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Happy New Year!

The New Year is back and it’s definitely time for the NEW YOU! I just wanted to remind you all that my site has grown and moved to Freedom At The Crossroads and I’ve got a brand new post up about fitness, diet, and performance. You can check this and more right now! http://freedomatthecrossroads.com/5-key-nutrients-needed-optimal-fitness-health/

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The Real Valentines Day: In Review

Every year, millions of women look forward to Valentine’s Day (at least in their heads) as a time to be appreciated, pampered and just fabulous! We start some new diet (usually accompanied by some unrealistic expectations, etc), renew our New Year’s resolutions, and sit back with bated breath as we wait to see what the universe will deliver on! As the days roll by, reality begins to creep in and the fake glitter of Valentine’s Day marketing fades away.

Fast forward to the middle of the month, and I’m wondering if we’re going to stick to our vision and commitment to a healthy lifestyle. January 2017 is long gone, February is long gone (with March a recent memory) and we are midway through April, but some of the same problems of 2016 are still at the forefront of our minds. While getting fit and healthy is the ultimate objective, too often we forget that this is a process, and with all of that comes a whole new set challenge. First of all, how do you stay motivated? Next, how do you stay focused (i.e. multitasking for work, family, etc) and find the time to get all of this done?

It’s all about priorities and recognizing that your health (i.e. mind, body, soul) is central to your life. The bottom line is this: if YOU are not healthy it is very little you can do (from a standpoint of sustainability) in terms of meeting the needs of both yourself and your family. We live in an age where high stress, insufficient sleep, and poor diet are becoming the new normal, while at the same time, chronic illness, obesity, etc continue to rise. Add to that the issue of our unsustainable and corporatized healthcare system, and you have the makings of a perfect storm of everything that can go wrong!

My goal here is not to scare the crap out of anyone; it is simply to encourage us all to make our health the main priority, and recognize that health and balance are central to life. At the most basic level, balance is key to any sustainable system (our bodies included) and requires work and commitment in order to continue. In simple terms, you should not be living to work (i.e. job, career, etc) but working to live! In other words, your job or career should not overtake all other aspects of your life in the same way that your personal life should not overshadow your professional or public arena.

So how do you STILL fit in a healthy eating and fitness plan, restore balance to your life, etc? Well, you simply stick to the P.L.A.N. and remain focused on your goals (i.e. living a balanced and healthy lifestyle, etc). I’m not saying there are no challenges in maintaining your health and fitness goals, but it is more than possible to be aware of what you’re eating, finding and using your “me” time to work out (it’s also an excellent way to deal with stress), and staying balanced in all (or most) areas of your life. Experience has taught me that the best way to do this, is by taking a step back and finding joy in the little things; a crisp sunny Fall day, an invigorating walk along the trails, or simply enjoying a hot cup of tea or coffee on the front porch (backyard, on the veranda, in front of your balcony, etc).

For the everyday woman whose life is at the crossroads and who feels like she needs not just her health and fitness in balance, but life in general, I say, WELCOME! I have found that every woman is unique in terms of her story and her needs, especially at the “crossroads”.

Why? The answer is relatively simple. The needs of a woman who is already stressed, out of balance both physically and mentally (i.e. overweight, frustrated, overwhelmed) are different from one who has her career, obligations, and family on track etc, but just needs “some” help losing a few pounds and learning how to eat healthily!

The sad truth is that most of us women (especially if you haven’t seen 30 in a long while) struggle with a chaotic and unhealthy life, but rather than valuing ourselves enough to change it, we choose for one reason or another, to stay on that hamster wheel going nowhere!

We need to admit and own our truth when it comes to our relationship with food and by extension, how we relate and perceive ourselves as well as others. we seem to be ignorant of the fact that FOOD plays an important role in our lives and an important aspect of culture. I guess like so many other things in this high-tech age, this is just one more thing that has become lost in the matrix of” sameness” perpetuated by a media that serves itself rather than the welfare of society at large.

I’m not saying we bear no responsibility for our own health, but I AM saying is that the media bears some responsibility in terms of pushing “unhealthy” images and ideas of what constitutes beauty, a “healthy weight”, “healthy” foods (i.e. so-called fat-free, zero calories) etc. Our current mainstream media has in large part become the mouthpiece of big Agri-business and corporations more interested in their bottomless than the wellbeing of society.

This is why I do what I do! I decided to get active and advocate for women’s health and to empower other women to fight back and reclaim their health, fitness. My goal is for women in my zone of influence to become knowledgeable about their food sources and equip them with the necessary tools to gain control of their health and nutrition. I’ll always remember these wise words of my mom, “knowledge is power” and “the gates of the school-house are still open”!

If You are tired of unhealthy crap being packaged and marketed to you as healthy, “low” in fat, etc, then get involved and educated about who controls your food- you are what you eat folks! The hard truth is that, if after all that hard work of getting fit and adopting a healthy lifestyle you’re still depending on big Agri-business and the fast food / packaged food industrial machine to give you good (derived from sustainably grown, mostly pesticide-free or organic) quality food, dream on. An educated public is an empowered one, and too often that empowerment is in conflict with the bottom line of these corporations.

So what do I do to cut out the crazy and NOT break the bank? I keep it simple. Stick to mostly seasonal produce, buy my produce from local farms, buy organic where necessary (avoid the “dirty dozen”) and get involved in a local or community farm if at all possible. At the end of the day, you and your family are worth the time and effort, believe me!

Check out my FREE PANTRY DETOX GUIDE to help you finally get your butt in gear because before you know it, summer will be here and then what!? SAME OLD same old!? NOT!

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To Bone Or Not? What’s The Big Deal?

Okay, so everyone is talking about it; some even making huge claims about the near-miraculous benefits associated with taking copious amounts of “bone broth” and incorporating it into your daily nutrition plan.

So what is it? What’s the big deal?

For those wanting a few more specifics,  the Mayo Clinic definition  or term for bone broth is, that it is essentially stock derived from roasted bones (typically,  beef or chicken) which may or may not still have some meat attached. They are then cooked for 24 hours or more with the goal being to extract the gelatin from the bones as well as release the nutritious minerals contained within the bones. The final step in the preparation process is to strain the broth (and season to taste) from the bones and then season to taste.

I don’t know about you, but spicy chicken soup, pepper soup, and broths have been a mainstay in my family for years! Not only that, traditional Nigerian pepper soup (in all it’s regional iterations) has been a cure-all for everything from recovery from malaria to the common cold! Is the science to back it up? the jury is still out on that although there are a few studies out there that seem to suggest that there are “some” medicinal benefits to consuming bone broth.

Will I be stepping out to my fave health food store to buy some bone broth or bone broth supplements? Nope! Especially when I have all the “traditional” ingredients, spices, and secret stashes (available at African food stores only, lol), in my own pantry-Boomsie! If there are any real “medicinal” properties, they lay in the spices themselves; everything from turmeric (a natural anti-inflammatory), curry (also contains turmeric), and nutmeg, to garlic, and so forth.
If you really want to detox  YOUR body, start with detoxing your pantry!  After all, if your pantry is loaded with toxic crap, so will YOU be TOO!

Get your copy of my beginners’ pantry detox guide right here!

 

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Food? Waist? Why The Obsession?

wp-1484039503567.jpgWhy are we so obsessed with food and our waistlines? This question and more, constantly leave me with a bevy of theories or reasons why there is such a large number of women in the U.S. and the west in general  (and to a smaller degree, other parts of the world), who seem fixated on both food and their waistlines. Why the constant battle with our food? As a fitness and health strategist with a background in biological anthropology, I can’t help but wonder if something more complex, and culturally relevant is at play in this insanity, and dare I say, misconceptions based on misinformation.

This problem stems in large part, from a grossly uneducated and misinformed public with  regard to what constitutes basic “good” nutrition and the plethora of misinformation peddled by a large segment of the media, as well as the fast and processed food industries. Additionally, our food policies and regulatory agencies (i.e. FDA, USDA, etc) have failed to show leadership in this area. Let us get real with ourselves, our food choices are also (and in some instances, largely) driven by factors other than basic hunger (i.e. “I hunger, therefore I eat”).

The point here is that, individual’ taste’s, culture, habits, and environment etc, play a pivotal role in our food choices, and by extension, the current food-related epidemic (obesity, heart disease, etc) we are facing at both the local and national level. First, let’s revisit the basics of why we need to eat at all. We need to eat and drink (water, at the most fundamental) to live; food equals fuel for the daily life-sustaining functions of the body at the chemical, cellular, and systemic levels.

After that, there is no physical reason (technically speaking) why we need to eat other than to sustain life. What I’m driving at here is that, outside of eating to keep the body operating at an optimum level ( regardless of age, for instance) there is no real reason to eat anything beyond what is necessary for maintaining a “healthy body”. So why do we do what we do? Why are we so unhealthy in terms of what we eat and how that translates into our current health issues? While I don’t claim to hold all the answers to what will arguably, require complex solutions (I’ll leave that in the capable hands of academic researchers), I do believe that an informed public is one that is healthy and empowered.

Case in point, big agribusiness and the packaged food industry argue that it is “expensive” and “unsustainable” to buy local and organic food items; that there is no “real” difference (in terms of nutritional content or quality) between organic produce and conventionally grown produce. Additionally, they often point to “research” that supports their claims. However, there is an increasing body of unbiased research that not only counters these claims but also exposes a number of the myths about the benefits of consuming organic produce vs. conventionally grown produce, food additives (i.e. dyes in processed foods, etc) and so forth.

As an avid food lover and someone who wants to know what’s in my food, the fact remains that it is in my best interest (as well as the interest of my family, community and environment) that I educate myself and others about the food production system. Why? Food is life and we live in an age where unsustainable and unhealthy industrial as well as food production systems have taken a toll on both our health and environment. Furthermore, if we expect to have a habitable planet in the future, we need to demand much more of ourselves and the industries we choose to engage in. So what does that all mean? In simple terms, it is impossible to make the necessary changes for better human and environmental health, if we are ignorant of both the processes and or mechanisms that negatively affect us.

With regards to the waistline fixation? I believe it is a distraction away from the real issues surrounding our health; a symptom of a problem that is more complex than we as individuals (especially women) or a nation, are willing to address. Our health system ranks at the bottom amongst industrialized nations, in addition to the fact that  segments of government that are responsible for ensuring public health, safety, and our food production systems, are grossly underfunded (and remain under attack from industry-backed legislators, etc). Unfortunately that’s not where the problem ends.  Misinformation and miseducation is wide-spread in mainstream media with “infotainment” rather than “information” being served to the public on a daily basis.

If for no other reason than protecting our very lives and the lives of our loved ones, community and environment, “we” must become educated and active when it comes to our health and wellness. A crash diet, shopping at Whole Foods, etc, is not going to get the job done, nor will fixating on someone else’s perceptions of beauty help women and girls develop a healthy self-image.

I’ve literally lost count of the number of fitness gadgets, weight-loss shakes, and other helpful whatcha-ma-call-its,  circulating on the market. Most of these gadgets  are far more successful at parting you from your money, than providing you with any real long-term success. While the public has a role to play (self-advocacy, personal research, etc)  regarding its health care, the current dynamics and recycling of misinformation does not favor the general public. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we must be willing and committed to engaging in our food production systems (i.e. getting educated about where our food comes from, what’s in it, or what’s been added to it, etc) as well as playing an active role in changing the policies that shape both our healthcare and food production systems.

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Nuts not fluff: Incorporating Nuts and Seeds As Part of a Healthy Diet

my-first-design-1People often ask me why I’m so obsessed about seeds and nuts and I could rattle off a whole slew of information (see sources below) about why they’re so great. After watching their eyes invariably glaze over from information overload, I’ve since discovered that less is more, and simplicity is a gem worth appreciating. The simple answer lays in the fact that we (meaning homo Sapiens) are at our optimal health and fitness when we adhere to a diet that is both diverse and nutritionally dense. This is in both the historic and evolutionary record ( I won’t bore you with the details) as well as the current health crisis many in the industrialized (as well as underdeveloped nations) are facing in terms of ever-increasing numbers of diabetes, cancer, as well as autoimmune diseases.

It is no small coincidence that our propensity for, and our over indulgence in so-called “quick” and “processed” foods have a strong connection or link to the incidence of the above mentioned diseases and associated syndromes. The bottom line, is that processed foods, our dependency on them, coupled with a lack of adequate exercise (daily), has brought us to the brink of a near pandemic. Add to that unsustainable environmental and agricultural practices, and a grime picture begins to unfold for the human race; but a solution for one problem at a time please.

In simple terms, nuts can be defined as “small dry hard-shelled dry fruit or seed with a separable rind or shell an interior kernel” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition). A much more detailed definition is provided by the National Institutes of Health (see National Institutes of Health website) which states that nuts are “nutrient dense foods with complex matrices rich in unsaturated fatty and other bioactive compounds: high-quality vegetable protein, fiber, minerals, tocopherols, phytosterols, and phenolic compounds.” Translation? nuts constitute a dense powerhouse store of complete nutrients (i.e. fats, fibre, carbohydrates, etc).

All that being said, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. While nuts are nutrient dense, they do contain fat and that means you must balance their intake with other sources of vital nutrients that contain fewer calories as well as fats. The key take away here is “BALANCE”; in terms of nutritional intake (i.e. amount per serving, etc) as well as lin proportion to other nutrient sources. For instance, a balanced intake of nuts (and or seeds, i.e. sunflower walnuts) at one sitting relative to other nutrient sources, would be equivalent to 1/3/ cup or 1 and 1/2 oz of nuts 3-4 servings per week for a 1,600 calorie diet and 4-5 servings per week for a 2,000 calorie diet (American Heart Association: 2013 Healthy Diet recommendations;Eckel, Robert H. et al. “2013 AHA/ACC).

While similar to seeds in terms of nutrient content, seeds are, in simple terms, the embryonic stage of a plant housed in a protective outer shell or hull. The dietary guidelines for seeds are similar to those for nuts, but the caveat remains the same; balance, balance, balance, is the mantra we should all stick to when it comes to nutrition, health (mind-body) and fitness. Why am I pushing them? I’m a firm believer in balance and the pivotal role it plays in our health and fitness within the context of a healthy and free lifestyle. My own personal experience alone has driven home the inherent power of a well-balanced and nutrient dense diet; not only that, from a physical fitness perspective, a poor diet will doom you to failure and injury (i.e. failing to fuel your body the nutrients required for both recovery and muscle growth).

From a female perspective, I’ve come to learn the importance of incorporating dietary balance into my daily regime as a means of negating undesirable effects of changes in hormonal levels, stress, and illness recovery. While nutrition and fitness alone can not wholly stave off the negative impacts of illness, disease, time, and so forth, they are powerful resources in our arsenal that are available to help us achieve optimum fitness, health, and the freedom to pursue our goals and passions.

Remember, getting fit and healthy requires that you first make the decision, develop a plan, and take action. For more information as well as assistance regarding how to get started on your journey, join the FitTribe of fellow women who are getting stronger everyday!

Please follow me at my new website:

http://www.freedomatthecrossroads.com

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References

Eckel, Robert H. et al. “2013 AHA/ACC Guideline on Lifestyle Management to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk.” Circulation, vol. 129, no. 25 suppl 2, Dec. 2013, doi:10.1161/01.cir.0000437740.48606.d1.

Ros, Emilio. “Health Benefits of Nut Consumption.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc3257681/.

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All that Jazz!

Time to get your shimmy on (if you haven’t already, lol), hug your loved ones, toss out the chaos of 2016 and get in gear for a brand new run! Looking back, I’ve come to the realization that I often focused on past regrets (a.k.a woulda, coulda, shoulda) and seemingly “missed” opportunities, instead of embracing the moment,  growing in it and being thankful. 

As the final minutes of 2016 tick by, my resolution if any at all, is to be thankful and embrace every moment of my journey. It is not an easy thing, this notion of “personal development “, but no one ever said depth comes without effort!🤓 Time to check myself even as I encourage my “FitTribe” (i.e. clients, fellow sojourners, etc) to dig deep, get comfortable with being “UNcomfortable” and get out of the crossroads.

Get off the cray, cray, train and be authentically you, focus on the things that truly matter and give color and meaning to this life we all live. Don’t let your waistline,  self-image  (or self-esteem), or the perceptions of other “things” , or society, prevent you from being who you’re meant to be; LIVE AUTHENTIC!

May the New Year find you blooming where you’re planted and may good health, love, laughter and balance meet you on this journey.

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Holiday hustle!

Season’s Greetings and on with getting your holiday hustle on, Y’all! Now that we’ve got most of the year’s holidays done, I refuse to forget the effort I used to power through this journey and,  the vision that led me to this point. I love the holidays and most of the seasons (still working on “loving” winter, hahaha😂) but I certainly don’t want to fall victim to the “holiday blues”, a.k.a “woulda, coulda, shoulda, regret, *sigh*. I’ve finally learned that all of “that” just locks you into a negative mindset and an inability to move forward with the action (a.k.a . being stuck in the crossroads) necessary to make change and progress in your life. Whether you started this year with a goal of trying to lose a few pounds (or a lot) or something more life changing (i.e. committing  to a healthy lifestyle, improving your health and fitness, changing your diet, regaining balance in your life, etc), the fact remains that you’re only a loser, if  YOU give up!The holidays are usually stressful and quite emotional because this is a time when most of us reflect on the past (and yes, sometimes, dwell ) a tad too much and can’t see the forest for the trees (i.e. blinded by our perception of our own “failures” or inadequacies😬). I don’t claim to have a magic pill for this, only a few words of advice based on my own personal experience and observations: life is about G.R.O.W.T.H. and it will stretch you whether you’re ready for it to do so or not. Bottom line? Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and your life will be filled with more fulfillment, passion and balanced!

I often say three things to all my potential clients: 1.make a decision, 2. get a plan, and 3. take action! If YOU want to take back control of your life and by extension, your own personal wellspring of power and passion, YOU must get passed all those “negative thoughts” and “things” that have been telling you that you’re a failure or you’re not strong enough to make it to the finish line. I always remind my tribe that good health and fitness is a reflection of an empowered and fulfilled individual. In other words, just as fatigue, stress, insomnia, obesity etc arere indicators of an unhealthy and unbalanced life, the reverse is also true! Good health, fitness (i.e. mind-body and soul) point to a life that is in balance.

Rather than dwell on the failings of the past year, renew your determination to push through to your own personal victory and accept the challenge to “get uncomfortable” and enjoy this journey to true fitness and health and leave behind the gimmicks, tricks and lies we often tell ourselves in order to avoid  real C.H.A.N.G.E. Now, having said all that, I’m gonna keep on with my holiday hustle to end 2016 with a bang and not a whimper of defeat and regret! What about YOU? Are YOU up for it?…

YOU can start right now when you take the FIRST step towards gaining control of YOUR fitness and health right >>HERE<<

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