7-Day Water Challenge: It Does a Body Good!

I recently ran my first group challenge on the InBalanse FB page…the 7-Day H2O Challenge. It was fantastic! The challenge was to drink half your weight, in ounces, in water, everyday, for seven days (or as close to it as you could).

That’s a LOTTA WATAH!

The point of the challenge was to help make folks aware of how much water they should be drinking daily and to get them started on the habit of drinking at least that much, every day. It’s no surprise to anyone that we need water, but it’s the amount of water we should be drinking daily that is a big surprise to most people. That, and how far off they are from that amount of water, even when they think they drink lots of it.

For most of my life, I never drank water. I hated water and only drank milk (now, I’m completely dairy free because of a sensitivity). Knowing what I know now about how medicinal plain water is for our bodies, it makes me shudder to think about how dehydrated my body must have been! It’s why I went into labour at just seven months with my first baby – my poor body was trying to grow a baby and keep my body functioning on very little water. I didn’t have a clue how important it was!

Thankfully, I came across an article that spoke to the importance and benefit of drinking water before even getting out of bed, every morning. What stuck with me from that post was the explanation that after sleeping all night, your body has gone seven to eight hours without any fluid…it’s no wonder we usually find it hard to wake up!

That was almost 10 years ago and the before-my-feet-hit-the-floor water habit has stuck with me and continued to improve from there. I now drink a 650 mL water bottle every morning when I wake up and I try to get two more bottles in before noon. What I noticed most was the energy it gave me and how quickly I started to feel alert. It’s an almost instant reaction. The rest of my family have since jumped on the morning water train (my husband has even cut back his coffee intake from four cups to just one!) and they’ve noticed benefits such as increased energy, easier to wake up in the mornings, fewer breakouts (a bonus for teeneagers!), better focus/attention and better workouts. The awesome participants from our water challenge experienced similar results:

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“I am over 50 and a nurse and had no idea the impact of increasing my water intake. I was thinking that my sluggish feeling was related to working too many long hours, an intense job and age! What a wonderful surprise to learn I am aging better than I thought.”

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“It was actually easier to do than I thought and it made me realize that I need to pay more attention to the amount of water that I drink in a day because it makes a big difference. Feeling great. Thanks!”

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“I can’t get over the difference on day 1 … and how little water I have been drinking. I thought there was “no way” I was going to drink only 1 cup of coffee. But this was easier that I thought. My sluggishness must be from being low on water.”

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I think the biggest surprise to most of them was how quickly they started noticing positive changes during the challenge–most of them after only one day. Besides what they noticed on the outside, there are are so many great things going on inside the body when you give it enough water:

  • Glowing Skin: water helps to purge toxins from the blood which helps to keep skin clear and healthy;
  • Weight loss: drinking water in the morning helps boost your metabolism and keeps you feeling full longer;
  • Balance lymph system: drinking water supports your lymph system function, balancing body fluids and fighting infection
  • Increased energy: drinking enough water will keep your energy levels up all day and have you less likely to reach for that mid-afternoon sugar snack or soda!
  • Lubricate joints: as we age, our joints need some extra TLC and water is a great way to help keep them lubricated and moving smoothly; and
  • Improved digestion: when we drink enough water, we make sure everything keeps flushing through our digestive system which helps to ensure nothing gets stuck or stagnant in there!

There are so many amazing benefits of drinking half your weight in ounces in water every day. Water is truly one of the best medicines you can give your body. It’s easy to get your hands on and is suitable for everyone!

Your challenge? Figure out what your water quota is for your weight and set a goal to drinkthat much daily. Very few of us drink enough water to properly hydrate our bodies and there’s really no reason for it. It’s cheap, it’s easy and it’s a sugar, caffeine, and drug-free way to support your body and feel great!

How do you measure up with your water consumption…are you reaching your daily quota yet? If not, set a goal to start today! If you’re already a water rockstar, what are your tricks to make sure you get in enough daily?

 

Gratitude Journaling: Why You Need To Start

We’ve all heard the claims that practicing gratitude daily improves overall health and wellness (lowers your stress levels, helps with anxiety and depression, improves sleep, makes you happier, etc), but I have to admit, I was somewhat skeptical. About a year ago, I  figured I’d give gratitude journaling a try to see what all the hype was about. Wanting to do it “right”, I ordered an actual gratitude journal and did it for about a week, but it was too structured for me and it just didn’t stick.

In October, as part of Rachel Hollis’ Last90Days program, I committed to gratitude journaling daily again, this time with a regular notebook. Every morning while I drank my coffee, I wrote 10 things I was grateful for. At first, because I’m someone who tends to overthink things a bit (holy understatement!), coming up with 10 things that were amazing enough to be grateful for was a bit of a struggle.

But here’s the thing I realized…being grateful isn’t about the amazing things, it’s about being able to find “amazing” in the simple things

I’ve continued the practice every morning since then and about a month ago, it dawned on me what gratitude journaling was doing for me. I recognized a feeling of contentment and much less anxiety, in general. The feeling that it’s my responsibility to fix and control everything is gone…or at least much less evident. Gratitude journaling has become as much a part of my morning routine as having my coffee and I actually don’t feel right when I don’t get it done. The changes happened subtly, but they were significant enough for even my husband and kids have noticed them. There’s no question my daily gratitude practice is increasing my happiness and lowering my stress levels. And really, that’s all the reason I need to keep doing it. Besides the obvious that being happier is awesome, less stress helps lower inflammation in the body which is critical because chronic stress leads to illness.

I’m amazed that something as simple as regularly writing down the little things you’re grateful for can have such an effect on one’s mental (and therefore, physical) wellness. Go figure, apparently, all those articles about the benefits of gratitude journaling are right! I totally geeked out when I found this particular article – it explains the science behind how and why it works. Gratitude journaling can increase happiness by 10%…that’s equivalent to as much additional happiness as doubling your income! Only a lot faster and easier! 

If you have a daily gratitude practice, I hope you’re realizing as many benefits from it as I am. There is so much awesomeness in the little things. If it’s not part of your daily routine, I highly recommend you grab a notebook and a pen with your morning coffee and give it a try…I’m certain you’ll be grateful you did! 

Beat the Bloat Smoothie

I’m a huge fan of starting my day off with a smoothie, as is the rest of my family. It’s an excellent way to consume a boat load of nutrients in a drink that is simply delicious. Having said that, I am guilty of sticking to my reliable, same-ol’ same ol’ banana berry protein smoothie–not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it is a good idea to switch things up now and then, to make sure your body is getting a rotation of nutrients it needs.

There are no shortage of smoothie recipes floating around, but I’m sharing this one for it’s bloat-fighting properties. So many women near my age find their digestion issues are either becoming a more regular thing, or were already regular and are getting worse. I always use frozen fruit for my smoothies–it saves time and energy spent cutting it up and available any time of year. The ingredients have been carefully chosen because of the nutrients they offer:

  • Mango: contains the digestive enzyme amalyse which helps with carbohydrate digestion. It’s also rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C and phytonutrients with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immuno-supportive properties
  • Pineapple: contains bromelain, another digestion enzyme that also provides anti-inflammatory protection to the body. Bromelain has even been shown to reduce tissue irritation and therefore is used in anti-aging programs–SCORE!
  • Cucumber: with 96% water, cucumbers are a great addition to a bloat fighting smoothie. They also contain phytonutrients with anti-inflammatory, immuno-supportive and antioxidant benefits.
  • Kale: is a superfood I add to all of my smoothies! It’s an excellent source of calcium and is full of anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and immuno-supportive phytonutrients.
  • Mint: we’ve all reached for an after dinner mint, or had peppermint tea to help us get over the I’m-so-full feeling after a heavy meal. There’s a good reason for that: mint helps tone the digestive tract, relaxing the surrounding muscles and promoting the elimination of gas. Look out!
  • Flax seeds: are an excellent nutrient-dense addition to any smoothie. They’re a  great source of fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids, both of which help reduce bloating. An added bonus of flax is that they’re a great source of fiber that will keep you feeling satisfied longer–less snacking!
  • Coconut water: is super hydrating with natrual electrolytes and also contains antioxidants, essential vitamins and minerals, with few calories. (I love to add coconut water to smoothies because it masks the taste that I’m not crazy about, while adding so many nutrients.)

Without further adieu, here’s the recipe:

  • 1 C frozen mango pieces
  • 1 C frozen pineapple pieces
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 C kale
  • ½ C mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1-1/2 C coconut water (plain water works, too)

Add ingredients to a blender and blend about 1 minute, until smooth. (Makes 2 servings)

I would love to hear what you think–did you find it helped beat the bloat? 

 

 

Egg Roll in a Bowl

I love egg rolls. I also love Chinese food, but my favourite part of my Combo #17 is the egg roll. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find gluten free egg rolls. For a long time, I just ate them anyway, but I’ve recently decided I wasn’t going to “cheat” anymore, so egg rolls were out.

So sad.

But good news! I recently found a recipe on Buns in My Oven for an egg roll in a bowl…a gluten free option for my beloved egg roll! I will admit, even though it looked delicious and the ingredients were healthy, I was a tad skeptical about how it would taste–I should note, I’m rather picky egg rolls. I was so pleasantly surprised when I made this recipe because it really did taste like an eggroll! So tasty! Even my husband, who wouldn’t touch an egg roll with a ten foot pole, enjoyed this recipe.

It’s loaded with healthy ingredients that provide a ton of nutrients we don’t always get in our meals (for example, my husband would never eat cabbage on its own). I do make a few modifications to the original recipe: I use ground pork instead of sausage becuase I had it on hand and also that it’s generally a healthier choice to sausage. I also use a broccoli slaw, as a alternate way to increase my broccoli intake (I’m getting tired of boiled or roasted broccoli). You can also easily make this a vegetarian option by just leaving out the pork and adding an egg, or use organic tofu for the protein component. Sadly, my younger kids won’t eat it, but that means it makes enough to have leftovers for lunch, or dinner the following day. It was even tastier when reheated!

It’s a super easy recipe–only 10 ingredients–and takes less than half an hour to whip up. I enjoyed it on it’s own, but you can also serve it on top of a bed of quinoa…another powerhouse food!

Ready to give it a try? Here are the deets:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound gluten free sausage (or ground pork)
  • 6 cups coleslaw (I use broccoli slaw mix)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger minced
  • 1 tablespoon gf tamari sauce (I used closer to 2 tbsp for added taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 C bean sprouts (I added more because of the nutritional benefits of sprouts)

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring often to crumble, until cooked through. Drain oil from the pan.

Add olive oil to the skillet and heat for about a minute. Add the slaw mix, garlic, ginger, and tamari sauce to the skillet. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until cabbage has softened and warmed up. Add bean sprouts and stir, heating for another minute.

Remove from the heat and top with the green onions and drizzle with sesame oil.

Serve immediately.

That’s it! Easy peasy, nutritious meal for your family, and possibly lunch covered for the next day. Cabbage and bean sprouts are two nutrient-dense vegetables and relatively inexpensive…perfect addition to any meal!

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!