I am honored to have the opportunity to chat with you about the process of my health journey. Here, you will find blog posts that will answer some of my most frequently asked questions on this topic. Some of the ones I get most often are about my personal background and where my health journey began. I address this in several blog posts that I will link below, but this is the most recent one where you can get a really good idea of who I am and where I came from!
When did you decide you needed to make a change to a healthier lifestyle?
Before I became educated on the healthy lifestyle I have come to love, I was totally opposite from the woman I have become. I was a young socialite who loved going out with my “friends” and binge drinking and smoking cigarettes. I ate tons of late night McDonalds, Wendy’s for lunch, processed foods at my apartment and BBQ buffet plates every Sunday. I took antidepressant medication and birth control that caused me to gain weight on top of the weight I accumulated from drinking and eating so poorly. The medications only made me more depressed causing me to turn even more to my comfort: food. I would go out to Redbone Alley or Percy and Willies and order drinks, appetizers, an entree with a salad, and dessert. I still battle my urge to emotionally eat when our work week gets stressful or family problems come about. My personal health journey began with losing weight as the goal but I gained so much more in the process.
During this time, I also ended a very long relationship with a man because I just felt it wasn’t right for either of us. It motivated me to start going to the gym at my apartment complex and working out, even if it was for only 30 minutes every day. I have always been the type of person to work out for a few days and then quit. Knowing this, I enlisted the help of my friends and we began meeting for daily walks at the Rail Trail, a beautiful nature trail in Florence, SC, and going to yoga at a local studio during the week. I formed true friendships with great people based on our spiritual interests and began reading more. I met my wonderful husband who helped lead me into more of a holistic and healthy lifestyle. I also made a conscious effort to read about health and why it is important to treat your body as a machine helped me quit eating crap.
To me, one of the most terrifying things about the USA is how lax our food laws are. We are the only country around the world that uses toxic chemicals in our foods. We are literally killing ourselves by eating things that are enticing because of their price and convenience. Learning about the large amount of toxins that are habitually in our food has made me turn to an organic lifestyle. What is labeled organic now is what our great-grand parents would call “regular” food. I know organic foods are more expensive, but I would rather pay more now and be healthy than pay a lot more later when I’m sick because my immune system sucks from the junk I’ve been stuffing into it.
After I began dating my now husband, I started going to his office to get adjusted. One of the perks of dating a chiropractor is the amazing adjustments! He taught me that the power that made the body heals the body. The nervous system controls everything in the body including digestion and hormones that control weight loss. After a few months of combining regular adjustments, healthier eating, and consistent exercise, I started to notice dramatic results.
In 9 years, I went from being overweight (for my height and normal sizing) to a healthy and thriving mom of five kids. I have worked my butt off (literally) to get to where I am today, and I am so blessed to see my transformation and how important changing my way of thinking has been. I am so excited to share more with y’all and answer any questions that y’all might have throughout your process. One of the many rewards I get by sharing my story is seeing how I can help others. It is important to know that if you feel like you want to change your life, YOU CAN DO IT. It takes making up your mind and figuring out what it is that motivates you. I am here to help you with anything, so let’s do this.
I need some weight loss tips. What is a list of good practices you recommend?
1. DO drink LOTS of water…and not just any ol’ water…ICE COLD water!
When you drink ice cold water your body actually has to BURN calories after you ingest it to warm itself back up! It is also really important that before you eat anything in the morning, the first thing you do is drink a glass of water. It gets everything moving and flowing. Drinking 2-3 glasses of ice cold water 30 minutes before you eat will help fill you up so you aren’t mindlessly eating.
I always ask for two slices of lemon when I’m eating out, and when I’m at home I also put lemon in my water because it has LOTS of health benefits. Lemon naturally boosts the immune system, helps balance the body’s pH level, reduces your body’s overall acidity level when ingested daily, and helps promote weight loss. Lemons are actually high in pectin fiber, which helps fight hunger cravings. It also has been shown that people who maintain a more alkaline diet lose weight faster if you are trying to. (I do urge you to drink filtered water only. Read more about that by clicking here.)
2. DO eat what you want—just revamp your recipes to make them more healthy!
Take your favorite foods and find lower-fat alternatives. If you love burgers, for example, you can make turkey burgers or black bean burgers. If you like French fries, make your own and bake them or cook in coconut oil. Bake chicken instead of frying it. Get almond milk and Greek yogurt instead of the higher-fat versions. While you shouldn’t give up fat completely, and in fact, some types of fat are good for you in moderation, it’s important to remember that fat is high in calories (more than twice as calorie-dense as protein or carbs), and lowering your fat intake to a more moderate amount will also lower your calorie intake. Good fats include things like avocados, almonds, flax seeds, and salmon. Adding fruits and veggies is another good way to lower fat intake, as they take up a lot of space in your stomach without adding too many calories or fat. I also believe in keeping fat releasing foods in your diet. They include things like honey, eggs, and dark chocolate.
3. DO eat five or six small meals or snacks a day instead of three large meals.
A 1999 South African study found that when men ate parts of their morning meal at intervals over five hours, they consumed almost 30 percent fewer calories at lunch than when they ate a single breakfast. Other studies show that even if you eat the same number of calories distributed this way, your body releases less insulin, which keeps blood sugar steady and helps control hunger.
4. DO use vegetables to bulk up meals.
You can eat twice as much pasta salad loaded with veggies like broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes for the same calories as a pasta salad sporting just mayonnaise and white pasta.
5. DO avoid white foods.
There is some scientific legitimacy to today’s lower-carb diets: Large amounts of simple carbohydrates from white flour and added sugar can wreak havoc on your blood sugar and lead to weight gain. While avoiding sugar, white rice, and white flour, you should eat plenty of whole grain breads and brown rice. One Harvard study of 74,000 women found that those who ate more than two daily servings of whole grains were 49 percent less likely to be overweight than those who ate the white stuff. We use all organic sprouted breads and Dave’s Killer Bread is our family favorite.
6. DO focus on eating the rainbow and if you can’t take vitamins!
I am a strong believer that our foods are our medicine. Unfortunately I know that it’s hard to eat real Whole Foods from all the food groups and get your daily dose in. TRY, try, try, TRY to eat one food from each color of the rainbow every single day… if you can’t get a well balanced diet, this is when you should lean into extra vitamins and supplements to take the place of what your body is NOT getting.
7. DO work to balance your hormones.
This is a major contributor to weight gain and not living your best life. Hormones make a large impact on our body and we don’t even realize it. Unbalanced hormones can cause mood issues, fatigue, lower your sex drive and trigger weight gain. As women, we really want to focus on reducing our abundance of estrogen in particular. Estrogen mimicers are commonly found in our personal care products, laundry products and additives in foods. How do you know when weight gain can be the cause from our hormones? Uncontrollable appetite, expanding waistline, being tired all of the time, reoccurring headaches during the same times, decreased sex drive, high blood sugar, and excessive sweating. I strongly urge you to look into a DIM supplement that helps you detox from estrogen abundance. I use this brand and I buy from Amazon. With our foods in mind, eating less sugar, white bread and factory-farmed meats will help and eating more apples, spinach, salmon, almonds and flaxseed like I mentioned above.
8. DO focus on reducing your toxic load.
THIS. IS. HUGE! I’ve actually covered this numerous times over the years. Reducing our toxic load little by little will make a huge difference in our overall health and weight. I know this part of living a healthy lifestyle can seem overwhelming and that always halts us from moving forward. Start SOMEWHERE! Anywhere, I promise, all the strides you’re making are important. Let me share with you one of my favorite posts about switching to a nontoxic lifestyle. I share my experience doing so and small steps that add up to make a big impact.
9. DO optimize your gut health.
Another big issue we face today is an imbalance in our gut health. This can be caused by an abundance of things and most frequently seen from taking antibiotics repeatedly. Our gut bacteria is crucial to our overall healthy and can not only affect your body but your brain as well. I have had so many questions about gut health and why it matters that I wrote a really detailed post that you can read by clicking here.
10. Do go see a chiropractor. I saw a HUGE difference in my weight loss and my overall health when I started getting regular chiropractic adjustments by my husband. I also saw and heard from being in his office, patients going specifically for for weight loss and health issues. It turns out that chiropractic has its effect on not only weight loss but over-all health and well being. Chiropractic realigns the spine in its proper place allowing your body to function at an optimal level. This includes your digestion, and hormone centers that play a role in your health journey and weight loss if needed. I strongly urge you to find a chiropractor (even better if they have a functional medicine background) in your area that you love and you FEEL making a positive difference on your body.
Here is a shareable graphic to help remind you of these tips:
What are some Healthy grocery shopping tips/ foods to avoid?
- Don’t use canola oil, margarines or other processed fats. You can read more about why to steer clear of these by clicking here.
- Try making your own dressings. Most dressings are full of sugar and the ones that are “sugar free” use other toxic ingredients to replace. You can read more about that by clicking here.
- Focus on shopping the outer isles verses the ones in the middle. That’s where more processed foods are placed. Doing this can help you focus on a fresher and cleaner food line up.
- Sugars are hidden EVERYWHERE so check your labels. I’ve seen it especially high in tomato based products even organic. Think spaghetti sauce.
- Don’t buy many canned foods even ones that are BPA free because there is still a chance the company is using BPA. Read more about the dangers of BPA in canned foods by clicking here.
- Skip the milk and cheese. Most milk products aren’t even real milk and have several yuck ingredients (milk really isn’t just milk) and same for cheese. These are two of the most toxic food items in a grocery store. Did you know that there is actual sawdust in most name brand shredded cheese? Read more here.
- Wanna get eggs? First check and see if you can buy from a local organic chicken farmer. If that’s not an option then get the organic free range in the grocery store. Here’s the scoop about regular eggs.
- When you get bread, have you ever thought about it being processed? Ditching refined flour and going to wheat is so much better and will also help you loose weight! Whole grain or sprouted are the way to go for health benefits.
What are some things you do to deal with anxiety naturally?
- Exercise – I am sure that this is the last thing you want to hear but I PROMISE it’s here for you to hear for reason! When you exercise (specifically cardio) your body releases endorphins – anyone watch Legally Blonde and get the reference I can make? Taking the time to even go for a power walk that takes 15 minutes can make all the difference in having high levels of anxiety. When you start feeling anxious, go for that walk, head to the gym or go play a sport you love. Even on my hardest days, the time I take to exercise can literally change everything.
- Make smaller “to-do” lists – I was very much so guilty of making a “to-do” list with 50 things to tackle IN ONE DAY (I mean, who was I kidding there) and letting it build up inside of me that I couldn’t get through the entire thing. When I stopped trying to do it all and focus on four realistic things that I can accomplish, my anxiety levels went down. Pace yourself and give yourself realistic tasks that you can get done with the time you have. Finding the balance in your daily life will help cut your anxiety and make you feel more at peace.
- Meditate/pray – This is a big one. Take the time to really calm your mind and push out all those anxious thoughts and feelings you have. I try and go to a quiet room or space and close my eyes for at least 10 minutes. Focusing on my breath and really speaking what is bothering me and asking God to help me overcome these feelings.
- Supplements – There are a few that I really do recommend for anxiety and that have helped me personally. Magnesium is the most important supplement you could start taking in your daily life. Most people see magnesium as the natural chill pill. Scientists have confirmed that low levels of magnesium in the body can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety. I personally take this form which I dissolve in water. You cannot take too much magnesium… if you take more than your body needs you will just pee it out so don’t worry about “over doing” it. I also love using essential oils and I would urge you to look into oils like lavender, frankincense, vetiver and bergamot. Those are my go to when I feel anxiety creeping in. You can diffuse or you can inhale. The other thing that I would say has been really helpful is CBD oil. You can read all about how and why I use it by clicking here.
- Talk to someone – When you harbor all your thoughts and feelings inside, it really does take a toll on you. Finding someone that you can trust and will allow you to confide in is really important. If you have access to a therapist, GO! I love therapy and I wish I could go daily and get all of LIFE off of my chest. If you can’t go to therapy, find that one friend that can be your sounding board. I promise, it’s worth it!
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If you are looking to make a change in your health, the most important step is the one that you make when you commit to yourself and say that you’re doing it. Start by focusing on one thing at a time and then you can add in more when you feel like you’ve accomplished what you added in first. This is what I personally did to not feel overwhelmed. I overhauled my diet and medications first, then I started getting adjusted by a chiropractor, then I moved to my personal care products then to what I cleaned with. These are the steps that took and you don’t have to do them in the order that I did but if you start focusing on them, it will make a positive difference in your health.
If you want more information about my favorite healthy recipes, make sure you click HERE to check them out. Also, follow me in Pinterest- LSWAmanda, where I share weekly pins of what recipes I’m trying in the kitchen.