • -Walk to communicate with a coworker instead of using email or phone.
  • -Stand up while on a conference call or walk around your office.
  • -Hold standing meetings. This is also a great way to ensure meetings stay on schedule as people become more cognizant of time while standing.

 

Regardless of your job, the key is to make time to move regularly throughout your day. 

A Little Spice Makes Everything Nice

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

 

Let’s talk about health benefits of a few of my favorite spices: cardamom, cinnamon and ginger. Cardamom originated in India and is available in most grocery stores (ground) and specialty health food stores (pod and plant). It is rich in Vitamins A & C as well as potassium, copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. It is well-known for having anti-carcinogenic properties as well as being good for cardiovascular health. It is also an anti-depressant and is often one of the essential oils used in aromatherapy.


 

Cardamom Tea

4 cardamom pods

4 black peppercorns

4 clove

1 cinnamon stick

4 slices fresh ginger (quartered)

*Heat all ingredients in 2.5 cups of water for 2 hours. Strain and serve with a teaspoon of honey and a splash of milk (sub almond or coconut milk for dairy free)

 

Have Nausea…Take Ginger! Ginger is the cure-all for all types of nausea including morning sickness, alcohol hangovers and motion sickness. It can also be used to aid in digestion. It originated in Southeast Asia more than 5000 years ago but spread quickly to other regions as its healing properties became more widely known. Traditional Ayurvedic (meaning life knowledge in Sanskrit) hailed ginger as a gift from God. It also has anti-microbial properties so it can be helpful when fighting a cold or other immune-suppressing illness.

 


 

Ginger Salmon

1 Filet wild caught Salmon

1 stem fresh chopped ginger

1 garlic clove chopped

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

S&P to taste

*Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly rub evoo on salmon then add garlic and ginger plus salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 15-20 minutes until salmon flakes off easily. Serve with a side of baked asparagus or other green vegetable and/or brown rice.

 

The use of cinnamon goes back to around 2000BC when Egyptians used it as a perfuming agent in the embalming process. Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of the cinnamomum tree. Those stems are dried and during the drying process they roll up into sticks. The sticks can be used alone or they can then be ground up to form the powder we most commonly use in various recipes. Cinnamon contains large amounts of polyphenol antioxidant making it a huge superfood. It also has anti-inflammatory properties to help the body fight infection and repair tissue damage. Cinnamon has also been linked to reduce heart disease, lower blood sugar and blood pressure as well as cholesterol. Try a teaspoon in your coffee in the morning!

 


Basil Cinnamon Peaches

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup raw sugar (Or use 3 tablespoons of honey or agave nectar)

3 strips lemon zest (1-by-2-inch strips)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 3-inch piece cinnamon stick

3 ripe but firm medium peaches, halved lengthwise and pitted

1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

*Combine water, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and cinnamon stick in a large nonreactive saucepan (see Note); bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves. Add peach halves. Return to a brisk simmer, cover the pan and simmer, turning the peaches occasionally, until they are tender when pierced with a skewer or paring knife and the skins are loosened, 20 to 25 minutes (depending on the ripeness of the peaches). Transfer the peaches to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Return the liquid to a boil and cook until reduced to about 3/4 cup, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in basil and let cool to room temperature, about 40 minutes.

Slip off and discard the peach skins. Place the peaches in a storage container and strain the cooled syrup over them. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours.

Cool As A Cucumber

Monday, June 08, 2015

Yes, you too, can be as cool as a cucumber. What’s the trick? Just eat plenty of cucumbers!

 

Why the cucumber?

Cucumbers are naturally low in carbohydrates, sodium, fat and calories. (~15 calories/cup) They also contain a high amount of phytonutrients which provide antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer benefits. If that’s not enough for you they are also packed with water so eating a cup of ‘cukes’ is like drinking a glass of water. Cucumbers contain silica which helps keep your skin smooth and can aid in alleviating the puffiness around your eyes. Because they also contain potassium (4% of your daily value) they are essential for keeping your blood pressure from rising. So the next time you start to feel a little ‘hot under the collar’ try some cucumber water to help keep you cool.

 

Cucumber Recipes

Cool Cucumber Water

Peel 1 cucumber, slice in ¼” wide slices and Add slices to large pitcher of water and refrigerate. Enjoy a glass every hour. Or add 4-5 cukes to a large travel container and enjoy on the road.

 


 

 

Cucumber Salad

Peel 1 cucumber. Slice in half lengthwise and use spoon to scoop out seeds. Then slice in ¼” slices. Dice 2 tomatoes. Slice 1/4 red onion into thin strips. Add 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped basil. Mince 1 clove fresh garlic. Drizzle 1 tbsp (~2-3 seconds pour) of EVOO. Drizzle ½ tbsp. of balsamic vinegar. Add pinch of s/p. Mix together and let marinate for ~30minutes. Enjoy as a side to your main dish or as a tasty snack.

 


Healthy Meals on a Budget

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Over the past few years grocery prices have skyrocketed, right alongside gas prices and the general inflation rates. Here are some tricks to pinching pennies at the grocery store while still enjoying nutritious and delicious food:

 

Eat more beans - Beans are wildly economical and versatile. You can make bean salads, Cajun dishes, Indian dishes, vegetable soup, chili, Mexican bean dips, stir them into whole-grain pasta—the list goes on and on. Your family will never catch on to the fact that they’re eating beans most nights of the week. Beans are high in protein and fiber.

 

Vegetarian Meals - Eat more vegetarian meals than meat-based meals. This is a great time to stock up on your veggies and give yourself an extra dose of antioxidants to boost your immune system and fight free radical damage. But be sure you are still meeting your protein needs for the day. This is different for each person and the amount of protein you need can be understood when you know your body type.

 

Chop your veggies - Spend more time than money. In other words, cruise by the convenience foods—even those that you think are healthy. For example, buy a head of romaine lettuce and cut it yourself rather than buying prepackaged salads. A head of romaine may only cost a little more than $1, but prepackaged salads often cost at least $3.50. Ditto for all fruits and vegetables, plus meat. Buy a whole chicken and cut it yourself to make it last for six meals, including making chicken stock with the bones.

 

Buy in bulk - This will save you money over several weeks. Sure, you might spend $20 on a bushel of apples this week, but you won’t have to buy them for three weeks. If you had spent $7 per ½ peck once a week for three weeks instead of buying the bushel, you would have spent $1 more for ½ peck less of apples.

 

Go local - Buy as many local foods as possible. Produce from local farmers is unbelievably cheap, incredibly tasty, and chocked full of more vitamins since it spends far less time being transported to your plate. End-of-season crops you can get right now include broccoli, cauliflower, beets, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, apples and apple cider. If you eat meat, try to find a local farmer. You’ll save money by buying in bulk, and the meat will contain no antibiotics or hormones.

 

Cook once, eat twice - Most people have no idea what’s for dinner tonight and make something that will be eaten just at that meal. If you can plan ahead, your ingredients will go farther. A whole chicken can make up to 4 meals! First meal chicken breasts, second meal chicken stir fry, third meal chicken tacos, fourth meal chicken soup made by boiling the remains for stock!

 

Don’t shop while you’re hungry - You’ll be tempted to stray from your weekly budget with unnecessary items such as potato chips and cookies. Eat a healthy snack like a handful of almonds or a piece of fruit right before shopping.

 

 

Don’t Stress Out Over Food

Maintaining balance and stress can be a challenge! For many people, money can be a huge stress trigger. If you find yourself feeling anxious, angry, sad or overwhelmed when it comes to household spending try planning your grocery shopping list by using these budget friendly tips before your next supermarket trip. Make the conscious effort to be in command of the stressors that are in your ability to change. You will be eating healthier, spending less and creating balance at the same time. Plus the money you spend on healthy foods generates savings in medical costs now and in the future since you will be less likely to develop chronic conditions from unhealthy eating habits.

Asian Stir Fry Recipe

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

If you like Asian flavors I highly recommend the House of Tsang® stir fry sauces. For this dish I used the Classic Sauce which has mostly soy, sherry wine, garlic and ginger that makes it super tasty when added with a protein (chicken in this dish) and a variety of vegetables. You can really add just about anything from the fridge so this doesn’t have to be a ‘special trip to the market’ kind of dish.

 

The key to making this meal in under 35 minutes is to start the rice first. When I walk in the door I immediately put the brown rice into my rice cooker and then I start the prep of cutting the vegetables and sautéing everything together. If you don’t have a rice cooker, no problem, simply start the rice when you get home; change your clothes, pet the dog (or kids) and then get started with the dinner prep. Another shortcut is to use boneless chicken tenders instead of the breast so you do not have to prep the chicken by cutting it into strips. Plus, if you’re one of those people that doesn’t like to handle raw meat, this definitely limits your interaction!


 

Ingredients

2 cups cooked brown Jasmine rice (Follow cooking instructions on bag or use rice cooker)

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 package of boneless chicken tenders

Pinch of salt & pepper

1 each red, orange, yellow bell peppers sliced into strips

½ yellow onion sliced into strips

½ cup sliced mushrooms (any kind but I like the shitake)

1 garlic clove minced (~1tsp minced garlic)

1 bottle House of Tsang Classic Stir Fry Sauce

1 cup snow peas rinsed

¼ cup chopped green onion

 

Instructions:

As the rice is cooking, add the sesame oil and garlic to a large sauté pan. Heat for a few minutes and add the chicken tender pieces. Add the salt & pepper to the chicken. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Add the onions and peppers and sauté for 3-5 minutes until onions are slightly opaque. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and stir until the chicken and vegetables are thoroughly coated. Let cook on medium heat for another 3-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, snow peas and green onion and stir until coated. Cook another 3-5 minutes. Spoon a cup of rice into a bowl and add a scoop of the stir fry on top. And now moan your way through another wonderful meal! (PS This tastes even better the next day for lunch or dinner.)

       


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