21-Day Challenge

3 Weeks to Improve your Energy Levels

Immune health and your Gut

Obviously in the winter the immune system is something that is taxed more than other times of the year.  Reasons like eating more sugary foods around the holidays, being stuck inside with more people, more stress, weather changes, lack of quality fruits and vegetables in the diet, etc.

What most people often don’t realize, including most MD’s is that our gut health is CRUCIAL to our immunity and therefore energy levels.  I just read a great article discussing how science is finally discovering how closely related our gut health is to a properly functioning immune system.  And now there are most tests and studies being conducted to test this theory.  One shows how gut bacteria may influence various disease processes, while being involved with their beneficial role in digestion and metabolism.  Diets high in fats and simple sugars can reshape the gut microbial community and predispose humans to obesity and other health problems related to it.  Healthy gut microbes interact with immune cells to quiet an overactive immune system while others act on T-lymphocytes, and others serve as an important energy source for gut endothelial cells which enhance immunity.  A well-known acid called ellagic acid, which is present in nuts and berries is metabolized by gut microbes to a compound that has been shown to reduce inflammation and protect against cancer.  BUT…if these microbes are restructured and reshaped to be ineffective then they cannot protect against the viruses and illnesses that get us down this time of year.  That is why it is important to know your body and what irritates your gut (which is why I had you eliminate possible food allergens this 21 days) and how it effects your overall energy systems, so you can work to heal your gut and therefore the rest of your body can heal.  I believe in an inward to outward approach to healing.  Often we just treat symptoms: low energy, reflux, bloating, constipation, migraines, etc. with medicines…instead of looking to the inside and what systems are involved in causing these symptoms and addressing those systems accordingly.  It may take longer to diagnose and heal, but in the long run you will be healthier for it.  When beginning this journey of healing, it is advisable to look at the gut (small/large intestine, liver, spleen) first.  It is usually the common culprit for energy-depleting illnesses and symptoms.

Other recommended ways to treat and maintain a healthy immune system are: Vitamin C, Zinc, VItamin D3, Echinacea, Elderberry…but remember none of these forms of treatment are going to be effective if your gut is not digesting them properly.

And one more sidenote:  most people begin having gut deterioration problems in their youth and symptoms finally begin to show themselves as an adult.  Therefore it takes longer to heal years of deterioration and irritants.  So be tuned in to how your kids react to certain foods as well.  For kids most often food issues appear through skin rashes, moody behavior, anger, frustration, short-fuse, ADHD, inability to focus, etc.

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Rest Day!

Hey.

Today is a designated rest day after doing all 3 workouts this week.  Then you will have workouts 3 more workouts for this weekend.

I know many of you don’t post on the weekends, so I’m going to ask now.

What did you like/dislike about the challenge?

What would you change?

If you have done the challenge before, how would you compare it to others?

What have you learned about yourself throughout the past 3 weeks?

 

And finally, my email account was hacked so don’t open anything from me from yesterday…sorry!

Have a good REST day.

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Workout Status

Sorry I didn’t get this sent out this morning.  Sick kids equals mommy brain! :)

Anyway, let me know how the workouts are going this week.  I tried to make them even more difficult than the past 2 weeks.  So let me know how you are feeling?  Where are you sore?  How are you feeling overall?

 

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Passion

Okay, another overlooked energy booster is finding something you are passionate about and making it a part of your weekly routine.  We often fill our lives with obligations that stress us out, and we most often do not want to do, yet we do them anyway, just because.  SO my challenge is to eliminate all of the unnecessary obligations (or as many as possible), and replace them with one thing you are passionate about doing or being a part of.  This should be something you are energized by, that excites you, and gives you a feeling of worth.

For example, I am passionate about lots of things.  Running is something I enjoy and energizes me.  I try to do it 2-3 times a week, just for enjoyment.  I know, I know, some of you are shaking your head wondering how this can be a passion for a person, haha, but for me-it is.  I also enjoy painting, and quite honestly, I can’t remember the last time I got out a canvas and my oil paints.  That is something I hope to make a part of my regular routine again someday soon.  But for now, running will have to be my passion and energizer.Most recently, advocating for orphans has become a passion for me as well.  I get so much energy from hearing about all the children being saved by so many people’s efforts.

What are you passionate about?  Share with us what it is and how you are or plan to make it a part of your life this week and in the future.  Your energy depends on it.

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Energy in Helping Others

This is not something many people consider when looking for energy sources, so it is often overlooked.  Helping someone else out is the best natural energy boost a person can have.  God created us to want to belong and feel like we are a part of something bigger in life, therefore we naturally get a high when we help out a fellow friend, family member or stranger with no expectations of a return favor.  Going out of our way to be a blessing to someone else is HUGE in helping us feel good about ourselves and life in general.

So as we are focusing on increasing energy for ourselves, please consider boosting your energy through giving of yourself for the good of someone else.  Take a day this week and do something for someone else.  Go out of your way, in a big or small way.  You choose.  I’m not going to ask you to share what you do because it’s not mine or anyone else’s business what you choose to do.  But let us know how you feel after.  I’ll be anxious to know.

Share ideas if you are struggling with how to make this happen.  It can be something as easy as writing an encouraging note, paying for someone’s meal without them knowing…

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Workout Follow Up

Okay, so in my email I said I’d leave a post this weekend for you to share what workout you repeated and how it felt and went compared to the first time around.  I’ll leave this post up for the whole weekend and allow you time to share.

Please choose a challenging and measureable workout that you can truly measure your progress too.  Then let us know how it went.

Anxious to hear.

If it went over well and you improved in a measureable area of the workout, way to go!  That means you are on to something with this 21-day challenge, keep doing what you are doing.  If you are feeling worse, didn’t improve, etc…let’s tweak something about what you are doing.  I and anyone else would be glad to help you figure out what is wrong and how to change it.

So…let me know what workout you did.  How it felt/went?  What you think attributed to the good or bad change you noticed?

Have a good weekend.

 

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Weekend Workout

This weekend you have the choice to do several workouts, you should receive these in your email inbox.  These will include cardiovascular workouts as well as a few endurance-type strength workouts.  I realize your legs and arms got a REALLY good workout this past week, as I amped up the intensity a bit (as you may have noticed).  By this 3rd week, we should be getting more in shape, and therefore I have to keep challenging you to be better.

Finding the perfect balance of exercise and rest is key to your energy levels.  Rarely do I meet a person who is over training through exercise, but often I meet a person who is overstressed by all that is on his/her plate in life.  So we have to think outside of our exercise and nutrition routine, of all the stressful factors contributing to our energy depletion.  These are just as crucial to our health and body as proper eating and exercise.  When we are overtaxed, our bodies take a toll…it can result in something called adrenal fatigue.  It is when our bodies can’t maintain proper homeostasis (balance), and systems begin to shutdown to preserve energy and keep the most important processes going strong.

I struggle with adrenal fatigue on a personal level.  For example, when we were trying to have Autum, I was at a serious level of adrenal fatigue.  My body was so tired, exhausted, and overworked, that my reproductive system shut down in order for the rest of my body to be able to sustain order.  Looking back now I can see it, and how it all occurred.  I was really cutting calories, training really hard, working too much, pushing pushing pushing.  I began to gain weight quickly, I got a lot of acne, I retained a LOT of water, I never could get over muscle soreness, my race performance lacked, I had no energy, was very moody, and craved sugar TERRIBLY.  All these are symptoms of chronic adrenal fatigue…my body couldn’t maintain it’s health to fight off illness and toxins.  So one by one my systems began to shut down to preserve energy.  Luckily, I got help before things got too far.  So I want to warn you as well, take a look at these symptoms below, check off the ones that effect you and determine if you are experiencing adrenal fatigue or are getting close.

If so, I tell you now, MAKE SOME CHANGES IN YOUR LIFE.  It is not worth going through this stress on your body and mind.  I am speaking from experience.  Just tweaking a few areas of your life can make BiG changes in helping you restore health and balance.

Here’s how your other symptoms might play out:

  • Morning fatigue. You don’t really seem to wake up until 10 a.m., even if you’ve been awake since 7 a.m.
  • Afternoon “low” (feelings of sleepiness or clouded thinking) from 2 to 4 p.m.
  • A burst of energy at 6 p.m. when you finally feel better from your afternoon lull
  • Sleepiness around 9p.m. to 10 p.m. However, you resist going to sleep
  • A “second wind” at 11 p.m. that lasts until about 1 a.m., when you finally do go to sleep
  • Cravings for foods high in salt and fats
  • Chronic low blood pressure, low body temp.
  • Sensitivity to cold and feeling chilled
  • Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms
  • Amenorrhea
  • Mild depression
  • Mood swings
  • Mental fog
  • Memory problems
  • Lack of energy and feeling rundown
  • A decreased ability to handle stress
  • A decreased ability to recover from illness
  • Muscular weakness
  • Increased food allergies
  • Lightheadedness when getting up from a sitting or lying down position
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Frequent sighing
  • Inability to handle foods high in potassium or carbohydrates unless they’re combined with fats and protein
  • You crave sugar
  • Acne
  • Weight gain/Water Retention
  • Kidney soreness
  • Infertility

Let me know what weekend workouts you will be choosing to do and when.

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Recipes

Okay, so we are far enough into this challenge now to have some sort of a ‘game-plan’ to get us through our meals each day.

Now I want you to share with us your daily food plan.  Recipes, snack ideas, etc. are all encouraged.

Can’t wait to hear what you are doing.

Here’s a quick rundown of a typical day for me:

Breakfast Ideas:

2/3 c. oatmeal, 3 egg whites OR

1/4 c. banana chips, 1/4 c. almonds, handful of dark chocolate chips, (mixed in bowl), glass of whole milk mixed with coconut milk OR

4 oz. greek yogurt, 1 tsp. honey and Luna bar

Lunch/Dinner:

Steamed brown rice or quinoa, steamed veggies, olive oil and parmesan cheese mixed together and drizzled on top, cheese stick

Salad with olive oil and viniagrette dressing

Brothy soups

Grilled or Skillet-cooked chicken with veggies, etc.

Snacks:

Cheese sticks, almond and banana chips, protein shake with coconut milk, fruit

 

Sorry we are kind of boring.  I cook fresh foods a lot, so not much casseroles, etc.  And I don’t bake much either, so not much help there…haha.

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Deferred Calories

Okay, so has anyone else noticed that as they have eliminated a food group they are constantly thinking about food?  It’s definitely become a mental game for me.  I think “well, I can’t have anything with grains in it, so I should probably eat something more of the protein source we are having…or snack more..or eat more sugar, etc.”  How crazy is that?  I am realizing that at least for me, when you say I can’t have something I try to make up for it in other ways, by eating more sugar or by eating more food in general…even when I’m not hungry.  Not sure if this is because I am thinking more purposefully about what I’m eating so food is on my mind more and therefore I think I need to eat more, or if I’m justifying my not eating grains by eating more of everything else!  Ha!

Just wanted to share that and see if anyone else is having the same mind games going on.  My thoughts on this…if you are experiencing the same issues, then first off get a grip.  Realize that if eliminating a food group is causing you to obsess about what you are eating or stressing you out enough to overeat, then step back a minute.  I would say, allow yourself to choose a healthy form of the food you have eliminated instead of binging on ‘junk’ food in place of it.  For example, if you are having a salad and you eliminated dairy products and you really would love to have your ranch dressing, then have a small portion of it.  Do this instead of choosing a greasy burger and fries just because it doesn’t have dairy in it…see what I mean?

I actually would encourage you, as we are halfway through this challenge to begin to pay attention to how you are feeling.  If you are noticing some big changes in how you are feeling, as in some allergy-producing symptoms are being eliminated or you are feeling more energized…then I’d say consider staying off of this food group for a while longer.  Or even go so far as to having some lab work done to test this food group as being a possible allergy in your body.  Let me know if you have questions about this..I have some great referrals to help you get this done.

If you aren’t noticing any BIG changes, or noticeable ones, then slowly add small portions of the food group you eliminated back into your daily diet and see what happens.  I would rather you begin adding it back to your diet in small portions, then completely overloading yourself with the foods you have eliminated at the end of this 21 days and sabotaging all you have done so far.  So…today is the deciding factor for where you will move forward too from this point on…Let us know how you are feeling, if you have noticed any changes or not?  And let us know what you will be doing from this point forward.  Remember: Moderation is KEY.

 

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Supplements

Another reason people experience decreased energy levels is because we aren’t eating quality foods.  I understand we all know that fruits and vegetables are crucial to our body’s proper functioning and efficiency.  But what we may not realize is that getting quality produce where we live is difficult.  If you are not eating garden-fresh produce you purchased locally or that you grew in your own garden this summer, then the produce you are eating is not as high of quality as you may believe.  Most fruit and vegetables are picked before they are vine-ripe and have the most nutrients and antioxidants within them, then they are ‘speed-ripened’ in a heating room at a warehouses before placed on shelves for us to eat or shipped to where we live.  I would recommend if you cannot produce your own fruits and vegetables– to buy frozen produce.  It is most often picked at a vine-ripened stage and immediately frozen.  This locks in the nutrients and flavors that we need to help us maintain our health and digestion.

Even then, we aren’t getting all the nutrients we need.  I am not a big pill-pusher, but I am a believer in taking a quality multivitamin.  I also recommend taking a quality omega-3, omega-6 supplement like fish oil, cod liver oil, or flaxseed oil (my preference).  I take these on a regular basis, and highly recommend them to you.  Not only do they help you keep your immune system running strong, the energy you would use to be fighting off illness can be used to help you get through your day stronger.

My personal preference of supplements is: http://www.naturessunshine.com

I trust their products and have been using them for years.

How are your energy levels by this week?  Learning anything about yourself you didn’t know before?

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