Why Blessing a Meal Matters

Ever wonder why so many spiritual traditions have a ritual designed around blessing the food you consume? Although they are different, many serve the same purpose. To get you to a place of parasympathetic response before you eat. Thus upping the chance that you will get the nutrition you need and be better prepared to survive.

This is the nervous system state you are in when you are calm, feeling centered, connected, and safe. It is often called the “rest & digest” state. In this state your neuro-chemistry is working in your favor to help decrease the stress load on the body. Food items are chemicals that must be broken down to be useful. For the body optimal digestion happens when the body can focus on this task (not stressful events and vigilance) and work to give you the nutrients you need.

If you are stressed when you eat, the body cannot focus on breaking down your food well. It has to maintain vigilance to survive your environment. Events like driving your car, fights with family/friends, office politics, watching the news, worrying about household tasks to complete – can be stressful events your body is attempting to manage instead of focused digestion.

What is physically happening when you are stressed

When your body is stressed you are activating your hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA-axis). This is the circuit that manages your stress chemicals. When it is active the body has to attend to the adrenaline, cortisol, and other stress hormones because they are being pumped into the system for a reason. The body knows the “fight & flight” feelings they create are about keeping you alive aka … are important. So the response to them dominates the rest and digest option.

When you are working to digest food under a high stress feelings, the body holds calories (often depositing them around your middle). This is because it is concerned that it may need these extra sources of energy for escape. You might truly feel like you need to escape from the office board room during your working lunch, however you probably do not want the calories you are consuming during it contributing to your muffin top.

Reasons to say a blessing over your food

To optimize our food choices we must be in a state of calm when we eat. Saying a prayer, blessing, thank you, or even just taking a deep breath before you eat helps the nervous system calm down and be better prepared to digest and use the food you are about to take in.

Try this little experiment on yourself. Next time you eat find a comfortable spot that you enjoy being in, sit down, spread your food in front of you so you can examine its textures, colors, smells. Take a deep breath and say a small blessing (can be as simple as thank you) before you eat. Acknowledge how you are feeding yourself to take care of you and then enjoy. Pay attention to your level of fullness as you eat and take a break or stop eating when you begin to feel full. Enjoy the space you are in and notice the colors, sounds, why you like it, what makes it interesting and unique to you. After 5 or 10 minutes decide if you would like to continue eating and what you would like to add to your meal. Then enjoy. Note your experience of the food while you ate and how you feel for a few hours and/or days after.

Contrast this experience with the rushed, harried, absentminded, and overwhelmed experiences you have had or had since the experiment above. Which meal nourished you?

You might find, practicing a nourishing meal experience more often may be the key to successful weight loss, positive mood states, and overall better life balance.

Share your experiences with us by commenting on this post in our FB community. I think you’ll find a common experience and support to continue to feed yourself well even when it is not an easy task.

Metabolic Core

Ready to get your ab workout on. This one will exhaust your core and leave you feeling strong – ready for any challenges you might face.

Workout Basics and Warm Up

To plan your workouts think about doing something focused 3-6 times a week and taking 1-3 days of what’s called active rest (clean house, walk the golf course, go for a hike, take the dog for a long walk, do squats throughout the day – link it to every time you go to the bathroom for example.

This movement is important for recovery and allows your body to do something active for fun, wellness, blood flow to the sore spots from your focused workout, etc. This keeps the body oriented toward energy flow and movement.

Making sure to get a weekend workout in is a great way to make sure your active rest days are not consecutive. Consecutive days off can make it harder to return to your focused workouts on Monday.

Make sure to warm up. Spend 5-10minutes doing easy movement, stretching, and allow the muscles you are going to work to “wake up”. Work to include all the big joints and major muscle groups. It’s a great time to get your music right, your shoes tightened or loosened, or make sure you hair is out of your way. By fixing these things now, you are more likely to stay focused on the work.

When you complete the round, give yourself a pat on the back, a fist pump, something that celebrates your accomplishment. This is a big deal for helping habits stick, and helps you be realistic about all the hard work you are doing.

If you are unclear about a movement, look it up. There are lots of resources online that allow you to make sure you have good form. Always work up to adding weight or making a movement less stable. Good form comes first.

Metabolic Core

Do 2 sets of 15 reps for each exercise below. I have included video clips of each since the names alone can be confusing.

  • Egg Rolls
  • Ninja Get Up
  • Side Lying V Up
  • Prone Knee to Elbow (Wide)
  • Forward / Backward Crawl
  • Suicide Press Ups
  • Plank Toe Rolls – 1 set of 15 each
    • Double Legs – 15 total
    • Single Legs – 15 for each leg

Finish Strong

YOU DID IT!! Now that you have finished the “work” portion, it is time for flexibility training. Spend some time stretching all the muscles you worked – in this workout, it’s full body so give all your major muscles a good stretch. Then grab a good post workout snack. Together these get your muscles ready for tomorrow’s movement and make sure you are ready to meet your goals.

Words of Caution …

Please make sure to follow your body. Do not push through pain. Discomfort/Challenge are different than pain. We want to challenge ourselves we do not want to hurt ourselves. Find the level that is right for you and move at that level. Make sure to choose weight and stances that support your body style – if you have to use the wall to do your push ups do that, if you need a chair or a bench use those. Make sure you are doing what you need to do for your body type and current personal level of fitness.

As always have a fun living in your body today!

Prickly Beauty.

How can you find your flow even with things that aren’t the easiest?

I am traveling today. A road trip through the desert of Arizona. I am not much of a desert girl. I have spent too many years living in the snow and ice. Although, I can’t say I crave getting to the hot desert weather, I do love Saguaro cactus.

Today, as I pass all these crazy cacti flying past my car window, they are reminding me to notice the beauty in sharp, edgy, and unique things. Not always the easiest things to be around, but they are pretty cool anyway.

Here’s to finding your Friday Flow with the prickly things in your life. Where can you shift from feeling the pain to noticing the beauty? Even if just a sliver of recognition toward the unique experience it is giving you right now.

Change your perspective … change your mind.

Food & Mood Connections … what are you noticing?

What you eat impacts how you feel.

What have you noticed about eating and feeling?

Have you found any links between how you feel and what you eat?

This morning, my husband and I had a long conversation about caffeine, sugar, and stomach acid. It’s interesting to think about how these chemicals (both external and internally produced) impact my body, my mood, and my capacity to deal with day to day operations of my life. 

Where in your daily routine are you noticing the links between your food intake and your mood output? Join the conversation on Facebook: StacyReuille.com and tell us about your experience. 

Making Brussels Sprouts Yummy

Want to add more veggies into your diet but struggle to break out of the common choices. Try Brussels sprouts in this easy and quick recipe.

I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part. So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.

I love vegetables. I really like them. So much that my older cousins used to call me vegetable when I would chose the celery over Grandma’s cookies. I have never been much of a sweet eater. I prefer salty and bitter flavors. It should be no surprise that I might find brussels sprouts a good idea.

I often eat them for breakfast, but this easy recipe makes a great side dish too.

  1. Chop your Brussels sprouts into bite sized pieces and trim the tough parts. I like mine to be cut so some of leaves come off while cooking. They get nice and crispy.
  2. Heat up some bacon grease in a frying pan
  3. When it is hot, add your Brussels sprouts. Cook until they soften, but not too much. I like to have some crisp outside leaves and a little brown on the cut sides. I do not like them soggy. They should still have some form when you eat them. Maybe not “crunchy” but not soggy.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste

These go great with eggs, kale, steak, hamburgers, chicken, fish – with pretty much anything.

At least I think so. Enjoy.

Food as Medicine

Food is medicine. Treat it as such.

If you missed yesterday’s blog post and video on the links between food and mood check it out here: Food and Mood

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be they food" - Hippocrates
Let food be your medicine. Whatever is ailing you, do not underestimate the role food plays in your ability to create what you need to heal. Learn about minerals, vitamins, nutrients and eat to heal and support your physical structures and your mental capacities.

Food and Mood

Ever noticed that you feel different after eating different foods? In the past the links between food and mood may have been considered pseudoscience as food is just fuel, right? Not anymore. In today’s world we know the quality of that fuel (food) matters.

Over a decade ago Wallin and Rissanen (1994) were discussing the impacts of food and food cravings on psychiatric diagnoses. Today we are studying how the gut microbiota are impacted by diet choices and influence behavior (Jørgensen, 2014). There is lots of research linking how well children do in the classroom to meals eaten throughout the day, how strong our workouts will be to when and how we eat, and shows us how our focus and concentration fluctuate with what additives and ingredients were packaged in that meal you ate. Today, consider how you are eating for your brain.

For many of us we eat a routine set of items. In these items we often find the same things we ate and were exposed to as children. As a result we are fueling similar to our biology and culture. This used to be a good thing, as more research is showing us how ethnicity impacts ability to digest particular food items. However, with such diversity in our food system, easy access to all sorts of new foods, and things like GMOs, additives, colors, and preservatives many of us do not feel as good as we used to when we eat the same foods from our past. We have moved away from those family, cultural, and ethically focused meal plans and begun to source our food miles and miles from our homes.

As you eat this week, notice how you feel before you eat. What is your emotional state? Are you really hungry? Are you just bored? Do you feel sad, happy, angry? How did you feel yesterday? Many times our food choices are based on energy levels from yesterday. Then notice the same about how you feel when you get done eating. Did that meal satisfy you? If not why not? What is the emotion set you are feeling as you finish eating?

Next notice your thoughts. As a personal trainer and former fitness center owner, people around me often say things like: “I know I shouldn’t eat this … but” as they take a huge bite of something. This is not the way to help your mind create an experience of health or your body feel good about what you are eating. If you want that piece of cake, eat it, but be careful how you think about it. If you are saying “I shouldn’t” then have a smaller piece and say “I am so grateful I have the opportunity to sample this sweetness, I am also grateful that I only need a little to feel satisfied”. Then eat the item mindfully and enjoy it fully. As you swallow tell your belly, “We are enjoying the sweetness of life in this moment”. Do the same when you eat salad and fruit and vegetables, and drink water. As you eat, tell yourself how great these items are for your cells, your gut flora, and your brain.

The connection between what we think and what we manifest is well known. You will cultivate what you what you put your attention on. Use the power of your attention to focus on what you want, not what you don’t. As you tell yourself you are making healthy choices and you are caring for your body well, you begin to manifest increased healthy behaviors. Don’t believe me? Begin to think about something you like, focus on it, Just do not think about pink elephants. How many of you saw a pink elephant in your mind?

The subconscious works in pictures. When you give it a subject, like pink elephants, “bad” food, things you hate, it puts resources toward creating the experience of noticing pink elephants (or other items). If it is this easy to see pink elephants in your mind, imagine how easy it will be to see your body working exactly as it should, humming along, doing just what is needed in each moment to fully function. Think about how easy it will be to take a food, tell yourself the food is helping your body, and create a healthy pattern of engagement between food that is good for you, feeding yourself well, and generating positive moods as a result.

As you increase the healthy foods, your mood improves, your sleep gets better, and it’s easier to manage stress in your life. Your body has the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs to make the neurotransmitters you need to feel happy, content, and connected. All of which help you feel regulated and grounded. Want more ideas to help yourself stay on track? Check out an easier post: Eat Well, Feel Well

As you feed yourself today, say something positive and thankful over your food. You will be surprised how that shifts your focus and brings a different experience to your eating … Here’s to happy eating, enjoy!

References

Jørgensen, B.P., Hansen, J. T., Krych, L., Larsen, C., Klein, A.B., Nielsen, D. S., Josefsen, K., Hansen, A. K., Sørensen, D. B. (2014). A possible link between food and mood: Dietary impact on gut microbiota and behavior in BALB/c mice. PLOS ONE, 9(8), e103398 1-15.

Wallin M.S., Rissanen A.M. (1994). Food and mood: relationship between food, serotonin and affective disorders. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 377, 36-40.

Sleep Is Spiritual

In our quest for good sleep and our worry that we won’t find it, we often overlook our spiritual resource

Have you ever thought of using your sleep to help your spiritual growth? Sleep is a time when our conscious minds turn off, at least the time when we are really asleep. However, our subconscious does not sleep in the same way. It keeps going under the surface and continues to find, organize, categorize, and set us up for the next day. With this powerful tool, it’s time to use your sleep to program your best life ever.

Before going to bed tonight … ask for guidance. You can ask from whatever you believe in. Believe it’s all biology, then ask your own cellular wisdom to direct you. Ask for guidance without need to figure anything out, solve the problem, or create a plan. Ask for guidance to sleep deep and restful, then give thanks for the deep restful sleep you are about to have. Give thanks as though you have already had a great night’s sleep. As you say thanks feel how great you are going to feel in the morning, the ease of clarity you are going to have, and the peace you experience just because you slept well. As you begin to drift off dream about the things you want to accomplish in your life. See yourself having them, participating with them, and feel how good it feels to have gotten them.

All of this sets your subconscious mind up to tap the deeper resources you have and help you take one more step in the direction you want to go on your personal path.

Dream well.

Saturday Weekend Warrior Workout – Slow to Fast

Ready for your weekend? It’s time to get moving with this super slow and speed drill full body workout.

Workout Basics and Warm Up

To plan your workouts think about doing something focused 3-6 times a week and taking 1-3 days of what’s called active rest (clean house, walk the golf course, go for a hike, take the dog for a long walk, do squats throughout the day – link it to every time you go to the bathroom for example.

This movement is important for recovery and allows your body to do something active for fun, wellness, blood flow to the sore spots from your focused workout, etc. This keeps the body oriented toward energy flow and movement.

Making sure to get a weekend workout in is a great way to make sure your active rest days are not consecutive. Consecutive days off can make it harder to return to your focused workouts on Monday.

Make sure to warm up. Spend 5-10minutes doing easy movement, stretching, and allow the muscles you are going to work to “wake up”. Work to include all the big joints and major muscle groups. It’s a great time to get your music right, your shoes tightened or loosened, or make sure you hair is out of your way. By fixing these things now, you are more likely to stay focused on the work.

When you complete the round, give yourself a pat on the back, a fist pump, something that celebrates your accomplishment. This is a big deal for helping habits stick, and helps you be realistic about all the hard work you are doing.

If you are unclear about a movement, look it up. There are lots of resources online that allow you to make sure you have good form. Always work up to adding weight or making a movement less stable. Good form comes first.

Super Slow 1

the following three movements are done super slow, to the count of 10 up, 10 down. Focus on your balance and stability. Pull the belly button in and up and keep the spine supported with the contraction. Practice using good form – form always comes before speed. 

  • 10 Kick through right leg lunge without weight, challenge your ability to balance, but hold on as needed. Front knee should remain behind the ankle throughout the movement. Shoulders should center over the hips. Step back into the lunge and up into the front kick
  • 30 Crunches
  • 10 Pushups – do on your knees or standing against the wall if you do not have the core strength to maintain form through your lower back. Your back should not “sway” toward the floor.
  • 10 Kick through left leg lunge without weight, challenge your ability to balance, but hold on as needed. Front knee should remain behind the ankle throughout the movement. Shoulders should center over the hips. Step back into the lunge and up into the front kick

Speed Drill 1

Do each movement below for 30 seconds: hold on as needed, but challenge your balance. Use good form. Go only as fast as you can maintain your form.

  • Kick through right leg lunge without weight
  • 180 Jumps
  • Push Ups
  • Butt Drops
  • Kick through left leg lunge without weight.

Super Slow 2

The following three movements are done super slow, to the count of 10 up, 10 down. Focus on your balance and stability. Pull the belly button in and up and keep the spine supported with the contraction. Practice using good form – form always comes before speed.

  • 10 Squat to balance toe raise begin with feet shoulder width apart, squat back (think music festival porta potty and you aren’t going to touch anything while you go, and will not soil your clothes), knees behind toes and over ankles. Lower as far as you can and maintain a flat lower back, if it rounds you’ve gone too low. As you come up continue to rise until you are balancing on your toes.
  • 10 Frontal Arm Raise – you can use weight or not, maintain good form and do not rise above shoulder height. Can do arms together or single, maintain symmetrical balance for body on single
  • 10 Medicine Ball / Weight Russian Twists – each side
  • 10 Alternating Diagonal Shaking Hand Planks – each side

Speed Drill 2

Do each movement below for 30 seconds: hold on as needed, but challenge your balance. Use good form. Go only as fast as you can maintain your form.

  • Squat to toe raise
  • Power Burpee
  • Medicine ball / weight Russian Twists
  • Rocket Girls – Plyometeric Split Lunges

Finish Strong

YOU DID IT!! Now that you have finished the “work” portion, it is time for flexibility training. Spend some time stretching all the muscles you worked – in this workout, it’s full body so give all your major muscles a good stretch. Then grab a good post workout snack. Together these get your muscles ready for tomorrow’s movement and make sure you are ready to meet your goals.

Words of Caution …

Please make sure to follow your body. Do not push through pain. Discomfort/Challenge are different than pain. We want to challenge ourselves we do not want to hurt ourselves. Find the level that is right for you and move at that level. Make sure to choose weight and stances that support your body style – if you have to use the wall to do your push ups do that, if you need a chair or a bench use those. Make sure you are doing what you need to do for your body type and current personal level of fitness.

As always have a fun living in your body today!


Find Your Flow

Flow is so important to our mental health. Finding your flow doesn’t have to be hard, you just have to be open to building options into your daily schedule.

What will you do today to find your flow? Flow helps us tap into the larger field and creatively access information, ideas, and options for living our best life.

Often we find flow when we participate in projects that challenge us but are something we feel engaged in and enjoy doing. Can you think of anything you can do today to help yourself find flow? It doesn’t have to be anything big.

Claudia and I taking a break.

I am planning to hit the mountain, ride my board with a good friend, and enjoy the morning looking at beautiful views. After than I will be ready to tackle the administrative parts of my job I really don’t like! I am looking forward to tackling those tasks after a morning of blissed out flow!