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we did them, but on James’ time, not the pediatrician’s. Between 18 months and 3 years old he became more and more withdrawn.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.

Fitness

Start Your Day Like a Cat

If you have a cat, watch them wake sometime. They don’t hop up like we do. Cats take their time. They stretch, one foot reaching forward, the back leg reaching back. They arch their back, they extend their back, then they go. It’s a smart way to start the day. Once they’re up and moving, they typically have a little play time, running around, getting the blood flowing, another really smart way to start the day. Then they settle back down until they start that whole process over, several times a day. What could that mean for you? It could mean that you stretch, that you get your blow flowing (heart rate up) and then you settle back down, several times a day, just like the other smart predators. So here’s your challenge:

Before getting out of bed, curl your hip bone towards your bottom rib (low back pushes down into your bed) then press the pelvic bowl away from your ribs (low back arches up). Do this 8-10 times, using the abs to make the movement happen. Then try dropping one hip bone down then the other hip down, knees bent, legs still, moving the pelvic bowl side to side. It feels funny at first, but you will feel a stretch across your low back. After releasing your low back, stand up and do 20 squats, right off the side of your bed. Make sure your knees stay behind your toes, engage your core and simply bend your knees, and straighten, pressing up through your heels- 20 times. Your heart rate will go up, but you won’t break sweat. Then start your day. Try doing this 5 times a day, but when you’re at your desk, just do the pelvic bowl rolls standing. You will draw your navel to your spine, feeling your hip bone curl up towards the bottom rib, then release it, press your belly out and feel your low back extend. Do this 10 times and then your 20 squats. If you don’t want to do your pelvic rolls standing, try them sitting, but you’ve got to get up and do the squats.

Doing this simple routine will get you off to a great day. It will release some muscles that might be tight from sleep, and start your metabolism with the increased blood flow created by the squats. We are the smartest animals, we just need to follow our instincts for movement to keep our beautiful bodies healthy.

Have questions? I’d love to hear them. Thanks for reading and have a STRONG day!

Healthy Eating

The Secret to a Toned Body

The Secret to a Toned Body

Jack LaLanne (if you don’t him Google him, he was amazing) had a great saying, “Exercise is the King and diet is the Queen.” I love Jack LaLanne, but he had this one backwards. Diet is the King and exercise is the Queen, and that’s a fact.

More than 80% of how we look depends on nutrition. Exercise is VERY important, don’t get me wrong, but without the right food at the right time, you’re spinning your wheels as far as how you look and maximizing the benefits of your workouts.

Exercise works on us internally, which is why it’s so important. It keeps our heart working great, our cells detoxifying with fresh oxygen turnover, our muscles get harder, stronger, and more beautiful, it’s ALL good. The problem happens when people feel that their exercise routine is going to give them the look they want. It certainly can, but not unless they’re willing to cut out the sugar (98% of the time), cut out the processed foods (all the time), and get back to eating foods that support leaning out the fat and building muscle.

What foods help build muscle and get rid of fat? Lean protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and eggs. Whole grains such as oats, brown rice, buckwheat groats, spelt and quinoa are great, too, but keeping the carbs down in the form of grains is important to a leaner-looking body.

In addition to what you eat, when you eat is just as important. You should have 4 ounces of protein every 2-3 hours. Adding a serving of fruits or vegetables (preferably raw)is a great compliment to helping your body utilize the protein. It’s most important that you eat some protein within 45 minutes of a workout to give your body the nutrition it requires to build up the muscles you worked out. Remember, the purpose of working out (breaking down the muscle tissue) is so that you can build the muscles back stronger than before. Without the right nutrition at the right time, your body will actually consume the muscles you have in order to keep more vital body parts working (your brain, your organs, etc.). That’s why eating the right food at the right time is so important to how you look.

Are you eating for health?

Please let me know if this post was helpful to you. I’m also always open to questions about fitness and nutrition, 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.

Diet, Health and Fitness

Stop Dieting and Start Eating to Lose Weight

It’s natural to feel like we should cut back on our calories if we want to shed some pounds, but the reality is, it’s the quickest way to get your body to store fat.

Why is that? Our bodies recognize distress signals fast, and hunger is a very important one. It’s genetic. In times of hunting and gathering, food wasn’t so readily available, so the body knew to store food as fat for times of famine.

When you keep your body from having food at reasonable intervals, it triggers the body to store future calories as fat. It’s easy to avoid this, simply eat every three to four hours. Most importantly, eat whole foods: fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats, eggs and nothing processed.

Eating whole foods that are rich in all the nutrients and minerals your body needs keeps you from craving the foods that you don’t need. Our bodies don’t crave food when we support our system nutritionally. Eating sugar makes you crave sugar. Eating carbs makes you crave carbs. Why? Because your body is incredibly intuitive and it understands that it did not get what it was looking for with those last few calories you gave it, so it triggers hunger because it needs more. More calories? No, more nutrition.

So give your body what it needs and do it at regular intervals. Never go more than four hours without eating something healthy and full of vitamins and nutrients. Have an apple or a handful of nuts, keep it simple and notice how you feel. As you stabilize your blood sugar levels, your energy levels will increase, your cravings will diminish and those extra pounds you’re not so fond of will fall right off.

Send me your thoughts and ideas on how to improve your health, lose weight and look better. It’s never too late and it’s almost always simple.

wellness

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!

Healthy Eating

Acid, Alkaline and Inflammation

Have you or anyone you know had cancer, an autoimmune disease, or heart disease? Most of us have lived through one of these issues, or know someone who has. All three problems have one common denominator: inflammation. As a matter of fact, almost all of our health issues start with inflammation. Even common allergies cause inflammation and in the next ten years modern (western medicine) is going to become tuned in to this problem and how we can minimize inflammation in our bodies. Controlling inflammation is the key to staying healthy and controlling it starts with keeping your body alkaline.

Acidity and alkaline in the body can be a little confusing, but it’s very important for the body to remain alkaline for many reasons, most of all to keep inflammation at a minimum. So put simply, acidity causes inflammation and being alkaline minimizes inflammation. Staying alkaline can make all the difference in how a person with an autoimmune disease feels.

How do you get alkaline?

Let’s start by looking at how a body gets acidic. And, like most things that have to do with how you feel, acidity comes from what you put in your body.

Acidic foods include: meats, table salt (not sea salt), milk (a huge offender), sodas, coffee, chocolate (heartbreaking), sugar, alcohol, cheese, and some grains.

So, one of the best ways to get alkaline is to try to eliminate these often tasty items from your diet.

Why? Because being acidic can cause lots of serious problems ranging from general inflammation to life-taking cancer. Other potentially serious acidity problems include: osteoporosis (an acidic body will steal from the bones), kidney problems and cardiovascular disease. So… you really don’t want to be acidic, even if you don’t have an auto-immune disease.

What are some things you can put into your body each day to make it alkaline?

It’s easy :O)… most fruits and vegetables, apple cider vinegar (in place of acid causing regular vinegar), and adding half a lemon in water. Adding these things to a meal that may have some acid-forming foods provides balance for the body. If you’re feeling inflamed, avoid the acid forming foods and drink lots of lemon in water. See if that helps how you’re feeling.

Some great books that discuss the importance of staying alkaline are Clean, by Alejandro Junger, M.D. and The Paleo Diet, by Loren Cordain, Ph.D. Both books address autoimmune diseases and have some great ideas on how to care for the body holistically.

Got some thoughts about acidity and alkaline? I’d love to hear it!!

wellness

Holistic Medicine to the Rescue!

Our bodies are amazing vessels that house our souls. It’s up to us to treat them with respect by how we feed them, groom them, and use them. You do have healthcare choices, and they don’t have to do with insurance or the government. Start with loving yourself, detoxing through sweating,  and cleansing your body with healthy fruits and vegetables.

Thank Goodness for old school medicine and common sense. How has it become the norm to get sick, get pills, and get sick again? What are we doing to our bodies with all of these chemicals, both in our food and our medicine? It seems more like we are the lab rats now and a brief warning of the myriad of side effects you might experience on any medication is the pharmaceutical company’s free license to see how the public weathers the chemicals that are pumped into us by the billions, and that’s billions with a big $$$ behind it.

Have you ever wondered how we can improve the healthcare system in this country?

Here are a few ideas:

1) Start with demanding ORGANIC FOODS that are pesticide, hormone and anti-biotic-free. You can do this simply by only purchasing organic foods. It’s not expensive when you put your focus on the value of a healthy body and saving money on medical bills.

2) If you get sick, or your kids do, with an immune system issue, try an elimination diet. Start with gluten and yeast, the most common offenders. If you can afford to go to a holistic doctor, have them do an Immunolabs (http://www.immunolabs.com/patients/) blood test for food intolerances.

3) EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE!!! There is NO substitute. Our bodies are designed to move, beautifully, so make that happen. Get sweaty! Sweating is one of your bodies best systems for detoxification. Sweating purifies the blood, the lungs and the organs. Once you get going with a workout routine, you’ll crave it. Start a new habit. Don’t have time? MAKE TIME, it’s your body, get to know it and take care of it :O).

4) If you need a doctor, go to one that is trained in a holistic approach to medicine, sometimes we need the big guns- cancer, for example. But if it isn’t life-threatening, try to figure out WHY YOUR SICK, with a good holistic practitioner to find a natural solution.

Please share your story, ask questions, or offer answers. We’re all in this together.