wellness

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.

wellness

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.

wellness

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.