You are what you eat

You are what you eat

There are times in our lives that lead us to becoming experts in areas we never intended to explore. In my life that area has been health. Growing up I was always fascinated by the mind and body connection. I read every book I could get my hands on that touched the topic of the connection between the mind and body. However, I did not read anything that included nutrition and your body, at least not until I needed to learn more about that connection.

Approximately ten years ago I had severely injured my knee while practicing martial arts. At that time I required surgery immediately, and then like normal I healed and began living life again. A few years ago my knees were in constant pain. It did not matter if I put my legs up, if I rested, if I iced them. No matter what I did the pain continued to get worse. I also noticed I was much more lethargic. I mentioned this while chatting with a friend who is a chiropractor and a believer in nutrition to the extent that he makes his clients fork with a nutritionist while he is treating them. Thankfully, he had me look at what I was eating and led me on a path to learning a lot about what I choose to eat.

I am not a nutritionist, nor am I a medical doctor. I am someone who applied what I learned in my own life and saw such incredible changes in my body I thought it may help to share.

My pain was being caused by inflammation. Inflammation is our body’s way of responding to an injury or an attack by germs in our body. It is helpful to know that inflammation is truly one way you body is defending and protecting you. However, constant chronic inflammation can lead to some real long term problems such as; arthritis, fibromyalgia, decreased energy, an overall weakened immune system that potentially leaves you open to more health problems.The good news is, there are so many things we can do to help decree inflammation pretty easily.

As you may have guessed, there are some dietary changes you can make that may help you decrease your inflammation. I like to start with a few things we can add to our life that will help us change our bodies first, then I will share some items you may benefit from eliminating.

SPICE IT UP: Spices such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and cayenne all help decrease inflammation. If you do not add these to your food or your drinks, try adding some and see what changes for you.

WATER: We hear this everyday, we should drink half our body weight in ounces a day. So if you weigh 140 pounds you should be drinking at least 70 ounces of water daily. Water helps flush out toxins that can cause inflammation. Many doctors recommend drinking at least 10 ounces of water approximately 30 minutes before you eat to help you with weight loss, and not to drink it with your meal.

MOVEMENT: When the doctor told m to move my body, I will be honest, I wanted to choke him. I was at the doctor because I was in so much pain, I could not move my body. However even short walks throughout the day can help reduce the inflammation. If you move your body every day for at least 30 minutes you can actually help prevent inflammation.

Here is the part I think many of us know and just do not want to change. Let’s face it, life is busy and some of the items I am about to mention definitely make fast, busy days a bit easier, or do they make them harder?

If you read or listen to anything about food today I think you will constantly hear that processed foods lead to inflammation, obesity, diabetes, and a long list of potential health problems. Look at how much sugar is in everything you eat throughout each day. The items that may have the biggest impact on your body are:

REFINED GRAINS: Food that has been in our diet for some time now such as white bread and other carbohydrates that break down into sugar. Our bodies were not built to digest this type of food. The food was created to last longer and be more convenient.

SUGAR: Processed sugars trigger an inflammatory response in your body. Read labels to see all the hidden sugars in your food. Any food you grab for a burst of energy such as piece of candy, or soda, will spike your sugar levels and then leave you needing more sugar after so you do not experience a drastic drop in energy. Eliminate the sugars and you will see a decrease in inflammation and an increase in a more consistent energy level throughout your day.

SALT: It is no surprise salt is included on this list. Too much salt and you can notice inflammation rather quickly. I know for me, my fingers swell and it may be hard to get a ring off of my finger. Salt is hidden in large quantities in processed and packaged foods as well is in foods.

My grandmother used to say, “If I can’t pronounce it, I can’t eat it”. There is a real gift in that statement. Eating fresh foods, especially green leafy vegetables have been proven to help reduce inflammation. Fresh foods allow you more natural flavor, and ensures you do not put all of the preservatives and chemicals that packaged and frozen foods have into your body.

Today there are hundreds of easy to find and easy to make recipes available based on using fresh food. Write down what you are eating each day, change what you put in your body and see if it helps. Always check with your doctor or nutrionist to ask questions, share your thoughts and see if food can help you change the way you feel every day.

The Power of Deliberate Breathing

The Power of Deliberate Breathing


Today many people around the world speak of stress being an expected part of daily life. We all are familiar with work stress, deadlines, financial stress, relationship stress and many other stressors in our daily lives. Biologically, our bodies are prepared for stress. We have heard of the state of being called “flight or fight” often described as a situation in which we face something extreme and somehow gather strength and speed. This reaction is known as the stress response. Your body is designed to do it automatically when it perceives danger and is preparing to confront or avoid it.

The stress response is an incredible gift, that definitely reminds us of the incredible brilliance in the design of the human body. The fact is, the stress response is not something that we are supposed to encounter on a daily basis. Our bodies were not designed for that type of living. Trouble begins when this response is provoked every day. The results we see when it is a daily occurrence are high blood pressure, a suppressed immune system, anxiety and depression.

Being that so many people now acknowledge they do experience high levels of stress, or any level of stress every day, it is now truly a necessity to learn techniques to counteract that stress and help our bodies help us. One way to do that is to learn techniques that create a relaxation response. The relaxation response is a state that can be elicited through many activities including yoga, meditation, and deep breathing techniques.

Benefits of Deep Breathing

According to Harvard Health deep breathing goes by names such as diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing, and paced respiration. When you are taking deep breaths you can feel the air coming in through your nose and fully filling your lungs and your lower belly rising.

Most of us do not take deep breaths. As we grow older, our environment is more fast paced, we often take shorter, quicker breaths all day. In addition in todays culture body image is important to many. As a result people tend to hold in their stomachs and create a flat or muscular stomach area. By the time we are teenagers moving into our twenties we are so used to more shallow breathing, we begin to believe that when our chest rising we have taken a good healthy breath.

When you take a breath that only makes your chest rise you are compromising your immune system. You begin to increase tension and anxiety. In addition shallow breathing limits the diaphragms range of motion. Your lungs lose the benefit of expanding and stretching and your cells lose the oxygen levels that help them maintain optimal health.

There are many relaxation and breathing exercises that can facilitate your body having a relaxation response. One of the techniques we use is called Deliberate Breathing.

Deliberate Breathing has an incredible impact on your immune system, and your mental and physical health overall. Studies have shown some of the benefits are; reduced anxiety and depression, stabilized blood pressure, increased energy levels and decreased feelings of stress and overwhelm.

Two Easy Steps for Deliberate Breathing

Focusing on breathing helps you concentrate and aids in decreasing distracting thoughts and pain among many other benefits.

Step 1– Take a deep breath in through your nose, and when you think you have taken in enough, take in some more. You should feel your lungs expand and see your lower stomach rising. Count from 1-5 as you take the in the deep breath of air.

Step 2– Breathe out through your mouth, slowly and deliberately.  As you are breathing out count down from 7-1.

In order to make this helpful for you and your mental and physical well-being you need to do this deliberately for a length of time. You can go take a five minute break during your day and do Deliberate Breathing. You may want to begin a meditation or yoga routine both will have some type of breathing process involved in the practice, often varying based on the instructors training. If you are going to   choose to do Deliberate Breathing create a routine that allows you to it for at least 30 minutes a day, it does not have to be consecutive time. The key here is focusing on your breath and counting which gives you some stress free time and your body more of the oxygen it requires to reach optimal health.



Havard Medical School. Harvard Health Publications. January 2015


Breaking Bad Habits

Breaking Bad Habits

Breaking Bad Habits

Habits are behaviors or thoughts that we do repeatedly without even thinking about it. The science behind the creation of habits is quite simple. Our brains are incredible. They can learn, process information, give us information. On a day a day to day basis however, our brain to some extent does not get involved in what we are doing. It does get involved when we are learning a new behavior or thought. After that the behaviors, skills, and thoughts become stored in a way that may be viewed as being  similar to a pipe laid underground. It becomes part of a regular circuit for tasks and thoughts that occur repeatedly. After you truly have practiced and know a behavior or thought it becomes part of this automated system.
Each of us have hundreds of behaviors and thoughts that we use in our daily life. Many of these are actual neutral or beneficial behaviors. We shower, get dressed, we wash our hands and brush our teeth. Some develop routines for habits that may include exercise, meditation or sitting in the same seat all the time, or eating at the same place for dinner regularly.

This information is quite helpful to us because when you understand how habits are formed you can also learn how to break them, and how create new ones. Habits are created by repeating  behaviors or thoughts over time. They are sometimes triggered by a situation. It is very important to note we are not paying attention or consciousiously aware as we doing them.
3 Tips to Successfully Break A Habit
Thanks to science we realize we can create new habits that over time become the new automatic pilot for our actions each day.

Pay Attention. The first step is to notice when you are choosing the habit. Catch yourself and write down the time, the possible trigger, and what you were doing before you chose the action you want to change. This requires us to be willing to be aware and more present throughout the day.
Identify a preferred action. Many of our habits are easier to break if we switch our behavior. We are so entrained to take action in specific situations. If we choose a different action that replaces the old one, this can be quite helpful. For example, instead of grabbing the can of soda when you are at lunch with friends, you stop yourself and grab water. You still are choosing an action. Now you are choosing one that is more nurturing for you.
Repetition. Research shows it takes 21 days to create a habit. Once 21 days passes it becomes a new circuit, a new pipe that has now been placed. This allows you to begin to choose the preferred action without much thought or effort after you have practiced the action consistently for approximately three weeks.

There are many reasons someone may desire to create a habit, or end a habit. I often provide people with new mantras to assist them during the process. This helps them change their self talk to words that support them during the process. It is also important to remember to be kind to you if you have a moment, or a day that you did not feel successful. The important piece is you are aware, you are choosing more for yourself, and just give yourself credit for what you have done, and keep moving forward towards your goal. You can do this.

Overcoming Anxiety

Overcoming Anxiety

The calm you are asking for is within.

Today many people use the term anxious and express feelings of anxiety. The feeling of being anxious is one we all feel at some point in our life. If anxiety is something you experience on occasion, it is often considered to be normal. In this day and age people have begun to add anxiety and stress as frequent experiences they tolerate each day. Deadlines, bills, hectic schedules and long to do lists are all common in everyday life. However, anxiety also is a feeling that can overwhelm you, for many anxiety is something that can get in the way of everyday “normal” functioning. Many do not know that anxiety creates stress on your body and impacts your immune system too.

When we feel anxious our brain triggers the release of stress hormones. You may have heard the term “fight or flight”. When we feel anxiety our body interprets this feeling as stress and potential danger. We are biologically, chemically designed to release a hormone under this condition that has us either fight or run for cover. The more often this chemical is released into your system, the more it has an impact on your immune system, energy, and your ability to think clearly or think at all. For those of you who have a diagnosis of anxiety, you can see and feel all of this in your life and body.

The first step to taking control of your anxiety is to know the feeling of being anxious is normal under certain circumstances. Begin to take note of how often you are feeling anxious and under what conditions.

Temporary feelings of anxiety in life situations are normal and your body can manage it. This may be doing major life events such as planning a wedding, moving, taking an exam, changing a job. When anyone of those temporary life events lasts a longer period of time your body and mind will begin to feel run down.

Some people who have anxiety daily may have it a low level. It may be fleeting throughout the day, with some subtle triggers. Although you feel it, it feels manageable and your day can still remain on track. Often at low levels people begin to accept and tolerate this as a daily part of their life.

For some an event or stressor may last a long period of time, re-occur daily at work or in relationship or in a specific type of event. When this occurs consistently overtime anxiety can lead to other difficulties such as depression or new fears and difficulties. Some who struggle with anxiety daily over a length of time may develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD.

Steps to Help Manage Anxiety

  1. Acknowledgement. Admit to yourself you have anxiety. Once you acknowledge that this is something that is beyond normal and occasional you can begin to move forward.
  2. Tell Someone. Tell one or two people you trust what you are experiencing. Let them know you are sharing this information with them as one of your first steps in taking control of your anxiety.
  3. Allow. Our first reaction when we feel something like anxiety is to resist it and try to pretend it is not there. What we resist grows stronger. Acknowledge that you are experiencing anxiety, and to the best you can to work through the anxious moment.
  4. Techniques. Seek out assistance so you can learn techniques to help you decrease and eventually prevent your anxiety. Meditation and deliberate breathing are two I teach to my clients. There are many techniques out there find three to five that work for you.
  5. Nutrition. People who experience anxiety should look at their diet. Eliminate foods with caffeine and sugar. They both increase anxiety and stress for your mind and body.
  6. Time. Make time everyday for yourself. You can begin with 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night. Choose to use that time to help you release your stress and anxiety. You may exercise, journal, go outside and walk in nature. Whatever feels like a release for you.
  7. Sleep. Many people with anxiety have difficulty sleeping. Some find it easier to sleep somewhere in between morning and bedtime for an hour and then continue their day. Sleep is a time that does allow you to release stress and heal your cells and mind. Meditation and deep deliberate breathing can also help with falling asleep. You may want to ask your doctor about natural sleep aid at first if you cannot fall asleep. You want to begin a healthy sleep routine. The rest will also help to decrease the stress and anxiety.

There are many additional tools and techniques to assist you in overcoming your anxiety. You will find the ones that work for you once you decide it is time for you to take control. What you will do over time is create new habits that support you and nurture you. I often create audios for my clients with daily mantras or meditations or both. Words that support them in their knowing and believing, everything is working out for them. These techniques have helped hundreds of people overcome anxiety, and you can do it too.

Join Donna in her Deliberate Creation or her Mediation Program. These programs are designed for transformation, connecting with like minded people and moving you forward in your life.