Getting grounded
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No no no, I am not talking about the consequences of misbehaving and confining yourself to your bedroom to contemplate your naughty deeds (although that may not be a bad idea). I am talking about connecting once again, but this time not with each other, but with the earth.

Take a minute to think about how you feel when you sink your feet into the sand at the beach? Or when you walk across a lush, grassy field? Do the words comforting, warming, even tingling come to mind? Can you just about feel the electrical currents of the earth flowing through your body? The surface of the earth is negatively charged, holding a limitless amount of free electrons which can be absorbed through the skin when you are in direct contact with it. This is what you are experiencing.

Back in the day we humans ran around barefoot most of the time. Whether we were walking, running, sitting or sleeping, skin-to-earth contact throughout the day was normal and routine. With the invention of the shoe, and its eventual progression into synthetic-soled, massively cushioned trainers, platforms, heels (you get the idea) our skin contact with the earth has severely diminished. In addition, the fear of stepping on dog poop, broken glass, food scraps and other garbage disrespectfully left behind further impedes on our desire to step outside with naked feet.

Why is this important? When our bodies are infused with the the earth’s natural energy, our blood cells are charged. The free electrons from the earth’s surface neutralize free radical damage and return the body to a state of electric homeostasis thereby eliminating pain, stiffness, inflammation and all related diseases.

No wonder we are such a frail and feeble generation - riddled with sickness, unable to sleep, full of inflammation, aches and pain. We have become so disconnected, not only from ourselves and each other, but also from Mother Nature. Without frequent direct earth contact, our bodies slowly become electrically imbalanced. In that state it is hard for the body to operate at maximum capacity, contributing to conditions such as inflammation, pain, recovery, circulatory issues, cortisol imbalances, sleep, anxiety, depression and thyroid dysfunction. Through an earth connection, electrons neutralize positively-charged destructive free radicals involved in chronic inflammation - the root of modern disease.

What can we do about it? The answer is pretty obvious and free of charge. The basic concept is called grounding or earthing. Stand barefoot in dirt or grass for 20 minutes a day. Just 20 minutes of this skin to earth connection can have a huge impact on overall health. Are you thinking to yourself - hell no? We get it - this is not the most convenient solution the majority of people, especially those living in large cities. Fortunately, albeit not free, there are other solutions in the market today that do not require naked feet.

We were first introduced to earthing by a close friend of ours with lyme’s disease many years ago. She had found serious relief of many of her symptoms once she began using a grounding sheet on her bed. In an effort to improve our sleep, we bought one too. Since that time, many improvements have been made to earthing products. If you are interested, here are a few of our favorite options. We just invested in the Ground Therapy Sleep Mat for the whole family. If you work in an office, the Universal Mat may be the way to go. If you have an injury or chronic pain, the Ground Therapy Patch Kit could also be a good choice. Try grounding after a getting off a plane, especially after changing time zones. The earth’s energy is magical for reducing jet lag.

There are sandals you can purchase that allow for earth-energy conductivity. If you live in a warmer climate, this could also be a good solution.

Please note we are not affiliates of either of these companies, simply believers.

Here and here are links to more information about grounding.

Have you tried grounding/earthing and noticed significant improvements? We want to hear your stories. Please share.

Fatima CookComment
The silent killer no one talks about
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Being a loner by nature, large crowds quickly exhaust and overwhelm me. I am much more comfortable curling up with a book or taking long walks on my own. For my own sanity, I make it a point to carve out time alone - in nature if at all possible. We are lucky enough to have made a big move to a place where I can enjoy the beach on (almost) a daily basis. It is where I feel expansive - where the vast ocean and big skies erase all sense of limits and boundaries. I find it a great place to meditate, read or simple “be”.

Starkly contrasting my deep desire for solitude is my love for entertaining. I love to cook and having friends and family over to celebrate a meal and share stories is my favorite way to spend an evening. I am really lucky this is the case. Why? As it turns out, love, family and social connectedness are strongly tied to a longer lifespan. In fact, one of the common threads among the people who live in the Blue Zones, the areas in the world with the longest lifespans, is a deep sense of community.

Social isolation - or loneliness is a real thing and the more scientists research the effects of loneliness, the clearer it is that having meaningful connections are as important, if not more important than getting in daily workouts and eating clean food. Loneliness can lead to depression and self-centeredness and increases the risk of dying early by over 25%. The physical manifestations of loneliness range from cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, inflammation, immune system suppression, pain, fatigue, depression, elevated cortisol levels, high blood pressure and accelerated progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists say it is as big a risk factor for long term health as smoking cigarettes and while just about everyone is aware of the dangers of smoking, loneliness is rarely discussed.

What also may not be so obvious is that in the social media dominated culture of this day and age, those most affected by loneliness are adolescents. In 2015 a study showed there is a correlation between smartphone usage and loneliness in college students. In 2017, another study that found a correlation between smartphone addiction and anxiety, loneliness, and depression. Those spending more than 3 hours per day on a phone are at higher risk of suicide and depression. Apparently virtual relationships don’t hold a candle to real life, face-to-face interactions and meaningful connections.

This makes total sense ancestrally as well. It was essential to stick together during tribal times, as extended periods of isolation could prove to be life threatening. Imagine wandering off on your own in the wilderness and encountering a hungry wild animal. There would be no one around to help protect you - to help you fight or flee.

So, how can we maximize our meaningful relationships while still benefitting from the use of our smartphones and maintaining a social media community? To the rescue are some simple, easy to adopt ideas.

  1. DON’T EAT ALONE. This can take on many forms. If you like to cook, invite your neighbors over for a dinner party. Don’t like to cook, make it a potluck and supply drinks instead. If you have a family, make it a point to share at least one meal a day with them, preferably dinner. During dinner is a great time to catch up with your spouse and children, share stories and laugh together. In addition, venting about the dilemmas of the day can be incredibly stress relieving. And please keep your phone out of sight while eating. Studies have shown that even the sight of a cell phone can increase distractibility and levels of anxiety.

  2. GIVE MORE HUGS. Human contact triggers pressure points underneath the skin that signal the brain. A physical touch stimulates the vagal nerve, which snakes throughout most of the body, interacts with major organs and helps down-regulate responses to stress by lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Touch can lower cortisol levels and release the neuropeptide oxytocin, the love hormone, the body’s natural anti-depressant. I am not implying that we should hug every person we cross paths with. That plan is likely to back fire pretty quickly. I am suggesting that we genuinely offer a hug more freely, especially to family and friends. Wondering how long said hug should last? 20-seconds seems to be the magic number.

  3. VOLUNTEER. Volunteering opportunities abound no matter where you live or what you like to do. Local libraries, churches, schools, hospitals, nursing homes receive volunteers with open arms. If you like to read, contact an elementary school in your neighborhood to read to the kids once a week. Is singing more your thing? Bring a nursing home some live entertainment.

  4. TAKE A COURSE. Find something you’d like to learn more about and take a class. There is no better way to meet people with similar interests.

  5. FIND LOCAL EVENTS. Again, find something that interests you and find events to attend. A great source for this is meetup.com, a platform for finding and building local community.

  6. EYE CONTACT & SMILES. There is no losing with these two simple gestures. They can create the feeling of connectivity and communicate enough warmth to change the course of someone’s day - whether you are on the giving or receiving side of them.

  7. AIRPLANE MODE & NO ALERTS. Make use of airplane mode and turn off your phone alerts. There are many ways to customize your device so that only truly urgent information can get your attention. The less time we spend looking at our phones, the more time we have to engage in eye contact and smiles.

  8. Join us on one of our retreats! They are a wonderful way to reconnect with friends, meet new like minded people and develop lifelong, meaningful relationships.

To sum this post up, I pose a challenge. Make a point of making eye contact and smiling whenever possible this week. See how it affects your mood.

Then tell me about it in the comments.

Why sugar is a problem and 5 ways to control cravings
Photo Credit: Dylan’s Candy Bar

Photo Credit: Dylan’s Candy Bar

Have you ever taken a good hard look at the candy aisle at the supermarket? Based on the sheer amount of real estate candy bars command, it is pretty clear that sugar is quite a popular commodity - and beyond that, an unhealthy, problematic addiction. Here is an alarming statistic - in the 1700’s sugar consumption, on average, was about 4 pounds per year. Today, it is about 1/2 pound per day, or 180 pounds per year.

Why is this gluttony of sugar consumption such an issue? The reasons are countless. In lieu of trying to name them all, here is a (very) limited list of 15.

  1. Sugar is linked to various types of disease and is especially harmful to children.

  2. Sugar depletes the body of vitamins, minerals and enzymes.

  3. Sugar reduces the body’s ability to defend against bacterial infection.

  4. Making the blood thick and sticky, sugar inhibits blood flow into the micro capillaries that normally supply our gums and teeth with vital nutrients.

  5. Sugar is linked to diabetes.

  6. Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides, lower HDL and raise LDL.

  7. Sugar causes a decline in tissue elasticity and function.

  8. Sugar is one of the dietary causes of gallstones.

  9. Sugar interferes with the body’s absorption of calcium and magnesium.

  10. Sugar may make eyes more vulnerable to age-related macular degeneration.

  11. Sugar disrupts the chemical processes in the brain and can lead to mental fog and erratic emotional behavior.

  12. Sugar can cause fatigue, moodiness, nervousness, and depression.

  13. Sugar can cause premature aging.

  14. Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.

  15. Refined sugar is a chemical extracted from plant sources, very similar to the chemical make up of cocaine. Addiction to it is even more powerful than that to narcotics.

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Why can’t we stay away from sugar?

From an evolutionary point of view, humans are wired to crave sugar and carbohydrates from birth. The first thing a baby ingests after birth is naturally sweet and carbohydrate rich breastmilk. It nourishes the baby and feed’s its gut bacteria, stimulates the release of serotonin, endorphins, and promotes relaxation. Breastmilk also contains proteins and fats necessary for proper growth and development.

This natural propensity towards sweet during times of scarcity served a purpose during ancient times of fight or flight. Today, we rarely find ourselves in such extreme situations and yet our habitual overindulgence of sugar perpetuates a dangerous cycle of craving. A growing number of people are suffering from the afflictions on modern day living - hormone imbalances caused the consumption of processed foods, lack of quality sleep, artificial light and lack of movement. This creates the perfect storm for cravings.

What can we do about it?

Do you struggle with sugar cravings? If so, a sugar detox may be in order. It can help reset a sweet tooth so that even the taste of cinnamon registers as sweet to the taste buds. Talk to us if you would like help with this.

The top 5 things we have found powerful in kick sugar and carbohydrate cravings are:

  1. Protein and Fats. In order for the body to produce sufficient neurotransmitters which are vital for balancing hormones and avoiding cravings, protein is necessary. Healthy fats are a source of energy for the body, are satiating and will help with hunger cravings.

  2. Move. Movement releases endorphins similar to those released when sugar is consumed. We say movement - and not exercise - to enforce the idea that it does not need to be a full-on workout in order for this to happen. A brisk walk, a few body weight squats and/or pushups are enough to do the trick.

  3. Plan meals in advance and eat when hungry. With a little advance planning, and a fridge and pantry full of healthy food options, you will be ready when hunger strikes. This, along with clearing empty calorie foods out of your fridge (freezer) and pantry will make healthy choices easier to make. Need help learning how to design a healthy pantry or with recipes and cooking? We offer Kitchen Pantry and Food Prep Consulting. Contact us for more info.

  4. Sleep. Getting enough good quality sleep is a crucial part of leading a healthy life. Lack of sleep can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, obesity and hormone dysregulation. With regards to cravings, when you are tired, you have less will power to make good decisions - and you will really need it. The lack of sleep amplifies sugar and carbohydrate cravings. Sleep is also critical for balancing blood sugar and managing insulin. We’ve written about sleep in the past. Read more here.

  5. Supplementation:

    Vitamin B Complex. A fat soluble vitamin B complex can help the body utilize carbohydrates, minimizing the body’s craving for more.

    CoEnzymeQ10. This is a key player when it comes to mitochondrial functioning and important for improving carbohydrate utilization. This is the one we take.

    Lipase. This is a protein made by the pancreas that is an ingredient in many digestive enzyme supplements. It is a common deficiency in people who have blood sugar fluctuations, and it can also help to break down fat and burn it as fuel. Try taking a digestive enzyme before the start of a big meal.

    Fish Oil. A high quality fish oil can increase insulin sensitivity and help curb appetite and carbohydrate cravings.

    Amino Acids and Neurotransmitter support. Deficiencies in amino acids and neurotransmitters imbalances can contribute to a sugar addiction. Neurotransmitter support such as amino acid L-Glutamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid (also known as GABA), and D-phenylalanine can quiet the brain and along with that, carbohydrate cravings.

  6. Bonus tip: Mint can help curb cravings. Try muddling some mint in sparkling water at the onset of a craving.

Our food philosophy focuses around nutrient density. By itself, sugar is devoid of all nutrients, proteins, fats or minerals. We are totally fine and in fact promote the occasional sweet treat - complete deprivation is not our thing. Once you are able to detox from a sugar addiction, look for or make treats that are lightly sweetened with a high quality stevia, dates or other fruits, raw honey, which is loaded with antioxidants or high grade real maple syrup (this one is delicious).



Fatima Cook Comments
8 reasons you may be holding on to extra weight
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Before we get into why you may be holding on to fat, let’s go over where fat in our bodies comes from. Excess calories from food we eat covert to triglycerides, a type of fatty acid. Very simply, excess carbohydrates and protein are stored in adipose sites, or fat cells. and excess dietary fat is broken down by the lipolysis and reesterification processes and stored as fat. Triglycerides are comprised of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen which require oxidation to be broken down- in other words, breathing.

Did you know that the primary way to eliminate fat is through the lungs? Yes, yet another incredible function of breath.

While at rest and through daily activity, we are constantly breaking down carbon bonds. Add exercise into the mix, and we break down even more. When we eat food, we balance out our fat loss-fat intake ratio and maintain weight. To supremely oversimplify things one could say that in order to shed some weight, move more and eat less.

What if you are already doing this and not seeing any results? We are not, fortunately, such simple beings. There are several factors that could be getting in the way.

  1. Inflammation.

    While acute inflammation, like the type caused by hormetic stressors initiate a positive biological response, chronic, low level, systemic inflammation releases chemicals in the body causing irregular appetite and glucose regulation.

    What can cause systemic inflammation? Some of the usual suspects are over exercising, inflammatory foods, poor sleep habits or sleep deprivation, and chronic stress. We won’t get into the specifics of over exercising here, but with regards to inflammatory foods, the greatest offenders are vegetable oils or polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) . These oils are processed in high temperatures and high pressure are easily oxidized and become rancid. These oils are associated with atherosclerosis, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. While sugar is also inflammatory, the body is able to process it, especially through exercise. This is not the case with PUFAs.

    With regards to stress, when in a constant state of stress, we mess with the body’s lymbic system. This is our flight-fight response and when thrown out of whack, causes the release of a cascade of hormones distorting the control of hunger and causing the immune system to overreact. Chronic stress from toxins in the environment and once again, over exercising, can also increase cell danger response, causing negative metabolic mechanisms influencing fat loss and appetite dysregulation.

  2. Glycemic Variability.

    Blood glucose levels are in a constant state of flux. The body either shovels glucose into muscle and into the liver or can convert and store it as fat. When these levels fluctuate too high or too low and are out of control, it can cause major problems. When we exercise, the body utilizes glucose in muscles. If we don’t move enough throughout the day and use up extra glucose, it gets stockpiled as fat. Luckily, there are simple ways to regulate blood glucose levels.

    • Strength training. When we strength train, we increase the drive of glucose into muscle cells. Strength training decreases blood glucose levels and increases insulin sensitivity. It is especially helpful before eating a large meal. Keep this in mind next Thanksgiving!

    • Doing a cardiovascular workout, first thing in the morning, in a fasted state.

    • Taking a 10-30 minute walk after a meal.

    • Standing after eating. Walking is more effective, but even simply standing after a meal is helpful, as opposed to sitting as is alternating between standing and sitting throughout the day.

    • Consuming blood sugar balancing foods such as ceylon cinnamon, berberine, rock lotus extract, bitter melon extract, gymnemma sylvertra, and apple cider vinegar.

    • Fiber. insoluble dietary fiber inhibits the conversion of glucose to fatty acids in the liver thereby reduces accumulation of fatty in adipose tissue and improves glucose tolerance. increase insulin sensitivity, prevent diet induced insulin resistance. get fiber from sweet potato, dark leafy greens, legumes, or being in a state of ketosis also helps mimic fiber intake.

  3. Stress

    Stress overload is arguably the number one cause of death in our modern world, laying the groundwork for the proliferation of every disease known to humankind. It is also a major reason we cannot get rid of unwanted fat. When stressed, the body releases a cascade of hormones directed towards survival, in lieu of those geared towards immune function, digestion and protein synthesis. In the face of a looming emergency, or in acute situations, this is essential. In normal life, chronic stress is directly related to increased inflammation, elevated cholesterol levels, hypertension - and extra weight, especially around the midsection.

    If all else is in check - you are moving adequately throughout the day, eating a clean diet free of all processed foods as well as sugar and controlling glycemic variability - yet your waist remains undesirably thicker than you’d like, cortisol levels may be the thorn in your side. Upping your stress management game to reduce cortisol production may be indispensable .

    An element that may also be contributing to stress overload is over exercising as well. This does not only apply to athletes. If you are exercising but not allowing for proper recovery, not sufficiently feeding your body nutrients and not getting enough quality sleep, you too may fall into this category.

  4. Under moving

    As mentioned above, in order to lose weight you must expend more energy through movement than you intake through everything you consume - breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, liquids, etc. Even if you exercise once a day, if you otherwise lead a sedentary life, you may not be moving enough to counterbalance your intake of food. This can lead to blood sugar dysregulation, metabolic syndrome, increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even premature death. For this reason, it is important to sprinkle bouts of activity throughout the day. This could mean setting an alarm and doing air squats or a set of jumping jacks or push ups or taking a 2 minute walk every 30-60 minutes. An easy on ramp is to pace throughout the day or to walk when on the phone whenever possible.

  5. Over Moving

    As discussed above, over exercising is a thing - and not one only reserved for competitive athletes. Whether it be inflammation or stress overload or hormone dysregulation, too much exercise without proper recovery can be extremely taxing on the nervous system and body as a whole. The results? A weakened immune system, fatigue, mood swings, hormone dysregulation, thyroid issues, physical pain or discomfort, sleep disorders, an irregular appetite.

    We at Deep Health Evolution are all about sufficient recovery - and it seems like it’s catching on. More and more boutique studios specializing in recovery have been popping up. Two of our favorites are ReCOVER NYC (use code GC20 for a 20% discount) and BDYSQD in the Boston area. If you intend to live a life that is not only long, but also healthful and joyful without discomfort, aches, pains, etc, this is a critical component to your wellness regimen. If you are interested in learning more and feeling great, consider working with us. We have a toolbox full of useful recovery methods and tools to share.

  6. Not getting enough quality sleep

    The importance of restorative sleep is no longer a secret. There are severe consequences to getting fewer than the recommended 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. On the weight gain front, just one night of subpar sleeping can raise cortisol levels, increase insulin resistance and glycemic variability, stimulate hunger and lead to appetite cravings. The long term side effects of poor sleep are a weakened immune and nervous system, neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes, just to name a few. What’s worse is that all the conditions named above affect quality of sleep, adding fuel to the fire. For sleep tips, read THIS blog post.

  7. Hormone dysregulation

    Exposure to toxins from pesticides and other chemicals as well as an overburden of life stressors such as financial stress or relationship stress, lack of sleep, heavy metal accumulation, dietary deficiencies, over exercising and gut dysregulation can lead to hormonal imbalances. The result? Metabolic issues that open the doors to increases in appetite and inflammation. If you are experiencing weight gain or the inability to lose weight despite you best efforts, this is something you may want to test for. Discuss it with an endocrinologist. You may need some thyroid support or to change your diet and the water you drink. Making other simple changes may make all the difference.

  8. Micronutrient deficiencies

    Micronutrients play a role in metabolism, weight gain, fat loss and obesity. Some of the most significant ones to be aware of are vitamin D, chromium, biotin, thiamine, magnesium, boron, vitamin A, vitamin K2 and choline and antioxidants. Necessary micronutrient levels vary from person to person so it is very difficult to determine appropriate levels without testing. Deficiencies can be caused by digestive or gut issues or other individual differences. If you are deficient in micronutrients, this could be the cause of sleep and cognitive concerns as well as chronic disease.

Having said all this, here are 3 tricks that may help.

One is cold exposure. Frequent cold showers or a cold soak can enhance the formation of brown or beige fat, a type of fat triggered by cold to burn white, unwanted fat (or the fat around your organs, belly, hips, rear end and thighs).

Two is change. If you have been doing the same workout at the same time of day using the same weights, etc, for over 12 weeks, your body has adapted and needs a new challenge in order to respond.

Three is happiness. How satisfied are you in all aspects of your life - work, home, relationships, spiritually, financially? How often are you immersed in nature? Do you feel like you are evolving or do you feel like you are stuck? The happiness factor, your outlook on the life you lead, can determine how well you sleep, how much/often you move, how and what you eat - your overall stress load. Identify the areas that need some fixing and take steps to make small changes.

As you contemplate and digest (pun intended) this information, realize that the biggest factor influencing positive change is your mindset. Open your mind and foster a growth mindset. Be honest and clear about what you truly desire with regards to your overall quality of life. Then step up. You must be willing to make the changes necessary to get there. Little by little is key. Patience is key. Pick one manageable thing - the one you know you can and will do and stick with it. Momentum will shift - ride the wave that blossoms from feeling your work transform you.

What you need to know about intermittent fasting?
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Fad diets come and go. In our time on this planet we’ve already lived through high fat, low-fat, non-fat, high carb, low carb, South Beach, Atkins, Vegan, Keto, Paleo, The Zone, The Dukan, and let’s not forget the Cabbage Soup diet. Fasting however, has been around throughout time. Humans have been fasting for centuries - sometimes out of necessity when food was scarce, but also by choice for religious or cultural reasons. Is there a physiological benefit to fasting? Research is beginning to explore how periods of fasting can affect the body. We’ve talked about intermittent fasting HERE, but it’s been a while so let’s take another look.

WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?

Intermittent fasting is the practice of cycling between periods of eating and fasting. It is not a diet, where one is restricting calories or cutting out specific foods. Instead, it focuses on when you eat.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING?

  • Studies have shown that fasting for at least 12 hours can improve fat oxidation (or fat burning).

  • Fasting for short periods of time has shown to lead to increased metabolic rate, increased energy and cognitive function.

  • Fasting helps lower blood sugar levels and normalize appetite through hormone regulation.

  • Intermittent fasting stimulates testosterone production.

  • Fasting allows your digestive system to take a breather and improves gut health.

  • Fasting has been shown to improve blood lipid profiles,

  • Periods of fasting stimulate the process of autophagy - cellular clean up - which is associated with longevity.

WHAT ARE SOME WAYS TO INTERMITTENT FAST?

Depending on your goals, body type and level of comfort with fasting, there are different ways to approach this.

  1. Time Restricted Eating. This is simply not eating for a given number of hours - between 10 and 16 hours. The easiest way to do this is overnight. For example, if you finish dinner at 8pm, you would restrict your consumption of anything but water until 8am the following morning for a 12 hour fast, or as late as 12pm for a 16 hour fast. At 16 hours, this is commonly referred to as the 16:8 or LeanGains Method. Basically you would be skipping breakfast.

    Side note: Experts in the field don’t agree on what exactly breaks a fast. Most agree water is fine, but black coffee or tea and even small amounts of food are in the gray area. The research around fasting is still in its infancy. We personally tend to stick with water on 12 hour fasts and add black coffee to longer ones. Black coffee and tea can help suppress hunger, facilitate fat oxidation and boost autophagy.


  2. Eat-Stop-Eat. This method is geared towards weight loss. With this type of fasting, you would choose 1 - 2 days a week in which you would not eat for 24 hours. For example, if you finished your last meal on Saturday at 8pm you wouldn’t eat again until Sunday at 8pm.


  3. Alternate Day Fasting. Similar to Eat-Stop-Eat, this type of fasting involves eating every other day. You would consume zero calories on fasting days and eat freely on eating days.

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WHAT ARE SOME COMMON FASTING MISTAKES?

Fasting is a stressor. While in general the body needs stressors in order to heal, regenerate and grow stronger, over stressing can be harmful. Some negative side effects can include irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, lack of libido, thyroid dysregulation, decreased performance, decelerated recovery, sleep issues, binge eating, holding on to extra weight, hair thinning or loss, and mood swings. Factors that may over stress the body and wouldn't fair well with fasting are:

  • Not consuming an adequate amount of calories from nutrient dense, nourishing, hormone supporting foods during the eating window.

  • Over doing anaerobic/glycolytically intense exercise while fasting.

  • Not getting enough good quality sleep

  • Leading a stressful lifestyle.

Women in particular need to be extra careful when it comes to fasting. The female hormone profile is very different from their male counterparts. Women who are very lean and or extremely active, have a history of hormone and/or thyroid dysregulation, are trying to conceive, pregnant or breastfeeding may want to stay away from fasting. Even women who are healthy tend to feel better and experience the best results from shorter and/or less frequent fasts.

Overall, fasting can have a profound effect on the body. It is easy, simple and free - but it is not for everyone. Pay close attention to your body, your performance, and how you are feeling. If you think you may have a condition which may contraindicate your reasons for fasting, consult your physician.

Fatima CookComment
Practical Fitness for Travel (or anywhere)
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We are nearing the beginning of summer. School will be out, kiddos will be commandering our time and it will be prime time for travel. With this, often goes all ideas the regularity of our normal routines - especially in terms of movement. This is sometimes a really good thing - shaking up the norm can be quite energizing and there is nothing like introducing new movement patterns to the body to also spark up the brain. Summer activities such as enjoying nature walks and outdoors sports - beach volleyball, surfing, biking, climbing and the like offer the fringe benefit of exposure to natural sunlight and the vast number of benefits associated with that.

On the other hand, with schedules out the window and beach chairs in plain sight, slipping into laziness is can happen almost imperceptibly. Frankly, it has happened to us more times than we’d like to admit. We understand how easy it is to become attached to a beach chair for hours on end, especially when the cabana person is suspiciously there to refresh cocktails at the first clink of an ice cube.

A great way to combat this is to get the morning rolling on the right foot. Keeping your morning routine going is critical. Since we’ve recognized for ourselves the strong gravitational pull towards vacation malaise, our morning routines follow us around the globe non-negotiably. With regards to movement, we make sure to get our exercise in first thing in the morning. Then, swimming/kayaking/hiking, i.e. all other forms of movement after that become bonus.

Here is a workout that is simple and easy to incorporate in any situation/location - no equipment or large space necessary. Use it to upgrade to your morning. It will help increase sleep quality, oxygenation to the muscles and brain and will start your day on a great path. We have limited stores of will power. Make smart decisions at the beginning of the day before your willpower dwindles. It will also initiate a cascade of positive effects as the day progresses. Don’t shy away from using this protocol at home as well!

CONTACT US  WITH ANY QUESTIONS!

CONTACT US WITH ANY QUESTIONS!






Spring Detox - Products

Now that we’ve reevaluated the quality of our movement and cleaned up what we are putting inside our bodies this spring, it’s time to take a closer look at what we are feeding our skin. I’ve gone into great detail about how important it is to treat our largest and most exposed organ, our skin, with the same consideration as our inner organs HERE. Go back and give it a read for exactly what to avoid and what to look for. In this post I’m simply going to give you a sneak peek into my favorite products (store bought, some home made) and why I love them so much.


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BODY WASH:

Aleavia Enzymatic Body Cleanser. This has only 7 all natural, simple ingredients. It is a prebiotic formula that doesn’t strip away your skin’s natural good bacteria. It is super gentle and healing to skin afflicted with rosacea, eczema, acne, dry skin, keratosis and psoriasis and if you do have problematic skin, I highly recommend coupling the cleanser with Aleavia’s Soothing Mist Restore. It promotes collagen reproduction and stimulates cellular repair of damage and can help reduce fresh scars. Another similar product I’ve tried and liked is Mother Dirt Face & Body Cleanser and AO Plus Mist Prebiotic Spray.

FACIAL CLEANSER:

Another shout out for Aleavia - I use this as a cleanser for my face. My other favorite is a bit more high brow - Pure One Step Camelia Cleansing Oil by Tatcha. It is great for all types of skin, leaves the skin silky soft and has a subtle delicious scent to it.

FACE MASK:

Alitura Naturals. We’ve had Alitura Naturals on our shop page for a long time now. Their clay mask is still my favorite. It includes superfood ingredients such as 100% grass-fed colostrum, ginseng, and kelp powder. I use it once a week (when I remember) and my skin feels like porcelain afterwards.

For easy home made masks, look no further than your fridge. Some great combinations are:

  1. For hydration and antinflammation - 1 tablespoon of raw or Manuka honey, 1 tablespoon cacao powder and 1/4 mashed avocado

  2. For glowing skin - 1/2 banana, 1 tablespoon of raw or Manuka honey and 1 tablespoon orange juice

  3. For hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone - 2 tablespoons of raw or Manuka honey and 2 tablespoons mashed papaya

PROBLEM SKIN:

When ever I feel my skin is feeling tired and extra dry, especially after a night of one-too-many drinks, I turn to Simply Botanicals Skincredible Sandalwood Revitalizing Elixir. It works wonders for skin conditions such as rosacea, scars and blemishes, and is a lovely aftershave as well. I use it after cleansing, and before moisturizing (see below).

FACE CREAM:

My everyday, all the time, and always in my bag serum is June CBD Face Oil. It is carefully crafted with some of the best organic and wildcrafted, hard to find food for skin ingredients and great for all skin types. My favorite part is that the company is owned my a kick-ass lady boss and fellow Brooklynite. I use a few drops of June, followed by Simply Botanicals Creme de Rose. I first found this cream at Erewhon, my favorite natural foods market in LA. It smells delicious, feels luxurious, is deeply nourishing to the skin and doesn’t clog pores.

LIP BALM:

I keep a fresh lip balm in every bag, jacket pocket, pantry, medicine cabinet, nook and cranny of the house. This may sound crazy, maybe so, but I like having a lip balm on hand at all times. My current favorite is L:A Bruket No. 17 Lip Balm Almond + Coconut.

BODY MOISTURIZER:

This is where I tend to splurge on time and make my own. I love making my own whipped body butters. My favorite ingredients are always organic and include extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, shea or mango butter, green coffee bean oil, andiroba oil, rosehips oil, and a mix of essential oils such as sandalwood, lavender, vanilla, palmarosa. The brands of essential oils I trust and love are Snow Lotus and Floracopia. You can play around with the concentration and scents of essential oils, but the basic recipe is 1/3 cup of EVOO, 1/3 cup of coconut oil, 1/3 cup shea or mango butter. Slowly melt the butter in a small saucepan. Once it is completely liquid, add the EVOO and coconut butter and mix well. Allow to cool and solidify completely in the fridge or freezer. Put all ingredients in a food processor. Add essential oils and pulse until whipped and fluffy. Transfer to a clean, dark glass jar like THIS to protect the oils from oxidizing. (If you don’ feel like getting the food processor dirty, you can also beat with a handheld electric beater).

If you prefer to splurge with money over time, June CBD Body Oil is amazing, especially for those spots needing extra care. I often mix a few drops into my own concoctions. Rica Body’s Butter All Over Cream is luxurious and delicious. All their products are fresh and made-to-order in Brooklyn.

DEODORANT:

The skin under our arms is very delicate and sensitive. While we all want to smell great (or like nothing at all) even through our toughest workouts, conventional anti-perspirants contain hormone disrupting and cancer causing chemicals and personally, I’d rather stink than gamble with those possibilities. Our sweat isn’t actually what causes armpit funk. It is the combination of salt, water (aka sweat) and our bacteria that produces body odor. Natural deodorants won’t block your pores as an antiperspirant will do. They will work with the good, natural bacteria on your skin to reduce odors, while allowing your pores to remain open. It can be difficult to find a natural deodorant that actually works. We’ve found the Schmidt (especially the Charcoal and Magnesium scent), Native and Primal Pit Paste brands to be the most effective. Keep in mind that when switching to a natural product, it may take your body up to 2 weeks to adjust. Don’t give up!

DENTAL FLOSS:

Most of us don’t think twice about what the tiny thread we slide in between our teeth every day is made of. Unfortunately, the story is not a pretty one. Most dental floss is typically made of the following ingredients:

  1. Nylon which is plastic and petroleum based. Our bodies cannot break down petroleum. In addition it is super harmful to the environment.

  2. Hormone altering and carcinogenic Teflon.

  3. Synthetic wax made from petroleum.

Our favorite natural floss is Cocofloss. The packaging and flavors are fun and it is safe for humans and the environment.

TOOTHPASTE

What are the ingredients in your toothpaste? While most of us don’t go around swallowing a huge amount of toothpaste when we tend to our pearly whites, the time (2 minutes if you follow the 30 seconds per quadrant rule) it is in your mouth is long enough for quite a bit of absorption. (Isn’t 1 minute the amount of time we are told to hold CBD under our tongues for it to take effect)? One of the biggest toxic offenders in toothpaste is fluoride. Did you know fluoride is a registered insecticide and rodenticide? It’s been linked to some alarming dental and skeletal fluorosis, cancer, lower IQ in children and learning disorders, among other things.

There are many non-fluorinated toothpastes in the market these days. We love Dr. Bronner’s All-One Toothpaste (especially the cinnamon flavor) and Revitin, a prebiotic formula created renowned biological and integrative dentist, Dr. Gerry Curatola.

TAMPONS:

One of the most sensitive and absorbent areas of a woman’s body is her vagina and what she puts in there important (on so many levels - though we’ll stick to tampons for the sake of this post). The FDA does not require the labels of feminine care products to list all the ingredients in their products. Bleached and sometimes carcinogenic synthetic fibers such as rayon and are often found in the mix. To top that, any amount of cotton actually in the product is pesticide laden. Who wants that? Certainly not I. I use Cora. The brand is environmentally and socially responsible - 100% organic with a BPA-free applicator and proceeds from every box purchased goes towards providing plant-based, biodegradable sanitary pads to girls in need in India.

SUNSCREEN:

The subject of sunscreen is complicated. The light generated by the sun, as we know, is necessary for vitamin D and the proper generation of hormones. Blocking exposure to sunlight can be quite damaging to circadian rhythm, mood regulation and a number of other health issues. Healing and magnificent as it is, it can also be damaging in overdose.

The problems with conventional sunscreens are vast. Many contain toxic ingredients and endocrine disruptors that can promote skin cancer - just the thing we are trying to prevent by wearing it.

Research also shows that ingredients in many types of sunscreens are harmful to ocean life, especially coral. An estimated 5,000 metric tons of sunscreen wash off swimmer’s bodies each year, polluting the ocean and threatening ocean life.

What’s the solution? Here are my tips.

  1. Expose yourself to the sun in small doses all year round. As the summer approaches, begin titrating up your exposure so that your skin is able to tolerate longer periods in the sun. When you know you will be in the sun for extended periods of time, turn to an environmentally safe and non-toxic sunscreen such as the ones from Beauty Counter or have a look at the Environmental Working Group to see how your sunscreen fairs.

  2. Take Astaxanthin daily to help protect the skin from the inside out.

  3. Eat tomato paste. According to scientists, the lycopene found in red tomatoes can help protect the skin from sunburn.

BONUS TIP

We didn’t get into home cleaning products in this round, but here’s a simple and inexpensive recipe for a super effective all -purpose cleaning solution.

Mix equal parts white vinegar and distilled water in a spray bottle. (For a tougher clean up jobs use a 2:1 ratio fo white vinegar to water). Add drops of your favorite essential oil (quantity depends on how strong you like the scent to be) and shake it up. Anti-bacterial and anti-microbial and lovely scented essential oils include peppermint, tea tree, lemon, lavender and rosemary.

What are some of your favorite products? Please share. I am always looking for new ideas!

(Full disclosure:  There are some affiliate links above.  While we make a little bit of money if you make a purchase using our links, it is at no extra cost to you.  Rest assured, we honestly wouldn't be recommending them if we hadn’t tried them ourselves and given them a personal thumbs up!)



Spring Detox - Movement
Mallorca Hiking Trails

Mallorca Hiking Trails

Let’s move!

With the return of each spring season, I am reenergized. I look forward to breathing in the fresh spring air and relinquishing the outdoors from winter’s tight grasp . While I champion routines - my morning routine is sacred - becoming robotic with regards to movement, can very quickly begin to feel mind-numbingly stale. In addition, repetitive movement can lead to overuse injuries. Winter and indoor exercise can sometimes begin to become ordinary. Spring is a time I like to use to light my body up with new movement patterns and new activities - especially sun soaked ones.

It’s not always so easy to make these changes and difficult to figure out where to start. Here are some steps to help you think about the way you move this spring.

You have to live spherically - in many directions.
— Federico Fellini


STEP 1:

Rebalance and add variety to your training. Your body craves all different kinds of movements, angles, loads, speeds, planes, positions and intensities. What does this mean? Here’s a breakdown of different types of exercises and their benefits.

STRENGTH TRAINING

There is plenty of variety within this category. You can lift heavy for fewer repetitions, lift light or body weight only with higher repetitions or do isometric training. Generally, it is beneficial to strength train 2-4x a week. Some of the positive effects of include

  • increased strength

  • sculpted/toned muscles

  • longevity

  • the building of bone density

  • the building of mitochondria

  • to a certain degree, the building cardiovascular fitness

  • decreased chance of injury

  • optimized blood sugar/insulin sensitivity

  • improved metabolic rate


POWER & SPEED

As we age, training power and speed will help maintain dexterity. As we get older, it is important to hold on to our ability to right ourselves quickly if we trip or take a misstep. Training for power and speed will help keep us from falling and potentially breaking a bone. Some additional benefits include

  • improved athletic performance

  • optimized nervous system performance


CARDIOVASCULAR

This is another very broad category basically describing any exercise that trains the heart and vascular system. It is important to train the body in a variety of ways to increase cardiovascular efficiency in all muscles of the body. Most people are very efficient at using the legs - i.e. running, cycling, etc. Try doing a circuit of exercises traditionally geared towards strength training with lighter weights rhythmically or body weight exercises such as Animal Flow. The idea is to keep your heart rate steadily elevated for an extended period of time. Benefits of cardiovascular training include

  • increased metabolic fat burning

  • circulation of lymph fluid

  • increased mitochondrial density

  • improved mitochondrial health

  • improved VO2 max

  • increased circulation

  • blood pressure regulation


MOBILITY

This type of training is the foundation in which all other training is based. It is critical to maintain full range mobility through all the joints of the body, from the more obvious hip and back muscles, to the smaller, less often considered joints in the wrists, fingers, ankles and toes. Without this fundamental strength, we become weak at our most vulnerable positions. For examples of some mobility work visit our Vimeo channel. If you are in NY, take one of Gregg’s Movement Mastery sessions on Sundays at lululemon in Soho at 11:20.


BREATH WORK

Breathing manages the nervous system and physiology. Breath work is commonly thought of as calming and relaxing, and indeed it can be, instilling a deep sense of calm and wellbeing. Did you also know that hypoxic breath work can be used to manipulate oxygen levels for improved nitric oxide levels, performance and fat loss? We’ve written about breath work in the past HERE and HERE. For more in depth information on different types of breath work, join us in Mallorca. We will be taking a deep dive!


Step 2:

Get out. Enjoy spinning? Take your bike out for a spin instead. Get off the treadmill and hit the pavement/trails/grass/sand, etc. Walking and running are some of the simplest ways to get out and move. No equipment or prep necessary. Long walks are especially therapeutic to the body and stimulate creative thinking and problem solving. If you have access to a pool, lake or ocean, jump in. Swimming is another therapeutic means of exercise. If the water is still too cold, your swim may not be long, but you will get the added benefits of cold immersion. Get your game on. What do you like to do? Basketball, soccer, golf, volleyball, ultimate frisbee? These are all wonderful ways to get your body to move in unexpected ways, and usually outdoors.

Tip: Reap the benefits of the sun’s full spectrum of light. Skip the SPF unless you know you will be out in the sun for an extended period of time. Allow your skin to begin acclimating to the sun slowly - start with 5 minutes and increase by a minute or two (or more), depending on your tolerance.


Step 3:

Try something new. New physical activities and adventures encourage new neural connections in the brain and move the body in ways it is not already accustomed to. What have you been dreaming of trying? Capoeira, ecstatic dancing, maybe coasteering (join us in Mallorca)? I recently started taking tennis lessons - not that exotic, I am fully aware, but something I’ve been wanting to do. I’m not very good yet, so the”workout” doesn’t feel super intense, but it’s demanding in many other ways and is so much fun.

Another modality I love to play around with is gymnastics. It is extremely challenging and a great way to strengthen the body, maintain/ develop mobility. It feels so good to master a few new moves. There are some great beginner gymnastics basic programs available online. My personal favorite resource is GMB (Gold Medal Bodies).

Step 4:

I’d be remiss not to mention a few of the other beloved ways I like to mix up my movement patterns.

Rebounding (on a mini trampoline) is my favorite. This can be an intense cardiovascular workout, but can also be done gently for recovery. Either way, it is fantastic for moving lymph.

Side note: Gregg and I met in a rebounding class about 20 years ago!

Foundational training, based on the work of Eric Goodman, is a remarkable way to decompress the spine and strengthen the core muscles. The muscles addressed in this program span the entire core - glutes, adductors, lower back muscles, abdomen, hip flexors, and transverse abdominis. It is worth picking up Goodman’s books, True to Form: How to Use Foundation Training for Sustained Pain Relief and Everyday Fitness and Foundation: Redefine your Core, Conquer Back Pain and Move with Confidence describing his method.

Balance training becomes increasingly important as we get older. It stimulates cognitive function in addition to sharpening those motor skills. A simple way to incorporate this into your day (especially if you work at home, as I do) is to buy a 2x4. Practice walking on it to start. Progress by pivoting when you get to the end of it and returning to starting position. Other ideas: practice getting down to all fours on it, crawl across it. If you need more ideas, contact us.


If you are looking for some outside support with any of this, consider hiring us for a consultation or a program. More information on all of that can be found HERE.


Up Next: Spring Detox - Products.

Full disclosure:  Affiliate links above.


Fatima CookComment
Spring Detox - Food
image by Laura López, @lauraponts

image by Laura López, @lauraponts

It’s April. We are a third of the way into the year and the marketing message “new year, new you” has turned into “not so new year - same you”. I am not pointing any fingers here. I too fall subject to this cliché. Restrictions cinched too tightly and diets perhaps too extreme and/or too abruptly implemented don’t tend to stick for an extended period of time.

Spring brings with it new life and an opportunity, not driven by marketing, to revisit how we are going about our daily lives.

Last week we talked about the mind. This week we will be addressing food. How can we softly rebirth our eating habits - both how and what we eat?


Step 1:

Train yourself to slow down. Notoriously on the go, New Yorkers are fast. We talk fast, walk fast and eat fast. Why? I am not really sure. While talking and walking like there is a fire burning underneath our feet is fine, inhaling food is a fast track to a belly ache and much worse. Indigestion, gas, burping, nutrient malabsorption, and overeating are just some of the possible deleterious side effects.

How long does it take you to finish your meal? Are you sitting down or rushing about or worse yet, looking at some type of screen while you eat? Slow meals = better digestion. They allow digestive juices - saliva and corresponding digestive enzymes - to flow more freely. These juices signal the stomach to secrete more acid which helps with protein synthesis. In addition, the body’s natural satiety signals are given the opportunity to light up and let you know to stop eating before you are stuffed. And really, enjoying food is simply impossible when you are hustling to get it down the hatch!

Slow Down Tips:

  • Pause before beginning each meal and express (mentally or verbally) gratitude for all who made your meal possible. It will slow you down and I guarantee it will also make the food taste better. Here is a quick and easy blurb our daughter learned in 1st grade. We say it before each meal. “Thank you gardeners, thank you cooks, bon appetit, now you may eat”.

  • Avoid distractions (tv, computer, phone, reading).

  • Chew chew chew. Go for about 20 chews per bite.

  • Try using harder to manage utensils (chop sticks).

  • Use your non-dominant hand.

  • Put your utensil down in between bites.

Step 2:

Revisit your pantry. Does it need some editing? Perhaps some leaning out of the packaged foods is in order?

I am certainly one that is highly conscious of waste. I source and support only sustainably and ethically raised meats, buy locally grown, organic and sustainable vegetables, use vegetable scraps whenever possible, eat nose to tail, etc. BUT, in my opinion, when it comes to packaged, highly manufactured, chemically ridden foods, it makes more sense to waste in order to gain physically and mentally. In other words, purge your kitchen of those things that will not serve you health wise in exchange for food that is alive, wholesome and nutritious. Spring is the perfect time for this type of cleaning!

Pantry Clean-Up Tips

  • Examine expiration dates. Have some of those canned/packaged foods been collecting dust for some time? Take a look at their expiration dates and purge the pantry of those that have come and gone. Note, some of these foods may not have expiration dates at all but still may be worth trashing. See below.

  • Read all ingredients. Do you spy hidden ingredients you may have not known could be harmful but now (since you’ve been reading out blog) have discovered may not be in alignment with your healthy lifestyle? Some to be aware of are: any vegetable oils (including canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, cottonseed and soy), any soy products, artificial food coloring, foods with unnecessary added sugars (take a look at your balsamic vinegar), any strange chemicals you may not be able to pronounce.

  • Need some smart pantry inventory ideas? Here are some thoughts.

    • What salts are you using? Table salt is highly processed to eliminate minerals and contains additives to prevent clumping. Swap this for a high mineral sea salt. Light Grey Celtic Sea Salt, Redmond Real Sea Salt are couple we love.

    • Love Asian food? Do you use soy sauce? Soy can be an endocrine distruptor and is often genetically modified and highly processed. Try replacing soy sauce with coconut aminos. It is made with coconut tree sap and sea salt, is high in amino acids and tastes great.

    • Take a look at your ketchup. Does it contain high fructose corn syrup or other sugars? Is it organic? Tomatoes are one of the most highly pesticide sprayed with crops. Look for an organic version with no added sugar. Primal Kitchen makes a good one. If you are ambitious - make your own!

    • Are you a mayo person? There are usually 2 distinct camps - mayo lover or mayo hater. Lover? Store bought mayo is generally made with soy or canola oils and preservatives. Again, Primal Kitchen makes a good one. I like to make my own. It takes minutes and tastes SO much better. This is the basic recipe I use. I often use a mild tasting olive oil over the ones suggested.

    • What do you use to sweeten? We all need a sweet treat from time to time! Replace conventional sugar with dates, raw honey, grade b maple syrup and blackstrap molasses. I also like stevia for certain things. My favorite is made by Omica Organics. It is organic and super clean - you can taste the difference.

    • Does your coconut milk have additives in it - sweeteners or gums and fillers? Try making your own - you won’t look back. Message me if you want instructions! Otherwise Native Forest Simple is our go-to.

    • Everyone should have a good quality fish sauce in their pantry. It gives simple dishes complexity and I use it in everything from marinades and sauces to soups and roasts. Many, however are riddled with questionable ingredients. Look for Red Boat. It’s made from a two hundred year, chemical-free artisanal process, is slow aged, preservative and MSG free.

    • I know we’ve talked about seed oils ad nauseam. This is because they are truly toxic. Replace them with extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, ghee, coconut oil and/or algae oil (sourced from the chestnut tree). Sesame, although it is a seed oil, is super high in antioxidants and is fine to use with low heat.

Step 3:

Spring Shift. In the winter months heavier foods, warming foods, hunkering down in your pj’s types of foods are on heavy rotation. It makes sense. It’s cold. It’s dark. Not much aside from root vegetables and perhaps some kale and radicchio are growing in our local gardens. Choosing to cook seasonally and locally to maximize health benefits during the winter months means heavier meals - roasts, soups and stews.

Spring is a time of grand transition to the outdoors. Buds are peeking out of the tree branches and all sorts of fresh new fruits and vegetables flourish. Farmers markets come alive, speckled with vibrantly colored produce. (Can you tell how excited I get about spring??)

To align what we are eating with the new season, incorporate some of these market treasures into your spring diet:

  • Apricots

  • Artichokes

  • Asparagus

  • Arugula

  • Chives

  • Cherries

  • Green Onions

  • Endive

  • Fava Beans

  • Fiddleheads

  • Mint

  • Morels

  • Nettles

  • Parsley

  • Radishes

  • Ramps

  • Rhubarb

  • Spinach

  • Strawberries

  • Thyme

  • Watercress

Step 4:

Learn how to use these fruits and veggies. Here are a few of my own recipes and some favorites from around the web to get you started!


Ramp Pesto

Ramp Pesto

This is a simple spin recipe using wild garlic - or ramps. The ramp season is so short, I make this is big batches and freeze it! Play with the recipe. Substitute pine nuts for a different flavor profile. Give it a micronutrient boost and add spinach or arugula.

*Use over grilled vegetables, mix in cauliflower rice, over bread, in pasta, or eat by the spoonful!

Ramp Pesto

  • 1 bunch ramps

  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts

  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • sea salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Wash ramps carefully. Use the leaves alone for a milder flavor, leaves and bulbs for more intensity.

Chop the ramps and walnuts roughly.

Process ramps, walnuts, and cheese in a food processor.

Slowly pour in olive oil until you achieve a pesto consistency.

Add seasonings to taste.

Mix in lemon juice.


Christian-fischer / Getty Images

Christian-fischer / Getty Images

Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Roasted Strawberries and Rhubarb

I am always looking for good ways to sneak in a little extra collagen into my diet. This panna cotta is a way to do it. Always use gelatin from a trusted source. We love the Vital Proteins and Further Foods brands. The roasted strawberries and strawberries are also delicious on ice cream, granola, grain-free biscuits…get creative. If you don’t feel like making the panna cotta, plain greek yogurt or labne are also wonderful. Sprinkle some coarsely chopped pistachios over the top for some crunch!

Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta (adapted from eyeswoon)

  • 2 teaspoons grass-fed gelatin

  • 2 cups grass-fed heavy cream

  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup (This will yield subtle sweetness. Add up to double the amount for sweeter results).

  • 1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped

  • pinch of kosher salt

  • 1 cup full fat Greek yogurt

Sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl or cup and allow to soften.

Combine cream, maple syrup, vanilla bean pod and seeds and salt in a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Remove from heat and mix in the gelatin. Stir until it fully dissolves.

Whisk in the yogurt and divide into 6 ramekins. I use bodega glasses.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

When ready to serve, run a knife around the edges fo the ramekin or glass and dip the bottoms in hot water for a few seconds. Invert onto a plate or platter and drizzle with roasted rhubarb and strawberries (recipe follows).

Roasted Rhubarb and Strawberries (slightly adapted from Ladystiles)

  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and cut cut in half

  • 3 cups roughly chopped rhubarb

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup sweet vermouth

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

  • pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 with a rack positioned in the middle of the oven.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the strawberries and rhubarb in a large bowl.

Whisk together the maple syrup, sweet vermouth, balsamic vinegar and salt in a small bowl and pour over the rhubarb and strawberries. Toss gently until coated.

Spread the fruit out on the baking dish in a single layer and drizzle the juices over.

Roast for about 40 minutes. The juice will be thick and the rhubarb tender. Transfer to a bowl while warm. It will be good for about a week in the fridge.


R oasted Asparagus and Radish with Mustard Tarragon Vinaigrette, eyeswoon

Roasted Asparagus and Radish with Mustard Tarragon Vinaigrette, eyeswoon

Roasted Asparagus and Radishes with Mustard Tarragon Vinaigrette from Cook Beautiful, Athena Calderone.

This recipe takes no time to put together. It tastes fabulous and the colors textures look beautiful on the plate.


Grilled Fava Beans , 101 Cookbooks

Grilled Fava Beans, 101 Cookbooks

Grilled Fava Beans from 101 Cookbooks

Fava beans, olive oil and sea salt. What could be better? I love fava beans, but don’t always have the time to prep them. Grilling them whole - and by the way if you don’t have access to a grill, a grill pan works just fine - is such a fun and delicious way to enjoy them.


Morels with Mint, Peas and Shallots, from Saveur Magazine.

Simple, springy and ready in minutes! If you can’t find preserved lemons, substitute lemon zest.

If you try any of these recipes, let me know what you think. Send pictures!

Up next: Spring Detox - Movement

Full disclosure:  Affiliate links above.

Fatima CookComment
Spring Detox
eight_col_spring.jpg

There is freshness in the air! The earlier rising and later setting sun as winter dissipates into spring clearly mark the time for a refresh. Time to clean out with what is no longer “sparking joy” (in the words of Marie Kondo) and make space to fill with joie de vivre.

Aside from closet purging - which I love to do this time of year - might it also be time to reevaluate our relationships to ideas, habits, people that at one time seemed to be constructive?

A personal cleanse, starting from the inside out.

What is going on inside the brain (mindset), what have you been nourishing your body with (food + drink), how you are mobilizing your energy (movement), have you been giving yourself time for self-care (sleep + time for pure enjoyment)?

I thought it might be nice to share how I go about this, so for the next few weeks I’ll be filling you in on my spring cleaning protocol. Mind. Food. Movement. Sleep. (You’ll have to figure out what sparks joy in your closets on your own).

This week let’s talk about the mind. Indeed, spirit, mind and body are inseparable.

What is your inner narrative? Did you know that those with a positive view on life and aging on average live over 7 years longer than those with a negative perspective? As world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. wrote in the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, “Small shifts in mindset can trigger a cascade of changes so profound that they test the limits of what seems possible.”

The problem with thoughts - the dark, draining and diminishing ones is that they become so familiar, they can masquerade themselves as normal. It takes deliberate contemplation to acknowledge them, and purposeful shifting to reset your narrative. With a mind cluttered by negativity, it is nearly impossible to physically feel good and be able to move forward. This same type of fuzziness can directly get in the way of moving towards your goals. This does not mean you should fake positivity (and pretend that those extra 20 pounds you put on this winter is good thing). What you can do, however, is to see it for what it is, make necessary changes and know it will pass. By making small changes, you can edit the negative junk out of your story.

Step 1:

Simply notice. Are your thoughts eliciting a spacious feeling in your chest (calm)? Is your brow relaxed? Or are they causing your shoulders to creep up around your ears (anxiety)? Take note. Then it is up to you to make an executive decision. Do you want to keep this story rolling or pick a new path?

Step 2:

Decide to have a good day and take action. What do the first few minutes - the first hour - of your day look like? A strong morning routine can set the stage for a happier, more productive day. You may be thinking that is irresponsible and unproductive NOT to check your inbox first thing in the morning, but in all reality the world will not come crashing down around you if you wait another 10/20…60 minutes. It may even seem counterintuitive to spend extra time in the morning for conventionally “non-productive” rituals. The contrary is true. That extra time to “set” your mind and body first thing in the morning has the ability to transform the course of the day. The cost of a few minutes is relatively small for the disproportionally big win - your happiness in life.

Step 3:

Essential to a strong morning routine is the directing of the mind. Carve out a few minutes to focus on gratitude, meditation, visualization, breath work and journaling. Be okay with what you are able to do. It’s easy to fall back to an all or nothing mentality, or worse, an “I am not good enough” one. Either would have the opposite effect. Award yourself a smile for whatever it is you are able to do. HERE you’ll find more details on mindset exercises.

Step 4:

When you find yourself stuck in traffic, late for an important date or up in the middle of the night with no sign of falling back into dreamland, recognize where your mind wanders. “Oy vey” or “this too shall pass”? Throughout the day, urge yourself to detach from self-created (negative), premature outcomes. In all reality, we don’t know what will materialize out of any situation. Maintaining a mindset of clear and calm will positively affect your health - and potentially the outcome as well.

Step 5:

And…the same can be true in how you express yourself. According to research, less complaining = better mood + increased happiness and mindfulness.  When asked how you are doing, do you slip into talking about the maladies of life. Take a moment before opening your mouth to transform your gripe into a neutral or positive articulation. This can take time - culturally we are wired to complain - but with practice can be accomplished. Being of South American decent and a native New Yorker has ingrained in me the art of bellyaching, so I work on this often. I’ve set aside this month as a non-complaining month. When I feel the urge to kvetch, I internally change my tune before blurting out the negative.

If I can do it, so can you.

Next up: Spring Cleaning - Food.

Full disclosure:  Affiliate link above!

Fatima Cook Comments
A simple (+ tasty) trick to improve digestion
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Need some help with digestion? In this day and age or high stress, who doesn’t?!? Here is a little trick we’ve been using. Every night before dinner we make ourselves a fancy drink. The”we” here includes our 10 year old daughter. No, we are not trying to get her to acquire an early taste for alcohol, but yes, this fancy drink does include some! We are talking about bitters. Bitters are also commonly used to balance out and give some depth to cocktails, but also have been used medicinally for centuries. It makes for a tasty and beautiful concoction and works wonders for digestion. We mix a few drops into sparkling water and drink about 15 minutes before we sit down to eat dinner.

What exactly is a bitter?

In general, bitters are made with a combination of bitter flavored and aromatic herbs, bark, roots and/or fruit steeped and in alcohol. They can be traced as far back as the ancient Egyptians and commercially first made an appearance in the 1800’s. Peychaud’s and Angostura are probably the most well known. Health-wise, bitters ignite the digestive system, soothe indigestion, ease gas, burping and bloating. In addition, bitters can also help balance sweet craving and help maintain blood sugar.


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There are several small-batch companies making high quality bitters such as Urban Moonshine, El Guapo and Bittermens. We’ve been experimenting with these different brands both in water and in cocktails - and loving them. In true Deep Health Evolution nature, we are also trying out our own concoction. It’s currently steeping, so we can’t yet attest to its flavor, but if you are interested in trying to make some yourself, here is the recipe we used.

Grapefruit and Chocolate Bitters

2 organic grapefruit peels with pith, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup organic cacao nibs
2 tbsp grated organic ginger
1 tbsp organic fennel seeds
2 organic vanilla beans halved lengthwise and scraped
Vodka (we like Tito’s)

Instructions:

Place all ingredients except for the vodka in a sterilized glass jar.
Top with vodka, covering all ingredients and leaving about 1/2” head space.
Cover the jar and shake well.
Store in a cool, dark cupboard for 3 weeks.
Shake the jar every once in a while - whenever you remember.
After the 3 weeks have passed, strain out all the liquid and pour into a dark glass bottle (or bottles). You may want to use a nut milk bag.
Store in a cool, dark place.

Notes: It’s super important to use organic ingredients here. The alcohol will leach any pesticides out of your mixture. Bitters are quite potent. You only need a few drops at a time!

If you give it a try, please let us know what you think of the results!

(Full disclosure:  There are some affiliate links above.  While we make a little bit of money if you make a purchase using our links, it is at no extra cost to you.  Rest assured, we honestly wouldn't be recommending them if we hadn’t tried them ourselves and given them a personal thumbs up!)

Fatima CookComment
Is daylight savings dragging you down?
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I may seem silly that only an hour time change could really have such a profound impact on our lives and our health. Silly, it is not. Research shows that in the spring, this seemingly trivial amount of sleep reduction due to daylight savings correlates to a shocking increase in heart attacks and traffic accidents the following day. The correlation works in reverse as well. In the fall when we shift our clocks back an hour, the rate of heart attacks and traffic accidents plummet the following day.

The sixty minutes that were rudely robbed from us this weekend have profound effects on how we feel and operate. Hopefully this will be the last time we need to address this - lawmakers are proposing a change - but in the meantime, here is some help! We’ve put together some tips to get you back on track in no time.

  1. Sunlight. We’ve talked about the remarkable healing powers of sunlight in the past. Getting morning or early afternoon sun on your skin and in you eyes helps to resynchronize your internal clock - your circadian rhythms. In ancient Chinese medicine, it is believed that our organs are run on a clock. When we artificially manipulate time, everything from appetites to sleep rhythms and moods are all thrown off.

  2. Vigorous Movement. Begin the day with some vigorous movement. This could be a brisk walk or bike ride outside (in the sunlight, why not kill two birds…) or a set of squats, pushups, and some mobility work. Movement, especially in the morning, initiates the release of a cascade of hormones cuing the body that it is time to get the day started. It will help increase sleep cycle efficiency and decrease nighttime cortisol as well.

  3. Limit caffeine. Try giving yourself a slightly earlier caffeine cut-off time. This is especially useful for those who are particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

  4. Consume extra micronutrients. Greens greens and more greens. Electrolytes play a major role in circadian rhythm regulation and nervous system control. Make sure you get an extra serving or two of greens during this time.

Looking for some more sleep strategies? We’ve got you covered! See HERE.

Fatima CookComment
Mobility 6 - Hips (part 2)
Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) for the hips. Serious business!

Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) for the hips. Serious business!

How are those hips doing? As simple as the hip circles we presented last week are, they are extremely effective. This week we are going deeper and manipulating the entire hip socket. This exercise requires a little more explanation, so here is a handy video to give you a visual as well.

This is the last of our basic CARs (controlled articular rotation) series. There are many more exercises to this, but these are the very basics. If you are interested in learning more, contact me about classes.


THE EXERCISE

Stand barefoot (unless out and about) with your feet flat on the ground. You will likely need to touch a wall for balance. Make a tight fist with the opposite hand and place it the across the chest. This will be your working side.

Bring the knee of the working side to your chest, holding it as high as you can. Slowly move the leg around to the side of your body while keeping the torso forward facing. Keeping the knee at that height, turn the leg so that your heel is as high as you can hold it and the knee is facing forward. Circle the leg towards the back of your body, maintaining that height for as long as you can. Slowly lower the knee back to starting position.

Now reverse the move. Bring the heel to the ceiling, while maintaining upright posture. Circle the knee out and around to the side with the heel reaching to the ceiling. Hold it as high as you can. Slowly bring the knee back around to the front of the body to the starting position. Move with focus and intention, but not haste.

Do this 3x to the left before repeating with the opposite leg.

Tips:

  1. Work into the resistance while maintaining an upright torso.

  2. Pay attention to what you are feeling throughout the exercise. Strong tension is fine, but beware of any pinch points. Work around them.

  3. Move slowly and deliberately, especially through the tightest points.

  4. This exercise can also be done on all 4’s. Take a look at THIS video.

Gregg CookComment
Mobility 5 - Hips
Hip Circles starting position. Always with a smile:)

Hip Circles starting position. Always with a smile:)

Oh those hips…a problem area for so many of us. This is because the hips are comprised of over 20 muscles, each responsible for stability for the pelvis, lateral motions, and the movement of the knees towards the chest which happens every time you sit, walk, run, pedal on a bike, jump, and climb stairs. The hip muscles are hard workers and can get tight and shortened pretty easily. If ignored this can eventually can lead to reduced range of motion throughout the joint, weak glutes, and low back pain. The key to prevent and/or fix this is not only stretching, but also strengthening the muscles around the hip joints. Mobility exercises 5, hip circles (and 6, which you will get next week) will help do just that.


THE EXERCISE

Stand barefoot (unless out and about) with your feet flat on the ground, wider than shoulder width apart. Spread the floor with your feet and firmly contract all the muscles of your lower body. Place your hands on your hips.

Push your hips forward as far as they will go. Slowly begin to create the biggest circle possible with your hips, first moving to the left side, then to the back and around to the right side, then back to starting position. Move with focus and intention, but not haste.

Do this 3x to the left before repeating in the opposite direction.

Tips:

  1. Think of the the movement coming from your hips, not your torso.

  2. Pay attention to what you are feeling throughout the exercise. Strong tension is fine, but beware of any pinch points. Work around them.

  3. Move slowly and deliberately, especially through the tightest points.

Next Up: Hip Sockets

Gregg CookComment
Mobility 4 - Upper Back
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Mobility exercise 4 moves us further down the spine from the neck into the upper back, or thoracic spine. Attached to the ribcage, this middle back area connects the neck and the low back and its main function is to help us twist, turn and bend from side to side. This particular area of the spine is complex in that it needs to have enough flexibility to allow for multidirectional movement, while remaining rigid enough to support and move heavy loads through the arms and legs in whatever position the body may be (sitting, standing, lying down).

Because most of us commonly sit for extended periods of time, and often rounded forward in front of a computer, we often develop mobility restrictions in the thoracic spine. This can be painful and effect overall movement.

This mobility exercise will take your upper spine through its full range of motion and release tightness. Because of its intricate connection with the neck and low back, will help with all upper and lower body movements.


THE EXERCISE

Stand barefoot (unless out and about) with your feet flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Spread the floor with your feet and firmly contract all the muscles of your lower body. Cross your arms in front of your body over the chest and make tight fists with your hands. Activating the non-working muscles - the muscles of the lower body and tightening of the fists send a strong neuromuscular signal to the muscles involved in the movement. This is called the principal of irradiation (AKA muscle cheering).

Maintaining your weight directly over the hips, fully flex your torso, hollowing out the core and bringing the elbows to your lower ribcage. Holding that curled position, rotate the torso to the left, keeping the hips squared. Extend the back up and over, looking up at the sky as you do so. Rotate as far as you can to your right and flex the torso, coming back to the starting position. Imagine you are drawing a giant circle with the crown of the head. Move with focus and intention, but not haste.

Do this 3x to the left before repeating in the opposite direction.

Tips:

  1. As you curl the chin to the chest, beware of bending at the hips. Keep your weight centered over your hips.

  2. When turning the upper body to the side, do so strongly and with intent as turn as far as you can.

  3. Pay attention to what you are feeling throughout the exercise. Strong tension is fine, but beware of any pinch points. Work around them.

  4. When moving around the back to get to the opposite side, keep the arms crossed in front of the body, connected to the chest.

  5. When moving around the back to get to the opposite side, no need to lean back and hyperextend the spine.

Next Up: Hips.

Gregg CookComment
Mobility 3 - The Shoulders
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Continuing on with our basic mobility enhancement exercises, today we present to you “shoulders”. As with the scapula exercise we introduced last week, doing this work will help reverse the damages of modern day, desk-bound living, enhance all daily upper body movements as well as up your performance game - no matter what that game is. The movement works really well in conjunction with the scapula exercise.

This exercise is a bit complicated to explain, so we’ve added a few additional images to give you a better visual. Keep scrolling!


THE EXERCISE

Stand barefoot (unless out and about) with your feet flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Spread the floor with your feet and firmly contract all the muscles of your lower body. Keep your arms by your sides and straight. Make tight fists with your hands. Activating the non-working muscles - the muscles of the lower body, core and tightening of the fists send a strong neuromuscular signal to the muscles involved in the movement. This is called the principal of irradiation (AKA muscle cheering).

Open one of the hands wide, with fingers deliberately straight and spread apart. This will be the working arm. Keep your head reaching up towards the sky, chin pulling back slightly towards the neck to lengthen and shoulders blades secured in the sockets. Raise your arm up towards the ceiling and back behind you as far as the shoulder joint will allow and as close to your head as possible. Be sure to keep the elbow fully extended throughout the move. Pause at the top of the move, then internally rotate your arm as fully as possible, so that the thumb is facing forward and the pinky is facing back. Leading with the pinky, continue to rotate the arm around the back of the body while simultaneously continuing the internal rotation of the hand so that at the end of the move, the arm is once again by your side and the pinky is facing forward. The hand should end up in full, strong internal rotation.

This is half the move. To complete the exercise, reverse the movement. Raise the arm behind the body until you are met with strong resistance. Pause, and externally rotate the hand fully so that the thumb is now facing the sky. Leading with the thumb, continue to rotate the arm up and around towards the sky while simultaneously continuing the external rotation of the hand so that at the end of the move, the arm is extended toward the sky and the pinky is once again facing forward. As always, move with focus and intent, but not haste.

Do this 3x before repeating with the opposite arm.

Tips:

  1. Keep the torso facing forward throughout the move.

  2. Keep your elbows fully extended throughout this move.

  3. Work into the resistance.

  4. Pay attention to what you are feeling throughout the exercise. Strong tension is fine, but beware of any pinch points. Work around them.

  5. Maintain posture throughout this exercise and move only through the shoulder girdle.


Next up: Upper Back.

PRACTICE ALL OF THESE MOVES AND MUCH MORE IN MALLORCA.




Fatima Cook Comment
Mobility 2 - The Scapula
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Today we are focusing specifically on the scapulae, which is basically the fancy name for the shoulder blades. What exactly is the scapula and what does it do? It is a complex network where 17 muscles attach, used in doing any upper body exercise such as the push up, pull up, overhead press. It is also greatly leaned on for all upper body daily movements - like reaching for something on a high shelf or grabbing the stability bars on the subway, or lifting groceries or your luggage into the overhead compartment of an airplane. The scapulae are meant to have a huge circular range of motion and travel fully around the upper ribcage. They slide together towards the spine, roll up towards the ears, forward stretching the upper back and down towards the ribcage. Without a fully mobile and strong scapular region, all the above mentioned activities become a burden, overall shoulder function is compromised and weakness in the arms can ensue.


THE EXERCISE

Stand barefoot (unless out and about) with your feet flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Spread the floor with your feet and firmly contract all the muscles of your lower body. Keep your arms by your sides and straight. Make tight fists with your hands. Activating the non-working muscles - the muscles of the lower body, core and tightening of the fists send a strong neuromuscular signal to the muscles involved in the movement. This is called the principal of irradiation (AKA muscle cheering).

In your mind’s eye, envision the full circular range of motion the scapulae governs. With your head reaching up towards the sky and chin pulling back slightly towards the neck to lengthen, slide your shoulders forward as if trying to touch them in front of the body. With intent, begin drawing the biggest circle possible with your shoulders, moving up towards the ears and spreading the upper back. Slowly move the shoulders around towards the back, squeezing the shoulder blades together as if trying to touch them behind the body. Finish the movement by bringing the shoulder blades down towards the floor and back to starting position. As always, move with focus and intent, but not haste.

Do this 3x before repeating in the opposite direction (beginning by moving the shoulder blades towards the back, then up and around).

Tips:

  1. Pay attention to what you are feeling throughout the exercise. Strong tension is fine, but beware of any pinch points. Work around them.

  2. Maintain posture throughout this exercise and move only through the shoulder girdle and upper back.

Next up: Shoulders, continued.

Fatima CookComment
Mobility 1 - The Neck

As promised, here is your first installment of the body part-by-body part mobility protocol. These exercises are a series of movements called CARs, or Controlled Articular Rotations, created by Dr. Andreo Spina, a master of movement, mobility and injury prevention who works with professional sports organizations, athletes and performers around the world. I had the pleasure of learning from him in Austin, TX a few years ago and have been using his techniques on myself as well as my clients and in my classes ever since.

These protocols are 100% ESSENTIAL, and here is why.

  1. Bringing movement and fluidity to the joints pre-workout will boost performance no matter what sport - from martial arts, cross fit, cycling and weight training, to yoga and dance.

  2. Joints that are ready to move and react can safeguard against injury.

  3. For those just beginning, they are a great way to initiate movement, not only in the body, but also in the mind. They can spark more movement - and the beginning of a positively life changing habit.

  4. These exercises take less than a minute each to complete and are an uncomplicated way to love yourself. Begin and end the day with this little gift to yourself for a better day and a better night’s sleep. Your joints deserve the love and attention. Moving them fully at least twice a day will help maintain their full movement ability.

Let’s get those joints prepped for exercise (for life)!

We’re starting from top to bottom. First up, the neck. So many of us experience head, neck, shoulder, and overall back pain stemming from a variety of reasons. This could stem from something as seemingly simple as carrying your head even just a hair too far forward, which puts extra weight on your neck and upper back and can eventually lead to discomfort, headaches and an unsightly bump at the back of the neck (gasp!) Giving your neck joints some attention can help relieve some of this pain and serve as a reminder to reset your head to proper positioning, extended directly upward from the tailbone all the way up to the top of the head. To do this, pull your chin back slightly towards your neck and the crown of your head to the sky.


THE EXERCISE

Stand barefoot (unless out and about) with your feet flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Spread the floor with your feet and firmly contract all the muscles of your lower body. Keep your arms by your sides and straight. Make tight fists with your hands. Activating the non-working muscles - the muscles of the lower body, core and tightening of the fists send a strong neuromuscular signal to the muscles involved in the movement. This is called the principal of irradiation (AKA muscle cheering).

With your head reaching up towards the sky and chin pulling back slightly towards the neck to lengthen, draw a huge circle in the sky with the crown of your head by drawing your left ear to the left shoulder, then draw your head back and around bringing your right ear to the right shoulder. Finish this circle by drawing your chin to your collarbone. Move with focus and intention, but not haste.

Do this 3x to the left before repeating in the opposite direction.

Tips:

  1. As you draw your ear to one side, keep the opposite shoulder down and engaged to optimize the stretch

  2. Pay attention to what you are feeling throughout the exercise. Strong tension is fine, but beware of any pinch points. Work around them.

  3. Maintain posture throughout this move and bend only through the neck, not the upper torso.

  4. When moving the head from one side to the other towards the back, be gentle. The idea is to simply move your head to the opposite side.

  5. Play around with moving the joints in the neck. In that same lengthened posture, look as far to the left and as far to right.


Next Up: Shoulder Blades

Gregg Cook Comments
Eating for the cold (or A cold)
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It’s been a while since we’ve posted any recipes, so I figured now would be a good time. Most of us are hunkering down indoors and in warm pj’s (or is that just me??) when the weather gets this cold, complaining about the frigid temperatures, yet not really experiencing it at all - except for a few quick bursts running from front door to the subway or Uber or car.

It IS winter, isn’t it? Shouldn’t it be this cold? Still, talking about it seems like the thing to do.

I digress. As I’ve mentioned in the past, winter, to me, is soup weather. I love a yummy pot of soup, especially the recipe below for chicken soup. In the Instant Pot it can take 45 minutes (or an extra 60 minutes if you are also making home made broth on the same day).

If chicken soup is not your thing, keep scrolling for links for 5 all-star soups worth making this winter (along with a couple of healthful tweeks).


Grandma’s Chicken Soup, Instant Pot Edition

(Adapted from Cook Beautiful. This is one of my favorite cookbooks. Every recipe I’ve ever tried from it is fantastic).

  • 1 whole organic chicken

  • 1 bone in chicken breast

  • 2 yellow onions, diced

  • 5-6 carrots – roughly, peeled and cut into coins

  • 5 celery stalks – roughly chopped

  • 6-8 cloves of garlic

  • 3 medium parsnips, chopped

  • 2 quarts chicken bone broth (substitute beef bones for meaty chicken bones)

  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme

  • 2 teaspoons of salt

  • Freshly cracked pepper

  • pecorino or Parmesan cheese rind

  • handful of chopped parsley, grated pecorino cheese, and lemon wedges for serving

Place all ingredients in the Instant Pot. Add bone broth, just enough to cover the chicken.

Cover and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally.

Using tongs, remove the chicken and place it in a large bowl. Discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat with two forks.

Discard the cheese rind and thyme sprigs and put the meat back into the soup.

Adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve with a hearty helping of pecorino grated cheese, fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon.

*For the stove top version, the instructions are the same. Allow the soup to gently simmer in a covered pot over low heat for about 1 1 /2 hours, or until the meat begins to fall off the bone.

*No bone broth on hand? Use whatever you have on hand - chicken stock, vegetable stock, a combination of broth and filtered water, or plain old filtered water.


And now here is our all-star line up of soups worth making to beat the winter blues.

Creamy Vegan Cauliflower Soup from 101Cookbooks

For a legume free variation, skip the lentils. It’s delicious either way. If you are ok with dairy, use grated parmesan instead of nutritional yeast, but then it is no longer vegan of course. Lastly, toasted pumpkin seeds make a delicious topping.


Winter Squash Soup , Smitten Kitchen

Winter Squash Soup, Smitten Kitchen

Winter Squash Soup from Smitten Kitchen

Skip the croutons and substitute bone broth for the low-salt chicken broth. Toasted seeds, roughly chopped parsley, crumbled kale chips and/or shredded gruyere make for very nice toppings for this soup.


Broccoli Cheddar Soup , Smitten Kitchen

Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Smitten Kitchen

Broccoli Cheddar Soup from Smitten Kitchen

Omit flour. Use bone broth. Substitute the cup of half and half for 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup of additional bone broth. Even a 1/4 cup of heavy cream with 3/4 cups of broth work well here. There is a lot of cheese in the soup - you won’t notice the missing cream.



Six Ingredient Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup from Half Baked Harvest

Fresh, ripe tomatoes are best for this recipe, although I’ve also made this with fire-roasted organic canned tomatoes and it works brilliantly.



Portuguese Soup with Cauliflower , Chris Hagan via Food52

Portuguese Soup with Cauliflower, Chris Hagan via Food52

Portuguese Cauliflower Soup from Chris Hagan, via Food52

This soup is so good and easy to play with. I’ve used a variety of hearty greens, different types of sausages, skipped sausage all together and added shrimp or even mushrooms. The options are endless!

What are some of your favorite soup recipes? I am always looking for new things to try! Please share.

(This post contains few affiliate links, which means we receive a small commission if you make a purchase using them).

Fatima CookComment
How to maintain a youthful body
image courtesy of Daily Burn.

image courtesy of Daily Burn.

If you are visiting this website, it is highly likely you have an interest in health, wellness and longevity. You likely already practice some type of movement, or are thinking of beginning one. The fact that exercise has its benefits is not exactly cutting edge information. We’ve gotten into more detail on the blog in the past HERE. Have a read if you are interested.

What is new and intriguing research about the impact of exercise is its ability to physically freeze time so to speak. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that exercising regularly may keep the body 30 years younger. 30 years, my friends! Do you realize what this means? If you are 50, you can have the body of a 20 year old. If you’re 70, your body can be that of a 40 year old. This is big news, given that with a simple infusion of a regular exercise practice in your life, you can have a body that is virtually identical in many ways to that of one 30 years younger. No drugs. No surgeries. No injections. No expensive tricks or gadgets.

If you are struggling to make exercise part of your regular routine, try thinking of something you loved to do as a kid. Perhaps you loved swimming or ice skating or jumping rope, or simply playing tag. One of the most effective ways to turn regular exercise into a habit is to find something you really enjoy doing.

Another way is to send this email to a friend to convince them to join you. (Have them subscribe in the meanwhile:). This could mean a walk together a few days a week, taking tennis lessons or a class at your local gym together. Accountability is key to compliance.

If you really don’t know where to start and need a coach, you’ve come to the right place. Both Fatima and I are experienced coaches. We can help you recognize and break through walls that may be holding you back from success or if you are already on this path, we can help you reach new plateaus. HERE is some more information on those programs.

In the next few weeks we will be sending out body part-by-body part mobility protocols to get the joints into gear for exercise. These protocols are ESSENTIAL. They will be a friend to you no matter where you are on the exercise spectrum. For those already exercising, they will boost performance and keep you moving injury free. For those just beginning, they will get you moving and insure you don’t hurt yourself as you get going.

For a full immersion into mobility (a really fun time and so much more), please join us in beautiful MALLORCA this summer. Can you believe it is only 5 months away? We’ve put together a spectacular agenda in the most amazing villa on the island. Come spend the week with us. See HERE to register. Spaces are limited. If you need some more convincing, see the images below!

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Gregg CookComment