My Top 5 Workout Must-Haves

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I'm a bit of a gym rat and workout fiend. 

 

I've always been active and grew up as a soccer player, but over the last few years I've really fallen in love with strength training, high intensity interval training and more recently, spinning!

Since I’ve spoken and posted about my fitness journey so much and so openly, tons of people have messaged me asking me about my workouts, how I stay so consistent, what gets me out of bed at 4:30am to go to the gym (yup, your read that right) so I figured I'd share some of my workout essentials. What I use, what I listen to and what the average week looks like in terms of activity. If you want me to include anything else in upcoming posts, just send me an email and I'd be happy to do a follow up post :)

 

Cute Activewear - I don't know about you, but when I look good, I feel good. And when I don't feel good, I always make a point of changing something in my external environment (my hair, my outfit, my makeup) to change my state of mind. It works like a charm! I've been a mega fan of Lorna Jane since I started seeing a bunch of my favourite Aussie bloggers wearing her technical fashionwear and have been waiting in earnest for the brand to come to Canada. If you're in Toronto, you must go up to the Lorna Jane store up at Shops at Don Mills. Tell them Sam sent you!

You will not be disappointed, their clothing is fashionable yet functional and I promise you, you'll wear it in and OUT of the gym!

 

Quality Hydration - By now, it's probably common knowledge that staying hydrated while exercising is important because of the added sweat loss (compared to day-to-day activities like working at a desk or watching TV). But WHAT you drink is also as important as simply drinking itself. When we sweat, we lose electrolytes, which are minerals found in the blood that help to regulate (among other things) the amount of water in the body. What I love about Flow Water is not only that it's proudly Canadian, 100% recyclable and BPA-free, but it also contains electrolytes like Mg, Ca, K and has an sourced from alkaline pH of 8.1 to help offset the acidity that comes as a result of exercise and many of the other activities we regularly engage in that make our bodies acidic. Plus, Flow Water is a Certified B Corporation that gives back. Now that mindful hydration. 

 

Deep Cleansing - This bar is SUCH a game changer. It's basically a face detox, IMO. The charcoal draws out impurities and oil, brightens skin and helps reduce acne. ALL of which are problems of mine so I can share from personal experience! And because I'm someone who sweats a LOT (I got hard, what can I say), I really want to make sure I properly cleanse my skin to avoid any breakouts. And not only that, the green tea is an amazing active ingredient that reduces inflammation, and the charcoal binds to impurities. This bar is perfectly formulated to cleanse without stripping. For $30 its a steal of a deal for it lasts 6-8 months (when kept dry in-between washes) with 2 washes a day!

WHY THIS MATTERS: Soaps are often made with overly drying and irritating surfactants, parabens, and fragrances that can act as hormone-disrupting chemicals. The Charcoal Cleansing Bar is formulated with safer choices like organic sunflower and coconut oils, and pure essential oils. 

4.png

Inspiring Audio - I'm not much of a music aficionado. I listen to whatever is on Top 40 radio and I never know who the artist is of the songs I love to jam to. Unless it's Bruno Mars, MJ, Rihanna or Queen B or Drake, I'm a hopeless case. In any case, I'd much rather listen to an inspiring podcast or a good book while I'm working out. It makes me feel productive and I feel like all the inspiration, business knowhow and self-helpery energizes my workouts. I subscribe to audible and just finished reading (listening to?) Brene Brown's Braving The Wilderness, which you HAVE to read/download/listen to immediately. I also like listening to podcasts like The Life Coach School Podcast, Balanced Bites Podcast, Over It and On With It with Christine Hassler, and of course, my podcast which launches Season 2 in a few short weeks - shameless plug - Your Best Version Podcast.

5.png

Fancy Feet – I would be remiss if I didn't mention how significantly no show sport socks revolutionized my workouts. Seriously though. No show sport socks are LIFE. Any brand of sock will do (I buy mine at Sport Check and am totally brand agnostic because #salerack), as long as it doesn’t slide down in my shoe and/or climb above the shoe line and into my line of sight. I HATE seeing any bit of my socks while I workout and discovering these no-show socks was a serious #gamechanger. It's the little things, people.

 

 

What are you workout MUST-HAVES? I'm also on the hunt for a good (read: EFFECTIVE + NON-TOXIC) deodorant because I am a sweaty human but I don't want to smell like a sweaty human. You feel me? Any recommendations from my fellow fit & sweaty sisters would be amazing!

Master The 5-Minute Makeup Routine {Beautycounter 5-Minute Face}

Hello beauty lovers!

We all have those mornings where we’re strapped for time yet still need to look presentable. Trust me when I say I’ve been there! I also have a lot of friends who are moms and just don’t have the energy or the time to spend primping in front of the mirror but still want to look fresh and put together.

 

Whether you have a busy schedule, your snooze through your alarm or your morning just isn’t going the way you planned, putting on a full face of makeup isn’t always possible (or high on your list of priorities).

 

I’ve had my fair share of practice over the years when it comes to applying makeup in a pinch (my hair though, is a different story…). So today I thought I’d share my foolproof 5-minute makeup routine - powered by Beautycounter - to save you time on those busy mornings.
 

In your 5-Minute Face Kit, you will receive 6 safer makeup must-haves* PLUS a free Retractable Foundation Brush –  all for $178 (Retail Value $283)!

·      Tint Skin Hydration Foundation

·      Touch-Up Skin Concealer Pen

·      Brow Pencil

·      Mascara (Lengthening OR Volumizing)

·      Powder Blush Duo

·      Lip Gloss


*Each product can be customized by shade and preference!



Here's how you too can achieve a perfectly put together, fresh-faced look in no time at all (and more specifically, 5 minutes flat!).

 

Perfect your complexion.

 

On most mornings I opt for lighter but even-looking coverage when it comes to foundation. I want my skin to have a healthy, even glow without feeling like I’ve got a ton of makeup on. For this I use Beautycounter’s Tint Skin Foundation. I love how blend-able the foundation is and the end result feels completely weightless.

Once my foundation is evenly applied, I reach for my Touchup Skin Concealer Pen to cover any noticeable redness or dark circles under my eyes. This step takes seconds but really completes the look!
 

Define eyes.


Believe it or not, for the last 6 months I’ve only been using 3 products on my eyes on a regular basis—whether I’m trying to save time or not! I tend towards a more simple eye and bolder lip for everyday, which is why I love what the 5-Minute Face kit includes – the Colour Define Brow Pencil and either the volumizing or Lengthening mascara (the lengthening mascara has been reformulated and the volumizing is awesome if you’re like me and want to add length to your lashes!).

 

Splash of colour.
 

Don't forget to leave the house with a pretty, natural flush! I like to lightly apply the Powder Blush Duo in Tawny/Blush to the apples of my cheeks. It adds just enough glow without being over the top.
 

While there’s nothing I love more than a classic bold lip, a 5-Minute makeup routine calls for something simpler. Before I head out the door I'll often swipe on a bit of Lip Gloss (my fave is Dahlia) and I’m out the door!


Super easy right? Now you have a put together makeup look that takes less than 5 minutes to complete! You know my love for Beautycounter and their efforts to get safe products in the hands of everyone.  Looking great and non-toxic skincare and beauty, yes, please!
 

And to sweeten the deal a little bit, if you send me a message and let me know you've purchased the 5-Minute Face Kit and share about this promotion on social media, you will be entered to win a $30 Amazon gift card AND a free Beautycounter gift (hint: it's one of my favourite items OF ALL TIME)! More details on my Instagram page ;)
 

(Hurry as this offer is only good until the sets run out.)
 

Here’s to getting out the door beautifully!
 

samantha_sig_400.png

PS: Be sure to add the Band of Beauty Membership to your order in order to get even more incredible deals! Think 15% of your order in credit towards your next purchase, a free Eyeshadow Duo and free shipping!  Make sure you enter Samantha Ushedo as your consultant and I’ll enter you into a drawing for the Amazon gift card PLUS a FULL SIZE product!  (Hint:  It’s one of my FAVOURITE Beautycounter products!)

In Defense of Walking

It’s no secret that I like to work out.


I work out hard, and often. Plus I love it – always have.


As a kid, if my head wasn’t deep in a book, I was out with the boys running, biking, and climbing all around my suburban neighbourhood until it got dark and my mom called us to come home.

 

I’ve played (and still do!) competitive soccer since I was 9 years old. You could say movement has always been an important part of my life.

 

But aside from the 90 minute soccer games I engage in a few days a week, I must admit that due to time limitations and #adulting, the time and space I once reserved for the all-day, whole-body functional movement has been constrained to 60 minutes of strength training or bootcamp each day.

 

Now don’t get me wrong: something is better than nothing, unquestionably.


And I cherish the time each day where I get to work up a sweat and feel like a powerful, albeit sweaty version of Wonder Woman. But I’m guilty of engaging in junk food movement myself because the truth is: exercise (what I refer to as short, daily bouts of movement condensed into a 30-60 minute timeframe), like junk food, can also be a highly processed version of what our body requires from movement.  Exercise is convenient for sure, but can fall way short of the nutrients movement provides.

 

Let me explain…


We currently live in a movement-drought. Yes, even regular exercisers are essentially sedentary compared to the quantities and qualities of movements used by our ancestors. Which is why a daily bout of exercise won’t necessarily buy you a one-way ticket out of heart-disease town when you are remain sitting or lying down for the bulk of the day. Exercise in a movement drought absolutely serves a purpose, but what we are failing to recognize collectively is that we need to step (or move) it up even more. 

Listen, I get it. I’m someone who craves the endorphin high and straight up feeling of euphoria that comes from standing up after your last rep, against the protest of your trembling legs, and knowing you've conquered more than just a workout. It’s positively addictive. Maybe you can relate? So imagine my shock and utter bewilderment when my ND told me I needed to cut back on exercise and incorporate some more restorative practices like yoga and walking instead.

 

Me: Sorry, I think I misheard you.
Also me: Cut back at the gym and do more walking? Ummmmm, how about NOT GONNA HAPPEN.


While at the time I had wished she would have told me ANYTHING other than to cut down on my exercise, I couldn’t deny that my increased activity levels eerily coincided with a sudden onset of hormonal acne, trouble sleeping, night sweats, irritability and intense food cravings (to name a few). 

 

I had to get real with myself (and I’ve had to do the same with a few clients who are in the same boat) and realize that the uptick in strenuous exercise has not only led to overtraining but our cortisol levels are through the roof.  When you factor in the heightened levels of stress nationwide, it’s not surprising that the way we’re choosing to move our bodies is having devastating effects on our immune systems and hormonal health.

 

But there’s good news, I swear.


Studies show that leisure walking, especially when done in nature, has a significant impact on lowering cortisol, balancing the nervous system and making you feel more calm and rejuvenated. 

 

This study shows that exercise is not always just about calories, but that the hormonal activity generated in response to the surrounding environment has an impact. Slow, leisure walking can be done all day every single day because it is more restorative and relaxing. If part of your motivation for engaging in regular exercise is to lose weight, consider that the benefits of walking on fat loss come from its hormone effects, not its calorie burning effects (which are small at best). The benefits of walking come from it’s ability to lower the stress hormone cortisol, and from where I sit stand, we could all use a little bit less of that in our lives.

 

My take? Exercise less, move more.

 

I want to hear from you! How do you feeling about this "slow fitness" trend? Do you like walking or would you rather hit a barre class, bootcamp, gym or lace up your shoes and go for a run? If you use a FitBit, how has it helped you incorporate more movement into your day?

Safer Skincare, Better Beauty

 

According to the Environmental Working Group, the average adult uses 9 personal care products daily which amounts to an exposure of 126 unique chemical ingredients per day (FYI, this gets added to our daily dose of hazardous chemicals from air, water, food and other consumer products.)

 

The reality is that most people don’t know what’s in the products they’re putting in their skin every single day.

 

And yes, I said IN. Because here’s the thing, your skin is your largest organ (accounting for more than 10% of your body mass) so whatever you brush, paint or slather onto it gets absorbed into your skin AND into your body directly and is a faster route to your bloodstream than actually eating these chemicals.

 

Scary, right?


I mean, we work out. We eat healthy foods. We focus on trying to get adequate sleep and manage our stress but then many of us unknowingly cover our bodies in questionable, and even harmful ingredients.  And many of these potentially harmful ingredients have been linked to cancer, reproductive issues and hormone disruption.


What we put on our skin matters and right now, there is a lack of regulation in the personal care and cosmetic industry.  In fact, here are some of the eye-opening facts I discovered recently that terrified me:

  • The United States has introduced over 80,000 chemicals since 1938 and only 10% of those chemicals have safety data
  • The European Union has banned 1,400 chemical ingredients from all personal care products
  • Canada has banned roughly 600 ingredients and the US has banned or restricted 30

 

Under current law, neither Health Canada nor the FDA require cosmetics companies to conduct safety assessments on their products. Harmful ingredients can be easily masked under confusing or deceptive titles like “fragrance”, which is in my opinion, one of the worst offender because under international IP law, companies are not required to list the ingredients that go into their fragrances. And what’s more, they may even be listed, plain and simple, on the label, but with no messages to inform consumers of their potentially harmful effects.

 

So that leaves it up to us, as the consumers of these products to be responsible for what we put on our bodies because many companies are not, in fact, looking out for our health.

 

It’s not always so easy to discern the harmless from the potentially harmful.  Which is why today, I wanted to talk about some toxic chemicals in our makeup and personal care products in order to help you be better informed and make healthier choices when it comes to your daily personal care routine!

 

Here is a list of the chemical usual suspects to watch out for, also known as the “Dirty Dozen”, according to the David Suzuki Foundation:


BHA and BHT. These are used as preservatives in moisturizers and makeup. Both are thought to be endocrine disruptors (chemicals that can interfere with hormones) and have been linked to cancer.

Coal-tar dyes. These are dyes that will have “Cl” followed by a five-digit number on the label (or in the United States, “FD&C” followed by the colour). These dyes are potentially carcinogenic and may be contaminated with toxic heavy metals.

DEA, MEA and TEA. These chemicals give moisturizers and shampoos a creamy, foamy texture, but they can also react with other chemicals to form cancer-causing nitrosamines.

Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Formaldehyde functions mainly as a preservative in shampoo, nail care, baby products, deodorants, toothpaste, cleaning products, hairspray and cosmetics.

Fragrance (a.k.a. parfum). Even products marked “unscented” may contain fragrance, so it's important to look at the label on the package of your personal care items.  Unfortunately for us, fragrances are often considered “trade secrets,” which means that manufacturers don't have to disclose the chemicals that make up the fragrance. Fragrances trigger allergic reactions, respiratory issues like asthma, headaches and hormonal disruptions. 

Parabens. These preservatives are found in a wide range of beauty products and have been linked to hormone disruption and breast cancer.

PEG. These compounds are used in many cosmetic cream bases, as well as in conditioners and deodorants, and can be contaminated with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane.

Petrolatum. This ingredient is a petroleum product, which is most commonly used for shine and as a moisture barrier in cosmetics and skin-care products like lipstick, lip balm and moisturizer. Petroleum products may be contaminated with toxic chemicals like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), or parabens that can disrupt hormone function.

Phthalates. These plasticizer chemicals make personal-care products easier to handle and apply. Phthalates are a group of chemicals that may be disruptive to the endocrine system, which is responsible for hormone production. Such interference can lead to developmental, reproductive, and neurological damage.

Siloxanes. Anything that ends in “-siloxane” or “-methicone” falls into this category. These chemicals are used as moisturizers and softeners in makeup and hair-care products, but they may also interfere with hormone function and are toxic to the reproductive organs.

Sodium laureth (or lauryl) sulfate. Also known as SLES and SLS, these two chemicals were initially used as industrial cleaners in car-wash soaps and engine degreasers and now produce the foam associated with a wide variety of personal-care products, especially those with foaming properties, such as shampoos and bubble bath. SLES and SLS can be irritating to sensitive skin and can be contaminated with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane.

Triclosan. This antibacterial compound found in toothpastes, antiperspirants, soaps and hand sanitizers. Tricolsan is linked to skin sensitivity, liver damage, hormone disruption and may cause cancer. In addition, research is showing that those antibacterial soaps aren't the miracle product everyone thought - the chemicals in them disrupt our microbiome (which is essential for gut health), and can impact antibiotic resistance.
 

I can totally appreciate that this list is overwhelming. When I first learned about the impact these chemicals could have on my health, I was shocked at how many of the everyday, seemingly harmless products I owned contained these ingredients. I wanted to take everything I owned and throw it in the garbage (I can be a bit extreme when I get passionate about something!) but I realized that 1) it wasn’t practical and 2) I had no idea what products I could choose to replace them that were actually safer.

Today, I want to help you avoid feeling like you have to do the former and give you some helpful guidance on how to do the latter.
 

You have the right to know if the products you use on a daily basis are safe and be informed so that you can take steps to phase out products (and brands) that contain some of these risky chemicals.

 

Start by going on a tour of your bathroom to find out exactly what is in the skin smoothers, odour obliterators and BB (or CC) creams you cannot live without. Then:
 

1. Simplify
Choose products with simpler ingredient lists and fewer synthetic chemicals. Avoid synthetic fragrance by skipping products with “fragrance” on the label, and use fewer products overall.

2. DIY
Some personal care products are easy to make yourself, and this can be a fun project or something you can involve friends in who also want cleaner personal care products.  There are tons of resources online and people who run workshops to show you how to make your own sugar or salt scrubs or body oils, using simple, organic ingredients.

3. Research Products Yourself
Since the beauty industry is largely unregulated, it’s up to you to do your own research to find the safest products. There are no legal standards for personal care products labeled as “pure,” “natural” or “organic,” so look beyond the marketing claims and read labels carefully.

After doing my own safe cosmetic research, I have aligned myself with Beautycounter, a California-based start-up selling non-toxic makeup, hair, baby and skincare products and am a proud consultant. The leaders of Beautycounter are working in Washington and meeting with members of Senate to fight for more health protective laws so that someday we won’t have to scour an ingredient list before making a purchase — and then give up and settle for whatever is on the shelf (or fall prey to brands that practice greenwashing). I’ve been burned – LITERALLY – multiple times from this!

Beautycounter has banned the use of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals through their “Never List”, all while making products that perform and feel as indulgent as any other luxe brand for makeup or skincare. Double win!

Screen Shot 2017-07-08 at 8.51.35 PM.png

 

4. Use Available Free Resources
 

To find out whether your go-to products are safe or not, try the Think Dirty Shop Clean app. This easy-to-use resource ranks the safety of specific products on a scale of 1-10 and offers up cleaner solutions. It is one of the easiest ways to learn about the potentially toxic ingredients in your cosmetics and personal care products.

 

There’s also EWG’s Skin Deep database, where you can look up products you use regularly, find out whether the ingredients are safe, check out how your favourite companies stack up and search for safer alternatives.

 

5. Get Involved

While it’s possible – and becoming easier – to reduce toxic exposures in your home by buying safer products, we still have a lot of work to do. The good news is that the power is in your hands (and in your wallet), so vote with your dollar! Whether or not you decide to try out brands like Beautycounter, where you spend your money counts and sends a strong message about what you will and will no tolerate when it comes to your health. Money talks and when you choose to spend your money on products that not only feel good, but DO GOOD, you are changing the game by educating and increasing awareness around an issue I believe is incredibly important: the exposure to toxic chemicals through skincare and cosmetic products and the need for safer products. 


Our collective voices are being heard, consumers are demanding safer products and we are starting to see the industry shift, albeit slowly.

 

A note on progress over perfection

I appreciate that I may have totally freaked you out with this post. Trust me, I get it. After taking a class in nutrition school and learning all about this stuff, I felt paralyzed in fear that I had been unknowingly exposing myself to harsh chemicals {that could kill me} for YEARS. But as I started educating myself on this topic, in the same way I did with nutrition, I started making changes gradually. I focused on adding more good stuff IN rather than feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff I had to take OUT.

 

Do I think it’s realistic for me to use 100% safe beauty products? No, not right now. But I can always make safe-r options. As it relates to makeup and personal care products, my plan is to replace things with Beautycounter as I run out of my current brand and see if I like it. If not, I’ll send it back. I’m toying with the idea of keeping a running list on my blog of things that I try and love (let me know if that would be of interest to you, mmmmk?).

 

And, like I do with food, I pick my battles, do my best, and move on with life. It’s about progress, not perfection after all. Mostly, I'm thankful and really happy that we live in a world that offers up options to make safer and healthier choices in the products we use, and consume each and every day.

 

 

Disclaimer: If you shop for Beautycounter through me, I do make a small commission, just like any other affiliate links I use. I do not link to products that I wouldn’t personally buy, so rest assured I won’t refer you to crap! And you do not pay more for a product by buying it through me. 

My Philosophy {in a coconut shell}

Today, I’m PUMPED.


I’ve made a decision and I’m going for it. Full stop. And quite frankly, it feels revolutionary!

You’re probably wondering why I’m making such a big deal out of making a decision, we make them all the time, don’t we? Not exactly. You see, one of the problems with our modern world with all the choices and the options and the access to information is that we feel overwhelmed by choices. We change our minds. We experience FOMO (fear of missing out) and struggle to make a decision, let alone commit to it.

But today I’m doing it and by writing it out and hitting PUBLISH, you my dear friends are bearing witness to me making said decision.

Because here’s 4 things that I know to be true:

1) There are no wrong decisions.

2) In order to move out of stuck, you simply need to make ONE decision and commit to it.

3) The ONLY thing that matters is what you finish.

4) Confusion pretends to be necessary
 

And so, when I sat down to think about my business for the umpteenth time and what I want it to be about, the words Love-Nourish-Live kept popping up for me. And rather than feigning confusion, hopping back on Facebook or Google to “do more research”, I listened to that nude with curiosity and without expectation.I realized, after giving myself the time and space to dig deeper into each one, that these three words actually represent the core philosophy behind what I believe is the key to living an on-purpose life and are now the guiding principles of my business.

 

I’m open to this changing, growing and evolving over time but for now, this feels right. And I’m going for it.
 

I see Love-Nourish-Live as a daily practice and hope that through my words, my work and my example, that women feel inspired and empowered to

 

  • LOVE THEMSELVES UNCONDITIONALLY

  • NOURISH THEIR BODIES FROM THE INSIDE OUT

  • LIVE THE LIFE THEY CRAVE

 

LOVE-

 

Self-love is one of the most wrung out, overused, misunderstood and quite frankly mystifying concepts in the self-help space. My goal is to help clear the clutter and fluff around this important practice and help you develop it unconditionally for yourself.  But I will start with this: to me, being compassionate with ourselves is what DEEP self-love is all about.

 

Unconditional love is a skill. It means you love yourself no matter what.
 

You love yourself when you don’t meet your expectations.

You love yourself when you come up short.

You love yourself when you get it completely wrong.

 

My goal is to help you understand that contrast is part of the human experience, and to stop using it as an excuse not to love yourself. You are unquestionably worthy of love; not because I said so, but because it was already established the moment you arrived on this planet.

 

NOURISH –

 
To me, nourishment includes food AND movement.
 

When it comes to food, I believe the secret to getting healthy––and staying there––is cultivating a set of healthy habits you actually enjoy. This is what neuroscientist and Foodist Darya Rose calls, your healthstyle and I support that philosophy 100%.

 

When it comes to movement, I believe that while daily movement of some kind is important, living an active lifestyle looks different for everyone and that “working out” should not require willpower, torture or be devoid of enjoyment. Rather, my philosophy around movement is simple: Do What You Love. And the good news is, there are as many ways to do that as there are people on this planet!

 

But here’s the thing: in order to live healthy, vital and on purpose in a body and life you love, you need to understand one simple truth: authentic health and fulfillment is about more than food and fitness.  If you want real, sustainable and lifelong success, you have to be willing to do the deep emotional and psychological work it takes to create the results you want in your life. This doesn’t happen by chance, it happens with awareness and deliberate intention.

 

LIVE-
 

A big part of the work I am deeply passionate about revolves around behaviour psychology and helping women learn to manage their thoughts. Most of us don’t realize that many of our thoughts are not serving us, that they way we think has a direct affect on how we feel, and as a result, that creates our experience in the world. My mission is to help you create and LIVE the life you crave deliberately and ON PURPOSE by empowering you to managing your thoughts in a way that benefits you.

 

So that’s it, my philosophy in a nutshell.  The 3 pillars of the work and mission I am passionate about delivering in this world. If you are interested in diving deeper into this work with me, I’d love for you to connect with me and tell me how I can best support you. If you are interested in working with me, my coaching offers a complete immersion into my Love-Nourish-Live philosophy with full guidance on mindset, self-care, nutrition, and movement, with the goal of empowering you to heal your relationship with food, body and Self so that you can live the life you crave.

 

Because this is your one life and you deserve to live it better and as the best possible version of yourself.

Decode Your Cravings {Part 2}

Aaaaaaaaand, we're back with Part 2 of the Decode Your Cravings series. 

What did you guys think about Part 1? If you're just tuning in now, *HI, WELCOME new friend!*, please go here to check out my last post all about emotional eating - what is it, how to identify it and how to reclaim your power if you struggle with it.

 

Today, we're continuing the conversation and talking about cravings that have a mental or psychological source, namely habitual cravings and behavioural cravings. Let's get into it!
 

Habitual Cravings

This is a kind of mindless eating where you have paired food consumption with a particular activity for so long, that it becomes less of a choice and more a repeated action. You know you’re experiencing ‘habitual hunger’ if you find yourself in the following habit loop: reminder à routine à reward.
 

Eating in front of the television or pouring yourself a glass of wine after work are classic examples.

 

Reminder: Dinner time
Routine: Sit in front of the television
Reward: Eat in front of the television
 
Reminder: Get home from work
Routine: Unwind by pouring a glass of wine
Reward: Drink wine

 

What to do instead:

 

Take steps to break the association completely by stopping the bad habit and replacing it with a new, more supportive and healthier habit.  As an example, instead of pouring a glass of wine after a long day of work, head outside for a walk, go to a coffee shop after work and catch up on emails or replace the wine with a sparkling water or refreshing kombucha.

The key with habit hunger is to first recognize that you have made an unhealthy association and then consciously work to break the habit. Remember, habit formation takes time, so it stands to reason that breaking the habit will also require your commitment over the long haul.

 

Behavioural Cravings

This type of hunger typically happens to the scheduled eater and the clock is the trigger.  One thing to realize is that the behavioural component of hunger can be pretty powerful when you adjust the frequency of when you eat. Many of us have been taught to eat every three hours (or 5 to 6 times per day) or to never skip breakfast and this has stripped away our reliance on our body’s own natural hunger cues. As a result of this, you will experience hunger at all the times you are used to eating. This is a learned response similar to the one in Pavlov’s dog experiments.
 

What to do instead: 

Take this opportunity to practice mindfulness. Start by allowing yourself to experience the physiological symptoms of hunger knowing full well that being hungry is not the end of the world. Delay that morning snack until you feel the urge to eat. Focus on choosing hearty meal options, like nutrient-dense foods high in protein and healthy fat, as these foods allow many people to go without eating between meals. Let go of diet "rules" and focus on what your body needs instead.

And here’s something I recently learned from Dr Jason Fung, a kidney specialist from Toronto who uses fasting as a way to help his clients lose weight:

Eating does not necessarily make you less hungry.

When it comes to grehlin - the hunger hormone that turns on appetite - if you were to observe its levels over 24 hours in people who are fasting, you will notice that there are 3 distinct peaks corresponding to breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
 

What is really interesting is that the grehlin level (and resulting hunger) does not continually increase as you’d expect. After the initial wave of hunger, it recedes, even if you don’t eat, which correlates perfectly to the rationale that ‘hunger comes in waves’. If you simply ignore it, it will disappear.
 

My advice? Ride the waves of hunger – it too shall pass.
 

If this is an area you’re struggling with and you want support in overcoming your challenges and reaching your goals (to stop emotional eating and have freedom with food, your body and your emotional life), get in touch with me and we can talk about how I can help you do just that.

 

 

Question for you: Do you identify with having MENTAL/PSYCHOLOGICAL cravings? Were you previously aware of them? If so, what do you notice typically triggers them? Let me know in the comments below!


Stay tuned for the next post in this 4-part series all about HORMONAL cravings.

 

What are your self-care ESSENTIALS?

Truth time?


I've been on a bit of a self-care bender the last few months. And if I'm being honest, it's about dang time! Perhaps you can relate?

For most of 2016, everything took priority over me, myself and I. 

Exercise? No time.
Healthy eating? Verrrrrrrry inconsistent.
Whitespace? White-what?
Personal development? Consuming but not integrating. (I see this ALL the time with my clients, btw!)


And then as my 30th birthday approached, I realized it was time to get serious about taking care of me, because if not me, then who?


Rather than go balls to the wall and try to change ALL. THE. THINGS. in one go, I started slow. I found a gym that would make it easy for me to exercise regularly. I built this habit slowly through discipline, consistency and support. (And if you live and/or work downtown, you've GOT to check it out!).
 

And now I have a daily movement habit that fills me up and makes me feel vital.
 

Next I focused on my eating. I spend much of my day driving around in my car, which has the potential to cause me to eat mindlessly and choose food options that aren't the most nourishing or healthy. I started to scout out more healthy options that I could feel good about buying and thankfully, Toronto has an abundance of healthy and delicious takeout places to choose from! 


And now I have a list of amazing restaurants and shops where I can go to in a pinch and buy food that is guilt-free.


I'm a high-stress person by nature and have always struggled to build in down-time for myself. Like, I reallllllllly struggle. As a Holistic Health Coach, I know the benefits of striving to make doing and being harmonious (because balance is not a thing), but the doing comes much more easy to me than the being.

Enter yin yoga. It couldn't be more opposite to my heart pumping, sweat inducing, and totally #vomilicious workouts that I love; instead, in yin yoga you let go of the control, relax your muscles and let your body sink into each posture. It works deep into the connective tissue, poses are held longer and the focus is on exploring postures and then being still and observing how your body is feeling. It's a mental bootcamp to be sure!

 

And now I've found a practice I love that is restorative and relaxing, lowers cortisol (win!) and causes a serious boost in those feel good hormones that we all crave. Amiright?

 

As you can see, it's taken me a while to build up to these different practices and ways of taking care of me but now, they are essential parts of my life. Do I practice them every day? Most often, but not always. And that's okay. The point is not to be "perfect" and #nevermissaMonday, it's about cultivating practices that nourish you, make you feel vital and help you show up as the best version of yourself. And these practices are ESPECIALLY relevant when life gets cray and taking care of you is the last thing on your to-do list.

 

My take home message to you is this: taking care of you is always a priority.
 

But it doesn't have to be time consuming, expensive or look like what anyone else is doing. It just has to make YOU feel good. And if you struggle to identify what that is for you, send me an email and let me know. I'll send you an email right back and help you come up with some ideas to try on.

 

Now over to you: what are your self-care essentials? Those things that you do on a daily or weekly basis that help make you feel your best? I recommend aiming for 3 that are non-negotiables (but simply having 1 is good too!). Having these in place comes in handy on those weeks when life is just a bit crazier and you feel like you have to do EVERYTHING!

 

I can't wait to hear from you!