How To Choose Your Healthy Habits

Everything about breaking and picking up habits is hard. First, you have to recognize that your habit is bad, which is often the easiest step to accomplish. Second, you have to make a conscious decision to change your ways. Most people have woken up and said “You know what? Today is the day!” But very rarely has today been “the day.” So that brings us to the hardest part of all of the habit-breaking steps: actually implementing it into your daily lifestyle.

We’ve all tried to break habits and failed miserably at one point or another. Breaking and adopting habits is a part of being human. I gave up soda one time (for 2 weeks) in 2003. My friends still bring it up. People want to do better for the most part. But failing is also a part of being human. How can you choose habits you know you can stick with? Should you implement all the healthy habits at once? Or take it nice and slow? Read my quick tips for choosing your habits and keeping up with them:

Recognize your good habits:

There are very few people in this world who don’t have good habits. Even if you think you don’t, I assure you that you do. For example, maybe you think you drink wine too often (everyday perhaps?), but you only drink a glass or two a night. A good habit is to wait until the nighttime to have your glass! It’s also a good habit to only have one or two glasses!

Recognizing your healthy habits means you recognize that you have it within you to change your ways. By understanding that you are able to make a change in your life, you gain more confidence and determination when choosing to change yourself.

Maybe make a list of the habits that you’re proud to have. Or if you’re not in the mood, just stop right now and think of one good habit that you possess. For example, while most of my friends put extra salt on their food, I don’t and I’m happy about it (no matter how bland food can taste at times!)

Think about the habits that make you feel bad:

After deciding what you’re already good at, it’s time to take a step back and acknowledge what you don’t do so well. Everyone on the planet has bad habits, even the healthiest and most on-top-of-it person you know! (AKA, midnight eating over here.)

There are a lot of steps in the habit-making/breaking process, and the most daunting can be picking the habits that you should work on. Most people overthink this step! You know what makes you feel bad about yourself. These things are the first things you should choose to change. Hating on yourself for not drinking enough water is barely a way to live your life. Drink more water already.

What do you think about everyday? Maybe it’s the intense guilt you feel when you buy an overpriced and oversugared coffee every morning. Maybe it’s the stomach ache you get after eating a carton of ice cream even though you know you’re lactose intolerant. These bad habits should never stand in the way of your happiness or daily life. Buy the lactose free ice cream and eat away.

Familiarize yourself with the types of habits:

Many different websites and papers like to break habits into psychological or sociological groups. While these can be helpful, I’ve found that sometimes they can be overwhelming. So I’ve compiled a small list of different habit groups that I could think of that might help you choose your habits:

  • Exercise and Diet (ex. losing/gaining weight, getting active, etc)

  • Health (ex. taking your medicine, avoiding an allergy, etc)

  • Motor Habits (ex. swearing, rocking your foot back and forth, etc)

  • Spiritual (ex. praying, attending service, meditating, etc)

  • Mental Health (ex. releasing feelings, seeking help, spending too much time online, etc)

  • Sleep Habits (ex. sleeping well, sleeping for correct amount of time, etc)

  • Social Habits (ex. the way you interact with others, spending time with others, etc)

I know there are plenty more but it might help to choose a category that resonates the most with you and then focus on that.

Recognize your incentives:

Incentives, or things that entice you to do what you do, are super easy concepts and learning about them can help you understand why you do the things you do and why you should or shouldn’t.

There are three types of incentives: economic, social, and moral.

Economic incentives are pretty straight forward. They have to do with gaining money or material objects. For example, a pretty good economic incentive for not buying a coffee everyday is that you’ll save hundreds of dollars in the long run. Or limiting you credit card debt is a good economic incentive as well.

Social incentives involve doing things based off of what others will think of you. For example, most people base their looks (like their hair, clothes, presentation) off of what other’s will think. Many people choose to lose weight due to social incentives because they believe that their weight changes the way people see them. You be you and be happy regardless. As my mom would say, “Who cares what someone else thinks.”

Moral incentives are slightly different. They involve choosing to do something based off of your concept of right and wrong. Moral incentives can be the main reason a person chooses to change their habits. For example, drinking a liter of soda per day is something everyone knows is wrong, especially for their body and well-being. Yet, we guzzle tons everyday. I love when I walk into the cafeteria at work and my clients start stashing soda everywhere.

By knowing what makes you want to pick/drop a habit, you are more likely to stick with it. For example, if your doctor tells you to start taking a heart medicine, you will probably do it and then stop for awhile. But if your doctor tells you to start taking a heart medicine because you might die if you don’t, that’s a pretty strong economic, social, and moral incentive to start taking your medicine. Interesting story here: I refused a certain medication for months. My Rheumatologist was all over me. I had been in the hospital and just couldn’t recover. My main concern was that I had to sign that I would not get pregnant again and I wasn’t ready to be officially done. Plus, who gets to decide that for me? Not you, Mr. Rheumy. This goes on for months and I was getting sicker and sicker. Mr. Rheumy was not a happy camper. I’m sitting in his office and he brings it up. I of course start rambling and he listened for as long as he could. He leans over and gets inches from my face. “I no longer care what you think. I’m going to save your life and you need to realize that. So, back down. If not, find a new doctor.” Well well. Guess who saved my life. Multiple times and still is 13 years later. Now we are like an old married couple.

My team. Vanessa Hill, CRNP and Dr. Winn Chatham. Both are at UAB in Birmingham, Alabama.

My team. Vanessa Hill, CRNP and Dr. Winn Chatham. Both are at UAB in Birmingham, Alabama.

What can you afford to do about your habits?

Habits require A LOT of effort, time, determination, and sometimes money. It’s important for you to understand how far you’re willing to go to stick to a habit or else you might get burned out. For example, you might really want to run a marathon in a couple of months, so at the beginning of your training, you say you will run for one hour each day in order to prepare. However, you forgot that you have a huge project coming up at work and that your daughter has theater rehearsal every weeknight and that your friend asked you to feed her cat every other morning. This poor planning will result in you coming home one night, exhausted, and telling yourself that you can afford to skip one day of running. But then you do it the next day, and the next, until it’s the morning of the marathon and you haven’t practiced at all.

While this might have been an extreme case, it still serves as an important reminder to cater your habits towards your lifestyle. Let’s face it, most habits are hard to stick to. It would be hard for anyone to run an hour a day, regardless of their job, family needs, and/or prior commitments. But those things on top of your already-hard goal spells out absolute disaster.

Another example is choosing to go completely vegan for a month. For average people, it can be incredibly difficult to get a full stomach while going vegan, especially if they don’t have the money to spend on bulk fruits and veggies or the time to spend planning out their meals. Now if you are a planner, then you start chopping those veggies.

If you really want to stick to your goals, choose habits that aren’t completely impossible. Understand your lifestyle and day-to-day commitments before deciding on a habit.

Understand what it takes:

Habits are super hard to make and break. That’s why they have such a bad reputation. By understanding the effort, determination, and time that goes into making yourself better, you will actually be able to stick to your goals.

Understand that you might fail a couple of times, but getting right back up and finishing what you started is a sure-fire way to become a happier and healthier you. Stay tuned for the “Great sugar detox of 2019” that I’m currently smack in the middle of.

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What is my ending comment: It’s simple. Take care of business people. You only have one life. Live it great and FOR YOU. Listen to the professionals if you need help. YEEESSS!

Love, Molly

The Mango Meltdown

It’s summer! And what do I think of when I think of summer? Fresh fruit! Specifically? My favorite: mangoes.

Also, my oldest, better known as the picky, I’ll eat only chicken (not from Publix or with sauce or fried weird or with something on the outside) and cheese (only natural, not processed or white) child, actually will eat a Mango. It’s like the sky opened up and threw me a bone for once.

After doing some quick research, I learned that mangoes are the most popular fruit in the world! And for good reason. Not only do they taste great, but their versatile and healthy, making them an iconic summer staple. While mangoes can be in season during most of the year due to different strains, they really peak in the summer months. Last summer, I went to Mexico with my two besties, also known as health bloggers and health weirdos and a vendor walked by and hollered, “Mango on a stick?” We just looked at each other. “Duh Mexican guy.”

And so what does all of this make me wonder: what are the nutritional values of mangoes? Here’s a quick guide for the best fruit of the summer.

Mango benefits:

  1. Hair and Skin Health: Mangoes contain lots of Vitamin A, which helps in the sebum production that keeps your hair and skin shiny and moisturized. It also contains Vitamin C, which helps collagen production and builds the structure of the cells.

  2. Bone Health: Mangoes have lots of Vitamin K, which low intake of is an indicator for bone fractures.

  3. Heart Disease: Mangoes have potassium, fiber, and many vitamins that ward off heart disease. For example, to reduce symptoms of hypertension, doctors say to decrease sodium levels and increase potassium levels.

  4. Digestive Health: The fiber and nutrients in mangoes help you to avoid stomach issues.

  5. Diabetes: For Type 1 Diabetes, fiber helps lower blood sugar levels. In Type 2 Diabetes, fiber improves blood sugar, lipid count, and insulin levels.

  6. Cancer Prevention: Mangoes have proven to help certain cancers, including breast, prostate, and colon.

  7. Macular Degeneration: The antioxidant zeaxanthin filters out harmful blue light rays and plays a protective role in eye health.

With all of these amazing health benefits, mangoes are a staple of the summer diet. Healthy, nutritious, tasty, and juicy; what can’t mangoes do?

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Enjoy your Mango! And if you can eat one that was just picked and put on a stick while sitting in a chair at one the world’s top beaches - you freaking do that!

Love, Molly

The Supplement Situation

I understand the appeal of supplements, really, I do. My attorney will get mad if he don’t see this: I am NOT a doctor NOR am I giving you medical advice. There you read it.

Every day you might hear about the different nutrients you need. You need this to sleep, this for your knees, this for that, that for this. It can be overwhelming.

Then you have to wonder if you’re getting enough of these nutrients in your diet. Maybe? Maybe not? Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you have a deficiency.

So what sounds like the easiest way to get your fill?

Supplements seem like the clear answer. They promise flowing hair, clear skin, weight loss, healthy guts, and more. Here’s a list of the most common vitamins and supplements:

  • Vitamin D: Antidepressant and energy-stimulant.

  • Magnesium: Nerve and muscle function.

  • Calcium: Bone health, blood clotting, heart.

  • Vitamin C: Artery health, connective tissue, and good skin.

  • Omega-3: Healthy hair, eyes, brain, and nails.

  • Probiotics: Aid in digestion and immunity.

But do they really work? Are they worth your money?

For hundreds of years, doctors and scientists believed that vitamins were the key to treating sicknesses and diseases. They prescribed huge doses of Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and many more in last ditch efforts to cure everything from the common cold to cancer to heart disease. However, after many years and many studies, these scientists were proven wrong, indicating almost no evidence that supplements can treat or cure any diseases.

For example, Vitamin C has been proven to only cure scurvy and Vitamin E does nothing.

Other vitamins have mixed effects. For another example, Vitamin B is commonly taken by pregnant women to reduce neural diseases and increase the health of the baby. However, other studies show that Vitamin B increases the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. So what should you believe? Well, it’s a little more complicated (and way more scientific) than that. Basically, Vitamin B aids in growth of cells. This means it’s good for pregnant women and children because they’re constantly growing! But for adults, this is unnecessary and can be harmful!

So basically, supplements are way more involved than you might think they are. What works for one person can be absolutely detrimental for the next.

So why are supplements not as helpful as you might think? The answer is actually quite easy. A long time ago, it was very common for most people (especially the lower/working class) to contract diseases caused by not getting the right nutrients. However, in today’s day and age, the most common diseases are NOT caused by nutrient deficiencies. Obesity, heart problems, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and more are caused by other problems and cannot be cured by vitamin supplements.

There are two types of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins (Vitamins B and C) need constant replacement in the body because excess amounts are quickly expelled. For example, if you eat too much Vitamin C, your body will keep what it needs and flush out the rest. But excess fat-soluble vitamins (aka Vitamins A, D, E, and K) are stored in the liver and fatty tissues, meaning they are flushed out of the body much slower than the others. Basically, too many fat-soluble vitamins in your body could become toxic easily, which is why you have to be super careful when taking supplements you might think you need.

With this being said, supplements can be helpful to certain people. Here’s a small list of people who may need to take supplements: But remember, everyone is different. Consult with a doctor before you make any sudden changes to your supplements or diet.

  • Pregnant/Breastfeeding: Folate or other neural vitamins

  • Vegans/Vegetarians: Vitamin B12, Iron, Calcium

  • Individuals who do intense training or exercise

  • Anemic: Iron supplements

  • Other health problems: Do your research before choosing what’s right for you

  • Elderly: Many supplements can help, including Vitamin D or Omega-3

So while most don’t need to take supplements at all, they’re essential for certain individuals. Make sure to do your research and talk to a doctor before doing anything!

And the point is: DO YOUR RESEARCH. I get SOOOO frustrated when I see people at the gym in their supplement store t-shirts sucking down 5 different pre-workouts, vitamins and so on. “The cashier at the vitamin store said these were good.” My response is the same. “They said cigarettes were good 100 years ago too.” or “Does the cashier have a medical degree by chance?” or “How much did you spend? It was a lot wasn’t it?”

DO YOUR RESEARCH and if you need something to supplement your already awesome diet of healthy vitamins and nutrients, then you go for it!

Enjoy your day and step outside for some awesome Vitamin D.

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Love,

Molly

Finding Contentment

Contentment is a mental or emotional state of satisfaction maybe drawn from being at ease in one’s situation, body and mind.
— Wikipedia

I started the journey to find “myself” or happiness or whatever the hell it might be 5 years ago. Let me just start by saying that it is not easy. Nothing in life really is easy but with me, more so. I’ve come to understand that my life will always be somewhat harder and I don’t fight it. Mostly. I still wonder and complain about how hard things seem with me but generally I have accepted it.

I’m not talking about true hard stuff. Like, death of a loved one or loss of all my worldly possessions. I fully understand that my life could REALLY be hard and that I am blessed.

Things in my life just don’t ever seem easy. I am excited, commenting on the beautiful weather while staring at a flower and I’ll get stung by bee. That’s okay. That bee needed to sting something.

So, how can I help you find contentment? I’m not really sure but I’ll try to make some valid points. Or, I’ll just talk about myself and you’ll feel better instantly or laugh. My best friend told me once that I just have to choose to be happy. That I just have to be happy no matter what. I thought he was being an ass truthfully but years later, he was right.

Find something happy in everything.

My work environment is crazy for me. Like stupid crazy. My staff just cruise along happy and mainly free from worry. I’m proud that I built that for them. But for me, it’s crazy. I actually go and sit in my car to get work done. I go home to complete reports. I spend 4+ hours a day in the weight room training clients, so that takes up most of my time. I speak at an event every Monday. I’m just freaking busy. But I get to do a job that helps people. I can make my own schedule and have fun while I’m doing it. I’m also really good at what I do, so I am fortunate to own a company that allows that. See what I did there? I found some happy things in my life. Oh, I almost forgot - I make money. That helps right?

Here are some HAPPY points in my life:

  • I have a long time client that has went from running constantly to years of not being able to run because of severe injury. She was desperate when she came to me. Three months later and she started back running. Six months after that and I literally can’t get her to stop running. She just floats on the treadmill and occasionally looks over at me.

  • Another client has come back from a severe knee surgery 3 years ago. The injury caused several other issues and we have corrected them all. She works a very stressful job but has stayed consistent. She will stop her meetings, come workout with me and go back to work. She also broke a rib several months back and that caused serious pain. She only missed one or two sessions. It was a brutal recovery but we adjusted and worked through it. She believes in me and I believe in her.

  • I also have the best assistant I could have ever found. I can leave and I know the facility is being cared for. My staff is currently all wonderful as well.

I could go on and on here but I’ll move on.

Finding contentment in fitness.

Now my fitness journey is a whole new ballgame. Fitness has been a part of my life forever. My family was very active and I never laid around at home. Ever. My brother and I would walk 2 miles to a community pool every day during the summer. We would steal several quarters from my dads change bucket and buy a generic soda and that’s all we cared about. We would swim for 6+ hours a day. My mom would swing by after work and honk the horn until we came out to go home. Then we would have soccer or gymnastics practice. We actually had a soccer field in our front yard. A real field, with nets and everything. At one point, we all four played on a different soccer team. Even my mom.

So, being able to move and live life fully is vital to me. When I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease 13 years ago, I was teaching aerobic classes and never really stopped. I cut back at one point but continued on. It’s just important to me to never stop. Now over the years the pain has increased steadily to the point that pain controls my life somewhat. That’s not going to stop me though.

My friends laugh at me constantly because I do stay injured. CONSTANTLY. That part sucks! Once I devise an awesome plan for myself, I get injured. I’ve learned to laugh and just not make plans. I’ll make a plan in my head and try to trick myself into not knowing I have a real plan. Ha. It works.

So, how do I stay in shape despite all that? I do something everyday. Something. Anything. Sometimes big. Sometimes little. I also constantly readjust my fitness. I’m currently starting (yesterday!) a new strength routine so the previous month I did mainly cardio to prepare. Now, keep in mind that I only count exercise that is above and beyond my usual routine. My body is use to throwing weights around for my clients and doing certain types of classes each week. My body is use to standing up and sitting down 5 million times a day. I will add 5 minutes everyday for a week then back off. If I watch T.V., I will add core exercises. I know - you can think I’m weird. I am weird. But I also live this life and I want others to understand that. I’m actually 6 pounds heavier than normal and I am uncomfortable at times, but I’m okay with that. I can’t be perfect. No one can be.

How to find contentment when things are off.

I’m not going to lie and tell you that I am good with having an extra 6 pounds right now. However, I am fine with it. I know… I truly am. I’m happy with things right now. I am still strong and able to do things that I want. NOW.. I would not be happy if I had a photo shoot this afternoon. Or if I had to work in a bikini all day. I would do it and own it, don’t get me wrong, but I might be a tad uncomfortable. Yes, I am aware that I just said two different things, so which is it? I am confident and I own my body and all that comes with that. All 6 pounds of it. How did I get to that place? I am doing the best that I can and I know that. That’s where you need to be.

You are an awesome person that is busting their ass to improve. You work. You have wild kids. You do laundry. You grocery shop. You work out at some point. You keep relationships going. You keep things alive like pets and those wild kids. You need to give yourself some credit. Your mindset is preparing to improve. I mean, you are here reading this aren’t you? It’s time that you own what’s going on. Now, make that plan. Whatever the plan is - do it. Prove to yourself that you can. Because you can.

Be happy with yourself even if it is holding 50 extra pounds or can’t lift 10 pounds because that body is what is going to move you forward. 200 pound Molly is the same 150 pound Molly. 200 pound Molly is the one that decided to make those changes and lose those 50 pounds. So, be happy that you are moving in the correct direction.

Look forward, not back.

Yep, the past is back there, not up here. The old you might not be able to run a marathon, but the new one might can. I’ve seen it first hand! The old you might pass out climbing several flights of stairs, but the new you won’t. The old you might consume tons of sugar, but the new one doesn’t. (My current life this week BTW)

Be happy and take that first step and I promise you won’t regret it.

Take a few minutes to decide what changes you want to make. Then tell me what they are. Now, someone else knows and I will relentlessly stalk you until you reach your goal.

Love, Molly

P.S.- Here’s a picture to help you!

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Exercising with an Autoimmune Disease

Having an autoimmune disease is tough. 

I mean, people know it's tough, but they don't know just how tough. 

With an autoimmune disease, you have to take in consideration everything, from what you eat, to how much you sleep, to how you exercise, to how to do your best without actually feeling your best. Doing too much or too little can make a huge difference in your day-to-day life. And that's why exercising is hard when dealing with autoimmune diseases.

First off, autoimmune diseases are finicky as hell. Too much sleep? You'll feel like crap the next day. Too little sleep? You'll feel like crap the next day. You ate dairy today? You'll feel like crap tomorrow. And to make it worse? Everyone is different. What works for one person with Lupus might not work for next. What works for someone with Celiac's probably won't work for someone with Hashimoto's. Therefore, people with autoimmune diseases can find it extremely difficult to find a balance.

And like always, what else is extremely hard for those with autoimmune issues? You guessed it, exercising. 

Exercising with an autoimmune disease is hard. I won't sugar coat it. Like everyone else, you really should exercise to feel healthy, but going to the gym might cause horrible flare-ups that don't really seem worth it. 

So what is a flare-up? In simplest terms, a flare-up is an outburst of many symptoms at once, normally caused by overexertion, poor sleep, stress, or almost anything else that affects the body in a weird way. And there's only one way to know whether or not something will cause a flare-up: trying things over and over again. 

So the only way to know that you're exercising way too much? To try and then see what happens. And then do it again but tweak it a little. Then again. And again. And probably again. This may seem like a daunting task but with time and effort, you can learn what your body needs to feel good and avoid flare-ups. 

Without further ado, here is my guide to exercising with an autoimmune disorder.

TAKE TIME TO WARM UP

You can't just jump into a workout! 

This is true for EVERYBODY! Not just those with autoimmune disorders. When you're exercising, your muscles are breaking down old muscle in order to create newer and stronger muscle. Then, the body starts to break down fat so it can have enough energy to remake this muscle bigger and better. When you warm up before a workout, your brain signals to the rest of the body to start preparing to work. For example, your heart rate gets quicker, which increases the blood flow into your joints and muscles so they have enough energy and elasticity to work out. This is why you're at risk for an injury when you don't warm up beforehand!

So what does warming up look like for someone with an autoimmune disorder? 

It's pretty simple. Just take five to ten minutes before your workout! Here's a list of my favorite (and effective!) warm-ups!

  • Stretching

  • Walking

  • Light yoga

  • Small, achievable movements

LESSEN THE FREQUENCY

Those suffering from autoimmune disorders generally should not work out as frequently as those who are not. A super common way that flare-ups occur is overexertion.

If you have a disease that affects muscles, bones, and joints, this is a big point! Exercising affects these areas the most, and if you overdo it, you could be left feeling swollen, stiff, and achy in the morning. 

However, exercising affects your entire body. For example, when you exercise, your body spends the energy it was using to aid digestion to build muscle and break down fat. Therefore, digestion is slowed down on occasion. To someone with an autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive system, this can really be a problem. 

But also exercise is important, right? You can't just stop exercising. To continue with the digestive system, exercising helps build muscle that can more easily aid digestion. Therefore, it's very important to exercise. 

What's too much exercise though? It depends (I know this wasn't the answer you were looking for!) and it takes time to learn what your body considers too much or too little. The only way to know for sure? Trial and error.

Want some tips to help you start?

  • Limit your workouts to a couple of days a week. If this doesn't seem like enough, do light stretching during your rest days.

  • Give your body time to rest. Autoimmune diseases wreak havoc on the human body. You don't want to have to worry about healing from exercise AND your disorder.

  • Know your body! Autoimmune diseases are often all lumped together, however, they are all so different. Do your research before you overdo it.

  • Listen to your body! If you're working out four times a week but feeling horrible every day, try lessening your workout days to three times a week and so on.

ONLY DO LOW IMPACT WORKOUTS

Don't listen to people who say that high-intensity workouts are the only workouts that have results. Some people can run ten miles, some people can lift fifty pounds of weights, some people prefer doing handstands in yoga. Exercising is exercising. Your body will appreciate any effort you put in!

With that being said, those with autoimmune diseases shouldn't judge themselves based on other peoples standards. Your joints might work differently than other people's or your stomach might be super finicky. When you do high-intensity workouts, your body increases cortisol (AKA the stress hormone), which can cause flare-ups and hurt your joints and muscles. If you only walk on the treadmill for fifteen minutes, your body will notice it, whether you can physically tell or not. Exercise is always better than no exercise. Always.

So have you thrown out the societal idea of high-intensity exercising? Great! Want to know my favorite low-intensity workouts? Here they are:

  • Light yoga

  • Pilates

  • Low-intensity weight training

  • Walking on the treadmill

  • Low-intensity stationary biking

Now, where should you start? Pick a workout and stick to it for a week and see how you feel, then adjust.

DON'T WORKOUT FOR TOO LONG

I know what you're thinking. Could this be any vaguer?

The truth is this: having an autoimmune disease sucks and it takes time to learn how to make it suck less. Therefore, you have to spend weeks, months, years, on perfecting your day-to-day habits. And another truth? It might change (even after all that hard work!) But there's nothing you can do but try and try again. 

With that being said, you (again) have to listen to your body on this one. Like I said previously, the main cause of flare-ups is overexertion. If you work out for too long, you might seriously feel it the next day. So instead of focusing on duration, focus on consistency. Twenty minutes a day adds up to about an hour of exercising if you do it only three times a week. And if you continue it the next week? And then the next? Your body will thank you, big time.

Not to mention, the longer you work out, the more likely you are to get hurt. At some point, your body won't be able to take it anymore, and you could pull a muscle, break a bone, or tear a joint. With those with autoimmune diseases, this can be a big deal. Hurting a muscle can ensure it will never heal or be right again. So the best thing to do? Avoid getting hurt. How do you avoid that? Limit your work out durations to something you know your body can handle.

So, here are my tips on figuring out the right duration for you:

  • Start at fifteen minutes a day, including your warm up. Do this for a week. If you feel the same (or hopefully better!) after the week is over, bump it up to twenty.

  • Take adequate breaks when you're working out. A twenty-minute work out can be bumped up to twenty-five minutes if you take five one minute breaks in between. 

  • When you do take breaks, drink plenty of water and make sure you're giving your body time to cool down properly.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

But wait! Isn't this what this whole article has been about? Yes!

I've said it before (many times) and I'll say it again. Listen to your body! The only way to make sure you're doing what is right for you is by keeping track of how you feel. If you've been hurting more lately, maybe ease off a bit. 

It can take a while to get to know your body. But it is well worth it in the end.

There are three main ways to alter your workouts and make sure you're doing what's right for you:

  • Duration

  • Consistency

  • Intensity

Monitor these and hopefully, you'll be feeling better in no time!

What else can you do?

  • Drink plenty of water

  • Eat well

  • Get adequate sleep

  • Warm up before workouts

I hope you enjoyed this article on how to exercise with an autoimmune disorder! Want to know even more? Check out the rest of my blog or feel free to comment down below! I'll get back to you as soon as I can!

Love, Molly

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Give Me A Beet.

When I think of vegetables, beets are never the first thing on my mind. In fact, I would probably think of twenty other veggies before even remembering that beets exist. But all that has changed. I recently read an article in Taste of Home Magazine about the red vegetable, and I’ve got to say, I’m hooked.

Before we get into the benefits, we have to understand the different types of beets. Sugar beets are often used as a sugar cane substitute in many food brands and food types. Typically, red beets are much sweeter than golden or white beets, which often taste more like turnips or carrots. 

So why eat beets? Here are 5 reasons to give beets a try:

  1. Lower blood pressure: Some studies show that drinking one glass of beet juice can lower blood pressure in just a matter of hours. Some say this is due to the nitrates in beets which help relax blood vessels.

  2. Lower risk of heart disease: The betaine and folate found in the beet are proven to reduce the amount of homocysteine in the blood which in turn reduces the risk of heart problems, strokes, and artery damage.

  3. Energy and stamina boost: Just like with blood pressure, the nitrates in beets help increase oxygen intake and improve circulation. One study claims that those who drank a glass of beet juice prior to a workout could exercise for up to 16 percent longer than those who didn’t!

  4. Daily source of vitamins and minerals: Beets contain Vitamin C, fiber, potassium, manganese, and betaine (a nutrient that protects organs and prevents inflammation).

  5. Cancer prevention: The nutrients that make beets that juicy red color (mainly betacyanin) are also responsible for protecting against cancer cell growth.

What can’t beets do? And what’s listed above is just the benefits derived from the root, or the bulb at the end of the beet plant. The leafy green part at the top of the beet however, have more iron than spinach, and are proven to boost bone health and ward off Alzheimer’s Disease. So don’t throw away the leafy part of the beet, or you’ll really be missing out. I bet you could make pesto with it! 

So let's not beet around the bush, instead let's try the amazing Beetroot and Garlic Hummus recipe I posted below! Happy beeting!

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Meet my Staff!

Holy crap! Can you believe I have had my business open for over a year and a half now! It seems unreal. It was such a challenge to get to opening day that I may have missed a few months! It’s okay now though and we are plugging along like a normal, happy family. Everyone is finally talking to me without being scared that I will start hollering. Oh come on, I only holler occasionally.

I have people ask me all the time about my staff, so I thought I would introduce you to them! They are a great mix of backgrounds and personalities, which is vital for this business. If you didn’t know, we are a corporate wellness management firm that manages programming and an onsite facility for a large manufacturing company.

We don’t just sit around and work out all day. We produce multiple events yearly, from a golf tournament, 5K walks, weight loss challenges, we teach 20+ classes a week and we maintain a facility with 1000+ members. We are busy! And we LOVE it! We truly are a family and enjoy being at work. That makes a huge difference in our lives!

Meet my staff and see the signs I made for each one at our birthday party:

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Hannah Fitch

Front Desk Manager/Assistant Director

Hannah is my go to person. She pretty much does everything for our onsite facility. She is a super sweetheart and fits in perfectly in my environment. She has also just started studying for her group exercise certification. She is like a sponge and just watches and listens to everything I say. Which can be bad or good. Bringing her on has been one of my best decisions! She has recently completed her Piyo Live certification and started teaching regular classes. She is crazy smart and has started questioning my moves and ways. I love it! Let’s just hope that she doesn’t start cussing like me though!

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Evan Menzel

Front Desk

Evan is awesome. He started with me years ago and is a hoot to have around. He is an instructor at several local universities and is my resident Biologist. He is the "knower of all things" and if you EVER need an answer - find Evan. He is also a great friend of mine and has talked me off several ledges before. He also is a fantastic cook! I have been known to lie and steal his leftovers. Also, do not go to his house if you are scared of snakes. 

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Folonda Wynn

Front Desk

When I moved to the area 13 years ago, I started working at a facility and Folonda worked there. Years later, she started working for another company at Mercedes and we met again. Then - she asked me about a job. And here we are. She works the notorious night shift. The one that has swallowed and broken every other person that has tried it! Even the college kids that feel they are invincible and only work one day a week. They cave the fastest! Folonda asked for that shift and would leave this job and walk next door to her full time job. She then went full time for me and ALSO still works her other full time job! We have bets when she actually sleeps and no one can figure it out. She is the sweetest person alive, even at 3 am. She rarely complains too! She has always believed in me and I will always believe in her!

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Thomas Hall

Front Desk, Running Coach

Here is an actual picture of my relationship with Thomas.

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Thomas is one of my favorites! He rides bikes, runs a million miles a year, works for MBUSI, lives 9 hours away and does a zillion other things every.single.day, so he is a WILD SOUL. He’s like my male version. I never really know where he is. He’s somewhere, living his best life. He started as a running coach and now works the front desk when he needs a nap. If you need to run or a good conversation, call Thomas.

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Brooks Smithson

Front Desk

In this business, we often call on favors. Trust me, we keep track of our owed favors. Two different people called and said they had someone to work for me. It was Brooks. I said no both times. Both kept telling me that I would love him. I gave in and fine, I love him. He was actually the first employee to work for MB Fitness! I even paid him out of my pocket for 2 months. He is an engineering student at The University of Alabama and is a great guy. He is remarkably smart and will do anything to help out. Like the time I asked that he take the diameter of a pink ball and see how many I would need to fit in a pool. He did it very enthusiastically.

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Rick Clementz

Group Fitness

Rick started coming to classes years ago and quickly became an instructor. He works for MBUSI as head legal counsel and has a huge family, but still manages to make me a priority. He truly is one of my favorite people. I have sat across from him numerous times with personal and business issues and he has always helped me. He was one of my biggest supporters here at Mercedes and for bringing MB Fitness onsite. He is a wonderful person, father, attorney, friend and staff member. I will always succeed with Rick beside me.

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Darla Rhodes

Front Desk

Darla is freaking adorable. I met her on her first day of kindergarten when I dropped off my daughter, Annabelle. They were fast friends and have managed to stay in touch after 6 years and different schools. I have always called her my other daughter and when she wanted a summer job, I said sure. She is a hard worker and super sweet. We have also found out that she is amazing at event planning! A huge perk in this business!

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Shane Booth

Front Desk

Shane is a team member here at MBUSI and was interested in working for some extra hours at the facility. He is adorable and always ready to work. He loves to work out, play golf and enjoys time with his son (who accompanies him sometimes to work). I love having Mercedes staff work for me because they are dedicated and always professional. That is Shane!

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Josh May

Yoga and Group Fitness Instructor

Josh started coming to my yoga classes years ago and he would always ask me the most detailed questions. I would answer him and just give him a look. He would smile and walk away. After about 2 million questions, I finally said - “Why don’t you look into getting certified?” He just smiled and said he might do that. And he did. Twice. We began teaching together and he has now taken over the yoga classes here at the MAC. He is a great guy and a huge asset! He also works for MBUSI full time and has two beautiful daughters.

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Chad Johnstone

Group Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer

What can I say about Chad? He is the guy that I said I would NEVER hire and here we are. He works for MBUSI full time and was a member with a sole mission in life to annoy me. Here we are. He is very passionate and an excellent instructor. I do have to walk by and thump him on the head occasionally but that’s okay. He also LOVES to spend my money on the latest cool toys for the facility. He has an adorable family with two small daughters and still manages to work out constantly. He is an avid runner, Kettlebell trainer and weight lifter.

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Annabelle Blomeley

Website Design, Writer and Front Desk

Yep, Annabelle is my adorable oldest child. She does a lot in the business. She works the front desk some but mostly works behind the scenes. She is my content writer, website design and graphic designer. Yep, she does all that and WAY better than most. She attends the Alabama School of Fine Arts and will graduate this spring. She is the one that will discuss the most random things and research things that I’m sure she shouldn’t be. I’m sure her plans are to overthrow me at some point and take over completely. I’m actually fine with that.

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Jeff Morrison

Group Fitness Instructor

Jeff teaches all kinds of classes for me! He began as a member and started teaching a few of our Beachbody programs. He works for MBUSI full time, loves to run and bike and enjoys teaching. He is also a big softball dad and seems to travel to Disney at least 100 times a year. We share a love of cats, so I will randomly get a video of his babies playing!

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Kyle Warram

Running Coach and Non Staffer

Kyle is the only staff member that is not a staff member. We treat him like staff and he gets all the perks of being a staff member, but no one knows why. Joking, I made him a running coach so he could have a “title.” Kyle helps run our running program and the gear up towards our marathon each year. He also runs our internal systems for MBUSI. He works full time for MBUSI, loves power lifting, running and has a large family that he provides for. He is a sweet guy that also enjoys spending my money. You rarely see him without Chad somewhere near.

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Eric Watts - Personal Trainer

Eric is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. We rarely see each other with his busy work schedule. He works for MBUSI full time as well. He is a fantastic trainer and loves to run obstacle races in his spare time. He has a big family and somehow manages to juggle his crazy schedule too!

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Jessica Wantman - Front desk

Jess started as my intern several semesters back and decided to stay on. She is freaking adorable! She immediately fell in love with group fitness and is currently studying for her license. She is my Piyo lover and a whiz at music and choreography. She is a student at The University of Alabama and I hope that she stays on for awhile!

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Josh Kimberly - front desk

Josh is my little energetic, happy guy. He also works full time at MBUSI and occasionally works the front desk for me. He met his beautiful wife while working out at the MAC! I see her more now than him! Come see me JOSH. Like tomorrow.

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abbey payne - nutrition intern

Abbey is my newest intern. She is freaking adorable. She is specializing in nutrition and has been a huge asset in my nutrition business. She is like a sponge and sits down and soaks up everything I say. I look forward to seeing where she takes herself in the field! She already teaches group fitness classes and is hoping to gain her personal training license soon.

Gracie Springer - virtual assistant

Gracie is my Virtual Assistant and does things in about a tenth of the time that it takes me. She has literally finished things before I even completed my sentence before. She is a fantastic with research too. She is luckily staying close for college!

Adrienne avery - Group fitness instructor

I met Adrienne when I contracted with a local school system to train their teachers after school. We immediately became friends and she is one of the most fantastic humans alive. She has helped me through some of my darkest and most desperate times. Me and my girls slept on her floor for months when we didn’t have a place to go! It never phased her and she was always happy to have us. She is one of the facilities favorite instructors too. She can teach most anything but her specialty is TRX. She is currently a stay at home mom to two little girls and seemed fine when I told her that she couldn’t teach anymore unless she brought the babies for me to hold. So, most Fridays I get some baby time. I love it!

So, there is my wonderful team! It has been a challenge for me but I wouldn’t change a thing. Especially with this team above. I keep pushing for my girls and this team! I may work wild hours way past bedtime but that’s ok. It’s a small journey and I am proud to be on it. Thanks for all your support and dedication! As always, if you need me or one of the team members above - let me know!

Happy New Year and we wish you much success in your health and fitness goals!

Much Love,

Molly

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Diet Breakup Podcast with Tiffany DeLuisi

Hey guys! I am excited to share my recent guest appearance on The Diet Breakup Podcast. I have gotten to know Tiffany through several online avenues and I have always enjoyed her style. She is a wonderful blogger and runs a successful podcast, so when she asked if I would make a guest appearance, I gladly agreed!

As many of you know, I don’t always share my story. I don’t lie, but I also don’t freely give my story up. Until recently. I have been working on a HUGE project and have started sharing more. It has actually been very rewarding and freeing for me. And like me, Tiffany started her career as a health coach and then was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. It took her in an opposite direction but she has thrived in her new “role.”

It was a pleasure to talk with her and I hope you enjoy listening. Maybe you will find something out about me that you didn’t know! Which is probably a lot! Okay, I admit that I am private and hold back!! I’m working on it!

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Here’s the link to listen: https://www.tiffanydeluisi.com/episode-27

You can find Tiffany DeLuisi on Facebook and Instagram @tiffanydeluisi.

If you are interested in my latest adventure, check out more information here.

Thanks again for your support!

Love,

Molly

Autoimmune Nutrition and My New Adventure

I started working with a wonderful business coach awhile back and she immediately asked the one question that I had been avoiding, “Why don’t you discuss your disease?” And to be true to myself (lol) I piped back with a sarcastic answer.

Truthfully, there’s no real reason. Other than that I hide most of the time and live a double life. I keep my worlds separate for a reason. It’s hard to be the ‘face of wellness’ for a very large company while something is trying its best to kill you.

I do help tons of clients with autoimmune issues and I do share my journey with them. I just don’t walk around with a shirt on explaining my disease. That’s also because I no longer speak publicly as an advocate. I use to speak to groups and even congress about how to live with an autoimmune disease. I do get asked to speak on fitness and nutrition often and I always decline. Why? Because living with a disease is hard. It actually sucks ass. It is a very tough mental game where you always have to be on. And that requires YOU. You aren’t going to make a decision about your well being while sitting in a room with 40 other people. It’s a commitment that you make to yourself and a decision that you have to come to ALONE. It’s very personal.

Now once you make the decision to get help, I am your girl! I live it daily and understand the delicate issues.

Back to where I started! So, my coach and friend made a great point and I may have listened. It took 6 months but I finally did. The more I dove into my new secret project, the better I felt mentally. I guess finally opening up IS beneficial. Yay me for figuring that out. So, I started writing a course on autoimmune nutrition and how to implement that into your life. I did tons of research, spoke with countless patients and began “testing” the program on myself. I had already made myself a nutrition plan a year ago and was feeling and looking better but things could always improve, right? So, I started testing it all out. I was eating certain things A LOT that I deemed a trigger food for me and my disease. Who knew that cauliflower would cause such issues? With my nutrition license, I was very familiar with foods that cause inflammation and so on, but looking deeper at the specific foods was an eye opener.

If you’re struggling with an autoimmune disease, learning to understand your body can be hard, but it can be done! Follow along with me and we can do it together!

Love, Molly

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Eat those greens!

I've told the story before about my mom making my brother eat something green at each meal. It made such an impression on me! It was funny watching my brother fight because he couldn't put a single piece of green in his mouth. Now, he eats all kinds of green things and we still laugh about it. 

It's not all created equal and I get asked often what is best. I'm not one to push you away from anything in my category of green but I can give you some tips. 

Try and eat a salad once each day! It doesn't have to be fancy! Just be careful with the dressings and condiments that seem to creep onto most salads. If you are struggling to get in your good fats, throw them on your salad. It's simple. Just remember that your salad should look healthy. 5 cups of sunflower seeds are not healthy. So much dressing that you can't see the lettuce is NOT healthy. I actually never pour dressing on my salads. I always dip my fork in the dressing and then the salad. If you need that much dressing, just drink the dressing and skip everything else. Geez. 

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Now go eat something GREEN!!

Love, Molly

Halloween

I absolutely love Halloween! Every part of it… The scary stuff, the candy, the cute little kids so excited, the decorations, all of it. It’s just a fun time and my all time favorite holiday.

I have many people that ask if I limit my kids treats during Halloween and after. The answer is no. I rarely limit my girls intake of anything. (Except, my youngest and the 192 small cups of strawberry ice cream left over from an event. It has been her life mission to finish them all. So, she is currently in a 2 a day limit phase. She’s pissed of course.)

I just don’t teach that limiting things is the best decision. It makes you want them more and you feel a sense of being left out. And that is a bad place to be and will cause a spiral down like you’ve never seen! I have had a bowl of Halloween candy sitting out at my house for weeks and my girls haven’t touched it. If they want to eat the entire bowl and feel crappy later, then that’s a lesson they will learn on their own. They know that candy doesn’t really matter and they don’t feel left out when not eating it. So, it’s not that important to them. If they want a piece, they eat it. I’m not the mom that hears the candy wrapper and comes flying around the corner and slaps it out of their hand.

Now, I will say that I limit/don’t buy/am aware of what is in my house. I’m not trying to say that my girls have free reign of the cabinets though. Actually, they do have free reign, but I buy what’s in the cabinets.

Point of this post: Finding a better way this Halloween and the days after when the candy is hollering obscenities at you from the candy bucket.

Healthier Halloween Ideas:

  • Moderation - Set a limit for yourself and stick to it!

  • Eat a sensible meal before participating in Halloween activities. That way you are less likely to go for the huge candy bowl.

  • Only give away candy that your family does not like. This has always been my strategy.

  • Make Halloween about more than just candy. Carve pumpkins, arts and crafts, make healthy snacks or have Halloween games for the kids


Type 1 Diabetes

Often kids with type 1 Diabetes are left out of all kinds of events, but why? One of my best friends, Paul has an adorable daughter, Sydney with type 1 Diabetes. I have listened to him discuss her limits a million times. The neatest thing is that she is thriving as the most gorgeous 12 year old. She dances, has tons of friends and isn’t restricted at all by her disease. Yes, she takes care of herself and monitors her blood sugar closely, but that hasn’t stopped her at all. It just makes her even more adorable and unique. I asked Paul if he plans to restrict her on Halloween and he said no. He doesn’t want her feeling left out or different in any way. She also has a younger sister, so why treat one a certain way and the other a different way. I understand that completely. I’m sure he will watch her closer than normal without her feeling as if he is. Actually, I know he will. She is dressing up as a banana. How adorable is that? (I have one dressing up as Jesus and one as Madonna, complete with pointy corset and all. I know - don’t lecture me. I will make sure they are in church this weekend.)

I have studied carb choices and blood sugar levels extensively, but I was amazed at some of the carb values in candy! Here is one of my favorite links from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

www.jdrf.com  for more info.

www.jdrf.com for more info.

Sydney is excited and said that trick or treating is her favorite thing about Halloween. I asked her if she felt left out at all and she said sometimes but her friends are very understanding. She also said that she isn’t worried about eating certain things, because she keeps herself in balance.

And she said it best -

I can eat almost anything, I just have to take extra care of myself. A lot of people have it and they are fine. Just stay balanced.
— Sydney Swanger
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Either way Mom and Dad, Halloween shouldn’t be about just the candy. Try and limit sugar every day, not just on Halloween. Go for the fruit based candies, popcorn or pretzels if you are concerned with your kids eating too much and killing each other. If your child reacts differently to one type of food, then limit it. They will survive without Cheetos. (That’s a reference from a friend whose child was allergic to dyes but still wanted Cheetos.) We want what is best for our kids!

100 Calories of Halloween Candy

  • 5 Starbursts

  • 2 Twix, Minis

  • 1 Reese’s PB Cup

  • 3 Kit Kat, Snack Size

So, just like Sydney said - Take care of yourself (or your kids) and everything will be fine. Have fun and I can’t wait to see all the costumes. My cat is super excited about her costume, even though she is currently sleeping on it. Enjoy your day and I hope Michael Myers doesn’t get you.

Love, Molly

The Breakdown of Kombucha

I'm sure you have seen all the hype about Kombucha. I've researched it a ton but I didn't really want to try it until I was at a conference with a girl that made her own. We discussed how she broke it down and how she nursed it for months. It was very fascinating. Especially since my disease has pretty much killed my stomach! I'll try anything to get it back to normal.

So, what is it? Kombucha was invented over 2000 years ago in ancient China. They used it as an anti-inflammatory and treatment for 'ailments' or what we call arthritis today. 

How is it made? You probably don't want to know.. It is made of a fermented tea (green or black mostly) with added sugar and yeast bacteria. Basically, it sits and ferments for days and a layer of bacteria is created on the top, called a Scoby. These bacteria are said to help many functions of the human body. 

What does it do for you? Mostly, Kombucha is said to be great for gut health, where the ingestion of the healthy bacteria will hopefully colonize or help the preexisting bacteria in your gut. 

A healthy gut is linked to a healthy mental state. 

Two scientific studies found that Kombucha can be antimicrobial, anticancer, and antidiabetic. But studies on humans is very limited. Kombucha does contain DSL which is a known inhibitor of cancer cells.

This is a great one! It's sold tons of places as well. This flavor is a tad robust but still good!

This is a great one! It's sold tons of places as well. This flavor is a tad robust but still good!

You can find numerous varieties and brands. I try to stay with the organic ones just to make sure there aren't added stuff I don't want. I also suggest buying the smaller bottles to see if you like it first. It's an acquired taste for sure.  

I like this brand too. Except the Ginger Spice. I have an aversion to all things Ginger though!

I like this brand too. Except the Ginger Spice. I have an aversion to all things Ginger though!

Bottom line: Just try it. It you feel that it works, then keep drinking it. It has wonderful properties and benefits! 

Let me know if you have a good brand that you love! 

Love, Molly

5 Ways To Improve Sleep

Oh, the dreaded sleep word. This is a hot topic around me. Mainly, because I sleep very little. It is the hardest thing for me! I can take 50 sleeping pills (exaggeration, don't call my mom) and still not sleep. I've tried it all with no luck. I will eventually sleep though. I may stay up for a few days and then sleep 12 hours one night. My body is weird. Or messed up. One of those. 

Enough about me. Let's discuss better sleep. And just act like I am a great example. Sleep is vital! Countless studies have been done on the effects of your health and your sleep patterns. Stress being a huge component. I can site study after study, but we all know what we need- more sleep. 7-9 hours being optimal if you work out. 6-8 if you don't. I can also give you all the statistics and ideas for better sleep, but again, you have to find what works for you. Here's my favorite graphic from Precision Nutrition on the signs that your sleep habits aren't working for you. 

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You get the idea, don't just sleep more, sleep better. You truly have to find what works for you. Trust Me. Decreasing stress is a great start. Here's some ideas to begin with. 

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1. Exercise. Believe it or not, exercising has been linked to a better quality of sleep. It allows our body to rest better and recover adequately. Give yourself ample time before heading to bed though. Especially if you are doing a hardcore, adrenaline pumping workout. Sleep allows your body to deal with the stress of losing weight and gaining muscle. Think of it as your reset button. Allowing the muscles and body to refuel and repair. 

2. Unwind. This is a big one. Find something that allows you to unwind prior to lying down. I am notorious for sitting down about 9 pm and starting my "other" job. I have to just put my computer away at least an hour before wanting to fall asleep. I also don't watch TV in my room. Maybe reading is your favorite thing before bed. Or a warm bath. Or meditation. Meditation is wonderful for falling asleep quickly. Just find something that isn't bothering you or making you think. Relax and meditate 10-15 minutes prior to heading to bed and you should fall asleep much quicker. 

3. Practice. Finding a good routine is soooooo important. Going to bed and waking at the same time each day is important for your sleep patterns. Just like we begin training our kids for an earlier bed time a few weeks before school starts each year, we have to do the same for ourselves. So, practice going to bed 10 minutes earlier every few nights until you reach your desired bedtime. And stick to it!

4. Watch your health. Pay attention to your health and sleep patterns. Sometimes, changing patterns can mean that something else is going on. If you feel something is abnormally off, discuss it with your doctor. Sometimes we have gone too hard and just need some extra sleep, but sometimes we are fighting getting sick as well. Pay attention and seek help if needed. 

5. Find help. Before you even ask, yes I have seen a doctor about my sleeping. If you have tried everything and still can't manage to sleep well, please look for help. Lack of sleep over time can really be detrimental to your health. Ask for help!

Thanks for reading my 5 Ways To.. series. If you missed the others, they are located on the blog. Go take a nap!

Love,

Molly

Friday Faves 5

1. Fresh Fruit in the Summer. This is an easy one. Who doesn't love fresh fruit? I have a little one that will literally eat herself sick when it comes to fruit. I have actually hid fruit from her. I love fruit too and I am happy that my girls will eat it, so I keep tons around. I have always kept a fruit bowl out just in case they wanted a snack. We eat it plain, with yogurt, in pies, on pies, with whipped cream, in smoothies, anyway really. Yum to fresh, summer fruit!

Cost: Varies

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2. Arctic Zero Fit Frozen Dessert Ice Cream. I sure have included several ice creams on my lists, even though I rarely eat it! The ice cream market has been flooded with healthier options and it intrigues me that we are trying to find healthier options for just about anything. I'm not sure why we can't just use self control and have the normal stuff, but whatever. This ice cream/frozen dessert is more of a frozen yogurt consistency. For 35 calories, well worth it. 

Cost: $3 ish a pint

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3. Willy's Salsa.  Not all salsa is created equal. Especially if you are dealing with gluten issues or eat a low FODMAP diet, like I do. Plus, who wants tons of sugar and fake crap in their salsa? That's why I love Willy's Salsa. I send it in school lunches with my little one  and she loves it. It's all natural and very good! I'm a baby, so I get the mild one. I have tried the hot one and it's HOT! But, still good. Find it in the fresh veggie section. 

Cost: $5 ish but it does go BOGO at Publix often. 

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4. Ocean Spray Pact Infused Water.  If you follow me at all, you know I have been on a quest for something to drink that's not full of sugar. Or juice. Or caffeine. I am a natural drinker, all day. Tea, water, tea, tea, orange juice, water, etc. All day. That's a ton of sugar into one day. I tried to cut some tea out first. Then out went the orange juice completely. While at Aldi, I found these Ocean Spray infused waters. Whoa - I really like them. They have very low sugar and only 10 calories. I only bought these two flavors, but I would love to try some others. My new favorites!

Cost: $1.29 each

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5. Watermelon Sorbet. My oldest decided to try her hand at making her own sorbet. Heads up, if you need an excuse to mop your floors, give your 17 year old a broken food processor and an entire watermelon. I've mopped twice and we are still sticking to the floor. However, the sorbet turned out fantastic! I love anything  with watermelon, so it was a win win for me. Don't be scared by the recipe either, it's not that complicated to make your own sorbet! Here's my post with the recipe: Here

Cost: Varies on cost of watermelon

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Thanks for reading. Don't be scared of a little fruit! 

Love, 

Molly

Watermelon Sorbet

My oldest decided she wanted to make her own sorbet. My first thought was, "Um, isn't that complicated." She is a tad persistent.. And I learned that my 21 year old food processor with a crack isn't meant for a 17 year old. Whatever, my cabinets and floors needed a cleaning at 10:00 pm on a week night. 

I love watermelon. It's my favorite fruit actually, so if she wants to waste a $7 watermelon, why should I stop her, right? Eek! It turned out fantastic! I had my doubts that she could pull it off, but she did! And she claims it was easy to make. (After the exploding incident, I bolted!) 

Here's Annabelle's Watermelon Sorbet recipe: 

8 cups of seedless watermelon cut into chunks

1 cup of water

1 cup of sugar, honey, or sugar alternative

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

In a small pan, boil the sugar and water over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from stove and allow to cool. Add the lemon juice to the cooled mixture and set aside. Blend the watermelon in a blender or food processor until completely pureed. Add to the sugar mixture and stir well. Pour mixture into a glass baking dish and freeze until firm. 

Serve and enjoy!

Love, 

Molly & Annabelle  

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5 Ways To Destress

Destress? What's that? HA!

Stress:

  • Stress causes adverse health effects in 43% of adults.

  • 75+% of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.

  • Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death in adults.

  • Stress is a major hazard of the workplace.

  • Stress has been linked to issues in the home.

So, what can we do to destress? 

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1. Exercise. I'm not just saying this because I work in the fitness industry, but fitness is a vital part to keeping your stress under control. Even a simple, 10 minute exercise break can drop your stress levels significantly. It doesn't have to be a huge thing, just anything to get your heart rate going. My company has shown a big rise in productivity with employees that exercise on their lunch break. They are happier, calmer and more productive. So, find an exercise program that you enjoy and destress. 

2. Meditate. Meditation is a wonderful way to center your mind and relax. True meditation allows you to release negative thoughts and energy and center your thoughts to a more positive focus. There are numerous apps that will assist you in mediation as well. A few of the ones leading the field are Headspace and Calm. Both are very user friendly and will guide you through different variations. Starting and ending your day is a start. Sit quietly when you wake and right before bed; close your eyes, breathe in and out for a 2 count and allow yourself to relax your muscles. With each breathe, relax a new muscle group. 

3. Breathe More. Sometimes all we need is to step away and take a few extra breathes. Closing your eyes and breathing in and out slowly will instantly calm you. So, during high stress times, stop and feel your breathes, listen as you breath in 2 and out 3. This almost acts as a reboot! 

4. Find Something Fun. My company has recognized that often fun can change the work environment and boost morale. They have implemented outside activities and events. Teams are going to ballgames together, racing go-carts, trying new restaurants, having meetings at my fitness facility, scheduling meetings outside during breaks and so on. Team members are loving the change and it has had a huge impact on their stress at work. I recently launched a corporate softball league and they have absolutely loved it! One senior manager sent me and the President an email stating how much that one activity has single handily changed her department. People are happier, interacting with each other and excited to come to work. The effect- less stress. Sign up for a Zumba class or an art class. Anything that you find fun and can look forward too. 

5. Seek Help. As always, if your stress is out of control and your health is beginning to decline, seek medical help. There are numerous ways that physicians can assist you with destressing. 

I know that stress is a touchy subject and we all have some level of stress in our lives. But finding the balance that works for you is key.  

Much Love, 

Molly 

 

5 Ways To Move More

Part 2 of my new series is here! Yay! Super simple today. Just move more. 

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I know it might not be that simple. I have trained numerous clients that were severely sick and all we could do was move a little more each day. Sometimes, walking to the bathroom a few more times each day was all they could manage, but it was something. So, I always made sure that they JUST moved more. Here's my tips for this post:

1. Find Something That You Enjoy. This is a big one. I would rather go to the dentist (no offense to my dentist friends) than to run on a treadmill so I avoid treadmills as much as I can. I need music too. So, I enjoy group classes the most. I love outside activities too so outside I go. If you prefer calmer things, go towards yoga or one on one personal training. If you need motivation, find a friend or trainer to keep you on track.

2. Be Realistic. This one is for my chronically ill friends. Be realistic with what you can do. I am in incredible shape (or I tell myself that at least) but I will never be able to complete a full marathon. I have excuses, like I messed my knee up at 13, surgery at 17 and I have never been able to run on it. I have accepted this. I would love to run, but it's okay that I don't. If you want to master a triathlon - no problem. But, don't plan on doing it next month. Work yourself into it because you don't want to fail or get a nasty injury. I truly believe that we can master whatever we want, but be realistic at first. 

3. Be Patient. Just like I said above, things don't happen overnight. Be patient with yourself. You aren't failing if you are moving forward. Make a plan and how you can get to it and start walking towards that plan. So many people aren't patient and give up a month in when they aren't finishing the marathon in first place. It takes time to master skills! Move more and you will get there!

4. Try New Things. OMG, try it already! I surround myself with adorable, go getter friends and we are always trying things. Why not? We've traveled across the country to a hip hop convention (we stood out like sore thumbs and were asked numerous times if we should be in the mothers tent) and had a blast. We've driven to Atlanta to dance. We had a German friend that had never water skied and all she wanted to do while in the states was to ski. Found us a boat and we skied all day. She had a blast. One of us wanted to try Aerial Yoga so off we went. (It's wonderful by the way.) There was also the time six of us decided to try a Horizontal Conditioning (it's a real thing!) class from the creator of the program. We walked in all confident and about 20 minutes in, we were being shown up by several 9 months pregnant women! We had a fantastic time but she kicked our asses! 

5. Consult a Physician. Always check with your doctor before starting something new! That's a must! And if it hurts, STOP!

So, stop what you are doing and write down a few things that you want to do. Then make a plan and start walking towards that plan! As always, if you need support or motivation, leave me comment and I'll help you reach your goals. 

Much love, 

Molly

 

5 Ways To Improve Your Health

Welcome to my new series! First up - 5 Ways To Improve Your Health. I know that is a broad statement but here are some simple suggestions to get you started in the right direction.  

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1. Cut out processed foods. Processed foods are so simple and quick and readily available but they are so unhealthy for you! They are generally full of "fake" things, unhealthy fats (trans fats), sugar and calories. Almost everything we eat is processed in some way - I have to pick my cucumbers from the garden, etc. But chemically processed foods are what I'm discussing. They are made from artificial substances and refined ingredients. They have added ingredients to make them last longer. They add color so it looks more appealing. Processed foods are the highest source of sugar in our western diet and the main cause of obesity. Why? Because they are good and addictive! Our brains want the feeling we get when we eat something familiar and "rewarding." We are literally having to have the "reward" constantly. BUT... you have to cut them out! I truly no longer eat processed foods and feel horrible when I do. They have no benefit or nutrients and are holding your nutrition back! Just try eating whole, fresh foods for a day and see how well you feel! 

2. Eat tons of plants. Growing up, my parents always fought with my brother - "You have to put something in your body green." That would start a huge argument but my parents never gave in. Now, Mr. Crossfitter eats 80% green. (Ok, maybe not that much.) Eating plants each day will ensure you are getting tons of nutrients! TONS. They are low fat, a good source of carbohydrates, full of fiber, lower your blood pressure, reduce your cancer risk, boost testosterone, reduce fat, lower cholesterol and any other thing you might want to add. They also fill you up. So, increase your plants! Add at least one serving at each meal. I mean, why not? 

3. Eat all your varieties. (Carbs, Protein, Fats and Veggies) Eating a well rounded diet is VITAL. Ours bodies are made to eat a variety. We need the nutrients from all sources! You can not safely remove all carbs from your diet. You will crash and burn. Fat is good for you. Fat plays an important role in the proper functioning of your body. Protein is our building blocks. Too much of anything is bad, but we need to maintain a good balance. There are good carbs, good fats, good protein sources and so on. Eat like your great grandparents did. Simple, fresh and full of variety. 

4. Eat more "good" fats. Good fats are my everything! I'm currently eliminating avocados and I've been in full withdrawal! I walked over to the avocado bin yesterday and just stood there looking at them. Seriously. Fat is a necessary component in our nutritional health. Fat provides much needed coating for our nerves. Certain fats are essential for regulating blood pressure, inflammation, and blood clotting. There are different types of fats and you should know what is needed and so on. 

  • Monounsaturated Fats are are found in many fruits, avocados, almonds, pistachios, walnuts and olive oil. They aid in lowering bad cholesterol and and raise good cholesterol.

  • Polyunsaturated Fats also fight bad cholesterol. They are in salmon, fish oils, sunflower oils and seeds. They are fantastic sources of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

  • Saturated Fats are very misunderstood but are essentially our "bad" fats. Diets high in saturated fat are linked to heart disease but they can be consumed in small amounts. However, avoid Trans Fats like the plaque. Trans Fats are generally man made (not all are though), think french fries, chips, etc. They are great for sitting on shelves in a pre-packaged box.

5. Limit alcohol. This is a no-brainer. Alcohol is loaded with calories. It also makes you snack and want more! Limiting alcohol can cut your weekly intake down significantly. 

I know this list is simple and I didn't go into great detail but it's a start for you. I hope you enjoy the up coming series on 5 Ways to Improve. 

Much Love, 

Molly

 

 

Tabata Abs

Tabata workouts are my favorite thing ever. Tabata training is a form of exercise with high intensity intervals (HIIT). It's short bursts of high intensity moves. It is not easy but so worth it. If you aren't out of breathe and swearing, then you are just working out, not doing a Tabata workout. It can be hard to train yourself to go as hard as you can, but it's such a fantastic skill to master. 

I've created a series to make things easy for you! Go kick some butt!

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Friday Faves 4

It's Friday again! I know I say this every Friday - but this is my favorite list. 

1. My 'I Eat Carbs" towel. I found this adorable towel in a small shop in North Carolina and had to have it. It's so me! I have the "carb talk" several times a week it seems. Good carbs should be your friend! They aren't mean. The mean girl just spread a rumor about them and now everyone believes it. Don't go along with the crowd, be your own person. A carb eating person. Then you'll be happy and have tons of energy. You'll lift harder and get some much needed fiber, vitamins and phytochemicals. If you are a fad diet follower, order this towel and use it everyday so you can be reminded to not always listen to the rumors. 

Cost: 7 hour car ride + $9.99

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2. Tarte Concealer. First off, I'm a Bobbi Brown makeup snob. I'll say that up front. I was out of concealer and happened to be in Ulta killing time when I asked the most adorable salesperson what type of makeup she had on. Next thing I know, I'm cheating on my Bobbi Brown consultant and driving home with a tiny bag of $188 worth of stuff. *See mascara below. Anyway, this stuff is phenomenal! Worth every penny and all the sudden I don't look like I've been up for four days straight. Even though, I have been up for four days straight. Or maybe, I'm just hoping I look better because, again $188 is missing. It is also a vegan product which I love and it does not need a finishing powder. (That saves me $9.99 right there.) Again, I'm loving this product. If you see me in person, please comment on how rested I look. I'll act like I'm actually rested. 

Cost: $27 

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3. Benefit BadGal Bang Mascara. Again, Olivia from the Hoover Ulta somehow managed to send me home with some awesome stuff! I have really long eye lashes so I go through a lot of mascara. I have tried them ALL. I usually use a cheap mascara from Target and I generally like it, but I go through tons. I've tried expensive stuff before and it was never worth the money. I really like this! It works with a few swipes and stays on all day. Even through multiple fitness classes. Try it!

Cost: $24

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4. Toufayan Gluten Free Scoopable Pita Chips. These were a BOGO item at Publix several weeks ago and I grabbed a bag. My oldest loves pita chips so I figured I would try them. They are really good! I'm not a huge eater, so I can eat a few chips and be satisfied. I was afraid that the flavor would be too strong but it's not. If you are someone that enjoys the crunch of a chip but are trying to break your addiction to the sogoodbutbadforyouchips, try these guys out.  

Cost: $2.50 ish on sale

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5. Green Valley Organics Yogurt. If you have been following me at all, you know that I'm trying a new eating plan and adding yogurt was on my list. I do try and stay lactose free because I have the weakest stomach on the planet so I grabbed this yumminess at Sprouts. I also try and stay with the plain (or Vanilla) variety to limit my sugar intake. I ate this for a snack at work with some fresh pineapple. It has quickly moved into my favorite brand. The yogurt market has blown up with a million brands and varieties. And they are not all created equal!! Most are full of sugar and calories so really check the ingredients! 

Cost: $1 ish

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Enjoy!

Love, Molly