Eating Soy: Don’t Believe the Hype

Over the last couple of years, soy has gotten a pretty bad rep.

This troubles me on a personal level, because I love my tofu. And my miso. And soy sauce. And edamame.

But if that’s the truth, then I will except it.

If that’s the truth.

And recently, I’ve come to question that truth. Sure, my personal bias is a little bit invested in this, but hear me out, because this post is strictly about the facts.

Soy has a reputation for being estrogenic – that is, it raises estrogen. This is because it contains phytoestrogens.

Phytoestrogens are xenoestrogens derived from plants. Phytoestrogens can only be consumed through phytoestrogenic plants.

Phytoestrogens bind to estrogen receptors in the body. In this way, it can mimic estrogen. But what it can also do is bind to estrogen receptors and block other more harmful estrogens from getting to the receptor. Long story short and condensed into laymens terms, phytoestrogens can increase or decrease estrogens – so it can be estrogenic, but it can also be an estrogen antagonist.

The results here are a bit wishy-washy, but here it is. Soy could raise your estrogen levels; but it also could not. It is beyond my understanding how this differs person to person, but I think bioindividuality and lifestyle has a lot to do with how any one person is affected.

I know, I know! You aren’t convinced. Because you’ve also heard that soy is one of the highest genetically modified foods – a fact that doesn’t require labeling in North America. It’s true. Some studies link GMOs to cancer and allergies, and most countries outside of North America consider them harmful – at least harmful enough to ensure consumers are aware when they are buying them.

But to be fair, not all soy is created equal. I buy only organic soy products, which are available here at just about any grocery store. Fermented organic soy beans, like miso, is even better, as it also has health benefits for your gut.

There’s a bit more to the story than just “it’s not that bad for you” . In fact, some studies have shown some benefits from consuming soy.

Soy consumption has actually been linked to decreased risk for cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and can reduce symptoms during menopause. Yes, that’s right – it can be protective against breast cancer, not guilty of causing it.

Based on the information available right now, I believe organic soy is completely okay in moderation. Remember: organic only!

Now I can go back to eating my tofu in peace.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Anxiety Roller Coaster: The Least Fun Ride Ever

When I was 16 years old, I had my first panic attack. Not a feeling of panic, but a full blown, out-of-my-own-reality panic attack. I felt the intense weight of the depersonalization and derealization as the world seemed to slip away from me. I’ve never been the same since. I’ve been struggling with some pretty intense anxiety for the past 10 years. For the most part it would come and go. I’ve had really good weeks, and really bad weeks. On some occasions it’s been so awful that I became agoraphobic. Anxiety has kept me from meeting new people, taking healthy risks, getting the grades in school I was worthy of, and even getting my drivers license.

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More recently the experience has been more akin to waking up on the wrong side of the bed. I feel so wrong and uncomfortable, but I can’t explain why. The little things bother me, the really little things, like having to get cream for my coffee, or not having my clothes hanging in the closet ‘just-so’. When things don’t go ‘according to plan’ – this has also historically been a big trigger for me, as well as being exhausted or hungry. Needless to say, I’ve felt pretty vulnerable.

Anxiety is a slow build up. It’s like the rise before you get to the top of the largest hill on the roller-coaster. You hear the slow clicks as you ascend closer and closer to the top. You know exactly what’s coming. But you can’t stop it. Suddenly it’s that moment before the drop – the beginning of the panic attack – the adrenaline rushing through your veins. Fear takes over, you are in fight or flight mode; feeling like your life is in jeopardy. But it’s not. You’re just walking the dog, or getting bread at the store, washing the dishes, or riding a roller coaster.

It is likely I have some genetic predisposition for anxiety and panic attacks. Of course there are environmental factors at play too. For a long time I felt that it was an inevitable part of life, and the only way to deal with it would be to smother it with alcohol or prescription medication. One day I changed my mind, and I decided that I would figure out how to live life in such a way that my anxiety would always be manageable.

I found a way. Self-care is extremely important when it comes to managing anxiety. I know what gets me in a bad space and I avoid those situations. These are the following changes I have made to better manage my anxiety:

  • Sleep. Specifically, getting more of it. I know that when I’m tired I simply do not function well. I’m not talking about just being a little sleepy. I get complete brain fog, and I can’t think properly. And not thinking properly is a recipe for disaster. I need at least 7 hours a night!
  • Exercise. It’s good for the body and the mind. It gives me a healthy outlet for any of my negative feelings. And exercise releases good endorphins into your body, physically making you feel good!
  • Limiting Refined Carbs. A lot of people with anxiety aren’t aware that there is a long list of foods that can trigger anxiety. I found this out in a very round about way: I cut out refined carbs during my last cut, and I saw a noticeable decrease in my anxiety. In general I had a greater sense of well-being and more balanced moods.
  • Spending time with positive people. It’s the worst to spend hours and hours in a downward spiral of negativity. Energy is contagious. It’s important to be around people who want to talk about hopes, dreams, and possibilities. Not people who will get you thinking about all the difficulties of life.
  • Limiting Alcohol. I don’t go out partying like I did before (I’m getting old now anyways). In the moment I always feel great. It’s the next day when my body is recovering and all out of whack that I struggle with my moods. One night out every one in a while is okay. Binge drinking every weekend is not an option for me.
  • Relaxing, or “me time”. This one has always, always been hard for me. Sometimes I have to force myself to sit down and relax. But I absolutely need to do it. I need to stop and hold time every once in a while, whether that means sitting down for a movie with my significant other or taking a half hour at the coffee shop to read, I take downtime now.

The worst thing about having anxiety is when it disrupts your relationships. Yes, I’ve cancelled plans with friends before because I wasn’t practicing proper self-care and just felt overwhelmed with anxiety. I’ve lashed out at people I love because I didn’t know how to deal with the feelings I was having inside. No one should have to live that way. Anxiety is a cruel monster, and I won’t let it creep up on me anymore. I have daily practices in place to keep my anxiety under control, and when I follow those guidelines to a T I’m at my very best. No panic attacks. This is my way of beating anxiety – the natural way – so I can bring my best foot forward every day and live a happy, healthy, and full life.

Girls Can Have Big Arms Too

Are you guys on Youtube?

If so, check me out! Posting videos has been somewhat on the back burner for the past few months, but finally I have followed through with my intention.

 

I’m so excited about my channel because it gives me a new way in which to share my passion for health and wellness. I’ll be posting workouts, recipes, wellness thoughts, nutrition, and anything else health and wellness related.

Don’t forget to subscribe!

January Check-in

Hello beautiful people.

It’s been an incredible first month of the year. And I’m not trying to be cheesey or cliche – I really mean it. I’ve made some great strides towards bettering myself and creating an even closer relationship with me and my body.

Something really big has happened (if you read my blog post on developing allergies this won’t be a shock to you!)… I’ve discovered that I developed a milk allergy! If right now you’re scratching you head thinking “what”? You can read the post here.

Before discovering this, I had been feeling unwell for months. I was constantly ill, but I never understood why. My skin was breaking out. I could tell my body was fighting something.

I cleaned up my diet. I increased my water intake. I got all my vitamins. I started taking baths. I tried everything under the sun to figure out why I was constantly sick and bloated.  I went to doctors (yes plural); I had blood work done. I looked into consulting with a Naturopath, but at an estimated $400 a session there was just no way I could go for it.

So I tried an elimination diet and started with the usual suspects – dairy and wheat. After three days of being dairy free, I began feeling so much better.

I am only on my 8th day of living dairy free, but I my body feels renewed. As a result, my mind feels renewed. I have so much more life and energy. I’ve struggled just to maintain weight over the last few months, and since last week I am down 5 lbs.

I feel really great and I’m so glad to share that with you guys. If your body is telling you that something isn’t right, never stop searching! Never stop discovering. There were moments in this part of my journey that I felt hopeless. I’m glad it’s not in my nature to ever give up.
Improvements: NO MORE BLOATING. No more feeling yucky. No more allergies. A feeling of supreme wellness. I’m even feeling my energy shift in a more positive direction. Everything is improving.

Current Focus: A few times on this blog I have mentioned that the scale kept climbing over the last few months, but I didn’t know why. Now that I’ve got that under control, I feel like the sky is the limit for me. It’s been over three months since I’ve seen my abs. If there is one thing I have realized these last few months, it’s that I’m so much more than abs. Our society values an ideal that is extremely hard to maintain. My focus right now is on my health and my energy. That’s the place that my workouts and meals will come from.

Eating: Okay, I’ll say it one more time: now that I’ve eliminated dairy, I feel so much better. I am also going to continue to keep my wheat intake to a minimum and focus on getting my carbs from brown rice and sweet potato. My eating right now is clean and carb conscious, but I haven’t eliminated carbs for any meals specifically.

Feeling: Physically I feel empowered. I have been able to overcome something that plagued me for so long. I am so much reminded right now why I am so passionate about health and wellness. Because I know that the pursuit is a daring experiment, and finding the answer is worth it.

I find myself having a renewed sense of enthusiasm in my passion. May it carry on for the rest of the year!

Self-Esteem is Work (and it’s worth it)!

We’ve all had those days when we just wake up, and we don’t feel good about ourselves. Maybe it’s your hair, maybe it’s your clothes. Maybe it’s your weight. Or maybe it’s something less physical, like your ability or your strength. Whatever it is, or combination thereof, it’s taken a hit.

You stopped believing you were great.

Where did this self-esteem deficit come from?

It’s different for everyone. And the list is so long. From trying and failing. From feeling overwhelmed. From taking on too much. From comparing ourselves to others. From our culture and our society. From our anxiety and depression. From listening to other people. From letting the negative energy in.

I want to clear the air: no amount of material goods can cure you of a lack of self-esteem. You can buy all the make-up, clothes, electronics, and whatever else you desire. There is no expensive luxury item that can fill that void. There is nothing you can buy.

We tend to go there though. We feel bad so we go shopping. We feel bad so we get our hair done. We feel bad so we hide behind some $50 eyeliner. It can’t fix you. It can definitely give you a boost. It can for sure make you feel good in the moment. But it can’t fix you. And here’s why:

The real problem is inside. A lack of self-esteem truly stems from one thing and one thing only, and it’s this thought:

“I’m not good enough”.

I’m not saying that well-off men and women all suffer from a lack of self-esteem. But if you don’t feel good about yourself unless you have those material things to hide behind, then you’re hurting.

You don’t need to have the best of everything and fit into a size zero to be good enough. You don’t have to spend half your paycheque at Sephora, or almost kill yourself on the treadmill to be good enough. You are good enough. Just as you are.

Once you believe that, once you believe that you are enough, no matter what the scale says, or your crazy hair day says, or your especially hectic and overwhelming day says, then you have self-esteem.

Getting there, unfortunately, doesn’t just happen. I wish it did.

I wish we could just sit in a chair and “dig really deep!” and find that self esteem that we’ve been missing. But like all other good things in life, it takes work. But it’s worth it.

Self-esteem is something you grow. You nurture it and give yourself the love you need.

Take on small challenges and own them. Try something new. Do something you didn’t know you could. That builds self-esteem.

Stop taking people’s shit. Be impermeable to the negative energy from others. Do what’s best for you. That builds self-esteem.

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Look in the mirror and say “I love you no matter what”. This is your body, and it’s the only one you have, so cherish it. Know that you are so much MORE than a body. You’re a mind. You have things to offer. Begin to believe that you are good enough. That builds self-esteem.

When all else fails, put out into the Universe what you desire most. Tell someone you love their sense of humor. Highlight someone’s strength. Let a friend know how much you appreciate them. Make someone else feel good, and wait for the Universe to deliver that energy back to you.

My sister sent me a message yesterday to tell me how much she appreciates my love and support. It meant everything to me. I thought to myself “yes! I did something right. I’m a good sister”. That built up my self-esteem. Highlighting something I’m good at.

I want to end this post by letting you know that you are a miracle. The chances of you being born were so slim, you are inherently a miracle on this earth. Inside of you is boundless potential. And you can do anything., granted you put all of your passion and hardwork into it. No one can live this life the exact same way you will. You will affect others, you are special.

Please don’t forget that!

Check-in/ October 21tst 2015

Hey everyone! I’m a little late posting my October progress but here is me 🙂

I aim for mid-month but life does get in the way sometimes!

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I’ve been dieting for the last 3 weeks or so, but I haven’t seen any leaning out. I was definitely frustrated initially. Ugh. You guys know how it is. I just have to hang in there! I’ve been having major stomach issues for the last few months and that has definitely affected me as well.

After thanksgiving dinner, I bloated up like I was 9 months pregnant! And I didn’t even eat until I felt super full! But I dealt with bloating for over a week. And just a general feeling of being unwell. I’m sticking with my workouts and I’m sticking with my eating. And any week now I’ll pull through!

It’s so easy to go to a place where we hate our bodies, especially when we work so hard for one thing and it doesn’t work. But I will continue to love myself towards my goals.

Improvements: My butt is looking better than ever! I’m lucky; my genetics do allow some of my fat to magically float there when I’m a few pounds extra!

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As my boyfriend says: “look at those dimensions!”

Current Focus: My current focus is on leaning out and building curves. Big legs and big shoulders. If you aren’t born with it, build it!

Eating: My eating has been pretty clean for the last few weeks! I’ve been restricting carbs throughout the day and focusing on having them more during breakfast when I need the energy!

Feeling like: I’m overcoming. I weigh the most I have ever been. I don’t look overweight, but it plays games with your head. I have struggled. But I have also realized that my muscle definition is not what makes me beautiful. My determination and work ethic do. And I never quit 🙂

What is so beautiful about the fitness journey is that I have the privilege of setting and resetting my goals. Overall, I look forward to getting better every day, in one way or another. I would love to be nice and lean over the holidays. I want to show people that it’s not impossible to be lean over the holidays. But that’s a post for another day 🙂 !

Thanks for reading!

How to Build your Butt!

The women in my family are blessed with great bum genetics. But last year, after going through some stressful and unfortunate circumstances, I was down to 102 lbs and struggling. Truthfully, I didn’t want anybody checking out my backside; I was ashamed because I felt like I was simply wasting away. I wanted to gain weight, but I wanted to do it the healthy way.

For the last year and a half, I have been determined to be the best I can be; mind, body, and soul. And butt. Here are my tips for building a bigger, better butt!

My butt progress, approximately one year between photos 

SQUATS are obviously monumentally important if this is your goal. The big thing here is proper form and squeeze at the top. Go below parallel. Be consistent with your squats, and try to increase weight every couple of weeks. The heavier the squat, the bigger your butt will grow to compensate and support you.

GLUTE BRIDGES are my all-time favorite booty exercise. Again, don’t forget to squeeze at the top! I do these with my back against some kind of support, usually a bench. Throw a barbell across your hips and thrust! Aim for 8-10 reps, 4 sets.

CLAMSHELL EXERCISE really helped me shape those side glutes. This link explains proper form. I’ve actually never used a band; I typically place a plate weight on my outer knee during the reps; increase the weight and you increase the difficulty of this exercise!

I truly dislike LUNGES, but I can’t give them up because man do they work. What’s great about lunges is you can do them anywhere. I grab a couple of 10lb Dumbbells for each hand during my lunges. On the days when I want to focus more on my quads, I do raptor lunges, which are lunges with a shorter stride.

Stuck with it! Progress will happen slowly but surely. I can’t wait to compare pictures another year from now!

Cheers!

The Number One Reason WHY Your Dreams are NOT Coming True

I’ve always been drawn to understanding people. What I’m really interested in is what drives people, what motivates them. What makes us different? What separates the people who are just going through the motions in life from those who are consciously being and growing? Why are some people successful, and some aren’t?

Believing in yourself is a big player here. Unless you truly believe that your goal is attainable, you won’t even try. Why would you? No one in their right mind would put effort into something they were sure wasn’t going to work. The thing is, we are always so “sure” without being sure. We are quick to dismiss ourselves as not good enough, or even quicker to dismiss it as a problem with our “situation”. We blame the external world, we feel held back, we say “I would do it but…”.

 

 

This is where the truth comes out. There is something at play here that is much bigger than just believing. Before we can believe, we have to let go of the fear that holds us back. Fear of failing, fear of falling, fear that it won’t work out. Fear is paralyzing.

Take a moment to think about something you wish you would have done but were too afraid.

Think about what would have happened if you had done it.

I can’t even begin to list the amazing things I would have done in life if I hadn’t let fear hold me back. I would have jumped at every opportunity that came along! Instead, I shied away. I was a “can’t” person.

Sometimes my “can’ts” were about me. I’m not skilled enough, I’m not capable, it will never work out. I blamed anything else. I don’t have enough support, it’s not the right time, this is a stupid idea. It’s all garbage. I was afraid. I was worried that it wouldn’t work out and I would look like a fool.

More than that, I was worried that it would.

 

Most people are so committed to being comfortable that the idea of actually being successful makes us uneasy. What if it does work out? What if I do make it? What if my relationship/new business/academic venture/travel plans actually work out?

We never expect for good things to happen to us, but we always expect the bad. When the bad comes, we say “that’s life”. When the good comes, we say “this isn’t meant for me” and we run.

Don’t be afraid. If by chance you fail, it means you’re trying, your playing the game. The only way to win the game is to play. Failure is not the opposite of success, but rather a part of the journey towards it.

Plus, I really think if you try, you just might surprise yourself.

I think you can do it; that thing that you are so afraid of.

And don’t say you aren’t scared, you are scared. It’s scary.

The majority of people make decisions based on fear every single day. It’s normal, but it doesn’t mean it’s right. Stop holding yourself back from that thing that is meant and waiting for you.

You deserve happiness and you deserve success. You are worthy. There is nothing to be afraid of but fear itself.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” – Marianne Williamson

Is Anxiety a Weakness?

All of my closest friends have been hospitalized. The mental and physical wear and tear of life affects us all, no one is exempt from struggle. The only thing that sets us apart is the way in which we struggle. For some people, that struggle is anxiety.

The friends I have seen fight their way through depression and anxiety are the strongest people I know. They have gone places mentally that those who haven’t struggled in that way will never know. If you’ve never had severe depression, you don’t know what it’s like wanting to die to end your pain. If you don’t have social anxiety, you don’t know the overwhelming fear involved in attending a simple gathering. If you have never had a panic attack, you don’t know the sheer embarrassment of losing complete and utter control of yourself. You don’t know the hurt, the pain, and the anguish of dealing with any such mental illness. And you don’t know the inner dialogue that takes place when you’re struggling to pull yourself out.

You’ll never know what it’s like.

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It’s not your journey, and our journey is not yours to judge. No we can’t just “snap out of it”. No we won’t just “get over it”. No we didn’t “ask for it”. There are a zillion factors (genetic, environmental, etc) at play here. If you know someone struggling with anxiety or depression, save your frustration. What that person needs is your patience, your support, and your unconditional love. Be there for them, even though:

You’ll never know what it’s like.

Anxiety and depression are not weaknesses. Overcoming those obstacles creates a stronger person. We’ve fought to be here – every inch, every step, every mile we’ve covered.

I have anxiety. There are so many times I was uttterly convinced that I was going to die. It’s beyond counting. I used to lay awake in bed at night worrying about what might happen to my family, drowning in irrational thoughts about losing them. I’ve had anxiety so bad I became agoraphobic; terrified of leaving my own house. I’ve been through depersonalization and derealization, at the same time, for hours. But I’m still here.

One thing is true: I’m better for what I’ve been through. It’s ignited a compassion and empathy in me I don’t know if I would have had otherwise. By overcoming by anxiety and not letting it control my life, I’ve proved that I am powerful. I used to be constantly paralyzed by fear; now I am (almost) fearless. Now I know that fear is not real. It exists only in my mind, if I allow it.

And you might never know what that’s like too, that sense of glorious accomplishment. I am still here in one piece despite everything.

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I’m not here to guilt anyone who hasn’t struggled with mental illness. What I want for people to understand is that it’s not okay to scoff, mock, or minimize the experience of those who do. Don’t judge something you simply don’t understand. Don’t say that it’s not real simply because it’s something you haven’t been through first hand. And don’t say anxiety is weakness, it has made me the remarkably strong and resilient woman I am today.

How to Create Your Dream Core

Defined abdominals aren’t for everyone, you either want them or you don’t. If you DO want them, this post is for you!

Creating a strong core was something I was initially drawn to in fitness – and initially I worked them out during almost every workout. Not only us a stable core important for fitness in general, but I love the way a strong core makes me feel. It took about a year to get where I wanted to be, but my hard work did pay off!

 Current ab situation, a little less lean than usual nut they’re under there!

Abs: The world doesn’t begin and end with them but damn, they are fun.

Here are a few tips to achieving a more defined core:

1. Reduce body fat. Yup. This is why they say “abs are made in the kitchen”. Because you can have great abs, but typically the ultimate goal is usually to have all that hard work become visible. Reducing body fat isn’t easy – it takes a lot of hard work, determination, and usually a lot of meal planning.

2. Be consistent. Whatever your goal is, you’ve got to consciously work on it. If you really want those abs, be consistent in setting time aside to work them out exclusively – at least 2-4 times per week. Also, when it comes to training don’t be afraid to mix it up! If you continue to do the same boring old ab routine, you will be way less inclined to keep up with it. Lastly, don’t forget to engage your core during the rest of your workout routine.

3. Slow movements. What this really comes down to is engaging your core. You want to do slow, controlled movements to get the most out of your workout. Personally, keeping this in mind was a game changer for me. I highly recommend slowing down and really contracting your ab muscles when working them out.

Try adding this quick ab workout onto the end of your routine: 

  • 15 sit-ups
  • 15 leg raises
  • 15 heel touches
  • 15 boat pose

Good luck on getting those abs girl, and all those other goals too.