Thursday, July 23, 2015

Are you exhausted? Discover my top 3 tips to revitalize!

Alarm goes off... body not ready to wake up yet. Hit the coffee. Get dressed for work. Lather on some makeup to cover up those tired bags under the eyes and run out the door with a piece of toast in hand.
The day is overloaded again, meetings are back to back. No time for a break or lunch... Just sit at the desk and respond to important emails while scoffing down a pre-made sandwich and washing it down with a diet coke (no time to work out any more so gotta avoid the excess calories).

Day done. Commute home. Exhausted. Pick up some take out... Chinese will do. Kick off the shoes, put the feet up and zone the day out with some brainless TV. It's been a big day so feeling like a generous pour of vino or a sweet treat after dinner is well deserved. Feeling a little guilty but spend the next hour justifying it... I'll just skip breakfast and have a banana tomorrow to make up for it. Sorted. Time for bed. Can't fall asleep. Thinking of what the boss said and how much work is scheduled for tomorrow. Ahhhh... finally - sleep.

This is all too common in Western culture and the "modern" world. Being this busy on a regular basis is not healthy. It is a recipe for a whole range of health problems including adrenal fatigue, weight gain, excess inflammation, chronic stress, and mood imbalance.  Our body is an intelligent machine that will do the best it can to maintain homeostasis in any situation or environment you put it in. But it is possible to deplete the body of its supplies and even more concerning its back up reserves when it comes to trying to cope with ongoing stress. The last thing you want to do is end up having a total burn out or falling victim to illness, disease or even cancer.




So what can we all do about it? Here are some basics to get you started:

* Where possible, go to bed earlier, at a regular time, and enjoy approximately 8 hours of rejuvenating sleep each night. With consistency, you will find you don't even need to set an alarm clock to wake up (maybe set one as back up just incase!). The body naturally wakes up well rested and ready to take on a new day. Sleeping with the curtains open helps as you allow your body to rise with the sun, my personal favorite natural alarm clock.

* Schedule your day with "healthy breaks" to stretch your body, get some fresh air, enjoy a nutritious lunch outdoors in the sun, go for a short walk around the block to improve circulation, or even meditate for 5 minutes to clear the mind. Consider working away for set blocks of time, say 2 hours, then breaking for 30 minutes, doing another 2 hours of work, and again breaking for 30 minutes etc. Notice how much more productive you are using this formula instead of going hard all day long until you literally can't think or function anymore. You will get way more done, be happier and feel healthier for it.

* When you get home, make time for cooking a quick and easy dinner that is nutritious. A 20 minute meat and veg stir fry, bowl of lentil soup, an omelet or pan seared fish are all great options. Instead of putting on the TV (which is like junk food for the brain), unwind with a soothing bath, get in your cozy clothes, play some chill out music, or relax with a good book. A better choice for a sweet treat than ice-cream is savoring a couple of squares of organic dark chocolate or enjoying a handful of ripe berries. Check out my Pinterest Folders for endless recipe inspiration.

This approach to tackling the busy work day is much more enjoyable, balanced and sustainable for the health of your body and mind. Contact me for personalized Health Coaching to help get you to where you want to be! Also, sign up for my FREE Monthly Newsletter on my website home page. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

BEWARE: Hidden Sources of Sugar in "Health" Foods

I generally have a pretty low sugar diet and encourage the same for my clients. The general Western population gets excess amounts of sugar from processed and packaged foods such as ice-cream and cookies - some of the obvious. At My Balance & Wellness, we prefer to ditch these junk foods and substitute our sugar intake with natural sources such as sweet root vegetables (two of my favorites being yams and sweet potatoes) and from whole pieces of fruit.

So, think you are making healthy choices by also ditching the junky sweets and going for things like yogurt, acai bowls, smoothies and juices instead? Think again...

I had desert the other night with my husband while watching a movie. It was a small Coco Bliss Ice Cream Bar which is delicious and mush healthier than other ice-cream varieties on the market (it's dairy free and sweetened with a little agave). I looked at the sugar content and it said 12 grams per bar. I was fine with it because I enjoy one on the rare occasion. However, a couple of days later, I met a friend at a cafe and asked for a green juice. Unfortunately the greenest things in it were cucumber and spearmint, with the other ingredients being lemon, ginger and apple. But I was surprised when I looked at the sugar content and saw 12 grams of sugar per serving - that's the same amount as my ice-cream bar! Now I know these sugars are naturally occurring from mostly the apple, the lemon and some from the veggies, but wow - even organic juice can be a big dose of sugar for your daily intake. Yes it's healthier than a soda or a caramel latter, but you are best to make juice at home with mostly veggies, and say 1/2 a large or 1 small apple to sweeten it a little. Adding lemon takes away any bitterness you may taste from using greens in your juice.

Then, what about those popular acai bowls that people have for breakfast these days? SUGAR SUGAR and MORE SUGAR! They are a blend of different fruits with added juice, topped with more fruit, sometimes dried fruit and granola. YIKES how sweet is that! Now earlier I said fruit is a good source of natural sugar right! Well it is true - but I also mentioned that I recommend whole pieces of fruit, not a big blended bowl of fruit with added fruit juice, more fruit on top and a garnish of sugary granola that will drastically spike your blood sugar levels. I say, stick to low glycemic eggs with veggies for breakfast and enjoy 1 piece of seasonal fruit for desert :-) Get what I am saying??

Smoothies are the same. When you get them from a store they usually have a ton of sugar in them from using too much tropical fruit such as mangoes and bananas (plus they are super expensive or if you do find a cheap one they are likely using conventional / poor quality ingredients). Instead, eat a small banana on it's own with a small handful of raw almonds to slow the release of the sugar into your bloodstream. This is much better on your delicate blood sugar levels than blending too much tropical fruit into a single drink to consume in one serving. It's simply too much for the body to handle all at once... unless you are an ultra athlete. I say save your precious pennies and make your smoothies at home so you know exactly how much of everything you are putting in it.




*A good base is 1 cup filtered water, pure coconut milk or homemade nut milk. From there, add your fruit, maybe 1/2 cup berries or 1/2 banana. Optionally add some veggies such as a handful of leafy greens, and then add your favorite sources of protein and healthy fats... such as 1tbsp. freshly ground flax seeds and / or 1 tbsp. of almond butter. Throw in a few ice cubes and blend until smooth. Wallah! Note: if you use filtered water instead of non-dairy milk, try adding 1/4 - 1/2 ripe avocado to make it nice and creamy. 

Yogurt is the same deal. These days there are too many varieties offering different "natural flavors" such as strawberry, vanilla or honey. They promote "fat free" as if it is the best thing ever (man is that a whole different blog post for later) and add sugar to compensate for lack of taste.  Opt for natural, plain and organic Greek style's of yogurt to avoid the all too common added sugar and flavor enhances. To sweeten it, do so naturally at home with a dusting of cinnamon and a splash of pure vanilla extract. Then top with some fresh organic berries. YUM! Sugar balance at its finest!

Guys, basically I am saying be mindful of your sugar intake. Education and awareness is essential these days as sugar is hidden in so many un-assuming things. Excess sugar can cause all sorts of health issues from weight gain, excess inflammation, microbial overgrowths in your gastrointestinal tract and insulin resistance potentially leading to diabetes. A simply solution is to return to nature and eat food in its whole form, such as a piece of your favorite seasonal fruit or some home baked sweet potato chips. We really don't need any more than that. You can retrain your tastebuds to think these foods are the sweetest things on Earth, and that things like cookies and ice-cream etc. are artificially sweet and too much for the body to handle!

Contact me for personalized nutritional guidance by joining me for your very own customized Wellness Program. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Want To Feel Amazing Each Day & Rock A Healthy Body???

Ever wondered how to balance your food intake in a way that you can enjoy but doesn't mean you will sabotage your waistline and wellbeing? I'm going to tell you how!

You may have heard of the 80 / 20 guideline when it comes to food. What this means is 80% of the time you try to eat as healthy as you can, and the other 20% of the time you have room for indulging.
Well, as a Health Coach, I see this working well for a few people with super savvy metabolisms, but for the majority of my dedicated clients, it truly takes a 90 / 10 approach to really notice improvements in your body and overall vitality.

What this means is enjoying delicious SOUL Foods (Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed and ideally Local) for 90% of the time during the week, and saving one special occasion for using up the other 10%. For example, you enjoy a daily routine of eggs or a smoothie for breakfast, a salad meal for lunch with your choice of high quality protein, and a nourishing soup or quick stir fry for dinner. Then, you know from looking at your calendar that Friday night you are going out for a nice dinner with a good friend and you just know you will want to let your hair down a bit. So you get a glass of wine and share a desert. That would be your 10% used!




It's a really balanced approach to food - maximizing your nutrition through the week and saving a little room for a treat that you look forward to and savor to the last bite. When you consistently eat in this style, you feel energized, happy, and your body becomes naturally slim. You no longer feel too full, heavy, sluggish or guilty.

Feel empowered and come up with your own balanced meal plan based on this simply guideline. It may take a bit of getting used to at first, but eventually, it will come naturally, and your cravings for all that junky stuff gradually fade away! At last LIBERATION!    

Contact me (sarah@mybalanceandwellness.com) for support with this. I will come up with a customized nutrition and wellness plan for you to enjoy and THRIVE with. Stop all that "yoyo dieting" and make peace with your food once and for all for sustainable longterm health! 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

SUMMER TIME NEWS - Healthy Travel Tips For A Feel Good Vacation

Traveling is one of my favorite ways to spend my time. It opens the mind, lifts the spirits and boosts my overall vitality. It's a great opportunity to switch off completely and enjoy some quiet time. Travel rejuvenates the soul and recharges our batteries so that we can come back to our everyday lives feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world!

I just got back from a crazy fun backpacking adventure in Cuba and Belize. By the way, if you want to go to Cuba, now is the time before regular flights open up from the USA and Western Culture, mass tourism and "modern conveniences" slowly make their way in. For Cuba, the best way to really experience its true essence, is to stay with families in Casa Particulars. It's affordable, comfortable and unique accommodation. The local people are very hospitable and kind. They will even cook you delicious meals upon request! Now that's what I'm talking about.




Belize is a nature junkies heaven. It is under populated and under developed (a rarity in this world), leaving the jungle and reef systems almost untouched. Hike, swim, kayak, ride bikes, scuba, snorkel... the list of amazing activities goes on. The key to getting around and meeting the locals is to catch the public buses and eat at the small neighborhood restaurants.

Although both of these countries are spectacular, you can be prone to getting sick while away. I certainly have fallen victim to my fare share of gut infections. For this reason, I highly recommend drinking bottled water and eating food that is well cooked. Here is a list of healthy travel tools that helped me to stay healthy, that you can take with you on your next holiday too:

- Organic bug spray to keep those annoying mosquitoes and vicious sand flies away in a toxin-free kind of way!  

- Magnesium citrate (400mg - 600mg per day with food) for natural relief from constipation.

- Paragone by Renew Life for if you think you are coming down with a gut bug and don't want to resort to antibiotics.

- A good travelers probiotic to prevent you from getting a nasty gut bug. Try taking Metagenics Ultra Flora Acute Care a few days before you go away, and then continue taking once a day, everyday for the rest of your trip. If you think you are coming down with a gut bug, then up the dose by taking it once in the morning and again at night. For diarrhea, lactobacillus is good probiotic strain to take. For constipation bifidobacterium is helpful (Ultimate Flora Critical Care is another good choice for supporting healthy and regular bowel movements).  

- Zinc supports a healthy immune system while traveling to help fight off any nasty gut bugs. You can find this at any reputable supplement store like Pharmaca. Quality is key with all supplements, so paying a little more is worth it!

- If you feel like you are coming down with a gut bug, and you need extra immune support on top of the zinc, try taking an herbal supplement called Astragalus Supreme by Gaia Herbs.

- Always pack organic hand sanitizer to use after going to the restroom, being on public transport and before eating a meal.




Note: I am not a doctor. I am just giving general suggestions that may help you to stay healthy on your next holiday. Please read supplement labels and directions for use before taking. If unsure, consult with your doctor. 

Want more helpful wellness tools like this? Are you on my once a month newsletter list yet? Sign up for free today by emailing sarah@mybalanceandwellness.com! You will receive endless health tips, recipes, bonus resources and much more. Easy and safe unsubscribe anytime! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Get The Tastiest Health Food Recipes With Nathalie

This week on the blog, I want YOU to have the best access to the most amazing health food recipes. That's why I was inspired to interview my dear friend Nathalie, proud creator of Vanille Verte

Who Is Nathalie? 

I am a nutrition educator and natural foods chef, creator of the Vanille Verte app and food blog www.vanilleverte.com, and an upcoming cookbook (Ten Speed Press, 2016). 


What are your top 3 passions in life?

Food, health and, of course, my family.


How did you develop such a deep love of high quality food? 

I grew up in Madagascar, where we ate whole, in season foods, cooked from scratch. When I moved to the US as a teenager, however, I ate a junk food diet well into my twenties. After years of this kind of eating, I developed a lot of health issues. I was overweight, and suffered from migraines and chronic anxiety. In my quest for answers, I discovered the power of food and healed myself naturally by changing my diet and learning how to cook. I am a hedonist, though, and I firmly believe that healthy food needs to taste ridiculously good, or I simply will not eat it. When you select foods with care and a commitment to quality, you end up eating foods that are not only nutritionally superior, but also very tasty. And that’s incredibly important. 




Where do you shop for your weekly groceries? 

In farmers’ markets, health food stores, or grocery stores with sizable organic and local produce sections. For hard to get un-perishable items, I also order online, as I find it easier and less time-consuming.


When buying food, what do you look for to ensure you are maximizing your nutrition?

I look for local, and in season, foods. Foods that are in season, and haven’t traveled very far to get to us are more nutritious, gentler on the earth, and certainly more flavorful. Can you buy strawberries in the middle of December? Yes, of course. Do they taste good? Nope. There’s nothing better than fruits and vegetables at the height of the season. And they’re much cheaper, as well. 


How did you learn to cook so beautifully and wholesomely? 

When I started my journey towards better health, I really didn’t know how to cook. I could make pasta with jarred tomato sauce, and that was pretty much it. After realizing that my key to better health meant reclaiming my kitchen and eating homemade food, I attended the Natural Chef training program at Bauman College in Berkeley, CA. 


What inspired you to start the stunning recipe blog Vanille Verte and release a cooking app?

With the rise and convenience of processed foods, we have created whole generations of people who don’t know how to cook. But I really believe that the key to health and vibrancy lies in our kitchen, and at the end of our forks. Learning to make healthy food for ourselves is vital, and my goal with the blog, the app, and my upcoming cookbook, is to inspire people to reclaim that long lost tradition of making food for ourselves. That, more than anything else, is how we nurture health. 


How do you consistently come up with new and interesting ideas for creating recipes? 

I get inspired countless places - the farmers’ market (seeing all the produce in season); looking through recipes online or in cookbooks (which inspires me to try new ingredients, or techniques); restaurants (which often have very creative chefs that give me food for thought); talking with friends who love food; and in my own kitchen, depending on what is in the fridge. Like everyone, I can get into repetitive ruts in my cooking, times when I find myself making the same dishes over and over again. When that happens, I try to spend more time in farmers’ markets - there is always something new to discover, and the farmers are so knowledgeable and passionate about what they sell, which invariably sparks my creativity.


What has been your favorite / most memorable dish that you have made to date? 

I don’t think there’s been just one! I am constantly evolving and learning, so my favorite dishes are often the ones that I recently created. But if I have to pick something, I will say that more than a single dish, there are certain techniques that have opened whole new worlds to me, such as when I first learned to make my own nut milks or creams, spiralize vegetables into spaghetti, or make chips out of just about any vegetable. When we remaster old techniques using new ingredients, it’s a very exciting thing. 




Your husband and son are very fortunate to have you as their very own private natural chef, what are their favorite dishes that you make on a regular basis? 

My son is a true carnivore, so anything with animal products, he really enjoys. Perhaps his favorite dish of mine lately is the Miso-Glazed Cod (recipe on the blog), which he gobbles up every time I make it. My husband is much less picky and loves just about anything I create, unless it has avocado. 


If you could give us 3 top tips for making simple yet healthy food at home, what would they be?

1) Don’t be afraid. Cooking does not have to be complicated, and anybody can do it! When you buy high quality ingredients (organic, in season, local), they don’t need much fuss to shine. When an heirloom tomato is perfectly ripe, for example, it can taste like perfection on its own, or with just a drizzle or olive oil and sea salt. If you need a boost in confidence, look for instructional videos on the internet and in the app stores (of course, I am partial to my own app, Vanille Verte, that comes with lots of tutorial videos! :)) for cooking resources. Have fun and take a cooking class or two, as well. It will teach you that homemade food can be very simple to create!

2) You have time. We often think that we don’t have time to cook, but really, it is a question of priorities. We can watch hours of television each day, or cruise social media for far longer than we should, yet a simple meal of chopped up vegetables and salad and fruit will take less time to create than it would to get pizza delivered! So care about your only body enough to make it a habit to get into your kitchen and prepare food. It really is so very important for health. And even if we make unhealthy meals at home, like burgers and fries, when we use fresh ingredients and make it ourselves, the end product will be a lot healthier than if we had bought the same meal in a restaurant or fast food. At home, we have control over the ingredients that we use, and we will not use additives or ever as much salt as can be found in processed foods. 

3) Make sure that 60-70% of your plate is filled with vegetables and fruits. There is probably no more important rule for health. The rest (i.e. whether you are vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, Paleo, etc.) does not appear to matter as much. Most dietary traditions agree on that one single principle: when fresh produce and vegetables make up the bulk of our diet, vibrant health is within reach. So cut up some vegetables, drizzle them with a little olive oil and lemon juice, add some chopped up nuts or grilled meats, and finish it off with chopped mixed herbs and a sprinkle of sea salt. In less than 30 minutes, you will have a nourishing meal that will help you feel your very best. Enjoy!

Click here to get the Vanille Verte App full of delicious recipes for healthy cooking in the comfort of your home, AND be sure to check out Nathalie's stunning food blog www.vanilleverte.com for further inspiration!  


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Discover the endless benefits of having your very own personal Health Coach

I love being a Certified Health Coach, working with my clients on making healthier food and lifestyle choices so they can be and feel their best! 

In the Personalized Wellness Program, some of the fun things we do together can include: 

- Healthy food shopping tours to discover all the delicious foods you can eat! 
- Hands on cooking workshops to enjoy nutritious meals that taste amazing and are easy to make
- Personalized nutrition plan so that you know exactly what, when and how to eat
- Self care tools to love your self unconditionally, feel great and look your best 
- Stress reduction strategies to better cope in life and embrace each moment of the day   
- Energy boosting tips to be able to do all the things you love! 

When I work with each individual, I take the time to explore the mind / body connection and get to the root cause of their health concerns. By maximizing the raw materials the body needs to function optimally, minimizing what is not serving your wellbeing, and balancing each day so that you feel fantastic, you can live a happy and healthy life! 

I bust the diet myths and confusion by making things simple, enjoyable and bringing you back to living and eating the way nature intended. We are all different, and therefore have unique needs, preferences, goals and desires.

If you are interested in learning more about how I can guide and support you to vibrant health, please email sarah@mybalanceandwellness.com and check out my website www.mybalanceandwellness.com for more information about my Personalized Wellness Program. 

Click here to read about the life changing experiences my clients have had due to working with me! I will hold you accountable and inspire you so that you are empowered to embrace a healthy way of living for life!  


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Don't Fear Eating Fat!

A warm hello to all my health inspired friends!

This week on the blog I want to talk about the many benefits of eating healthy fats in a balanced diet. Don't you find it crazy that since people started fearing fats and drastically cutting them out of their diet in hopes of losing weight and improving their health, obesity, diabetes and heart disease amongst the general western population skyrocketed?! So what's up with this?


Healthy fats, such as those found in nutrient dense whole foods like avocados, pasture raised and organic eggs, grass fed butter or ghee, wild salmon, grass fed and finished meat, raw nuts and seeds, olives, cold pressed oils, organic dark chocolate (min 70% raw cacao, preferably 85%) and coconut, are vital for proper functioning of our bodies. Mother Nature didn't make a mistake when she included them in our natural food supply, and we have been consuming them since the beginning of man kind!




-  Did you know that the membrane of every cell in your body is made of fat?  Over 10,000,000,000 of them!  And those membranes are at least 50% saturated fat!  We need strong, supple membranes to keep toxins out of cells, to facilitate nutrients moving in, and to keep cellular signaling working optimally.  (Information sourced from Tracy Harrison, Eat On Purpose)

- Did you know that the brain is mostly made of fat too? So we need enough healthy fats in our daily diet to nourish the brain and support its optimal functioning. Healthy fats, such as omega-3s found densely in wild fatty fish such as salmon, or high quality fish oil supplements, have been shown to support and boost your mood, helping to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.

- Fat adds flavor to meals, helps to fill you up, keeps you satisfied, and allows you to consume fewer calories overall without deprivation, assisting natural weight loss. Fat turns off our body’s hunger signal and is great for stabilizing blood sugar in the day when included in your meals.

- Fat, when sourced from high quality whole foods as mentioned earlier, contains health promoting fat soluble vitamins A, E and K. Vitamin D is also a fat soluble vitamin, but it is best made in the body via gentle exposure to the sun without sunscreen. I tell my clients to opt. for early morning or late evening summer sun exposure, when the rays are not so strong. Just 30 minutes total each day produces 10000+ IU of Vit D! For many people living in the USA, it is necessary to supplement Vitamin D3 during the winter months as the sun is not high / strong enough to allow sufficient production of Vit D.  

- Fat is the starting point in sex hormone production. So to help balance your hormones naturally, whether you are male or female, enjoy healthy fats with your daily meals.




The list of health benefits from consuming adequate healthy fats as part of a balanced diet is ENDLESS! So enjoy your eggs with the yolk for breakfast, add grass fed butter to your cooked vegetables, nibble on raw nuts and seeds for a snack when hungry, and cook at higher temperatures with stable coconut oil. YUM!