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Here we go again…it’s new year’s resolution time! Whether you love making resolutions or hate it, I encourage you to set some new goals for yourself this year. Personally, I love any excuse to set a goal for myself and see it through. I hope that you will embrace this time of year and use it as an opportunity to grow in some way.

I’m looking forward to hearing what your new year’s resolutions are. Truthfully, they don’t HAVE to be fitness- or health-related (although those are always good ones). I want to hear what you really want to accomplish this year, whether that be personally, financially, spiritually, emotionally, physically or otherwise.

There are a couple different ways to approach these goals, in my opinion. You can do a more traditional new year’s resolution and set one goal for the entire year, or, you can set 12 goals this year, focusing on a new one each month. I’ve got plenty of ideas to help get you started. Regardless, it’s important that you set some sort of reminder for yourself so that you can check in on how you’re progressing at different points in the year (or month). I find it helpful to set calendar alerts, others might benefit more from sharing their goal(s) with a loved one, someone they know will help them stay accountable. As always, I am here to help hold you accountable as well. You can share your resolution with a few close friends, or you can use the support system of those on social media via the Facebook page.

When you create your new years resolution, be sure to jot down how you will accomplish this goal as well as the goal itself. Studies show that by creating SMART goals, you will be more successful. SMART goals are:

Specific: Make your goal focused and well-defined.

Measurable: Put concrete numbers in your goal to know if you’re making progress or falling behind. Set reminders and track your progress.

Attainable: Create a goal that is realistic based on your schedule, workload and knowledge.

Relevant: Make sure the goal is relevant to your lifestyle.

Timely: Set a deadline. Otherwise your “goal” is just a wish. Pick an end date for your goal, and then break it down as follows: What will you do today to reach your goal? What can you do in 3 weeks and 3 months to reach your goal.

So there you have it! Let’s hear those new year’s resolutions! Post in the comments below!

 

Peace, love and success in the new year,

 

Melissa

 

 

 

This word means different things to different people. To some, it conjures negative emotions and thoughts; to others it provides a sense of empowerment and accomplishment. When associated with health and weight management, many people struggle to gain “control” of their health and eating habits. We often look to or blame outside influences and time parameters as road-blocks or excuses for not being able to maintain the choices we strive for. When we lose this control it can feel like a slippery slope with no other choice but to keep sliding down.

Control is a strong word and should make you feel strong when you have it. Being in control can be something as simple as choosing to pack your own lunch every day, or stocking your house and office with healthy snacking options. We tend to lose control in moments of weakness when hunger hits and you cave to the candy dish full of snack-size Snickers, or over-indulge on chips and queso or bread before your actual meal even arrives.  It’s this mindless, in-the-moment-eating that can often make us feel out of control.

The key to feeling in control and taking responsibility for your actions is to be kind to yourself. There are always going to be unexpected twists and turns in our daily lives, but giving yourself the tool of preparation and planning can help mitigate some of the chaos and put the ball back in your court. Be mindful in the moment and ask yourself if you feel in control of your actions. As the holidays approach, this is a great practice to put into place in order to feel good about your health and nutrition goals when faced with overwhelming temptation.

You can help yourself make better choices by bringing healthier options to the table, such as LWBF’s favorite Fall Harvest Salad, or for a sweet, healthier offering make these delicious Raw Chocolate Carrot Balls (you don’t have to tell anyone there’s veggies in their dessert!). So, take control of your body and health this holiday season by making mindful choices. Enjoy some of the treats of the holidays, but practice moderation and think about what your body needs as opposed to what your senses think you want.

Happy, Mindful Eating!

Holly

It’s that time of year again…time for New Year’s Resolutions! I truly love this time of year because it’s a chance to put a plan in motion to better myself. But for others, the thought of coming up with a New Year’s Resolution is daunting. Thinking about keeping one thing going for an entire year is overwhelming and let’s be honest, by the time April rolls around, no one can remember what their resolution was!

This year, I propose something different. At first, you may think this is even more overwhelming, but I assure you it is not. Think about this—if you have a weight loss goal of 100 lbs., thinking about how in the world you are going to lose that weight is so overwhelming that it makes it difficult to take the first steps. But if you were to break it down and say “this month I am going to lose 8 lbs., losing approximately 2 lbs. per week,” it becomes MUCH more manageable! Such is true with everything in life. Breaking a large goal down into smaller goals gives us a better chance for success.

So in terms of New Year’s Resolutions, I’m going to suggest you do the same thing. Regardless of the resolution, most of the time it focuses on bettering yourself in some way, shape or form. It could be mentally, physically or emotionally. Write down all of the things you’d like to accomplish or change in the new year and divy them up between the 12 months. Maybe you have 12 things on that list. If that is the case, pick one for each month. From there, figure out how you are going to accomplish each monthly goal, breaking it down by week and even by day. Not only are you writing down your resolution, you’re writing down how you are going to make it happen as well. Setting a plan into action will help you accomplish your goal.

Maybe you have five things on that list, but two are extremely important or difficult. I would suggest repeating those two important resolutions. You can repeat them in succession, for instance, the first resolution could be for January, February and March, or you could repeat them at random times throughout the year—maybe January, June and November. Do whatever will give you the best chance at being successful with that resolution. Everyone is different.

If you’re like me, you have many goals you’d like to achieve, so this is the perfect avenue to take in order to achieve all those goals! I have many things on my list, many of which I cannot post online just yet, but here are some examples to get you started:

  1. Try not to stress over things I have no control over
  2. Get more sleep
  3. Exercise more frequently
  4. Exercise “smarter”
  5. Incorporate more movement into my daily life
  6. Make smarter choices when eating out
  7. Slow down when eating, chew my food
  8. Be more patient
  9. Stop yelling at other drivers (see resolution #1)
  10. Eat more wholesome, nutritious food
  11. Educate myself on better food choices for my family and I
  12. Try a Group Exercise class
  13. Be more kind to others
  14. Do one exercise every night before bed (side plank, swivel kicks)
  15. Give more compliments
  16. Reduce my exposure to environmental toxins (maybe try organic deodorant?)
  17. Start eating a healthy breakfast
  18. Stop making excuses for not exercising
  19. Spend more time with my family
  20. Better/more frequently communicate how important and loved family and friends are

Thank you all for a fabulous year! Live Whole Be Free has grown so much and we are just thrilled that we continue to reach more and more people every day. Here’s to helping many more people make healthier choices in 2013!

Peace, love and healthy blessings in the new year,

Melissa + Holly

 

I decided to change the way I eat about five months ago and incorporate a mostly plant-based diet. After watching the movie Forks Over Knives (as well as other influential books and movies), I was not only inspired, but also a little shocked to discover such a different point of view when it comes to the “healthy” food I thought I had been eating all these years (i.e. low-fat dairy and lean meats).

Once I realized that I didn’t have to have all of my protein and nutrients come from animal-based products, I began my search for plant-based recipes and foods. It was exciting and fun for the first few months. I felt challenged to create new dishes and staple meals that incorporated all of the nutrients and ingredients needed to be a healthy Vegan.

However, a few weeks ago I hit a food slump. I love food and using fresh, simple ingredients in my cooking, and I realized that I was no longer cooking for love, I was cooking for fuel.

Being 100% Vegan takes a lot of dedication and time, especially if you try to avoid things like soy.  Then there are the really hard-core Vegans that don’t even use honey or oil (with the exception of coconut oil)! Anyway, it was starting to frustrate and exhaust me. The ingredients lists were getting longer and longer just to create a variety of meals that were not only delicious, but that also included the nutritional value I needed.

Then I read Melissa’s bio again and her words really hit home, “…the more “whole” I try to live, the less stressed and more “free” I feel.”

Bingo – that’s it! I’m striving to make good, well-informed decisions every day, starting with what I put into my body to spending time with family and friends, and that is what really matters when all is said and done. For me, that means incorporating a mostly plant-based diet, but also enjoying some of the simple, non-Vegan foods and flavors that I love so much. If and when I do stray from plant-based foods, I make sure that I am still eating responsibly and ethically – a smattering of fresh, creamy goat cheese from my neighborhood farm spread over a piece of warm, crusty whole wheat artisanal bread topped with the sweet, complex flavors of sliced purple, green and red heirloom tomatoes.

Now that’s a compromise I can live whole and be free with.

Hello friends! I hope you’re all enjoying the warm weather now that summer is in full swing! We sure are enjoying the heat down in Texas! And speaking of the heat… yep… the homemade deodorant is still working! In fact, the responses to the Aluminum Zirconium post was so overwhelming, I’ve decided to make a little challenge out of it.

UPDATE: THIS OFFER IS EXPIRED: If you are curious about the homemade deodorant but don’t want to invest the time or money to make your own—no problem—I’ve decided to make it for you! I’ve bought plenty of 1 ounce containers and will spend the next few days making deodorant for those of you willing to give this challenge a try. Aren’t they cute?! And they’re cheap! Just four bucks for a 1 oz. plastic container of lemon and clove homemade deodorant (shipping not included). That’s comparable to what you would pay at a “regular” grocery store for commercial anti-persperants AND it won’t cause Alzheimer’s or other neurological issues/side effects. Sounds like a win, huh?! It’s also much cheaper than buying from specialty organic stores. If you’re interested in this, I suggest jumping on this opportunity as I’m not certain I’m going to make deodorant-making my full-time gig.

Here is the Homemade Deodorant Challenge

For three days, you wear only a drop of tea tree essential oil (melaleuca alternifolia) under each arm. This is your detox period in order to rid your body of aluminum zirconium, the icky chemical found in commercial anti-persperants, linked to all kinds of issues! Also, you need to sweat those toxins out! Don’t sit home all day under the air conditioning trying to avoid getting stinky. Those first few days—you might smell a bit, but it’s worth it! If you’re concerned about it, do it over the weekend, making Saturday and Sunday the first two days. By Monday, you’ll be much better off.

After three days, you spend the next week (to two weeks) wearing only the homemade deodorant. For most people, it won’t take long to convince you that this stuff works. It only took me a few days. But for those of you who need more convincing, go for two full weeks.

Lastly, I want to know how it goes! Post your comments below and let’s have a nice group chat about everyone’s experiences with this! Remember, everyone’s body is different, so embrace the fact that your experience might be different than the next person’s and that is perfectly normal!

To purchase LWBF’s Lemon and Clove All-Natural Deodorant visit Live Whole Be Free’s Etsy Shop!

**TIP: If your product gets too warm, it will turn into more of a liquid than a paste. This is completely normal and it’s because of the melting temperature of the coconut oil. Just use a toothpick or your finger to mix it back up to evenly distribute the ingredients, then stick it in the fridge for a bit! However, use and store at room temperatures. For more tips and tricks, check out our Tips/Tricks post**

 

It’s week 8 of the Biggest Achiever Program, and for the most part the challenges so far have revolved around food, and what we do or don’t put into our bodies. Good nutrition is essential for a healthy body. Also necessary, however, is exercise. Unless you are involved in some sort of rigorous/two-a-day training program, it’s probably safe to say that you could use a little more exercise in your life. So this week’s challenge will be to take your exercise up a notch.*

*There are many different ways to “take your exercise up a notch.” I would say “increase the amount of exercise you currently do”, but some of you will be at your max for the days of week that you train. For some the increase will come by increasing the amount of days per week and for others, it will be the duration or intensity of the exercise itself. There are many other acute variables that can be adjusted as well, including volume, load, rest periods, etc. If you are currently solely doing cardiorespiratory training, adding strength training into your routine is another great way to shake things up.  Since this challenge is so individualized, feel free to email me with questions on how you should safely take this to the next level. 

This challenge will obviously vary based on your current exercise regimen. Below are a few quick examples of what you can do to switch up your routine. As a Group Fitness Instructor, I highly recommend you try a Group Fitness (Group Exercise/GroupX) class. They can be intimidating at first, I understand that. I was intimidated as well. But just remember that everyone has had their first class, everyone has felt those same feelings. Take a risk, you may find that you really enjoy it. Worst case scenario is that it’s not your thing. If so, no big deal. If we all liked the same things, the world would be a terrible place to live. So embrace it, and try something else.

SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE: So let’s say you are currently doing nothing for your body in terms of exercise and/or are currently under a doctor’s care. If this is the case, you will need to start VERY slowly. In fact, I recommend you get your doctor’s approval to engage in exercise. An easy way for someone living a sedentary lifestyle to start exercising is to simply go for a short walk. Any way you can move a little bit more during the day will go a long way for you.

Couple exercising outdoors

MODERATE EXERCISER: Let’s say your current workout regimen is a run or some sort of moderate exercise 2-3 times a week. I would encourage you to add strength training to that, twice a week, and possibly one more day of cardio. If you are a runner, try adding one day of exercise on the elliptical machine, which will provide you with some cardio exercise with less of a stress on your body. Maybe you don’t want to strength train. I could go on and on about the benefits of strength training, regardless if you want to change your muscles/body or not, but I’ll save that for another post. If you prefer not to lift weights, I would recommend you try some body weight exercises, like planks, push ups, bridges, etc. As a moderate exerciser, you are shooting for 4-5 days of exercise, up from 2-3.

WORKOUT-A-HOLIC: Maybe you work out quite a bit, say… 4-6 times a week. I would encourage you to switch up what you are doing for the week. Try interval training for example? Tabata is a great way to torch calories fast, lose weight, retain lean muscle mass, and rev up that metabolism! Or if you always do interval training, try to go for a long walk or a run. Get some strength training in and try some new exercises. Or maybe you always work out in the evenings, try morning workouts this week. This is for the person who is in their groove as far as their workouts go. You never want to get too comfortable. Also, ensure you take at least one day off a week to rest and let your body recover. Hard workouts tear the body down, and you will need to let it recuperate, otherwise your body will being breaking down muscle, which of course is no good.

One week is not nearly enough time to see a difference in switching up your workout routine, but it will be good to introduce yourself to new things. It takes 21 days to make/break a habit, so I highly recommend trying to switch it up for the next 21 days. You’ll truly be amazed at what comes out of it. Contact me for me current teaching schedule! If you are not a member at 24 Hour Fitness or Equinox, please let me know, and I will get you in on a guest pass!

Eating healthy becomes much easier when we are in control of what and how we cook. It is possible to find healthy meals outside of your own home, but you lose control over how such items are cooked. Eggs cooked in oil, sweet potatoes fried instead of baked… restaurants typically take the cheap and easy approach to all things. This week, we are going to focus on cooking our own food. This is going to be an essential concept in achieving a healthier lifestyle.

This week, you will cook at least 6 meals on your own. That means you, not a spouse or anyone else. This week you will prepare breakfast twice, lunch twice and dinner twice. This should prevent folks from only preparing say, breakfast for example, and taking the easy way out of the challenge. But none of you would do that, right? After all, this program is voluntary, and the goal is to step outside your comfort zone to learn new ways to become healthier. Everyday, at a minimum, you will be preparing one meal for yourself.

For some of you, this will be easier than others. This challenge is currently geared towards those that do not prepare very many meals for themselves. If you currently cook at least 6 meals on your own each week, you’re going to need to find a way to make this challenge one you will find more difficult. For instance, say you always prepare your own breakfast, always bring a fresh lunch (prepared by you, not a frozen meal) to work, and sometimes cook dinner for yourself… this week, I challenge you to cook dinner for yourself every day. Or maybe dinner isn’t the problem, but you’re a slave to the sodium-filled Lean Cuisines at lunch. If that is the case, challenge yourself to bring your lunch every day this week.

The point of these challenges is to make them difficult for yourself. If you come across a challenge that is going to be easy for you, find a way to modify it to ensure you will be learning something and at the end you will have taken something positive away from the week’s challenge. This is all about you, don’t forget that!

Below are some helpful resources I recommend for healthy recipes. Please try some new recipes this week, and if you find one you like, please share it with us! Do exercise caution, however. Healthy recipe sites will sometimes contain recipes that might contain healthy ingredients, but could be high in calories, etc. If you have questions, please feel free to email me!

Live Whole Be Free

CLEAN Program Recipes

Whole Foods

Chef Chloe

My New Roots

The Urban Poser

Skinny Scoop

100 Days of Real Food

You are in control of what you put into your body. You are responsible for how you look on the outside, and how you feel on the inside. Think of food as fuel. Ask yourself, is what I’m about to eat going to give my body the proper nutrients to function optimally? Good luck this week!

Peace, love and responsible eating,

Melissa

 

The Biggest Achiever Program is about improving ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally. In order to become happier and healthier on the outside, we have to work on the inside first. Although this week’s challenge is  bit different, it is equally important.

This week, your challenge is to give one compliment to yourself and one compliment to someone else, every single day. I urge you to step outside of your comfort zone on this, and give a complete stranger a compliment. When was the last time you remember getting a compliment from someone you’ve never met before and will likely never see again? Those compliments are very special, since the person giving them truly has nothing to gain in return. It always makes my day when I get a compliment like this, and with that knowledge, I try to do the same for others.

Now, you may give someone a compliment, and they may look at you as if you are from outer space. Forget about it. You are not giving this compliment for a sense of gratitude from them or anything in return. If they show appreciation, that’s just an added bonus. Also, try to give a compliment in regards to something about their personality, their body, their skill set, etc., instead of a material item. For example, telling someone they have beautiful eyes, a lovely smile, great muscles, a great personality, or that they are great at their job or are very well-spoken are better compliments than telling someone you like their shirt. Anyone can own that shirt, so although that is in fact a compliment, we’re seeking something a bit deeper here.

It is also important that you give yourself a compliment, every day. Find something you like about yourself, even if you think it’s tough. Maybe you did a good deed today, that is something worth complimenting. Perhaps you took the stairs instead of the elevator… that too, deserves a pat on the back. Find at least one thing that you can be proud of yourself for and say it out loud. Even better, leave it in the comments here! We want to draw attention to the positives in our lives. Doing that for ourselves and doing nice things for other people, make us feel good. When we feel good, life is better. Our worries don’t seem as big, goals seem more attainable, our stress levels decrease and the level of serotonin in our brains rises. Serotonin = good stuff.

I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. I was in yoga when this challenge came to me, and wouldn’t you know it, two minutes later, a complete stranger came up to me and gave me a compliment. 🙂

Exercise Challenge — Push Ups

Every night before you go to bed, do push ups. Even better, do them in the morning and the evening! I’m not going to tell you how many, you will be dictating your own goals. To find/set your goal, do as many push ups as you can in a row, then every night, add one more to it. For example, if you can currently do 5 push ups in a row, tomorrow night, do 6. The next night you will do 7 push ups, and so on. The most important thing here is that you do the push up correctly. It is perfectly acceptable to modify the push up so that you are pushing your body up from your knees. If that is too difficult, you can do push ups in a standing position, against the wall. Doing the push up with proper form while showing control will build a solid foundation with the proper muscles. From here, you will be able to advance to other exercises, while decreasing the risk of injury. Click here to see the Mayo Clinic’s video showcasing proper form for modified push ups.

 

Good luck!

Peace, love and kind hearts,

Melissa

Congratulations on finishing the first month of the Biggest Achiever Program and welcome to month #2 of our three month program! I am proud to announce that many of you have been extremely successful on this program so far, not only with weight loss, but with an increasingly positive outlook on life in general!

I’ve gotten a lot of wonderful feedback on the program thus far, and as expected, some folks would like the program to be tougher and some think it’s tough enough already. That’s the beauty of a program like this, everyone is different. Everyone will progress at different rates and hit plateaus at different times. Just remember, when you feel like quitting, that’s a plateau, not failure. We all hit plateaus, it is normal to feel frustrated an uncertain any time you try to make a change, regardless if it’s for the better. Stay focused.

Restlessness and discontent are the first necessities of progress. – Thomas Edison

As we enter the second month of the Biggest Achiever Program, I want you to continue to take it at your own speed, a speed at which you can be successful at, but one that also pushes your limits. If you don’t experience a sense of uneasiness, you will never see a change. So welcome that uncomfortable feeling you have, as it will make the feeling of accomplishment so much greater in the end.

This month, there will be more than one challenge at a time. You can choose to do one, two or three challenges. However, whatever you decide to do on Monday, you must stick with through the entire week. For instance, if you chose to participate in two challenges, you must finish both challenges. This teaches discipline. If you select one challenge, however, you CAN decide to add on more challenges as the week progresses. Since both a healthy diet and exercise are required for optimum health, some of these new challenges will involve exercise. Please check with your doctor to ensure you are healthy enough to participate in these exercises.

Week #5 Challenges

Main Challenge — 12 Hour Detox

This week’s challenge is to leave a 12 hour detox window between the last thing you eat at night and the first thing you eat in the morning. Yes, it requires a little planning, but mostly, it requires you to cut out unnecessary late night snacking!

The detoxification process kicks in 8 hours after your last meal and needs 4 hours to function optimally. It is after that 8 hour mark that your body has finished processing the last meal you ate. Once digestion is completed, accumulated toxins from the tissues are released into the bloodstream so that they can eventually be neutralized and eliminated with the help of nutrients. If the toxins are not eliminated, not only can they be reabsorbed into the bloodstream, but the free radicals that they contain corrode tissues and damage cells on contact. This is one reason why late night eating is discouraged. If your body never finishes processing your food before you eat again, it doesn’t have the chance to release other accumulated toxins. The reason we call that first meal of the day “breakfast” is because that’s exactly what we’re doing, we’re breaking the fast that has occurred overnight.

Secondary Challenge — Get Moving!

It’s important that we train ourselves to move more often. So that whole taking the stairs for a week thing? Yeah… we’re going to try to make that more of a lifestyle instead of just a weekly challenge. Read here for ideas on how to incorporate more movement into your everyday life, burning more and more calories, leading to… you guessed it… weight loss!

For years, researchers have stated that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So, is it? Well, yes, it just might be. It is especially important if you are trying to lose weight. Eating breakfast helps kick-start your metabolism so that you can burn more calories during the day and stabilize your blood sugar levels, leaving you less likely to crave junk food. Studies show that those that ate a healthy breakfast every morning were more successful at losing weight and keeping it off than those that did not eat breakfast. It’s also true that making healthier decisions first thing in the morning makes you more prone to making healthier choices throughout the remainder of the day.

People who skip breakfast tend to eat more calories during the day than people who eat a morning meal, probably because hunger drives them to make unhealthy food choices and overeat at lunchtime, says MayoClinic.com. Furthermore, skipping breakfast has been associated with decreased daily levels of physical activity.

The National Weight Control Registry shows that among those who’ve lost 30 or more pounds and have kept it off more than a year, 90 percent report eating breakfast most days of the week.

Every day this week, the challenge is to eat a healthy breakfast. What constitutes a healthy breakfast? I’m glad you asked! Click here for some examples of items you can consume for breakfast, as well as some things to watch for that might make a seemingly healthy breakfast your new worst enemy. (Enter large amounts of sugar, sodium, saturated fats, chemicals, etc.). There’s no denying that eating breakfast in the morning fires up your metabolism. What you need to make sure of though, is that you do not eat something that is going to cause your blood sugar to spike. Refined sugars/carbs from donuts and other pastries are the culprits. The sugar rush only lasts a short while and by mid-morning you may feel sluggish, hungry, crave more sugar and have difficulty concentrating.

What you’re looking for in a healthy breakfast is whole grain carbohydrates, fiber and protein. Whole grain carbohydrates (oats, barley) release sugar more slowly than refined carbohydrates (sugary cereals and pastries), providing sustained energy (low glycemic index).  Fiber (fruits, veggies) will help fill you up, warding off hunger cravings until lunch, and keeps your digestive system healthy. Foods that are high in protein (eggs, nuts, yogurt) aid in maintaining stable blood sugar levels and may also help you feel fuller longer.

As far as what to avoid for breakfast… Bacon, sausage, high sugar content cereals, pastries (including low-fat muffins, croissants, donuts and kolaches), some breakfast bars, pretty much anything from a fast food restaurant (McDonalds, Whataburger, Chick-fil-A, Taco Bueno, etc.), also exercise caution at Starbucks and even smoothie places, it’s usually best to make your own!

Peace, love and healthy breakfasts!

Melissa