GMO Corn – Are you eating it?

After watching the very informative film, Genetic Roulette (you can stream this on Amazon for $3.99), I realized that most gluten-free people have been making a grave mistake with our gluten free diets.

For ten years, corn has been my carb-of-choice because it was “safe” for me. Tex-mex restaurants were my go-to for dining out, but guess what? Unless it’s an organic Tex-mex restaurant, we’re adding to the health problem that’s forced us to be gluten free in the first place.

Corn is the most compromised grain when it comes to GMO’s. Everything I’ve read and watched has convinced me that my auto-immune disease is a result of the chemical companies and what they’re doing to our grains.  “Leaky gut” syndrome is a result of the chemicals (BT toxin) on corn that are designed to explode the stomach of the bugs that get on the corn. Problem: those same chemicals have worked great on our small intestine, breaking down the lining of the small intestine, allowing our food to leak into our bloodstream and then confusing the immune system’s function of determining what is an actual virus or bacteria and what is simply our food that has not been digested correctly. Our small intestine is ultimately our immune system and once it’s comprised, it takes daily focus to repair it.

Protect your kids, save yourself and learn more about the chemicals that are in some of our most common foods and what they are doing to your body. The increasing cancer, diabetes, autism and heart disease rates are not a coincidence with our changing food supply. Our health issues rising correlate almost exactly with the introduction of chemicals into our food supply. Keep in mind that most of the chemicals, antibiotics and hormones in American food are not allowed in other countries. GMO’s are more dangerous than anyone wants us to know. Start healing your immune system today by not buying anything except Non-GMO foods. Every time we purchase a GMO product, we support the chemical corps that have infested our food with their chemicals.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being a science experiment. Check this out: http://www.nongmoproject.org

Stress Sabotage- Harness it!

Stress Management Concept

Stress is a huge cause of failure in our nutrition and exercise plans. It’s so much easier to grab something sweet or a cup of coffee to make ourselves feel better when we’re frustrated or tired at work or home. What if we could harness that stress and exhaustion to work for us and help us reach our goals instead of letting it self-destruct us?

Here are some ideas on how you can make stress work for you.

Boss made you mad? Kids driving you nuts? No problem, you’ve got this.

Hold plank for thirty seconds, do 5 push ups, break and do two more sets. Can’t hold plank for 30 seconds, yet, hold for 10, but push yourself, that’s key. You’ll be able to hold plank for 1 minute before you know it.

OR

Run in place for 30 seconds, do 10 jumping jacks, walk in place for 20 seconds, do that three more times. Jumping jacks are always fun. It’s hard not to smile when you do them. If the kids are with you, make them do jumping jacks, too!

OR

Get in a deep sumo squat position, toes slightly turned out, knees above the ankles and behind the toes, bottom drops down to almost knee height, do 30 little pulses, think more down than up, stand up, do three more sets.

If you’re in a meeting or a situation that you can’t bust out some exercise moves, then BREATHE. Breathing does amazing things for your mind and body. Breathe in slowly for 3 counts and out slowly for 3 counts for 30 seconds. Give it a try, it will do great things for you anytime, anywhere.

If you’ve got to eat something, have an apple, pear, celery or jicama slices handy. Keep clean and ready to eat crunchy snacks within reach and you will avoid the convenience of grabbing something in a wrapper. When you’re opening plastic to eat, that’s a bad sign.

Let me know if these stress-busters help you. We’re living in fast times and we get so caught up in the stress, we forget that whatever is making us angry in a moment isn’t important. What is important is letting it go and focusing on caring for ourselves. Make yourself your number one priority, everyone and everything around you will be better when you’re taking better care of yourself. Harness that stress, make it work for you!

Kale Kleanse Kick-off

How did Day 1 go on the Kleanse?

Did your chicken, kale salad and veggies fill you up?

Please send me your comments and your questions. I want to support you to get Klean and make new habits that will help relieve cravings and encourage whole-body health.

Stay with it! You can do this. Health and nutrition are a choice. Let’s get well, let’s get strong and let’s do it now!

Living With Intention- 5 Simple Steps

A favorite phrase I use when teaching fitness is by Joseph Pilates, (I’m paraphrasing) “Movement without intention has no value.” It’s impossible not to think of how that carries over into every moment of the day, if we’re living consciously or want to live consciously. Here are some ways that every day can have more value, more awareness and more intention in everything we do.

1. Breakfast- I find that if I start my day with a cookie (even a healthy cookie, and that does happen) the rest of my day is shot. I know there are many common sense reasons having to do with the chemical reactions in my body, but there is unequivocally a thought process for the rest of the day that says “oh well, I had cookies for breakfast.” On the other hand, if I start my day with eating a healthful, fuel-filled, nutrient-dense breakfast, I find myself craving healthy foods for the rest of the day. And worst of all, if I skip breakfast, I tend to have no appetite. Not eating breakfast (within 1 hour of waking) is the fastest way to gain weight and it’s so disrespectful to my body. Eating with intention is probably the most important thing we do because it fuels our lives.

2. Kindness- I love to listen to a positive, inspiring book on Audible on my way to work. This inevitably makes me a better person in every circumstance. It is my intention to be kind and helpful to everyone I see (even the person that cuts me off on the road), but it’s not always easy. Listening to positive messages of love and acceptance helps me to remember that the best I can be is when I find patience, understanding and positivity within myself and offer that to anyone and everyone else.

3. Exercise- If I can just do some intended movement before starting my day, I’ll move better the rest of the day. Being a fitness teacher is gift from that perspective, but I have a lot of days that I’m working from home or on the computer. Consciously getting up, moving and caring for how my body works makes me more productive, thoughtful, creative and free all day, even if I don’t break a sweat. I’ll do a plank to down dog, a back stretch, maybe some lunges and hip flexors stretches, any movement early in the day keeps my intention of moving my body in a healthy way on track.

4. Work- I work for myself, so staying focused and keeping productivity high is a must. Having a productive work day is kind of like having breakfast. If I start my day off with some work-related goals, I find I’ll not only accomplish those goals, but each goal leads me to several other things that add up to a very productive day and that helps me sleep better. Sometimes my best approach to work productivity is to make myself a list the night before on my phone and then I can check off each item through the day. It’s a great feeling when I’ve checked off every item and I’m ready for the next day, bring it on.

5. Sleep- Getting up early and to bed on time requires setting a schedule and sticking to it. Fortunately, I grew up on a farm, so getting up early was just part of the day. It’s carried over with me and getting up early makes going to bed early easy, because I’m tired. Sleep is truly everything to our health, positivity, energy levels, exercise and how our body metabolizes food. Stay busy during the day, break a sweat when you can and you’ll have a good night’s rest.

These may seem like simple things, and they are, but living with intention requires awareness in all of these areas of life and when we can set our goals and accomplish them, we are happier, healthier people with so much more to offer to this amazing world. I love the book from years ago “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” it’s so true, but live for the small stuff, it’s what makes the big stuff.

5 Changes That Could Save Your Child and Your Health

I often hear from friends and clients (I’m a health coach, fitness trainer and Pilates teacher) that their doctor has prescribed this or that medication for their child’s ADD, ADHD, autism, Asperger’s, allergies, asthma, anxiety, depression, etc. What if you could make HUGE improvements to your child’s symptoms and behaviors by cleaning out your pantry? Would you do it? It seems like a simple question and an obvious answer, but I’m confronted daily with the disconnect between our processed food environment and what’s going on with our health.

My 10 year-old son, James, was diagnosed with Asperger’s, Tourette’s and allergies when he was very small, but the diagnosis was wrong, he did have symptoms, but it wasn’t his body that was sick, it was our diet. James no longer has symptoms of Asperger’s or Tourette’s and he’s never taken any medication for those diagnosis. We’ve changed his life (and ours) forever, by simply changing our diet.

James was 18 months old when we began to notice him changing. I did not allow any of his vaccinations to be done on the doctor’s schedule, we did them, but on James’ time, not the pediatrician’s. Between 18 months and 3 years old he became more and more withdrawn. He had violent outbursts when he was unhappy, spitting, hitting, kicking, saying every bad word he could conjure (they were minimal, thankfully). His anxiety attacks were devastating. He reminded me of a spooked horse, unable to focus on anything but fear. It was heart-breaking to watch and I’ve never felt so helpless as a parent.

After James was born I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Looking back, I’m so grateful for that diagnosis. The medication offered to me had awful side effects that I couldn’t get past, so I found a holistic doctor. The doctor drew several vials of blood, informed me they would run some tests and said to stop eating anything with yeast or gluten until my results came back. Within about 48 hours the pain I’d lived with for 8 months subsided, just like that. And a side effect of this simple change was that my lifelong asthma vanished- never to be heard from again (10 years later).

At 8 years old, after a week long bout of Tourette’s “barking” and considering hospitalizing James to stop the Tourette’s episode, we opted to try cleaning up James’ diet. We took him off all simple carbohydrates (including grains). He ate only vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs and nuts. Within 48 hours his “barking” tic had reduced to a barely audible “chirp” that continued to improve as the weeks went by. James’ anxiety has vanished. He never has violent outbursts. He no longer has tics. He could not be a more pleasant, sweet, loving and endearing human being. He is my sweetest and easiest child (out of 3). It was a long road- but we are healthy and symptom-free, simply by changing our diet.

Here are the 5 things that made a HUGE difference for our family:

1) No gluten
2) No sugar
3) No dairy
4) No preservatives (like MSG, yeast extract, nitrites)
5) No artificial coloring

Processed foods are causing unprecedented illness. Will you try these changes in your home? What’s stopping you? Please- leave a comment and let me know how I can help you.

Are you eating consciously?

Are you eating consciously?

Today we run through life. We are busy, our kids are busy, work is busy, technology is busy and we seem to think we don’t have enough time for food. So we buy junk and we inhale it. So many people unconsciously drive through fast food windows and grab food and eat in their car. We grab boxes off of shelves that state silly and misleading things like “low-fat” or “low-carb.” Whatever the latest diet says is best for us.

If we are reading boxes from food marketers, we are in trouble. They do not care about our health. They care about their bottom-line, and it is large (yours will be too if you follow their advice). We must slow down and think for ourselves. Can we grow this, can we hunt this? Can we pronounce these ingredients? If you can’t grow it or hunt it, it has very little nutritional value for you. If you can’t pronounce it, you don’t have the enzymes to digest it. Are you eating nutritionally dense foods or calorically dense foods?

Your body is your vessel. It is what you are traveling through this life in. Every morsel of food you take into your precious body feeds your cells. Respect the importance of that for you and your loved ones. We are indeed what we eat. Do not allow yourself to become made of chemicals. Allow yourself to become made of positive energy. Plants that were grown with respect and care. Animals that were raised in positive environments. Fish that come from healthy bodies of water. As these natural and real foods become part of you, you will become stronger, healthier and more conscious of what it feels like to be well.

Don’t be too busy to feed yourself or your family. Take care in your choices and take time to prepare your food and enjoy it. Eating slowly and consciously with love and gratitude. Don’t wait to become sick and wonder why or what you can do to get better. Slow down, think of food as medicine and plan on health. You can save a lot of time and a lot on doctor’s bills by being conscious.

Happy Spring! Are you eating for the season?

There’s so much truth and value in eating the foods that are naturally available to us within each season. The great news in Spring and Summer is that there is so much fresh produce available.

Here’s a brief reminder of all the great nutrients and vitamins that come in the form of tasty fruits and veggies for Spring:

Apricots; mangoes; rhubarb; strawberries and cherries just to name a few in the fruit section!

Artichokes; asparagus; mustard greens; spinach; carrots; chives; and water cress just to name a few in the veggie area.

Look for organic produce that is not coming across the country to your grocery store or just go to the local farmer’s markets. It reduces the footprint on the Earth (less gas and pollution to get our food to us) to buy local and it’s so much better for your body! Happy Spring!!!

Can Stress Make You Fat?

Unfortunately, stress will cause our bodies to store fat and especially right around the belly. Some more bad news is that it becomes an even bigger problem as we age because our hormones are changing and when we get stressed our bodies get more out of balance than when we were younger and it becomes harder for the body to “re-set.”

Cortisol is a good thing. It signals your body to respond appropriately to stress, the problem is that we often stay stressed and we don’t give our bodies a chance to re-set from stressful days at work, stress with kids, and stressful thoughts. Should I have eaten that? Did I pack the kids lunch? Did I do a good job on that important project for my boss? These thoughts creep into our head all day long and sometimes while we sleep. And Cortisol goes up.

Often stress leads to sleep loss, another reason that we store fat around the belly. Our Cortisol levels should be down at bedtime, but when our brains are overloaded with the days events and what tomorrow brings, it’s hard for us to settle down and get into a healthy, deep sleep. So, we wakeup tired and the whole process starts again the next day.

Constantly bombarding our systems with panic-alarm thoughts followed by panic-alarm moments of concern throughout the day prevents our bodies from re-setting the alarm button and getting back to a normal state.

Sound familiar? Sound depressing? It’s not so much, because like almost everything that has to do with your body– you can control this. GET EXERCISE. DO YOGA. DO PILATES. So we know that exercise helps us sleep better, produces good endorphins and helps us feel better all around, add yoga and/or Pilates into your routine and in addition to all the good feeling endorphins, you will learn to breath.

Just breathing deeply is the easiest way you can restore your Cortisol levels to normal, resetting your body for tomorrow and signaling your brain that it’s time to settle down, relax and sleep.

So, if you’re laying in bed tonight, worrying about what tomorrow is going to bring or what could have gone better today, let it go. Breath in, feel your lungs expand fully, and then breath out, letting go of every worry, every tense muscle, every self-doubt. Continue breathing deeply until you have fallen into the blissful state of sleep your body needs, your Cortisol level will go down and you’ll wake up ready to face tomorrow with all of the joy and vitality you were meant to live your life with.

Please feel free to send me questions anytime, I love it!

Mardee Calkins is an ACE certified personal trainer, wellness coach, double certified Pilates teacher, a PMA certified Pilates instructor, Spin instructor, registered yoga teacher, Kettle Bell Instructor, Rebounding instructor, expert at using food as medicine, author and mom of three.

Is it important to use all natural or organic products?

The answer is YES, YES, YES.

The skin is the largest organ we have and it absorbs everything we put on it. We know this from skin patches being used by the medical community for everything from birth control to pain management. So if we’re eating organic and putting chemicals onto our skin with make-up, skin care products and cleaning supplies, we’re exposing ourselves to more chemicals than we would get in our food.

The human body is an incredibly complex system. Our bodies are all natural and it’s important that we keep them that way.

There’s a dangerous amount of chemicals in everyday things from diapers to sunscreen and in the food we eat. Most of us have been touched by cancer in some way and we all understand that from the best athletes to children, we’re all at risk. One of the ways we can have some control is by what products we use for ourselves and our families in addition to the food we eat.

It’s been reported over and over that women eat several pounds of lipstick over their lifetime. That’s a great example of why we need to use all natural or organic products on our bodies.

We only get one body, so if you want your body to last and serve you well, stay organic and all natural, just the way you came into this world.

Are you organic? Do you feel it’s important? Why or why not?

I love questions and comments, so please, feel free to offer me your thoughts. I love it!

Here are some great companies where you can find wonderful organic and all natural products:

https://www.honest.com/shop

http://www.juicebeauty.com/store/all-products.html

http://www.seventhgeneration.com

Mardee Calkins is an ACE certified personal trainer, wellness coach, double certified Pilates teacher, a PMA certified Pilates instructor, Spin instructor, registered yoga teacher, Kettle Bell Instructor, Rebounding instructor, expert at using food as medicine, author and mom of three.

Food Allergies-Where do they come from and what do they mean?

I had a fascinating meeting with one of my holistic doctors a few years ago. He explained to me why my body, and so many other bodies like mine, have stopped digesting the foods we’ve eaten all of our lives. Why all of sudden, we can’t just eat what we want. It was a light bulb moment for me, so simple, yet so profound. He said that as our food has been genetically modified over the years, infused with pesticides and hormones, our bodies have become confused. They no longer know what to do with wheat because wheat doesn’t look the same to our enzymes and cells. It’s an impenetrable substance that clogs up our system now. Why are so many people lactose intolerant now? Because our bodies could handle digesting casein when they didn’t have to figure out what to do with pesticides, hormones, fake fats, enhanced sugars and chemicals we can’t even pronounce. Our bodies are finely tuned machines and when we began to think we could change our foods to make them more cost-effective on the grocery store shelf, we got too smart for our own good.

So it’s time to back-track. Go back to the basics. Meat, eggs, nuts, fruits and vegetables. That’s quite a bit of food, all you have to do is stick with those simple things for awhile (keeping in mind that you can react to eggs).

A few good rules of thumb are: If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. If it’s in a box or bag, that’s a problem. And if you can drive through and get it, don’t do it, there’s no telling what you’re actually eating. Think you’re too busy for this? Think of it as saving time by not needing to go to the doctor. Think it’s too expensive to eat organic fruits and vegetables? Think of it as saving money on prescriptions and doctors bills. It’s your body and your health and you get to CHOOSE how you feel by choosing healthier food options. It’s a beautiful thing!

Do you have any ideas on:

1) How to rebuild the immune system?

2) Why some people can’t process even healthy, organic foods?

3)How hormonal imbalances effect the immune system?

I know I’m not alone. Let’s figure it out!