Juicing for Health

I’m happy to say I’ve started juicing again…you know I’m talking about fruits and veggies, right?  Summer is a perfect time to juice, when the goal is to enjoy the warm weather while showing off glowing skin…in a bathing suit.  Not there yet?  Adding fresh juice to your daily routine might be able to help.  If you’re new to juicing, or need a reminder of all the benefits, let me share why juicing may be right for you…

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  1. Juicing is the easiest, quickest, and most efficient way to absorb all the nutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables.  The process of heating food destroys nutrients in varying degrees, depending how you cook them.  Eating raw vegetables in the amount that’s ideal can cause digestive upset.  Juicing produce yields micronutrient-rich liquid that’s doesn’t require much effort from our digestive system.
  2. Juicing is easy.  Yes, juicing does take some prep work.  But after you select and clean your produce, it takes little time or effort.  And your meal is totally portable, able to be enjoyed on the go.  I love my Breville juicer (Juice Fountain Plus, recommended to me by Joe Cross) because it’s quick to assemble, extracts all the juice possible from fruits and veggies, is easy to take apart, and a cinch to clean.
  3. Juicing is tasty.  Freshly juiced produce is absolutely delicious!  If you’re new to juicing, it can be a little daunting to figure out what combo makes a tempting, nutritious concoction.  But after consulting the many tasty juice recipes out there, you gain the confidence to know which produce to use, and perhaps even try out your own recipes.  I recommend The Big Book of Juices by Natalie Savona for ideas and guidance.  With more than 400 recipes, you’ll never get bored. I love the nutrients list and benefits rating for each recipe, as well as the index in the back that suggests which juice recipes are helpful for what’s ailing ya.
  4. Juicing is sexy, because it makes YOU sexy.  With skin-glowing nutrients, cleansing properties, and slimming qualities that make a difference people can see…how can you not feel great about how great you look?

Although juicing does awesome things for your body, you do need to keep a few things in mind….

  1. Juice is not nutritionally complete.  There is very little to no protein, and no fat, in juice.  You need both in your diet.  I use juicing to complement my diet as a vitamin-rich snack or a detoxifying elixir.  The only time I use juice to replace meals is when I’m doing a cleanse, and in this case, I’m purposefully giving my digestive system a break from protein and fat.
  2. Fruit and sweet vegetables contain sugar.  Too much sugar, even from healthy sources, is still too much sugar.  If you’re trying to watch your weight or have blood sugar issues, use sweet veggies and fruit sparingly.  I use a carrot, beet, or apple (or half of one) for a touch of sweetness to greens-laden juices or to tone down strongly flavored vegetables like cabbage.  Adding lime or fresh ginger is a great low-sugar way to add depth to your juice or “cover up” strong vegetable flavors.  If you do use sweet produce to juice and want to keep calories/sugar on the light side, drink a small glass instead or dilute your juice with water or club soda.
  3. Use organic produce as much as possible.  Juicing requires a lot of produce…which means you’re consuming a lot of produce.  So make sure what you’re ingesting is free from pesticides and chemicals!  The worst offenders are on the Dirty Dozen list, so definitely choose organic for those.
  4. Fresh juice has a quick end date.  Freshly juiced beverages have a small window of time in which to drink them.  It’s best to drink fresh juice right away, but if you want to make juice for later, here are a few tips:
  • Store juice in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate.  Make sure the juice fills up the entire jar to reduce oxidation.
  • Freeze the juice for later use.  Pop in a couple cubes of juice, frozen in an ice tray, when you’re making smoothies, shakes, and other cold beverages.
  • Taking juice with you but not drinking it right away?  Add a teaspoon of vitamin C powder or squeeze of lemon to the container to keep juice from turning brown.

Happy Juicing!

Achieving Health and Wellness Resolutions, Step 3: Choose Better Thoughts

Laugh often...it's good for your health!

Once you’ve experienced the benefits of Step 1 (Choose Better Food) and Step 2 (Choose Better Behaviors), you’re primed to incorporate Step 3, Choose Better Thoughts.

You know the proverb, You are what you think.  What you say to, and think about, yourself shapes the person you are and could become.  It’s not easy to change the way you think, but choosing positive, supportive, health-inducing thoughts is the only way to make health and wellness a successful and permanent part of your life.

The following “Better Thoughts” were integral in my breaking free from food and body image issues.  I hope they can support you in achieving your health and wellness goals.

Be your own best friend.

Photo by K.C. © 2012 Kristin Conroy

What do you see when you look in the mirror?  Your best friend or your worst enemy?  We’re taught to treat others with kindness and respect, but many of us don’t extend that courtesy to ourselves.  You would never tell someone you cared about that they’re stupid, fat, or weak.  So don’t tell yourself those things either.  Sometimes those messages aren’t intentional; we’re so used to saying them that it doesn’t seem like a big deal.  But the messages you tell yourself every day have an effect on you, whether you realize it or not.

Monitor the thoughts you have about yourself.  Practice turning negative messages into positive ones.  Maybe try supportive affirmations until those replace your old, negative mantras.  If you can’t love your body for the way it looks right now, love it for its function.  For example, I’m not a big fan of the way my arms look, but I can love how they’re strong and give really awesome hugs.  When you concentrate on what you love or appreciate about yourself, you’re much happier when you look in the mirror.  And in supporting and nurturing yourself, you’re more likely to reach your health and wellness goals.

Forget diets, a.k.a the “quick fix”

Photo by K.C. © 2012 Kristin Conroy

Dieting doesn’t work.  (This post explains more.Think about the quality of the food you eat, instead of basing its merits on calories and fat grams.  Why?  Because calories and fat grams are not all equal!  A piece of fruit vs. a fruit roll-up; olive oil vs. margarine; freshly juiced apples vs. commercial apple juice; raw cheese vs. cheese whiz….these pairs are not equal, even if the calorie count and fat grams say they are.

When I used to only focus on calories and fat grams to evaluate food, I wasn’t considering nutrition.  I chose a lot of artificial food.  And I was miserable.  When I turned my focus to quality and nourishment, the obvious choices were the least processed ones.  They also were the most satisfying, so I ate less.  Maintaining a healthy weight became rather effortless, which let my mind concentrate on more important things, like enjoying life!

And may I offer a reality check that will help you big time?  A slice of cheesecake will not lead to your undoing.  Nor will missing a day at the gym.  That’s dieting mentality, and I won’t stand for it!  Life happens, we’re human.  Accept it happened, take responsibility, and get over it.  Tough love lesson has now concluded.

Rather than looking at eating healthy as depriving yourself from the less-than-optimal food you love, think of it as offering yourself more nutrition.  There’s a big difference between “I can’t have that” (deprivation and judgement) and “I’d rather choose something with more nourishment” (support).  It was a huge mental hurdle for me, but once I disentangled myself from the habit of short-term thinking, I was able to see big changes in my health.

Know Thyself.

Photo by K.C. © 2012 Kristin Conroy

Learn to listen to what your body tells you.  We are born with bodies that have innate wisdom.  They know when we’re hungry or full;  what foods work with our bodies and which ones don’t; when we need to slow down and recuperate.  After ignoring and overriding those instincts from years of dieting and trying to keep up with cultural standards, we can lose that wisdom.  The good news is that our bodies doesn’t lose their wisdom…we just have to relearn how to listen to and interpret their messages.

Closing thoughts

This month I’ve introduced you to the 3 steps I think will help you achieve your health and wellness resolutions.  While these steps are simple, they’re not necessarily easy.  Be patient with yourself.  Instead of getting overwhelmed trying to put everything into action, focus on what food, actions, and thoughts will benefit you.  Choose ones that are within your comfort zone.  When those are a part of you, choose better ones.  And so on.  You wouldn’t consider climbing Mt. Everest on the first try.  You’d have to plan, prepare, and practice, while making a bunch of mistakes along the way.  Don’t think of the finish line right now.  Just the next step forward. 

In choosing better food, behaviors, and thoughts on a consistent basis, you’ll make your health and wellness resolutions a way of life.  Enjoy the journey to whole body nourishment!

Spring Clean Your Body! How to Detox the Easy Way

I’m going to start off with a disclaimer to this post’s title:  This detox plan isn’t as easy as lounging on the sofa.  Sorry.  That being said, it IS a heck of a lot easier–and more sane–than subjecting yourself to juice-only cleanses, fasts, and extremely restrictive plans.  This cleanse is easy because you’re eating real food. The trick is eliminating all toxins from your diet and your life.  I recommend following the cleanse for at least a week…I’m committing to two weeks, starting tomorrow!  So here are the basics of the cleanse, which Donna Sonkin (you should know her by now!) shared with me last year.

Why cleanse?

(View my article Why You Should Detoxify Your Body for more detailed information)

  • To rid our bodies of toxins we ingest each and every day.  Lots of them have taken up residence in our fat cells and it’s hard for our bodies to eliminate them without help
  • To evaluate our lives and get rid of all toxic activities and people
  • To get our bodies jiving with nature.  It’s a big transition from winter to spring, both in the weather and in our bodies

What to avoid

  • Sugar in any processed form–especially high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and artificial sweeteners
  • Juice and soda–juice has too much sugar and soda either has HFCS or artificial sweeteners
  • Wheat and processed grains (bread, pasta, couscous)
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Corn
  • High sugar fruits–tropical and dried fruit
  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Crappy fats and oils–canola, vegetable, and sunflower oil for example, and any trans or processed fats

So what CAN I eat?

The list above may seem long, but there are SO many things you can eat!  With some planning and effort, you can make endless nutritious and tasty combinations with these foods.  Make sure you are eating organic food (for at least a week if you can).  The cleanse will work exponentially better if you aren’t adding any more pesticides and chemicals into your body!

  • Any greens!  Eat plenty of kale, collard greens, swiss chard, spinach, bok choy , dandelion greens, watercress, baby greens, sprouts
  • Veggies!  And lots of them!
  • Fresh, local, seasonal fruit
  • Frozen berries
  • Sweet potatoes–can make sweet potato fries (look under “Craving Chewy?” for the recipe)
  • Whole grains–such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, oats (soak them first for better digestibility and nutrition!)
  • Fresh herbs
  • Lemons and limes–squeeze them til your heart’s content into your water
  • Sea vegetables–great source of minerals
  • Fermented, belly-loving products such as miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi
  • Quality oils–olive, coconut, toasted sesame, and grass-fed butter (for cooking).  Macadamia, flaxseed, almond, and walnut oil as finishing oils (ie, salad dressing)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans (soak them first!)
  • Light protein–wild salmon and small, white, flakey wild fish such as sardines, herring, and mackerel
  • Organic chicken and vegetable broths (sea salt only!)
  • Natural sweeteners (small quantities)
  • Herbal teas (no caffeine)–check out licorice, dandelion, and burdock root teas, which are very cleansing.
  • Green juices–either make your own or get them from a juice bar that uses organic vegetables.  You can add some beets, carrots, and/or apple for sweetness.  Ginger and lemon add a little zing.  Juices are best consumed on an empty stomach, so it’s good idea for breakfast!

Other things to note

  • Um, do I need to mention water?  You should be sipping that good stuff all day long!  A good rule of thumb is to consume half your weight in ounces of water.
  • Use only natural/organic products on your body and in your house if possible.  Our skin is our largest organ, treat it well!
  • Be completely present and aware when eating.  Do not watch TV or read.  Chew slowly and thoroughly as this is the first and most important step in digestion and nutrition assimilation.  A good phrase to remember is “drink what you eat and eat what you drink.”  If you keep that in mind, you can’t do it wrong!
  • Eliminate toxic and non-beneficial activities, people, and thoughts.  Try to stay away from the news (not much positive stuff there!) and people who adversely affect your energy and mood.
  • Get exercise!  Not only is it good for releasing those feel-good endorphins, but sweating is your body’s way of kicking toxins to the curb!

Throughout the weeks ahead, I’ll post on topics such as recipes I’m using, lessons I’m learning, and any challenges I’m facing as a result of the cleanse.  Feel free to do this whole body and mind cleanse along with me.  Or if you’re the cautious type and would rather see what happens to me first–and learn from all my mistakes–so be it.  Please post any questions, experiences, or other comments in the comments section below any of the posts.  Are you ready to get fit and get gorgeous (or handsome)?  I sure am!  Here’s to our health!


Ditch the Dieting…Eat For Life!

For almost all of my adult life, I’ve been on one diet or another.  From Atkins to Alkaline, No-Fat Food to No Food, I’ve pretty much done them all…along with some crazy creations I came up with myself.  The two dominating emotions I feel during dieting are misery (if I am “good”) and guilt (if I am “bad”).

Right now, I’m lean and happy and give in to my cravings.  So what diet am I on?  None.  I don’t do diets anymore and I never will.  I don’t think diets work in the long-term.  They have a long list of things we can’t eat, and we–as is human nature–tend to focus on what we don’t or can’t have.  The diet may go well for a while and the results get us excited.  But then there’s that dark side to will-power involving the foods we love.  There comes that time when we let down our guard or even say “to hell with this, I deserve it!” and we give in to the forbidden fruit…or rather, glazed donuts, Häagen-Dazs ice cream, sour cream and onion potato chips, cheesy fries, whatever favorite comfort food gets us salivating.

If we didn’t see those forbidden foods as “bad,” we might not feel the unrelenting gravitational pull to them.  We might only have had a little bit because “no big deal, I can always have more another day.”  But because these foods are a “no-no,” we tell ourselves “it’s just this once” and swear to “be good tomorrow.”  So we end up eating the whole thing…perhaps even additional “naughty” food until we feel sick to our stomachs and disgusted with ourselves.  A couple of these binges in a short period of time and we end up right back where we started on the scale.  Or worse.

It’s not the diets, per se, that are the problem.  It’s what goes on between our ears that messes everything up.  The incessant chatter, negative messages, and empty promises we tell ourselves beat us up psychologically.  Most people who follow diets have the mentality that food is evil, fats should be avoided, and deprivation equals weight loss.  These thoughts are draining, self-sabotaging, untrue, and set us up for a lifetime of food misery!  Here’s the thing about the four-letter word FOOD:  It’s not like other addictions or vices…we can’t eliminate it altogether.  We need food to live, so the only way to get recovery is to change our way of thinking about it and rebuild our relationship.

© 2010 Kristin Conroy

Food is a very important aspect of life because it gives us the energy to live and thrive, but it should not be the obsessive focus of life.  Food should enhance life’s experiences, not be looked upon as the devil in yummy clothing.  It’s essential to find a way of eating we can live with…not just for a week, a month, or half a year, but for a lifetime.

Since we are all unique and our bodies have different needs, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.  Trusting ourselves to find the right foods can be terrifying since most are accustomed to following what someone else has deemed the “correct” eating plan.  However, learning and experimenting and discovering foods on which you thrive is a very liberating and empowering experience.

Judging foods as “bad” or “good” is unproductive; the better perspective is knowing one food will nourish us more than another because of it’s ingredients, nutrients, and how it was grown or made.  When we eat well 80% of the time, choosing less nutritious food is OK.  It doesn’t signify failure.  We have to live our lives and sometimes that not-so-nourishing food is the only thing to satisfy us or is the only option available.  And that’s no big deal because we get right back to eating the way that supports our bodies and minds.

I encourage us to stop playing the role of life-time prisoners in the confines of a diet, and instead, become free citizens enjoying food as a part of life and reaping its rewards.  Doesn’t that sound like a great way to live?