Sustainability Matters

He who has their health has a thousand dreams. He who does not have their health has only one.
— Joe Polish via Lewis Howes, School of Greatness podcast

Sustainability is one those buzzwords you hear more and more. There’s so much talk about making sure the way we are living in and treating this planet is something that we can sustain for generations to come. There are many ways to look at what truly is sustainable when it comes to our planet but it’s important that we apply this on a more micro level as well – to ourselves and our health!

Everyone wants to look and feel better and even more so, do that RIGHT NOW. As soon as you’ve made that decision that you’re over wherever you are now with your health, it’s hard to have the patience and foresight to think about the long-term. It’s so enticing to want to sprint towards those results and to use any shortcut possible to get there. Maybe the initial motivation is some event (wedding, vacation, reunion) and that’s your focus or deadline. So, then that cleanse, fat flush, waist trainer, 7 day, 21 day, 30 day… is all too enticing. And for that short-term, you can do anything right? Only soup? No carbs? All carbs? No solid food? Just baby food? No exercise? All the exercise? Ha! Anything to reach that goal right?

But whether you reach your goal or not, we’ve all woken up from that hangover confused, back at square one and wondering where to go from here. Yes, we are amazing at pushing through for period of time, but what’s truly sustainable?

It may not be extreme (really it CAN’T be), but what can you do now and forever to get your health where you want it to be? Because guess what? You’ll need to. You reached the point you are right now as a culmination of everything you’ve done until now. That’s every micro-decision, indecision, and mindless habit you employed each and every day until now. It’s your status quo; it’s your default setting. Change that default and change your situation and eventual destination. But, there’s no free lunch. This won’t be happen tomorrow. But it’s that minor tweak, those small sustainable changes that will take you incrementally closer to your goal each day.

There is so much out there that looks to make it much more complicated than it is. But it absolutely does not have to be. Here it is:

  1. Don’t do anything now to get to your goal that you know you cannot do and sustain in the long run. This is because if you don’t change your default behavior, if the expectations you’ve set are so extreme and out of whack that you’re bound to fail… you will. Only this time, you’ll feel beat up and defeated. Think long-term. Think too obvious. Think no sweat.
  2. Pick that one thing or two things you can do that you know will get you close to your goal and won’t feel like pure torture.
  3. Build from there. Once you’ve got that down, add another ridiculously easy change.
  4.  Repeat.

I was listening to Dr. Layne Norton’s podcast (Physique Science Radio) and his guest described nutrition as “a battle of attrition” and I could not agree more. The success people have is most heavily influenced by what they can sustain. No plan is worth anything if people can’t stick with it. And that’s highly personal. Figure out what you can do and what works for you, find a baby step and take it proudly.

“Just right” Coconut Cashew Granola

Granola can be so expensive to buy and the ingredients can still be dicey. The good news is it’s one of the easiest things to make and it’s infinitely more delicious when it comes from your own kitchen.

I got the idea to make this after a trip to New York City where my family stumbled on a vegan restaurant (Sun in Bloom in Brooklyn) that had this granola bowl on the menu. I ordered it for my 3 year old son not knowing their granola was buckwheat based (or that granola could be buckwheat based – ha!) and he devoured every last bite. I snuck a few curious bites before it was all gone and I quickly understood why it got his instant approval. The buckwheat adds a nuttiness and crunch to the granola that’s equal parts unexpected and welcome.

The restaurant served their buckwheat granola over coconut kefir (which I haven’t been able to find. If you know where this is sold, please share!) and with fresh berries.

I normally serve this over plain 2% Greek yogurt or regular (cow’s milk) kefir and with whatever fruit I have on hand – that is, when I’m not shoveling it directly into my mouth from the jar. =) Note that this recipe is a guide. The great thing about granola is that it is infinitely adjustable. Cut back on the sugar or fat if that’s your thing. Either way, add this to your meal prep plans this weekend.

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time:  30 minutes | Yield: 15 – 20 servings

 

2 cups Rolled Oats (not instant oats)

1 cup Buckwheat Groats

1  cup Raw Cashews

½ cup Slivered Almonds

1 cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

¼ cup Sesame Seeds

¼ cup Pumpkin Seeds (optional)

½ cup Honey

1/3 cup Brown Sugar (leveled, not packed)

1/3 cup Coconut Oil (measured in its solid state)

½ tsp ground Cinnamon

½ tsp Sea Salt

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare a baking sheet with  nonstick foil or parchment paper.

  2. In a large bowl combine rolled oats, buckwheat groats, coconut flakes, nuts and seeds.

  3. In a small non-stick saucepan combine honey, brown sugar, coconut oil, cinnamon and salt.  Bring mixture to a boil and continue heating for 2 minutes. Carefully swirl pan  to combine the ingredients. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract.

  4. Pour syrup mixture over the oat mixture and stir until evenly coated.  Spread the granola on the prepared baking sheet in an even layer.

  5. Bake granola until golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking.

  6. Let cool well on the pan, noting that the granola will grow crispy as it cools. Break granola into clumps as desired and enjoy!

Adapted from: http://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes/how-to-make/buckwheat-granola/

Do you ‘cast? Top 3 Favorite Health Podcasts

I LOVE podcasts! They make my daily commute completely bearable (I can’t deal with the rotation of what seems like 10 songs on the radio) and give me something different to listen to while I’m at the gym. What’s not to enjoy about listening to interesting, funny, and educational topics while going through your daily tasks? It’s talk radio but better and on your schedule. Sold? I hope so. To help convince you to come onto the ‘cast side, below are some of my favorite health related podcasts.

 

The Model Health Show with Shawn Stevenson

Shawn has a gift for relaying complicated health concepts in a way that is uber easy to understand and gets you excited to take the lead in ensuring your own health. As someone who took charge of his own health to reverse what was said to be an irreversible spinal condition, you can feel his passion for spreading the message that YOU can and do play a leading role in making yourself sick or healthy. Shawn is also an expert on the importance of sleep and has left me vindicated in my grandma sleep status. He has a new book “Sleep Smarter” dropping soon that I can’t wait to read (or listen to – yay, Audible).

SANE Show with Jonathan Bailor

Jonathan Bailor is the author of “The Calorie Myth” and focuses on the importance of eating SANE foods for optimal health. What makes a food SANE? Sane is an acronym for foods that are high in Satiety (keeps you fuller, longer), non-Aggressive (don’t hijack your blood sugar), Nutritious (no explanation needed there), and inEfficient (meaning they are not easily converted to fat). This translates to foods that are high in water and fiber (sounds like vegetables to me) as well as meat, fruit, nuts, and whole food fats. There is so much conflicting information when it comes to what to eat, but I love Jonathan’s simple, less is more approach to healthy eating and exercise.

Ben Greenfield Fitness

If you want to geek out on all things fitness and human physiology, Ben is your guide. He is an accomplished triathlete, trainer, fitness daredevil with an educational background in sport science. He basically knows his stuff and you can tell he eat, sleeps, breathes what he’s talking about. Ben truly shines when it comes to explaining just how the body works and how to optimize your function today and well into old age. I wouldn’t necessarily start your health and fitness journey with Ben, but if you’re ready for some “advanced study,” this is a great place to look.

Do you listen to any podcasts? What is your favorite podcast app? I love Overcast. Share your favorite podcasts and apps in the comments!

Abundance versus Scarcity

I recently finished reading (can you still call it reading when it’s an audiobook? I vote yes) the book Abundance Now by Lisa Nichols. She is an amazing motivational speaker, entrepreneur, CEO, superwoman that I was introduced to on Lewis Howes’ podcast (School of Greatness). In the book she tackles how to change your thinking from a stifling, scarcity mindset to an expansive, abundance oriented one. What does that mean? A scarcity mindset is focused on what’s lacking and believes that if someone achieves something, there is inherently less available for anyone else. This person sees life as having a fixed amount of resources and it’s up to everyone to get their share before it’s gone.

This is juxtaposed to an abundance mindset that focuses on possibilities. A person with this mindset does not believe resources are fixed and, instead, believes that opportunities and resources can be created. As Lisa puts it, abundance is that state of having your cup so full it overflows into your saucer. You can sustain yourself from that cup and easily offer aid to others from your saucer. 

 

You can imagine how either mindset could completely influence your world view and how you approach life’s challenges and setbacks. It’s been a focus of mine to shift towards an abundance mindset in all aspects of my life. It’s definitely been a process and something that’s been building over time but I feel progress every day. How is that?

I make a conscious effort to stay in an abundance state of mind. To me that means reminding myself that there is more than enough success, love, money, etc. to go around. I remind myself that someone getting something, does not mean that there is suddenly less for me. If anything, there is more for me. Now, I can physically see that possibility which makes it even more likely that I can achieve it.

The other piece of that is, “why not me?” That’s a big mindset shift. Her book helped solidify this feeling that success, ‘abundance’, being impactful to the world is not something for a precious few. Why not me? It’s completely possible for me (and this means you too). It is happening for me. I can and will manifest that.

The last piece is that I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I can and should be 100% authentically me with no attachment to how anyone reacts to that. Their reaction is not about me, it’s about them. I am the one who needs to accept myself, love myself and be proud of myself whole-heartedly at the end of each day. There is a difference between this and the false armor that is “I don’t care about what anyone thinks.” That is false and if it were true, it would kill any opportunity to truly connect with anyone. It’s about knowing who really matters to you. Whose opinion truly matters? That list should be deservingly scant and that in turn makes it easy to parse through the opinions of the  many others who may try to define you. “The definitions belong to the definers and not the defined” as Brene Brown quotes Toni Morrison in her book Rising Strong

The bottom line is that your thoughts are so powerful in determining just where you will go in life.  

If you haven’t heard Lisa Nichols’ story, definitely check out her book and her appearance Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness podcast.

Lean In

For the average person, simply leaning in to eating healthy can produce huge benefits in their health. It’s easy to get caught up in the “perfect” and end up nowhere because that end goal is so far from your starting point. To be honest, "perfect" isn't possible at all (hello, moving target) but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do better than you are today. There’s no need to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.


So, what’s good? More vegetables are a start. Yes, I’m sure you know you should. But should isn’t enough, is it? How about feeling better, losing weight without a struggle, promoting your longevity (read living longer AND better in those years), improving your digestion… Are those enough reasons yet? I won’t even get into organic versus conventional, frozen versus fresh or canned, kale versus romaine lettuce. Most people aren’t eating vegetables at all (ketchup and French fries do not count!), so is it really worth it to argue those details at this point? Let’s start with getting at least 3 servings (1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw) per day. Notice I’m focusing on vegetables. We’ll dive into fruit later.


In the comments, let me know how many servings of vegetables you had yesterday. What is your favorite vegetable? 

 

So, what's real food?

Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants
— Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan said it best. Straight to the point and hardly disputable (though I'm sure someone out there has tried). As much as there are differing beliefs on the best way to feed the human form, it's hard to fight eating real food, especially vegetables and fruit. Vegans and carnivores alike can come to the table on this one.

Okay, but what's real food? The plants Michael mentions are a good start. This is stuff we have been planting, harvesting, and eating since the dawn of time. It's full of the good stuff (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and on and on) that food manufactures try to add to not so real food. I'm talking about things like the multi-colored cereals that were grown in the lab instead of the field yet somehow provide you with 100% of your daily requirements of vitamin C. So, that cereal is as good to my body as a bell pepper or an orange? I'm not so sure. What do you think?