Tuning into What You Need

Lately I’ve been thinking about times when I have the feeling that I “should” be doing something. For example, when I’m working I feel that I “should” be extra productive by listening to an educational podcast at the same time instead of listening to music or having quiet time. I find myself getting wrapped up in this back in forth dialogue that I “should” do this or “should” do that. I’ve been trying to stop myself when these thoughts creep up and ask what do I really want in this moment? If it’s listening to the podcast because that’s what I feel I need in that particular moment, then great! If it’s listening to chill music or country music then that’s great too! I think our subconscious and soul are trying to speak to us all the time with what is really going to make us feel good and help us be our best selves and it’s important that we listen to these pings or intuitive thoughts. I know it seems so small, but I’m a believer in if we can tune in and listen in the seemingly small situations, then we will flex that intuition muscle and it will get stronger and louder and help us in the times when we have a bigger decision to make. I’ve had this same feeling with the way I write blog posts. Part of me thinks that I should make them very factual, proper, and have a very organized flow and that just doesn’t feel right for me sometimes. I like writing in more of a “brain dump” style because this is the way my mind is working and this is how my creativity flows. So, I’m going with it and it feels so much more natural to me.

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I, of course, think that there are times when it’s important to have discipline and do things that we may not necessary want to do at first glance, but we know will make us feel great and be better off in the end. For example, working out. Sometimes I just flat out don’t want to. I know it always makes me feel better after the fact, but every once in a while I have to MAKE myself go. In situations like this I think it’s best to find work outs that resonate with you. For me, that’s pilates, light weight/body weight exercises, walking, hiking or yoga. Ask me to go to a HIIT class or on a run outside and I will more than likely say hell no. Those work outs make me feel awful afterwards. I have experienced adrenal fatigue before and being a sensitive person, my adrenals are more prone to burn out easier and faster than people who aren’t as sensitive.

This also goes for eating healthy foods. I know I feel best when I fuel my body with lots of plant based foods, healthy fats, and quality protein. On the other hand, sometimes (or a lot of times) I want garlic French fries, a really good burger with all the good toppings, or chocolate anything. Not that these foods are necessarily “bad” for you, they just aren’t as nutrient dense and if I over consume them, I don’t feel my best. What I like to do is fuel my body with lots of vegetables, healthy fats, and grass-fed meat or free range chicken/eggs most of the time, but the times when I’m at a restaurant and I know that ordering a salad is going to make me sad, then I’ll order that burger because I’m really craving it and it’s going to fuel my soul. Seriously. I also feel that I enjoy these “treats” (secretly think that word is so creepy) more when I have them every so often instead of whenever I want. I do eat gluten-free and *almost* dairy-free because at this point in time, my body can’t handle and digest those foods properly (although I love both of them so much). It’s important to know the difference between foods that don’t necessarily provide the greatest quality nutrition for your body and the foods that your body has a major reaction to.

 When it comes down to it, I think it’s most important to tune into and listen to your body and mind and figure out what feels best for you in that moment. Stop “shoulding” (I don’t think it’s a word, but right now it is) yourself and do what feels right and good in that moment, within reason of course. We put so much pressure on ourselves about so much and with how connected we are these days, there can be a lot of noise. So stay mindful, tune in, and do what feels right for you. Xo

With love,

Ashley Rose

5 Tips to Get Back on Track After a Vacation

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I want to start this blog post by saying you should never feel guilty about enjoying vacation and deviating from your normal routine. I think it’s incredibly important to take good care of yourself, but I also think it’s equally important to enjoy time away and live in the moment. I still try to avoid certain foods while on vacation; dairy, gluten, soy, and sugar, but I also think it’s important to give yourself some freedom as well.

These are the 5 things I really like to focus on when I come back from a vacation; whether it’s a long week away or a full on two weeks enjoying myself.

1) Drink Lots of Water

This tip should go without saying, but I also feel like it’s something that a lot of people underestimate. It’s so important to drink plenty of water everyday, but especially if you’ve been traveling on an airplane, drinking alcohol, and eating less than healthy foods. Typically you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces everyday, but I suggest drinking another few cups daily post vacation. Drinking plenty of water will help to flush out toxins and keep you feeling more energized throughout the day.

2) Increase Your Intake of Green Vegetables

It’s a good rule of thumb to include greens at every meal, but it’s especially good to include after a few days (or weeks) of indulging. Leafy greens such as spinach, arugula, kale, romaine, and swiss chard will help to detox and alkalize your body and will provide essential nutrients that your body may have been lacking.

3) Increase Your Probiotics

Eating out for every meal, mixed with flying on the airplane can really put a damper on your digestive system. To make sure that you crowd out the bad bacteria and replenish your gut with good bacteria, I highly recommend increasing your probiotic intake. I like to double up on these probiotics while away and I also like to increase my fermented foods and coconut water kefir (you can find the recipe here) when I get back home. Doing this will help to get your digestion working properly again and will also help your body to absorb nutrients properly and rid yourself of toxins.

4) Sweat it Out

I try to be as active as possible while on vacation, but it’s sometimes it’s hard to get your normal gym workout in while staying with friends/family or at a hotel. When I get home, I really focus on getting in good work outs to sweat out toxins and move my body. I will even go to a hot yoga class or book an infrared sauna appointment in order to break a really good sweat.

5) Sleep

Along with drinking enough water, I think that sleep is also underestimated when it comes to your overall health and wellbeing. Depending on what type of vacation I’m on, I either get more sleep than normal or a lot less. One thing I know is that my quality of sleep is less than great since I’m not sleeping in my own bed and in my familiar surroundings. I like to prioritize sleep all the time, but especially when I’ve returned from being away from home. While were resting, our body is able to focus on detoxing, rejuvenating, and rebuilding.

These tips are simple but so, so effective. It really is so true that going back to the basics can be the most beneficial for your health and wellbeing. xo

With love,

Ashley

How Annoying is the Health and Wellness Industry These Days?

The title of this blog sounds pretty odd coming from someone in the health and wellness industry, doesn’t it? This is a topic I was thinking about the other day when I was walking home. We have SO much information thrown at us on a daily basis and it can get a bit noisy and overwhelming. I love the health and wellness industry, don’t get me wrong, but even I get overwhelmed sometimes like “oh should I be adding this in too?” or “should I be doing that?”. Like whoaa hold on a minute, this is getting to be a little too much at times and I wanted to talk a little bit about going back to the basics.

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I think

superfoods and

collagen and

epsom salt baths and

oil pulling and

fermented foods and

infrared saunas and

yoga and

foam rolling and

rebounding and

everything organic and

meditation and

journaling and

matcha lattes and

cleansing your crystals before you place them on your chakras and

manifesting and

legs up the wall pose are all fine and dandy. In fact, I do/use all of these things and I love them. But is it realistic to do a face and hair mask after you’ve taken a hot yoga class and foam rolled and then did legs up the wall pose and then made a 3 course organic meal realistic for every day? Hell no. Again, I love this industry and these things feel natural to me, but some days I only do maybe one or two things on this list and thats okay. I think it’s important to keep a few things in mind when living a healthy lifestyle and everything else is just extra nice if you have the time and/or energy to make it happen.

The 5 things I make sure to do every single day that make me feel great and keep me on track are:

  1. Eat mostly plants. This looks different every single day, but I try to incorporate greens into every single meal, or at least 2 out of the 3 meals. Like today, instead of my usual smoothie with greens in it, I ate a plant based yogurt for breakfast and then had a salad with arugula, green olives, jalapenos, quinoa, chicken, and avocado for lunch. Dinner was a cauliflower crust pizza with tomato sauce and a vegan mozzarella cheese and then I ate a piece (or two) or my Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Freezer Fudge and it was great. I didn’t incorporate greens into every meal but I did have a snack between lunch and dinner that was cucumbers and my Cilantro Peanut Sauce so I’m counting it, okay?

  2. Drink lots of water. Yeah this is one that should never be excluded. I like to drink half my body weight in ounces every single day. I carry a 32 oz Yeti cup around with me literally everywhere and I love it because I can drink out of a straw and I’m telling you I drink twice as much water that way. Some days I like to squeeze half a lemon in my water and also add one tablespoon of chia seeds for some extra fiber and omega-3’s. You’ll feel more energized, alert, and overall healthier just by making sure your body gets enough water.

  3. Movement. This looks different every day but I make sure that I either get a workout in at the gym, take a pilates class, or a get a good walk in every single day. Movement is so beneficial for our overall health and wellbeing and it seriously does amazing things for my mind and stress levels. My recommendation is don’t do what’s popular, but stick to what you LOVE. You could simply do an at home workout or yoga class if that’s what works best for your schedule and/or budget. Don’t be hard on yourself about this one, just find something (or a few things) you like and stick to it. I used to think I loved group classes until I started working out by myself again more and realized I get more in the “zone” that way and feel like I get a better work out in. Again, try out a few things and find what works for you.

  4. Sleep. You don’t need me to tell you this, but it’s so, so important. I love my sleep so much and am definitely one of those people who thrives the best when I get 8-9 hours. I wish I could be the energizer bunny after 5-6 hours, but it just doesn’t work for me. This is something that I used to be hard on myself about and think I was “lazy” until I learned about human design and found out that my design, a projector, needs more sleep because we are “non-energy” beings meaning we get our energy from others and don’t create it. The more we can learn about ourselves as individuals and what works best for us, not what works for everyone else, the easier I think it is to live a lifestyle that is in alignment with what we need.

  5. Supplements. Now, this isn’t something I always agreed with because I was one of the stubborn ones that thought we could get all of our nutrients from the food we eat. We can get a lot of those nutrients from our food source, but our soil is so depleted of nutrients these days that more than likely we do need to supplement even with the cleanest diet. I think everyone should take a good multivitamin, glutathione, fish oil, vitamin d (if your multi doesn’t have at least 2,000 iu’s), turmeric, probiotic and magnesium. I list all of the brands I love HERE under my “supplement” list to make it easy for you.

Of course some days I really go ham and do all the health and wellness things, but somedays I’m lucky if I remember to take my vitamins. Have grace with yourself and remember that no one is perfect and you don’t have to be either.

With love,

Ashley

How to Make Coconut Water Kefir and All of its Amazing Benefits

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile and/or have followed me on instagram, then you probably know by now that I’m very into gut health. I truly believe that most, if not all, disease and ailments start in the gut. I’m so passionate about this area of health because it’s something that I’ve struggled with since I was a teenager, but of course had no idea back then. It wasn’t until I was 22 and going through some big health issues of my own that I started to discover the importance of gut health. I believe that one of the best things you can do for your overall health is eat fermented foods and/or take a good quality probiotic. I discovered a fermented drink a few years ago called Coconut Water Kefir. I was reading a book called The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates and was so into the information she was giving about food combining (something I’ll do a post on soon), gut health, and fermented foods. I have been incorporating fermented foods and probiotics into my diet for about 7 years now, but had never tried Coconut Water Kefir. I decided to give it a whirl and see if I noticed any differences.

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First of all, this fermented drink is SO easy to make and does not have any added sugar like most Kombucha’s do. It also doesn’t have any caffeine, so if you’re sensitive to caffeine like me, then this might be a better option for you than kombucha. All you need is 24-30 ounces of coconut water and 1 packet of Kefir starter. I like to buy mine either from Amazon or www.bodyecology.com . You can find it on my Amazon shop HERE (under the supplements tab) if you want an easy way to find it. You warm the coconut water over the stove until it reaches body temperature (an easy way to check is to stick your finger in the water and if it feels neither hot nor cold, then its the right temp) and pour it in a glass jar or pitcher. You then add one packet of the starter to the water and let it sit on the counter at room temperature for 36 hours. Then stick it in the fridge and drink 4-6 ounces every morning. It will last in the fridge for about 5 days.

Coconut Water Kefir not only populates your gut with beneficial bacteria, but it also tones your digestive system, detoxes your liver, reduces sugar cravings, and provides your body with good mineral content (which is also good for your hair, skin, and nails). I always feel like I have more energy when I incorporate this drink into my lifestyle and I feel overall healthier as well. I do still like to take my probiotic at night which you can find HERE under the supplements tab.

I hope you give Coconut Water Kefir a go at some point! It truly is so amazing for your digestive system which I believe to be the number one place to start when you are dealing with most health issues. Sending all the good vibes your way.

With love,

Ashley

Then and Now: How My Lifestyle has Evolved the Past 9 Years

Sometimes it’s funny for me to look back and reflect on how far I’ve come in my health and wellness journey. My lifestyle used to look soooo much different than it does now. Most people don’t believe me when I say I used to drink two red bulls a day and eat fast food on a weekly basis. I was the girl in high school who always had snacks in her purse; we’re talking bags of cheezits, goldfish, pretzels, chips, etc. I was constantly eating and definitely not eating healthy. Lunch would be take out chinese food, a huge burrito smothered in all the cheese from a favorite local mexican restaurant (Taco King anyone?!), pizza, or maybe a subway sandwich if I was feeling like I wanted something “healthy”. Fast forward to my first few years in college and amongst the drinking that was taking place a few days a week (or every day sometimes, lets be real) I was also eating lots of fast food and then when I would eat at home it was fat free this and fat free that because that was “healthier”. I’m sure there were days or maybe even a week or two at a time where I never even ate a single vegetable and I now know that my body was just a ticking time clock until it was going to let me know that I needed to make a change stat.

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These days, my body can’t even handle the caffeine from a cup of green tea, so it’s funny to think back on where I used to be. I made the necessary changes to my diet because I needed to for my health and wellbeing. It look me countless doctors, specialists, and naturopaths and lots of testing and trial and error to figure out what worked for me and to be honest, some days I feel like I’m still figuring it out. My health is fine now, especially compared to where to it was 9 years ago, but symptoms will pop up every now and again. I’ve come to realize over the years that my body is actually very sensitive to what I put in it and I have to be very careful. Of course I still have cravings for the stuff I used to be able to eat and I do give into those cravings every once in awhile, but it usually affects my sleep, skin, mood, and digestion if I go over board, so it’s usually not worth it.

People who knew me before I made a lifestyle change and those who met me after will make comments from time to time that I should “just try” certain things or “a bite won’t hurt” or even that I should “live a little” when it comes to the foods I don’t eat. These comments don’t bother me too much because I know what’s best for me, but what does bother me is when someone acts as if my lifestyle is full of deprivation. As if I wouldn’t want to eat an amazing pepperoni pizza with all the cheese and the best crust ever without feeling crappy afterwards. As if I wouldn’t want to eat a huge pretzel with cheese or buttery garlic bread and not feel like I have a brick in my stomach or wake up with a migraine, heart palpitations, and a break out on my face afterwards. I choose this lifestyle because I know I am healing my body and fueling it with nutritious foods and giving it what it needs, but I also choose this lifestyle because in a way, I have to. Changing the way I eat has improved my skin (drastically), my energy, mood, sleep, digestion, anxiety (bye bye panic attacks and insane anxiety), and overall wellbeing. Like I mentioned before, I do indulge in certain things every once in a while, but I just have to be more cautious about it. French fries are still one of my favorite things and I still love to make pizza and pasta, but I just use different ingredients these days that are free of dairy and gluten.

I will make a post soon about what I typically eat in a day, but most days are full of smoothies, salads, quality fats and protein, and most likely dark chocolate too. I remember the first time I tried a green juice I couldn’t even fathom how or why someone would want to drink something like that, but now my body craves it. It’s all about starting slow and changing your taste buds. Our bodies are meant to eat an abundance of plant based foods, but our terrible food system has tricked our taste buds and brains into craving processed foods that are full of sugar, unhealthy fats, and chemicals that make us crave them even more. I love educating people on how to eat healthy and add more plants into their diet because I was once the exact opposite and I know what it takes to get here. I hope you feel supported if you are making the transition to a healthier lifestyle, and if you don’t, please reach out. I would love to help you.

With love,

Ashley

How I got Certified as a Health Coach

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time. Recently, I’ve been asked the process I went through to get certified as a health coach. I wanted to take some time to talk about the process that I went through that what has made such a huge impact on my knowledge and passion in health and wellness.

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The certification program I decided to go through almost 6 years ago is called The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (commonly referred to as IIN). I decided in the fall of 2013 to enroll the same night I found out about the program. It was the most impulsive decision I’ve made, but also one of my favorite investments I have made to date. I heard about the program through an IIN graduate and knew that I wanted this information in my life. It was just a feeling. Normally I need to think about things, journal, think about them some more, sleep on it, analyze, and then analyze some more. But this was just a deep gut feeling that I knew was right for me. I enrolled to start the following January of 2014 and graduated in February of 2015.

I was already eating healthy and exercising at the point in my life when I found IIN, but I had no idea that that was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to health and wellness. IIN teaches you about healthy foods and how to cook them, but the curriculum goes so much deeper than that. The program teaches you about spirituality, healthy relationships, a sense of fulfillment in your career, how to begin your health coaching business, a healthy relationship with yourself (the most important one you’ll ever have, in my opinion), and healthy finances. Health and wellness is not just about the foods we eat and the exercise we partake in. It really is so much more than that. Typically, when we are happy and life is going great, it’s easier to fuel our bodies with healthy food, move our bodies, and take good care of them. It’s usually when were stressed that we turn to food for comfort. This is why IIN teaches it’s students about other factors that go deeper than just the surface level of how we fuel and move our bodies. I loved that I learned from so many teachers who came from different backgrounds such as Dr. Oz, Andrew Weil, and Gabby Bernstein. I truly felt that all of the instructors provided unique insight into their specialized area of health and wellness and it truly helped me to gain new perspectives.

I loved my time at IIN; the like minded community I was surround with, the way my mind was expanded, the new ideas and concepts I learned, and the sense of fulfillment it brought to my life. This program was truly more valuable to me than my Nutrition degree. I say this because it was more in line with my beliefs and the way I want to guide others to lead a healthy lifestyle. I looked forward to learning the material and was always engaged and excited about the courses. I worked full time and was finishing my degree when I was going through my certification process with IIN, but it was still manageable. They design the program so that you may still work full time while you are completing it.

If you have thought about getting certified as a Health Coach, I encourage you to try out a free sample class from IIN here. If you’re curious about the curriculum you can view that here. I encourage you to do your research and find the best option for you if you’re wanting to make a positive change in your own life and in the lives of others. Because I am a graduate of IIN, you can receive $500 your tuition simply by mentioning my name.

If you’re being called to becoming a certified Health Coach or gaining more knowledge for yourself and/or to guide others, I really hope you honor that calling. Please feel free to personally reach out to me if you have questions about the program. I would love nothing more than to answer any questions and to connect with you.

With love,

Ashley

Why Gluten-Free Doesn't Always Mean Healthy

Being gluten-free is still a relatively new idea. Food companies and restaurants are now offering a wide array of gluten-free options for those who are opting out of gluten; either because of a food intolerance or because of preference. It’s popularity is continuing to rise and now you can browse grocery aisles and see countless items with a gluten-free label.

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But what is gluten anyways? It’s the proteins that are found in wheat, barley and rye. These gluten proteins are resistant to the enzymes that break down proteins in our digestive tract, which then causes irritation and disruption in the digestive tract, specifically the intestinal lining. The intestinal lining is made for nutrients to pass through because directly on the other side is our bloodstream, but when undigested proteins are passing through instead, this causes an immune response in our body. Our immune system flags these undigested proteins as foreign invaders and when we continue to eat gluten containing foods, this causes more disruption and inflammation in the body, potentially leading to autoimmune issues. When you have a sensitivity to gluten, your digestive system gets disrupted and can’t work properly which then creates pain, discomfort, and irregularity in your bowel movements. This can also create an issue with your body being able to properly digest other food, therefore making it hard for your body to get the nutrients it needs. Issues with gluten can also create breakouts on your skin, specifically on the jawline, chin, and neck.

Lately, a lot of people have found that they have issues with gluten and this could potentially be because these days, gluten tends to be highly processed and genetically modified. You can get allergy tested to see if gluten is an issue for you and you can also get tested for things like celiac disease to make sure you don’t have a more serious issue with gluten. You could also try an elimination diet and cut out gluten for 2 weeks to see how you feel.

There are countless gluten-free alternatives these days to crackers, cookies, breads, cakes, pastas, bagels, etc. Typically foods that are gluten-free have been deemed healthier, but that isn’t always the case. A lot of times these foods contain a lot of preservatives, additives, sugar, and fillers such as corn or soy, making these foods highly inflammatory. It’s really important when shopping for gluten-free products, whether out of necessity or preference, that we read food labels and make sure that the ingredient list isn’t a paragraph long. In an ideal world, products you buy should never have more than 5-10 ingredients and you should be able to pronounce and identify every ingredient on that list. There are a lot of products on the shelves that have every label such as organic, non-gmo, gluten-free, etc that we deem as “healthy” but if you take a look at the ingredient list, you will see added cane sugar, corn, soy, and other ingredients you aren’t able to pronounce. I highly recommend if you are buying processed foods (or anything that comes in a box) that you take a good look at the ingredient label.

I have been mostly gluten-free for about 6-7 years now. It’s a lot of trial and error with products that are good alternatives to some of my favorite foods like pizza and pasta. I’ve found some great ones and some not so great ones too. I’ve also learned how to cook gluten-free and have really enjoyed the process. I eat this way because it’s truly how I feel my best. When I let myself slip and eat something that isn’t gluten-free, I usually feel the physical effects with either a headache, sluggishness, difficulty concentrating, a rash on my arms, bloating, and/or anxiety.

Here are a few gluten-free products I use often that I really love:

Pizza:

This is my favorite Pizza dough mix from Simple Mills and I also love this

Pizza dough mix from Bob’s Red Mill

Crackers:

I love these sea salt crackers and these keto-friendly crackers

Pasta:

This is my favorite low-carb, high protein pasta and I also love this gluten-free pasta too

Cookies:

These Chocolate chip cookies are so good and I love these pecan cookies too

There are lots of other products on the market, but I find all of these to be some of the cleanest. All of the recipes on my blog are always gluten-free, so feel free to browse those for ideas on dinners, snacks, and desserts.

With love,

Ashley

The Power of Gratitude and Perspective

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This post is different than my usual topics, but I was on a walk the other day and it got me thinking. Some times I will go on walks through downtown Seattle by myself to reflect or clear my head. I always enjoy this time because it’s something that allows my mind to be free and go down whatever path it wants. I see so many different people on my walks that usually provoke a thought and my mind will just wander from there.

One particular day this week, while on a walk, I started thinking about perspective and how it helps me to be more grateful. Gratitude is something I have to work at sometimes and it honestly doesn’t always come easy to me. As I was walking around I was seeing people who were clearly living on the streets, whether by choice or by circumstance, I’m not sure. But it made me think about how small my problems actually are in the scheme of things and how good I truly have it. Other people’s misfortune doesn’t bring me relief in knowing that I have it better than they do, but it puts my life into perspective. It started to make me think about what a good life I have had and all the things my parents provided for my brothers and I growing up. I then started to think about how my parents upbringing was much different than mine, especially my dads.

My dad was the oldest of his siblings and started working at the age of 12. He was working at a restaurant at the time and some nights would work until 1 am and then have to get up early the next day for school. He has worked for every single thing he has ever had and is one of the most intelligent people I know. People love my dad. Not because he’s the most giving, kind hearted, or warm person (thats my mom) but because he’s real, he’s blunt, he’s absolutely hilarious, and he has integrity. You know there’s a lot of life lived by my dad and he has story upon story to back that up.

The reason for me bringing this up is that perspective is everything. We can choose to look at our lives with joy, gratitude, happiness, and love or we can choose to be the victim of our upbringings, our surroundings, or our current state. I like to think of the stories of the people who had all of the odds against them and still came out a winner because they chose to. They chose to put in the work, never give up, and enjoy the ride all while having a good attitude. I know it can be easier said than done, but we are all so much more capable and strong than we ever give ourselves credit for. I want to tell you that if you’re having a hard go of it or things don’t seem to happen as easily for you as they do for others, that you’re a diamond in the making and that you will be so proud of your goal once you’ve reached it. Keep striving, keep believing, and keep growing. Health is so much more than the food we eat (although that’s extremely important) but it’s also about the inner dialogue we’re having with ourselves and our perspective and view on life. We can be the victim or we can be the champion, it truly is up to you. I’m still learning this every day too.

So much love,

Ashley

How House Plants Can Boost Your Overall Health and Happiness

If you’re like me, then you LOVE lots of plants in your home. They add so much vibrance and character to your living space and create a zen feel too. One day I would absolutely love to have a patio with a green house attached as well as a big backyard garden, but right now I’m living in an apartment in the city and my lovely house plants will do. There is something about watching them grow and taking care of them that is so satisfying. I used to think that I couldn’t grow anything and that any plant I owned would die, but after starting off with a few low maintenance plants, I realized that I could in fact keep them alive and that I actually loved doing so.

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Did you know that house plants can actually make you happier? Nature is known to help reduce anxiety and depression and having plants in your home helps to mimic that. Plants also create happiness and are very rewarding because of the act of nurturing and caring for something and seeing it thrive.  

House plants also purify the air which is especially important if you live in a big city or an apartment building where there is lots of recycled air. They release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide,so they’re great for freshening the air, but also eliminating toxins.

It is also said that plants help to improve concentration, reduce stress and boosts your mood. Because of this, they are the perfect addition to your home or even your office or workspace.  

Nature makes us feel more connected and grounded, but it can be hard to feel that at times, especially if you live in a big city aka a concrete jungle. I recommend buying a few low maintenance plants like succulents, cacti, or monstera’s. These three are the plants I started with and once I was confident (and obsessed) with being able to take care of them, I branched out from there and started to invest in others that need a little more care.

Currently, I have 12 indoor plants, big and small, that I absolutely love and adore. They brighten up my space, add so much life, and bring so much happiness. There’s so much more to health and wellness than just the food we eat, it’s also about our environment and mindset. I love to include little things in my life that bring true happiness and boost my wellness. I hope you think about including plants in your living space and see just how rewarding they are. Xo

With love,

Ashley

10 Tips to Gently Detox Your Liver

Our bodies are made to detox naturally, but with so many environmental toxins and toxins from our food, beauty products, and cleaning products these days, sometimes we need to give our bodies some extra assistance. If I notice my skin getting congested, I feel bloated and sluggish, or if I feel extra tired, I know that I could probably use a little liver detox. This isn’t a cleanse or anything crazy restrictive, its just being more mindful of what you’re putting in your body and taking extra care. I especially like to pay extra attention to my liver if I’ve been traveling or if I’ve been eating out or drinking alcohol more than normal. Below are my top tips for detoxing your liver and giving it some extra love:

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Tips For Detoxing Your Liver:

1.     Avoid alcohol for 2-3 weeks. Yes even that one glass of wine.

2.     Avoid dairy. Dairy can be hard on the digestive system and therefore hard on the liver as well. It can cause inflammation in the body. Try cutting back on dairy or cut it out for a week or two.

3.     Drink warm lemon water in the morning. Drinking warm lemon water first thing in the morning alkalizes the body and provides a gentle detox for the liver.

4.     Avoid sugar for 2-3 weeks. We should be avoiding sugar anyways, but especially when trying to detox the liver and give it a rest. Sugar creates an acidic environment in our bodies and feeds the bad bacteria in our microbiome. Cutting out sugar for a couple weeks will help our livers detox.

5.     Eat organic apples a few times a week. Apples are great for purging the liver of toxins because of their pectins and malic acid. They are also anti-inflammatory and help protect against fatty liver disease.

6.     Avoid processed foods. Processed foods typically contain less healthy ingredients that cause inflammation and add to the toxic load within the body that the liver then has to filter.

7.     Add in lots of green vegetables. Green vegetables are very alkalizing for the body and will help assist the liver in detoxing.

8.     Take supplements such as zinc, B12, glutathione, and magnesium. These all help the support detoxification of the liver and overall function of the liver.

9.     Drink lots of water!! It’s always important to be drinking lots of water, but it’s especially important while your body is detoxing. This will help to flush out the toxins from your liver. Make sure the water you are drinking is either filtered or spring water.

10. Incorporate beets into your diet. Beets contain phytonutrients called betalains that help to detox the liver. You can eat beets raw or cooked or even juice them.

I hope you find these tips for detoxing your liver useful! These are things you can be incorporating on a monthly or weekly basis in order to keep your liver in tip top shape.

With love,

Ashley

When to Buy Organic vs. Conventional Produce

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I typically like to buy organic produce when it’s available, but it tends to be more expensive and it’s not always an option for certain items. I typically like to refer to the “Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen” list when it comes to produce. This list explains the produce that is the most contaminated with pesticides (that you should always buy organic to avoid toxins) as well as the produce that is okay to buy conventional because it is low in pesticide residue. This list will change from time to time, so in order to stay on top of it, I refer to the Environmental Working Guide’s website, commonly known as EWG, to get the latest news. You can find more in depth information on the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen here: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php.

Below is a look at the produce I always buy organic vs. the produce I’m okay with buying conventional:

Clean 15- this is the produce that is okay to buy conventional

  1. Avocados

  2. Sweet corn

  3. Pineapple

  4. Frozen sweet peas

  5. Onions

  6. Papaya

  7. Eggplant

  8. Asparagus

  9. Kiwis

  10. Cabbage

  11. Cauliflower

  12. Cantaloupe

  13. Broccoli

  14. Mushrooms

  15. Honey dew melons

Dirty Dozen- this is the produce I always make sure to buy organic

  1. Strawberries

  2. Spinach

  3. Kale

  4. Nectarines

  5. Apples

  6. Grapes

  7. Peaches

  8. Cherries

  9. Pears

  10. Tomatoes

  11. Celery

  12. Potatoes

Of course I like to stick to organic no matter what, but this guide is always helpful if organic isn’t available or if it’s a crazy price difference compared to conventional. Xo

With love,

Ashley

Health Benefits of Rebounding

Rebounding is something I heard about from my massage therapist a few years ago, but I honestly didn’t pay much attention to it. I bought my mom a mini trampoline for rebounding last summer and then she one-upped me and bought me the cadillac of mini trampolines, found here. Keep in mind that I live in an apartment in downtown Seattle, so space is limited. Nonetheless, I have my mini trampoline in the corner of my bedroom (yes, its not the most aesthetically pleasing, but worth it imo) and I use it almost daily. There are sooo many health benefits to rebounding, especially if you do it consistently, and its kind of fun and enjoyable too. My massage therapist originally recommended it because I tend to get slight edema in my legs and have poor circulation, which are two things that rebounding significantly helps with.

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Before I go into detail about the health benefits from rebounding, let me first explain what it is. Rebounding is basically jumping on a mini trampoline for any amount of time you choose, but I recommend starting with 5-10 minutes daily and working your way up to 15-20 minutes daily. You can either keep your feet planted on the trampoline while jumping or you can jump high enough to where your feet leave the trampoline. The latter will yield more results, including toning your legs and body, but both are still beneficial. I usually set a timer, turn on music or a podcast, and get to jumping! I typically try to jump for at least 10 minutes a day and sometimes I even break that up into 2 bouts of 5 minutes each. Ideally, you would be jumping for closer to 20 minutes a day, but if you’re getting lots of walking in daily, among other workouts, then I say do what you can and anything is better than nothing at all.

Now, lets get to the best part which are the health benefits! I was shocked to learn about all the different health benefits of rebounding, but once I started incorporating this into my routine and started to notice changes, it all made sense to me. Here a list of some of the benefits you can experience from rebounding consistently:

  • Helps improve digestion

  • Boosts immunity

  • Improves circulation

  • Increases bone mass

  • Increases lymphatic drainage

  • Improves muscle tone

  • Supports the thyroid and adrenals

  • Increases endurance

  • Stimulates mitochondria which are responsible for cell energy

I hope you gained some inspiration to start rebounding! Here is a link for a mini trampoline that is budget friendly and will do just the trick to provide all the health benefits listed above. Happy rebounding! xo

With love,

Ashley

Clean Pantry and Fridge Essentials

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I love cooking at home and eating most of my meals from home. If you know me, you know that grocery shopping is one of my most favorite things. I usually like to go alone because I like to go down almost every aisle and search for cool new products/ingredients. But, I have my staples that are always stocked in my fridge and pantry. These are things I use almost daily or at least a few times a week. I hope this list inspires you to have certain items stocked up, making cooking at home much easier. xo

Pantry:

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Apple cider vinegar

  • Manuka Honey

  • Spices: himalayan sea salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, turmeric, garlic powder, chili powder, cinnamon, chili flakes

  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, chia seeds, hemp seeds

  • Grass-fed ghee

  • Almond and coconut flour for baking

  • Cacao powder

  • Cacao nibs

  • Liquid aminos

  • Quinoa

  • Gluten-free pastas: brown rice pasta and lentil pasta

  • Almond butter

  • Monkfruit sweetener

  • Gluten-free crackers

Fridge:

  • Lemons and limes

  • Green and/or Pink Lady Apples

  • Green vegetables; spinach, romaine lettuce, arugula, kale

  • Ginger and/or Turmeric

  • Herbs; cilantro, parsley, basil, mint

  • Fermented veggies such as sauerkraut or kimchi

  • Almond milk- homemade or a clean (no sugar or additives) store bought version

  • Bee pollen

  • Ground Flaxseed

  • Gluten-free tortillas

  • Coconut water kefir

  • Organic free-range eggs

  • Dairy free cheese

  • Hot sauce

  • Kalamata olives and pepperoncinis

  • Organic maple syrup

  • Hummus

  • Dark chocolate

Happy shopping and cooking!

With love,

Ashley

My Tried and True Supplement Recommendations

The number 1 question I get asked is “what are your favorite supplements?” and I believe it’s for good reason. There are SO MANY supplements on the market and it can get extremely confusing as to which one you should supplement with and which one of the million brands you should choose from. I have a few brands that I’m extremely loyal to because I trust them wholeheartedly since they insist on the highest standards for their products. I also want to be clear that I will never recommend products I haven’t personally used and loved- being genuine and honest is my number one priority for this blog along with sharing health and wellness tips, of course.

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I know there is a lot of back and forth between how much we should supplement our diet and this is strictly my opinion and what has worked for me. I strongly believe that these days we do need to supplement our diets even if we are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and this is because the soil that our produce is grown in these days is depleted of the vitamins and minerals that it used to be rich in. This is due to new agricultural methods which you can read more about here. I am a Certified Health Coach and hold my Bachelor’s in Nutrition but I am not a doctor, so I recommend consulting your health care practitioner before starting a new supplement regimen, especially if you take any medication. Below is a list of all the supplements I believe have lessened my anxiety, improved my energy, skin, gut health, the functions of my adrenals and thyroid, and have improved my overall health and wellness.

My Tried and True Supplements

Daily basis:

Probiotics - to populate the gut with beneficial bacteria. This one also acts a bit like a multivitamin and provides the prebiotics for the probiotics to feed off.

Cod Liver Oil - great for bone, tooth, and skin health. Also a good source of Vitamins A and D and supports the body’s immune system.

RESTORE for gut health - the most amazing thing I have found to restore gut health. If you have problems with digestion, you might have what’s called “leaky gut” where the tight junctures in your intestinal lining have separated and now food particles can get through which causes an immune response (aka food allergies) and inflammation in the body. This supplement is tasteless and helps to restore the integrity of the gut lining.

Daily Cleanse Vitamin - I love these vitamins. They help to detox the liver so that your skin can be fresh and clear. I also feel like they give me energy. I only take 1 capsule daily opposed to the recommended 2 and it works great for me.

Ashwagandha - this is one of the most beneficial herbs for balancing my hormones, aiding in stress and anxiety relief, and providing mood support.

Vitamin D - for immune support and to supplement in the winter months when we don’t get as much sun.

Weekly basis:

Digestive Enzymes - to help break down food to help our digestive system and absorb our nutrients better. Also great if you want to eat something your body doesn’t normally respond well to like gluten, dairy, or sugar.

Hawaiian Spirulina - for chlorophyll to help oxygenate the blood and provide vitamins and minerals. Helps to bind to heavy metals so that you body can get rid of them.

Beet Kvass - very detoxifying for the liver and helps to curb sugar cravings.

Bee Propolis Throat Spray - amazing for immune support or if you feel like you’re getting a sore throat. I always travel with this to fight off germs and bacteria I might pick up on the plane or in the airport.

Dulse - nourishing for the adrenals and thyroid because of the iodine content. It also provides lots of vitamins and minerals.

I hope this list helps you with supplement suggestions. Again, these are all supplements I personally use and love on a daily or weekly basis. If you have any questions about my supplements, I would love to help. You can shoot me an e-mail at: ashley@ashleycarlson.co .

With Love,

Ashley

Guest Blog: Brooke McGregor on Female Cycle Hormones

I am so excited to share today’s post with all of you brought to you by my friend and former co-worker, Brooke McGregor. Brooke and I met in sunny Scottsdale, AZ when we both worked at Kaleidoscope Juice, an amazing juice bar with multiple locations in the Valley. She is such a wealth of knowledge when it comes to health and wellness and truly embodies everything she promotes. Not only is her approach to health based in science, but she takes a deeper, spiritual look at things as well. Today’s post is all about hormones and the female menstrual cycle. I, quite honestly, found this post to be SO insightful and something that every woman should read and be informed about. I love that Brooke was able to provide this useful information to my readers and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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We live in a world where the word period is only acceptable when used at the end of a sentence. Contrary to popular belief, the female cycle is freaking magic! We, as women, are so incredibly blessed to have our menstrual cycle in our toolkit, telling us what is going on with our bodies on a monthly basis. We also have the ability to create life, so that’s pretty damn cool too. The only problem with our periods is that we are never given the proper handbook to educate us on the magic behind our cycle.

 

It wasn’t until my first year of human biology in graduate school that I was exposed to the detailed hormone fluctuations of the female cycle. Excuse me, but that is INSANE! Why did it take me until my mid-twenties to know what was happening with my own body, and require the dialect of medical terminology to understand what the hell my professor was talking about? Even more disheartening, was that it was not laid out in an easy to comprehend format. It required several drawings of hormone charts, googling YouTube videos, and re-reading textbooks to understand something my body has been doing since I was 13. I was embarrassed to ask questions or express opinions about my cycle, because we had been taught periods are gross and not a conversational topic. But, when I started talking about it I realized females I came into contact with were craving knowledge to understand their body. So before I dive into hormones, let me just repeat myself, the female cycle is freaking magic!

 

To start, let’s talk about a few of the major hormones: Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone. Hormones are chemical messengers that pretty much tell your body what to do. So, the next time someone tells you that you are being hormonal, take it as a compliment because you’re telling them what you want. First, we have estrogen. There are three types of estrogen: estrone (E1), estradiol (E2) and estriol (E3). The ovaries primarily produce E1 and E2, while the placenta produces E3 during pregnancy. You NEED estrogen to grow the uterine lining during the first part of your cycle, otherwise known as the follicular phase. You also NEED estrogen for your bones. It slows the breakdown of bone, which our bodies naturally do to supply calcium when needed. When you have low estrogen your bones are at risk for low calcium levels and sex is painful because your uterine lining is thinning. So, ladies, check your estrogen levels because the last thing you need is osteoporosis or a weak sex life. Next is progesterone, which is also produced by the ovaries, but after ovulation. Progesterone tells you if your cycle is working normally. It also preps the uterus for a fertilized egg. No fertilized egg, aka no baby, the progesterone levels naturally decline and BOOM, a period. Finally, testosterone, a lipid made from cholesterol produced by the ovaries and adrenals. If low in women you can experience fatigue, weight gain, and fertility issues. It too, aids in the shedding of the uterine lining (your period), and promotes muscle development, regulating red blood cells, and increases sex drive.

 

Now, comes your cycle. Day 1 of your cycle is your period. Your hormones are at a baseline level. This allows the right and left parts of your brain to have the most communication ever during your cycle. Due to the decreased hormones your energy is low, which is why you feel tired. This is a good time for low-level workouts like yoga, and light Pilates, to compliment your body changes and gracefully work through any discomfort you may be having. However, since you are not pregnant your uterus must contract to shed the uterine lining. Prostaglandins are responsible for that contraction and those pesky menstrual cramps. If you are having horrible cramps, too many prostaglandins are being produced. That is not normal. The only time you want increasingly high prostaglandins is in labor for contractions to push out a baby. You do not need to reenact labor pains every month because someone once told you painful cramps are a normal part of the menstrual process. You could be suffering from nutrient deficiencies, fibroids, or hormonal imbalances. Do not settle for intense pain being a normal way of life. Get help to find the root of the problem. Suggestions during the menstrual phase are to recognize the decrease in hormones and know how to properly fuel your body. This means you need healthy fats and proteins as precursors to make all of the hormones required throughout the next phases of the cycle. Heavy menstruation causes a drop in hemoglobin. If this something you struggle with, chlorophyll has been luckily similarly structured to hemoglobin but with a binding affinity for magnesium instead of iron. Chlorophyll can be a wonderful addition during this time not only for its similarity to hemoglobin but it’s magnesium ion. Magnesium is a power house mineral aiding in creating new proteins, DNA repair, and muscle movement like the contraction and relaxation of the uterine lining (reducing cramps).

 

Next, your body is focusing on growing a follicle with follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) because a healthy female body wants to get pregnant. Even if you are not trying to get pregnant, understand that in order for you to feel GOOD you need healthy hormone levels. The body is increasing in estrogen during this time and you should feel GOOD. This is a great time for cardio and high-energy workouts your body was probably despising during your period. You also want to make sure your gut is in check to properly metabolizing all of the hormones coming into play for the next phases. This is a great time to incorporate fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi. You may want to focus on phytoestrogens (plant based compounds similar to estrogen) to aid in the desired increase in estrogen. Miso paste, miso soup, flax seeds, and hummus are all good choices. Focus on energy sustaining foods.

 

Now we get to ovulation. The follicle that was created in the follicular phase is now a little egg and released due to luteinizing hormone (LH). Your body will have a little rise of testosterone giving you better muscle recovery so lift weights, go to HIIT workouts, etc. You may also notice you’re a little chattier with increased desire for activity because your body wants to be social from hormonal stimulation. Cervical mucus is prominent during ovulation for the sole reason of fertilizing the egg, and you will be able to tell if you have cervical mucus. If you’re not trying to get pregnant DO NOT have sex during the ovulation window since sperm can survive up to 5 days in females cervical mucus.  You want to support blood flow to your ovaries during ovulation. Food items that promote vascularization (increasing blood flow) are things like leafy greens, citrus fruits, turmeric, garlic, beets, and fatty fish. I personally use this time in my cycle to consume a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables through organic cold press juice and smoothies to keep up with energy demand. The addition of fruits and vegetables will also aid in increasing your fiber intake, which enhances excretion of any excess hormones that are still lingering. This is vital if you suffer from PMS due to excess estrogen right before your period in the upcoming phase.

 

Finally, we are in the luteal phase where all of our hormones are present: Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone! During this phase you can keep up with strength training and more intense routines. Your workouts in the beginning will be elevated with your hormones and decrease the closer you get to your period. This is also a good time to get any necessary blood work done in order to determine your hormone levels. Estrogen is there keeping the uterine lining thick, and progesterone should exist to get the lining ready for egg placement if there is a fertilized embryo. However, of the three hormones present, the only one you want surging is progesterone. Progesterone is the happy, anti-anxiety hormone, but you need to ovulate in order for it to be produced. In simple terms no ovulation no progesterone, no pregnancies, and your mood is s**t. You need to make sure what you are eating is supporting the conversion of pregnenolone to progesterone. Pregnenolone is a cholesterol-based precursor for all sex hormones, and the conversion is essential to healthy progesterone levels. You still need estrogen, just a healthy balance of it to avoid PMS (poor mood and breast tenderness) and estrogen dominance.  Focusing on B vitamin rich foods like organic pasture raised eggs, legumes, dark leafy greens, algae, and whole grains is ideal. You will want to make sure mineral content is maintained to support your upcoming period as well. This includes magnesium (mentioned earlier), potassium, and calcium. Foods such as broccoli, baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, brussels sprouts, winter squash, oranges, almonds, collards, celery, black beans, scallops, and whole grains are encouraged. The B vitamins and minerals will aid in starving off sugar cravings as well. Your progesterone along with all other hormones will decrease due to an absence in pregnancy after about a week and your period will begin.

 

The female body was made to ebb and flow, literally. Your period does not have to hold you prisoner. Instead, view it as an opportunity to understand what your body needs and optimally when, to feel as incredible as possible throughout the entire month!

 By Brooke McGregor

A little bit about Brooke:

Brooke McGregor has her undergraduate degree in Nutrition Dietetics with a certificate in Sustainability, emphasizing in sustainable agriculture. She is currently an MS Nutrition and Functional Medicine candidate while working as Kaleidoscope Juice’s Chief Operating Officer and partner in Phoenix Arizona. Her passions include intuitive and spiritual eating, environmental medicine, and female hormones. She also enjoys public policy nutrition from her time as a Nutrition Fellow in the United States Congress during reformation of the 2018 Farm Bill. Her spiritual based nutrition approach to whole body wellness was developed through her diploma in Angel Healing Therapy accreditation. Brooke’s objectives are to take science based nutrition modalities and combine them with spiritual and emotional body connections. The goal is to truly achieve optimal wellness, mind, body, and spirit.

You can follow Brooke on instagram over at bcmcgreg.

 

5 Amazing Benefits to Dry Brushing for Skin

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I absolutely love when I learn health + wellness tips from other people; especially when that person is my mom. She introduced me to dry brushing 9 years ago and I immediately had to know what it was all about. I’m really into researching health and wellness topics and of course had to watch a few YouTube videos in order to understand just what dry brushing was all about. I was still living in Alaska at the time and stopped by one of my favorite hole-in-the-wall natural food stores called “Anna’s Health Foods” to pick up a brush, like this one. I’ve been dry brushing ever since; although, sometimes I am much more consistent and better about doing it than others. Here are 5 reasons why you should go pick yourself up a body brush and start dry brushing on a weekly basis:

Reduces Cellulite:

Dry brushing your skin a few times a week can help to reduce cellulite. It tones and firms the skin in areas where cellulite tends to be more prominent; on the backs of thighs and butt. The appearance of cellulite is simply toxins that have accumulated in your bodies fat cells and haven’t been eliminated. Dry brushing helps to release these toxins into the bloodstream so that your body is able to get rid of the toxic waste.

Increases Blood Circulation:

Of course brushing your skin will bring blood to the surface, therefore increasing blood circulation. This is especially good for those of us who have bad circulation. Good blood flow/circulation is important for overall health and wellbeing and is especially important to bring oxygen and nutrients to every part of the body. Plus, good blood circulation will give your skin good color and will promote that healthy, natural glow.

Exfoliating and Helps to Remove Dead Skin:

Dry brushing is very exfoliating for the skin. I think it’s common for most of us to tend to take really good care of our faces and to forget about the skin on the rest of our body. I love to dry brush before I take a shower so that I can wash off any dead skin and then moisturize like crazy after! My skin always feels so much more smooth and soft when I am consistently dry brushing. I’ve also noticed that I don’t get as many ingrown hairs or bumps from shaving my legs when I dry brush on a regular basis.

Improves lymphatic drainage:

This part goes back to increasing circulation in the body. When blood is flowing, it gets the lymphatic system draining as well. Lymph is the fluid that carries white blood cells and flows through the lymphatic system. Lymph also contains lymphocytes which are the cells that attack bacteria in the blood. When this fluid is able to move around and circulate properly, our bodies are better able to detox and defend themselves from bacteria/viruses.

Now, you might be wondering how you dry brush in the first place. First, you need to buy a brush like this one to get you started. After you have a good brush, the process is very quick and simple. I always start at my feet and make my way up my body. Start by using small, medium pressure, short strokes and always brush towards your heart. I brush the bottoms of my feet a couple times and then the tops of my feet; again, making sure you are moving towards the heart. Next use small strokes up the fronts and backs of your legs and make your way up to your stomach and back. You can do a circular, clock wise motion on your stomach and back. Of course your back is going to be a little bit harder to reach unless your brush has a long handle on it, so you can do small, short strokes instead of a circular motion if you need to. Make sure to brush your armpits in a circular, clock wise motion as well and then do small strokes from you hands, all the way up your arms until you reach your shoulders. I always finish by doing small strokes from my shoulders and neck down towards my heart.

Make sure to drink plenty of water after dry brushing because it is stirring up toxins in your body and you want to make sure your body has enough fluids to help detox and flush out the toxins. I find that dry brushing gives me energy so I recommend doing it in the morning or mid day instead of at night just so that it doesn’t interfere with your sleep. You don’t have to shower right after, but it’s a practice that I always do, followed by this coconut oil moisturizer that I absolutely love. The whole process makes me feel so refreshed and glowy. I hope you try it too!

With love,

Ashley

The Power of Fermented Foods

If you haven’t heard by now, I am all about that gut health. I believe it is the foundation of a healthy mind and body and is one of the most important things you can focus on when it comes to your overall health and wellness. Your digestive system (commonly referred to as the “gut”) is where all your food is digested and assimilated and if it’s not working properly, you wont be able to absorb the nutrients from the food you eat and you might experience other uncomfortable and unpleasant symptoms. We each have a “microbiome” in our digestive tract and its full of good and bad bacteria. It’s important to feed the good bacteria in our guts in order crowd out the bad bacteria. Fermented foods/drinks are one of the best ways to feed the good bacteria in order to promote your gut health.

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Fermented (or cultured) foods contain probiotics, which are the healthy bacteria our guts need. This good/healthy bacteria helps to improve digestion, boost immunity, detoxify your body, reduce inflammation, improve cognitive function, and improve the overall microbiome of the gut. Often times, different fermented foods/drinks contain enzymes that are necessary to properly break down food in our digestive system in addition to the beneficial bacteria they provide. Some of my favorite fermented foods/drinks are sauerkraut, kombucha, beet kvass, and coconut water kefir.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut contains beneficial bacteria and enzymes to eliminate pathogens and help break down your food. It also contains Vitamins K and C which both help to support, create, and maintain healthy bones in the body. Sauerkraut contains antioxidants and reduces inflammation by crowding out harmful bacteria and pathogens. This is my favorite sauerkraut brand and I love to eat it with eggs, on salads, with stirfrys, or even just have a spoonful by itself sometimes.

Kombucha

I don’t particularly believe that kombucha is the #1 way to get probiotics into our system; the main reason is because in order for the “mother” of the kombucha to grow and thrive, it needs to be fed some type of sugar either from cane sugar or honey. Sometimes these beverages can have upwards of 20-25 grams of sugar for one 16oz bottle. With this being said, I still love the taste of kombucha and do believe that it provides beneficial probiotics and enzymes. I always try to find a flavor and brand that has a smaller sugar content like GT’s cranberry and gingerade flavors.

Beet Kvass

I have been drinking this on a regular basis for the past two months and absolutely LOVE IT. It has a fermented, but pleasant taste and is super easy to drink a couple ounces of daily. It’s amazing to help detox your liver, reduce sugar cravings, improve your digestion, supports mental clarity, and repopulates the microbiome with good bacteria. This is the brand of Beet Kvass I always buy and highly recommend it!

Coconut Water Kefir

Although I love the 3 options I mentioned above, this is by far MY FAVORITE. I love coconut water kefir so much. It tastes more like a mild kombucha and has a bit of a tangy yogurt taste as well, but I absolutely love it. Coconut Kefir is so beneficial for breaking down the food in our digestive systems, providing good bacteria to our microbiome, and supplying our bodies with many nutrients such as amino acids, enzymes, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins K and B. I used to make my own using this kefir starter, but I got a bit lazy and started to buy coconut water kefir from GT’s instead. Making your own is quite a bit cheaper, so if this is something you’re interested in, I recommend you going that route. Buy the kefir starter here and follow the simple instructions. It’s so easy and so good for your digestive system.

Overall, I think it is so beneficial to add in fermented foods to your daily routine. Your gut will thank you! You’ll notice less bloating, better digestion, clearer skin, and improved cognition. If you ever have extra questions regarding this topic or still don’t know how to get started, feel free to reach out to me! I would love to help. Xo

With love,

Ashley

What's healthier: Juices or Smoothies?

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A question that I’ve been asked a lot over the years is which one is better for you; drinking juices or smoothies? My answer is they both are, but for different reasons. I incorporate both of them into my diet and definitely believe they both boost your overall health and wellness.

The Difference between Juices and Smoothies:

The main different between the two is that one has more macronutrients than the other. Macronutrients are nutrients that are needed in large amounts in the body; fats, proteins, fiber, water, antioxidants and carbohydrates. Smoothies have more macronutrients than juices because the ingredients are blended instead of ran through a juicer. This ensures all the macronutrients are still in tact. Since the process of juicing strips away most of the macronutrients; you aren’t getting much protein, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber. You are still getting water and antioxidants, but without the other macronutrients, the juice gets absorbed into your bloodstream at a rapid rate because there isn’t a lot of substance to slow down the absorption process and there isn’t anything your body needs to digest and breakdown. On the other hand, smoothies take a little longer to digest because they (usually) have fats, proteins, fiber, and/or carbohydrates. This means that smoothies will keep you fuller, longer.

Keep in Mind…

There are a few things I like to keep in mind when making juices and smoothies. For juices, I always make sure that the bulk of what I’m juicing is a green vegetable. This can be anything from spinach and kale to cucumbers and broccoli. You want to make sure most of your produce is low in sugar because the juice gets absorbed into your bloodstream very quickly, and you don’t want to get a big hit of sugar straight to your bloodstream. If you decide to include fruit into your juices, that’s okay, but try to keep it to a minimum and use fruits such as green apples, lemons, and limes which are all lower in sugar. If you want to use an orange, pear, grapefruit, pineapple, or another fruit higher in sugar, try juicing half the fruit instead of the whole thing.

When making smoothies, I try to limit my sugar from fruit and/or sweeteners as well. All of my smoothies have a banana, berries, or some other type of fruit. I will add dates or honey from time to time as well, depending on what type of smoothie I’m making. I think adding these things is absolutely okay to do, you just need to be mindful of the amount you are adding. I typically only add a tsp of honey, 1-2 dates, or half a banana to sweeten my smoothies a little bit. The nice thing about smoothies is that since they are blended, they still contain all their healthy fats, fiber, and protein from the ingredients you add so the sugar from fruit and any other sweeteners you add doesn’t get absorbed into the bloodstream as fast as it does with juices.

Overall…

Like I mentioned before, I love enjoying both juices and smoothies. If you’re looking for something that has more substance, then smoothies are the way to go because they will keep you fuller, longer. If you are just looking for a major vitamin and mineral boost, then juices are great for that while being extremely hydrating. Smoothies are appropriate as a meal, such as breakfast, if they have an adequate amount of protein, fats, carbohydrates, and fiber. Juices, on the other hand, are better to incorporate in addition to your regular meals.

I hope this post answers some questions on juices versus smoothies and be sure to keep your eyes out for more juice and smoothie recipes in the next couple months!

With love xo,

Ashley

My Favorite Night Time Rituals

Routine is great if it works for you. For me, it feels rigid and honestly, boring. Part of me wishes I was more of a routine person, but I’m just not. But, there are certain things I like to do every night, most nights, or a few nights a week that set me up for a good night of sleep. Every evening looks a little bit different for me, so I thought I would write a post about some of my favorite night time rituals.

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Epsom salt baths:

I usually take baths once a week, sometimes twice. They’re so relaxing, good for detoxing the body, and great for sore muscles. This is my favorite epsom salt brand.

Foam rolling and Stretching:

The foam rolling part might not be the most relaxing, but it’s so good for breaking up fascia in the body and alleviating sore muscles. It’s also good for reducing cellulite too. I do find stretching to be really relaxing and something that I love to do at night. I usually try to foam roll/stretch 3-4 evenings a week.

Face masks:

I love the feeling of washing my face at night and then putting on a face mask. I don’t do face masks every night because I do think there is such a thing as using too much product on your face. I try to do a mask 1-2 times a week, maybe 3 if I need extra exfoliation or hydration. My few of my favorite masks are Summer Fridays R+R (it smells like roses and is so good for exfoliating), Herbivore Botanicals Brighten (so good for getting glowy skin), and Acure Seriously Soothing Biocellulose Gel Mask (I was seriously shocked with how smooth, bright, and hydrated my face was after this mask).

Legs up the wall pose:

I like to do this a few times a week. You simply lay on the ground and put your legs straight up the wall for 10-15 minutes or whenever you feel like you’ve had enough. It’s so restorative for the adrenals and is really great for those who don’t have great circulation (like myself). It’s also really great for calming anxiety and getting your body out of the fight or flight and into rest and digest. I find it super calming for my mind and a chance for me to just “be” and breathe deeply.

Drinking tea:

This is something I do almost every night. It has become such a habit for me and something I look forward to. My favorite brands of tea are Traditional Medicinals, Mountain Rose Herbs, and Organic India Tulsi Tea. I drink a variety of different kinds; peppermint, dandelion root, red clover, nettle leaf, chamomile, ginger, lemon balm, and sweet rose are my usual go-to’s.

Reading:

I love reading before bed. It really helps me to wind down, relax, and get in the zone to go to sleep. One of my favorite book right now is The Seat of the Soul .

CBD oil:

This is something I started using more recently and I love it. A brand called RELEAFE, based in Bend, Oregon sent me a few of their products including their CBD chapstick and CBD oil. I’m obsessed. Not only is their CBD organic, but it doesn’t have any added chemicals or fillers AND they’re a small business created by really nice people. This oil helps to take any stress or edge off from the day and puts me in a calm state, ready to sleep for the night.

Journaling:

This is something I would like to do more of. If I have a lot on my mind, I like to put pen to paper and get it out. It’s such a good release for me and helps to calm down mental chatter. How many times have you gotten into bed and were ready to fall asleep, but then your mind starts to think about all the things you want to do but haven’t yet or all the mistakes you’ve ever made? I’ve been there. Journaling really helps me to get my thoughts out and “vent” so that I can relax and fall asleep. I love using ban.dō notebooks for my journaling.

On a typical night, I usually do a couple of these things to get me ready to go to sleep. I hope this gave you some good ideas for rituals you can incorporate into your nighttime routine. Remember not to put too much pressure on yourself to have some perfect night time routine; do what works for you and your schedule and what makes you feel like your best self. Xo

With love,

Ashley

6 Easy Ways to Drink More Water Everyday

Water. It’s one of the simplest things we can do to transform our health. It helps to flush out toxins, is responsible for many important functions in our bodies, and is absolutely vital for overall health. Yet, many of us are still not drinking enough. I remember doing a health consultation 4 years ago and my client mentioned that she only drank soda throughout the day. I sat there, trying to make sure my jaw didn’t drop to the ground, and just listened. In that moment I truly realized that we are all at different stages in our health and wellness and as a health coach you have to meet people where they’re at. And sometimes we need to go back to the basics and focus on the little things, that over time will have the greatest impact. I sat there thinking “my head would feel like a bunch of tiny men slamming a hammer if I didn’t make sure I drank water everyday”. But sometimes people don’t realize how bad they feel, until they start to feel good again. I’ve also had people ask how much water they should be drinking on a daily basis and if they don’t love drinking water, how they can jazz it up and make it a little more appealing. I simple tool to gauge how much water you should be drinking on a daily basis is take your weight, divide it by two, and drink that many ounces daily. So, if you weigh 200 pounds, you should be drinking roughly 100 ounces of water. This is, of course, just a suggestion, but I always thought it was silly that the recommended amount of water was 6-8 glasses a day when we all differ in size. Keep reading on if you want a few tips on how to incorporate more water into your daily routine.

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1. Keep a glass of water or full water bottle next to your bed. When you wake up, before anything else, chug the whole thing or as much as you can. This will ensure that right off the bat, you are getting at least 12 ounces of water into your system (or more depending on the size of your glass). Remember that our livers detox at night while were sleeping, usually between the hours of 1 and 3 am, so we should show our body some love by helping to flush out those toxins our livers worked so hard to expel.

2. Make warm lemon water or tea first thing in the morning. This is a great trick to add to the first tip, or just on its own. The warm lemon water is great for alkalizing the body and lemon is a gentle detoxifier for our livers. If you don’t have lemons on hand or don’t prefer warm lemon water, a nice organic tea is still a great way to hydrate.

3. Carry a water bottle with you at all times. Preferably a reusable water bottle in order to not produce lots of waste and to be more cost effective overtime. I recommend finding one that has a straw or adding in a reusable straw. I find that I drink SO much more water when drinking out a straw. When you carry a water bottle with you all day, you won’t ever have the excuse of not drinking enough water and it’s also a good reminder.

4. Infuse your water with fruits and/or vegetables, tea leaves, or essential oils. I have a post here on my tea infusion recipe that I love making. I also love to add fresh squeezed lemon to my water or sometimes I’ll add cucumber slices too. There are so many combinations to play with. If you’re looking for a quick addition, I love adding essential oils like wild orange, tangerine, lemon, lime, or grapefruit. Be careful which brand of essential oils you use because not all brands are created equal. My favorite brand is dōTERRA.

5. Eat fruits and vegetables that have a high water content. Produce such as cucumber, celery, watermelon, grapefruit, oranges, romaine, and strawberries all have a very high water content and will help your body to stay hydrated plus they have added fiber, vitamins, and minerals too!

6. Drink juices or include bone broth in your diet to help stay hydrated. If you’re incorporating juice, make sure it’s organic because there isn’t any protein, fiber, or fat to slow down the absorption process into your bloodstream meaning that if the produced juiced isn’t organic, you will get a quick hit of pesticides and chemicals into your bloodstream. Also, make sure you are opting for juices with a lower sugar content. I recommend cold pressed organic juices that are made with mostly vegetables. You can make your own at home too, that way you know exactly what’s in it! Besides incorporating high quality juice, including things like bone broth will help your body stay hydrated and get a mineral and collagen boost as well. Bone broth is also really beneficial for soothing and healing the gut.

Try implementing 1 or more of these tips this week and see how they help you to up your water intake. Remember that when you are hydrated, you have more energy, feel less tired and fatigued, you tend to be less hungry, you sleep better, and you feel better overall.

With love,

Ashley