Intermittent Fasting Sleep Benefits

It’s my first week of intermittent fasting and I’ve noticed a few amazing things already. I am sleeping like a baby. Yes, a baby. I used to be a late night snacker. I loved being a late night snacker and most nights would have a peanut butter toast, a big handful of cashews, yogurt or potato chips, depending on my cravings, but then I almost always would have a restless sleep and then awake the next day exhausted. Have you ever eaten right before bed? It’s actually a very uncomfortable feeling. And I all of the work your system is putting into digesting food at night actually gives you an anxious sleep where you might not even go into REM, the restorative stage.

So, my number one exiting benefit of IF this week is sleep. I’m starting to wake up feeling pretty rested for the first time in a long time and it feels amazing.

The second benefit this week is that I’m actually paying more attention to my body and my digestion. It’s a bit shocking how little attention we pay to our bodies on a day to day basis. Especially during times like this were most of us have a baseline of higher anxiety and are prone to a little too much comfier eating.

Intermittent Fasting helps you really tune into your body and your digestion and allows you to nourish your self with our over eating or inducing I’m mindless comfort overeating. Personally, I really like the structure of feeding myself from 11am to 7pm and then just giving my body a break. IF is helping me stay healthy in unsettling times.

Intermittent Fasting

If you know me you know that I LOVE checking out new health fads and crazes. I recently tried food combing and my verdict was that it’s good for short term digestion issues or weight loss but almost impossible to keep up long term. Then I went totally sugar free. That was tough and didn’t make me feel as healthy as I had hoped so I’m back to using honey and maple syrup as well as treating myself to the odd dark chocolate bar.

Now I’ve decided to see what intermittent fasting is all about. I’ve been doing this few a few days and I swear I feel the effects already.

I’m doing 8/16 or 9/15 depending on the day, meaning that my window of eating every day is 8 or 9 hours and fasting is 15 or 16 hours. During the eating phase of the day you should have 3 balanced meals and try not to binge on unhealthy foods or you’re pretty much shooting yourself in the foot.

Eating this way leaves 16 hours for your body to take a break from digesting and focus on regeneration and healing. Doesn’t that sound like a good idea? Think of our hunter/gatherer ancestors ~ they weren’t bogged down with digestion all day long. They ate, went out to hunt and forage again and, if they were lucky, had another meal. If they weren’t lucky, they were naturally intermittent fasting. This way of eating is so natural for the human body and has a ton of health and anti~aging benefits that I’ll discuss in an upcoming post.

One word of caution though. If you’re active, only schedule activities during eating hours or you’ll be depleting yourself and breaking down muscle as well as fat, doing your body more harm than good.

I truly believe though that in our modern world where we are inundated with unhealthy food choices 24/7, intermittent fasting may be the path back to balance and health.

Happy Fasting.

Photos of a hike to Dog Mountain on Mount Seymour.

Golden Glow Smoothie

There is nothing better than a walk through the pumpkin patch at the end of October.

And after picking the perfect pumpkin I can’t wait to get home to start making muffins, pies and smoothies.

This smoothie is one of my fall faves. It’s sugar free and full of skin beautifying antioxidants, turmeric and collagen.

Here’s the recipe:

Golden Glow Smoothie

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cashew milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh pumpkin
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tsp lakanto monk fruit sweetener
  • 1 scoop unsweetened whey protein powder
  • 1 scoop vital proteins collagen
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy this sweet smoothie that will make your skin glow.

Sugar Detox Challenges

I’m on sugar free day 7, feeling amazing and power walking around Vancouver’s beautiful seawall.

The first few days were rough, feeling low energy, foggy thinking and wanting to go home to sleep for most of the day. It truly felt like a typical detox from an addictive substance. Day 4 was better. And now I’m feeling really good and really energized. I’m also spending my spare time researching the effects of sugar on the human body. Did you know that the average North American eats 20 tsp of added sugar per day? 20 teaspoons!! Think about how much that is for a moment. And that’s not fruit sugar.

That’s cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and other refined, processed sugars. 20 teaspoons of sugar is not going to do your body good. That amount will mess with your blood sugar, your hormones and your mood. How can people be eating so much? Try checking the labels of pretty much any packaged food and you’ll find sugar lurking there in some form. Soups, salad dressing, condiments, drinks. There it is. So, before you know it, you’re consuming several teaspoons without even knowing it. I’ve definitely been scrutinizing labels the last week and it’s been an eye~opener.

Step one on a sugar~free journey: Read Labels

Food Combining

 I’ve recently tried food combining. I’ve been struggling with pesky digestive issues lately, and by lately I mean the past few years. So I decided to see if this method of eating would help my bloated belly feel better.

Spoiler alert! It did.

What is food combining? It is the belief that protein and starches digest at different rates and, if eaten together, cause a sludgy build up of undigested food in the gut. This build up can lead to an unhealthy gut, bad bacteria, disease and allergies.

There are a few major rules around food combining and here they are:

  • Only eat fruit on an empty stomach, especially melons.
  • Don’t combine starches and protein.
  • Don’t combine starches with acidic food.
  • Try not to combine too many different types of protein.
  • Only consume dairy products on an empty stomach.

The last rule is to wait at least three hours ~ preferably four ~ between eating starch and protein.

This may sound like a lot of rules but food combining is relatively easy, and delicious, once you get used to it. And if you’re suffering from gut issues and their symptoms, it’s so worth putting the extra thought into your meal plans.

It can be as easy as eating that burger wrapped in lettuce “paleo style” or having your pasta dish with vegetable only tomato sauces.

The benefits of food combing is so worth the extra effort. Here are a few:

  • Kick ass digestion
  • Improved nutrient absorption
  • Glowing skin
  • In cases of overweight – weight loss

Who doesn’t want at least a few of these benefits?

Sup Yoga & My Fitness Journey

Here are a few photos of the first couple of time I tried sup yoga.

And these pics also document the beginning of a very happy obsession.

After taking an unintended fitness break for about a year, this class rejuvenated my love for keeping my body fit, healthy and happy. The full body workout of the class feels amazing and core muscles definitely get an intense workout as you try to stay stable on the board during yoga poses.

Sup yoga also sparked a love of regular stand-up paddle boarding (and a summer of sore but happy muscles) and rekindled my 18 year on again, off again love affair with yoga.

My activities this summer have inspired me to finally get my personal trainer certification this fall and I couldn’t be more exited (and scared). I know that studying fitness will take me further along my own fitness journey and I am excited to learn how to keep our bodies healthy and functioning at an optimal level, especially as we age.

I’ve changed the blog name to “Fit Life with Laurel” and future posts will focus on fun ways to get your body moving and delicious, clean food with the occasional scrumptious cheat meal thrown in.

New direction in life?

Waterfalls and Berries

A hike up a mountain is one of my favourite things to do. Especially if there is a waterfall involved.

As I get a bit older though, I realize that how I fuel my body before, during and after a hike becomes more and more important.

I’ve found the hydrating qualities of fruit and veggies to be the perfect fuel for an active body, especially during the hot summer months.

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One of my favourite pre~hike recipes is my berry smoothie bowl. This powerhouse recipe has hydrating, antioxidant and fibre filled berries (did you know that raspberries have the most fibre of any fruit?) and creamy coconut milk to provide the kind of fat that will do your body good.

Add a couple of dates for iron and healthy sugars to fuel my body as I trek up that mountain and I’ve got a body loving bowl of goodness.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1cup strawberries
  • I banana
  • 2 dates

Blend together, top with fresh raspberries and unsweetened coconut and you have a beautiful, nourishing smoothie bowl.

Sunday Smoothie

This luscious smoothie is full of vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes to nourish and energize.

Serves 2 smoothie-loving people.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 1/2 cups cashew milk
  • 1 handful fresh spinach
  • 4 romaine leaves
  • 1 orange
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp of fresh ginger
  • 1 cucumber, peeled
  • 1 scoop Vega greens plus protein powder
DIRECTIONS
  1. Toss everything in your blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a glass (so you can see the beautiful shade of green) and enjoy!

Earth Day Meditation & Mermaid Smoothie Bowl

I’m doing a chakra clearing meditation today. And any meditation is better when you’re getting a little healing tree energy at the same time.

Here’s what you do to clear and balance your first chakra:

Get grounded into nature ~ actually being in nature is best but you can do this at home too.

Tune into your 1st chakra at the base of your tailbone and imagine the bottom of your chakra opening up and a cord going deep into the earth from your 1st chakra. Now take a deep breath and think about all the old, stagnant energy that may be around this chakra that needs to go.

The first chakra is all about safety and security, so think of all of your fears around these areas, along with any old memories or painful feelings that surface, and imagine them leaving your body and going into the beautiful earth to be transformed. Keep going, imagining all of this old energy and old fear and sadness draining out of your body.

Make sure to honour any memories that come up in this process and stay with them as long as you need to. Don’t rush it. Let everything flow, knowing you can come back to this another day if you’re feeling a lot of emotion.

When the meditation is done, imagine the cord filling you up with energy from the earth. Then imagine closing the chakra and take three deep breaths to close the meditation, breathing in the new and sighing out the old.

This meditation could be done once or could be done every day for months, depending on how many issues come up for you. Repeat the meditation daily until there is nothing left to clear and then move on to do the same meditation with your second chakra, then third, then fourth etc. Expect amazing things to happen along the way.

And, after the meditation, I made a vegan, earth friendly snack that’s nutritious and delicious.

Mermaid bowl

  • 4 bananas
  • 1 avocado
  • pinch spirulina
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cashew milk

Blend together and top everything with coconut dusted blackberries.

This rich, yummy bowl is full of good fat from the avo, anti-aging antioxidants from the berries and good carbs, minerals and vitamins from the bananas.

Happy Earth Day

A Perfect Parfait

In my last post, I promised you a yummy, low sugar, dessert recipe.

Well, this one is more of a breakfast or snack item but it is definitely low sugar, nutrient-packed and very delicious.

A Perfect Parfait

  • fresh berries of your choice
  • Greek or plain, full fat probiotic yogurt
  • Homemade granola (recipe below)

Layer items, or as in pic below, arrange in a bowl and top yogurt with a drizzle of dark chocolate syrup for extra yumminess.

Homemade Granola

  • 2 cups raw, whole rolled oats
  • ½ cup raw nuts
  • chopped ¼ cup raw seeds (sunflower or pumpkin seeds are great)
  • ½ cup unsweetened dried fruit of your choice
  • 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup or raw honey (or a combo of both)
  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large pinch fine sea salt

Recipe: Preheat the oven to 300º F. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Done.