beautycounter

Vitamin D: Why you need it and how to get it + Hawaiian travel recommendations.

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Until recently, I haven’t seen an OB, or any doctor for that matter, beside my acupuncturist. In fact, I believe that last time I’ve seen an OB was shortly after my youngest was born. She’s now 5 and a half!

I don’t know for certain, but I feel I may be in the in the majority with the lack of maintaining my routine exams. Truth be told, unless I’m dying, I still probably wouldn’t go.

Where do you fall in the spectrum?

At my recent visit, we ran all of the usual blood tests.


Sidenote: you should get these typical labs done to have a baseline knowledge of your health:

  1. Complete Blood Count (CBC)

  2. Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP)

  3. Lipids

If you want to take it a step further, and begin to address root issues, you should include these labs:

  1. GI MAP

  2. MRT (food sensitivity test)

  3. DUTCH Complete (sex hormones + adrenals)

  4. Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis

If you’re curious about these, please reach out for more info or talk to your physician (who may or may not agree - it’s more about politics than health!)


Back to my lab results - I didn’t expect any shocking news, even when she told me my vitamin D levels were scary low.

Most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D without knowing it, but there are some consequences if we don’t take actions to rectify the situation. The normal range of vitamin D for adults and children is recommended between levels of 25-80 ng/mL. That’s quite a range. Regardless, my levels were at 18. Well below adequate levels.

Despite living in California, I’m rarely outside soaking up the sunny rays. I’m sure you can relate with working a typical 9-5 job, with most of those hours sitting behind a screen (I won’t even get into the negative side effects of siting all day). With it being winter, I’m also not winning any sunshine points. That in addition to my office being in a not so nice area of San Francisco, as well as in a basement (it’s a pleasant basement, but a basement nonetheless), are further strikes against me in attaining the midday sun.

So why should we even care about vitamin D?

First of all, without enough vitamin D, calcium cannot be absorbed. Calcium is essential for signaling between brain cells, development of bone, and tooth formation. In essence, vitamin D helps to maintain bone density. We all have that grandma who is hunched over because her bones are becoming more brittle. Don’t let that become you.

Studies also reveal that low vitamin D levels are associated with:

  • Increased loss of muscle strength and mass as we age

  • Increased risk of cancers

  • Lower levels of immunity

  • Higher blood pressure

  • The development of neurological disorders

  • The development of diabetes

Vitamin D levels can also be affected by age, body fat levels, time of year, and skin color/ethnicity.

Did you know that as we age, our ability to make vitamin D is reduced by a whopping 75%!

Did you also know that depending on where you live, your body’s natural ability to create vitamin D from the sun will fluctuate? For example, if you live north of Atlanta, GA, you will make zero vitamin D from the sunlight between November and March. If you live below Atlanta, GA, you’ll be all right. Crazy, right?

How do we get Vitamin D?

The best way to create vitamin D is via natural sunlight. In fact, vitamin D isn’t really a “true” vitamin, as we don’t need food to attain it.

If you need to supplement, I recommend a liquid D3. In fact, I’m taking this one now and really like it.

For more info, I highly recommend giving this article a glance, especially the last bit about how much vitamin D you can create through the sun based on where you live and the time of year.


This past week I was in Honolulu attending a SMPS (marketing) conference and found enough sun breaks to get sunburned. While I don’t advise getting sunburned, I do suggest getting out in the sun without sunscreen for a good 10 minutes before applying your favorite SPF (mine happens to be this one). This way you will absorb a good amount of Vitamin D, whereas applying sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher will decrease the amount of vitamin D made in the body by about 99%!

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Speaking of Hawaii, I wanted to also share our top 3 restaurants to hit up the next time you jetset to Honolulu. If you’re like me and typically travel to Maui, Waikiki was new and foreign. Since it’s been nearly 25 years from the last time I stepped foot on Oahu, my bearings were a wee bit rocky!

While we stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which provided enough restaurants and activities to never leave the site, we ventured nearby to get a flavor of Waikiki.

 

SCRATCH– a short distance from the hotel is Alo Moana and Ward Village, shopping centers that have everything you need. You don’t come to Hawaii to spend time at the mall, but to find some basic necessities and a meal, I would recommend these two. Based on yelp reviews and proximity, we hit up Scratch and had a great dinner. My mom and I shared a steak and eggs dinner, which was not only a fun play on the standard steak and eggs breakfast, but also plenty of food to share. Flavorful steak, lightly dressed arugula, brussel sprouts, crispy potatoes, and a fancy deviled egg. My girls got steak tacos which also looked amazing. At the rate they ate them, they were either starving or delicious – or both.

 

GOOFYS– I was a little skeptical by the name, but the yelp reviews offered only positive marks and since it was a 5-minute walk away, I was willing to try it. Hands down, this place was awesome. Local and organic ingredients, plenty of options for everyone and super friendly staff. After working up a good sweat in the gym prior to going, as well as being up since 4:30am with the little people who were still on California time, I was a little worried I wasn’t going to get enough to eat. I ordered an omelette and kale salad. It was perfectly divine, keeping me full until dinner.

 

HOUSE WITHOUT A KEY – For our last night in Hawaii, we decided to go fancy! Since I was determined to go somewhere to see the sunset in it’s pure Hawaiian splendor, in addition to jonesing for poke or sushi, we chose House Without a Key. We put on our finest and walked just under a mile along the beach to Halekulani, the gorgeous hotel where the restaurant is tucked away, facing west toward the sea. A live Hawaiian band welcomed us, as well as hula dancers silhouetted in the fading sunlight. Shortly after we were seated, the sun continuing is setting journey, peaked in it’s fiery glory behind the sailboat races and cruise ships neatly placed along the horizon. We soaked it in, watching Diamond Head grow darker in the night shadows behind us. Ambiance obviously is a huge factor, but the food also needs to live up to the hype. I ordered poke, sautéed asparagus, and a Halekulani Sunset (a guava pineapple mai tai – a girl likes to indulge ever so often). My poke was a hefty portion and just what this mama wanted. The asparagus was just as nice, lightly buttered and seasoned with garlic. My mai tai which I savored after my meal, felt more like dessert, capping the evening off on just the right note.

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Bonus/snack spots:

Lanikai Juice – the Kale Tonic was everything I needed in the morning without my usual Organifi Green Juice. The acai bowls also looked tasty.

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Leonard’s Bakery – Though not paleo, I hear the malasadas are the best around. My mom took the girls one day and they said they were the tastiest they’ve ever had. Then again, they never tasted my Grandma’s so the jury is still out.

 

What are your favorite restaurants in Honolulu?

I can’t wait to get back and explore without having to also attend a conference!

What trip makes the best Spring Break?


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From the desert to the ocean, we chased one sunny adventure after another on our Spring Break.

We began our trip in the wee hours at the Oakland airport, where we were welcomed with a short security line, and a pleasant gift of Peet’s Coffee from a fellow mother who obviously recognized my valiant effort of traveling alone with young kids! Coincidentally, she was traveling with her grown daughter to San Diego to look at colleges.

Sidenote: I feel like this day will be here sooner than I want! Please time, slow down!

Shortly thereafter, and eager to get the party started, we boarded at Southwest Gate 23, where the pilots gave my girls 15-seconds of fame by inviting them to “fly” the plane. Let’s be honest, sitting in the cockpit when you’re under 8 years old is like winning the lottery.

But let’s back up a hot second to the gear we were carrying aboard.

Once you become a parent you realize your life will never be the same. Not only will you always have a little sidekick, but you will also be the proud owner of a bazillion pieces of, sometimes unnecessary, paraphernalia.

Especially when it comes to traveling.

I like to keep it minimal, especially since it’s only me that will be doing the heavy lifting, but traveling with kids requires some strategy and superfluous goods. 

For Easter, the girls were gifted hatchimals, a cute bunny purse with a couple of dollars tucked inside, and a personalized Spring Break adventure journal. These items were not so neatly thrown into their backpacks (I’m realizing more and more how much it’s up to me to teach these children of mine to NEATLY put things where they belong!) along with the snacks they had picked out: epic bars, Thrive market jerky, Rx bars, larabars, olives, dried mango, cuties, and some foursigmatic elixirs (which were more for me!)

Snack attack - bags loaded and ready!

Snack attack - bags loaded and ready!

 

Charlie had a few books, and Sam had me for her entertainment. The iPad was charged and ready, if needed. However, I try not to rely on it and have them use their imagination before turning on screens.

Landing in Ontario, we grabbed our rental car (which wasn’t that simple, but I’ll save you from that debacle), downloaded The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett to listen to on audible, and off we went for the hour and a half drive to Joshua Tree.

Arriving hungry, we promptly bought some smoothies to cool down and fuel up for the rocky afternoon.

Stopping at The Natural Sisters Café, the girls decisively chose the Killer Bee smoothie (more for the fun name than the ingredients) and I, wanting some greens, picked the What the Kale smoothie. Both were delicious! Despite being surrounded by mile high, veggie packed plates of food other diners were enjoying, we drank our smoothies and selected somethng to munch on from the plethora of goodies out of our snack bag, such as the Manzanilla olives from Trader Joes.

I highly recommend this small pit stop to stock on snacks, or to sit down and enjoy the people watching.

Smoothies at The Natural Sisters Cafe

Smoothies at The Natural Sisters Cafe

The girls slurped and munched, while I wondered how the rest of the day was going to unfold. The older I get the more I try to practice the power of now - of being intentionally present - but sometimes that mama brain kicks in and various scenarios begin to unravel in my mind.

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect.

Our glamping trip to Yosemite last summer was simply bearable.

While I never regret getting out into nature, like most solo parenting, your limit of directing, disciplining, and sometimes simply talking, approaches sooner than typical.

Plan and simple, our trip to Yosemite needed two adults to make it work comfortably. We had glimpses of fun, but it was difficult with big emotions and four little legs that didn’t care to walk.

With this as my foundation to work with, I was a little nervous to venture out into the desert with creepy, crawly critters and only hard, dangerous surfaces to climb. This wasn’t your everyday Gymboree class folks!

But like most things, I nearly always opt to brave the adventure. One way or another we were going to have a good story to tell.

At the Joshua Tree visitor center on Park Boulevard, I introduced the girls to the animals and vegetation they were about to experience, grabbed our junior ranger guides, a few $1 bottles of water, and off we went.

Once we paid our $25 pass fee, all plans I had researched went out the window. After a morning of planes trains and automobiles, we jumped out at the first outcropping of rocks. I’ve never seen my girls so excited - they jumped out of the car, ran as fast as they could, and went for it.

Let’s be honest, no one needs instructions to boulder.

It’s only natural to start climbing and aim for the tippy top, as they did. Yet somehow I wasn’t prepared for that.

After all, they’re 4 and 6.

There’s two of them and one of me.

The rocks are not forgiving.

My joyous heart was so proud of them for enjoying themselves and being brave, but it was also in tension with the thought, “Oh shit, they could actually get really hurt up here!”

Thankfully their own defenses restrained them and they were cautious enough.

As beads of sweat culminated on our brow, we eagerly climbed, spotted many of lizards including a huge chuckwalla, pounded the water (note: bring more than you think you’ll need!), and pretended to be queens of the world when we were perched high, looking out above the surreal desert floor.

Sheer gratitude set in, and my heart was so happy! How long had it been since I had been on vacation with these two? Since we took time out of the everyday grind of work, school, laundry and go, go, go?

Simply too long.

It’s sad to say, but sometimes it takes vacations to recapture the wonder and beauty of your family!

Regardless, it was glorious.

Charlie Bear spotted this Chuckwalla for us!

Charlie Bear spotted this Chuckwalla for us!

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Getting back to the plan though. I had only allotted two days in Joshua Tree, so off we continued to Skull Rock, to work our way backwards to the entrance.

At this point though, a certain 4-year old was hitting her witching hour.

“Carry me”

“I need more water”

“It’s too hot”

“I have to pee.”

“I don’t want to do this.”

We tried to muster up enough excitement to explore Skull Rock: we crawled through caves, climbed to dead ends, and bumped this rock and that rock. But the hot afternoon sun wasn’t doing us any favors. We were running on fumes.

We returned to town to rest our weary heads for a millisecond before heading out for dinner. I found us a little Airbnb within 2 miles of the main strip of Joshua Tree that was just the right size for us. It didn’t have a kitchen but I figured we could go without for one night.

This meant a dinner date, and I had heard rave reviews for Pie for the People. At only 5:30, off we went.

First of all, I can’t remember the last time I had pizza, and second, who were we, eating a dinner so early?

Well, we weren’t the only ones. The line was already out the door when we arrived, which was a good sign.

And needless to say, their gluten free pizza rocked. As did the Greek salad, even though it didn’t have cucumbers! Next time I’ll order two pizzas and my own salad though. These girls can eat!

All attempts to convince the girls to watch the sunset in the park failed. C'mon, who was I going to tell if they stayed up past their bedtime? Yet as it usually does, the whining won and I succumbed and I took my party poopers home!

Thankfully National Park passes are good for 7 days, so we went back for a quick rendezvous the next morning, after a healthy and bountiful breakfast at Crossroads Café, another joint I highly recommend.

I’ve been known for tornado style road trips, and this was one of them. Our next destination: San Diego!

However, the three hour jaunt south only felt long the last hour in the car when I was ready to eat and move my legs. We owe it to our fine Taylor Swift sing-a-long for our mighty survival, albeit arriving hungry!

There’s no shortage of excellent eateries in San Diego, but we were hungry and as we edged closer to the San Diego city limits, everyone had different opinions as to what they wanted to eat. My mama superpowers hedged bets that Tender Greens would appease even the pickiest of eaters.

Off to La Jolla we went.

With full bellies we meandered around the mall and read some books at the amazon bookstore. Despite it being a bit overcast and most definitely cooler than Joshua Tree, my antsy legs and tired butt couldn’t keep myself or these girls in the car for much longer. We opted for a round of miniature golf.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, not realizing this would only be their second time playing. They HAD NO CLUE how to do it.

Remember what I said about having to teach your children EVERYTHING?

Not quite getting the hang of it!

Not quite getting the hang of it!

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Was this hilarious or absolutely the most painful hour of my life?

We may have lost two golf balls in the process, but we completed the course! Praise the Lord!

Seeing that we were staying with my stellar friend, Erin, whom I’ve known since 6th grade, we hit up Trader Joes for easy dinner fixings and a bottle of wine. While she may not appreciate her doorbell ringing when you come to town, her company, as well as her dog Captain, are top notch. If you opt for an Airbnb, with a kitchen, I recommend finding the closest Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods to cook up a good meal like you would at home.

For us, dinner on the patio, with wine in hand, included spaghetti squash with a tomato meat sauce (sautéed ground beef smothered in your preferred sugar-free tomato sauce), and a side salad with easy toppings like artichoke hearts, olives, tomatoes, and avocado.

Our hearts were happy, full, and tired!

The adventures didn’t stop there though! Isn’t Spring Break just the greatest!

Now Thursday, and more than pleased to take on the mothering role, I whipped up some scrambled eggs featuring some leftover tomato sauce, warmed up some water for coffee, and sent Erin on her way to work with a nice breakfast in her bag. Making sure Captain had done his business, we were on our way as well!

Gosh, I miss being a SAHM and making sure everyone is taken care of! But I digress…..

By now the girls were ready for their second breakfast and I wanted to see some architecture!

Did you know that I studied architecture, and my first job out of college was with Miller Hull? Yep!

Somehow I had forgotten about their work on Point Loma, so we went in that direction making a pit-stop at Liberty Public Market for snacks, which was sadly closed. Thankfully the beautiful Moniker is next door. We chose to grab a matcha (for me) and cinnamon almond milk steamers for the littles before continuing on, checking our adventures off of the list.

The Wharf at Point Loma. Check!

The San Diego Zoo - ALL DAY LONG! Check!

Monkeying around at the zoo!

Monkeying around at the zoo!

Sadly Friday was our last day there, and it came all too soon.

We said goodbye to Erin, and Captain, and meandered ever so slowly to Mission Beach to meet up with my cousins, who also happened to be vacationing in SD.  

For the next couple of hours we basked in the glorious sunshine, caught up on life, attempted boogie boarding, dug for sand dollars, and of course snacked. Our snack game was still going strong! But so was my sunburn. Why is that I remember to apply sunscreen to my children but forget about my exposed, paler skin. Where’s my mom when I need her?

With the polar opposite weather up north in the Bay Area, where it was complete downpour and storms, we were fortunate to stay a couple of extra hours due to a delayed flight.

Out of the goodness of their heart or my super negotiating skills, we managed to keep our rental car without paying more. We took advantage and took in the sights, sounds, and smells of Balboa Park. If I lived here I think I’d wander through the park every day, there’s just something about it!

Yet even with a delayed flight, the minutes quickly passed and like that, our trip was coming to an end. Back to reality, and the very wet Bay Area we went. Spring Break 2018 was over.

We not only survived the very few meltdowns and new environments, we made some very special memories that I hope my girls treasure and recreate with their families someday.

Until next time San Diego….


It's not obvious but click the name of the place, snack item, or book below to find out more information.

Joshua Tree restaurants:

The Natural Sisters Café

Pie for the People

Crossroads Café

Joshua Tree Coffee Company

 

San Diego family friendly, healthy restaurants...and a place to get healthy:

Tender Greens

True Food

UTC Dining Options

CrossFit Invictus (my favorite gym!)

 

Airbnb:

EchoLove Casita with Glenn

 

Essentials:

Snacks

epic bars and bites

larabars

RX bars

Thrive market jerky

Fruit

Veggies

Foursigmatic Elixirs

Water

 

Entertainment

Coloring paper and crayon or pencils

Ipad

books

Binoculars

Camera

Magnifying glass

 

Personal Items

Sunscreen

 

Books I brought but didn’t touch:

Miracles Now

How to win friends and influence people

The Circle Maker



 

BLACK FRIDAY - what's your game?

First and foremost, I think Black Friday is silly... and genius, as long as you’re smart about it.

After a day of thanksgiving, gratitude, family, friends, consumption of some of the best things, including delicious food, we completely do a 180 and spend copious amounts of money we don’t necessarily have to spend. Yes, there are some fantastic deals, but you don’t need to consume just because everyone else is doing it. But be true to you, that’s all I ask! If you plan on perusing some deals, I’ll hook you up below – and no need to leave your pj’s and house.

I’m not sure where you live, but it’s sunny and mild here. I’m planning to head out for a run around the Lafayette reservoir here shortly, after I drink my bone broth. My belly is not happy with me today, despite eating clean yesterday. Yep, I still got issues to sort through myself! How will you embrace the day? I hope it involves getting outside in nature, spending more time with people you love, and of course enjoying those leftovers. And perhaps some shopping!

So like I said, and rather contradictory of my first thoughts, if you are going to imbibe in the weekend spending events, here are my top recommendations. NOW is truly the time to try out those brands you’ve been eyeing! Not to mention support many of which are small businesses, including myself!

 

SKINCARE

Beautycounter

The Deals for Friday (stay tuned for deals throughout the weekend!):

How to: simply click any link in this post or HERE to shop!

Gift ideas:

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FATCO

The Deal for Friday: Enjoy 25% off of everything

How to: simply click HERE to shop!

Gift ideas:

  • Calming Body Butta (love using this lotion on my daughters after a bath)
  • Baby Butta (clean and unscented for the precious babes in your family )
  • Stank Stop (looking for a safe and effective deodorant, this is it!)
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FOOD

Kasandrinos Olive Oil

The Deal: 25%-off your order!

  • How to: Simply click HERE to shop and use code “bf25” at checkout. On SATURDAY, use code “sb25” and on MONDAY use code “cm25”

This is the best olive oil you can find and they're an awesome GREEK family, of course ; )

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EatingEvolved

The Deal: One free pouch of Strawberry Coconut Cups with purchase

How to: Simply click above and use my code: erinhtmt

 

Foursigmatic Mushroom Coffee and Elixirs

The Deal: 15%-50% off of the top products

How to: simply click here or one of the links below

Gift ideas:

 

Footwear

Plae

Not affiliated whatsoever but love these shoes for my girls!

The deal: Select styles 40-60% off

How to: click here.

 

Health

Health coaching with me!

The deal: 20% off my health coaching services

If you’re looking to confront some of your health issues – need to clean up your diet, address allergies, tackle a meal plan, try a 21-day sugar detox. I’ve got you covered!

How to: Email me at erinsholland@gmail.com or fill out the form on my website!

Wednesday Wisdom: Keep it Fresh


The moment we've all been waiting for is here. Windows are down, the swimsuits are ready, and the sunscreen has been applied. It’s SUMMER y’all! 

Yeah, yeah, it may have snowed last weekend in the Sierras but I'm fairly certain that was nature's last attempt to keep California drought free. We'll see if it worked. Ever since I was a kid I've been on drought watch so it's rather peculiar to say it's over!  

But summer, sun, and all things hot. With Farmer's Markets in full swing, ripe with summer's most delicious bounty of stone fruits, now is the time to make the freshest of fresh meals. I miss my friendly vendors at Pike Place Market and post-church, Sunday Ballard Farmer's Market in Seattle, but a close third is the Lake Merritt Farmer’s Market, in Oakland. My sweet find of english sweet peas induced a foray into buying all of the verdant veggies: baby kale, english peas, and asparagus. 

This salad is so easy, kid approved, and has a good kick of nutrients to boot. Give it a try today.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 cups baby kale
  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 1 cup English sweet peas, minus the pod
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 T olive oil, separated; or just enough to dress (not drown) your greens
  • 2-4 chicken breasts (or a rotisserie chicken)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Roast, grill, steam or sauté:
1 lb asparagus
1 cup English sweet peas, minus the pod

Grill or roast
2 chicken breasts, preferably marinated in lemon juice for 10 min.

I grilled the asparagus and peas by wrapping them in foil with a bit of olive oil and salt. I then put them on a hot grill for about 15 minutes. You could also roast them in the oven at 400 degrees for the same amount of time. I had a roast chicken, however, an easy way to make chicken is to let it sit in lemon juice, salt and pepper, a minimum of 5 minutes per side. Grill or roast.   

While you’re cooking the asparagus and peas, massage the kale with the lemon, s+p,  and olive oil. Once the veggies are done, toss together with the kale and chicken. Could be topped with shaved Parmesan and pine nuts or almonds.

Wednesday Wisdom - Practice Safe Skincare

Raise your hand if you workout....

Raise your hand if you try to eat cleaner, greener, and overall better....

Raise your hand if you know what's in your lipstick, cologne, and baby's tear-free organic shampoo....

This is the problem. We've been educated on how to read food labels while naively ignoring the products we put on our skin - the largest organ of our body that quickly absorbs, for better or worse, everything we put on it and put in our environment. 

I haven't been educated on product labels. I couldn't tell you what to look for other than to avoid parabens and phthalates. But why?

The beauty industry creating the multiple products we put on our skin is a self-regulating industry that does not need to disclose the ingredients they use, which is bad news for Americans. The European Union has banned 1,400 chemicals in personal beauty products known to be toxic, whereas the U.S. has banned 11. WTF? 

Beautycounter has created safer, higher effective personal products for the entire family and has vowed to NEVER use 1,500 chemicals in their products. With stringent testing and guidelines, Beautycounter is one way you can start controlling the toxins you are exposing your family to.

This March 4th Beautycounter turns 4! Now more than ever, we need to take a stand to protect our health and the health of our children and their children. We need to march forth and be a voice of change. Educate yourself about safer ingredients, purchase safer products, and reach out to Congress urging them to pass more health protective laws. By saying YES to safer beauty products, you are a part of the movement! Spend 10 seconds today to text "MarchForth" to 52886 to send a message to your represantatives. 

To learn more about their mission and their amazing products, check out my story here or see all of their products here.

 

Wednesday Wisdom - Celebrate February

Have your cake and eat it too. You won't have any excuse to stay on track and still eat well with this cookbook. 

Have your cake and eat it too.You won't have any excuse to stay on track and still eat well with this cookbook. 

Seriously, did January come and go in an instant for you, like it did for me? If this is any indication of how the year is going to unfold, then I better buckle up because it's going incredibly fast. 

Did you set goals in January? How did you do? What's next?

I did well with some of mine and failed some others, but all in all, I'm still making progress. And are so are my nutrition clients who completed their 21-day sugar detox. I'm so proud of them and what they've accomplished. Once you become educated on how to eat well, or how to find safer personal products, or even how to read (like my 5 year old), you can't unlearn it. You can choose to ignore the process or the reasoning, but somewhere tucked in there, the information has taken root. Trust the process, listen to your body, observe the results, and let the seed grow!

For February, I have goals for both my nutrition and Beautycounter business, as well as goals for my little family. You get to reap one of my goals of cooking through a different cookbook each month this year. For February, I'll be cooking mainly from Danielle Walker's latest cookbook, Celebrations. This beautiful book covers all of your paleo needs for mainstream celebrations throughout the year. Need a superbowl recipe? She has it. Need a Mother's Day brunch menu? She's got you covered. Need a Summer Shower (baby, bridal, etc) spread? You won't be disappointed. Stay tuned and keep your notepads handy. I promise you'll want to cook after you see her delectable dishes.

Now go chase your goals and dreams!

Wednesday Wisdom - Do you know what's in that?

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How many times have you heard that in order to begin your journey of health you should "read labels?"

Okay great, so you read labels. What are you looking for?  What are you avoiding?

When it comes to food, you want real ingredients, void of sugar and modified additives. In essence, you want to stock your fridge and cupboards with whole food that don't need an ingredients list. My grass-fed beef shouldn't have anything other than beef, my broccoli should be pure, 100% vegetable. Unfortunately it's not that simple. Breads, almond butter, tomato sauces, pickles, meat, even your beloved Kashi Go Lean, might be hiding sugar - in various forms, high fructose corn syrup, unpronounceable ingredients, pesticides, unhealthy oils, and therefore some unwanted "food" substances your body does not need nor want in order to thrive. 

Okay, so you've given up gluten and sugar, you shop the perimeter of the store, you're a food label reading ninja. What about your personal care products? Your shampoo, your toothpaste, your mascara, and deodorant? Do you know how to read those labels? Do you know that you're as susceptible to the chemicals in those products as you are to what you're ingesting? 

I love the Environmental Working Group (EWG) app to help me decipher labels, especially for personal beauty products. They take the guesswork out of the equation and allow me to make informed decisions. The EWG rates products from 0-10; ideally you're looking for products in a safe range, under 3. I also love Beautycounter for skincare and makeup due to their transparency, rigorous testing, and commitment to their NEVER LIST  - a list as comprehensive as the EU, which bans 1,400 toxic chemical from their cosmetics.

Beautycounter's NEVER List

Beautycounter's NEVER List

But if you want to be even more informed, what should you avoid? This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but take a look:

Formaldehyde

Propyl Paraben

Mercury

Bisphenol A (BPA) and Phthalates

Nitrates

Potassium Bromate

Pesticides

Lead

Perchlorate

Blue #1 and Blue #2

Yellow #5

Red #40

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)

rBGH and rBST

Aluminum

"Natural" Flavors

Educate yourself and start making more informed choices - for your health, for the environment, for your children and grandchildren. What can you do today?

For reference:

http://www.ewg.org/research/ewg-s-dirty-dozen-guide-food-additives

http://www.parents.com/health/injuries/safety/harmful-chemicals-to-avoid/

http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/Food/11-foods-banned-us/story?id=19457237#9