Help! I’ve Been Greenwashed!!

Have you heard the term “Greenwashing” yet?

I was talking with a friend and venting about my frustration with companies that present themselves as being very health conscious, and their products as natural, safe, and non-toxic only to find on closer inspection that either the products are loaded with chemicals, or they are unwilling to disclose the ingredients claiming that this information is a “trade secret”. My experience with ethical and truly Eco-friendly health conscious companies has been that they are proud to show their ingredient list because they know that their informed consumers will like what they see. When I brought up two companies in particular she directed me to one of her favorite bloggers, EcoFriendlyMamaUSA, and her Greenwashers page: http://ecofriendlymamausa.com/product-reviews/greenwashers/

This page lists many companies that either explicitly or implicitly present themselves as green, earth friendly, health conscious companies and provides honest feedback and information based on the authors research and personal experience. (Both companies I was expressing frustration with are listed here as a couple of the worst.) She also references a couple of websites for the Environmental Working Group for looking up household products and cosmetics:
http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners
http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
These are both great resources to learn more about the products you may be using. Get familiar with these sites so you can do your own research!

Wikipedia defines Greenwashing as “a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization’s products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly.”

The color green has taken on meaning, implying a product is natural, plant based, and Eco-friendly, and often this color will be used to best advantage as well as images of nature (forests, mountains, streams, prairies, you get the idea) banking on the hope that you will assume the product is safe and natural … because it looks the part! Unfortunately this couldn’t be further from the truth in many cases. Turn these products over and you’re likely to be assaulted with a long list of unpronounceable scientific mumbo-jumbo.

Did you know most people have ingested or applied over 200 chemicals to their body before their morning cup of coffee?? Between the soaps, shampoos, conditioners, shaving gels, body washes, lotions, creams, styling products, ointments, toothpaste, mouthwash, supplements, and cosmetics it all adds up quickly! Think about a nicotine patch. Why does it work? Because the nicotine on the patch is absorbed through the skin and into our bloodstream. The same goes for every other product you apply to your body! Read the ingredients of your body cream or your face moisturizer – would you be comfortable eating it? If not then maybe you shouldn’t be slathering it on your body.

Next consider your household cleaning products – cleansers, polishes, pest products, disinfectants, deodorizers – so many chemicals! These can leech into your skin through direct contact during use, contact with the item the product was applied to, and through the fumes you breathe during use and as they linger for hours or even days. Did you know that you have a higher risk of asthma if you regularly use spray cleaners in your home?

The EPA website states: “Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) [such as Formaldehyde] are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.”

With the advances of technology many of us are spending more time indoors, and we are breathing a steady supply of toxins from the gases of all of these products! Have you watched Chemericle yet?? Check out my review on Chemericle!

You CAN reduce the toxins you are exposed to on a daily basis – awareness is the key. In an earlier post I stated that my #1 health tip is to start reading labels. This doesn’t just apply to food! Start reading the labels on your personal care and household products, and if you’re not sure what something is, look it up. And green cleaning doesn’t have to be expensive – did you know vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice are very effective and economical cleaners? There are many books and websites with tips and recipes to make your own cleaner – just search “make your own green cleaning products”. Remember, you have a voice and you can vote every single day with the dollars you choose to spend or not spend on these products. Use your vote wisely!

Greenwashing

If you hate The Gym consider Activities!

I learned an important lesson the other day. I was chatting with a client about gym workouts and how it can be such a struggle to find the motivation to get to the gym, and I asked, “Is there another activity that you would enjoy more?” We talked about the idea of working out and going to the gym vs. going for a walk or bike ride, and how going to the gym can have negative feelings associated while we may not recognize other activities as acceptable ways to exercise our bodies.

Consider the common phrases “I need to work out” and “I need to go to the gym”. We don’t often express excitement about these activities and we use words that indicate this is a chore, but when we talk about going for a bike ride or going to play volleyball with friends we usually feel anticipation and joy.

When we say “workout” or “the gym” certain thoughts and feelings may spring to mind:
CHORE, bummer, no fun, so hard, too much time, dread, frustration

But when we talk about activities like going for a walk or bike ride, playing a game of volleyball, or playing badminton in the yard other more positive images may spring to mind:
JOY, fun, time with friends / family, play, freedom, happiness

Some people do love going to the gym, but if you find that negative thoughts are deterring you from getting the exercise your body needs, consider whether or not the gym is the right solution for you.

As a runner I have many people ask me if I think everyone should run. While I very much enjoy running and I love watching and helping others discover a passion for running, I don’t believe it is the right activity for everyone. I believe you should do whatever activity YOU enjoy whether it be running, walking, hiking, yoga, biking, spinning, CrossFit, basketball, volleyball, Zumba, tennis, or WHATEVER, because it is the joy in YOUR activity that will keep you engaged and active.

Find YOUR passion and get active!

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Eat FAT for Better Health

I want to share some important information about fat and why you SHOULD be eating it – that’s right, I said you SHOULD be eating it! Fats have been vilified for decades but the low-fat/no-fat movement has played a major role in the increases we are seeing in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases – AND we are seeing these health impacts showing up earlier and earlier. For example: type 2 diabetes previously known as adult onset diabetes, which is now being seen in children!

Healthy fats are ESSENTIAL for optimal health AND for weight loss! Health fats fight inflammation which is the precursor to every chronic disease! Also fats are more satisfying meaning they fill us up and keep us satisfied longer which means less snacking between meals.

Sources of healthy fats include avocados, nuts and seeds, and oils such as olive, coconut, walnut, or avocado oil. Other great sources of healthy fats include oily fish such as sardines, salmon, herring, trout, and mackerel, omega-3 rich eggs from free range naturally and humanely raised chickens, and naturally raised antibiotic and hormone free grass fed animal protein.

Check out this great video from Dr. Mark Hyman for more info then comment below with your thoughts!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEQdFxWQOhw

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Will The REAL Healthy Snack List Please Stand Up??

If you’re like me you may often find yourself digging through your desk drawer in the afternoon or aimlessly wandering around your kitchen opening and closing cabinets in the evening. What is it I am in search of?? Oh, right, a snack! Of course there are differing opinions on snacking – some say it’s bad and will keep your body from using existing energy stores (fat!), some say it will rev up your metabolism to help you burn more fat.

There are 2 realities we must face:

1. Each person has their own unique biology and metabolism that will or will not function ideally with snacks. Some people function best on 3 meals per day, period. Others will do better with 3 smaller meals and 2 or 3 snacks. We all have to find what works best for our body.

2. Sometimes we just get the urge to snack! When this urge strikes, it is best to address it head on with a good quality nutritious snack rather than try to squash this urge and berate yourself resulting in feelings of guilt and shame! Associate snacking with negativity and we’re likely to ride that shame spiral full speed into a bag or neon orange cheesy corn chips (you know the ones I mean!) or a box of those cookies you bought from the neighbor kid!

So what’s the solution?

The best place to start is with a Pantry Clean-out!! Go through your pantry, cupboards, drawers, and refrigerator. Throw away all the tempting garbage – your go-to treats and snacks that you know are bad for you but you simply can’t resist! You won’t have to resist them if they don’t exist!

Next, re-stock with healthy options so you have a selection of easy quick nutritious snacks on hand. Having options readily available will give you an immediate snack solution – you can feel good about what you are eating and avoid any negative snack guilt.

So now the big question – what are some healthy snacks I can stock up on? I actually did a search online for “Healthy Snack Options” and as I browsed through the results I was appalled at what some very well known sites were recommending as healthy options. One site listed a whole selection of packaged items without a single simple produce item among the options (umm, apple anyone??). I was so disturbed by what I found that I decided to start my own list.

Now this list is by no means a comprehensive list and some of the items may be deemed more or less healthy depending on your own nutritional beliefs, but this is a list of a lot of my go-to healthy snacks and other options that I would feel good about putting in my body and recommending to others.

And BTW – I don’t believe in low-fat or fat-free options. Good fats are essential for optimal health and generally when fats are stripped from foods they are replaced with the ultimate evil, SUGAR!

My Top 25 Healthy Snacks:
1. Apple slices with Peanut Butter
2. Grapes – fresh or frozen!
3. Banana – fresh or frozen!
4. Clementine, Orange, Tangerine
5. Any kind of berries!
6. Plain Yogurt – add your own fruit instead of getting the kind with syrup-y “fruit”
7. Celery sticks with Peanut Butter and Raw Honey
8. Cucumber slices with Guacamole
9. Cherry Tomatoes
10. Sugar Snap Peas
11. Raw veggies with Hummus (Carrots, Cucumber, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Bell Pepper!)
12. Almonds, Pecans, Cashews, Pistachios – go for raw unsalted
13. Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds – go for raw unsalted
14. Hard Boiled Egg
15. Cottage Cheese with Peaches or Berries
16. Sliced Melon (Honeydew, Cantaloupe, Watermelon)
17. Raisins, Prunes, other dried fruits – go for unsulfured
18. Fruit Smoothie – Banana / Mango is my favorite quick fix!
19. Pickles or Olives
20. Whole Wheat Pita with hummus
21. Whole Wheat Crackers with Sardines or Tuna
22. Whole Grain porridge – Brown Rice, Quinoa or Oats with Almond milk and fruit!
23. Homemade Trail Mix (I make mine with Cashew pieces, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Raisins, and a few Dark Chocolate chips!)
24. Date Balls (check out my recipe for Death by Fudgy Date Balls!)
25. Any other Whole Food or Whole Food recipe!!

Bag the guilt and enjoy a healthy snack!!

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#5 Tip for Better Health

Move your body!  Remember that old saying “Move it or lose it”?  That applies to your body as well!  If you want to stay mobile, be mobile!

Exercise has so many great benefits – it improves your mood, reduces stress, strengthens your heart, helps control your weight, and more!

What is the best exercise for you?  One that you ENJOY!  Some people like the solitude of running or walking alone, while some like to join clubs to meet other people.  Some enjoy the group atmosphere of an organized class like spinning, Zumba, or yoga.  And some prefer sports or activities like softball, basketball, ice skating, or gardening.  Whatever it is that motivates you to get active and stay active – THAT is the right activity for you!

How often should you exercise?  There are so many varying opinions on this.  Ideally you should aim for 30-60 minutes per day of some type of activity.  Often life gets in the way of our ideal goals, so set your minimum expectation to 30 minutes every other day.  If you can’t fit a full 30 minutes into your day in one chunk try breaking it up – 10 minutes 3 times per day or 15 minutes twice a day.  Take a walk around the block during your lunch break and then do some strength exercises before dinner – crunches, push-ups, squats, lunges, bicep curls and shoulder presses with weights.

Get creative!  Too cold outside?  Do laps around inside your office building!  Don’t have any hand weights?  Use soup cans or water jugs!

Make it fun for the whole family!  Turn on music and get everyone dancing!  Go sledding!  Play badminton in the yard!

Make exercise a part of your life and you will reap the rewards in you health and your happiness.

So, how are you planning to get active today?

Get Active

I <3 My CSA!

Well, this summer I finally did it – I joined a CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and as a member you commit to supporting a local farm for the season, in sickness and in health. This means if they have a plentiful growing season, you reap the benefits in an abundance of fresh, local, beautiful (and organic if you choose an organic farm!) nutrient rich produce. And if the season is more troublesome (flooding, droughts, etc.) then you may not see as much produce that season.

The purpose of joining a CSA is not only to support your local farmers, but also to provide them a guaranteed income to free them from the added stresses of a constant need to sell and let them focus on growing and harvesting the best produce they can. It’s a wonderful thing to get weekly updates with information on the upcoming harvests and the progress of the new crops and to know where your food is coming from.

Each week I pick up my box of produce, which has been jam-packed lately as we are in the peak of the season, and I am astonished by all of the beautiful veggies (and occasional fruit) that I find inside as I unpack it – it covers my kitchen counter! Veggies have taken over the refrigerator and I have had a wonderful time experimenting with veggies I have never tried before. Fennel, asian eggplant, radishes, and kholrabi are now some of my new favorites – I know it’s crazy, but no, I had never tried a radish until this summer! The tomatoes taste like the ones I remember from childhood, and the melons are so fresh and delicious!! I could really go on and on…

So needless to say, I am a convert. I have already signed up for my winter share and I’m looking forward to some new items to try in the winter crops. I highly recommend joining a CSA in your area. It will make you feel connected with your local farmers and inspire you to try new healthy delicious dishes!

If you live in the Twin Cities area and would like to learn more about the CSA I joined, Featherstone Farm, you can visit their website for more info: http://www.featherstonefarm.com/

Or check out this website to find a CSA in your area: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

Here are a couple pictures from earlier in the season – the last few boxes have been even fuller!

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#4 Tip for Better Health

Drink plenty of water! Many people are dehydrated and they don’t even know it! Common signs that you may be dehydrated include dry mouth, dizzyness, weakness, headache, decreased or dark yellow urine, constipation, and severe thirst. Your body is made up of approximately 60% water and the processes in your body require a steady supply of fresh water to replenish water used to excrete waste and toxins, so drinking water is essential to all systems to keep them functioning optimally.

Water provides many benefits to your health! Water can provide weight-loss benefits for a couple of reasons. One reason is that many people mistake their thirst for hunger so by quenching your thirst food intake is usually decreased. Another reason is because when you are drinking enough water your body is able to release the toxins that were stored in your fat cells, and your body is then able to use that stored energy. Water can also help kill cravings. When a craving strikes try drinking a glass of water. Many times the craving will go away! Water is also very beneficial for your brain, joints and skin. When you are well hydrated brain fog is reduced allowing you to think more clearly, joints are lubricated reducing wear and tear, and your skin will have a more healthy, radiant appearance.

How much water should you drink? There are many differing opinions on this – most say 8 glasses a day or your weight in ounces per day, and of course more with vigorous exercise! I think these are great guidelines to start with – get yourself on a regular regimine to get back in the habit of drinking water and rediscover your thirst. Eventually you will likely find that your thirst will guide you to consume the proper amount of water for YOUR body.

Also, be aware that you CAN drink too much water. This is one area where more is not better! Too much water will throw off your blood sodium levels and interrupt your electrolyte balance and is potentially fatal. Signs of overhydration include blurred vision, confusion, nausea, vomiting, and bloating.

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Surviving Take-out!

We all have those days when we’re so rushed we don’t have time to cook dinner, there are no leftovers to quickly heat up, and the cupboards are bare because tomorrow is grocery day! As a last resort we end up calling for take-out.

When you find yourself in this situation you can still eat a fairly healthy meal if you spend a little time doing some research. Check the online menus for a couple of restaurants and look for dishes with lots of veggies, whole grains, and quality proteins. Avoid processed and starchy ingredients such as white flour pastas, white breads, white rice, white potatoes and tortillas. Instead look for brown rice, whole wheat bread, and lettuce wraps. If the dish is made with a sauce, ask for it on the side so you can control the portioning, or if that’s not possible ask for 1/2 the regular amount of sauce. Also choose grilled instead of breaded and fried, steamed instead of stir-fried, and ask if you can get fresh fruit or veggies instead of the fries!

If I call for takeout without doing my research I’m likely to order one of the dishes I remember ordering in the past which may not be a healthy option. When you decide beforehand what you will be ordering it will prevent the spontaneous selection of lower quality options!

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#3 Tip for Better Health

Follow the 90/10 rule! The reason so many diets don’t work is because they leave you feeling deprived, and deprivation will eventually lead to bingeing which leads to feelings of failure. Don’t focus on perfection – none of us are perfect, so that just sets you up for failure! Make healthy choices 90% of the time and leave yourself a 10% buffer to allow for occasional treats, dinners out with friends, or party snacks. It’s all about moderation – allow yourself the occasional indulgence to prevent cravings born from the “forbidden foods” mindset. It’s always easier to make the healthier choice when it feels like a choice – you might say to yourself, “I’ll choose the salad today, and maybe treat myself to a cone at that new ice cream parlor on Saturday!”

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Be Your Own Ray of Sunshine!

Think positive! Remember what your mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, or teacher always told you about the power of positive thinking – they were absolutely right! Negativity attracts negativity, and positivity attracts positivity, so choose to have a positive outlook and see how your life begins to change. When you expect good things to happen you start to see opportunities where previously you may not have. Not only will you see the benefits in your own life, but in others around you as well – positivity, like laughter, is contagious! Spread the joy!

There are so many great quotes out there that you can use to remind and inspire yourself! Write down a few of the quotes below or find some that resonate with you – just search “quotes for positive thinking” or something similar and you will have an enormous selection to choose from! Search Google images and choose a few with cheerful or calming backgrounds and print them out for even greater impact. Place them in prominent areas where you can see them as constant reminders to focus on the good!

Change your thoughts and you change your world – Norman Vincent Peale
A positive attitude brings strength, energy and initiative – Kamari aka Lyrikal
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude – Maya Angelou
Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine – Anthony J. D’Angelo
Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference – Winston Churchill

Dictionary.com defines positivity as “the state or character of being positive: a positivity that accepts the world as it is.” So remember to accept what is, recognize all the good parts, and make a conscious decision to be happy!

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