Energy Boost

Covid Curves: 6 Tips to Jump Start Spring

Over the past several months most of us have experienced a “Home Life” comparable to Groundhog Day.  In the beginning of CoVID, you may have felt the desire to kick-start a new healthy eating plan, or tackle those in home workouts with a vengeance.  However, as time has waged on, the motivation may have started to dissipate and your daily exercise consists of a multitude of trips to the fridge to check if the light is still working (FYI: It is.) Then throw in fashion consisting of daytime and nighttime stretchy pants with no buttons or zippers, and it is safe to say most of us are experiencing a CoVID 15lb weight gain. But it’s not all our fault. When we are faced with a stressful situation our bodies release the hormone called cortisol. This reaction causes our blood sugar levels to rise resulting in a craving for foods high in fat, sugar and salt in order to replenish the glucose. Yet now as we prepare to go back out into our “New Normal” we are finding our skinny jeans are not so skinny anymore; our shorts from last year must have shrunk and with little chance of a new wardrobe on the horizon, weight loss is something we may need to seriously consider for our healthiest selves. However, we know diets do not work, restriction leads to binging, and truthfully finding balance in an unbalanced world seems impossible. So what can we do right now that will get those buttons done up and bring some consistency back into our days?   Here are 6 Weight Loss Tips you can start implementing today to deal with the COVID 15lbs.  Tip #1: Make a Plan:We technically all know what we should be doing, drinking those 8-10 glasses of water a day, choosing lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats, high fibre, and nutrient dense foods. Start reading the ingredient profiles of the foods you buy, aim for food lower in sugar and refined carbs. Making choices that support your goals is essential. However, when faced with the plethora of tasty treats, we can often forget our commitment to removing the new curves we have adopted. So the next time you make a trip to the grocery store, be prepared and take a list. On that list write your health and wellness goals on the top and plan out your meals for the next couple days. Then if you hear the box of cookies calling your name you can remember your “Why.” And maybe instead of buying a box of 24 deluxe chocolate chip cookies, head to the bakery section and settle on one or two. Even better, pick yourself up an antioxidant rich, dark chocolate bar. As you cruise the store stay on the perimeter and avoid the inner aisle that mostly consists of packaged, processed foods. Remember, a healthy immune system relies on both the Macro (protein, fats and carbs) and Micro (vitamins and minerals) but we must make sure we choose the right kinds.   Tip #2: Am I Really Hungry?How many times have you caught yourself elbow deep in a bag of chips or pint of ice cream only to realize that you can’t remember when you started. Often when we find ourselves mindlessly eating it is important to stop and ask  “Am I REALLY hungry? Or am I bored, lonely, upset?” Finding comfort in food is common and refereed to as emotional eating. Given the current state of the unknown, food can easily become our comfort and friend. The best way to start connecting to your hunger cues is to start being mindful of when you are eating, why you are eating, and how your food tastes. Take the time to savour your food and enjoy each bite.  There is no prize for she/he who finishes first.  Another way to bring mindfulness to your hunger cues is first thing in the morning. If your morning schedule is to eat first thing, hold back a bit and wait until you feel a little hungry. Then enjoy your first meal.  The purpose behind this is to set the tone of the day by honouring what you need. Start the day by tuning in to what your body needs and then responding to it.  As the day progresses continue to pay attention if you are hungry or looking for comfort. This is not about restriction but about connecting.    Tip #3: Use Your Hands:Now, we all know our parents have told us to use our utensils when we eat so this concept may throw you off but one issue I have seen time and time again is portion control. And with serving sizes becoming increasingly larger it is no wonder our waistbands are following.  Make a point of serving your food on plates and dishes; stop snackin ...

No Bake Pumpkin, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

Everybody’s favourite season has arrived! Why not FALL in love (pun intended of course – I’ll work on it) with health conscious seasonal recipes while we have the time!  For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Cass. I am a Holistic Nutritionist obsessed with creating healthier favourites for myself, friends and the Health and Wellness Community.  I am a sucker for all things baking, making, creating and of course photo styling my creations before I demolish whatever it is I have made. Join Healthy Planet and myself as we create some unforgettable recipes that will certainly keep you coming back for me. Enjoy! If you love pumpkin, cookie dough and a guilt-free way to eat the entire batch of something you have created, then you have come to the right place!  Even as a child I ALWAYS loved cookie dough, this lead to my love/hate relationship with cookie dough. My friends and I would always go to the store, grab a tube of cookie dough and sneak it into the basement to eat it, RAW! Yum…but, not very nutritious. Growing up there weren’t many “healthy alternatives” for treats like cookie dough in a tube. Not only are these filled with grams and grams of sugar, they also have absolutely zero nutritional value to them. So what if I were to tell you, you could revisit your childhood, sit on the couch and snack on RAW HOMEMADE COOKIE DOUGH that will satisfy your sweet tooth without all the sugar! I say heck yes! What about you? Check out my recipe below and enjoy the guiltless snacking! Ingredients 3 cups Bobs Red Mill GF Oat Flour 20 large pitted organic medjool dates (soaked 20 minutes before) 4 tbsp organic pumpkin puree – add 1 tbsp afterwards until well mixed like sticky dough 3 tbsp Nuts to You Cashew Butter 3 tbsp organic raw honey 1.5 tbsp Simply Organic Pure Vanilla Extract 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice  ¼ cup Lily’s Sweets Chocolate Baking Chips Directions add oat flour and medjool dates in a food processor or blender blend until dates are chopped up  add pumpkin puree, raw honey, cashew butter, vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice blend until you get a nice dough ball. You may need to add more pumpkin puree if too dry or more oat flour if too wet. Scrape down the dough from the sides as it may get stuck, this is ok. Blend until combined, we want all the ingredients to be thoroughly mixed so each ball tastes the same! Repeat steps 4-6 until you reach ideal consistency/cookie dough texture Add chocolate chips in last to avoid chocolate melting/balls turning brown Remove from blender/processor and roll into balls (the fun part is you can choose the size) – I like to make a variety as your needs can change depending on cravings. Added bonus: feel free to roll the balls in cacao powder, melted chocolate, maca powder, etc for an added nutritional kick Tips on how to store Refrigerator – store in air tight jar or container, glass is best (I find the taste changes in plastic after 2 days).  Freezer – store in airtight jar or container, tempered glass is best. Good for up to 2 months depending on your freezer quality. I like storing mine in a tempered glass container in the freezer. I will take out a few at a time and keep in the fridge for easy access. Follow @healthyplanet for more Health and Wellness Recipes from yours truly! You can also follow me @the_nourishingproject for past Health and Wellness Recipes! Happy sweet eatin’ from yours truly!

Almond Hemp Energy Balls

Almond Hemp Energy Balls? Yes please! On the go treat that will energize you all day? We got it.  Packed with superfoods and high in protein, these Energy Balls will keep you energized and on the move all day feeling healthy and complete. Healthy Planet Ambassador  marissaliana shared with us one of her favourite Fitness snack recipes, AMAZING Almond Hemp Energy Balls. Super fast and easy to prepare, this is the energy ball you will be craving pre and post workout. Combine hemp seeds, chia seeds, almond butter and  protein powder together for what will quickly become your new favorite post workout snack. Find what drives you and fuel it with a heart healthy and nutritious treat made with love. #lifelivehealthy Almond Hemp Energy Balls Ingredients: 1/2 cup Organic Traditions Raw Almond Butter 1/2 cup Manitoba Harvest Hemp Seeds 4 tbsp Prana Chia Seeds 1 overly ripe banana 2 scoops Vega Vegan Vanilla Protein Powder (70g) 2 tbsp Shady Maple Farms MapleS 6 tbsp Giddy YoYo Dark Chocolate Chips   How to prepare Mix all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well combined. Roll into golf ball sized balls and store in freezer for best texture. Let thaw for 5 minutes before eating and enjoy!   Put together your favourite Energy Ball recipe, tag @healthyplanet on Instagram and show us what keeps you going! Use the Healthy Planet hashtag #livelifehealthy and we will share your recipe with our followers! Keep spreading the love!

Happy Mother's Day from Healthy Planet!

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching! This is the perfect opportunity to treat all the Mama's in your life and even yourself to a few sweet gifts to celebrate this beautiful day. Healthy Planet is currently running an INCREDIBLE Mother's Day Sale, full of pampering and practical products for all Mothers! I have narrowed down my top 4 favourite products that not only do I use, but would make the  perfect Health & Wellness gifts for the Mama's in your life this Mother’s Day!   Organika Collagen – Because healthy skin is always on trend. Collagen has many beautiful benefits that does our body so good - promotes skin health, boost muscle mass, improve ingestive health, burns fat, alleviate joint pains, promotes heart health, and improves cognitive health. Our bodies naturally produce collagen, however our ability to produce it decreases less and less as we age. This is why it is so important to either incorporate foods that contain collagen in our diet or supplement it with a product like, Organika Collagen. Because let’s be real, who doesn’t want beautiful skin? Skin Essence Facial in a Jar – Spoil the Mama's in your life with this multipurpose product. You can either use this as an exfoliator to scrub away dead skin or leave it on as a mask so that the product can absorb all the oils and impurities out of your skin. Either way, this product will leave your skin super soft, supple, nourished and will brighten your overall complexion!   Everyone Hand Soap Coconut Lavender – This is the best naturally smelling hand soap on the market. I really love that it is kind to our earth, cruelty free, gluten free, does not contain synthetic fragrance, and really does a wonderful job at cleansing and moisturizing the skin.   Andalou Naturals Body Lotion Lavender Thyme – You will not catch me without some sort of hand lotion in my diaper bag. With all the diaper changing and constantly washing my hands to avoid catching my toddler’s germs, it strips away my natural oils leaving my skin super dry and cracked. I love this hand lotion not only does it DELICIOUS but it also does a fab job at moisturizing and keeping the skin moisturized for a long period of time. If Lavender Thyme isn’t your jam, they also have a large selection of other scents as well!   Written by Healthy Planet Ambassador @lifestylebycp.  Follow Cherrie as she lives her best life spreading her vision of the Health and Wellness lifestyle with the help of Healthy Planet!

Healthy Planet New Year Resolution

Tis the season to embrace your family and loved ones. Your time is occupied by holiday parties, friend's gathering and surrounding yourself with family. It’s a chance to immerse yourself into the holiday spirit and leave behind the stress of daily life and the issues that come with it. While we mask the not so positive parts of ourselves during the holidays to keep up a positive and festive mood around others, doing so can lead to increased stress and anxiety. This can make way for excessive eating and sometimes deepen an already depressed state of mind. Taking care of your mind and body during the holiday season is of utmost importance not just for you, but those around you as well. With the New Year quickly approaching, we all know what comes when the big hand strikes Midnight. A laundry list of how we are going to improve our Health and Wellness in the upcoming year. Resolutions like increased time in the gym, adapting to an organic diet or making a pact to spend more time with nature are popular with the health and wellness lifestyle. Healthy Planet is here to help assist you in being the best version of yourself.Here is a list of some of our favourite New Year Resolutions and how we can help reach your goals! Digestion Health: Change of Diet Resolution: We an all overindulge in food and sweets over the Holidays. Here are some of our favourite products that will help realign both your gut health and digestive health for the New Year. Genuine Health Probiotic Gut Health - Benefiting both skin health, digestive health and immunity. Start your New Year building a defense in your gut against bloating and weak digestion. New Roots Digestive Enzyme - Get more energy from your food while helping increase vitamin and mineral absorption from foods. Helping with digestion, boating and gas, give a little love to your Gut Health with the arrival of the New Year. Traditional Medicinals Eater's Digest Peppermint Tea- This Kosher, Non GMO, Organic, after dinner tea is perfect for occasional indigestion and soothing a full belly. Let’s be serious, who doesn’t love a cup of tea after dinner. Dry Winter Weather: Spend More TIme In Nature Resolution Spending more time in nature can bring a sense of calmness following the busy holiday season. Dedicating more time walking and exploring the outdoors can be a fun way to enter the New Year feeling invigorated and fresh. Earth's Care Dry and Cracked Skin Balm - Winter months can be harsh and cold. Increased time spent exploring outside will leave you cracked and dry. Absorb the benefits of Shea Butter, Arnica and Cajaput Oil. Dr. Bronner Lip Balm Peppermint - Keep your lips from getting chapped with a classic. Support proper moisturizing of your lips over the cold months into spring. All organic and all love, Dr. Bronner should be a staple for everyone this New Year. Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Lemon Echinacea Tea - Heating up with a warm and comforting Tea after enjoying a walk in the park in the Winter months is the perfect treat. Organic, Non GMO, Kosher and Fair Trade. Gym Supplements: Joining Gym Resolution One of the top New Year Resolutions is joining the gym. We always promote self care and improving your body at Healthy Planet. Allmax ISONatural - Gluten free and formulated with probiotics to improve intestinal microflora, Allmax protein technology is a great addition to any training regiment. Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer - Go into your workout fully energized and ready to build your best self empire. Increase your endurance while raising your menta focus and recovery time. Amazing Grass Green SuperFood - Complete raw food with powerful antioxidants, Organic, Raw, Gluten Free, Natural, support your body while you train it to be the best it can be. Going Organic: Going Organic Resolution The Organic movement has made huge strides in the last few years. With the public understanding the importance of healthy and pesticide-free produce and products, trading in your processed foods and items for Organic will be an easy transition. Organic Traditions Sprouted Quinoa - Full of protein and incredibly versatile in the kitchen, quinoa is one of the easier proteins to fuel your body for the New Years challenges. Organic Traditions is one of our favourite Organic brands on the market. Prana Organic Cashews - Known to reduce inflammation, improve metabolism and lower the risk of diabetes, Prana Organic Cashews are some of the best Organic nuts on the market. Manitoba Harvest Organic Hemp Hearts - An easy way to add omegas, protein and fibre straight into your diet, Manitoba Harvest Organic Hemp Hearts are free of any additives or preservatives. A healthy and organic addition to your New Year Goals. Going Cruelty Free: Cruelty Free Beauty Self Care Resolution One of the most popular and fastly growing New Year Resolutions/Movements is jumping on board the Cruelty Free Cosmetics and Self Care. We are proud to carry all Cruelt ...

Breakfast Quinoa Bowl Recipe

Rise and Shine! We all know Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should provide nourishment throughout it. Think of breakfast each day as a starter kit to keep your body healthy and happy. One of my favourite ways to start a busy day is a Quinoa Breakfast Bowl. 1 cup of Quinoa is packed with heaps of iron and magnesium as well as about 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. The best part of the Quinoa Breakfast Bowl? All the healthy additions you can add to load it up for texture and even more flavour. With 1 pot and roughly 30 min, you can start your day with a healthy and tasty breakfast to keep you concentrated on your tasks at hand and not on your empty stomach. Follow us as we give you the step by step in creating one of the easiest and healthiest starts to the day that you can imagine. Quinoa Bowl Ingredients: * 1 cup uncooked white quinoa  *2 cups coconut milk (light canned or beverage in carton)  *1 pinch sea salt  *2 sticks of cinnamon  *1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder  *2 pinches of nutmeg powder   Additional Toppings (optional): *mixed berries *sliced banana *chopped apple/pear *grapes *nuts/seeds *hemp/chia seeds  *maple syrup  *cocoa nibs  *dried coconut  *One of our go to toppings is a do it yourself blended blueberry yogurt (blend blueberries into fresh greek yogurt until combined thoroughly)   Instructions: 1. Make sure to thoroughly rinse your quinoa for 2 minutes, sifting through and removing any pebbles or discolored pieces that may remain. 2. Lightly toast your quinoa by first heating a small saucepan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add rinsed and drained quinoa and stir while drying up moisture and lightly toasting the quinoa. 3. Add your 2 cups of coconut milk and your pinch of salt along with the cinnamon sticks, cardamom/nutmeg powder and stir. Bring it all to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low and cook for 20-25 minutes, uncovered while stirring occasionally. A slight simmer throughout the cooking time is needed. 4. Once the coconut milk is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, remove from the stove. Stir and add more coconut milk if you desire a thinner consistency. 5. Serve your quinoa bowl with any additional toppings (listed above) and enjoy a healthy start to your day. 6. Quinoa will last roughly 2-3 days. When reheating, use a microwave and or saucepan. Add a bit more coconut milk to add more moisture if needed when heating up. Create your own favourite variation of the Quinoa Bowl and show us your masterpiece by tagging #HealthyPlanetBreakfast on your instagram page. Looking forward to seeing all the different variations

6 Goal Setting Strategies to Help Build Muscle

It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, young or old: More and more people are adding the goal of building muscle as part of their overall fitness program. Whether it’s for aesthetic reasons, sports performance, weight management, to improve your active lifestyle or a combination of the aforementioned – more people than ever before are engaging in resistance training as a means of adding lean muscle to their physiques. If you’re one of them, here are a few tips that can help you maximize your results:   1. HAVE A PLAN: Sure, it sounds simple, yet the gyms are filled with people just “winging it,” wandering aimlessly from machine to machine and making up their workouts as they go. A few crunches here, a biceps curl there, a quick stretch, with no method to their madness. Lack of structure is one of the primary reasons so few manage to achieve their workout goals. Yes, there is a science to building muscle, and it starts by following a well-designed exercise plan. It can be a workout found in a book, a magazine, an exercise DVD, one in an exercise app. Just make sure you are following an intelligently-designed strength training plan. (Ideally one created by someone with an exercise-science related degree and/or possessing one of the top fitness certifications, such as those from the ACSM, NSCA or NASM.)   2. CHOOSE YOUR PLAN CAREFULLY: Unfortunately it’s not enough to simply follow a plan – You also have to ensure that the one you do select is based on sound exercise science. Thanks in large part to the internet and social media there’s a plethora of bad fitness advice, questionable workout plans and self-proclaimed “fitness experts” out there. Choosing an improper strength training plan can not only keep you from achieving your goals, it may also potentially lead to injury. Be sure you seek out information from a reputable source.   3. USE APPROPRIATE RESISTANCE: There is a line often used in fitness: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” When it comes to resistance training and building muscle, the concept is known as the “Overload Principle.” Simply put, it means you should lift weights that are challenging, without losing your ability to maintain safe, proper form. The human body is an extremely intelligent machine, and can adapt to the stressors imposed upon it. Lifting the appropriate weight breaks down your muscle tissue and your body “adapts” by rebuilding and repairing itself, including increasing the size of your muscle fibers.   4. EAT YOUR PROTEIN: Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle, and protein is made up of amino acids. Failure to eat adequate daily protein can prevent you from building lean muscle. A good strategy is to try to consume high-quality sources of protein with each meal.   5. BE CONSISTENT: Lifting weights a few times a month will simply not get you the muscle building results you are looking for. You need to overload the muscles at least a few times per week to adequately overload and stimulate your muscular system.[annotation]Schoenfeld BJ, Ogborn D, Krieger JW. (2016). Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine. 46(11):1689-1697. A good plan is to engage in a full-body strength training workout three times per week on non-consecutive days.  It doesn’t matter if you do it at home or the gym, with free weights, machines, or your body weight. You just need to do it, and do it consistently.   6. GIVE IT TIME: Building muscle, like just about everything related to exercise, takes time. No, it won’t happen overnight, or even in a few weeks for that matter. But it can happen, as long as you don’t expect immediate results and you follow the advice listed above.   Reference:

Living Younger: Health-span vs. Lifespan

More than twenty years ago, before phrases like "obesity epidemic" and "metabolic syndrome" entered our lexicon, two doctors introduced an online mechanism for determining one's biological age based on health in comparison with chronological age. Using information from insurance actuarial tables, the self-administered questionnaire in the site provided a "real age" vs. a chronological age and guided better health choices. The theory, of course, is that the same information that allows insurance companies to determine rates based on risk behaviors tells us a lot about what we should and shouldn't do.  Healthspan vs. Lifespan What are those choices we can make toward a better "health-span" vs. "lifespan?" What makes us age? What are some causes of aging and premature death? How do we address these causes so we can live not only longer but healthier? In "Live Long Live Healthy," Progressive Nutritional’s holistic nutrition expert and Director of Education Nelson Narciso, reviews the factors that cause premature aging and death in Canada and tells us how we can reverse current trends. Health Challenges One of the report's tables, "Leading Causes of Death," demonstrates something surprising. Years ago, infectious diseases caused most premature deaths. Western medicine met this health challenge in the last millennium, however, and today, very few deaths are the result of an infection. In fact, among the top ten causes of death in Canada in 2009, influenza and pneumonia accounted for just 5,000 cases, less than 3% of the total. Excluding from the count another 9,000 resulting from accidents and 3,000 from suicide, this leaves more than 90% of deaths an illness or cluster of illnesses that science terms preventable lifestyle diseases. Many diseases are on the rise. Two million Canadians live with osteoporosis. In 2012, 186,400 Canadians received a cancer diagnosis, and health officials anticipate a 60% increase in the rate of diagnosis over the next two decades. 31% of Canadian children 5-17 years of age suffer from obesity, a problem that unaddressed, puts them at risk for an associated cluster of diseases called "metabolic syndrome," issues that decrease life quality and cause premature death. These health challenges not only threaten our life quality and cause premature death, they place an insupportable burden on public health systems. "Medical care costs for people with chronic diseases account for 42% of total direct medical care expenditures, or $39 billion a year in Canada." Further, "the indirect costs of chronic illness due to productivity losses are particularly high, accounting for over 65% of total indirect costs – $54.4 billion annually." 7 Causes of Aging & Illness There are things we can do to fight back, and it is our responsibility to ourselves and as citizens to do that! Our goal is to live a long life that is disability-free, and with good nutrition, supplementation and some lifestyle changes, we can do that! Let's look at seven specific causes of aging and illness: Genetics Free radicals Glycation (sugar-damaged proteins in your cells, like browning in cooking or rusting) Excessive calorie consumption Nutritional deficiencies Stress Inactivity The good news is that genetics are not determinative! While they predispose us to some things, how we live triggers (or doesn't) those effects. Our level of activity, what and how much we eat, our stress levels and environmental toxins increase or decrease processes like free radicals (highly reactive cells that "steal" from healthy cells) and glycation. Our objective, as we strive for the vibrant good health that slows our aging process, is to decrease these processes. 7 Steps to Living Younger   Ensure a good activity level. The numbers don't lie. Get a pedometer. If you aren't exercising regularly, start slowly, but work toward 10,000 steps per day, a little less than five miles -- and not all at once. You want to avoid long periods of sitting, so punctuate your day with shorter walks. Build stress reducers into your day: a few moments of meditation periodically through the day that allow you to step back, walking (10,000 steps, remember?) mindfully, play some music, write in a journal, paint.  Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins wherever you can: household cleaning and laundry supplies, vehicle emissions, pesticides and more. Remove unhealthy food items from your diet and keep them out of your home: sugar and all added sweeteners, refined and highly processed food items and junk food, juices, soda pop, GMO foods, certain oils. Bring healthy food items into your diet and home: The Environmental Work Group ( provides a helpful Dirty Dozen list, revised yearly, of which foods are most heavily treated with pesticides. It's a good resource if you can't buy all organic. Stock up on real food ...

Top 10 Tips for Staying Motivated to Work Out

Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a gym beginner, staying motivated to work out can be a challenge.  Let’s overcome this challenge together! Below are 10 tips that I’ve learned through my own experiences as a Personal Trainer for staying motivated.  I have worked with all types of people, personalities, and ages! I even pride myself on exercising my cat, Mitzi!  Believe me, she wasn’t the most motivated to workout. I hope these tips are helpful and keep you on a path to overwhelming wellness in your life. Try something new! Ever taken a yoga class? Pilates? Cycle? Barre? Zumba? Kickboxing?  There’s an abundance of classes available to let you experience something new. Find hobbies that keep your body moving.  That way, you’re enjoying your workouts!  Some of these include (but of course, are not limited to) hiking, paddle boarding, surfing, running, swimming, and cycling. Keep an exercise calendar. Set up a calendar and keep track of your workouts. It will help you stay consistent and you can plan ahead a week in advance. Keep a workout journal. Be proud of your workout accomplishments!  If you’re a weight lifter, track your sets/reps and muscle groups trained.  If you go for a 30-minute run, write it down! Find a workout buddy.  Whether it’s for spotting you on a bench press, or having a jogging buddy, finding people who are as motivated as you are will be a great way to keep on track. Plan your meals. Focusing on exercising is only part of the battle! Making sure your food choices are as thoughtful as your exercises will keep you fast tracking to success. Be kind to yourself.  Be your own #1 supporter.  No one is perfect; there will be days when you have planned a workout and didn’t get to it.  When those days happen, be kind to yourself…tell yourself it is ok and you will try again. Get enough sleep.  If you’re moving your body more, your body needs rest! Stretching, Foam Rolling.  In my personal experience, stretching and foam rolling after working out feels great.  I may be at home while watching a TV show, and stretching out my glutes, hips, calves…and foam rolling my IT band.   Multitasking is great! Get Excited.  The fact that you read all the way to the bottom of this blog posts tells me that you are already on the right track. Good luck and have fun! Have a fitness tip? Share it in the comments. Kara Hamada

5 Quick Benefits You’ll See By Switching to Whole Foods, Plant-Based Diet

For years we’ve been told fruits and veggies were good for us. We now look at broccoli and spinach with a bit more gratitude than we did as children when most of us were forced to eat them before leaving the dinner table. While most of us would certainly love to get by with eating desserts and sugary sweets to stay healthy, we know that health doesn’t work that way. Fruits and vegetables keep our bodies from getting sick and keep us from becoming overweight and sluggish. But the benefits of plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables go way beyond keeping us slim and illness-free. They’re also the key ingredients to approaching a healthier lifestyle choice: a plant-based diet. Why a Whole Foods, Plant-Based Diet Works Numerous studies show that a plant-based diet provides the body with enough protein, quality carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Besides the fact that everyone should take a B12 supplement (plant-based or not), a plant-based diet has no short-comings in serving up dietary needs. It’s filling, nutritious, and so versatile that it can be customd designed to fit any lifestyle or culinary preference. The key is to eat a whole foods plant-based diet, not a processed vegan version. Many processed foods can make up your diet and still be vegan, but going that route won’t serve your health as best as eating simple whole foods and turning them into tasty meals. Giving your body these whole food sources of nutrients like calcium, fiber, B vitamins,  magnesium, protein, Vitamin D, essential fatty acids, and potassium will keep your cells functioning exactly as they were meant to. They recognize whole foods as sources of energy to break down. Man-made foods require your body to have to decipher what they are supposed to do with them, use what they can and detoxify the rest. A diet heavy in animal-based and processed foods makes it harder on your body and makes you tired and often sick in the meantime. Benefits You’ll See From Making the Switch A longer life is most likely one of the best benefits you’ll see from making the switch, but short term, here are five that most everyone sees within a week or two of eating whole, plant-based foods. 1. Better Blood Sugar One of the most noticeable effects you’ll see from eating plant-based sources of protein (that are often rich in fiber) is better blood sugar levels. Animal foods contain IGF1 (insulin growth factor) which promotes higher blood sugar causing cravings, blood sugar swings, and often that shaky, moody feeling you get if you don’t eat something right away, or if you skip meals. Plant-based proteins don’t cause this. In fact, they do the opposite; they keep you full a long time and provide greater satiety. They also don’t spike your blood sugar. Contrary to belief, animal foods do raise blood sugar, even more so than some fruits or some starchy veggies. 2. Better Digestion Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and beans are all made of one similar ingredient: fiber. Fiber is the most essential nutrient for healthy blood sugar, digestion, and heart health combined. Products with refined sources of fiber added like processed crackers, etc. are not the best source. Whole foods, on the other hand, such as the foods mentioned above, are full of natural insoluble and soluble fiber to support digestion and regularity, along with keep you full. Their fiber breaks down more slowly, lowering blood sugar. This is one reason a low-fat (oil-free) plant-based diet is so effective at helping control diabetes.  Keep in mind that sometimes people go high-fiber too fast, which may cause a bit of digestive activity you may not be used to. If this happens, back off the beans just a bit and follow some other digestion tips to solve this simple issue. The good news is, your digestive system will work much better in no time and won’t have so much work to do! 3. More Energy Do you think your body would prefer to break down whole, living foods from the earth or the result of another living being (animal products.) Think of it this way: the less work your body has to do, the more energy it can provide you. When did eating animals become a natural way of life? We have all the foods we need for energy right at our finger tips. All plants are full of carbohydrates and fiber, plant-based protein that contains amino acids, healthy fats that benefit the metabolism, and vitamins and minerals that support the body. They energize us and keep our bodies from having to break down foods like animal products that have been linked to diabetes, cancer, and poor heart health. 4. Less Muscle Pain Animal foods are high in inflammatory properties. They’re acidic by nature and create an imbalance in our pH level that keep our body alkaline and free from pain and inflammation. Infl ...