butter nut squash

Healthy Butternut Squash Soup for a Healing and Immunity

As wintery storms continue to blow through the Sierra Nevada, warm, comforting foods are becoming more and more appealing. In the winter months it can be tempting to reach for rich or heavy foods. However, these may not always be the healthiest options.

For cold days, here’s one of my favorite recipes taken from  The Heal Your Gut Cookbook, which is a great cookbook for people managing illnesses that stem from the gut.

This recipe includes many healthy ingredients like Bone Broth which has collagen and amino acids which helps healing and immunity. Butternut squash has great healthy clean yummy carbs and the leeks are good for natural anti-viral and anti-bacterial support.

Healthy Butternut Squash Soup for Healing and Immunity

Butter Nut Squash Soup

Ingredients:
2 quarts chicken stock
2 tablespoons animal fat, coconut oil, or ghee
3 leeks, sliced in half, and sliced again into half-moons (or 2 onions, chopped)
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 boquet gardni
Sea salt to taste

Optional Garnishes:
Homemade Yogurt or organic cultured cream
Chopped fresh herbs
Soaked and sprouted pumpkin seeds

Cooking Instructions:
First, add the stock and fat to a pot. Next, add the vegetables and bring the entire pot to a boil. Once you reduce the heat to a simmer, add the bouquet garni and cook covered for 30 mins. Let it cook until the vegetables become soft and the squash is palatable. Once cooked, take out the bouquet garni and remove the soup from the stove. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Add salt and garnishes to taste. Serve and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this soup on a cold winter day. For busier schedules, batch cooking is one of my favorite things to do. Making a big pot of soup for dinner can also make great leftovers for lunch the next day.

Happy Cooking!

Family Photo

The Myth of it Being Easy and Having It All

17 extraordinarily simple tips for families on the go, that you have never heard of, your kids will love and make your family healthier than ever before!

Read all the way to the end to get my gift!!!

A unicorn that will also scrub your toilets.

The Myth of it Being Easy and Having It All: by Danielle Litoff, a MOM

Battle Born Health Family Photo

At the beginning of the year my business partner, our social media expert advisor, and I were planning our upcoming blogs for the next few months.

You know – starting the year healthy, new year’s resolution…blah blah blah. My non-mom partners (no offense meant, they are amazing!!!) said, “Danielle how about a blog listing simple tricks on how to be healthy for your family on the go. I said, in my people pleasing way, “Of course I can do that!”

I then proceeded to sit on that for a few weeks. I wrote down ways I try to keep my crazy busy family healthy, active and eating well, despite school, homework, sports, choir, social events and both parents working full time. Sure, this is a piece of cake – everyone can do this… I call BS!! I just couldn’t write the piece as we had discussed because it isn’t easy, and those “simple tips” aren’t so simple.

A few days later I was lamenting to my Mom friends who are all successful, amazing, health care professionals. I told them my dilemma and they all laughed and said, “You mean the “myth of doing it all, dressed to the 9’s with a F’in sexy smile???”

Family Photo

With that preface, here is what I do to tip the scales towards keeping my family healthy on the go in this insane world of 2017.

Set YOUR priorities… are they to work out? Are they to eat home cooked paleo meals? Are they to have your dishes done before bed? Be realistic- no one can do it all. My priorities revolve around food and exercise… my bed is not made and my dishes are done when they get done.

  1. Plan ahead… there is no way around this one. In a pinch, you will have to make due and that often ends up being fast food. You can do better than that.
    1. Take 4 hours of a day and prep for the week. Or two different days – one to shop and one to prep. Buy the veggies, fruit, healthy meats.
    2. Have an idea of your week’s schedule… i.e. soccer from 5:30-7 pm on Tues and Thursday, piano on Wed from 3-4:30.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. “Can I come home and cook or do I need to stay during the practice?”
  2. Is the practice near the store that could be my designated shopping time?
  3. Should I cook on Sunday so I can just reheat on those days?
  4. Can I carpool, that way I can skip one direction and take that time to cook or prep?
  1. USE A CROCK POT!!!! After late night practices, you will have hot food ready at home instead of going to McDonalds or QDoba?
    Weeknight Pot Roast Recipe 
  2. Find some simple recipes that your family likes. Memorize them so you can easily throw them together as you do something else. I will frequently on Sunday (Sundays just seem to be my freest day – you find yours) cook 3-4 staples so we have it all week.
    Rosemary and Roasted Chicken 
    Crock Pot Chili Recipe 
    Stacys Soups 
  3. Pack a picnic everywhere you go. Have a great lunch box cooler, put snacks in there before you go (avocado, thermos of soup, epic bars) have a knife, fork and spoon in the box.
    Thermos Stainless Folding Spoon
    Aluminum Insulated  Lunch Box 

I pack my own oil with me so I don’t have to use the yucky pre-made salad dressings at the store.

  1. Easy store grabs: box of lettuce, avocado, lemon, wild caught cooked shrimp meat (from the fish section), olive oil and or coconut aminos. All into the box of the lettuce and voilà – shrimp salad in the car. (Remember your knife fork and spoon are already in your new cool lunchbox in your car.) Instead of shrimp, you could use Applegate turkey or ham.
  2. Find a good natural grocery store in town or a Whole Foods with a food bar for the days you don’t have it together (because it is impossible to have it all together all the time). Persuade your amazing little monkeys to get some roasted chicken and veggies vs the pizza or mac-n-cheese.
  3. Buy a roasted chicken from Whole Foods. YES, it’s pricier, but it is so much better for you, that it’s worth the extra. And for a family of 4 its cheaper than a meal at Chilies or Mexican or Chinese takeout.

Volleyball Photo

Think nutrient density- not just calories… pasta, potatoes, rice chips, pb&j. That is substance, not nutrients. You want all your calories to count towards improving your heath. A calorie is just a unit of energy. We are fortunate in that we don’t need calories but you and your kids need nutrition. You want not the calorie but the nutritional value of what you are eating. Don’t just get the kids or yourself something -get something that will do good for your body (veggies, clean meats, fruits, good fats see blog on nutritional density).

Let me reiterate… this is not simple and this will not save you time, but this will save your family’s health. I hope some of this can help you or at least make you stop and think of ways you can make changes very intentionally, not simply, that will benefit the health of your family.

Make this Year’s Resolutions Stick…for Good

We’ve all said it before, “Starting January 1st I’m going to get healthy!” or “I’m going to drop 20 pounds by March!” Unsurprisingly, the top New Year’s resolution is some variation on getting fit or losing weight, what’s notable is how much doesn’t stick.

  • Fewer than 8% of resolutions are kept past March
  • Thousands of pounds are lost, yet 90-95% gain the weight back plus some
  • People spend upwards of $60 billion annually trying to lose weight through diet and gyms

So, how are you going to make this year different?

First, look at the big picture of health – weight loss should be viewed as a positive side effect of a healthier life. You don’t need to lose weight to get healthy, once you are healthy you will lose weight. This means lifestyle changes must happen to achieve overall health and I’m not talking about drastic, overnight changes. In my 25 years of experience with fitness injury, every January is exactly the same. People are pumped up and start like a bat outta hell. They take on huge diet restrictions (no fat or sugar and fewer than 1500 calories a day) and add intense exercise all while maintaining family and life responsibilities on 6 hours of sleep.

This is a recipe for disaster on so many levels because the changes are unsustainable. I know this because my office is quiet in January and February, but by March there’s a waiting list full of tendonitis’s and back injuries.

First it’s imperative to understand the physiology of the body parts you aim to change: for strength it’s muscle, for weight loss it’s metabolism, for energy it’s cardiovascular fitness. Also understand that all of these systems work together. Metabolism, is an especially tricky system that is different for everyone and finding the unique balance will lead to success.

We must consider what makes your body work? Where is your tipping point? What’s the quality of the food you eat? Are you sleeping well or enough? Are you exposed to excessive environmental toxins? Are you not exercising enough to stimulate change, or are you exercising too much?

Imagine a wheel. The image on the left has the some of the big factors we need to focus on for a successful fitness program. The wheel on the right shows the imbalance of the pieces in the wheel. Rate your wheel in this manner are all the pieces balanced? Will your wheel roll or is it more like a stone, edges all jagged?

Health Wheel Health Wheel

When all the factors of the wheel are out the balance, wheel (or in this case the body) doesn’t roll right.
We need to factor all the systems together to find what fits for our own individual bodies (not your spouse or your neighbor or the MD on Dr. OZ)

Cortisol is the hormone that regulates stress. Cortisol is what stimulates the Biochemical processes for us to run from a tiger (Flight or fight). Starting or changing an exercise program will increase cortisol production. When this system is stimulated appropriately weight will fall off, we will sleep well, we eat normally, cravings will disappear, need for caffeine and sugar decreases.
If we over-stress (which 80% of Americans do) the stress modulating system becomes over taxed and the body will spike cortisol levels for a certain amount of time. Unfortunately, the body can’t keep up the production of cortisol resulting in a sharp decrease in the production of cortisol, or a crash.

Symptoms of this crash can include: reduced immune system (colds sinus infections) fatigue, food cravings, joint pain, muscle pain, weight loss plataue/ weight gain( rebound) mood imbalances, anxiety, depression, and brain fog to name a few.
The challenge is to balance enough stress to grow without so much stress we break down. This is the fine line we need to walk when starting a new fitness program.
Hormonal balance depends on:

  • Cortisol regulation: Normal production is based on circadian rhythm and stress response
  • Small stressors are healthy (quick run/exercise burst, learning something new/problem solving, occasional intermittent fasting)
  • Chronic stress this is what does us in (daily 90min commute in traffic, physical pain, fighting with spouse, unhealthy eating patterns, not enough sleep, over exercise)

Calorie restriction is a huge factor in metabolism. You need to be aware of how much you are consuming, but excessive restriction will make matters so much worse. Looking at the nutrient value of what you are eating will continue to fuel your body for the new activities you are asking it to do.

Excessive caloric restriction combined with exercise is a disaster in the long run. Your body will find the nutrients somewhere in the system. Catabolic (breakdown) processes will begin, your body will breakdown muscle tissue and bone to get fuel. Therefore, destroying the results from your workouts.
Realistically you may see weight loss quickly. Unfortunately, continual deficits in nutrient intake is impossible to keep up and the rebound effect of weight gain will be greater than the loss.

Components of a well-rounded fitness program

  • STRENGTH
  • CARDIOVASCULAR ENDURANCE
  • FLEXIBLITY/MOBILITY
  • BALANCE

My least favorite question what is the best exercise? It ranks up with what is the one best food… There isn’t one best. We need a combination of it all. You must be muscularly strong to tolerate the stress of the activity you want to do. You need to be flexible to move safely in to certain positions. You need to be balanced on each side of the joint (biceps to triceps, pectorals to rhomboids) to avoid uneven strain and inflammation.

To be fit the answer is NOT ”Eat less and work out more”.

Benefits of appropriate exercise:

  • Psychological benefits
  • Increased endorphins (only if you like what you do)
  • Increased social interaction
  • Mental clarity
  • Physiological benefits
  • Vanity benefits slim, muscles,
  • Better performance
  • More resistant to injury

Symptoms associated with over training:

  • Fatigue
  • Chronic reoccurring Tendon and muscular injury
  • Weight gain or weight loss resistance
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Increased susceptibility to infection (more frequent colds, respiratory infections and “flu-like” illness
  • Increased food cravings or disordered eating patterns

A balance program needs to incorporate strength training, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance training.
The body respond to variance vs consistency. Meaning that you should start an exercise program but switch it up frequently. Once our bodies learn how to do something the effort is diminished and so are the returns.

Ways to optimize your workouts:

  • Change the intensity,
  • Change the movement,
  • Change the resistance,
  • Change the speed.

Some options are:

  • Strength training, body weight or Olympic lifting, make sure your form is correct!
  • Injury happens when the weight and speed are too much causing form break down.
  • Interval training, such as Tabatas, or HIIT training, this can be as simple as running lines on the basketball court
  • Yoga for mind and body, strength and flexibility

Here are the big do’s and don’ts I have found to help start and stick with healthy lifestyle changes.

DO                                                                                                              DON’T

Eat real food: veggies, organic meats, fruits Rely on Frankenfoods: weight loss shakes and frozen dinners
Eat healthy fats: coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, smaltz, tallow, ghee. Eat fake sugars, diet foods, and vegetable oils
Sleep at least 8 hours every night Forgo sleep for extra workouts
Take recovery days:  exercise 2-3 days in a row then take 1-2 days off Workout every day at maximum capacity
Feel good after exercise, feel invigorated Push to exhaustion, feel drained all day after training session
Vary the type of workouts throughout the week: Cardio, strength training, yoga, balance Do the same activity at the same intensity every day.  Your body will react and adjust to change, but doing the same workout will lead to a plateau.
Choose activities you enjoy Exercise you hate will never make you thin and happy
Create realistic short and long term goals for each quarter of the year. Haphazardly begin a program with no structured focus.
Exercise inside and outside. Smell the trees, feel the sun, get dirty – it’s all good for you! Exercise through pain. Muscle burn is ok, but pain is a sign of something wrong

Change is good, and resolutions can be a great way to initiate change. Be mindful of why you want to change and have a plan for executing it in a realistic manner. Make 2017 the first year of your new healthy life!

Check out our blog for recipes and ways to get stronger than yesterday!

Healthy New Years Resolutions

2017 Guide for Making Healthy New Year's Resolutions

We’ve all said it before, “Starting January 1st I’m going to get healthy!” or “I’m going to drop 20 pounds by March!” Unsurprisingly, the top New Year’s resolution is some variation on getting fit or losing weight, what’s notable is how much doesn’t stick.

  • Fewer than 8% of resolutions are kept past March
  • Thousands of pounds are lost, yet 90-95% gain the weight back plus some
  • People spend upwards of $60 billion annually trying to lose weight through diet and gyms

So, how are you going to make this year different?

First, look at the big picture of health – weight loss should be viewed as a positive side effect of a healthier life. You don’t need to lose weight to get healthy, once you are healthy you will lose weight. This means lifestyle changes must happen to achieve overall health and I’m not talking about drastic, overnight changes. In my 25 years of experience with fitness injury, every January is exactly the same. People are pumped up and start like a bat outta hell. They take on huge diet restrictions (no fat or sugar and fewer than 1500 calories a day) and add intense exercise all while maintaining family and life responsibilities on 6 hours of sleep.

This is a recipe for disaster on so many levels because the changes are unsustainable.  I know this because my office is quiet in January and February, but by March there’s a waiting list full of tendinitises and back injuries.

Here are the big do’s and don’ts I have found to help start and stick with healthy lifestyle changes.

DO                                                                                                                     DON’T

Eat real food: veggies, organic meats, fruits Rely on Frankenfoods: weight loss shakes and frozen dinners
Eat healthy fats: coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil Eat fake sugars, diet foods, and vegetable oils
Sleep at least 8 hours every night Forgo sleep for extra workouts
Take recovery days:  exercise 2-3 days in a row then take 1-2 days off Workout every day at maximum capacity
Vary the type of workouts throughout the week: Cardio, strength training, yoga, balance Do the same activity at the same intensity every day.  Your body will react and adjust to change, but doing the same workout will lead to a plateau.
Choose activities you enjoy Exercise you hate will never make you thin and happy
Exercise inside and outside. Smell the trees, feel the sun, get dirty – it’s all good for you! Exercise through pain. Muscle burn is ok, but pain is a sign of something wrong

 Change is good, and resolutions can be a great way to initiate change. Be mindful of why you want to change and have a plan for executing it in a realistic manner.  Make 2017 the first year of your new healthy life!

Check out our blog for recipes and ways to get stronger than yesterday!  http://battlebornhealth.com/blog/

Holiday Diet Implosion

So you’ve been on a “diet” or have made a lifestyle shift in your eating habits. Whether it’s been watching carbs, going gluten-free, eliminating dairy or nightshades, or maybe you’re on the Whole 30. Whatever it is, it really doesn’t matter because what does matter is that you have been feeling great! Now its November and the holiday train is coming right at you. EEK! You try and hang on to your seat (literally!) as it’s can be wild ride, full of temptation.

holiday-coffee

For my issues, I needed to commit to different dietary standards Ie. NO Gluten, soy, dairy, and corn products but I LOVE holiday foods! My mother in-law is an amazing cook! Peach cobbler is her specialty and I have been caught in the kitchen polishing off the baking dish as I was “cleaning up “at Thanksgiving more than once. It took me five holiday seasons of feeling terrible from November until March to figure out that in the bustle of family gatherings, holidays, and parties, that I can’t eat the holiday table “regulars”, and that I can’t cheat. How was I going to get through this?

holiday-diet

At first I stayed pretty committed to a diet with an occasional cheat that I couldn’t resist. The last time I “fell off the wagon” we were on a trip and I had some soda, coffee and ate the icing off the cake, (really just the icing because it was still “gluten-free”) and a few other “cheats” because it was convenient. When I came home from our vacation, I was having difficulty sleeping, anxiety, gastric issues, weight gain, and fatigue. I also noticed a huge change in my workouts. I had been doing great with my spin class prior to the holidays. I was able to get my max heart rate up to 171 and recover quickly.

After that one week trip with a bunch of cheats, my heart rate wouldn’t go over 140. It took me almost 4 months to regulate my digestion, sleep and return to almost the same fitness levels. After that experience, I decided I had to follow a specific diet. I couldn’t cheat, not even on holidays. I found out almost 2 years ago that I have Hashimoto Thyroiditis. I started GAPS almost 2 years ago with success. I am not willing to risk my health for the holiday treats. GAPS, especially in the beginning, is very strict and limiting.

holiday-tree

There were a few months I had to bring my own food with me everywhere. Bar Mitzvah’s, dinner parties, holiday parties, ski days. I am not going to lie, it sucked…Not only can the “diet” aspect be hard, but also the questions, the looks of pity or concern, or that you are crazy! It’s my mom wanting to feed me. My friends inviting me to dinner and trying so hard to cook for me. My family anxious to go grab a bite to eat after a soccer game. As you can see, with the holidays, it’s more than just about the food… yes, there’s, apple pies and Chinese food ( What?! I am Jewish that’s what we eat on Christmas eve) and that all taste great, but its more about being part of the celebration and being included.

Even though I am there, not taking part in the dinner or having to prep my own “special meal” in the corner makes me feel left out. The hardest holiday for me was Passover, I couldn’t have matzo-ball soup… My grandmother and I had made matzo-ball soup many times together when I was a kid, it was very emotional not to eat it with my friends and family. I can’t say I have the holidays 100% completely figured out but have a system that has been working for me.

This tip list has helped me through 5 gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free holidays and 2 gaps legal holiday seasons.

photo-1470549813517-2fa741d25c92-1

1. Know your WHY. Why are you doing this diet/lifestyle? Is it an allergy, an auto-immune disease, weight loss, or training for a big race? When you have that deep real why, then you can tell yourself that particular food is or is not worth risking it… and sometimes it is worth it (its ok, if its ok).
2. Be PREPARED. If you go to party hungry, you are more likely to eat impulsively what is in front of you. And if your diet is AIP or GAPS (or another limiting diet), most likely there will be nothing you can choose from. Always have food with you.
3. CONTAINERS.Thermos, fork knife spoon set, cute lunch box tote. Find some items you like keep them with you. Looking for something fun?  Try these containers. 
4. REMIND yourself it’s not about the food. It’s about spending time with family and friends. It’s about feeling good the next day, and that a food hangover that stops you from playing with your kids on Christmas morning isn’t worth it.
5. Pick a FOOD PREP DAY. Cook in bulk ahead of time, so during the craziness of the season you can grab some roasted chicken, veggies, lettuce and an avocado to throw in your fun container or tote bag to take with you.
6. Offer to BRING A DISH TO SHARE to the party. Find a dish you really like, that fits your needs and bring it to include in the pot luck. Vegetable tian, roasted chicken, warm cranberry spinach salad (links below) have been great for me.
7. Find someone who can SUPPORT you, either because they eat as you do or they truly believe in what you are committed to. If you can’t find that person look to a health coach that can help you with accountability.
8. Do your best to ENJOY what you are eating. Look for other parts of the holidays that you can be grateful for, that you may have ignored before. Now is the time to embrace new and different.

GOOD LUCK and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Here are links to recipes I have used for holiday dinners that have proven popular with most everyone, dieting or not!

http://www.saveur.com/provencal-vegetable-gratin-tian-recipe
I would use a ghee or saturated fat (tallow, duck fat, schmaltz, or avocado oil vs olive oil with this recipe)

Recovery for True Fitness

I am a physical therapist, a business owner, I am a mother of 2 great busy kids, a wife and I am an athlete. My story is somewhat convoluted and a bit long, but as I work with more people, I hear it repeated over and over again, yet never addressed mainstream medicine.

I was a high-school athlete; I went on to compete in college at the intermural level. I went to grad-school and continued to participate in master’s sports (soccer and swimming).

I became an accomplished swimmer and triathlete along with birthing 2 kids, working and finishing my doctoral degree.

I am what some people may call “type A personality”. Just ok was never good enough for me. Nothing is worth doing if you don’t give it 100%.
In 2009-2010 I was finishing my doctoral degree, my daughters were 4 and 6, my husband traveled, I worked 30 hours a week, I coached one soccer team and assisted with the other. I was damned and determined to maintain my workout schedule. I trained for and completed 3 triathlons, 2 bicycle rides from 60 to 80 miles, and 3 long distance open water swims that year. For fun I swam with the masters team in the mornings and played on a recreational soccer team on Thursday evenings.  I worked out 6 mornings a week at 5:30 am, I did double workouts 3-4 days per week. I had never “needed” much sleep so 5-6 hours 5-6 days week was fine.

I prided myself on this lifestyle. I was a doer, I got it all done, the lady who brought home the bacon and fried it up in a pan from Enjoli commercial of the 80’s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q0P94wyBYk

I began to get reoccurring sinus infections. I was on a course of antibiotics almost every 8 weeks. I began to gain weight especially around my abdomen (the area I was working so hard to keep tight and flat after the babies). I had bouts of plantar fasciitis, my biceps tendon and my SI joint always bugged me, but I rolled it out and took an Advil. My period stopped, but that just made life less complicated. I began have environmental allergies and soon developed exercise induced asthma, began using a steroid inhaler to get through my runs.

I was always tired, but I still dragged my butt out of bed. Once I got my work out in, I was wired. I didn’t have a lot of patience with my kids, and I didn’t laugh as much with my husband.

Eventually my drive caught up with me. I had exhausted my adrenals. My body finally gave up. The adrenals, the glands on top of your kidneys that regulated my hormones were fried!!! I had to stop. I came crashing down, this has led me on a journey of healing. I hope I can share some of this with you so you or someone you know doesn’t have to fall to the bottom, when she was trying so very hard to be “healthy” and stay on the top.

What I didn’t allow for was RECOVERY. I kept pushing my body to its upper limits and never giving my body the time to regenerate or restore itself. The only way to get stronger is to push, then to rest. In our society we see rest equivalent to being lazy. But that is just not the case. Understanding your body, emotionally and physically is the key to fitness.

Fitness is measured by a combination of few different components:

  • Cardiovascular health: your aerobic capacity (run, swim, walk ie distance and endurance activities)
  • Strength: resistance based activities; pushing weight against gravity ie lifting a barbell or carrying a baby,
  • Flexibility/ mobility: the amount of movement available at the joint and muscles
  • Balance: ability to stay upright against gravity and perturbations. Ie standing on one foot, jumping from rock to rock across a stream

We need to exercise to stimulate the breakdown of the muscles, tendons, and bones. When the body has the right nutrients and the appropriate dosage of resistance our muscles tendons and bones are encouraged to rebuild bigger and stronger; therefor can endure more stress prior to injury.

Stress to the system in manageable doses allows us to grow stronger. This is mediated by our hormones. The endocrine and adrenal systems work together (or occasionally against each other if dysfunctional).

Physical stress produces a spike in the hormone cortisol, the stress hormone. We need this for survival it’s our fight or flight response.  This the action of our sympathetic nervous system which is good for us in small doses. If the system is over stimulated, then Cortisol is over produced.  This stress hormone will be produced in lieu of your sex hormones, growth hormones and thyroid hormones. When this occurs your metabolic function is diminished.
Why does this matter? if we are diverting the body’s resources of hormones just to produce stress hormones, the body cannot function properly.  Muscles cannot grow without testosterone or human growth hormone. When estrogen levels are low our reproductive system doesn’t cycle properly. If we are constantly producing cortisol our neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine ratios get thrown off which mess with our state of mind.

To be a well-rounded healthy athlete you must address all areas of fitness but the true gold standard of the perfect model human athlete is “how fast does your body recover?”

Vo2 max, lactate threshold, muscle soreness, return to base line heart rate; all of these measurements of fitness boil down to one thing, how good is your metabolism? Metabolism is usually associated with “how fast do I burn calories”. But that is only one aspect. It is also how your body converts and processes energy and clears out waste. The body converts nutrients in to energy. The byproducts of that conversion is metabolic waste that the body can’t use and needs to get rid of. The chemicals produced are toxic to us. Hence why we need detoxification.

The stars have to align for detox and recovery to happen. Two of the most important things are

  1. Provide the body with the proper nutrients for metabolism. Good balance of Macro-nutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Micronutrients: vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
  2. It also must occur when the body is not doing anything else. Detox and recovery can’t happen when there is a stress response occurring. We have two sides to the nervous system. Fight or fight (stress run from tiger) and Rest and digest (climb up the tree safely away from said tiger, relax while sipping on a coconut, let the body return to steady state.

Indicators of overtraining or Adrenal fatigue:

  • Weight gain (especially around the abdomen) or weight loss resistance, no matter how clean you eat.
  • Food sensitivities or new allergies to foods and/or the environment
  • Tendon and joint pains that don’t heal 100%, or keep reoccurring despite rest
  • Feeling wired yet tired, roller-coaster energy levels.
  • Cravings for high-sugar foods and caffeine
  • Increased incidence of colds, respiratory infections, asthma.
  • Anxiety or depression that may temporarily alleviate with intense cardio/ aerobic exercise.

Tips to support your body’s recovery process

  • Muscular recovery: working the whole body is important. We use more muscle fibers with big movements such as a deadlift or a squat. The energy used increases the metabolic breakdown as well. When doing strength training acknowledge this fact and let the body recover at least 24-48 hours before doing the same activity again
  • Smaller muscles and Postural muscle are small the energy requirements are less these can be worked more frequently.
  • Active recovery, Epsom salt baths, massage, essential oils all can help the body metabolize the end products for quicker recovery
  • NO Pain No gain must be qualified. Muscle belly burn is great. Burn baby burn. But a sharp pain or a tweak where the muscle meets the bone is bad. When you feel this type of pain you must adjust the movement or resistance. Your body cannot will not strengthen itself if there is pain. The body is more concerned with cleaning up the inflammation occurring than it is about trying to rebuild the healthy muscle or tendon fibers.
  • Muscular soreness for 24-48 hours is normal. It is a good sign that you have challenged yourself and pushed your body to where it will grow and be more ready for what life has to throw at it. If you are sore and stiff every morning that is a sign that you have overdone it. Your body needs more time, and or nutrients to recover. Accept and respect it, pushing more will not make you stronger.
  • Exercise… mix it up with cardio, strength, Pilates, power or hot yoga. 2-3 days consecutively at intense levels then you must give the body proper rest. 1-2 days of gentle fun movement. Don’t focus on heart-rate, focus on feeling good, energized by being in the sun, walking with your dog or favorite person, focus on the trees or the river play on a paddle board feel the sun, float on a tube.
  • Stabilize your blood sugar levels. Eat a wide variety of clean whole foods… balance portions of fat, protein, and low glycemic carbohydrates in your diet for essential nutrients.
  • Pay attention to your activity: increased protein with weight lifting to build healthy muscles and tendons.
  • Starchy veggies and fruits are the best source of carbohydrates when pushing aerobic activity.
  • Eat up to 30% of your daily calories with heathy saturated and monounsaturated fats. Fats are absolutely for detoxification processes. Without fat the body will not burn fat the because that is where the toxins are stored.
  • Sleep 8-10 hours/night this is absolutely imperative…non-negotiable, we are only able to detox and rebuild when the body is rested…. Studies show weight gain is greater when sleep is not adequate. Hormonal imbalances occur. Waking up at 5 am to work out can actually make you fatter than if you slept well and missed the workout.
  • Avoid commercial cleaners look in to non-toxic labels. Hormone disruptors will make your liver and adrenals have to work harder at ridding the body of toxins vs building the body back up. This can add strain to a decreased immune response and increased inflammation (tendonitis, asthma, allergies)
  • Avoid make-up and body products with parabens, SLS, rancid oils, bleaches.
  • Active recovery with Restorative yoga, meditation, self-care days to restore the mind and recover the body is essential.

Engage in activities you enjoy… strolling at the farmer’s market, listening to a live band outside, dinner with friends, walks on the beach, lying on a hammock with a great book, cuddling with your spouse or kids. These activities can be way more important and beneficial to your overall health and fitness than that work out. Listen to your body and your brain, sometimes being still is more important than the 10,000 steps a day.

References:

https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/recoveryUNM.html

Daniel Kalish Kalish Mentorship program adrenal module www.kalishinstitute.com

Sarah Balyentine auto-immune protocol

Healthy is Not Always Good for You: Veggies Can Hurt

Summer salads go hand in hand with summer six-pack abs.

“I need to eat lots of veggies to look good in that bathing suit. But when I eat a raw veggie salad, I get bloated and gassy, and that six-pack feels buried.”

Does this happen to you? It seems everything we hear is telling us we need to eat a lot of vegetables, increase our fiber content, and that raw is way healthier because it has all the nutrients unaltered by the cooking process.

Eating a variety of raw and cooked foods is extremely important! Believe it or not there are times when eating raw foods is not “healthy”. Often times, vegetables are difficult to digest. Digestion is a chemical reaction that breaks food down into nutrients that the body can absorb and use. Many people do not produce the necessary enzymes to digest these vegetables.

If the body can’t absorb the nutrients, it doesn’t matter how healthy you eat, because the nutrient value to the body is worthless. What’s even worse, is that healthy foods can increase the inflammatory process in the gut.

If the gut is not healthy enough to produce the appropriate enzymes for digestion, eating a raw veggie platter is about as healthy as going for a run with a broken ankle. I often see my patients forcing themselves to eat large quantities of raw veggies, even when experiencing negative symptoms, because of the notion that “vegetables are good for me.” However, if your gut is irritated when eating these foods, to quote Chris Kresser, “it’s like using a wire brush on a bad burn.”

Frequently, the enzymes are not produced because the intestinal lining is damaged. The cells of the gut are irritated and swollen. When this occurs, the space between the cells grow, allowing the undigested food to slip between the cracks. Akin to when food gets trapped between the garbage can and the lining, it can get nasty.

The intact particles will become food for bad gut bacteria vs. for you. The food particles may also enter the blood stream, which can trigger an immune reaction. This inflammatory process can further increase the damage to the gut lining which reduces the digestive enzyme production. The process can continue to spiral downward. This condition is frequently referred to as intestinal permeability or “leaky gut”.
Leaky gut and poor gut function can begin for a variety of reasons. Increased consumption of processed foods, food sensitivities such as gluten and processed dairy, auto-immune diseases, use of steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, frequent use of antibiotics, and high chronic stress levels are all factors in gut dysfunction.

It is important to identify if you suffer from leaky gut, and if you do, begin the process towards healing it. Just like if your ankle is broken you cast it to facilitate the healing process. You have to remove the stressors and support the healing process. Note, I said process, which indicates active participation over a course of time.

Unlike an X-ray of a bone, testing for leaky gut is not as clear as a picture. Frequently is it is determined by symptoms. For a link to test on-line click here.

Working with a Naturopath or a Functional Medicine trained practitioner can make all the difference in determining the right plan for your healing. You can find a functional medicine practitioner here.

There are systematic ways to remove gut irritants and provide a soothing environment for healing. I have found that GAPS and the SCD diet provide a great structure for the healing process.

Both diets are based on the specific carbohydrate diet designed by Elaine Gottschall, initially developed for her daughter with Ulcerative Colitis. It was then further expanded by Natasha Campbell-McBride and used to successfully treat patients with auto-immunity, autism and mental health disorders. To research further check out this website.

The diets both start with six introduction stages to promote healing of the gut lining. Begin by eating foods that are nutritious and non-inflammatory in stages, just like when a baby starts to eat solids. It is recommended to start with what is the easiest to absorb and the most nutritious.

By continuing in a systematic way you can also identify what food triggers that may be continuing to inflame your gut. I highly recommend this book by Hilary Boynton. If you decide this is the right path to take towards healing, this book is your best friend. It breaks everything down in to manageable pieces. And the food is good to boot!

Tips to start healing: Add foods such as bone broth, boiled veggies pureed in the broths for soups, and sauces, sautéed veggies in good heathy fats, sustainably raised grass fed organic meats, boiled and baked. You can also consume small quantities of fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, homemade yogurts (non-dairy to start) for probiotic support.

Supplementation can be added. Probiotics, digestive enzymes, and good quality vitamins are essential at this time. Remember, your body is not absorbing vitamins and minerals from your food. Therefore, it’s essential that the body gets these minerals for building blocks to heal. Working with a practitioner for a customized plan for your specific needs can truly make the difference in successfully healing.
Avoiding processed foods at this time is critical. Processed grains, canned beans, legumes, sugar, (even natural sugars found in fruits) artificial sweeteners, and processed/pasteurized dairy will all contribute to the gut irritation and inflammation.

As the gut begins to heal, it will start to produce the enzymes needed to break down more fibrous, denser foods. The result is less bloating, gas and digestive discomfort. The body can heal itself if you support it. Give your self-time to repair. Just like the ankle we have to start to walk slowly before you can run a marathon.

Roasted Veggie and Kale Salad

Kale-Salad

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe

  • For the salad:
    1-2 large bunches of kale
    2 large (12 ounces) zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
    2 medium (6 ounces) yellow squash trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
    2 cups diced onion
    3 large carrots peeled and cut in to ½-inch dice
    1/2 cup avocado oil (or coconut oil)
    3 teaspoons salt
    1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • For the dressing:
    1 cup finely chopped assorted fresh herbs, such as chives, tarragon, dill, chervil, basil, cilantro, and parsley
    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • Directions:
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    Place the vegetables in a large mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, to evenly coat.
    Spread the vegetables in one layer in a large roasting pan, and roast in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.
    Remove the roasting pan from the oven and allow the vegetables to cool for 15 minutes
  • While the vegetables are roasting:
    Prepare kale by cutting tough midrib from the leaves. Stack the leaves and cut into 1/2 inch ribbons. Wash.
    Blanch the kale. To do this set aside a large bowl of ice and water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once the water boils, and working in 3 small batches, place the first batch into the boiling water for 30 seconds, remove to iced water using a slotted spoon or spider. Repeat with the last two batches. Drain the beautifully, bright green and blanched kale, and spin dry in your salad spinner or over tea towels.
    Place all veggies and kale in a large bowl, coat with dressing (remember good fats in the right amounts are soothing for the gut.) this can help with the absorption of nutrients.

Bone Broths soup are also a power house for healing. Thinking of having soup in the summer can be a bit unusual. Here is a link to a summer-time cold nourishing soup:
Chilled Carrot Curry Soup.

Leaky Gut Links: 
http://draxe.com/4-steps-to-heal-leaky-gut-and-autoimmune-disease/
http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/04/what-should-you-eat-to-heal-leaky-gut.html
http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/04/what-should-you-eat-to-heal-leaky-gut.html
http://www.livestrong.com/article/49246-cant-digest-raw-vegetables/
https://chriskresser.com/got-digestive-problems-take-it-easy-on-the-veggies/
http://scdlifestyle.com/2010/03/the-scd-diet-and-leaky-gut-syndrome/
https://www.pinterest.com/culturedpalate/gaps-diet-soups/

Contact Battleborn Health for more health related questions.

This article originally appeared in the July issue of Live, Love, and Eat Magazine.

natural energy drinks

Are Energy Drinks a Necessary Supplement for Active Kids?

It’s summer which means our kids are doing camps and running around all day in the sun. Some are in competitive sports camps where they have games, practice and tournaments, plus it’s HOT and our kids are sweating! We NEED to replace those electrolytes; the commercial says so!  We need to get them energy drinks…or do we?

Sports drink commercials run during pretty much every break in televised sports and while they show athletes sweating, moving and looking generally worn out, they fail to actually explain the product’s alleged value. So what exactly are electrolytes and do we need what’s in that sports drink?

Electrolytes are electrically charged ions in our body including inorganic compounds such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, and bicarbonate. Their job is to help conduct electrical impulses throughout our bodies that are crucial to a whole host of functions. The three main electrolytes are sodium, chloride, and potassium.

These minerals are responsible for balancing body fluids, maintaining the body’s PH, regulating heartbeat, metabolizing carbohydrates, and are essential in the sodium/potassium pump which allows nerves to conduct messages. This is the process whereby neurons and muscles work to create an action potential. An action potential is the cascade of events that allow for nervous system to communicate, create a muscular contraction and thus movement. In plain English: Brain says run à action potentials make the legs move.

Picture1

During intense exercise the body will excrete these minerals through sweat and urine.  Now let’s define this “intense exercise” that warrants electrolyte replacement afterwards.  It is defined at 90 minutes or longer of continuous strenuous exercise. Think about when you have sweated so much your skin has a layer of salt caked on it…that is what we are talking about. Of course temperature and humidity factor into this as well, but the key here is long duration of continuous, strenuous exercise.

There are certainly times when we may need to help the body replace these important electrolytes. The energy drink companies have done a wonderful job of convincing us that they have the magic elixir, and the minute you get off the couch you NEED it.

Most energy drinks are similar, they contain high fructose corn syrup (glucose-fructose syrup), sucrose syrup, citric acid, natural flavor, salt, sodium citrate, mono-potassium phosphate, modified food starch, red 40 and glycerol ester of rosin. An 8 oz. serving of a typical sports drink contains 14 grams of sugar, which is equivalent to 3.3 teaspoons of sugar. If you drink the whole 20 oz. bottle, you’ll be getting a whopping 8 teaspoons of sugar.

Please don’t go out and buy the zero calorie sports drinks, the fake sugars are even worse for growing bodies than the corn syrup.

This isn’t to say that our kids will never need to replace electrolytes and replenish carbohydrate storage. They certainly might in the event of a doubleheader, kids playing multiple sports in a single day or during a busy tournament weekend.  At this point,  it is appropriate and important to replenish these elements in the body.  It’s important to remember that it must be in a useful form so the body can metabolize those minerals and vitamins and put them toward performance.

Our bodies react to high fructose corn syrup, sucrose syrup and chemical sweeteners with an inflammatory response; corn syrup is not natural, it requires a huge surge of insulin to process and remove from the blood stream. Instead of the body working to move leg muscles to run or kick, it’s busy removing the corn syrup from the system.

Picture1

Eight teaspoons of sugar will give them a rush and then a huge crash (aka bonking in the 3rd or 4th quarter – watch for it).  Plus, the chemicals used to give the drink it’s day glow colors (and dye all the kids’ tongues) are extremely unhealthy.  Again,  this increases the inflammatory load on the body. Sugar and processed food will further increase the amount of work for the body must do to recover, making a second or third game even more difficult and increases the chance for injury.

So now all parents are thinking, “Crap, now what do we do?  How can we help our young athletes thrive?” I have an answer for you…electrolytes that are found in FOOD! Natural, whole sources are more bio-absorbable and therefore more efficient sources for replenishing the body.

According to Emily Brown from Running Times Magazine “the usual foods we eat contain far more electrolytes than sports drinks. For example, a medium banana contains about 450 mg of potassium, whereas sports drinks provides 30 mg per 8-ounce serving. After a long run, a meal consisting of 8 ounces of yogurt and 16 oz of chicken noodle soup would adequately replace lost electrolytes (potassium and sodium)…”

Easy examples to replenish on the field are: citrus fruits (remember that standard-issue orange half we got as kids?) bananas, nuts, leafy greens, celery, tomatoes, apples, broccoli, avocados, apricots, seeds, carrots, olives and pickles. Eating these foods before and after the game will sufficiently reestablish the minerals and carbohydrates lost during the game. And even better, these foods with adequate amounts of water, will replenish without the fillers or damaging chemicals found in sports drinks.

Believe me, I understand that it’s difficult as a parent to enforce this change in behavior and you can just hear them now, “all the other kids get gatorade, why can’t we?” I encourage you to share this article with the parents on your team, vacation group, or counselors at the camp. When everyone as a group commits to avoiding the garbage, it gets easier to stick to the new plan. Collaborate with the other parents, during tournaments to encourage our kids to replenish their systems in a more favorable way.

Make a snack list prior to the event, parents can sign up to bring fruits (apples, oranges, bananas) nuts, almond butter with celery sticks, and carrots with ranch to the games.  Trader Joes and Whole Foods are usually easy to find and have these already prepared if you’re traveling for games out of town. Meals at home or on the road encourage vegetables consumption (not fried) to decrease the inflammatory processes that were produced during the exertion of the game and summer activities.

Here are a few easy recipes to sip during days out in the sun:

  1. Coconut water + a squeeze of lime, lemon or orange + 1/8 tsp. of sea salt. * for young kids, you can get a young Thai coconut (sold at many health food stores) and stick a straw (maybe with an umbrella) right inside.
  2. Fresh water + a squeeze of lime, lemon or orange with 1/8 tsp sea salt and 1 tsp of honey (to taste).
  3. Smoothies with fresh or frozen fruits and veggies (berries, banana, citrus, spinach, cucumbers, carrots and apples) blended with ice… tell them a leprechaun made it green.

For AFTER a big event, smoothies can include plain Greek yogurt (full fat) or whole milk, include veggies not just fruit to lower the sugar impact and increase the vitamin and nutrient diversity.

I have included a few websites in the references with more recipe ideas.

As a final thought, save the treats for after all of the games have been played, and keep consumption in moderation. Yes, they worked out. Yes, they have burned the caloric equivalent of a jumbo ice cream, but ingesting loads of treats does not allow for complete physical recovery. Their bodies need quality nourishment to adequately restore their muscles and be ready for the next event.  Let’s give our girls the level of support they deserve, so they can continue to amaze us with their success and incredible abilities!

For additional references and recipes please visit:

1. http://thesilverclouddiet.com/2013/02/a-sugary-drink-with-a-toxic-secret/

2. http://www.consumethisfirst.com/2010/05/10/sports-drinks-kids-and-electrolytes/

3. Emily Brown as featured in the November 2009 issue of Running Times Magazine

4. www.wellnessmomma.com

This article originally appeared in the June Issue of The Live Love and Eat Magazine.