Five Health Trends That Aren’t That Healthy

Your body needs to feel safe to heal and thrive. That’s true for emotional safety, and it’s absolutely true for physiological safety. Unfortunately, due to fancy food marketing and years of junk science twisted to benefit the food companies, we have commonly consumed foods that are keeping your body in an unsafe, stressed out state. We have strayed so far from food that our great-grandparents ate that our bodies are sounding the alarm on every level – yet we keep trying the newest things.

So I’ve rounded up a list of the five things that I believe are creating long-term chaos in the body’s ability to function optimally – from a cellular level to neurotransmitter level to every area in between. We all want what’s best for our health, but it can be so confusing figuring out the best ways to be healthy. I believe, based on the piles of research I have done and the training I have received, that these five trends masquerading as health could be extremely destructive, especially when habitual.

Five Health Trends That Aren’t Healthy:

  1. Using reduced fat, low fat, or light, sugar-free anything. I can’t believe I even have to say this, 30 years after the low fat movement led us all into hypoglycemia and prediabetes (that may come off as an exaggeration; I do believe there is a strong correlation). Fat is necessary for so many functions in our body. It is crucial for cell membrane health. It is necessary for brain health. It is extremely satiating and keeps us full and our cravings down. When fat is removed from something that naturally has fat in it, it throws off the balance of carbs and fat, which can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar. In some cases, like in light salad dressings, chemical stabilizers (and sugar or artificial sweeteners) are added to maintain texture and flavor. That overly sweet flavor can stimulate the cephalic blood sugar response and set you up for blood sugar roller coasters and hanger. Still skeptical? A meta-analysis of 16 studies showed that those who consumed full fat dairy were less likely to be at risk for obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Also, a study of women who ate low fat dairy increased their chances of infertility by 85%. to As my friend Chelsea, the Christian Nutritionist says, God didn’t make cows with low fat udders. Eat the fat. Be full.
  2. Consuming seed oils. For years we were told canola oil is safer and a great source of omega 3. Same with soybean oil, vegetable oil, corn oil (I still see commercials about how it’s heart healthy), palm oil, sunflower, and safflower oil. These oils are damaging to the mitochondria – meaning your cellular health is at risk by over consuming these oils. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are very unstable and break down (oxidize) under high heat and heavy processing. Not to mention they tend to throw off the omega 3:6 ratio, which can increase inflammation if omega 6 oils far exceed omega 3. They are in coffee creamers, processed chips and baked goods, cereal, nut butters, ice cream, breaded chicken products, bread, tortillas, salsa, canned goods, etc – BUT there are options that don’t have them as well. It takes reading the ingredients, not the nutrition facts like we’ve been trained. When all else fails, go organic. It is very rare that inflammatory seed oils will be in an organic product. This is an excellent reference guide from Dr. Cate Shanahan here.
  3. Drinking oat milk. Take the inflammatory oils from item number two, turn a glyphosate-ridden grain into a “milk,” add some other fillers and stabilizers, and tell people it’s healthy because it’s plant-based. It’s genius marketing, which seems to be working, based on all the varieties of oat milks out there. I have nothing against organic oats for most people. But oats aren’t milk. They go very well with milk, but they aren’t milk. To be milk, a lot of processing needs to happen. And because recent studies show that eating ultra processed foods increases depression and anxiety, why add one more item of processing to your morning coffee? If it’s here and there, I don’t see an issue. But most of these items on this list, this one included, are replacing daily staples. It’s not worth it to me. If you truly have an issue with organic dairy, whether a sensitivity or allergy, pure coconut milk is the best option for a substitute. Most of the plant-based milk options are highly processed and can be aggravating for sensitive systems.
  4. Eating 5 small meals a day. On one level, this seems to make sense. We’ve been told that by eating five (or six) small meals a day, it can support satiety, blood sugar, and “stoke the metabolism.” However, recent research is showing that it might be doing more harm than good. Multiple studies have shown that meal frequency doesn’t actually impact metabolism and lead to greater weight loss as we’ve been told. For those with digestive issues and gut imbalances, eating too frequently hinders the work of the Migrating Motor Complex, which is basically the internal gut vacuum, taking out the trash to keep our system cleared out from excess debris that could cause inflammation. It needs a good four hours on average in between meals to to do its job. By constantly eating, we prevent it from happening. Furthermore, we are seeing a massive increase of insulin resistance in all ages and stages of life. When you are continually snacking, especially when it’s a low calorie, low fat but higher carb/sugar food, you are constantly asking your insulin to support the load, which can lead to hypoglycemia and down the line, insulin resistance. Research shows that eating less meals that are more satiating and packed with sufficient fiber, FAT (there’s a theme here), and protein, will keep blood sugar from constantly spiking and dropping throughout the day.
  5. Doing intense cardio all the time. I’m not hating on you runners or HIIT people. I used to be one. Exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise, is an incredible hormetic stressor. This means that your body is put under a little bit of stress for a short period of time, then it recovers, and you become more resilient. The problem with most people living a modern, fast-paced lifestyle, is there is little room for recovery. This used to be me. My alarm went off early in the morning, I threw on my workout clothes, and headed out for a run. Then, still buzzing from the energy (stress) created by the run, I jumped into the shower and prepared for a packed day, rushing from one thing to the next. I rarely stretched, I rarely recovered. So my body maintained the stress created by the run. Reminder: even good stress can be a stress. How do you know if you’re doing too much? For most people, doing over 30 minutes of cardio most days per week could be harmful, especially women in the luteal or menstrual phase. If you find yourself exhausted when you wake up, pushing through exhaustion during your workout, chronically sore and in pain, highly anxious and edgy in spurts throughout the day, waking up throughout the night… you may benefit from slowing it down some days. Even adding in a couple days of yoga or strength training can be beneficial. And always, always stretch and breathe after an intense workout. This reminds your body you are safe and no longer “running from a tiger.”

I will finish by reminding you that a body in stress won’t digest. So while I have focused primarily on food and what NOT to do, keep in mind that learning to manage stress and creating an environment for safety and healing is always going to be the most important thing you can do for your health. I will also add that losing weight rapidly due to extreme caloric restriction or a processed food based diet program does not equal health. It is very stressful to the body, especially if detoxification is hindered by insufficient nutrients or nutrients in a synthetic form (like folic acid). Furthermore, it may be creating metabolic adaptations that can cause long-term difficulties maintaining a healthy set point weight while consuming “normal” amounts of food. More on that here.

Realistically, we won’t be able to avoid all seed oils. We won’t be able to stay away from all toxic chemicals. We can’t erase our stress, as much as I’d love to. But what we want is to become more stress resilient. By minimizing the toxic load as we are able to, by becoming more aware of what is stressful for us, we can take steps toward resilience and healing and safety. Your body is on your side.

Need more support? I’m getting ready for a new round of Feast 2 Fast next month! This one month program is a metabolic makeover using real, whole food – no diet drinks or substitutes. Sign up here if you are interested, or message me for more information!

Five Things I’m Doing for My Health This Year

Happy New Year!

It’s the time of year when people are setting goals, creating self-improvement plans, and looking forward to change that sticks. As a health coach, I know that creating changes that stick have to do with small, sustainable habits. I like to practice what I preach, so I created some small steps that I can focus on this year. I share in more detail on my latest podcast episode here.

My word of the year is renewal, and all five of these are ways I can focus on renewing my mind, my body, and my soul!

  1. Start my day with at least 20 grams of protein in my first meal. Protein is crucial for mental health and neurotransmitter function, but most of us don’t get enough – especially at breakfast. So while I don’t have a set breakfast time, I make sure that my first meal includes sufficient protein. When that happens, I have more mental clarity and less sugar cravings throughout the day.
  2. I’m doing intense trauma therapy. I am working with a counselor who specializes in EMDR, a therapy that helps to reprocess trauma at the brain level, which creates safety in the entire nervous system. Ironically, after all my podcast episodes centered on trauma, I didn’t realize I had complex PTSD until this fall, so I’m looking forward to correcting some core belief systems that are based upon the lies that trauma and shame told me about my place in this world.
  3. Build intentional muscle. I move my body 5-6 times a week for mental health reasons, and I usually choose yoga and walking as my favorite forms of movement. But new studies are showing the anti-inflammatory benefits of muscle as we age, not to mention how it benefits insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial function. My plan is to do strength training twice a week on top of what I already do, in a way that supports functional movement and longevity… and my husband was my inspiration for this one, which you can hear more about in the latest podcast episode.
  4. Read the Bible in a year. My faith is important to me, and I read a lot. However, in 2022 I spent much more time reading research articles and fiction than the book that is foundational to my belief system. I’m going back to the Bible Recap plan, and I’m looking forward to seeing God’s faithfulness in a new way, which happens every time I do a plan like this, no matter how many times I’ve done it before.
  5. Take a break from food at least 12 hours every day. I recently learned that less than 10% of Americans eat in a 12 hour window, while the majority of Americans are now considered metabolically unhealthy. There is something to be said for taking a break from food to let your body digest and assimilate and utilize nutrients. It’s beneficial for so many systems in the body. For females, I don’t recommend going longer than 16 hours from eating on a regular basis, and definitely not during the luteal or menstrual phase of the cycle. But most women can benefit from a 12 hour fast every day, though it will be different for everyone.

Programs this year:

I will be hosting three day reset groups periodically throughout the year for anyone who wants to try a fasting-mimicking approach through a food-based system from the company Plexus Worldwide. It contains bone broth, protein powder, collagen soup, and other antioxidant-packed products designed to give your body a metabolic overhaul. You can look at more details and ingredients here. Email me for a special discount code!

I will continue to utilize the online month-long Feast 2 Fast program on Facebook, with in person group opportunities in East Texas. Stay tuned for that information. Our first group will launch in February.

I’m still available for 1:1 virtual coaching. Let’s put together a New Year goal sheet for you and your unique body’s needs.

Stop Using Exercise to Punish Your Body; Use It to Connect WITH Your Body

Beyond the brain health benefits, beyond the physical health benefits, moving your body is a way to intentionally connect to it and create space for safety and healing and growth.

When you have trauma of any kind, when you have body image issues or a history of disordered eating or disordered exercise behaviors, when you are fighting a chronic disease or are consumed by depression or anxiety… the last thing you want to do is intentionally connect with your body and be present with it.

For this reason, I hold a deep appreciation for movement like yoga or slower, low impact exercises. When I was a runner only, I could escape from the racing thoughts. I could “beat my body into submission,” by pushing harder, increasing my miles or my speed. But in yoga, where the moves rarely change, or when I’m walking slowly through my hilly neighborhood, I’m trapped in my thoughts – and my body. I have learned to lean into the discomfort of being present with my body, instead of punishing it for not acting how I want it to act.

I heavily dislike anyone promoting that you shut down the signals your body sends to you. I recently saw two shirts pop up in Facebook ads (thanks algorithm) that bothered me on such a deep level. One shirt read, “FIT: F*&% I’m tired” and the other read, “Shut up, legs, you’re fine!”

Listen. If I’m tired, I probably need to rest or make an adjustment in my schedule. It is simply unhealthy to keep pushing forward. If my legs are hurting during a workout, I probably need to take a breath, ask my body how to provide it further support. Exercise is an incredible tool for growth and healing. It’s a hormetic stressor that can create stress resilience.

It is not for dissociation and punishment. 

Moving my body is a way to engage, not disengage and dissociate. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do is be present and move with the body I have – not punish my body for what I don’t.

Movement is therapeutic, it’s a celebration, and yes – it can even be a form of worship.

What a joy to intentionally flood our brains with endorphins and serotonin and GABA and brain-derived neurotrophic factor. What a gift!

Exercise and moving your body isn’t just something that impacts your physical health. Like with the act of eating, your mindset matters. Your thoughts matter, and they send signals to every cell in your body. Using your time of movement to renew your mind, renew your thoughts about your body, and celebrate what your body can do goes beyond simply pumping your arms and legs and getting your heart rate up.

I love moving my body. I love connecting to it and creating space for safety and healing and growth. I DISLIKE shutting down the signals my body sends me. 

Remember: every thought you think is a chemical messenger that brings information to your cells, positive or negative. Partner with your body; don’t punish it.

How Movement Can Help You Listen to Your Body’s Needs

Our bodies tell us things about every day, but typically we wait for someone else to tell us what’s going on before we listen. In this episode, we talk about finding a way to tune into our unique body’s needs through both stillness and movement.

Elise Carter has been a student of yoga for over two decades, and a small business owner for sixteen years. She has both taught and studied with a number of inspiring yogis across the country and has accumulated additional teaching certifications in several different lineages of yoga. Elise currently holds the E-RYT 500 teaching designation, the honor given by Yoga Alliance to their most senior teachers.  She has spent countless hours in studio (both practicing and teaching), and has developed an unquenchable thirst for all things yoga. Currently, she is the owner of beFree yoga in Tyler, Texas, where she teaches several times a week and leads yoga teacher trainings.

Download and listen here or wherever you get podcasts!

Continue reading “How Movement Can Help You Listen to Your Body’s Needs”

Dissecting Today’s Most Popular Diets

We know that diets fail 95% of the time, but think of it this way – if dieting was a medication, the FDA would never approve it.

Dieting never got to the root of my health issues. In fact, it only made things worse. My guest Heather Creekmore of Compared to Who says the same thing. Both of us have made pretty amazing health transformations – and we did it without dieting.

With spiritual, mental, emotional, and yes, physical health at the forefront of our conversation, in this podcast episode we discuss the popular dieting trends this summer.

Download and listen to this episode here or get wherever you listen to podcasts!

Continue reading “Dissecting Today’s Most Popular Diets”

Movement Matters

You have the freedom to move your body in a way that feels good for you!

If you want to lift weights, lift weights. If you want to run, run. If you want to dance, dance. If you want to practice yoga, practice yoga. If you want to hit snooze, or take a nap, you have freedom to do that too.

Your body loves movement. Our ancestors weren’t sitting in cubicles under artificial lighting all day. Movement is crucial for detoxification, heart health, stress management, sleep support, blood sugar regulation, and all that other stuff other people have already written articles about.

The problem is that because we have all the information and all the experts talking about it, most of us engage in exercise as a “have to,” and not as a “want to.” We let other people tell us what’s best for our bodies, or we use it as punishment for caving into a craving or to beat our bodies into submission to our idealized versions of ourselves.

We get on running kicks, weight lifting kicks, kickboxing kicks, Zumba kicks, or whatever seems to be the trending activity of the season. We go hard on one activity, make our exercise schedule, then don’t sustain it.

This month, we celebrated freedom. Yet I know so many people who live enslaved to other people’s instructions and expectations about what they need to do for their bodies.

I want you to realize that you have freedom to choose what is best for your unique body – in movement, nutrition, activities, routines, relationships, whatever it is you are doing!

You are the expert on your body. Nobody else knows your body like you do, and nobody else has walked the same road that you have walked with your body. Depending on where you are in your life, the movement you choose can change. It can change seasonally. And that is OKAY!

I used to think running was the ultimate exercise for me, and it was therapeutic for me during a season in my life. Now, I like to change it up, and I like to make sure I’m incorporating some kind of movement once a day, most days. Yoga has been a beautiful way for me to tune in with the needs of my body and slow things down. Instead of running away from my problems with cardio, I’m forced into stillness and awareness. I feel the same about walking. I’m tempted to pick up the pace and start jogging, but being intentional with walking, staying present, is a good way to keep my mind engaged and my inhales and exhales in a rhythm.

It isn’t about weight maintenance or about needing to “make up” for what I eat. Some of my favorite benefits of movement that have zero to do with how I look include and everything to with my brain include: endorphins, dopamine, tryptophan, serotonin, BDNF, autophagy, GABA, glutamate, and oxygenation of the prefrontal cortex.

Different life seasons call for different solutions. Movement is a wonderful way to find awareness and peace in the body you have, so find that thing that you love to do… and do it!

Let’s Reset! A 14 Day Coaching Group to Enter Into Fall

Today is the first day of fall. The changing of seasons always feels special to me. But the shift from summer into fall is especially meaningful. The autumn season is associated with transformation and letting go of the old.

Because of this, I am partnering with my friend, fellow holistic health coach and master sports nutritionist and personal trainer, Melissa McGaughey, to bring an online 14 day coaching group for the low price of only $29 – and it starts Monday, September 28!

Melissa and I recently discussed a few of our favorite health tips on my podcast, sharing simple tools to creating healthy habits, and we thought what better way to implement some of our ideas than through a group coaching experience?!

This group is all about adding in real food, movement, and mindset, in order to nourish our bodies and minds as best as we can in this new season. The format will be through a closed Facebook group, which will encourage participation and accountability from participants and coaches. Sign up here!

Also included in the group:

  • Kick-off meeting through Zoom
  • Daily educational posts
  • Accountability from other participants along with the coaches
  • Recipes
  • Pantry/Grocery store list

Melissa and I both strive to empower women to become their own health advocates, and this is a great time to do it! For only $29 (which is just a teensy fraction of the cost of our private coaching sessions) you are getting the encouragement from two experts for a full two weeks!

Together, we can let go of old habits that are weighing us down and embrace this new season with a complete reset – body, mind, and spirit! Contact me for more information or sign up here and I will email you a confirmation.

3 Things Moms and Kids Need Every Day

With everything going on in the world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I recently sat down with my friend, fellow health coach, Melissa McGaughey, and we discussed how to simplify our daily needs into just THREE things we are focusing on for our continued health.

But we didn’t just stop with us and our needs. We expanded the conversation to include the top three things that our kids need every day. You can listen to the entire episode here.

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Key topics include:

  • Our favorite easy ways to include more whole foods into our daily diet
  • Why sunshine is the best way to “charge your battery”
  • The types of exercise we’re loving right now
  • Sleep hygiene and why it’s time to find some blue light blocking glasses
  • The importance of meditation and intentional breathing
  • Mindset and gratitude and the impact it makes on our whole body health

No matter where you are in your health journey, this episode will help inspire you to keep going and incorporate tiny habits to make a big impact.

For more on Melissa, head here.

Top Tips for Immune Support

Fall is here, winter is coming, and with both – all sorts of viruses. Hand sanitizer and a flu shot that is estimated to be less than 20% effective this year is not enough for me. Managing cold and flu season for my family requires the same 4 steps as managing my mental illness:

  • Nutrition
  • Supplementation
  • Movement
  • Relaxation

1. Nutrition – let’s start with sugar. Sugar is public enemy number one when it comes to illness. It will wreck your immune system. Studies have shown that at a blood sugar level of 120 (easily obtained by drinking a soda or juice or a latte or eating candy or a cookie), the white blood cells’ ability to absorb and destroy viruses and bacteria reduce by 75%. It takes 4-6 hours to get back to normal. Don’t forget that refined carbs like processed white flour spike blood sugar even more than sugar itself (like that burger or sandwich you had for lunch AFTER you had a muffin or toast for breakfast). Think about that when you’re figuring out what to do with your kid’s Halloween stash. Continue reading “Top Tips for Immune Support”