Breakfast: it's the most important meal of the day! Or at least that's what we were all told as children. I've never been a breakfast person. My first meal of the day is usually a few hours after I wake up, though coffee is essential. My body rejects eating breakfast at its traditional time, causing me to feel ill. For a long time I felt that something must be wrong with me. How could my body not allow me eat the day's most important meal?
As I have been transitioning from a couch-potato lifestyle to a healthier one, I've been doing research on the most effective ways to lose weight. While exercise is crucial, it pales in comparison to the importance of diet. When you think of breakfast which foods come to mind? Pancakes and waffles? Eggs and bacon? Milk and cereal? Seeing a trend? Traditional Canadian breakfast foods are based on the idea that we need to carbo-load to start our day. The Canadian Food Guide, created in 1962, is a dated and inaccurate template for one's diet. The guide breaks nutrition into 4 categories (Vegetables and Fruits, Grain Products, Milk and Alternatives, and Meat and Alternatives), and outlines how many portions of each category are required daily for optimal health. The demonization of fats in favour of carbohydrates is rooted in a set of studies done during the 1950's collectively called the Seven Countries Study. These studies flimsily found a correlation between heart disease and fats based on weak and preliminary results. As more and more studies have come out that refute the claims of the Seven Countries Study we have learned that our bodies don't need lots of empty carbohydrates; we need monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and nutrients, especially at the start of our day. Why? Because good fats jump start your brain.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the 'good fats', trans fats are the 'bad fats', and saturated fats are somewhere in between. The difference between the four types of fats comes down to the amount of hydrogen atoms bonded to the carbon chain, and the length of the chain itself. A quick, easy, and efficient way to start your day on the right foot is to drink a morning smoothie that incorporates monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats instead of eating a traditional carbohydrate heavy breakfast. This realization has been extremely beneficial to me, not just in regards to weight loss but also to the way I feel throughout my day. I feel noticeably happier, my brain functions faster, and I'm more ready to handle whatever life throws at me. Now that I've sang the praises of the morning smoothie...
Let's get into the recipe
You will need:
2/3 cup - Frozen mango cubes
1/3 cup - Plain low fat yogurt
1/4 to 1/2 - 1 Ripe avocado (depends on the size of the avocado)
1 tsp - Ginger paste
1 tsp - Fresh lemon Juice
1/2 tsp or to taste - Cayenne pepper
1 cup - Ice cubes
1/2 cup - Cold water
Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil
Add 1 tbsp of sunflower seed butter
Add 1/2 cup of kale
Add 1/4 cup mint
Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth or desired consistency. Enjoy!
Why these ingredients?
Mango - High in antioxidants, Lowers cholesterol (vitamin C, fibre, and pectin) clears the skin, improves eye health (vitamin A).
Yogurt - Supports health digestion (pro-biotic rich), excellent source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and vitamin B.
Avocado - Source of monounsaturated fat, vitamin K (essential for bone health), and high levels of folate (improves mood, sleep, and appetite).
Ginger - Anti-inflammatory, lowers risk of heart disease, can help fight infection.
Lemon - Vitamin C, detoxifier.
Cayenne Pepper - Headache remedy, prevents blood clots, anti-irritant, vitamin A.
Coconut Oil - Saturated fat containing medium chain triglycerides, brain food.
Sunflower Seed Butter - Magnesium for bone health, protein source, high in vitamin E for skin health.
Kale - High in iron for proper liver function, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, Vitamin A and C, calcium source for healthy bones.
Mint - Helps digestion, antioxidants.
This is a basic outline for a morning smoothie that works for me. Everyone is different so feel free to experiment and improvise. You know what works best for you.
The Free Lion Team
The monkeys have it folks, we’re grubby: we live in a pile of dead skin. If you want any moisturizer to work on your skin you gotta get down to the good healthy layers. Your skin is like an onion, you gotta take that flakey dry layer off first to get to the healthy layers. Now onions make most people cry but you don’t want to cry when you exfoliate!
Here are some keys reminders to have in mind when incorporating exfoliating into your skin care routine. For oily and normal skin, lots of scrubbing and sloughing may not be the answer to reducing your oil production and you may be exacerbating the problem by over exfoliating. Think of it as gently brushing off the old dead skin rather than scrubbing at the young living skin. For Dry skin, be mindful of how your skin is feeling, and go slow and less often.
Which exfoliant is right for which job?
Natural Exfoliants range in hardness, sharpness and durability. General rule of thumb? Soft and gentle for the face; mid range hardness for the body and full on hard for the calloused feet. As always, do a test patch first to make sure your skin isn’t irritated.
Lovin’ your Face
Here are some natural options for Face Exfoliating.
Here are some natural options for Body Exfoliating.
Feet don’t fail me now!
Here are some natural options for Feet Exfoliating.
Be gentle with yourself inside and out.
When you look in the mirror, consider and reflect on the thoughts that rumble around in your mind. Are they who you really are or someone else's idea about who you should be? Our minds are fluid and we can shift our thoughts at any time. Compassion comes with choice and self-care. Slough off the old expectations and images of yourself, so you can nourish and grow the liberating and living pictures of who you actually are. Life's an adventure, enjoy yours!
Spring is a time of New Beginnings. Historically it was a time for celebrating sowing seeds, fertility, renewal and hope. But what does marking this season-change look like in the 21st Century, when our lives are not as driven by agriculture and planting cycles? Spring is a great time to examine the year just passed, to clean out the old, then re-evaluate, plan, and germinate the new.
1. Spring Cleaning
Last year I read Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I was utterly impressed that the author was able to turn her OCD into a business and a best selling book! Of her entire de-cluttering methodology, the part that stayed with me is keep only that which gives you joy. Decluttering is seriously underway in our house right now, using the “Joy Method”. When you clear out physical junk and mental clutter, you make room for new stuff and, more importantly, new ideas and new experiences.
2. Resist, Remove, Replace
Spring Cleaning also extends to your inner world. Your thought patterns directly impact how you feel. In my self-evaluation, I realize I have a lot of thoughts that come up out of fears based on past negative experiences. I feel anxious when these thoughts overtake me. I do not feel joy or a sense of peaceful well being. When it comes to my thoughts, I have a choice. I can keep on in the same fear pattern and expect the same result. Or I can Recognize it, Resist it and Replace it.
To do this, I Recognize my feelings and the thoughts that led to them. I give it a rest and Resist, shut down that negativity. And then its Replace time. I use a variation of Byron Katie’s questions to help me shift perspective. About the fearful thoughts, I ask myself:
3. Set Goals and Intentions for the Year
Okay, so now you’ve cleaned out your junk in your space and in your spirit. It's time to germinate the new, some new ideas, new plans. My life partner Thom and I do this individually first and then as a team. We look at what went right and spend some time being seriously grateful and celebrating! Then we look at what was lousy and problem solve. We try to look at our lives holistically, at all the areas we need to pay attention to in order to experience a healthy, balanced, joyful life.
Then we make a dream board, a way to put on paper our intentions for the year. There are many ways to do this. You can photoshop collage it, scrapbook it, cut out images from magazines, create Pinterest boards or (what we do) just write it out on a large sheet of paper, flow chart style. Our map hangs on the wall the fridge, serving as reminder, inspiration and compass for the year. We consciously shape our decisions and choices throughout the course of each year to make us more joyful, fulfilled and satisfied.
4. Plant a garden, Make Something
This is how I concretize my intentions to create. It helps me connect with the Creative Flow in the earth and within myself. Both can be meditative experiences that give space for that “aha” moment, or for the Muse to speak to or for the imagination to fly. I’ve had some of my best ideas in these moments.
So take some time this spring to celebrate the new life that surrounds you in nature, and to celebrate the wonder that is YOU. Dream your dream and take steps to germinate it into being. Life is a work in progress. It’s not about perfection; it’s about finding joyful balance.