Do you practice intuitive self-care? It’s a topic that I love because it’s all about trusting yourself, but living intuitively is not easy by any means. The idea of putting trust into your body’s wisdom of when to eat, what to eat, how to exercise and when to rest is not an easy task. But it’s important to practice as often as we can because our body knows best.
Let’s take a look at intuitive self-care a bit closer and how you can start practicing yourself!
Eating intuitively can be hard. For me, I find this aspect the most difficult. In the past, I’ve let food control my thoughts. I would constantly stress about what my next meal would be, or if a restaurant had something healthy enough for me. I rarely found myself ordering something on a menu that I actually wanted. I would just pick the healthiest option. But this backfired because I wasn’t feeding my body what it wanted. I found myself snacking a lot. I’m already an avid snacker but it only heightened when I didn’t listen to my body. I would snack on healthy foods but in ridiculously large quantities. Eating half a bag of cashews or a tub of almond butter in two days was my norm, and honestly I still do it from time to time. But I realized I do it when I try to eat as healthy as possible.
Lately I’ve tried to practice intuitive eating. Today is a perfect example. This morning I had kefir with trail mix and fruit because that’s what I wanted. And you know what? I had a pretty big bowl of it too (something I would never normally do). About 5 hours later I got an almond milk latte because I was craving one. Then for lunch instead of opting for the salad, I went with a chorizo and potato omelet. Something I would NEVER order a few months ago. It’s been about 4 hours and I haven’t even thought about food. And guess what? I feel great! I ate what my body wanted and I didn’t overeat. My body feels nourished and my stomach is satisfied.
How to Eat Intuitively
Intuitive eating means knowing when you’re hungry and what you want to eat. Try to listen to your five physical senses (taste, smell, sight, touch, sound). Do you want something bright in color? Something that has a bit of bite and crunch? Sweet? Savory? But intuitive eating doesn’t stop there. You may find what you want to eat, but the next step is to know when to stop eating. Listening to your body and knowing when you’ve reached fullness and stopping there.
This takes practice. You will make “mistakes” when trying to eat intuitively. You may find a meal where you overeat or at the end of the day feel like you didn’t eat enough. It takes time but you will get the hang of it and start to learn from your “mistakes”. The most important thing though is to not beat yourself up if you do make a “mistake”. Just learn from it and you know what to work on in the future.
It’s also important to get rid of the idea of “good” foods and “bad” foods when eating intuitively. Your body will have days when it craves healthy foods and some days you will crave foods that aren’t as healthy. But you can’t let that stop you. As I mentioned above, I always went with healthy options, but found myself binging on almond butter and cashews. Yes, both of those foods are good for you but only in moderation. If the idea of eating “bad” foods stresses you out, try compromising a bit. Let’s say you are really craving a burger but can’t fathom ordering one. Maybe order the burger with no bun and a side salad. Or instead of ordering fries maybe try ordering sweet potato fries instead.
The one thing I’ve noticed since I started to eat intuitively is that if I’m craving something not as healthy, I actually don’t feel terrible after eating it. I find that I don’t overeat because I’m eating more substantial foods.
Intuitive Exercise / Rest
Intuitive exercise is another difficult one to grasp. Most of us are in the habit of saying things like, “I should workout” or “I have to do something active today”. Exercise should be enjoyable and not about how many calories you burn. Any form of movement is great for your body. It can help release mental and physical stress. When we intuitively exercise it actually increases our physical activity. You learn to do exercises that you enjoy rather than what you think you should be doing.
Intuitive rest is the last aspect of intuitive self-care and it’s my favorite. Just as it’s important to listen to your body and do activities that you find enjoyable and workout because you want to, it’s also important to listen to your body and rest when needed. If you wake up one morning and really feel like you just have no energy to workout that day, then rest! Trying to push through is probably hurting you rather than helping you. If you push yourself too much and don’t give your body the proper rest days, you put yourself at risk of injury. Just think about how long an injury will take you out of the game! If you can’t fathom taking a full rest day, try doing something low impact like going on a walk or doing a yoga session. (Yoga Studio is a great app you can use at home)
As I mentioned, practicing intuitive self-care takes practice. It will be hard at first and you will have a few slip ups, but that’s fine! It will only help you learn more about yourself and what your body needs. So try giving intuitive self-care a go this week, even just one aspect of it. Let me know if you have any questions and I would love to hear how it goes!
I love finding good healthy baking recipes – especially easy ones!
I stumbled upon this yummy 4 ingredient sweet potato brownie recipe the other week and immediately saved it to make on my next free night.
Today I took a stab at this super simple recipe and was quite impressed!
I used a few different ingredients for this dish but for the most part it was pretty similar. Here is what I used:
Start off by peeling the sweet potato and cutting it up into chunks. I find that cutting the potato into smaller chunks helps it boil faster. After about 30 minutes stick a fork in the potatoes. The fork should come out easily, that is when you know it’s ready. When you feel like they are ready, take them out and let them cool off for a bit.
While your potatoes are cooling, you can start working on the rest of the dish. The recipe I used recommended to warm up the nut butter and maple syrup. I found when I did this it started chunking up. I don’t have a microwave so I tried doing this on the stove top, but a microwave could work better! I ended up just mixing them together naturally. Almond butter is pretty creamy as is so I didn’t really need to warm it up anyways.
After mixing the nut butter and maple syrup, you can mix in the Cacao powder (I used 1/4 Cacao powder, next time I would probably use a bit less since Cacao has such a strong taste.) Also add in the sweet potato mash. This should be a pretty easy mixing experience, it becomes pretty creamy so you shouldn’t struggle here.
After it’s well mixed, add it to the greased pan. Pop it into the oven for about 20 minutes or until they are cooked. After they are out of the oven, let them cool down for a bit. The recipe recommends that they are best when cold so I cut mine into little squares and then put them in the fridge.
I want to start off by saying that everyone is different. What works for me may not necessarily work for you and vice versa. This goes along with so many different aspects in life including fitness, diets, time of day working out, amount of sleep needed, morning routines, night routines and the list goes on!
But today I want to talk about stress.
When I was struggling with anxiety about 7 months ago, I tried finding ways to help calm my stress. I tried meditation because I had a few friends recommend it. Unfortunately meditation did not work for me. At the time, I didn’t know how to control my anxious thoughts. I had just started therapy and my anxiety was all over the place. To me meditation felt intimating, because it was me alone with my thoughts. I tried yoga as well, which gave me the same feelings I felt during meditation. I quickly looked for other options.
I decided to turn to the one thing I know best which is staying active. Going to the gym or going for a run were the best ways for me to deal with my stress. After a long run or a tough workout, I felt unstoppable. I think that feeling of finishing a run or finishing my workout gave me a sense of strength. If I could push through that I could fight my stress and anxious thoughts. I continued to get really into working out as a way to help with my stress and anxiety. It was my outlet.
Fast-forward to today and my outlook on activities such as meditation and yoga are completely different. I don’t meditate often, but when I do, I feel much calmer than I did before. I don’t have those anxious or stressful thoughts running through my head. Most of the time I feel so calm I even fall asleep! (Not sure if that’s a good thing or not but I will take it as an improvement!) I also try and practice yoga every day or at least every other day. Now I enjoy it, which is great because I struggled with it 7 months ago. I find it’s my new way for me to find that feeling of strength. I’m not very flexible, but practicing yoga reminds me how strong our body and mind are and how much we are able to do.
I still workout as much as I did before, but I’m finding if I am stressed at all, I’m starting to use yoga as my outlet. I guess this shows me that I’m growing. My mind is becoming stronger and I’m learning that for me, there isn’t just one way to deal with stress. I would have never thought 7 months ago I would be practicing yoga, but I’m happy I’ve gotten to that point.
What are ways you like to handle your stress? I always love to hear new ideas!
Water is one of the most important substances on earth. We need water in order to survive. Water is important and we drink it everyday, but are you drinking enough? What’s the right amount of water to drink? And why is it so important for our bodies? How exactly can staying hydrated benefit us? I’m going to explore these questions in this blog.
Why is Water Important
I just mentioned above that water is essential in order for us to survive. But what exactly does drinking water do for your body? I’ve listed a few below:
How Much Water Should You Drink?
Like different diets, water is another controversial topic among experts. Everyone is different, and the amount of water you should drink depends on a few different factors. Some of these factors include: your activity level, how much caffeine or alcohol you’ve had, how hot it is outside and even how much water you were consuming before.
Not sure if you are consuming enough water? A very easy test is simply just to look at your urine. It should be on the light side, if it is you’re probably doing pretty good with your water intake. But if it’s dark and you don’t have a lot of urine, you are definitely dehydrated. A few more signs of dehydration include: thirsty, dry mouth, headache, weakness, dizziness or confusion.
If you stay hydrated, you can avoid these symptoms all together. A good rule of thumb is to drink 64 to 100 ounces of water a day.
Tips for Drinking More Water
It’s a common habit to forget to drink water. Hey – I’m guilty of this too! Below are a few tips to increase your water intake:
Many people say they don’t drink enough water because they either don’t like the taste or it’s boring. Below are some tips to make your water a bit more exciting.
Just because we want to eat healthy doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy what we eat!
If I could eat Mexican food everyday I would. I love it! There are so many different things you can do with it depending on what mood you’re in. My boyfriend and I often make our own burrito bowls, but we wanted to try something different, so we thought what about nachos?
We decided to use sweet potatoes as our “chips” for the nachos. Sweet potatoes take on flavors very well, salty or sweet, so we thought it would be a great substitute instead of using tortilla chips.
Before I go into how to make the dish, here is a list of ingredients:
After the 6 hours, take the chicken breasts out and pull the chicken apart, the chicken should easily fall apart. After all of the chicken is pulled, put it back into the slow cooker and let it sit with the liquids and onions. The slow cooker should be on warm so the chicken doesn’t get too cool.
Now it’s time to start on the sweet potatoes. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Take your sweet potatoes and get them as thin as you can, into circular pieces. They should look similar to a chip. I found it was a bit hard to get all of the pieces so thin so I had a few chunky pieces too, but they still taste good! Take a bowl and put some olive and salt and pepper in it. Dip each chip into the olive oil, front and back, and place them on a sprayed pan. Try not to lay them on top of one another, they crisp better when they are spaced out. Pop the sweet potatoes into the oven until they get cooked / crispier. We had ours in the oven for about 35 minutes.
While the sweet potatoes are cooking, you can start prepping the pico de gallo and guacamole. For the pico de gallo, take 1 1/2 tomatoes and start chopping them up. Try taking out the seedy part when chopping the tomatoes and just leave the outer bits of the tomato. Use as much red onion as you prefer. We used about 1/4 cup red onion. Chop it up into bits and add it to the tomato. Now add the sweet corn (we buy organic canned sweet corn), chopped cilantro, olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika. This recipe will really vary based on your flavor preferences!
Now it’s time for the guacamole. Cut 1 avocado up and mash it in a bowl. Then add in some diced red onion. Again we used 1/4 cup red onion, but do it based on your preference! Then we added half a tomato, cilantro, chili, olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika. Mix the ingredients together well.
Check on the sweet potatoes, when they are crispy or cooked take them out. Let them cool for a bit.
Now you can start to create your nachos! I started with the sweet potatoes on the bottom, then the chicken on top, then some pico de gallo, then guacamole and finished it off with some black beans on top!
“Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious.”
Most of the time we don’t even realize how other peoples energies affect us. Think about it, if you are around happy people who support you, you are in a better mood. If you are hanging out with people who are speaking negatively of others or constantly putting you down, you feel like crap. It’s important to surround yourself around people that have a positive affect on your life, and steer clear of the people who have a negative one.
Sometimes it can be hard to weed out those negative people. It might be someone you really care about and someone that is very close to you. People who have these negative energies usually don’t even recognize it about themselves. It’s so engrained in them to act a certain way that they think it’s normal.
I find there is one subject that can bring a lot of negative energy, and that’s starting to incorporate healthier lifestyle habits. Let’s say you want to lose a little weight or tone up. You decide you want to incorporate some healthier lifestyle habits such as drink less, or cut out processed foods. You will have some people who fully support you in your decision, but you are also bound to run into people who give you a hard time about it. They may make negative comments about how healthy you’ve become, or you may even run into people that say you will fail. This negativity could come from jealousy or maybe even guilt.
This happened to me. I decided to make a few lifestyle changes to start living a happier, healthier life and I definitely had some people that questioned my decisions at the start. But if you just don’t let those comments bother you and do what’s right for you, it will pay off in the end. Now that I’ve made these changes and it’s had such a positive impact on my life, those comments have stopped. I’ve actually had people ask for advice for better lifestyle habits!
What I’ve learned is that you should surround yourself around people who support you and have a positive impact on your life. We don’t have time for that negative energy. If you are close to someone that tends to be negative, try talking to him or her about it. Give them a chance to change their energy around you. If it doesn’t change, maybe you should rethink that friendship and what that person is really offering you. In my opinion it’s not worth putting all of your energy into a relationship with someone that is so negative. We all have enough on our plates as is and we don’t need the added headache.
I did it – I finally finished the Whole30 and the reintroduction days! It was definitely an enlightening experience that I suggest everyone try at least once. It will totally change the way you look at food. Below are a few things I learned from my experience.
I was totally shocked at how my sleep was affected – for the better! About 5 days in during the Whole30, I noticed I was sleeping like a rock. I get up often in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and usually struggle to fall back asleep. During the Whole30 I had no problem falling back asleep immediately. I also felt that it was easier for me to get up in the mornings. I felt well rested and it was so much easier for me to get out of bed.
During the reintroduction phase I noticed that it wasn’t as easy for me to get up in the morning. I was still sleeping heavily, but I felt more tired when waking up. I’m not sure if this was because I was reintroducing legumes, grains and dairy back into my diet, but I would assume there has to be a correlation.
Hidden Sugar is Everywhere!
When doing the Whole30 you really have to be aware of the foods you are eating. I was always checking ingredients to make sure things were compliant. It really opened my eyes seeing how many ingredients that are added to foods you wouldn’t expect. For example, there are very few brands that sell Canadian bacon or smoked salmon that don’t have added sugar in them. Sugar is a no no on the Whole30 so it made buying things very difficult. If I lived by a Whole Foods it probably would’ve been easier to find compliant products, but unfortunately I don’t.
Brands will try and trick you by saying that there are 0 grams of sugar, but if you check the ingredients sugar will be listed as an ingredient. So be careful! If you’re thinking of doing the Whole30 it is essential that you read the ingredients of everything you eat. You all know my cashew story.
Certain Foods Don’t Like You as Much as You Like Them
It’s a tough pill to swallow but unfortunately it’s true. I learned this about bread, (you can check out my blog) my long time friend that I have given up this past year. During my reintroduction phase, I was disappointed to learn that dairy doesn’t agree with me as much as I would’ve hoped. I was convinced that grains were bloating me, but it turns out it is dairy. Not something I’m ready to give up yet, but definitely something I need to watch. I’m looking into trying some alternative options such as kefir.
You May Feel REALLY Good
The one thing I read numerous times before beginning was how great you’re going to feel during the Whole30. I thought this might be a bit of phony baloney but hoped for the best. Turns out it’s true. After my adjustment week in the beginning, I had felt the best I ever have. I physically felt better and I was also so much happier. After the reintroduction days I could feel the physical benefits slowly dwindle. I feel like I’m carrying a bit more baggage on my belly compared to when I was doing the Whole30.
Overall, I really enjoyed my experience doing the Whole30. Yes, it can be very difficult at times when you are trying to eat out or all of your friends are drinking, but it’s totally worth it in my opinion.
I do enjoy the ease of not having to worry what exactly restaurants are cooking with, but I will continue to eat a lot of foods I was eating during the Whole30 on a regular basis.
The other weekend I attended a professional training for The Body Positive. This training was truly inspiring.
Let me give you a little background on The Body Positive and what these amazing women have created. Connie Sobczak and Elizabeth Scott founded The Body Positive 10 years ago. The Body Positive’s mission is to teach people how to overcome conflicts with their bodies to lead happier more productive lives. It’s about cultivating a loving relationship with yourself both mentally and physically.
In order to start caring for ourselves, we can follow The Be Body Positive Model. The model is made up of five core Competencies:
1.) Reclaim health
I will be posting more blogs about each specific competency in more detail.
If you want to learn more about The Body Positive, you can check out the web page here. You will also be able to find Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and quiet that critical voice!), which is written by Connie.
I will be honest; I rarely used to stretch when I was playing college volleyball. I used stretching time as a time to chat with my teammates…. oops! The only times I actually put effort into stretching was when I felt like I was really sore. This is definitely something I’ve worked on since studying for my personal training certification.
When studying, I learned the importance of stretching and why it’s crucial for people to incorporate into their fitness routines. However, stretching tends to be something we often neglect. When I asked a few friends if they stretch they used excuses like, “I’ve always had tight muscles”, “I don’t think it really does anything for me”, or “It’s just so boring!” But all of these excuses don’t really matter – stretching is essential!
So why is stretching so important? First off, stretching can help improve your performance in physical activities. Flexibility is joint specific so stretching helps improve your joints range of motion. By having a better range of motion, you will decrease your chances of getting injured. And NO one wants to get injured! Stretching also helps increase the blood flow to your muscles.
It’s also important because during intense workouts, there is only a certain amount of oxygen available. This is where lactate is made. Our bodies convert that lactate to energy without the use of oxygen. What tends to happen is this lactate acid builds up in our bloodstreams faster than we can burn it off, causing lactate acid buildup. Stretching after an intense workout helps ease the tenderness of those muscles that have lactate acid buildup.
I’ve definitely stepped up my stretching game since my days of playing college volleyball. Now I incorporate stretching after every workout. For me personally, I’ve found that stretching after my workouts helps decrease soreness the next day. In college, I remember waking up the next morning after a late practice (where I didn’t stretch afterwards) and felt so sore and stiff. Now that I’ve incorporated stretching into my daily workout routine, I find that this happens much less. I can still feel a bit of stiffness but much less than I did in college.
So what stretches are important to incorporate? Stretching your whole body is obviously the best idea, but if you don’t have time to get a full stretch session in after a workout, try to stretch the muscles you just focused on during your routine. If you ran 6 miles, make sure you stretch your legs, butt and even your lower back. If you did an arm workout, make sure you get focus on your arms, neck and upper back.
Make sure you listen to your body. If it you are in pain while stretching stop doing that stretch! You should never be in pain.
If you are stuck and don’t really know where to start, take a look at this article for a great 5 minute stretching routine. And if you are trying to improve your flexibility and want to take it a step further, consider incorporating yoga into your weekly routine. It’s an activity I’ve been incorporating and it’s really helped! I use the YogaStudio app, which you can download through the iTunes store.
Today is my 14th day of the Whole30. This last week has honestly been very easy. Easy in the sense that I never feel like I’m craving anything. I do get hungry, but when I get hungry I’m not thinking, “I really want some bread” or “I would love some chocolate”. I’m just hungry and it’s nice to no longer have cravings.
I’ve done a much better job meal prepping this week, but I am trying to get a bit more creative with my dishes. It’s easy when I work from home because I can make a fresh lunch, but bringing lunch into work makes it a bit more difficult. I don’t like to bring foods that need to be warmed up. Microwaves really freak me out. I’m also paranoid about reheating food. Certain foods can give you food poisoning if you store and reheat them improperly. This has just made me paranoid in general so I totally avoid if possible! So this weekend I made it a goal to really look into the recipes in the Whole30 book. I plan on incorporating things such as meatballs and potatoes into my lunch at work.
Compared to my first week, my energy levels have definitely improved. Adding carbs into at least two meals a day has definitely helped. I also think because I’m so active, I just wasn’t eating enough. I’m really starting to realize how much food I need to keep my body nourished.
The biggest thing I’ve learned this week is that I can’t be perfect. The Whole30 has a lot of recommendations, some I have a very hard time sticking with. No, you don’t have to count calories, and you can eat anything compliant, but they recommend 3 large meals a day and limit snacking. (Eating a piece of fruit should be done with a meal not on it’s own) For me, this is really hard. So I’ve just accepted the fact that I can’t be perfect. If I’m hungry, I’m hungry and I’m going to have a piece of fruit with almond butter if needs be.
TIP FOR THIS WEEK
The one suggestion I have from this week is to make sure if you have someone else cooking for you (i.e. your mom, boyfriend, girlfriend, friend) make sure they KNOW what is compliant and what is not. Thankfully, I didn’t run into any issues this week, but my boyfriend almost gave me a heart attack. We were grocery shopping today and he said, “Well you can have soy sauce right?” My face immediately went pale. Thankfully he hadn’t used any soy sauce, but he said he was planning on using it in dinner tonight. Make sure before you eat anything that you did not make yourself that you ask how it was prepared and with what sauces. I know it can be annoying but you don’t want to find yourself on Day 19 and realize your mom made dinner with something not compliant in the program.
Also a reminder to keep checking your labels! I find myself buying something, taking a bit and realizing I didn’t even read the label. Every time this has happened I’ve been fine but you can easily slip up!
Just a girl writing down her thoughts on life post-physical setback, body acceptance and wellness.