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My Top 5 super easy (and effective!) ways to start improving your health TODAY

You know, back when I worked in marketing for a huge financial services firm, when people found out what I did for a living they’d quickly change the subject to something far more interesting, like the weather. Now that I answer the ‘What do you do for a living’ question differently, with ‘I’m a Nutrition Therapist’, 50% of the time it’s met with wanting to pick my brain on how that person can be healthier without me actually knowing their individual situation. The other 50% of the time that answer is met with the individual barking ‘I ALREADY KNOW HOW TO EAT HEALTHY’ at me as if I’ve somehow judged or lectured them in merely stating that I’m a Nutrition Therapist. It’s quite entertaining actually because when I get the latter reaction it always reminds me of the random ‘I LOVE LAMP’ scene from Anchorman… but I digress.

So, for the 50% of you who already do know how to eat and be healthy and all the things, this blog post is not for you. You will not learn anything new so no need to comment and point that out to me (I already know, thanks!). I will, however, be writing a blog post in the future for your 50% titled ‘I already know how to eat healthy I just choose not to’. For the other 50% who are on the ‘can I pick your brain’ bus and actually care to hear my thoughts on quick and easy ways you can improve your health, then stick around and read my top 5 SUPER easy and effective ways to improve your health!

Water

Yeah, I know you’ve heard it before, but you’ve heard it before because it’s really effective and easy and cheap. There’s really no excuse for you to not be drinking water. It literally has 0 flavor, making the ‘I don’t like water’ argument really unacceptable.

Why is water so good for you? Here’s a list of reasons!

  • You’re made of 60% water, so you actually need it just to live. It’s more important than food even when it comes to living, so there’s that.
  • It flushes out toxins
  • It boosts skin health
  • It regulates body temperature
  • It helps maintain blood pressure
  • It lubricates joins
  • It boosts energy
  • It improves digestions (read: it helps you poop better)
  • It helps you better absorb nutrients from your food
  • It boosts exercise performance
  • It helps with weight loss

That’s just the tip of the iceberg (hey- those are made of water too!). At a minimum, one huge change you can make in your day is to start off every morning by drinking a glass of warm water with fresh squeezed lemon juice in it. It slowly wakes up your digestive system and literally gets your day moving. But really, if there’s any 1 simple thing that you can do right now, it’s to start drinking water. Aim to drink half your weight in ounces a day!

Meet my hydroflask. All my clients recognize her, she goes with me everywhere and even stays on my nightstand while I’m sleeping in case I wake up thirsty. I aim to drink at least 3 of these a day (it’s 32 oz).

Avoid foods with a shelf life longer than you! If you must have a processed food, choose ones with 7 or less ingredients. Bonus points if you can easily pronounce all of those ingredients too!

I think in this day and age most of us have heard how processed and refined foods are bad for us. We know they’re full of gluten, trans fats, sugar, chemicals, preservatives, and Lord knows what. Those ingredients are largely what cause inflammation and weight gain and unfortunately these are all regular components of American meals. Macaroni and cheese, cake/muffin/cookie/bread mixes, instant mashed potatoes, cereal, crackers, and pasta are all things commonly consumed on a daily basis.

So, if these are items that you eat regularly, I challenge you to find options that have 7 or less ingredients in them. If you can’t find an option that has 7 or less ingredients then I challenge you to making said item using whole foods, from scratch. Like the good ‘ol days.

Examples of foods with a long shelf life that really don’t have any nutritional value whatsoever.

 

Ditch the fake oils (canola, margarine, ‘butter spreads’) in place of real oils like avocado, coconut, extra virgin olive oil.

We’ve been taught to fear fats. We’ve been taught to eat ‘fats’ that are made up of less fat. The problem with that is that we’ve taken an otherwise healthy substance, removed the beneficial nutrients, and created something that does more harm than good in our bodies. Canola oil, margarine, and butter spreads are highly inflammatory- but gained popularity because it is cheap and is marketed as being heart healthy since it’s unsaturated and low in cholesterol. The problem with that is you’ve got a product (margarine contains plastic btw) that actually is incredibly unstable. It becomes rancid easily, and when ingested your body basically treats it as a trans fat. That in turn increases inflammation in the body, which can lead to higher cholesterol, chronic illness, and other diseases.

Real fats like avocado, extra virgin olive oil, coconut, ghee, and butter are an important part of a healthy diet! They provide a lot of essential fatty acids that are so beneficial for our overall health, in addition to providing a save way to cook our food. Pay attention to smoke temperatures of oils and how they relate to your cooking. For pan frying and sautéing, choose high heat oils like Avocado, Coconut, Ghee, and even Lard. For salad dressings and marinades, choose lower heat oils like olive and sesame oils.

You cannot go wrong eating real food, plain and simple.

These are the fats you’ll always find in my pantry! A wide variety for all types of uses. Real fats.

 

MOVE your body. Get that heart rate up!!!

We were made to move! We know that exercise is important, but movement of any kind is really beneficial to our overall health. Whether you like high or low impact, just find something that you enjoy and do it! As a society we are so sedentary- we sit at our desks, we sit in our cars, we sit on our couches and stare at a screen all night. And, the more you sit the more stiff you become, which actually leads to greater risk of injury because you’re not working the muscles that are designed to support your body. Here are the many benefits that movement can provide!

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Helps control blood sugar (read: helps improve hormone balance)
  • Helps control weight
  • Builds a strong, healthy heart
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Improves circulation
  • Improves digestion
  • Helps boost metabolism
  • Helps strengthen lungs
  • Helps the body detox

Ideally, you’d be moving 4-5 days a week for 45 minutes or so at a time. But if movement and exercise is new to you, just start small! Aim for 10 minutes a day. Go for a walk over your lunch break, take the stairs, park far across the parking lot from the store- every little bit counts and it’s never ever wasted.

My little boy, Pudge, and I out for a hike last fall.

 

Eat the RAINBOW

If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard me say this a time or two, to EAT THE RAINBOW. And I don’t mean Skittles. I’m literally talking about paying attention to the colors on your plate. Hopefully you’ll be choosing a wide variety of whole foods, and eating with the rainbow in mind is a simple and effective way to ensure you’re getting a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that serve your body.

Who doesn’t love a beautiful, colorful salad?!?

 

So, there you have it. My 5 easy tips on improving your health. Hopefully you find this informative and helpful, and remember, you don’t have to do all 5 at once! Take it one week at a time. Start with simply drinking water for a week, then add another item the following week. This is your journey, and you’ve gotta make these work for you so that they become a permanent part of your healthy lifestyle.

Your skincare products can only do so much…

I often get asked about how to get healthy skin, and not just because of the work that I do with Beautycounter. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how expensive or ‘good’ your skincare products are, if you aren’t eating well and maintaining good health, it’s going to show up in your skin. People have long known that certain foods can have an impact on acne (as a teenager, do you remember your mom saying to stop eating chocolate to avoid a zit?), or that other things like poor liver health can lead to yellow or dull skin.

That’s not to say that if you have acne, psoriasis, or other skin issues then you’re unhealthy. But, if you do have issues with your skin then it’s worth looking at the foods you’re eating and how they may impact your complexion.

Why is it important to nutritionally support your skin?

Our skin is our bodies’ largest organ and first line of defense when it comes to the outside world. When your skin is inflamed and irritated, it’s a sign that your first line of defense isn’t as strong as it can and should be. Cracks and other openings on the skins surface leaves you vulnerable to infections that can easily turn in to something larger and more severe in the body.

And also, people are vain. I believe that all people on some level, do care about the way they look. On that same note, people also totally suck at times and are completely judgmental, especially when it comes to our appearances. Having healthy skin can definitely help with confidence as you encounter this world full of judgmental trolls on a daily basis. ☺

The role that hormones play in skin health

Eating out of balance can cause hormonal issues that can result in acne, rashes, and discoloration and dullness. Especially if you’re seeing that your skin is oilier than usual resulting in breakouts, or if you’re experiencing acne breakouts along your jawline or around your mouth, that’s a sign that things are imbalanced hormonally and you need to evaluate what could be causing that. I’ve seen vegans who seemingly eat very healthy diets develop acne issues because of an over consumption of carbohydrates that stimulate an insulin response because they haven’t balanced the carbohydrates with enough protein or fat to keep that hormonal (insulin) response level.

The role that your gut plays in skin health

I’ve written about the importance of gut health before as it’s THE foundation for health in everyone, and the same is true for skin health. When your gut flora (bacteria) are imbalanced, leaky gut can occur which can lead to skin issues (in addition to chronic illness and inflammation in the body). Things like psoriasis and eczema are directly tied to gut health and high inflammation in the body. Additionally, some foods like dairy can cause people skin issues, in addition to other food sensitivities to wheat and eggs (just to name a few). Eating for optimal gut health will also be beneficial for your skin. This means that you’re consuming lots of nutrient dense foods (like vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and clean meat), and avoiding refined foods like vegetable oils, alcohol, refined sugars and grains, and sugary drinks that create inflammation in your body.

So, what should you eat?

Like the title of this blog states, taste the rainbow. And to be perfectly honest, that’s often the easiest way to achieve overall health, not just healthy skin. Eating a colorful, whole-foods based diet truly is the best thing you can do for your overall health.

Colorful foods, because they’re high in antioxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and beta-carotene. Antioxidants fight free radicals that can damage collagen and decrease skin elasticity.

Eat a variety of brightly colored whole foods to maximize your antioxidant consumption!

Omega-3 fatty acids. Help keep cellular membranes strong and intact, and reduce inflammation.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also great for reducing inflammation in the body.

Foods high in zinc and magnesium. Zinc helps regulate the production of oil in the skin and promote wound healing, so it makes sense that those who suffer from acne often also have low levels of zinc in their diet. Magnesium helps to stabilize hormone levels and improves cellular processes.

Zinc promotes healing and restoration.

Magnesium promotes hormone stabilization which results in better mood and sleep!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DRINK WATER. Like, real H2O. Not fruit flavored or carbonated, plain real water. It’s truly the easiest thing you can do to support your skin and overall health. It helps keep you hydrated to support strong cells and collagen production, it also helps to keep things moving throughout your body and support detoxification. It always amazes me at how resistant people can be when it comes to eating real food and drinking water (IT LITERALLY HAS ZERO FLAVOR), but, the good thing is that you’re an adult and you can do hard things, so get on it and you’ll get your gold star.

Eat clean and still struggle? Learn how to manage stress

Lastly, there will be some people who read this who have issues with their skin and will say ‘but I already eat a clean diet and I still struggle with my skin’. That’s where I ask you about your stress levels and how you manage that. My parents split up just before my 16th birthday, and as you can imagine it was a very hard and stressful time. Just before that I had been diagnosed with severe acid reflux syndrome (which is something commonly found in stressed out adults over 40), I also developed really painful cystic acne. It was all over my face, all over my chest and back. Besides the fact that I was a already hormonal teenager and definitely wasn’t a healthy eater, I do believe that stress 100% caused that acne to occur. When things calmed down in my life, my cystic acne went away. What am I getting at? Stress SIGNIFICANTLY impacts your hormones, and your body isn’t able to differentiate between the sources of that stress/inflammation (similarly to how it doesn’t tell the difference between sugar- sugar is sugar and results in a blood sugar spike and resulting insulin and cortisol response)… Whether the source of stress is from inflammatory foods, work, family/relationships, finances… it doesn’t matter, your body will respond the same way. So if you’re finding that even after you’ve cleaned up your diet that you’re still struggling with skin issues, I ask that you evaluate what’s going on in your current situation and if maybe, just maybe, a stressful situation is causing that. And then from there I ask that you consider various (healthy) ways to manage that stress like removing yourself from the situation (if you can), finding a new hobby or distraction that brings you joy, meditation, exercise, etc.

Have you struggled with acne or other skin issues? If so, what have you done to improve the situation?

Digestion & Depression: What’s the connection?

Unless you’re under the age of 7 (or male, ha!) digestion is often a taboo subject. For the most part, people just don’t like talking about poop. And as a nutritionist, poop is a big part of the puzzle when trying to assess a clients overall health. In fact, I’d be willing to say that it’s the top indicator of true health in individuals, and we should (as a society) focus more on getting ourselves to have perfect digestion before trying to achieve a perfect weight, athletic performance, or anything else. If your digestion is great then, I shit you not (pun intended), everything else will eventually fall in to place.

How do you tell if you have good digestion?

Well for starters, it shouldn’t be painful. It shouldn’t take you an hour. It shouldn’t make others reach for a gas mask or run out of the house thinking the walls will fall down. It should be comfortable and something you really don’t notice at all until you have to go to the bathroom, and it should be relatively quick and easy, overall a pleasant experience. For those of you with great digestion, you probably look forward to your daily bowel movement and even probably brag about it to someone (ADMIT IT!)

And, for those of you who are more visual learners, here’s a chart that I use with clients to help them identify what numbers they are. Ideally, we’re all Types 3 or 4. And if you’re not a 3 or 4, you’ve got some work to do.

The Bristol Stool Chart is an easy resource for you to help determine if your digestion is where it should be.

But for those who don’t have great digestion, it can cause other issues beyond physical discomfort. It can actually cause depression, anxiety, and other more serious mental issues. It can call something we refer to as “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” or GAPS.

What is GAPS?

By definition, GAPS is a condition which establishes a connection between the functions of the digestive system and the brain. The term was created by Dr. Natasha McBride in 2004 after working with hundreds of children and adults with neurological and psychiatric conditions, such as autism spectrum, ADD/ADHD, schizophrenia, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, OCD, bi-polar disorder, and other neuro-pyschological and psychiatric problems. Her work showed that individuals with these disorders had 1 primary thing in common- leaky gut syndrome- and she developed the GAPS protocol, a nutritional and lifestyle protocol, to address this by healing their leaky gut. (If you aren’t familiar with or aware of leaky gut, check out this blog post for more information).

So how do you connect the dots between Digestion and the Brain?

We know that leaky gut occurs when the walls in our stomach and intestines allow toxic bacteria to leak out into our bloodstream. These displaced bacteria cause inflammation and a host of other issues, the most prominent being depression and anxiety. We also know that leaky gut and poor digestion go hand-in-hand. So, beyond leaking toxic bacteria out into your bloodstream for it to travel all throughout your body (including your brain), your body literally won’t be able to absorb the nutrients from the foods you’re consuming and leads to nutrient deficiencies (like a Vitamin D deficiency that leads to a decrease in Serotonin and Dopamine production which can cause depression… see how this all adds up?).

So if you’re someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, take a look at the stool chart and see where you rate. If you’re a 3 or 4, then it may be safe to say that something else may be causing your depression and anxiety. But if you’re not a 3 or 4, take a look at your diet. You can heal leaky gut syndrome and experience the ‘side effects’ of improved mood, better sleep, higher energy levels, and better digestion!

How do I heal leaky gut and improve my digestion?

The easiest things you can do right away to improve your digestion is to drink plenty of water, limit alcohol and caffeine, eat whole foods (NOT processed junk), avoid wheat (gluten) and avoid added/refined sugars. I guarantee just doing this for just a week alone will yield improvements!

If you suffer from depression or anxiety and have any questions about any of this, please feel free to reach out! Even if you don’t want to work with a nutritionist at this time, I’m more than happy to help point you in the direction of some resources that may help. 🙂

Hunting: My Perspective

Why I started hunting in the first place

(**Bear with me, this is a long one!**)

If you ask my husband he’ll tell you I started elk hunting after our freezer went empty for a few years after he had a few unsuccessful archery hunts. And he’s partially right about that. 😉 But really what made me realize I wanted to try elk hunting was my graduation from my nutrition therapy program.

You see, as a holistic nutritionist there are so SO many things you cannot un-know or un-learn. We research and study about the health benefits of conventionally-raised/harvested animals vs. organic and free-range. We study about how the different lifestyles of these groups of animals impact the health of their own lives and well-being. And at the end of the day, animals that are free to roam as they please and consume the food they’re supposed to in their natural habitat, you get a high quality animal/meat that’s highly nutritious.

Beyond the health benefits, I really wanted to practice what I preach. As much as the actual harvesting of the animal terrified me and made me sad at the thought of it, I wanted to put those feelings aside and prove to myself that I am a provider. And if I could see where that animal came from, be the person who harvested it, be the one who processed and consumed it, then I would better understand and appreciate where my food comes from.

Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. Now, truthfully, I come from a long line of hunters. I grew up in Central Pennsylvania where schools are closed (or they used to be) the Monday after Thanksgiving because it’s the first day of deer season. And given that I was dedicated to my tomboy-ness, I ‘hunted’ with my dad in the freezing cold while my sister slept in, in her cozy bed, and took advantage of not having school that day. I put ‘hunted’ in quotes above because white tail deer hunting in PA typically involves sitting in a tree stand and waiting (in the freezing cold) for a deer to appear and then you try to shoot it. It was the worst. I hated the cold, I got bored, I only focused on when I could eat the snacks I packed, and to my father’s disappointment- I never got anything despite having been a great shot with my rifle. I knew deep down that I just could not kill an animal. I loved their brown eyes and sweet faces and I would think about their families, I just could not bring myself to do it. While those feelings are still with me to this day, my mindset and perspective is totally different. I view hunting as the ability to ethically harvest an animal and put healthy, quality food on the table for myself and my family. Nothing goes to waste, and my respect and appreciation for the animals I harvest are beyond measure.

Now, before I get in to all the things I’ve learned during my 3 elk hunts, I will say this. If you’re reading this and thinking ‘I could never kill an animal’ and you consume meat- you’re wrong. By voting with your dollars and purchasing meat, you are, essentially, killing animals. And if they’re conventionally raised and harvested, then I encourage you to learn more about what the lives of those animals are like. The documentary, American Meat, provides a great look and comparison of conventional and free-range animal farming, along with solutions that people can take to support American agriculture.

What I’ve learned while hunting

Even though I’ve hunted and harvested elk for the past 3 years, I’ve learned so much with each and every hunt. Every hunt that I’ve had has been entirely different than the one before, but I am so incredibly grateful for each one. Here are the highlights of each of my hunts.

2017: My first elk hunt and to say I was terrified was an understatement. I was scared that the hunters around me would be careless and I was scared that I’d chicken out if given the opportunity to harvest an elk. I hunted outside of Alamosa, Colorado, which is sandy desert with sage brush (no trees), so mornings were frigid and afternoons were blazing hot. Add to that we hiked no less than 6 miles one way, multiple times a day (IN SAND), it was a physically challenging hunt. The morning of the 3rd day of my 5 day hunt, I finally had a bull elk close enough to feel comfortable taking the shot. It took me almost an hour to make that first shot. I was so scared, and I felt so bad for this animal whose life was about to end, but I had a job to do. I finally mustered up the courage and I did it. And I bawled. And bawled some more. I had the honor to watch these animals the previous 2 days and now I harvested one myself, nobody else, it was me. It may sound weird, but the love and respect I already had for those animals swelled to a whole other level and I was honored to have been able to harvest such a magnificent animal who would nourish my family so well. Beyond that, I learned that:

• I can do hard things
• I can put aside my fears to accomplish what I set out to achieve
• I can provide food for my family

2017 sunrise along the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.

2018: My second elk hunt was definitely something I wish everyone in this world could experience at least once in their life. I was lucky enough to draw a license for a unit outside of Creede, Colorado, truly God’s country. It’s everything a non-Coloradoan envisions Colorado to be. High elevation, stunning views, challenging terrain, and a ton of elk. My husband and I spent a few days scouting the area and on opening day we knew where we were heading to. With the bulls bugling nonstop, we hiked in over 6.5 miles to the place where I harvested my bull. I could go in to crazy details about each of these hunts, but long story short, we had to hike out 13 miles to get out to a road all while carrying hundreds of pounds of meat on our backs. That 13 mile hike included over a mile down off a mountainside in the dark, hearing mountain lions all around us. That 13 mile hike also included 15 river crossings… at one point around 2 am (in sub-zero temps), we tried to make a fire to warm and dry our feet and the only way it would warm you is if you literally sat in the fire itself. It sounds like hell on earth, but I loved every moment. We’d hike a little, then shut our headlamps off and rest for a few minutes and look up at the sky. We’d watch countless shooting stars and hear endless elk bugles all night long. We finally made it out of the woods around 8 am the following morning, and I waltzed up to an old ranch hand and asked him for a ride to our camp which was still about 7 miles away. The memories and friendships made will last me a lifetime. On that hunt I learned:

• ‘I didn’t come this far to only come this far’- elk are incredibly smart and elusive, and I knew hunters would quickly push the animals far back within the canyon I was at… I just kept going and kept hiking, believing if I put in the work then I would reap the reward
• There are genuinely good people in this world, and finding and connecting with them is such a blessing
• I am capable of asking for help when I need to- this is hard for me, I’ve always tried to do absolutely everything for myself without ever asking for help. It took everything in me to ask that ranch hand for help, and the warm reception (of hot coffee and cookies) was just the best

2018- My husband in the doorway of our camper, with a family of moose just across the pond.

2019: I thought my 2018 hunt was hard, physically and mentally, but this year had something else in store for me. My husband took me to Rico, Colorado for my elk hunt and boooyyyyyy it was a doozy. For starters, it was incredibly dry so any step in the woods sounded like Gabriel’s trumpet sounding from Heaven’s gates… Add to that, the majority of the terrain would be considered a cliff by most people it was so steep, and elevation over 9,000 ft always makes things interesting for the lungs. This was the first hunt where I didn’t even see an elk with my own two eyes for the first three days. I heard them, but I couldn’t get close enough to see them (mostly because I was busy falling (read: CRASHING) down the mountainside to look for them. And I wasn’t going to share this, but I feel lead to because it was such a huge lesson for me. My number one fear (beyond wreckless hunters), is to wound an animal. I never ever want an animal to suffer. On the morning of day 3, I was feeling discouraged from not seeing any elk and having so much knee pain from this insane terrain, that I got desperate when we spotted a bull that was over 800 yards away. I got down in the meadow across from him and placed my rifle on a rock, adjusted the turret on my scope, and settled in to take the shot. I truly felt like I couldn’t pass him up and was worried he’d be the only bull I’d see… I shot 5 times. I thought I hit him with the last one, but couldn’t be sure because he quickly ran in to the woods. My husband went and searched for him for 4 hours- nothing… not a drop of blood, not a track, nothing. I have not cried that hard since the day my grandfather died. The thought of me possibly wounding an animal just guts me, but my husband has reassured me that there’s no evidence to point to me wounding the animal. But I can’t stop thinking about it. Every single day I head out to hunt, I pray and ask God for protection and wisdom to make good decisions. And in my desperation to fill my tag, I let wisdom fly out the window and took a shot that I was not comfortable in taking. I was so (and still am) unbelievably disappointed in myself and my lack of thoughtfulness in that moment. Fast forward to the final day of the hunt, and I faced a similar situation. In my head I’m just thinking that it’s the last day of the hunt and every second is ticking away at my chances of harvesting an elk. My husband spotted a small group of elk across the canyon from us, and he ranged him at 880 yards. Can you believe that I actually crawled up behind a log, propped up my rifle, and took my rifle off safety? I did. And then I put the safety on and looked at my husband and said ‘No, I’m not doing this.’ He totally understand and supported my decision, but then the elk started to walk toward us. So we adjusted our position to where my potential shot would be 200 yards or less (I’m very comfortable with shots up to about 600 yards), but the elk never came. At that moment I was at peace with the fact that I wouldn’t get an elk, and it’s OK. But that’s when my husband saw the elk had moved again, and we were able to close the distance significantly. I was able to comfortably harvest my bull and fill my freezer. And although I wish it had been on day 1 and not day 5, I had learned some incredible lessons on my journey.

• Trust God- every day I pray for wisdom, and yet my desperation threw wisdom out the window even though my gut was telling me I wasn’t comfortable taking that shot on that first bull. I need to listen to my gut (to me that’s God nudging me).
• Patience- if I learned the previous year that putting in hard work will yield rewards, then I learned that consistently putting in hard work day after day will yield rewards, it just may not be as fast or look the way you want it to

2019- Me, carrying the last part of my bull that I harvested at 10,500 ft on the last day of the season.

My favorite part of hunting

I love the mountains, I love sunrises and sunsets, I love to watch all of the animals we encounter, I love to prove to myself that I can do hard things, and most of all I love the time shared outdoors with my husband. We have some pretty awesome conversations and I come away from every hunt feeling closer to him. (He’s a pretty great guy, and I couldn’t do this without him). He is in his element when we’re out hunting, and he’s such a great coach to me. He pushes me (but not to the point where I get mad), and he makes me want to be better and do better, and I want to make him proud. I couldn’t be more grateful for our time together during these hunts.

Final Thoughts

A lot of hunting has to do with conservation. I don’t think most people realize that the money hunters spend on licenses gets used for conservation efforts of our national forests, etc. Beyond that, when states release licenses for hunters, they do so based on healthy herd sizes. In an effort to protect land (elk can be very destructive), biologists work to monitor herd sizes and ensure health bull-to-cow ratios, and so hunting licenses are issued accordingly in promoting health herds across our state.

Not all hunters are poachers. For the most part, people who hunt do so legally and ethically. That’s not to say some people literally only hunt for the trophy/antlers, but there are a lot of rules and regulations in place to protect our wildlife and most hunters respect and honor that. Don’t assume that anyone who hunts is willing to kill an animal at any given point in time.

The actual harvest, for me, is the worst part. That’s when the incredible amount of work begins of processing the animal. But being out in nature and seeing these animals in their natural habitat, watching the sunrises and sunsets, the shooting stars (!), experiencing the extreme temperature changes… it’s incredible and truly an experience I wish everyone could have. There’s nothing like seeing the sun come over a mountain peak, or to see and hear an elk bugle, or watch a bear entertain itself from a distance. The beauty that surrounds us never ceases to amaze me and I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to witness it firsthand.

If you have any questions or thoughts about hunting (as long as they’re thoughtful and respectful), I’d love to hear them.

Mindset: The #1 factor in your success

With today being the first day of a new month and the beginning of the final quarter of 2019, I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering where this year has gone. I’ve been reflecting a lot about this past year in relation to where I thought I’d be by this point in time, and I’ve got some work to do in order to reach my goals. I could spend hours stewing on all the different ways I’ve not measured up when it comes to building my business or my personal health goals, but I know better than to do that. Besides, I can pinpoint the one single thing that’s prevented me from reaching my goals: my mindset.

When it comes to any challenge in our lives, whether it be health, business, relationships… our mindset matters MOST in determining whether or not we’ll find success. When we get our mind right, things just seem to happen a little bit easier for us, doesn’t it?

There are so many different ways our attitude (and mindset) can impact our lives. Did you know that there is actual scientific evidence that proves the power of a positive attitude when it comes to health outcomes? It’s true! Johns Hopkins even cites a positive attitude as a component of aging well, and those with positive attitudes are much more likely to have better outcomes when faced with serious health issues like heart disease, traumatic brain injury, and stroke.

Beyond the power of positivity, simply having a can-do attitude about situations sets people apart from one another when facing certain challenges. I’ve talked about aspects of this in social media posts from time to time because I see a lot of different attitudes with the work that I do, especially as it relates to making changes to ones lifestyle to address a specific health need, and I can usually determine within a 5 minute conversation whether or not an individual will have an ‘easy’ time reaching their health goals, or if it will be a bit more challenging for them. With nutrition therapy, I always design a protocol for clients based on what their goals are in relation to their individual health assessment. These protocols typically involve making a good number of changes to a clients’ lifestyle in order to help them reach their goals, and quite honestly, it’s a LOT of work for my clients to make these changes. That’s not to say that it’s bad or really hard, but it requires a mental shift to embrace the fact that they’re going to have to do some work and make some changes along the way. (Remember, a protocol only works if you put it to work for you!) I’ve had prospective clients flat out tell me they won’t change certain aspects of their eating even though they know those eating habits aren’t good for them. I’ve also had prospective clients tell me that their intent in working with me is so that they can clean up their habits for a short period of time to alleviate health symptoms, but they plan to go back to those bad habits once their symptoms are alleviated… (THIS MAKES NO SENSE TO ME). To me, this shows that they aren’t mentally prepared yet to make a true commitment to themselves in order to achieve improved health.

On the flipside, I’ve had the pleasure of working with clients who are fully ready and mentally prepared to take on a challenge. I have one client right now who has had to implement the toughest protocol I’ve ever developed. For starters, she’s had to eliminate close to 40 foods that she’s highly reactive to… she’s now the most creative home chef I’ve ever heard of and has embraced this so well she’s even started her own blog to document it and share it with others! Even though her ‘diet’ is limited at the moment, instead of focusing on what she can’t have she’s focused on all the food she CAN have and appreciates how these foods make her feel. And while she’s seen huge success so far when it comes to weight loss, the biggest shift she’s experienced is in her mindset… beyond the kitchen, she’s seeing a ripple effect in other areas of her life too. She’s got a crazy stressful job and she feels she’s better suited to deal and roll with the stressors that she’s presented with every day. And instead of wanting to stress eat, she shifts her thoughts to focusing on the future and what lies ahead of her. She sets goals, achieves them, sets new goals, and keeps moving forward.

Now, given all the successes, that doesn’t mean that it’s all rainbows and unicorns everyday. This is hard work to remain in a positive mindset when surrounded by so much negativity in this world. Add to that unsupportive people or individuals who just don’t ‘get’ what it is you’re doing, things can get tough! That’s why it’s important to stay focused on your goals and remember why you started in the first place. Mindset work takes time, it’s a commitment, and something you have to train and work just like a muscle. And just like everything else in life, consistency is key to your success.

Here are some tips on how you can train yourself to have a more positive, can-do mindset!

1. Seek out the good in people, don’t assume the worst
2. Smile and laugh more
3. Practice reframing- focus on the things you have control over and not the things in which you can’t control
4. Start a gratitude practice- every day, write down the things you’re grateful for, when you train your brain to seek out the blessings in your life, the more they’ll become apparent all
around you
5. Build resiliency- learn how to accept that change is part of life, take action on problems rather than waiting for a situation to resolve itself
6. Write down your goals and keep them in a place where you can see them every day- having a constant reminder of what you’re working toward simply keeps them top of mind and help you stay
committed to your goals, and yourself.

A much needed mindset adjustment

I’ve been pretty quiet on my blog and I gotta be honest, I’ve been feeling less than inspired as of late. Starting a new path in life is hard, and the past few months I’ve allowed a lot of self-doubt to creep in to my head and I’ve been struggling with feelings of inadequacy and wondering if I’ve made a mistake or if I’m truly doing what I’m meant to do.

Where do these feelings come from? For starters, I know these feelings come from years of being less than kind to myself and allowing others to be less than kind to me too. I grew up in a household where comparison was constant because I have 5 siblings, and the worst comparisons were made (and still are) between my twin sister and I. She was the skinny, pretty twin. I was the chubby, smart twin. It sounds silly but those really were our identities when we were younger and it did not lead to a great place in our relationship. My twin and I were estranged for close to 20 years because of all the repercussions of those stupid labels. What a waste of life, feeling like part of your heart was missing, all over labels that people forced on you. On top of that, as the ‘smart’ one (which drives me nuts because my twin is incredibly intelligent), I still had a parent tell me that I’d never get in to college. So these feelings of ‘less than’ are deep-rooted.

And labels are hard to move away from. Beyond my chubby, smart label, I was also the independent, rebellious kid who left my home state for the farthest point away (in the contiguous U.S.) after college with both middle fingers in the air, vowing never to return. At 22, I was dealing with these same feelings of inadequacy. I wanted so badly to build my own identity that I could be proud of. And, for the most part, I was proud of who I was becoming. I had a budding career, overcame some serious health issues, was living on my own and paying my student loans and medical bills, and was really proud of myself never once asking anyone for help. But, despite all of that, I still allowed certain people in my life to treat me as though I was inadequate. I allowed a boyfriend of mine to ‘encourage’ me to lose weight, while constantly putting down my family’s blue collar roots. I allowed a boss to repeatedly call me a ‘bitch’ (NOT KIDDING) because I beat him at xbox, in addition to allowing him to control nearly every aspect of my life. I had another boss who deliberately scheduled an out-of-state work assignment on what was to have been my wedding day, and because I was dumb enough to be committed to that job I actually cancelled my wedding plans and we got married at the courthouse (I lost that job 2 days after we got married)… and it’s hard for me not to feel as though I’ve brought it on myself. On the other hand, these experiences make me value and appreciate where I’m at today. I have the cutest husband, a restored relationship with my twin sister, I have my own business… so why am I feeling so freaking insecure at this particular moment?

Truthfully, it’s just a bunch of different little things. I have had a couple conversations in the past week that didn’t sit well with me. One woman decided to share with me that I’m irresponsible for having left my corporate job, while another told me it’s cute that I sell makeup… I didn’t feel the need to try and validate myself to these women who know nothing about me, but it did get in my head a little. Then, I’ve had friends send me links to jobs they think I should apply for, and while I know it’s well-intentioned, it makes me wonder if they believe I should be pursuing my passion because if they did believe in me, why the hell are they sending me jobs to apply for? And on top of all that, I have been in my head a lot lately about my own self-worth. I left a cushy 6-figure career to start my nutrition therapy practice and there are times when I think “WTF DID I DO?!” I love the work that I do, I love helping people take control of their health, and I love building awareness on the simple things we can do to live happier, healthier lives… and I can’t lie, I do miss my old paycheck. I tied a lot of my identity to my salary, and even though I don’t actually notice a difference financially, it’s still something I struggle with. I know I’ll get there again one day, but not ‘contributing’ to my household the way I used to has messed with my head a little bit. (And no, at no point has my husband ever brought this up- this is all me. He’s been incredibly supportive of this transition.) Then I think that people won’t take me seriously as a nutritionist, and this imposter syndrome/attitude comes up. Looking at other nutritionists on social media, they seem to have it all figured out. Beautiful profiles, fancy pictures, the perfect captions… and then the actual physical comparisons we go through…‘Nutritionists should be skinny, I’m not skinny, nobody would want to work with a nutritionist who isn’t skinny’. Comparison is the root of all evil, I know this, but when you’re feeling insecure in the slightest, this is where comparison will just pummel you down even more. I am so f-ing done with it, I just want to get to the point where I’m comfortable in fully owning ME and who I am and what I stand for.

I’m not writing any of this to get any amount of sympathy, I just felt it on my heart today to share what I’m feeling , why I’ve been quiet, and how I plan to tackle it head on. My husband and I do a 3 week cleanse every year to reset ourselves before we start our (literal) hunt and gather season. We eat pretty darn healthy to begin with, but we’ll be 100% plant-based for the next 21 days. On top of that, I’ll be stepping back a bit from social media. I’m giving myself space to work through these thoughts and emotions I’ve been having lately so that I can release what no longer serves me. I know deep down that I have something to give, I know I am meant to do this work and I know that I add value. Toxic thoughts and emotions have energy and that energy can weigh us down, and I am so ready to get rid of it and move on.

So, I’m going to come back refreshed and energized. I’ll be keeping a journal of my experience and will share when I’m ready. This level of self-care is much needed.

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