Create Your Own Environment
We aren't talking about trees and green grass here, although those things are important too. The environment that we are talking about is everything around you. That includes nature, but it's so much more than that and also includes:
You get the drift...it's everything that you come into contact with on a daily basis and not just physically. All of that information and exposure creates who you are, what you think, your health, your relationships, and your lifestyle.
You've probably heard of the concept of nature vs nurture. To get a little geeky on you, it is also your DNA as well! Your DNA is really the only thing that will not change. Did you know that there is a particular branch of genetics called epigenitics that is doing a lot of research on how our ENVIRONMENT can turn on or turn off certain genes?? Although we can't change our genes, this science is telling us that the excuse of "It's in my genes" may not be a reliable excuse any more. You may now have to change it to "It's in my environment!!!"
How cool and yet scary is that? Based on what you consume and what you come in contact with may dictate if that cancer gene, or alzheimer gene, or obesity gene actually "turns on." It's cool because our environment is actually the one thing that we have a lot of control of. Go back to that list above: ALL of those things you can change today!!! Would some of them be more difficult...like walking away from a job or moving out of your house...sure, but you could still do it! Would you do it if you knew your house was going to cause your whole family to get some auto-immune disease? Absolutely!!! What if you knew that your job increased the chances of you developing cancer? The World Health Organization actually listed shift work (working over night) as a known carcinogen!!!
I guess the reason I think this is a little scary is because now YOU are in control. There really aren't any excuses any more. Sure, there are some environment things that you can't change unless you plan on living in a bubble...but a majority of what you come in contact with is because of a choice you make.
If you are crabby all the time, look at your environment. Is your job creating too much stress? Are the people you're hanging around with crabby and constantly complaining?
If you are depressed, look at your environment. Are you getting enough sunlight/vitamin D? Are you exercising, which is known to release good mood hormones? Don't get me wrong, there is definitely a time and a place for medication...especially if we're talking about depression, but we turn to drugs way too soon and way too often before exhausting every other effort.
If you are overweight, look at your environment. Are you exposing yourself to toxins that mess with your hormones and cause you to store more weight? Are you eating whole, fresh foods? Are you exercising?
If you are feel empty and your life seems to have no meaning, look at your environment. Are you watching negative news all the time? Are you reading personal development? How is your spiritual life? How are your relationships?
Your environment is going to change you, but the cool thing is: YOU have the ability to change it first!
The Vaccine Book
Let me just start by saying that this isn't an anti-vax or a pro-vax blog post. I wanted to write this as a pro-EDUCATION post. I know the vaccine topic is a hot topic right now and there is a lot of emotion that people bring to the issue. They might know someone that has had complications with either a vaccine preventable disease or has had a family member that has had an adverse reaction to a vaccine.
There are also a lot of people that lie somewhere between the two extremes that just want to do what is best for their children and don't know who to trust when it comes to the information that is out there. God knows if you are on social media you've seen posts from both sides. All of that info is tough to filter through. Are the sources credible? Is the research that they've done sound?
If you do have firm beliefs one way or the other and happen to be brave enough to post something on social media explaining your decision, WATCH OUT!!! I've seen just straight hatred from people that have the contrary beliefs. If you ever want to lose faith in the compassion that humans have for one another go find a biased vaccine post and read the comments section.
I guess I hope to bring some civil discourse to the subject once again wrapped around education. That is the reason we bought this book...so that we would have a better knowledge of each of the diseases that kids get vaccinated for and also a better knowledge of each of the vaccines, how they are made and also any risks associated with them. Call me a skeptic, but even when it comes to medical advice I still like to do my own research. I'm slowly getting better at filtering out the crap studies from the legit ones, although it is still hard.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't listen to the pediatricians, but you should be able to hold a conversation with them on the topic. Also as Dr. Sears, the author of this book, states:
“Doctors learn a lot about diseases in medical school, but we learn very little about vaccines. … We don’t review the research ourselves. We never learn what goes into making vaccines or how their safety is studied. So, when patients want a little more information about shots, all we can really say as doctors is that the diseases are bad and the shots are good.” 
Educating yourself is more about learning the right questions to ask, rather than trying to have a debate on vaccines with your pediatrician. By understanding a little bit about vaccines and the diseases they prevent, you will be able to have a conversation with him or her. With a little education you will be able to ask questions about the safety of aluminum in vaccines and whether multiple vaccines that contain aluminum should be given at the same visit and you will have an understanding of the answer your pediatrician gives. On the flip-side, making a comment like, "Jenny McCarthy says vaccines cause autism, so I don't think I want to vaccinate my baby"...will cause your credibility to go down tremendously and you'll come across as uneducated.
I can relate to this a little bit. When I was working as a golf professional and giving someone a lesson...if they came to the lesson and told me about a tip that their buddy gave them to help them with their slice, I knew right away that I had an uphill battle for the rest of the lesson. Now if they told me that they had taken multiple lessons from another pro or even read something in the latest Golf Magazine...then the dialogue tended to me more open. I appreciated it when someone questioned something, because it made it feel like it was more of a discussion. I was able to explain why I wanted them to do something, rather than just telling them, "Do this!" Likewise, your pediatrician shouldn't be threatened by you asking questions, it will demonstrate that you care about the process.
If you are looking to reinforce your view of vaccines, there is certainly a lot of information out there that will support whichever direction you choose...and A LOT of it is biased. I believe one of the keys to being well educated on any issue is looking at both sides. So if you are pro-vax go to www.vactruth.com or go watch a new online movie "Bought" (www.boughtmovie.net). If you are anti-vax go to the CDC website. They have a number of online courses that you can take to educate yourself about vaccine safety.
I think this book does a good job of being middle ground between those two extremes. The structure of how he lays everything out is super easy to digest. He dedicates each chapter to a specific disease/vaccine and breaks it down:
I would highly recommend this book to any parent or future parent to learn more about vaccines. The topic is huge and this book doesn't cover it all, but it covers a lot. I strongly encourage you to put in some extra time and do some unbiased research, no matter which way you lean. Try to look at the information objectively, rationally and make the best decision for your family. If you have specific questions, feel free to email us. Lastly, if you are looking for a debate, I would encourage you to take your comments elsewhere!
Superfood is a buzz word in the health world these days. Eight years ago as a single guy if you would have asked me what my definition of superfood was I probably would have told you anything that is super cheap or super easy to prepare. So frozen pizza and hamburger helper would have fallen into that category.
Oh how the times have changed. Now I look for every effort to search out real superfoods and add them to my diet. I recently heard about broccoli sprouts and the amazing health benefits that they have. So I had to do a little research and find out all about them.
Basically a majority of the health benefits that would classify broccoli sprouts as a superfood stem back to one compound in it, sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is an antioxidant that has been shown to eliminate cancer causing free radicals, reduce inflammation, help your heart health and reduce your chance of diabetes.  Not a bad resume for a plant that is only a few days old!
Here's the "super" thing about sprouts versus the broccoli that you buy in the grocery store. With sprouts you are eating the whole plant including the the roots, not just the trimmed up pretty part that you see on grocery store shelves. The average pack of sprouts that you would buy in a grocery store has around 4,000 sprouts, that is 4,000 future heads of broccoli!!! Also with the sprout the you get anywhere from 10-100 times the amount of antioxidants that are in the adult plant if eaten within the first 7 days.  Sulforaphane tends to peak in the broccoli plant around the 3 day mark and begins to decline after that point. So eat them early and eat them often.
Sprouts can easily be added to salads as I did with my salad pictured above. You can also juice them and still get a lot of the benefits from the sulforaphane. We also recommend adding them to your smoothie or shake.
Don't take this post as a reason to avoid regular broccoli because there are still tons of health benefits from the adult plant too. Vitamins like vitamin A and C and minerals like magnesium, calcium, iron, and magnesium increase as the plant ages so we still encourage you to eat mature broccoli also. We would still consider regular broccoli pretty darn super too!
Let us know how you use your sprouts or if you are planning on trying broccoli sprouts.
I was nominated by a few friends on Instagram to do the #20beautifulwomen challenge that's floating around. You basically take a picture of yourself at a time when you feel beautiful (or even when you don't)...and talk about your journey and what beauty means to you. Then you tag 20 of your friends that you think are beautiful and they do the same thing! It's pretty great actually.
It's taken me years to believe that I'm beautiful and there are obviously still some days where that's a struggle. Growing up with horrible acne made me feel insecure, shy, unlovable, doubt, lack of confidence, mistrust of people's intentions....among a few other things. I can look back on those years and realize they did happen for a reason.
They gave me compassion and love for other people that are struggling with their outward appearance....which I'm actually just now realizing is why I love coaching so much.
They gave me the desire to focus on my INSIDE and focus on the status of my soul.
Striving daily for my heart to be one of PEACE...one of grace towards others...forgiveness, one of LOVE...and being CONTENT no matter what....oh and throw in a little sass for fun! I have full assurance that I can be all of these things because of Christ. He is the One I strive to be like and model my life after..and He is the one who changes my soul and my heart...IF I let him.
It's a daily, messy struggle folks. He brings all the broken pieces together to create a beautiful story and in the process changes me in ways I never knew possible.
Stop Living With Your Excuses
Was chatting with a friend last night and she said something that really struck me. She has been in a couple of our accountability groups but is currently doing this health stuff on her own with her hubby...but I had to share what she said because it's SO true for a lot of people.
"I definitely started because of the trip we have coming up, but have made some changes which aren't depriving me of anything. I hope these habits have become more than just this "trip". I've never felt this strong before and it can be addicting to keep fighting and changing what you thought you needed to live with."
That last sentence...read it again.
Are YOU living with health issues or extra weight and baggage because you think you have to?? Because you think that because it's your reality right now...you have to live with it?? YOU DON'T!!!
Life is too short to put off things you need to do now.
Your health should be a PRIORITY!!
What you eat should be a priority!!
Your life matters and you matter so GET RID of all your excuses and jump in!! It doesn't have to look perfect...it never is. The stars will never be perfectly aligned, so you just need to start. Baby steps. Start eating a piece of fruit every day instead of that candy bar, start parking farther away from the door when you go to the store, get a salad instead of french fries next time you go out to eat etc...
It's the small, seemingly insignificant things you do on a daily basis that will change your life!!
Ever since Laura and I did our little experiment with counting our calories (2,800 calories consumed each day) and watching our macronutrient breakdown (certain %'s of protein/carb/fat), we've been getting a lot of people asking about what their calorie needs are and what they should be eating. Oh and we both lost weight on this plan too!!!
As much as I like to help people figure their own individual macro needs and calorie needs, to actually track it is a MAJOR pain. Will it work, absolutely! Will you have food issues after a short period of time and struggle to eat without your food scale, probably!!! Why is this??? Because eating shouldn't be difficult and if it is one of two things is going to happen.
What if there was an easier way??? Simple eating, that's portion controlled, so you don't have to worry about weighing food or macros. You get what you need in the amount you need it.
It exists, and it's called the 21 Day Fix!
I know we sell Beachbody products so you might think we are just saying this is a great product because then we can sell more of it. Honestly though, this program is the REAL deal... It takes all the guesswork and stress out of eating. It really is a program that I would recommend to people even if I wasn't selling it.
How does it work?
If you want the long version, can head over to an earlier blog post, The 21 Day Fix Explained, where we go into a little more detail. The short answer is that you get a variety of color coded containers that are specific to certain food groups. Depending on your size and activity level you will be allotted a certain quantity of each of the containers each day. Don't worry you won't starve!!! We actually hear the opposite from a lot of people that have done it, they struggle to eat all the food...
This system may not be quite as precise as the calculations that I was figuring out for people....specific percentages of each macro that they should aim for... which involves using MyFitnessPal or some other meal tracking website. The long term success however, of people that have used these food containers is nothing short of remarkable because it is much more simplified.
Check out this support group of 21 Day Fix Customers and some of their transformation photos. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/21dayfixrecipes/photos/) You'll have to scroll a bit since there are a lot of food pics, but feel free to look at those too because that is the food you get to eat on this plan!!
On top of the original program, Autumn Calabrese (the creator of the original program) just came up with a more advanced version, 21 Day Fix Extreme. This program uses a similar simple eating plan as the original but modifies it slightly for more intense workouts. It also includes a 21 Day Countdown to Competition Guide that will give you serious results in just 21 days. We are both extremely excited about these new workouts and eating plan. Laura is going to be starting it on Feb 23rd and will be running an accountability group for others that want to join in! Let us know if you want more info!
If you've tried dieting or calorie counting without any long term success, we would love to help you find a better way. It may be this program, it may just be some small nutritional tweaks. Either way we want all of you to be living up to your full healthy potential.
The Cook & The Coach
Healthy is a LIFESTYLE.