Update; Anxiety Management & 'In the Moment' Tips

It is mind-blowing for me to think how far I’ve come in learning to deal, manage, and overcome much of my anxiety. You can read about it here, where I talk about the nightly anxiety attacks that would wake me up every morning at 3 AM, different foods I added into my diet to help combat stress and anxiety, and certain yoga poses that made me feel a little more at ease. 

post 2 mile run, just 20 minutes to make you feel a bit better...as as much as I can actually run outside ha!

post 2 mile run, just 20 minutes to make you feel a bit better...as as much as I can actually run outside ha!

For a frame of reference, about a year ago I would be woken up in the middle of the night with major panic attacks not truly understanding the cause. I would feel trapped inside my body with a racing heart and flashing thoughts. I would try to tell my body to get up, move, but I physically couldn’t - I was nervous, scared, exhausted, and truly felt as if I was going to ‘die’ in that moment. Then, 15-20 minutes later it was all over. I wouldn’t be able to even remember what I was thinking about but was left feeling extremely exhausted, still stressed, and my stomach would be in crippling pain. 

About a YEAR ago, below, is just a short list as to what I did to try and improve on in my own life to help manage my anxiety, it wasn't much and I didn't see much improvement.

  1. Gave up caffeine (coffee)
  2. More yoga 
  3. No phone in the bedroom
  4. Exercise first thing in the AM vs. late in the evenings  (8-9 PM)
  5. Being more conscious of what I was eating, when, and making sure to never skip meals (more healthy fats, slowly increase fiber, more protein)

Seems simple, easy, and pretty doable but flash forward to today, I have an entirely different approach. Less restrictive, more positive. More about changing my mindset, one that is more positive and accepting

Today, I feel that I have WAY more control over managing my anxiety, preventing it, and how to handle it in the moment all while still being able to live freely and feeling as if I am not giving up so many things that I enjoyed. Meaning, not missing out on social events for fear of not being able to control what I was eating, debating if I should have a drink or not, worry that I will miss out on sleep or exercise (all things that can often trigger my anxiety!), enjoying caffeine (coffee), be reluctant to travel, not having to be dependent on medication, becoming more organized with work and how many projects I take on, not overthinking what I need to be eating vs. what I shouldn’t, and so much more! All of this can be stressful in itself which only continuous to stress out your body and your gut! 

What I am getting at is now I am more prepared to handle my anxiety in the moment when it happens or how to prevent it the majority of the time EVEN if things that I could control are out of my control (food, diet, exercise, routines, travel, sleep). I am much more positive and flexible in my thoughts and actions. I know what to do now to get back to neutral. 

As I have said before I think that anxiety is often situational and can greatly be affected by lack of sleep, stress, lack of proper nutrition, changing hormones, or over/under exercise. Things that are easy to pin point and potentially a bit “easier” to manage or fix. Other times you aren’t sure why you are experiencing a racing heart, out of control thoughts, or shortness of breath - feeling completely lost as to what you need to do in order to feel a bit more in control of your life. 

To be honest, I was kind of frustrated that I felt that I needed to give up coffee, alcohol every once and a while, be so routine (rigid) with working out, eat a certain way (too “clean”); that it actually stressed me out a bit more in the long run. My mind was becoming too preoccupied with following a certain schedule that I felt too rigid, too restricted. We all know certain things that can trigger our own anxiety and stress, but I am trying to be a bit more realistic as to how I go about that. The funny thing is once I let go some of that control, I started to feel better. Remember, it is a temporary feeling

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Ways to help manage anxiety, anxiety attacks, or stress: 

1. Getting outside (Vitamin D)

This one is potentially pretty easy, obvious, and free! Take your lunch break outside, walk instead of drive while running errands (if possible!), take 10-15 minute interval breaks every few hours while at work to get outside, run/walk outside instead of working out a studio or gym. If you are traveling; walk to the coffee shops, breakfast spots or dinners if possible; even if they are 1-2 miles away, it's really only 20 minutes of walking. When the weather is nicer I tend to give up my time spent in a studio and will ocean swim (if I am home), walk, or do a short run outside. Just 20 minutes improves my mood drastically. Even a quick 10-15 minute walk in the morning before you start your day can change things around OR help you make 'better for you choices' later in the day. 

                           2. De-clutter your environment, apartment, car, work space. 

This one I am currently working on. I just moved in with my boyfriend and we have stuff everywhere. It can be challenging since I work from home and I feel anxious with everything out of place. A few things I can control: cleaning up the kitchen (where I work when home) before bed, putting away laundry, and organizing the living room space before bed as well. That way when I wake up in the morning the apartment is somewhat organized and I do not have to waste time in the morning cleaning up.  Same goes with your car; don't let things pile up (trash, clothes) or become a hoarding space. You can see things more clearly and work more efficiently. 

                                                 3. Balance out your workouts:

How often do you workout? Constantly tired or forcing yourself to go? Missing social events or things with friends because you have to go? I used to workout every single day and sometimes 2x a day. Serious burn out and stress to my body, especially my gut health. This actually caused more harm to me than good. I had trouble sleeping because I was completely worn out from over exercising, over tired, and had trouble focusing on my work and on top of that I would stress out if I missed a workout because I was too obsessed. I let it dictate my everyday. Now, I try and aim for 4 days a week. My workouts consist of a mix between HIIT (I like Barrys Bootcamp), swimming, hot yoga, or walking. Normally, at the start of the week I try and schedule in my workouts for that week. I will sign up early to stay committed and usually try to go with a friend or my boyfriend. Once I started to balance out the days I worked out and the types of workouts I felt much more at ease; my body didn't feel constantly inflamed/bloated and I worried less if I missed a class because I know that rest is OK/beneficial and that I would be able to go X day. This also opened up more time in my day to focus on other things; fun work projects, writing, socializing with friends, and travel; all things that bring me happiness. You have to find your happy medium with exercise, think of it as something that will benefit you mentally, make you happy, instead of something that NEEDS to be checked off. 

                                                                 4. Sleep

Maybe the hardest one to control. There are things that I do now that help me sleep more soundly  than before;

a) eating a balanced diet (adding in more healthy fats, increasing fiber, eating more of a variety of proteins/vegetables, adding back in lower sugar fruits). Not skipping meals or snacks if I am hungry. What are we actually saving calories for?
b) having 1 cup of coffee a day, usually mid morning. Not always possible, but if I have coffee later in the afternoons or in the evenings it can keep me up at night which triggers my anxiety for the next day since I did not sleep well or long enough. BUT, since I know this, I can be more prepared when I am trying to go to bed. Which might be a hot shower or bath, a balanced dinner, an evening walk, warm water with lemon/ginger after dinner to help with digestion, reading. 
c) exercising in the morning or before dinner instead of later in the evenings + balance out workouts. I used to workout around 8-9 PM THEN eat a bunch of random things and call it a "dinner", which caused me to wake up hungry or have trouble sleeping since I was still hungry. I don't exercise every morning, but aim for 1-2 early morning workouts and then 2 workouts before dinner/later in the afternoons.
d) Limit alcohol. Obviously there are times that I have more drinks that will not make me feel my best in the morning, but I try to set limits because I know that it will disrupt my sleep. I find that I am able to enjoy it more often than not because I am not over-doing it every single time. Knowing that alcohol can upset my stomach or give me a headache; I am now better prepared to handle it in the morning- whether it be a quick walk, a yoga class, extra sleep, healthy energizing breakfast, water/lemon/ACV first thing before coffee, etc. 
e) limit phone, computer, tv before bed. After a certain time I do not look at my phone nor sleep with it in my room. I shut my computer off before dinner and normally stop watching TV 30 minutes before bed. 
f) having a snack before bed IF I need one. Going to bed hungry makes it harder to fall asleep. Lack of sleep = irritable in the morning, poor food choices, stress, stomach problems, and eventually anxiety in the evenings. It's a cycle! My snacks usually consist of energy bites, a protein bar, cooked veggies/dip, crackers (love simple mills)/dip, yogurt + fruit.
g) Creating a "to-do" list before bed and organizing either my week or next day. This allows me to rid my mind of my thoughts or what I would like to complete the next day so I am not overthinking or trying hard to remember everything as soon as my head hits the pillow. 

Sleep is one of the biggest things for me. If I do not sleep well, wake up in the middle of the night, or go to bed too late; I really suffer the next day. I am tired, usually skip my morning workout, crave certain foods that will trigger my anxiety (sugar), throws off my stomach, probably not the nicest person to be around, causes migraines and so on! What I have in place are things where if this does happen, I know what I need to do the next day in order to overcome the inevitable anxiety or stress! This can be as simple as taking a walk outside, making time for breakfast, talking about it, staying committed to the workout OR knowing that I will benefit better with an extra hour or so of sleep; guilt free, having lots of water, or doing something first thing in the morning that is calming (reading, baking, listening to a podcast, watching one TV show/news) really anything to bring you back to neutral. I also try to wake up a bit earlier too, (even if its 15 minutes) that gives me plenty of time to make/eat breakfast, have coffee, get organized before the day sans rushing. 

                                                                  5. Food

I contribute much of my ability to manage my anxiety through the food choices I make daily. What we eat affects the brain! I know what makes my body feel good, fueled, energized vs. foods that cause migraines, constant bloating, a bad mood, and irritability. To be honest, it took a while to figure this out and it was truly a constant battle of trial and error to figure out what works for my body instead of listening to someone else. It became less about skipping meals, being lazy about food prep/planning and more about knowing that X food makes me feel good and when I feel good I sleep better, feel better, less stressed, focused, less likely to skip events, and easier to be around. 

More: omega 3's (wild fish, walnuts, ground flaxseeds), protein (lean turkey, organic chicken, wild fish, hemp seeds, almond butters), increase fiber (chia seeds, dark leafy greens), including in "superfoods" into my everyday diet (spices (turmeric, ginger, cinnamon etc) spirulina, raw cacao, more fruits (blueberries, bananas, oranges), avocados, oatmeal, dairy free yogurts. (In a future blog post- I will list out all my go to brands/snacks)

Less: refined sugars, cooking oils (NOT olive oil or coconut oil, but canola oil) foods high in fat (for me at least), greasy foods, packaged foods/snacks, too much salt, monitoring coffee and alcohol (wine is a trigger for me, so I will opt for other choices), skipping meals, or simply not eating enough or not adding variety to my diet. 

ALSO, another key thing is to be positive about what you are eating. I have coffee everyday, I drink alcohol, and sometimes I do overeat or pick foods that I know aren't the best. Instead of fixating on it, move on. Know that you can eat something that might make you feel off, but know that it isn't an everyday occurrence. Chances are when you are more positive it will hurt your stomach less or not cause anxiety for you. Do something that will help you feel more like yourself; fresh air, quick exercise, being around your friends, taking a epsom salt bath, etc. 

                                                         'IN THE MOMENT TIPS'

When an anxiety attack happens, it can feel like the end of the world. Short of breath, heart racing, trouble focusing, difficulty finding someone who relates to you, sweating, mind racing, exhaustion, self destructing; a fleeting moment. One thing to remember is that the feeling is temporary. I think that controlling your anxiety, figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t work is a process that you shouldn’t give up on. Becoming more aware of your triggers and what you need to do to help in the moment or the long run will allow you to be in more control and stay positive about the situation. Once you have a few plans in action you will be better able to navigate through an attack, especially if they are in public. Talking about it helps as well, even if it is just with one person so they too can be prepared when you are feeling out of sorts. Once the attack is done, think about what it was. From start to finish and then the next time it occurs you can potentially stop it, use the same coping mechanisms or have them last for less time. 

For example, if I do not sleep the night before, I am well aware that the next day I am irritable and my stomach is completely off (bloated, inflamed, feel sick when I eat). So, now this time around, I know there are a few things to help me get back to feeling a bit more normal so I am not dwelling, obsessing, or allowing my anxiety to be in control. This might be where I turn to things I can control; whether it is through food, exercise, or something I can distract my mind with. I do know that if I just continue to take care of myself that day, instead of self destruct, the next day I will feel good as new. Just that thought process, helps me in the moment. 

1. Accept your anxiety; know it is only temporary and stay positive. Once you start to notice your anxiety increase, understand that it WILL pass. What are things you can set in place to help you gain back control of your thoughts, breath, body. Who can you confide in? Try the best you can to stick to a previously planned activity or focus on something that is goal oriented. If you have anxiety about making a speech, teaching your fitness classes, or giving a work presentation understand/accept that you are nervous, but prepared!! 

2. Focus on the right now, the present moment. So much of our anxiety can be a result of what we haven't done yet, what we didn't do, and what is happening next week, month or year. Make lists and stick to them! 

3. Write it out. If I am stressed, anxious, or have a big day ahead of me, I make a big to do list or write down any notes and reminders that I need be more aware of. This allows me to prioritize and see the bigger picture. 

4. Walk it off. Take a step back, a quick break. Sometimes all you need is to simply take a walk outside or if you are lucky enough- head to the gym, take a class, do yoga! Really 20 minutes is all you need.

5. Detach yourself from social media & your phone. This seems simple, but I know how challenging it can be especially when or if your job is to constantly have or be on your phone. After dinner I do not look at my phone, check emails, or scroll through any forms of social media. I do not sleep with the phone in my room and it isn't the first thing that I check! 

6. Low blood sugar or hunger. These two things can often throw me off and if I let it build up or go too long without a snack or meal my body becomes stressed. Have snacks on hand, prepare them before the week starts, or meal prep as best as you can even if it is just for a few days in advanced. 

7. BREATH. Breathing technique: 4-7-8. First, you hold your breathe for 4 seconds. Then, breathe out before holding it again for 7 seconds. Finally, exhale completely for a count of 8 seconds. Repeat these steps as needed or up to about 4 times. I usually do this when I am stressed or experiencing an anxiety attack because my breath is usually short and shallow. It slows my heart rate and makes me calm.

These lists might seem obvious or things that you are aware of, but it is always a good reminder. I think that the biggest takeaway is staying present and positive. Once I started to change my mindset and know that the feeling is always temporary and in due time it will pass, I started to have a better handle on my anxiety. Which, in turn, made me feel much better physically as well. Allowing myself to become more flexible with work, food, exercise, and anything else made it easier to go with the flow and not become so stuck in the mindset that everything has to be completely routine and rigid in order to feel my best. It is actually quite the opposite for me now! I can happily say that I haven't had an anxiety attack like I used to in almost a year by taking preventative measures and being more open about the way that I am feeling. Now, I am experience anxious feelings or stress but deal with it head on instead of obsessing over things I can control. The only way out is through. 

x

 

Ways to Stay Healthy During Winter; Tips, Collagen, & More

Winter is here; reads: dry skin, tired more often, colder, shorter days, less motivation to work out, comfort foods that seem to be more readily available, and it is only inevitable that we all get sick or burnt out at one point or another. However, instead of giving in to the excuses that are plagued by the winter months, I try my best to stay motivated to continue with my routine that I have during the fall. Plus, I try my hardest to steer clear of anything that is going to cause my body to become run down, get sick easier, and do this by opting for foods that are anti-inflammatory, supportive of my gut health, minimal in sugar, and reach for lean protein sources or plant based protein as well as increase my vegetable intake. I then stay away from processed foods, fake sugars, oils that can cause inflammation (such as canola oils, sunflower seed oils) packaged foods, refined carbs etc. I continue to exercise but may choose heated yoga or quick HIIT type of work outs that will give my body bursts of energy and then will focus on recovery, especially in the winter as the days are colder and the nights are shorter / darker which can take a toll on our bodies. Recovery, can be in the form of resting more, adding more vitamins or supplements into my diet, eating foods that will nourish and repair my muscles after a workout or if I am feeling sluggish instead of foods that are going to continue to drag me down. 

One of the things that I love has been the addition of collagen into my diet and the brand that I always gravitate towards for many years now is Vital Proteins. Ever since suffering from leaky gut, SIBO, IBS, and even high stress and anxiety levels, I have always been intrigued by collagen and the numerous health benefits it has the potential to offer to my body. It is known to help improve leaky gut, (You can read about my digestive health struggles here) help strengthen your nails, hair, improve your skin complexion, control your cortisol levels and so much more! 

Today, I want to share my go to Vital Proteins supplements & collagen, herbs, spices, recipes, or other grocery items that I always stock up on, and different tips that I follow as best as I can to stay healthy during the winter and the stressful holiday months. Extra stress during the holidays can wreck havoc on our bodies, our gut health, causing us to feel completely run down, sleep less, and just make the winter drag on forever! I've noticed that since adding the collagen into my routine, especially during times of stress and during the winter months, my gut health stays healthy which makes me feel good, sleep better, stress less, and continue to stick to my routines!   

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FIRST; what is collagen? 

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and helps give structure to our hair, skin, nails, bones, ligaments and tendons in our body. Thanks to collagen, we’re better able to move, bend and stretch. Collagen is also behind helping hair shine, skin glow and nails stay strong. 

As we age it begins to decrease as well as other lifestyle factors; such as eating a diet that is high in sugar or having high levels of stress.

Collagen is a protein made up of amino-acids: glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine, all of which help our body's connective tissue, skin, hair, nails, as well as gut health stay as healthy as possible. 

Ever since adding collagen into my diet I have noticed major changes in my gut health, skin health and growth of my hair. I am also able to recover in a shorter amount of time from intense workouts (I feel less inflamed, less bloated, and not as sore!) and I feel that my intolerances to certain foods that I once had to stay away from have completely disappeared; for example having a history of leaky gut for many years it was imperative that I stay away from grains but now I am able to eat quinoa or lentils without a problem. I truly believe that the collagen has helped “seal up the holes” in my small intestines allowing me to add variety to my diet without suffering from extreme bloating, migraines, breakouts, intense cramping and more! I will say this didn’t happen over night and it isn’t a quick fix, but you will start to see differences within weeks. Remember, nothing is a quick fix, but your health is a journey! My hair grew faster and stronger and my complexion became brighter. The later changed happened within a few weeks and with my gut health it was within a few months. 

That isn’t to discourage you, but encourage you that it is possible to help with symptoms that you might be suffering from and plus it is so simple to add the collagen in anything; smoothies, homemade protein bars, water, coffee, matcha, oatmeal, salad dressings, the list goes on. There really isn’t anything you can’t put it in especially since it is tasteless and dissolves easily. 

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My go to Vital Proteins + why; the benefits as to how it can help keep you healthy and feeling GOOD. 

  1. Marine Collagen
    1. Support gut health (helped improve leaky gut symptoms, SIBO, improve digestion)
    2. Stronger nails 
    3. Brighter skin
    4. Support hair growth / stronger hair 
    5. 11 grams of collagen protein per serving, tasteless, dairy free, gluten free, paleo, whole30 
    6. Recipes: If you search "Vital Proteins" in my search box you will find that I have numerous recipes; smoothies, oatmeal bakes, a healthy sweet potato salad, turmeric latte, no bake protein bars/bites etc! I have a few linked below for you! 
  2. Spirulina Capsules
    1. Detoxifier; energizes you by removing toxins from your body 
    2. Take 2-4 pills every single morning, energy levels have increased
    3. Help improve skin (more clear, brighter complexion) 
  3. Bone Broth Collagen 
    1. Improve digestion, help with leaky gut symptoms, over coming food intolerances, helps with the growth of good probiotics 
    2. Joint health (helps restore cartilage)  / Helps us maintain strong bones  
    3. Boost immune system 
    4. Helps with the liver’s ability to remove toxins from the body and improves the body’s use of antioxidants rich source of gelatin
    5. Bone broth protects and seals the mucosal lining of the GI tract, which means it improves nutrient absorption and also helps keep particles from leaching out where they shouldn’t be.
  4. Collagen Beauty Water
      1. Enhance your energy. 
      2. Stronger hair, skin (glowing skin, clear complexion), nails. 
      3. FLAVORS:
        1. Lavender Lemon (my favorite!!)
        2. Strawberry Lemon 
        3. Cucumber Aloe 
        4. Melon Mint 

They also have Matcha Collagen, Collagen Creamer, Collagen Whey Protein and so many more! 

Ways to Stay Healthy....

  1. Eat / drink your vitamins: During the winter months, I opt for lean proteins, plant based options, minimal amounts of sugar, and fill my plate with more vegetables. I also keep my blood sugar levels in check by snacking when need to and always make sure that I have a breakfast full of healthy fats, protein and carbs. I use spices that are anti-inflammatory and fill my snacks, smoothies, coffees with the collagen to make sure that I am always sneaking it in somehow throughout the day. It is the easiest way! Plus, Vital Proteins has to go packets so you can always keep some with you on hand, making it easy to add it into any of your smoothies or lattes when you are out!  
    1. Healthy fats (avocados, coconut oils, nut/seed butters) 
    2. Plant based protein options (lentils, quinoa, beans) 
    3. Lean proteins 
    4. Whole grains 
    5. herbs / spices : turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, thyme, lemon balm, sage, elderberry, mint, echinacea 
    6. Nuts / seeds: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, almonds, chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, hemp seeds
    7. Easy way to incorporate: morning smoothies, chia puddings, oatmeals, homemade energy bars, coffee, lattes. All you need to do is add 1-2 scoops daily or as many times as you would like! 
    8. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports the body’s immune system; Vitamin C is important for many body functions, including helping the body to absorb plant-based iron from foods and helping it to maintain strong teeth, cartilage and bones
    9. Nutrients are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables
      1. dark leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, winter squash, citrus fruits, fruits lower in sugar; such as blueberries, raspberries
  2. Sleep, Get plenty of rest! 
    1. To keep your immune system strong; lack of sleep hurts your ability to fight off any infections, being productive, harder to recover from intense workouts, easily stressed
    2. To help me sleep at night, I love adding collagen into: 
        1. Cup of warm bone broth or heating up the bone broth in warm water 
        2. Turmeric milks
        3. Your favorite nighttime tea 
        4. Other suggestions: Trying Taking or Doing: 
      1. Epsom salts at night 
      2. Phone not in bedroom 
      3. Try shutting off computer, tv, phone 30 minutes to 1 hour before bed (read, write, organize for the next day)
      4. Reading, Journaling, or Making a to-do list of your next day's tasks before bed to calm your mind. 
  3. Exercise & Recover / Refuel
    1. Help promotes sleep 
    2. Regular exercise can help keep your immune system strong, increases your blood flow, boosts your energy, clears your mental state 
    3. If you don’t give your body time to rest after strenuous exercise, you’re only upping the chance that you’ll get sick.
    4. Lack of sleep and overworked muscles cause your immune system to become weak, you to become fatigue, makes it harder for you to fall asleep, which in turn is a breeding ground for germs or viruses to take over! If I over exercise, I have a hard time sleeping, I feel more tired, my body is completely run down and I feel extremely burnt out. This is when I tend to get sick. Therefore, taking a rest is crucial! If I start to feel this way, I make sure that I am continually sticking to foods that will nourish my body, adding collagen into my diet where I see fit, and listening to what my body needs in terms of exercise. 
  4. Keep hydrated
    1. Lemon water + Apple cider vinegar + beauty water from Vital Proteins.  
      1. Brighten your skin, balance your PH levels, alkaline the body, help with digestion (keep things moving).
    2. Winter can suck the moisture from us and leave us feeling dry (skin, hair) 
    3. Hydration has a major effect on how your body functions as it’s important not only for cognitive health but also for helping to keep you regular (digestion). 
    4. I always carry around a water bottle with me or leave one in a few bags that I carry often so I always have one handy. 
    5. My goal has always been: Drink 16 oz in AM before breakfast, PM after lunch, and another after dinner or before dinner.  
  5. Connect / Social 
    1. Make time for friends! 
    2. Important for your mental health 
    3. Schedule in dates with significant other, friends, or family 
    4. Keeps stress levels low, allows you to have things to look forward to during the week, gives you a break from your routine, allows you to have human connection 
    5. Wellness isn't always eating well and working out, but connecting with others. 

Putting it all together: Examples of how to incorporate collagen into your diet/routine

Breakfast: 
Pre-breakfast: 
1. 16 oz of water with 1 lemon, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar & either 1 scoop Vital Proteins Beauty Water or Marine Collagen

2. Lattes/Coffee/Matcha: Add 1-2 scoops of Marine Collagen

4. BREAKFAST: Smoothies, oatmeals, chia puddings, yogurt bowls, any type of pancake batter: add 1-2 scoops of Marine Collage / Beauty Waters.
Golden Mylk Collagen Smoothie

Cacao Oatmeal Bake w/ a Cashew Cream spread

2. SNACKS: 

No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

Maca Almond Butter Banana Bread

Cinnamon Peanut Protein Bites

3. LUNCH / DINNERS: 

 Quinoa Lentil Bites 

 Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese 

Collagen Sweet Potato Salad w/ a Mustard Dressing

4. DESSERT

Dark Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Spicy Cinnamon Brownies (no bake)
 

Collagen is a beneficial addition to your routine and diet that will keep your gut healthy, your immune system strong, allowing you to feel your best and fight off the winter colds. It is an extremely easy to add into everything that you do each day and week by week you will start to see improve not only in your digestion, but your skin, hair, and overall energy. This is the one thing that I make sure I am taking every single day whether it be on the form of my energy bites or mixing it into smoothies or my coffee. Not only is it an extra boost of protein, but it helps protect my gut, keeping my digestion regular, and strong which then improves my overall mood, my mental state, my sleep and so much more. For me it always begins with the gut, if I can keep my gut healthy then everything else in my body seems to be working in harmony; my anxiety, stress, sleep, recovery from workouts, etc and I have the collagen to help thank for that! 

Gut Health & l-Glutamine

*Recipe for these cacao mint bites below!

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Pure Encapsulations

If you’ve been with me for a while, you already know my gut health history; leaky gut, SIBO, gastroparesis, IBS, food allergies, food intolerances, elimination diets and the list continues…I wrote a two-part blog post in February in great detail about what I’ve been through, how far I’ve come, food trends I’ve experimented with, foods that I focus on, exercises that work for my body, and just about everything in between. You can read about that in part I and part II.

Over the last 8 or so years, I have seen countless doctors, been to many nutritionists, and tried every medication in the book. While some medications brought me temporary relief, I really noticed a change in my overall well-being was when I changed the way I was eating, changed my mindset around food, managed my stress levels, and started to incorporate more supplements (think probiotics / digestive enzymes) into my diet, and ESPECIALLY ones like l-Glutamine powder from Pure Encapsulations. I still see a gastroenterologist and a neurologist regularly because every once in a while I experience flares. I also do think that it is important to have this type of relationship with your doctor, one you can trust where he or she can recommend different supplements or ways to help improve your health instead of going it alone! I will say that I went from having my doctors on call & taking countless medications to now seeing my doctors solely on a yearly checkup and using natural supplements and foods to help improve my overall health and well-being! 

While I was at my worst with leaky gut, 3 of my personal doctors (primary care doctor, my current gastroenterologist, as well as the nutritionist I was seeing at the time) all recommended that I incorporate l-Glutamine into my daily diet. I tried out the powder (tasteless FYI!) for just about a month. At this time, I was younger and already taking many different medications. I didn’t want to add one more thing to the list, but I was looking for more of a quick fix (overnight really). I became lazy about adding it into my routine (which I don’t know how it is even possible, when all you have to do is add one scoop into your daily smoothies, yogurt, energy bites, water or really just about anything that isn’t warm!!), so after not doing it for one day, it would turn into a week, then a month and then I just completely stopped! Looking back, I wish that I never did because of all the positive benefits l-Glutamine can have on the body, especially if you are someone that has digestive issues or even someone that is very athletic and does high intensity training. 

Fast forward to now; I am adding it back into my daily routine about 2-3x a day, which is equivalent to about 6-9 grams daily. I am using a powder from Pure Encapsulations and taking about 1 scoop in the morning, afternoon, and in the evenings by mixing it into my smoothies, yogurt bowls, water, and adding it into my homemade energy bites. It is that simple! What I love about Pure Encapsulations’ l-Glutamine powder is that their products are made with hypoallergenic ingredients and the powder is completely tasteless making it super easy to add into just about everything. There are no unnecessary fillers or sweeteners, it is gluten free, and formulated by nutritionists / medical experts! You can read a little more about it here: https://www.pureencapsulations.com/media/l_Glutamine.pdf

As a re-cap: leaky gut, what I’ve experienced over and over again, in a nutshell is when your intestinal lining separates (the tight junctions of your gut) and “holes” are created, which allows toxins, undigested food, bacteria, any kind of substances, to escape into your bloodstream! You don’t want them there because it can cause havoc on your body = hormonal imbalance, weight gain, sugar cravings, bloating, food intolerances, constipation, etc.!  Think of it this way, your gut lining is normally supposed to act as a shield, to stop unwanted substances that are harmful, from escaping and entering your bloodstream. BUT, when the shield is broken, all hell breaks loose in the body. A battle you will not win, unless you fuel your body properly and heal your gut. So, what happens? Your body goes into panic mode. Your immune system reacts, attacks, brings out an immune response on these unwanted substances that have been leaked into your bloodstream. So? Then, each response = inflammation. The more unwanted particles that are released into the bloodstream, the more attacks, and the more inflammation your body will suffer from.

Chronic inflammation equals constant feeling of BLAH and health complications. 

Leaky gut is a problem in which your gut walls are allowing anything and everything into your body!  For me, when my leaky gut was at its peak, I had many of the symptoms below:

1.             Fatigue

2.             Food intolerance

3.             Migraines

4.             Abdominal bloating (hard bloat)

5.             Cramps 

6.             Brain fog

7.             Skin problems

8.             IBS C/D

Although diet can help by eating the right foods or steering clear of ones that can trigger symptoms, it isn’t always enough. You need to support the lining of gut and that is where supplements like l-Glutamine can come into play! l-Glutamine helps maintain the gut lining so this doesn’t happen; i.e. when things leak into your bloodstream that shouldn’t!

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How?

l-Glutamine is an amino acid produced in our bodies and then distributed to organs that need it, including the digestive system and the immune system.

For starters; l-Glutamine is 1 of 20 amino acids but it is the primary fuel used by cells in your gut lining. It is an essential amino acid that can have powerful effects on the process of healing the gut, maintaining a good level of intestinal health, and help in other areas of personal health as well, such as muscle recovery, energy, and digestion. The protective lining of the small intestines “eats it up” allowing the proper nutrients to pass through the lining and limiting the amount of toxins that pass through into your body over time. It is important for your body to maintain this protective mucosal layer and tighten up the openings in your gut lining to stop any undigested particles such as food to leak out!

Although the body is capable of producing this naturally, at times, our bodies need this, but we are unable to adequately provide enough of it! It can be found naturally in our bloodstream, produced in our muscles, and then distributed to the organs that need it! However, during times of stress, trauma, serious digestive issues,  exposure to chemicals over time, or even high endurance exercise training, our bodies are in need of more of l-Glutamine! During these situations, our bodies tend to be weaker and need to get this amino acid from supplements or other sources such as food. This is why it is beneficial to add in extra through a powder form in case you are not receiving enough from the foods that you are eating.

Side note: Some foods that you can eat to receive more benefits of l-Glutamine are:

1.             seafood

2.             bone broth

3.             grass-fed beef

4.             eggs

5.             spirulina

6.             broccoli, kale, spinach

7.             nuts

8.             fermented foods

All in all, it helps to protect the lining of the intestines and the stomach called the mucosa and low levels of glutamine may affect your digestion and lead to gastrointestinal problems. Here are some benefits:

1.             Promotes muscle health and function

2.             Supports post exercise recovery

3.             Helps to enhance the protective barrier of the digestive tract

4.             Supports GI Health

5.             Supports immune system function

Which is pretty powerful, considering all you need to do is add a few scoops of the powder form into your daily routine each day and enjoy the benefits listed above. My doctors explained that you will start to see noticeable benefits within a month. L-Glutamine is definitely something that you need to stick with and not become discouraged after a few days. It isn’t a quick fix, but something that will be extremely beneficial to your overall well-being in the long run. Nothing is a quick fix, but a health journey!

If you are looking to try the powder, I suggest start off with small amounts and see how your body handles it! I first had conversations with my own doctors as well as a nutritional pharmacologist from Pure Encapsulations. During the last month, I have started off with 1 heaping scoop about 2-3x a day and then will work my way up to more and adjust accordingly to see how my body handles it and reacts. I do notice that I can digest food easier, and that I am less bloated after high intensity types of workouts and that my body can recover faster from them. And, lastly, I am more confident to expand my food choices because I feel that my gut lining is building its strength back which will allow me to feel better overall.

If you’re interested in trying l-Glutamine powder from Pure Encapsulations, you can purchase it here: https://www.pureformulas.com/lglutamine-powder-227-grams-by-pure-encapsulations.html

I will continue to keep you all posted and provide updates as to how I feel by reporting back here and through IG!

 

CACAO MINT BITES!!

CACAO MINT BITES
1 cup oats
1 cup mixed nuts (I did almonds/walnuts) 
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup ground flax
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1 cup cashew butter
3 heaping scoops of l-Glutamine powder
1 tbsp. peppermint extract
dash of maca powder
few dashes of cinnamon
3 tbsp. cacao nibs

Directions
1. First blend together the oats and the nuts together in your food processor until almost flour like consistency
2. Add the remaining ingredients and blend together until dough forms
*If not completely coming together add more cashew butter, 1 tbsp at a time of nut-milk or water. 
3. Roll into balls! 
Keep in fridge for up to 2 weeks or freezer for longer! 

My Nighttime Routine

For the longest time it would take me forever to fall asleep. I would toss and turn for hours, stare at the clock, scroll mindlessly though my phone, think about everything that I needed to do the following day, eat for no reason, and even get out of bed and sometimes work! I also would wake up 4-5 times a week around 3 AM so hungry and suffer from terrible anxiety attacks. They were so mentally exhilarating that it would cause me to stay up for the rest of the night.  I knew I needed to establish a night time routine and make it a habit so I could sleep better in order to have a more productive day, because on the nights that I could not sleep the entire next day I was irritable, experienced migraines, would crash around 2 PM, my digestive system was terrible, terrible being an understatement, and I had NO energy or motivation to do anything! My brain was mush. 

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