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Archive for November, 2011

Crazy Comfrey

When planning a herb garden it is important to consider many things – space available, what each plant needs for care and room they need to grow, sun/shade needed and available for each plant, scent and texture and the use for each plant. One plant you should consider, but understand, is Comfrey.

Comfrey is an amazing healing herb. Also known as “knitbone”, it has been used for centuries to heal the skin and mend bones! Mend bones. It’s true. Research has proven that ancient healers knew what they were doing with comfrey. It has been confirmed that comfrey can speed up the healing process by natural replacement of body cells.

There are a few ways to use comfrey to treat a variety of ailments such as acne, bruises, burns, cold sores, swelling, pain and itching and yes, broken bones.

Comfrey Paste

Grind 2 T comfrey with a mortar and pestle. Boil with a few tablespoons of water to form a paste. Apply to a cotton cloth and place over a bruise or fracture. Secure it with an elastic or pins and allow it sit.

You can also slice open the stems and scrape out the sticky paste from inside, mix it with aloe and place it on the wound.

Comfrey Compress

1/4 c dried leaves (1/8 c fresh)
2 c boiling water

Cover the leaves with water and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Soak a cloth in the mixture,  lightly wring out and apply to the affected area. Repeat.

Use this for bumps, bruises, bites, acne, cold sores and pain. This can also be used as a hair rinse. Simply pour over your hair and leave it. Freeze into cubes as cold compresses for swelling and varicose veins.

You should not use comfrey on broken skin. You can however, use this on the surrounding skin. It will assist healing even though it is not directly over the affected area.

Comfrey Herbal Bath

2 T Comfrey
2 T Lavender
2 T Jasmine
2 T Green Tea
2 C Epsom Salt

Mix ingredients in large bowl. Place in muslin bag and hang under faucet of bath.

This can be used to heal sore, tired muscles, irritated skin, varicose veins and help you relax. Feel free to add herbs and oils to your liking that promote relaxation such as verbena, chamomile or lemon balm.

Comfrey can also be added to soaps and salves if you enjoy making your own. Or ask your herbalist or soap maker to make some for you.

One popular recipe for comfrey is Comfrey Tea…. but don’t let the name fool you. This “tea” is not meant for you. It’s meant for your plants. Comfrey contains a ton of nutrients. When the leaves of this plant are submerged in water and left to steep for a few weeks you end up with a gloriously stinky plant food. Boy, does it smell bad. But have no fear. This substance will become your organic gardens most appreciated asset. Simply take a bunch of fresh or dried leaves, place them in a bucket, cover with a stone or something large enough to hold the majority of them down and cover with water. Now wait. After a few weeks it will start to stink. You are ready to add this to your watering can, diluted with fresh water.

Although comfrey has been used in dishes for centuries as well, and contains many nutrients, it is not recommended that it be used internally. It is believed that comfrey is carcinogenic causing damage to the liver.

Something else you should know about comfrey….
It is as insistent and aggressive in the garden as it is healing your skin. So although a great herb to add to your gardens, generally not planted in the kitchen garden. For it will leave you with simply a garden full of comfrey. So plant it as a border or in a place you wish to fill with other aggressive plants like bee balm and lilies. Comfrey can be rough on the soil so fertilizing with manure, especially when growing other herbs and flowers in the garden, is recommended. When harvesting,  try for just before the first flowering for the most potent leaf. But have no fear, it is fast growing and can be harvested many times throughout the year. Give it room to grow and you will enjoy comfrey all year long.

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Green Your Home

Our lives are full of nasty toxins. Lots. Harmful, good bacteria killing, acne creating, nervous system destroying, cancer causing, chemicals. That we don’t need!

We have been taught, brainwashed, into thinking we need to scrub and soak every inch of our lives with bleach and ammonia and any other substance some marketing firm is slated to push to make a buck… or a few million… on. So naturally, when told you can take care of that with a few simple items that you can find in your kitchen most look at me like I’ve just taken out my teeth. But it’s true. Throw out those nasty toxins and go to the pantry. You can clean your entire house, clean, with just a couple of things found there.

  • White Vinegar
  • Baking Soda

A few that you might have never used (but hopefully you have – and if not, start now)

  • Borax
  • Super Washing Soda
  • Castile Soap

And a few others for disinfecting…. and some aromatherapy and healing effects too –

  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Lavender Oil

The essential oils of lavender and tee trea have antibacterial properties. As do others like eucalyptus, clove, lemon, rosemary and pine. That means that when you add these to your cleansers you are creating something sufficient enough to leave your home “clean” and safe. And best of all, you can create your own scents with the essential oil, or blend, you prefer.

That’s it. 7 items. Seven. And you can clean everything from your dishes to your clothes to your toilet and that icky soap scum on the bottom of the shower too! And you won’t have to spend all day scrubbing away either.

With these few recipes you can have a healthy, GREEN home! And even better…. you can save money. These items and the little time it takes to make them are much cheaper than all those bottles of harmfulness. You will be reducing your carbon footprint not only by using less toxins, but also by recycling the containers to make and use them in and in the processing and transportation of each… or lack there of.

Dish Soap

1 1/2 c Pure Water
1/2 c Castile Liquid Soap
1 T White Vinegar
1 T Super Washing Soda
1/8 t Lavender or Tea Tree Oil

Whisk these ingredients together and put them into a recycled soap bottle or a glass jar with liquor pour on top.

Laundry Detergent

1 1/2 c  Castile Liquid Soap (or 1 bar of grated castile soap)
1 1/2 c Baking Soda
1 c Super Washing Soda
1 c Borax
2 gallons pure water
Your favorite essential oil blend for scent

If you are using bar soap you will need to heat it with one quart of water to melt. Medium heat, stirring continuously. Add baking soda, washing soda, borax and oils. Mix thoroughly. Put in a large container, like a 5 gallon bucket, and slowly add the water. You want a thick consistency.  It will need to sit for 12-24 hours to thicken properly. You may need a bit more water if it’s too thick.

Use 1/2 cup per wash load

All Purpose Cleaner

4 c Water
2 1/2 t Borax
5 T White Vinegar
2 t Castile Liquid Soap
1/4 t Essential Oil – lavender, tea tree, pine or any antibacterial blend you prefer

Mix everything into a spray bottle. This will clean and disinfect everything. It will streak glass, however.

Few… Was that enough for you? I could have put these into different blogs and kept you waiting, but if you are going to do it, go big. I do have bathroom cleaners coming up, but I think that is enough for today. So stay tuned. Happy cleaning!

Live Well! …and green
~S

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A Mornings Ramble

I’ve noticed lately how technical and stuffy this blog has become. It follows my patterns really. This recent pattern involves my nose buried so far in Diana Gabaldon’s The Fiery Cross – Book 5 of the Outlander Series – that little time is left for anything more than writing workouts, creating a few new recipes (coming soon) and feebly attempting to keep my house in order.

Oh, I did redecorate our bedroom this past weekend. I am so very in love with it. Much too much time has been spent snuggled in mountains of new cotton and pillows and admiring my work. ….with my book. So much so, that my gardens have yet to be properly prepared for winter, the dogs are going stir crazy and my husband is becoming increasingly anxious at the lack of attention paid his way. I fear he will make the next two books eagerly waiting on the shelf vanish if I do not step from the haze at least for a time. He is a very patient man when it comes to me (usually only when it comes to me) but I do believe I am pressing to far. I have virtually missed one of my favorite seasons due to these damn books. But, oh, I do love them so.

   

I have found time to boost my workouts into high gear, nevertheless. Hence the emphasis portrayed in my writing. However, I’ve pushed myself so hard and so fast that I have developed a bit of strain in my left forearm and inner elbow. I knew it the moment I set the 40 pound dumbbells down Wednesday. Of course, in true Stephanie fashion I waved it off with the usual sense of invincibility, but yesterday there was no ignoring it further. So instead, after a very light weight training session, I grabbed… you guessed it – The Fiery Cross – and headed for the recumbent bike and proceeded to pedal away for an hour. Ah, Diana. You are fastly becoming my hero. To only be able to write so well.

The good news, I will surely need to lighten my training schedule for a few days. That leaves room for some creativity!! I also have a large order of products for the holidays. Lemon Scrub, Magick Balm, Lavender Milk, Honey Kiss Lip Balm, teas and tonics. I shall be busy in the apothecary! If only I can overcome the incessant draw of Jaime Fraser and Miss Claire. Instead I try to focus my mind on the pile of drying herbs, beeswax and vats of honey before me. And labels. Damn labels. Who knew the hardest part of creating a line of glorious, all natural, hand-made products would be committing to labels. I have lapsed in providing said products to very willing and anxious recipients over LABELS! Blasphemy. I have been making these products…. and delivering them for years with either none or crude hand written excuses for such. Simply because none have given me that “This is it” feeling thus far. Nonsense I tell you. To all of you whom have yet to receive your promised bottles and vials, you are many, my deepest and most sincere apologies. I will put down the book, put aside my quest for flawlessness and make the damn labels! And the products. Jaime, Claire, I will miss you.

Oh, and I’ll go to a rock show! And perhaps do a bit of foraging and hiking. Where can I find enough hunter orange to cover my entire being and maybe a bullet proof vest? I have to admit, trust I do not, especially when it comes to large numbers of men with guns wandering my wood. Surely many are properly trained and not blinding anxious to prove their manhood with a dead carcass. Many are not. They are whom I truly fear.

For now I leave you with ambition,  excitement and a quest for a break. We all need a break now and then. Be it from work, training, or even a very good book. So I will step back into my own life for a time, minus the killer workouts, and be Stephanie until I can be from Fraser’s Ridge no more. Wish me luck.

…and perhaps working on better photos too. Maybe pulling out an actual camera? Or spending the few moments it takes to adjust the settings? The cement gray and glorious green are hardly given their just glory here. Truly. They are rather amazing in reality.

Live Well!
~S

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Tabata

Have 4 extra minutes?

Try Tabata training!
The Tabata training method is essentially HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training on steroids. HIIT is generally high intensity exercise followed by lower intensity exercise and repeated for 6 to 10 cycles. With Tabata you are doing intervals of 20 seconds of maximum effort exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes.

Sounds like nothing, right? Wrong. Those 10 seconds will feel like 1 second in no time. And if done right, you will be picking yourself up off the floor.

You can choose one exercise and repeat it 8 times or choose more than one exercise. I would recommend 2 exercises. This gives you the ability to get a more full body workout in a short time, while still being able to exhaust those muscle groups by performing enough repetitions. You could choose to do more than one Tabata cycle. If you are really looking to tax one body part, however, stick with one exercise and push hard! They can also be done on a treadmill, elliptical or while running sprints outside.

The Tabata training method was created in Tokyo, Japan by Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports. Dr. Tabata and his team discovered that this form of training, used by the Japanese Speedskating team, produced superior results over other forms of aerobic training. The results of this study were astounding –

  • Subjects built as much muscular endurance as 45 minutes of regular cardiovascular training
  • Subjects increased their anaerobic capacity by over a quarter
  • Subjects saw a substantial increase in their aerobic fitness

“Their groundbreaking 1996 study, published in the journal Medicine and Science  in Sports & Exercise, provided documented evidence concerning the dramatic  physiological benefits of high-intensity intermittent training. After just 6  weeks of testing, Dr. Tabata noted a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity in his  subjects, along with a 14% increase in their ability to consume oxygen (V02Max). These results were witnessed in already physically fit athletes. The conclusion  was that just four minutes of Tabata interval training could do more to boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity than an hour of endurance exercise.”

Adding Tabata to your regular workouts can offer incredible results. Tax your system in less time, boost your metabolism, decrease the time needed for your workouts and get in insane shape!

Here is how it looks –
20 seconds – Clean and press (Sandbag)
10 seconds – Rest
20 seconds – Alternating jackknife
10 seconds – Rest
20 seconds – Clean and press
10 seconds – Rest
20 seconds – Alternating jackknife
10 seconds – Rest
20 seconds – Clean and press
10 seconds – Rest
20 seconds – Alternating jackknife
10 seconds – Rest
20 seconds – Clean and press
10 seconds – Rest
20 seconds – Alternating jackknife
10 seconds – Rest

Now is doesn’t look quite as easy does it?

You can choose a variety of exercises for this. With or without weight. I recommend using a timer for intervals. You can buy a variety that clip on where you can set a your own intervals or, if you have a smart phone there are options like Gymboss for free – and they even have Tabatas already set up for you.

I really like jump squats for Tabatas! I mix them with push ups or knee ups for a killer full body burn after weight training. Mix some Tabatas into your training and watch the difference!! Be sure to get a good warm up – 5 minutes minimum – and a proper cool down.

Live Well!
~S

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It all started when I was 12. This searing pain in my head. Nausea. Dizziness. There I was, completely unsuspecting. When all of sudden I can’t see! Well, I can, but only sort of. It was like looking at the sun or walking around with my eyes crossed tight. I could make things out, but in this weird, only bits and pieces sort of way.  And then the pain hit. I had no idea what the hell had just happened to me.

Well, little did I know this would be the start of a very long road. Very long. Very painful. Very annoying road.

Those damn migraines have haunted me regularly since. Oh, it started slow enough. Once every few months or so. But by the time I was in my early twenties it was nearly once a month. I’m not going to pretend I was ALWAYS in tune to my body. Nor was I always striving for perfect health. So really, it took quite some time to put two and two together.

Ok, ok. I am only just now really putting two and two together. I have had my moments of realization over the years, but it’s a funny thing really. When you are 5 days deep in a migraine you tend to think of little else than the suffering. And once they are over, you tend to push them as far from your thoughts as possible.

This last one though left me rocked… and fighting. Determined to figure this out. I have a very high tolerance to pain. Like natural child-birth without as much as a whimper tolerance for pain. Seriously. I have been thoughing these things out for more than half my life. Throwing up in the bathroom and returning straight to work. But after 6 days, having to leave a much-anticipated reunion (16 years we hadn’t seen these friends), finding myself snapping at my daughter and realizing just how much they also affect my family, I have had enough. I could put up with the pain and even the embarrassing moments of mixing up my words and bursts of confusion. But I can’t allow this to effect the people I love.

So, I have spent a lot of time with this over the past few days. A lot. Books, websites, blogs… you name it. I even went to the doctor. What a disappointment that was. Guess what I got? A prescription…. for some drug she wants me to take…. everyday. Everyday. Are you serious? This goes against everything I stand for. Everything I write…. and preach. But, I’m not a doctor. I’m just some crunchy trainer working on a career as a Herbalist. So, reluctantly, and at the insistence of those who love me, I tried the damn drugs. Yuck. I felt drugged! I felt groggy and gross. It felt wrong. And I felt I was only masking a problem.

The more time I spend with this though, the more I begin to see!

It’s not something I like to talk about, but let’s face it, I’m female… and with that comes cycles. And hormones. And here, is where I’m becoming sure my trouble lies. It all started at 12. Yup, just about the time all that other business started too. Lightbulb. And guess what… many of my migraines have been within a week of said cycle. At least these crazy long ones anyway.

I do get them after a very stressful time. Or a slightly stressful time. Usually a few days later. When everything is back to normal. Just about the time I’m a few days into feeling good about whatever it was that riled me. Gee. Thanks. I needed that.

But these that last for days or reoccur a few times within a matter of days, I’m pretty sure those ones are hormones. Pretty sure.

After scouring all the information I could gather I have found that upping  your daily intake of magnesium – 200 mg at night – and vitamin B2 – 300-400 mg in the morning – and adding evening primrose have shown serious results.  Feverfew –  100 mg a day – and butterbur -50 mg morning and night – have also proven beneficial. As have chiropractic care, acupuncture and message therapy (sweet).  And apparently aspirin, Tylenol and caffeine is equally as effective as Imitrex and far more cost-effective. So here we go. It sounds like a lot of supplements. Well, it is really. So I will try to get as much as I can in whole food, however, I already get a very good dose of the foods containing magnesium and B2. I think this is one of those “pick your battles” moments.

I also remembered this old recipe I have for Migraine Tea. It’s funny how easy it can be to forget such things. It includes calming things like chamomile, valerian and lemon balm, nourishing ingredients like nettles and oats. And guess what else is in there…. feverfew. So I am putting some together. I’m not sure if I will sip it a few times a week and up it to everyday just before I think things are due to go haywire or stick with just the latter. We shall see.

I am very interested is hearing anyone else’s story! I have narrowed some other things down as ineffective. Wine is not the culprit. Nor is cheese. Although I love them both and consume them as often as I deem acceptable, I have certainly suffered migraine hell while not having either in my diet within a considerable time frame.

Let me know what has worked for you. If anything. And if you just want to whine with me, feel free. Misery loves company. Right.

Stay tuned for Take 2. With, hopefully, some serious rejoicing.

Live Well!
~S

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Well, yes, sort of that Chia. But not quite.

You know what I’m talking about. That crazy head or various other animal and character shaped pottery that grows “hair” from seeds you plant yourself…. from when we were kids? No? This thing –

Well, with these seeds we are going to do more than just grow silly hair!

We are going to eat them!
Not the ones from the package though please. We want food grade seeds.

Let me tell you why –

Chia seeds have incredible health benefits and unsurpassed nutrition! Yay.

      • 100% more Omega Fatty Acids than Salmon
      • 41% of your daily fiber – that’s more than flax seed
      • 64 % more potassium than a banana
      • 32% of your daily magnesium – that’s more than broccoli
      • 6 times more calcium than milk
      • 6 times more iron than spinach
      • Double the antioxidants than blueberries
      • More niacin than corn, rice and soy
      • They contain over 27 key nutrients
      • Each seed is 16% complete vegetable protein

……ALL THIS IN 41 CALORIES per tablespoon!

Other benefit of this Super Food include –

    • Increased energy
    • Improved digestion
    • Better complextion
    • Helps tone muscles
    • Better sleep
    • Increased mental awareness
    • Contain cholesterol free proteins
    •  They are gluten free
    • They assist in good thyroid health
    • Contain 9 essential amino acids making their protein quality rank 115 out of 100
    • They supress hunger because of their ability to absorb large amounts of water and high fiber content
    • They do not need grinding to be properly absorbed
    • They do not spoil or rot like many seeds
    • They taste very mild and take on the flavor of whatever they are cooked with

Chia seeds are the perfect way to insure you are getting a proper amount of nutrients. And they are safe for men, women and children. They have been used for centuries across the globe and were a staple in the Aztec diet.

Chia can be used in a variety of ways – 

  • Made into a gel by placing 1 tablespoon in 1 cup of water or juice. This gel can then be used for cooking or consumed as is.
  • Eaten raw
  • Sprinkled dry on salads and cereals
  • Mixed with yogurt
  • Used to thicken soups
  • Added to smoothies
  • Ground to flour for baking
  • Soaked in eggs and used in frittata
  • Added to rice

You get the picture. Just remember that they will absorb large amounts of water and swell. A little goes a long way.

This is a perfect way to skip all those bottled supplements and get them from one whole food source!! Don’t you just love that? I sure do. I have recently added extra magnesium to my diet to help combat migraines. A bit more chia does the trick.

Live Well!
~S

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You’ve seen it time and again. Fad diets, health claims, new studies contradicting previous studies.

To agave or not to agave. Paleo, Mediterranean, Vegetarian. High cardio, low cardio. The fads and beliefs are endless.

Just this week a study was published claiming that women who drink 3 or more alcoholic beverages a week are at a higher risk for breast cancer. Yet, these same women are encouraged to drink a glass of red wine each day to help prevent heart disease. The latter being a more prevalent cause of death. And any form of alcohol, including red wine, to have said effects on breast cancer.

It seems every time we turn around what we thought was good for us, isn’t. What we thought we were doing right, we are told we are doing wrong. See, the trouble is, or the benefit, depending on how you look at it… time allows for more in-depth research.

Take artificial sweeteners for instance. I spoke of it before here, so won’t get in-depth, however, in the beginning scientists really did believe they were better for you than refined table sugar because they saw instant benefits. What they didn’t see were the long-term effects. How could they? They hadn’t had the time to witness them. Some claim agave to be a “fad” and warn you stay away, while others, believe it to be a better choice than refined sugar or anything artificial. But of course sugar is sugar. It is always best to limit it’s intake. If you are going to use sugar for some things, my personal belief is to go natural. I would personally opt for agave over Sweet and Low, but would use honey over agave. Then there is xylitol, a sugar alcohol sweetener found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables. It’s use is on the rise. Again, this is an altered substance – a refined sugar. A toxic substance has to be added and then removed to create it. Some claim it to be perfectly “natural” and healthy, but how can we be sure? There are said to be no ill side effects, well… except gastrointestinal effects like cramping, bloating, flatulence and diarrhea. But other independent studies have shown otherwise. Including it’s ability to kill a 100 gram rat with 1.65 grams of xylitol. See more here. Xylitol’s own promotional material says it is not safe for everyone to use.

Generally I write to the average person about realistic ways of viewing their health and fitness goals. Because that is who I work with. I am not speaking to athletes, body builders or fitness professionals. They follow a very different set of rules than the average person. What they are trying to accomplish is often not even something your average person cares too. And often their diet and training is far different prior to a competition than it would be at any other time of the year. These techniques are not used consistently. On average, someone just wants to feel as good as they can, look as good as they can and be as healthy as they can. But that doesn’t necessarily include a great amount of difficulty in weighing and measuring food, cycling carbs or even a hope for ripped abs. Those body builders might not all believe it, but not everyone thinks that physique looks good!

What one person hopes to achieve is very different from the next. Some prefer a runners long lean body. Others, like myself prefer quite a bit more bulk and muscle. While others want curves and something much softer. The world of training, nutrition and fitness is vast!

First you have to decide what your goals are and just how much effort you are willing to put in. Then, take it slow! Jumping in head first can cause more trouble than you might expect. If you take someone who has never been in a gym, eats poorly and has had very little ambition to do things differently and try to throw them into measuring food, eating a completely different diet and going to the gym 4/5 days a week you can end up with digestive troubles, pain and injury, and frustration that can lead to giving up entirely.

Eating a “clean” diet is the very first place to begin. But what is clean? There are so many options or ideas. A couple actually have valid claims. These are a few –

  • Paleo – eat fat to lose fat, eat foods that were available to us through our evolution. Including animal products and a focus on fresh, organic vegetables. Excluding grains, sugar, oils, legumes and dairy.
  • Mediterranean – based on fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, oils, whole grains and wine. Limiting unhealthy fats and sugar.
  • Vegan/Vegetarian – Based on whole organic vegetables, fruits and grains. Excluding meats and fish.
  • GAPS – heal the gut, repopulate beneficial bacteria and rid the body of toxins through food. Includes meats, fish, vegetables and fermented foods. Excludes refined or processed foods and sugars, as well as dairy and grains with some reintroduction later.

What do all of these have in common? Fresh vegetables and fruits and other whole foods. And the limitation or exclusion of sugars and refined or processed foods. It’s actually pretty simple when you take a moment to think about it. Did what you are about to consume undergo any kind of processing? Were any chemicals or preservatives added? Is there anything on the label you can’t pronounce? Was it created in a science lab? And if so, don’t eat it!!

If you think of your “diet” in terms of fuel for your body you are on the right track. Food should be enjoyable, but first it should be fuel. If you use dirty fuel in your car it is going to spit and sputter and probably stop working. If you use dirty oil, it will gum up and begin to break down. The same thing happens to your body. Feed it well and it will treat you well.

Whether you choose animal products or not, grains or not, one thing remains the same – Vegetables and fruits should make up the majority of your daily food intake.

  • You should be eating a balanced “meal” every 3 hours that includes fruits and vegetables and a protein source.
  • You should be eating within the first hour of waking everyday.
  • You should be drinking lots of water!
  • You should be conscious of where your food comes from. How it was raised, grown, prepared and delivered.

And then there was exercise.
Cardio? Weight training? HIIT? Yoga? Pilates?

Again, you must take it slow. You can’t strap on your sneakers and expect to run a 10k. Not even a 5k. And if you do, beware. You could very well end up flat on your back with an injury. Baby steps my friend. Baby steps. As a matter of fact, running isn’t actually the healthiest form of exercise! It can be very taxing to the body and is often not recommended. Jumping into any form of exercise can be harmful, however. Not to mention the risk of heading for the hills and giving up entirely because you hate it. Which is probably because you tried to go too far, too fast and feel like an utter failure. And it hurt because you tried to perform something without being in the proper shape to do so. This can have serious ill effect on the psyche… and lets face it, our psyche dictates.

You need to find a form of exercise that is enjoyable. Oh, come on. There must be something. Perhaps less painful then? If you start by trying to do something you are terrible at and loathe, your likely hood of failure is enormous. Start by picking something that, although it might seem less productive,  is challenging yet fairly easily attainable for you and get good at it. Then progress to the bigger stuff. You can’t rush off to the gym, take hold of the 60 pound dumb bells and start repping out. It isn’t realistic.

You don’t have to go to the gym to get in better shape. I prefer some gym time of course. Weight training is the leading form of exercise for all body types and conditions with the highest and fastest results. But if you place it somewhere close to root canal or death, find something else. Perhaps joining a basketball or softball league. Playing tennis with a friend or taking your dog hiking. I have a group of clients who have an exercise matt and some free weights and me visiting them at home multiple times a week. All of which have seen tremendous benefit to their strength, endurance, physique and overall well-being.

My philosophy is find a proper balance for YOU. Stick with clean, organic – where you can, whole, natural foods. Find a form of exercise that works for you and challenge yourself to be a better you everyday. Never stop trying to do better. Never stop learning what makes you happier and healthier. Give up the idea of dieting and learn to eat for life. Think of exercise as a tune up. Part of your regular routine like cleaning the house, paying the bills and going to work. All of which might not be your favorite activity, but ultimately result in you living a better life.  When you stumble, don’t wait until tomorrow or next week to pick yourself back up. Start now. And get proper rest! The body heals and grows while sleeping.

If you base your well-being around a large variety of clean foods and regular exercise the rest, the studies and fads, will matter far less. And your emotional well-being will benefit from less worry and frustration. Our emotional, psychological well-being is as important as our physical to our over all good health. Stop worrying because you know your clean diet and consistent exercise are keeping you on the right track. There are times, for some, where things like measuring food and cycling carbs are going to be used, even needed. If a person, after learning what a clean diet looks and feels like, is eating often enough and is still having trouble with portion control, then measuring out portions is necessary. Often though, starting with measuring everything is just too much. They are already doing so many things differently that this can result in frustration and confusion.

Lastly, I would like to speak of herbs and supplements. I love herbs. I grow a variety and use them for every ailment my family can muster. I make balms and salves, tinctures and lotions. But if this is all too much for you, if you don’t know rosemary from parsley, bergamot from basil, don’t worry. Although I truly believe them to be the best source of healing and that everyone should get to know them well, getting to know a few, or even just adding some to cooking will help. You probably already are getting some and didn’t even know how much you were helping yourself and your family by sprinkling them on your food. The best way to learn about herbs is to pick one you like and learn it’s benefits. When you feel you know it well move to another. Really though, you mustn’t need know that rosemary is good for memory or sage treats asthma to benefit. Simply start using as many herbs as you can and often. They will sort themselves out and continue to add benefit. If you have an aliment consider herbs before running to the pharmacy. There are many knowledgeable people who can help.

As for supplements, I prefer to get them in natural form over those packaged in pill or bottle. Some fitness plans and professionals will recommend taking a digestive enzyme supplement as well as others. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, they can be acquired through food. You needn’t run off to the health food store and stock up on pills to be well. Foods like pineapple, papaya and kiwi will do the trick most of the time single-handedly when looking for enzymes. Let’s face it, altering your lifestyle can be confusing, a considerable bit of work and an added expense. Using food for such things adds ease and nutrients as well. That is not to say that they are never necessary or beneficial, but start with food and go from there.

Recently Dr. Richard Besser, ABC news senior health and medical editor, spoke of his view on multivitamins here and here after a report from the University of Minnesota claimed some supplements could be linked to an increased risk of death. He does not take a multivitamin, nor does he suggest them to his patients. An article in the NY Times reported this month of studies showing vitamin E and selenium adding an increased risk of prostate cancer and that doses of vitamins are not helpful in fighting off disease. The best means of proper nutrition is still through a well-balanced, clean diet and the suggestion being to only take vitamins in pill form when they are necessary.

There are some things outside of your balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and proteins I do suggest as a must, however. Rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley, ginger, nutmeg, tumeric, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic, honey and green tea. I suggest these for their health benefits as well as their ability to flavor food and make it more enjoyable. And then there are some that I would like to see you using. Cranberry, Echinacea, elderberry, astragalus, shittake, lavender and mint. They are all very easy to find and very easy to incorporate. They also will do wonders to keep you healthy!

Phew. Gasp. Did you get all that? I’ve come up for air. It really isn’t anything you can’t handle. I promise. Chances are you knew all of this anyway. Maybe you just needed a reminder?

Don’t let all the news segments and articles and fads discourage you. The reports and statistics will continue to change. Stick with the basics. The tried and true to live your best life! And follow along as best you can.

Live Well!
~S

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