Thursday, 6 January 2011

Broccoli....go and get it

One of my favorite veggies is broccoli! Yup, this much loved cruciferous vegetable has special powers to help ward off cancer, enhance good digestive health, eliminate nasty Xenohormes and reduce fat around hips and thighs. (See older post titled, Big Hips, Big Thighs and Fatter Tri's.) It's highly nutritious and versatile; it's great lightly steamed, sautéed and raw. (If you find cruciferous vegetables hard to digest then always steam them for a couple minutes before eating). Also, believe it or not, adding some organic butter to your broccoli (or any other green veg) makes it easier for your body to absorb the minerals!

Here are three great reasons to include broccoli as a regular in your grocery basket...

Promotes a healthy nervous system as this green goddess of a vegetable is a good source of vitamin B2, otherwise known as riboflavin, which can help calm and nourish nerve fibers. It also promotes healthy skin, nails and hair, benefits vision and helps to alleviate the pain of migraine headaches.

Supports bone health because it's a good source of vitamin K and calcium - both of which prevent brittle bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Helps Detoxification of any excess “bad” estrogens (16-alpha-hydroxyestrone) and Xenohormones as Sulforaphane (the leading compound in broccoli) selectively boosts enzymes, enhancing the detoxification of cells. These indirect antioxidants eliminate many types of free radicals and recycle and remain active for up to three days. This is also the compound that helps reduce fat and cellulite on hips and thighs….just an added bonus ;)

One of my favorite snacks is to have slightly steamed (2 mins) broccoli, chilled with organic hummus.


Friday, 31 December 2010

Weight Loss and Improved Fitness on your New Year’s Resolutions list…….yet again?!?! How to break and make habits….

Here we are on the last day of 2010. This year has flown by for many of us due to the numerous events that have taken place over the last year and yet most of us (myself included) will find ourselves making one common New Years Resolution which we have made year after year….To get more fit and/or lose weight. Ugh…..the guilt, shame and frustration that come along with listing this resolution…again! Why is it that each year this one resolution is stuck and (let’s face it) never leaves the top of the resolutions list?

There are many theories out there…a positive one might be that you are always working on bettering your health and fitness. If that’s the case, then good for you!

My theory is that the things we do most of the time are the hardest things to change. These are the things that you do nearly every single day such as brush your teeth, check your emails, commute to work or school, clean the dishes and get ready for bed at night. If you paid attention, you would probably notice that you have an unconscious method to each of these daily tasks (i.e., you might always brush your teeth starting on the left side of your mouth every morning and evening). These routine habits (i.e., what you eat for each meal) are hard to change because you do them without thinking about them, without being conscious of your actions…and creating a change requires conscious decision-making ALL THE TIME. Then, there are the things you only do occasionally, or perhaps frequently but not quite as often as daily habits. These tend to be driven by conscious decisions – meeting new friends, reading more books, cooking a new recipe, etc. These things that are driven by conscious decisions are easier to change because you are not on autopilot. Being aware and focused is the perfect environment to change. That’s right….just thinking and focusing on a goal makes change easy! The moment you get back on autopilot the same feelings of guilt or shame come creeping back in along with the cookies and chips.

If your 2011 resolutions list includes losing a few lbs or improving your fitness, try these tips to keep you conscious and present. You will succeed at making the changes you want in your health and fitness goals which will create feelings of accomplishment, better energy and the pure ecstasy of looser fitting jeans:

1. Sit down and set a goal- Seriously….sit down and think about it. Be specific about what you want

2. Write down your goal EVERYDAY for 45 days- “They” say this is how many days it takes to change or create a new habit. Do this first thing in the morning every morning. It should only take a minute or two. This will continuously keep the goal in the forefront of your mind creating the new ‘good’ habits needed to achieve your goal

3. Ask for help- Tell your friends and family members that you really want to make these changes and that you want and need their support. You know when and where you are weakest in keeping yourself accountable. Requesting loved ones to step in during these times can help you push through the tough times so your reach goal

4. “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” As Voltaire said (and G. Ruben likes to use in her book, The Happiness Project)- Just because you don’t have the body of Jessica Biel or Hilary Swank doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful, healthy and perfect in your own way. Keep plugging away at it one curtsy squat and steamed kale leaf at a time

Good luck breaking old and creating new habits in 2011. Happy New Year!



Thursday, 30 December 2010

Tea…..a friend with benefits

"If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you." ~Gladstone, 1865

This is one of my favorite quotes. My friend Katie read it to me once many years ago and I connected to it immediately and have never forgot it. I have always found tea to be there for me when friends like Katie or my husband aren’t around to help pick up the pieces of my neurosis, breakdowns, break-ups, fat days and upset stomachs….When I was going though a harsh break-up, chamomile stroked my hair. When it was rainy outside and I felt gloomy inside a cup of Earl Grey along with a good book warmed my heart. When I work on the computer and need a little motivation, green tea always cheers me on. When I over indulged, a cup of lemon ginger or two were there to help me stop ruminating about much I over ate and/or drank.

There are always a plethora of tea boxes in my cupboard and occasionally I am guilty of packing my morning favorite (Yerba Mate) in my suitcase to shout “Good Morning!!” to me when I wake up on holiday…now if I could also pack Katie in my bag too...

Here are some benefits of various teas. See how tea can support your body and emotions….

Black Tea* promotes blood flow in the brain without over stimulating the heart. It helps prevent tooth decay and manages diarrhea

Green Tea* is chock full of antioxidants which fight free radicals that damage the cells. It keeps skin looking young and radiant and helps rev up the metabolism for fat loss

Lemon Ginger Tea is great for easing nausea brought on from overeating, motion sickness or post-operative nausea

Yerba Mate* is very energizing, antioxidant rich, digestion inducing, immune boosting and even aids weight loss

Peppermint Tea has numerous benefits, especially for those that suffer from indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome. It calms nausea, gas, heartburn and dissolves gallstones. It can even control chronic pain, muscle aches and helps reduce even severe herpes outbreaks. It’s also an amazing stress reliever

Nettle Tea is high in iron helping purify the skin. It is great at helping calm asthma and fights against allergies such as hay fever. It is also good for the digestion system

Rooibos Tea is recommended for people suffering from irritability, headaches, disturbed sleeping patterns, insomnia, nervous tension and mild depression or hypertension. It is higher in antioxidants than green tea and is safe to drink at night since is caffeine free

" a religion of the art of life." ~Okakura

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Big Hips, Big Thighs and Fatter Tri's

If you find yourself bigger south of the belly button and have thicker upper arms, estrogen dominance could be the culprit.

Warning: This entry is a little longer and more technical than previous entries. This is a subject that I believe to be very important so decided the more information the better.

Estrogen dominance is when progesterone is low in relation to estrogen. Most everyone living in highly industrialized societies are estrogen dominant to some extent (men included……you may have noticed the wide spread epidemic of man-boobs even on thin men) due to chemicals called xeno-hormones. Xeno-hormones are pollutants that occur outside of the body causing estrogen like activities within the body. They are easily absorbed by ingestion, inhalation and by direct skin contact through pollution in the environment and substances/materials used on the body. Most common sources are:

· Conventional (non-organic) Meat and Dairy Products

· Vehicle exhaust

· Solvents/Adhesives (nail polish, paint varnish, dry cleaning)

· Everything Plastic (water bottles, food containers)

· Emulsifiers in cleansers and skincare products

· Petrochemicals (herbicides, fungicides, pesticides)

· Prescribed synthetic hormones (Birth Control Pills, Estrogen Replacement Therapy)

These xeno-hormones bind to our body’s estrogen receptors activating estrogen responses. They inhibit the liver from eliminating the excess estrogen as xeno-hormones are a foreign product and the liver doesn’t know how to detox them properly. All of these extra estrogens manifest in fat stores on the hips, thighs and back of the arms and throw off the ongoing balance of progesterone and estrogen creating numerous symptoms. Symptoms of estrogen dominance are:

· Bloating

· Weight gain

· Mood swings (usually depression or irritability)

· Breast swelling or tenderness

· Irregular or abnormal periods (usually excessive bleeding)

· Decreased sex drive

· Cold hands and feet

· Premenstrual headaches

Note: Women who are going through or who already have gone through the change of menopause may notice that these are the same symptoms of peri-menopause (pre-menopause). Basically, xeno-hormones ARE causing early menopause and infertility issues. Keep in mind if you are of menopausal age these symptoms are normal….to a degree. If you are experiencing harsh symptoms of menopause then consult with your M.D. or naturopath.

Estrogen dominance is dangerous to our health and if it becomes a chronic condition it can be blamed for many ailments and diseases, such as, infertility, PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), fibroids, cancer of the reproductive tract, breast cancer, thyroid disease and birth defects.

How can you get rid of these nasty xenos and slim down those hips, thighs and tri’s???

Because xeno-hormones are in the air we breathe, it is impossible to completely avoid absorption of these big ‘downers’. It is imperative to your health to do everything you can to reduce the toxic build up of these chaos creating synthetic hormones. Below is a list of ways to clear the body of the excess estrogen:

· Drink a lot of water!!! We now need to drink more water than ever to flush our systems and help our liver clean out pollutants and excess estrogen.

· Stop all pesticides-eat organic (all food and coffee) and stop using bug and lawn sprays

· Stop exposure to solvents, cosmetics and soaps made with petrochemicals like mineral oil. Use natural non-formaldehyde nail polish and removers

· Do not use mineral oil on your body. Check all of your skincare products. Mineral oil comes from the stuff we make our motor oil out of and is as bad as rubbing plastic all over your body!

· Stop microwaving plastic…..Come on! You should know this by now. This will most definitely release xeno-hormones in to your food. Seriously, stop being lazy.

· Wear natural fabrics and stay away from synthetics like polyester

· Use air fresheners made from essential oils instead of synthetic fragrance

· Stay away from all synthetic hormones. Think about trying other forms of birth control other than the BCP. You will be healthier in the long run!!

Also, add these nutrients to your diet to help your liver detox the excess estrogen efficiently and drop a pant size or two:

· Extra greens and/or green drinks – Greens are alkaline forming and are great at ridding the body of excess hormones

· Milled flaxseeds or linseeds (build up to 2 tablespoons a day) – Bad estrogens attach to the lignans and then are excreted from the body

· Probiotics – Take after each meal

· DIM (Diindolylmethane) - A stable indole found in cruciferous vegetables which promotes beneficial estrogen metabolism

· Cal D Glucorate – Specifically helps the body excrete estrogens

· Resveratrol – Increases the production of an enzyme that destroys dangerous estrogen metabolites and is found in red wine (especially Spanish reds) but is best in supplement form

If you also carry extra weight on you abdomen as well as the hips, thigh’s and tri’s then there is a good chance you could be estrogen dominant due to insulin resistance. Insulin Resistance (the inability to break down carbohydrates efficiently) also creates estrogen dominance. If this is the case, follow all of the above and lay off carbohydrates for a couple weeks (even fruit) and then reintroduce thinned skin fruits slowly. After your abdomen is lean then start slowly adding low glycemic index carbohydrates back to your diet. [See the bellaCore blog on Carbs]

Sorry if this is a big bummer (pun fully intended) and sounds like a lot of work! But, just think about how long you have been using drug store bought cosmetics and skincare, driving around the city, cleaning your home with Mr. Clean and drinking out of plastic water bottles…..It will take some time to repair the damage. Be patient and start slowly adding one new thing per week. You will probably feel better, look better and live longer.

Good luck and let me know when your Apple Bottom Jeans start falling off your not- so-big hips so I can send you a high-five!!

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Thursday, 20 August 2009


Disclaimer: Please note that there are many theories and even more changes when it comes to diets and nutrition. I do not claim to know everything (or anything at all for that matter) so please take my suggestions and/or thoughts like you should anything you read on the web or hear on TV….do your own research and make an informed decision on what is best for you.

Pardon my French, but what the #*&@ is up with all the carbohydrate confusion out there?? This blog post comes from a few requests of my 10’s of readers. The discussion of carbohydrates comes with much debate and a lot of emotion in regards to the ‘shoulds’ and shouldn’ts’ of this vital nutrient. What kind do we eat? What time of day do we eat them? Is it only in the evening or only before noon? Ack!!! Since it seems carbs are the most popular subject regarding nutrition and food anxieties, I think it’s important to at least touch on the subject. Because carbs are a sensitive subject I leave this discussion open ended as there is more information out there and I am sure there will be feedback and other theories which I am very much open to hearing and discussing….

We now all know that the hyped low fat/high carbohydrate diet of the late 80’s is a huge reason we are so….well, huge today. All of those carbs created insulin resistance and stress to our bodies which increased our cortisol production adding extra padding to our bellies and rolls of fat to our backs. Sexy? Not exactly. Then, in the late 90’s Dr. Atkins came out with The Atkins Revolution suggesting that all carbohydrates, including whole grains, all fruits and most vegetables, are the real causes of excess weight. He pushed high fat meats and dairy such as bacon, heavy cream, fat laden steaks and even copious amounts of butter as “health food”. Though this diet works at shedding pounds initially due to the low sugar intake, it has been known to cause a whole heap of potential health problems such as, kidney problems, chronic bowel disease and some minor discomforts like headaches and toxic gas. Also, not sexy.

So, why is it that some people can eat bread and pastries day in and day out and not gain an ounce while others so much as mention the word ‘muffin’ and our bellies begin to create a muffin-top over our jeans? Honestly, I am not sure. I am sure genetics plays a role but I think a lot of it has to do with the high amount of stress everyone of all ages face these days. Because we are constantly on-call with our Blackberries and iPhones and expected to respond within moments of a text or email everyone is a bit high strung and reaching for more feel good serotonin boosting sugar. Though eating high glycemic index foods (like white flour and sugar) does boost serotonin there is always a crash to follow creating even more stress and more belly fat.

To make it simple, if you have stomach fat (don’t worry…I am speaking to myself here as well) that suggests you have a hard time processing carbohydrates. In order to create more insulin sensitivity and get rid of the lingering stomach fat you may want to try cutting out sugars and all grains for a couple of weeks and eat loads of vegetables and lean protein. This releases your body’s dependence on carbohydrates and forces it to use fat for energy.

Suggested Reading:

The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain is a great book about the health benefits of cutting out grains.

If you carry most of your weight on your hips and thighs stay tuned for my next blog discussing excess estrogen……

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Binge Eating and....Ahem.........Drinking

I just received an email from my dear friend, M, that read:

I'm the beast that consumed two (count them, 2!) double, duty juicy cheeseburgers yesterday! Isn’t that messed up!!!!!! AND…… to top the whole thing off, I ACTUALLY started thinking about making cookie dough, until I nearly slapped myself out of the stupidity!!!!!!!! I feel like I'm in a tub drain and it is starting to spin faster and faster towards the end……….and I wonder how I could have thunder thighs?!?!”

Are you guilty of it? I know I am guilty of it. I know I feel extremely guilty when I binge (though, mine is usually on something chocolate) and then ask myself ‘Why? Why? Why would I do that to myself?’ and then that segues to about an hour of self-loathing, like my friend M, which is never a good thing.

Probably one of the biggest complaints and main reasons people do not obtain the ideal results from training or eating a healthy diet is because of the ‘big binge’.

When we train harder we tend to eat more and usually the wrong foods. Or, we think we deserve a treat and decide dive into that cupcake sitting in the office kitchen or grab a second (or third) helping for working out extra hard. More often than not, these treats turn into binges sabotaging all the effort. No wonder sticking to a workout program can be so challenging!! If you are not seeing or feeling results what’s the point?

The first question to ask yourself is if binging is something you do daily, weekly or on the rare occasion. If it is a daily issue for you or you think it may be an uncontrollable problem then seek professional help from a therapist or group such as Overeaters Anonymous

If binge eating or drinking is something you choose (yes, I said ‘choose’) to do, the hard and fast response is that YOU are CHOOSING the food/drink (be it, cheeseburgers, mojitos, wine, pizza, the all-you-can eat buffet, cake, cookies..and that includes cookie dough, etc.) OVER the health of your own body. That might seem like a harsh response but it is true and THAT simple. There is more that happens in the space between your mouth and that love of (place binge food of choice here). The choice of this food over your health has mostly to do with your current state of emotion rather then an actual need for the food.

How can I stop the binge?

Well, it helps to remember that it is up to you to make the CHOICE. Take a few seconds or minutes to think about what you are eating and start a food journal where you write down everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) that you eat. No one has ever made you eat anything you didn’t want to (as an adult, anyway). When a craving starts ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I hungry?

Physical hunger is an actual physical reaction (i.e., stomach growling) and usually any healthful food will fill that void.

If you are not hungry and craving then answer the following questions:

  • What am I feeling?

Are you sad, happy, angry, tired or bored? Try and take a minute to jot down your feelings on a notepad or a nutrition journal. Get into what you are feeling. See if you can resolve what is happening with you emotionally at that moment instead of suppressing these feelings with the temporary sensation of taste. Maybe you need to confront someone you are in relationship with, burn some excess energy by exercising, celebrate by sharing good news with a friend, take a nap if you’re tired or, if you are bored, find a hobby other than seeing what’s in the pantry.

  • What is the craving about?

If you start seeing a pattern with your cravings and emotions when you are not physically hungry confront this fact about yourself EVERY TIME you see it come on. This takes practice and diligence. The more you are aware of it the less power it will have over you and the less likely you will binge and, like a said, CHOOSE the blooming (whatever) over your health and the much coveted bikini body.

Comments, questions and venting are all welcome!!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Women and Their Lazy-Arse Thyroids

Have you been noticing some FUN symptoms such as your energy plummeting, digestion becoming sluggish (and your daily ..ahem...B.M. not quite so daily) as well as slowly gaining extra pounds? If your answer is, yes..

We, ladies, sure have many balls to juggle when it comes to our health. One, which often goes unnoticed, is subtle changes in thyroid gland activity. This illusive gland located at the base of your neck holds a lot of power over your energy, moods, fertility, weight and even keeping your hair. It often is hard to decipher the cause of low energy, poor digestion and thinning eyebrows right away so you often just shrug your shoulders and say, I must just be stressed, not getting enough sleep or this must be part of aging. Though one or all of these may be true and partly responsible for the changes you've noticed, it might be worth considering that women are 10 times more likely than men to develop hypothyroidism (low thyroid activity). A lot of doctors (particularly those that treat holistically) are finding that an increasing number of women as young as early 20s are complaining of symptoms associated with hypothyroidism. Blood tests show that most of these patients have thyroid level falling in the bottom end of the 'normal' range. The medical community calls this 'subclinical hypothyroidism'. I prefer to call it Lazy-Arse Thyroidism!

If you are suffering from the following SUPER FUN symptoms of Lazy-Arse Thyroidism...

1. Wanting to sink under your duvet for most of the day instead of facing the world

2. Are finding yourself in an abusive, love-hate relationship with carbohydrates consisting of energy boosts alternating with crashes

3. Finding tumbleweeds of your gorgeous locks blowing across your floor (and then desperately trying to glue them to your eyebrows)

4. Find that you're going longer between bowel movements than ‘normal’

5. Are unsuccessful in getting pregnant or have recently had a baby and are now experiencing the above symptoms may want to consider asking your doctor for a full thyroid panel and make sure you go to your appointment with a written list of even your most subtle symptoms.

Though, there are natural approaches you can take to managing this sensitive gland but you might possibly need a prescription. The bottom line is that balancing your thyroid can make a huge difference in how you feel about yourself and the outside world.

More to come - natural ways to boost thyroid production.