I have a new crush. It's not Candy Crush. It's a Cashew Crush. I think we are in love. I entered Whole Foods. I bought the creamiest, decadent cashew (mixed with coconut bits) butter. We collided and it was love at first taste. Here's how my love affair with Cashews came to be.
I recently discovered that I have a leaky gut. How was this even possible?? I'm a fitness professional who lives on an extremely clean diet. I don't drink, I don't eat processed or refined sugar. I don't eat dairy. So, what gives?
I found that my high carb intake was the culprit. That being said, I had to completely change my diet and subsequently, my lifestyle. I realize that the Ketogenic diet is quite trendy these days--regardless of it's long history in the world of nutrition. If you look in my archives, I posted about the benefits of a keto diet, about a year ago. Shortly after writing that blog, I came off the keto diet, as I wanted to increase my carbs, again, but was searching for a different method. I'm always experimenting.
The high carb diet threw my gut into rage. I had major digestive issues, insomnia, lethargy, spike in glucose and cortisol levels, and so much more. Hence, my love of cashews spawned out of a necessity. After discovering that I had to increase the fats in my diet, I was a little afraid. What if it doesn't work? What if I gain weight? Yes, cashews, are high in calories. However, it's the caloric intake that will make us fat, as opposed to the high level of fat, which is predominantly found in a ketogenic diet. So, a few (like, 5-6) cashews a day are all that you need.
If anyone is worried about fat content, throw that thought out the window. Toss it far away because what you will discover is that cashews are extremely healthy for you. Below, I listed some nutritional (1) benefits:
1. Cashews help lower blood sugar levels
2. Help reduce cholesterol levels, as they contain zero cholesterol
3. They're high in magnesium thus helping to deliver calcium to strengthen bones
4. Improve brain function
5. Improve digestive health (high in antioxidants)
6. So good for your hair, skin and nails
One of my favorite ways to consume cashews is homemade cashew butter. I have tried several recipes and found the one that has my heart singing it's praises. The original recipe calls for just two ingredients!! However, you can add anything you want. I added some coconut flakes, to make it a little crispy and crunchy, just like the store bought one! (2)
CASHEW BUTTER RECIPE:
3 cups (450g) dry roasted, salted Cashews
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (melted)
OR (my version):
1/2 cup toasted organic Coconut flakes or chips (my personal fave)
Serving size: 1 Tablespoon
Saturated Fat: 2.2g
Cashews butter can be added to any smoothie bowl or drink. I prefer cashew butter over almond because of it's creamy texture and moreso, over peanut butter for it's health properties. Check out PROFI Health for some fantastic healthy recipes for smoothies, bowls, etc., that include nut butters!
If you have any favorite nut butter recipes, share them in the comments below! And, Happy Crushing!
The beginning of every new year often gets us thinking about our goals—more specifically, our health goals. It's usually high on the list. Yet, as we are approaching the middle of January, the attrition rate of newly acquired gym memberships are not as high.
The misalignment of goals with action leads me to question: what exactly does "being healthy" mean to people? How do we want to feel, look, and live in our daily lives? Those are the three primary motivations.
Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what helps you come alive and go do it...because what the world needs is PEOPLE who come alive. --Howard Thurman
I tend to view the world from the inside out. I realize how that sounds: self-involved, egocentric, self-serving, narcissistic, etc, etc. However, it's quite the opposite. I recently read an article about people who experience the world in this manner. The article detailed that what they are really doing is tapping into their FEELINGS of the type of person they want to be. So, what type of coach/partner/friend/daughter/woman am I, or do I want to be?
If I perceive the world from the inside, then I am motivated by, and capture the feeling of, success; the feeling of living longer, the feeling of freedom, the feeling of happiness, the feeling of ... well, you get the idea.
What happens when I don't feel these gooey, awesome, positive feelings? The experience is uncomfortable. It's really just my ego running wild...with no pants on...in -30 degree Celcius cold Canadian weather. Fear, anger, and sadness arise. Then, I ask myself:
How can I translate all these negative emotions in a positive way?
We have full control over the feelings we want to feel and the life we want to have or live and experience. So, to tie this all together, our quest for a healthy lifestyle could be somewhere along the lines of: what is the feeling we want to experience in order to attain (or maintain) a healthy life or fitness goal?
I decided to take a random but very tiny (and maybe scientifically insignificant) poll, from a couple of folks who taught me their version of healthy — my parents. For my dad, being healthy means "living life," which is a "combination of [whole, organic] foods and exercise — you can't have one without the other." Wise words! For my mom, being healthy means "living a life that is pain free and disease free."
Being healthy is whatever we want to feel, whatever we want to experience, whatever we set our mind to, and whatever we desire. We all have a vision of what we want for the world or what it needs. Being alive and healthy is a pretty good start.
By now, everyone has heard of the Ketogenic diet and that healthy fats help you lose weight. So, how exactly does this work?
Currently, I'm testing it out. I have been on a 60% fat (ketogenic) meal plan. A "true" ketogenic diet, though, consists of a higher ratio of fat sources — such as 75-80%. However, I have kept the portion low as I wanted to see what works best for my body, since the ketogenic diet is also great for building and maintaining muscle mass. For the most part, I primarily want to dig into eating fat, for fat loss.
I'll admit that eating fat scared the s*** out of me, at first. I grew up in the 80's, when the media proclaimed that eating high fat foods made you fat, in order to steer us away from fact that refined sugar is the real culprit. The process of ketosis is not new but there is new research to suggest that eating healthy fats will contribute to greater weight loss and that sugar is the real cause of increased fat stores.
Don't get me wrong, your body needs protein and carbs, as well as fats. However, the ratio of each is essential to the goal of losing weight.
How does the ketogenic diet work?
Let's start with the head honcho, here: Fat. Fat is a form of energy that our bodies need in order to function. Carbs and proteins are also necessary sources of energy. On a carbohydrate diet, which is what most people consume (especially those closely related to my Italian heritage *throat clears*), your body utilizes the glucose from the carba as a source of energy. The liver converts the glucose from the carbs, into glycogen. But your body only takes what it needs. The remaining glycogen is now stored, to be used later. Here's where it gets a little ugly. If the glycogen stores get too full, they turn to fat. Ideally, we want to keep this reserve on empty so that your body will start to use the fat stores.
However, if you're on a ketogenic diet, the liver converts the fatty acids (produced from the healthy fats) in the body into ketone bodies, or ketones. The idea here is so that your body starts to use the fat sources, instead of the glycogen sources from carbs, to burn fat. So, how does eating fat make you lose fat? If your body is now low in carbs, it has no choice but to use fat as fuel. Your body is now in ketosis, meaning your liver is using all the fat that you just put into your body, as well as the stored fat, and using it as energy —therefore, burning fat! It's kind of a no-brainer.
What are healthy fats?
Foods such as:
Avocados, eggs, coconut oil, olive oil, chia seeds, grass fed beef, grass fed butter, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and coconut milk (to name a few) all contribute to healthy sources of fat and thereby metabolizing into the ketones that will help you lose weight.
I hear there's a vegan version out there but I have yet to find a good one. I'll keep searching so stay tuned!
What are some of the benefits?
Well, for starters, I noticed that I have mental clarity and focus (no foggy mornings or lack of memory). I also noticed that I feel satiated for longer periods of time, without having to snack in between meals. My sleep has deepened and my mood, increased. The most noticeable difference though is the amount of physical energy I have, throughout my entire day. By 9pm, I'm ready to crash into a deep sleep. The first few weeks were, let's say, quite challenging. Now, after two and a half months, my workouts are more powerful and the time to complete my routines are much shorter--which is kind of a bonus. Who wants to spend 2 hours at the gym, anyway? Overall, a ketogenic diet should be combined with cardio and strength training to really reap the benefits and is highly recommended for those looking to lose a lot of weight.
Contact me for more details on how to get you started, what foods to eat, and the type of exercise that suits your lifestyle.
Throughout most of my adult life, I was never a pill popper. I attributed this behavior to the fact that I was fairly lazy. I also couldn't really feel the effects, and therefore couldn't really understand the benefits of taking vitamins and/or supplements.
I began serious weight training 2 years ago, when I decided to build towards a body building competition. It seemed absurd, at the time. A 45 year old woman, with no job, began going to the gym, 6 days a week. I was required, by my personal trainer, to take vitamins. Vitamin C, D, and a B-complex (which included all the essential B vitamins, in one) were taken in the morning while supplements such as ZMA, L-Glutamine, and melatonin, were taken at night. Melatonin wasn't really required but a low-carb diet prevented me from adequate sleep and therefore, adequate recovery and cell regeneration couldn't be properly achieved without the added supplementations.
Fast forward to a year later, I continued to take supplements and vitamins, long after the competition ended. Workouts and an intense fitness regime became integrated and steadfast into my lifestyle. For some reason, I decided to "give my body a break" from supplements and vitamins, believing that maaaybe, it's just all in my head, like a "placebo" effect. I also believed that my body had developed a tolerance. So, going "back to basics" was my new goal!
I began my two-week cleanse. No vitamins. No supplements. Just workouts and water. Lots of water.
Only one week into my so-called detox, I felt very low energy, despite having eaten foods that were intended to supply these vitamins, naturally. In addition, my workouts suffered tremendously, not just in frequency, but in the intensity. The reason for the low energy and subsequent muscle aches and pains was due to the fact that my body did not have enough time to recover, between workouts. Pre-detox, my body would take about 24-48 hours to recover. A few days into my detox, my body was taking at least 3-4 DAYS to properly recover and begin the next workout. I was wiped out: physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I began to feel these symptoms for a few days and they seemed to have progressively worsened.
A week and three days in, I reinstated my vitamin and supplement routine. Literally, within 24 hours, I began to feel like a human being, again. I felt the blood flowing, the energy rising, my focus clearing, and my sleep deepening.
There is a moral to this story:
If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
An old adage that rings true on many levels and aspects of life.
It was a good lesson, though, in testing my limits.
If you are following me and plan on investing into a good workout program, here is a list of vitamins and supplements I take:
ZMA (Zinc Magnesium Anabolic mineral support)
pre-workout = none
intra-workout (during) = BCAA + hydrator
post-workout: Vanilla Whey Protein Isolate or Vegan Protein Powder (of your choice). I use PROFI Pro Health Vegan Protein, Chocolate (my fave). You can get PROFI vegan protein here:
and use PROMO code: TA001 to get 10% OFF every order!!
In closing, my final thoughts would be to try these out for yourself. Although every physical body is the same, we all function and retain hormones in different ways. Give yourself at least two weeks to notice any difference. Then, let me know what you think!!