New Year, Same Me: And That’s Okay

The biggest transformation that happened for me this last year had nothing to do with my body and had EVERYTHING to do with how I see my body.

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January 2019 compared to January 2020 – same me, but transformed perspective!

If you want to lose weight this year, great. If you want to take a different approach to health by balancing things from the inside out, that’s something I will continue to share about in 2020.

Just remember – someone else’s before and after doesn’t tell the full story. What looks like “discipline” may actually be disordered eating. What looks like gaining weight or hitting a plateau may actually be a year of grief and stress. We can’t measure success or failure from a picture.

What’s always missing in these before and after pictures is the DURING.

Continue reading “New Year, Same Me: And That’s Okay”

Re-Focus 2020: See Yourself More Clearly

Is it time for a change?

I’m not talking about weight loss, or a new goal or resolution. I’m not talking about a diet. I’m talking about getting a new view of YOU in the new year.

You probably have heard me say it – I’m a big fan of treating the root. And as much as I love partnering with people to make healthy habits, I also believe that focusing on laying a solid foundation FIRST is key to success.

That’s why I have partnered with Christian author and body image expert Heather Creekmore to bring you a 10 day wellness group to get your mind and heart ready for the new year.

Whether your goal is to lose weight, be more mindful of what you eat, or just feel healthier physically, spiritually and emotionally – this 10 day community can help kick start your goals.

Each day I will offer strategies to personalize your nutrition and become more mindful of your eating habits. I will bring you my favorite tools for learning how to listen to your body and find what’s right for YOU!

Heather will bring strategies to help you lay a solid, spiritual foundation for improving your body image and quitting comparison. She will encourage you with ways to improve your spiritual health so that your physical goals are easier to meet.

The 10 day group will take place through a private Facebook group January 6-16. We will post daily during the 10 days, and we will be available throughout to offer you support and answer all your questions.

In addition to daily tips, challenges, and special video lessons, we’ll be giving away two gifts to thank you for participating. I will provide my “Fast Track Family Recipes” booklet and Heather is gifting you “Mountain Top Experience: A Personal Body Image Retreat.”

The price to participate in this group is only $20! Sign up here or contact me in the contact tab if you are interested!

I hope you have a happy and healthy new year!

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Healthy Holiday Sides with Carrots and Sweet Potatoes

Carrot souffle and sweet potato bake that are grain free, dairy free, and refined sugar free? Yes, please!

Now, before you head to the recipes, I have to say one quick thing. I know it’s a pain when you are looking for a recipe and the blogger spends all this time with the description and build up and pictures and you’re like, “Just get to the dang ingredients, Karen!”

But after I say this I’ll be done – and you can go on your merry way to try out these recipes.

I get annoyed with the phrase “healthy” in regards to food choices during the holidays. Holidays are celebratory, and if you’re stressing out about whether something is “healthy” or not, and you’re panicked about every ingredient in your meal, you’re less likely to be able to digest the nutrients from that meal.

Stressing about food is the opposite of health, in my opinion.

That being said, it seems to me that every year I get busier with celebrations. We have countless parties, and all of them feature lots of food and lots of alcohol. Because monitoring my mental health is always priority for me, and I will do whatever I can to fight seasonal depression, eating loads of sugar and drinking sugary alcoholic beverages can be taxing on my mental stability.

Consuming lots of sweet treats and drinking alcohol frequently during the month of December will throw off my sleep, make me less well-rested the following day, and then cause my cravings to skyrocket – perpetuating the cycle. So while I don’t want to stress about my food, I do want to be MINDFUL about what I’m choosing and how those choices will make me feel afterward. (For more on eating for mental health and my thoughts on that, check out the Sparking Wholeness podcast episode 10.)

Which leads me to the recipes.

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Continue reading “Healthy Holiday Sides with Carrots and Sweet Potatoes”

Eating for Mental Wealth

Nourishment comes in many forms beyond food.

Being aware of triggers that negatively impact my mental and physical well-being (because they’re connected) is key.

Your relationship with food affects your mental health as well. If you’re stressed about what you’re eating – or what you can’t eat – that sets off a fight or flight response in the body that is not health-promoting.

 

Eating for Mental Wealth

 

There is comfort in food. There is joy found in a good meal with friends, in a special holiday gathering. So the last thing I would say is you have to turn down dessert at every special event because it’s going to cause some mental health relapse. It probably won’t. If you have a leaky gut and food sensitivities, it might cause problems. I don’t know your body and your situation. It will take trial and error and individualized support.

I do want you to be aware of some of the most important things I’ve found that hinder and benefit my mental health, based on my own experience and all the latest research on how food IS mood.

Check out my most recent podcast episode, Eating for Mental Wealth, for more information on how I view nourishment! Click on the tree logo on the right to access the show page or listen on iTunes here.

Quick and Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Last week my husband and I decided to get creative, save money, and utilize different items from our freezer and pantry that were taking up space.

Well, maybe it was my idea to get creative. He just liked the money-saving part.

img_2561Anyway, I found some organic boneless chicken thighs in our freezer, along with some pantry items that could be useful, and threw together a white bean chicken chili that was so good I knew I needed to post here for my own reference, if anything!

What surprised me about this chili is how creamy it ended up being. I didn’t add any cheese or sour cream, but something about the combo of the white beans and bone broth made it thicker than a usual tomato-based and dark bean chili.

 

*Note: While beans may be aggravating for some people if consumed too frequently, they are still a great source of folate, minerals, and fiber – and white beans in particular are great at slowing the glucose response in the body. All these benefits are crucial for mental WEALTH. Continue reading “Quick and Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Chili”

Put the Weights Down

I love the little reminder above my shoulder that says, “Not for Me.”img_1966

You know what is SO not for me?

Negativity about my body.

Getting value from my jeans size.

Thinking I have to lose weight to be liked.

Picking a lofty resolution that involves weight loss.

Telling myself mean things.

The endless search for body perfection.

So I’m gonna hang those old thought patterns right there on that hook.

Do you struggle with any of the above? Do you struggle with body image issues or constant comparison? Are you already planning those New Year’s Resolutions that you hope will FINALLY work? Are you on a continual quest for your happy weight?

In this week’s show I am joined by my friend Heather Creekmore, speaker and author of the book, Compared to Who. We have a great conversation regarding how we let our body image define our worth and value for way too many years, and we discuss ways we have worked on beating the body image beast – which may include putting down the weights.

Is there a solution to healing from obsessing over body image issues? Listen to the episode to find out! Access the show from my show page (click on the tree) or in iTunes.

And stay tuned – because in January we have an awesome 10 day group launching to help you see yourself more clearly in 2020.

The Myth of More

“Our discontent is fueled by the myth of more.”

My brilliant dad, Gary Brandenburg, recently said that in a sermon. It hit me so hard I had to do some major self-reflection.

I am a person who always wants more. This started at a young age:

Why have one Whopper when you can have two?

Why have one doughnut when you can have eight?

Why join one sport when you can play them all?

Why audition for just the school play when you can audition for the community theatre play, too?

Why volunteer in just one church ministry when you can volunteer in multiple?

But it doesn’t stop there. I don’t want to simply DO everything, I want to EXCEL at everything. So I can not only have more activity and excitement, but I can have more accolades and achievement.

I know I’m not the only one. I think our current culture drives this mindset through all the pleasant distractions that trick us into fulfillment.

The result? This “myth of more” causes major boundary issues, and it is completely unrealistic.

When I am consumed by the myth of more, I say yes to too much. I overdo it. I crash. I let myself down. I let others down – typically, the ones who matter most to me.

I can’t do everything and do every thing well.

When I’m rushing to find satisfaction from achievement or excess or MORE, I can’t be present. I can’t be satisfied.

This Thanksgiving week, I have purposefully taken a week off from my usual schedule to meditate daily, enjoy good meals, have fun with my family, read fiction instead of non-fiction health books, spend quality time with my husband, and just BE. When I catch my mind spinning on things I “have to” or “need to” do – usually those things driven by a need to find fulfillment in distraction – I stop my thoughts, take a deep breath through my nose, and tell myself, “This week I am resting. That can wait.”

It is a beautiful thing. I always find contentment when I choose to be present and grateful.

So wherever you are reading this, take a deep breath, hold it, let it out slowly, and tell yourself that you already have everything you need, right in front of you!

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” -‭‭ Philippians‬ ‭4:19‬

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Healthy For the Holidays

Here I go, adding to the noise in cyber space to try to tell you what it means to be healthy during the holidays.

img_1244But seriously – this is an important time of year to take care of ourselves – body, mind, and soul.

Rule number one: Take care of your stress load. This is a great time of year to exercise your “no muscle.” Don’t try to do it all. Stress weakens the immune system, shuts down proper digestion, and wreaks havoc on our health.

Start a gratitude journal. Get outside and move your body. Play with your kids. Breathe. Eat your colors. Minimize your screen usage (and social media). Do the things you WANT to do, not the things you feel you HAVE to do. This is supposed to be a season of joy, not a season of obligation.

In the latest episode of Sparking Wholeness, I chat with my friend and fellow health coach, Melissa McGaughey. We discuss our top tips for staying healthy during the hectic holiday season. Click here to find it on iTunes, or here to find it on my show page.

Ask the Expert: What is MTHFR and How Does It Affect Me?

Though I have addressed the topic of MTHFR on this blog before, I wanted to dive deeper into it and learn from someone who could explain how it relates to our mental health and overall wellness.

img_1492Dr. Tracey Stroup is a Naturopathic Doctor, Certified Natural Health Professional, certified Digestive Health Specialist, Master Herbalist who also has completed courses in Iridology.

An estimated 40% of the population has this MTHFR gene mutation, which prevents us from being able to effectively use B vitamins or convert folic acid, repair on a cellular level, and use antioxidants to properly detoxify.

Common health conditions like migraines, chronic fatigue, infertility, autoimmune issues, mental health or other neurological problems – even heart disease – all can be greatly impacted by MTHFR.

In this podcast episode, Tracey discusses dietary and lifestyle changes plus supplement recommendations that can help us biohack our genes. As I’ve mentioned before, your genes load the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger!

Click to download to listen to this episode here or on iTunes here.

Kanye, Bipolar Disorder, Religiosity, and My Thoughts

While my entire Facebook feed is filled with articles and comments about Kanye West’s new album and recent conversion, I have stayed silent. Why?

Because number one, I don’t really know anything about Kanye to begin with (other than the time he hijacked Taylor Swift’s speech on the VMAs and the famous rant about George Bush not caring about black people). He has kids with weird names and a wife with an awesome body. That’s about all I know. Superficial? Maybe. I can’t tell you the name of any of his songs. They’re not on my running playlist.

Number two, what he does or says doesn’t have any affect on me personally. If he wants to sing songs about being rich and famous or songs about Jesus – cool. I typically don’t speak up about issues in pop culture unless I feel they have some kind of heart-twisting impact on me and my life… or if they have some kind of mental health connection.

So when I heard he suffers from bipolar disorder, that’s when the light bulb turned on. How did I miss this? Talk about a plot twist! It led me to take an interest in all the Kanye news of the last year or so. While many out there are debating whether his conversion is real or a publicity stunt, my first thought upon learning this is – is this all a manic episode?

Continue reading “Kanye, Bipolar Disorder, Religiosity, and My Thoughts”