Blog - Stephanie Misanik Health Coach


September 7, 2017by admin1

“Sleep hygiene” is a term that refers to your sleep habits and rituals that surround your nighttime routine, not the cleanliness of your sheets and favorite pjs.  We live in a society of overachievers, and as a result, most Americans are perpetually exhausted and sleep deprived.  If only we dedicated as much time and attention to our sleep hygiene as we do to our jobs and other activities of daily living.  Today, I’m going to share with you how to enhance your sleep hygiene and thereby improve your quality of life.  There’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep, it’s critical for an improved mood, increased energy levels and even weight loss.

 

Consistency is Key

If you’re a parent, think back to when you were teaching your child about bedtime.  Every night, that magical bedtime hour would roll around and you and your little one would march up to bed.  You may not have been aware of it, but you were training your child to develop their own sleep routine, teaching their body to fall asleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.  The same training applies to adults.

The trick for adults is to maintain the same sleep/wake time on the weekends as you do during the week.  It may be tempting to stay up until 2 am on the weekends, but it is not beneficial to your sleep hygiene.  I suggest maintaining the same bedtime and wake time every day, and give your body time to adjust to its own natural schedule.  Before you know it, you’ll be ditching the alarm clock because you simply won’t need it anymore.

 

Keep Your Room Dark and Cool

Your body’s sleep cycle is controlled by your circadian rhythms.  Light tells your body it’s time to be awake, and the dark signals your body that it’s time to sleep.  If there’s light in your room, whether it be natural light or artificial, it will disrupt your circadian rhythm and make it very difficult for you to fall asleep and stay asleep.  I recommend investing in some heavy duty or full blackout curtains to keep your room nice and dark and ensure a good night’s sleep.

The temperature of your room is also important for sleep hygiene.  When it’s too hot, you can wake up drenched in sweat, and when it’s too cold, you may wake up shivering.  Studies suggest that a temperature between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit is best for sleep routine.  I suggest playing around different temperatures in this range and seeing what it most comfortable for your specific body.

 

Bye-Bye Screens

I know, this one is really challenging, but research suggests that the blue light from electronics has an enormous impact on our circadian rhythms and can majorly disrupt your quality of sleep.  Blue light actually inhibits the body’s ability to create melatonin, the hormone that helps us fall asleep and stay asleep.  I recommend keeping your bedroom an electronic free zone.  That means no television, no cell phone, no laptop and no ipad with the four corners of your sacred sleeping area.

 

Get an Exercise Routine

This may seem counter intuitive, but your daily activity levels have a major impact on your sleep hygiene.  Developing and maintaining a regular exercise routine not only helps you to lose weight and develop strength, it also helps to regulate hormone and energy levels.  Moving your body in some way each day will improve your quality of sleep simply because you will feel more tired.

I suggest playing around and finding an exercise time that works well for your body.  Some people find that exercising too late in the evening energizes them and impairs their ability to fall asleep when bedtime rolls around, but others love that feeling of an intense workout that creates full-body exhaustion a few hours before bed.

 

What are some of your healthy sleep habits?  I’d love to hear them!  Share below!



August 21, 2017by admin1

 

Coffee.

What would America be without it’s coffee?  After all, America runs on Dunkin’, right?  It’s more than just a drink.  It’s interwoven within our culture.  It’s family, it’s a date, it’s social.

It’s also super addictive, and I’m here to tell you that coffee had me in a death grip.  I wasn’t able to actually start my day without my venti cold brew from Starbucks.  I became so dependent on it that in the evening, I was finding myself planning how I was going to get my cold brew in the morning before I had to teach, meet with clients, or do anything in the realm of productivity.  The delightful people at my local Starbucks knew exactly how I liked my cold brew, extra almond milk with 2 packets of honey.  If a new person was working, the old timers would be sure they added just the right amount of milk.  They knew me by name and always had my drink ready for me.

 

My Coffee History: It’s a Love Hate Kinda Thing

I have been drinking coffee for as long as I can remember.  I have always been a type A, go go go kinda woman.  Even in middle school, I would stay up late into the evening studying or doing homework.  I remember making pots of coffee after school and would sip away at them throughout the evening to fuel my brain through math and history homework.  As high school approached and I eventually got my own driver’s license, I started to stop for a large coffee on my way to school, and another one after school.  I remember sitting at the diner with my high school friends joking about nicknames for each of us.  Mine was, you guessed it, “java girl”.

As far back as I can remember, coffee for me has never been a social thing…it was always a crutch.  I needed it to study, to wake up, to focus, to simply think and get shit done.  Starting my day without a cup of the good stuff was simply not an option.  I was completely and utterly reliant on its magical powers.

Then in my early 30s, something changed.  Whenever I drank the magic elixir, I started to feel jittery.  I’d be on a caffeine high for about an hour, and then these waves of anxiety would start to wash over me.  I couldn’t quite catch my breath, and I would start to sweat.

So, I experimented.  Cutting coffee out completely simply wasn’t an option, so I decided to cut back.  Instead of a venti, I would get a grande.  It worked.  The anxiety started to dissipate, and I was good at one grande cold brew a day.  No sweats, no anxiety.  After a few months, my symptoms returned.  My body was trying to tell me something, and I just didn’t want to hear it.

 

Why Quit the Good Stuff?

Everyone knows the caffeine in coffee is a stimulant.  If you’re like me, you are reliant on it’s stimulating effects to get you through the day. Here’s some stuff you  may not know about coffee:

  1. The caffeine in coffee releases catecholamines, your body’s stress hormones.  It also increases insulin production.  Both stress hormones and insulin cause inflammation, and inflammation makes you feel lousy.
  2. A coffee habit decreases insulin sensitivity.  This makes it hard for you body to appropriately respond to high blood sugar levels and having consistently high blood sugar levels can lead to arterial deterioration and an increased risk for the development of cardiovascular disease.
  3. Unfiltered coffee is loaded with good antioxidants.  Unfortunately, it’s also loaded with diterpenes which are linked with increases levels of triglycerides, LDL and VLDL levels.
  4. The chlorogenic acids found in coffee have been shown to increase homocysteine levels, an indicator for an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
  5. Coffee is super acidic and can cause digestive discomfort, indigestion, heartburn, GERD and even dysbiosis (an imbalance in the good bacteria of your gut)
  6. Coffee is extremely addictive.  The thought of taking on the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting coffee is overwhelming to anyone looking to quit their coffee habit.
  7. Coffee alone has some serious health effects, but when you add a ton of sugar or artificial sweeteners to your coffee, your negative health effects are increasing ten-fold.  Not to mention, coffee is not an adequate breakfast replacement.
  8. 5-HIA, a component of the neurotransmitter serotonin, is found to be elevated in the urine of regular coffee drinkers, which means they may be at risk for lower serotonin production in the brain.  Serotonin is the happy hormone and is responsible for so many bodily functions including sleep, bowel function, mood and energy levels.  It’s such a vicious cycle.  Coffee can disrupt sleep, cause anxiety and promote depression.
  9. Regular coffee drinkers tend to have elevated urinary levels of important electrolytes like magnesium, calcium and potassium.  This can cause you to have an electrolyte imbalance which can potentially cause all kinds of systemic complications.
  10. Certain components in coffee can interfere with normal drug metabolism and detoxification in the liver.  It can prevent certain medications, including levothyroxine (thyroid medication) and tricyclic antidepressants from being properly absorbed.

It’s always nice to know the science, but here’s what I know.  Coffee stopped working for my body.  I began to have physical side effects related to my coffee consumption, and if I wanted to feel better, I’d have to bite the bullet and say no to my daily cold brew.

 

How I Quit:

I’d love to tell you that the day I realized coffee and I were no longer friends, I simply quit…but that would be a straight up lie.  I fought giving up coffee until the bitter end.  For months I would play this game, drinking my cold brew and thinking that today would be the day I wouldn’t experience shortness of breath, anxiety and profuse sweating.  But, alas, that day never came.

Last week, my body forced me to make a decision, and I chose to quit coffee for good.  To be 100% transparent, I have not totally quit caffeine all together, but the cold brew had to go.  Tea is my new best friend, specifically matcha tea.  The benefits of matcha tea might be in a future blog post, but here are just some of the benefits of matcha:

  • high in antioxidants
  • improves mental focus + clarity
  • detoxifying properties
  • good for hair skin + nails!
  • contains an amino acid known as L-Theanine which promotes the production of alpha waves in the brain
  • induces relaxation without the inherent drowsiness caused by other “downers”

In the morning, I replaced my cold brew with an adaptogenic matcha that I make at home, loaded with herbs including tocos, chaga and cordycep mushrooms, marine collagen and just a dab of raw honey.  It’s absolutely divine.

 

My Matcha Recipe:

1 tsp matcha (whisked)
1 tbsp tocos
1/2 tsp cordycep mushroom powder
1/2 tsp chaga mushroom powder
2 scoops vital proteins marine collagen
1 tsp raw honey
splash unsweetened coconut milk
6-8 oz hot filtered water

 

Tips for Quitting:

Replacing my coffee habit with a matcha tea really helped in the coffee withdrawal process.  Matcha still has a little bit of caffeine, so it eased my symptoms.  Having said that, I’m not going to lie and say it was easy.  Honestly, it wasn’t so much the physical symptoms of withdrawal as it was realizing just how habitual it was for me to get a coffee.  I had to really understand that I don’t need coffee to function.  I’m totally capable of showing up for life without my cold brew.

Here’s some helpful tips that really worked for me:

  • Pick a day and just do it.  Stop talking about it and just do it.  Mark it on your calendar, tell your friends, get some accountability going.  I am not a person that works well with slowly weaning off something.  I’m a rip the bandaid kinda girl.  But, do you, boo.  If you want to slowly wean off, go for it…but just do it.
  • Replace the ritual of making coffee with making a cup of tea.  I already talked about how I replaced my cold brew with matcha tea, but if matcha isn’t your thing, try chai, or earl grey.  Tea will still give you a low dose of caffeine without all the jitters of coffee.  It will also replace that morning ritual of brewing your coffee.  Added bonus: the smell of tea is great aromatherapy.
  • In my matcha recipe above, I talk about adding herbs to my tea.  If you’re new to the world of herbs and have no idea where to start, I suggest getting some ashwagandha and add 1 tsp to your tea.  Ashwagandha is a fantastic ayurvedic herb that helps to relieve stress and anxiety.  It can really help alleviate coffee withdrawals.
  • Get on yo’ mat.  I know I’m a little partial, but do some yoga!  Yoga helps me to really connect to my mind and body and to come into alignment with my purpose.  The physical practice helps energize me without the need for caffeine or any other external force.
  • Drink a boatload of water.  It will decrease any headaches you experience and will increase your energy.  There’s no magical amount of water to drink, just drink more than you do know and stop when you feel like you’ve had enough.
  • Switch to herbal tea in the afternoon.  I love a matcha or even earl grey in the morning, but cutting out caffeine after 12 pm has really helped improve my sleep patterns.  I have been going to bed earlier and getting up earlier.
  • Consider avoiding coffee shops for at least a week.  For me, after a couple days I was okay going back to Starbucks to do my writing and work.  I simply replaced my usual cold brew order with a black tea.  But I know for others, a coffee shop might be a big trigger, so do you.

 

I really hope this blog post helps you get off the coffee, if that’s something you are considering doing.  I would love to hear about your experience kicking the good stuff, feel free to comment below, you never know how your experience could help others.

 

Resources:

van Dam RM, Willett WC, Manson JE, Hu FB. 2006. “Coffee, caffeine, and risk of type 2 diabetes: a prospective cohort study in younger and middle-aged U.S. women.” Diabetes Care (2) 398-403

Tuomilehto J, Hu G, Bidel S, et al. 2004. “Coffee Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Among Middle-aged Finnish Men and Women.” JAMA 291: 1213-9.

Moisey LL, Kacker S, Bickerton AC, Robinson LE, Graham TE. 2008. “Caffeinated coffee consumption impairs blood glucose homeostasis in response to high and low glycemic index meals in healthy men.” Am J Clin Nutr 87 (5): 1254-1261

Lane JD, Feinglos MN, Surwit, RS. 2008. “Caffeine Increases Ambulatory Glucose and Postprandial Responses in Coffee Drinkers With Type 2 Diabetes.” Diabetes Care. 31(2): 221-222



August 9, 2017by admin0

I don’t know about you, but I’m an all or nothing kinda girl.  If you clicked on this blog post, chances are you are too.  Sometimes, this character trait serves me well.  For example, when I decided to take my health back, it was as simple as making the decision and with the snap of my fingers, I was officially vegan, no turning back, no easing my way in.  All or nothing.  As a result, my health transformation was swift and dramatic.  100 pounds in 1 year.

Other times, this trait haunts me.  This month my family is away visiting family in Greece, and momma is riding solo. Whenever I mention this to friends or colleagues, their immediate reaction is, “Wow!  No kids for a month?  Finally some time to kick up your feet and relax!”.

Call me crazy, but my first thought was, “I can get so much done while they’re gone!”.  Naturally, I loaded up my schedule so that my days involve me running around like a mad woman from sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week.  New clients, additional yoga classes, house remodeling, house cleaning/organizing, an increased workout/training schedule, the list goes on and on.  Oh and on top of it all, somewhere along the line I decided breakfast was no longer a priority.

Like I said, I’m an all or nothing kinda girl.

I’m here to report I made it about 2 weeks before my body gave me the middle finger and quite literally FORCED me to sit a day out.  And even then, I balked.

Here’s what I have learned about myself, what I constantly struggle with.  I CAN’T SIT STILL.  Not just physically, but mentally.  If I have to sit at home, ALL I can think about is all the more productive things I could be doing.  It is so hard for me.

Here’s what that really means…and I hate to admit it, but here it goes…

My name is Stephanie, and I’m a control freak.

Anybody that knows me personally is probably cracking up because to them it’s so obvious, but for me it takes me pretty much passing out from exhaustion to even become aware of this fact about myself.  Nevertheless, it’s true.  I fill my day with appointments, workouts, cooking, cleaning, and so on so that I can be in control.

I had a dear friend tell me, “If you fill every minute of your day up, you leave no time for God (insert your preferred word here – Universe, Mother Spirit, Mama Jama, Big Kahuna, etc etc) to guide you.”

BAM.

Well, I never thought of it like that…

Here’s the thing, I LOVE what I do.  I LOVE being a Health Coach and yoga teacher.  It fills me up and I cannot believe that I get to do what I do for a living.  I also LOVE to workout.  It is a meditation for me.  Maybe you are nodding your head because you too love your job and love to hit your yoga mat or the gym, but even people who love their job need to take a break.  I always associated the feeling of being “stressed out” with having to do things I didn’t like.  The reality is that the body doesn’t know the difference between stress from a job you hate and stress from an overbooked schedule of activities you love.  To the body, physiological stress is physiological stress.

I’m writing this blog post because I need to hold myself accountable.  I have committed to doing one relaxing act of self love everyday, and I encourage you to do the same.  I cannot be of service to other people if I am burnt out and running on fumes.

Last night, I took a bath with epson salts and listened to one of my favorite podcasts.  It was glorious and I haven’t felt that relaxed in months.  Needless to say, I slept like a baby.  Today I am sipping on this delicious golden milk matcha latte while writing and later I’m making time to hang out with some amazing people that I love, people that lift me up, nourish my soul and aren’t afraid to tell me when I’m going down the rabbit hole.

What are your favorite self-love practices?  I need some suggestions!  What do you do to unwind, shut the mind off and just relax?  Comment below!



July 19, 2017by admin0

In 2017, it seems like everyone is on a specific diet.  People have become obsessed with good vs. bad fats, animal vs. plant protein, gluten free, dairy free, on and on.  Vegan, low carb high fat, keto, paleo, Atkins, South Beach…..ahhhh!!  One week coconut oil is the devil, the next week it is a superfood that kills cancer.  If you peruse the isles of your local book store, you will be inundated with the latest diet gurus and celebs selling their program on how to lose weight, each book contradicting the next.  It’s completely maddening and let’s just be real, who has time to sort through all of these diets and theories????

As a Health Coach, I was lucky to receive an education on all these dietary theories, hundreds of them, but even I find myself wanting to hide in the corner and throw my hands up in the air in complete defeat.

It wasn’t that long ago that we all just existed without trying to adhere to the latest fad diet, without diet gurus or celebrity chefs telling us how to feed our body.  We used to rely on good old intuition.  Back in the day, you just ate something, you intuitively knew what to eat and how to prepare it without having a complete mental meltdown.

It’s time to bring back intuitive eating.

Here’s the truth.  I’m going to let you in on a big nutrition secret.  Ready?

Being healthy is not complicated.  The body knows what it wants to eat, it’s the brain that gets in the way.

Classic example: You heard about a new diet and how your friend, Jane, lost 20 pounds in a month.  So, you hop in your car, run to the local bookstore and buy the book.  This time you’re really going to do it.  You follow the diet guidelines religiously.  No cheat days, no slacking. You are KILLIN it.  After a week of eating this way, you feel like shit.  You’re bloated, you’re tired, you’ve actually gained weight.  You feel like a failure.  You followed the diet to the tee, and you aren’t getting the same results as Jane.  You feel completely defeated.

Here’s the thing, you don’t have to read nutrition books or the latest diet fad to know what foods are right or wrong for you.

Instead, you need to start listening to your body and the ways in which it tries to communicate with you.  Start to build a deep relationship with your body and use this relationship to help you cultivate the ability to eat intuitively.

You don’t need to get expensive laboratory testing done to see what foods you should or shouldn’t eat, you already have free, round the clock access to the most sophisticated laboratory for testing how foods affect your mind, body and spirit.  You are living in it!  Your body is a super sophisticated bio-computer.  The trick is learning to listen to the feedback your body is constantly trying to tell you.

To tap into intuitive eating, the first step is to acknowledge that your body is a highly intelligent machine that at any given moment is conducting thousands of functions without you even having to think about it.  In every yoga class I teach, I make a point to leave a couple minutes to recognize and acknowledge the body.  To feel the heart beating, to feel your chest rise and fall with each breath.

Know on a deep level that you can trust your body, that you don’t need the latest celebrity to tell you how to feel healthy in your own body.

Now you might be saying to yourself, “This is all fine and dandy, but how do I really learn to listen to what my body is telling me?”

How to Develop Intuitive Eating: Step by Step

Are you ready for a little bit of homework?  Grab your journal, or even the notes section on your cell phone.  Start small.  Every morning, write down EXACTLY what you ate for breakfast.  Then write down how you feel immediately after eating and then again two hours later.  Do this for 2 weeks straight, every morning.  Switch your breakfast up, try some eggs and bacon one day, some cereal the next day, oatmeal, a muffin, maybe a bagel and cream cheese, some sauteed veggies and toast.  Get some variety in your breakfast and start to make the connection between what you eat and how it makes you feel.

After the 2 weeks, you will understand yourself better and how different foods make you feel.  Start to cut back or eliminate the foods that make you feel yucky.  After the 2 weeks, you can start to expand this food journaling experiment to your whole daily intake.  Be a detective.  Eat a variety of foods and don’t worry about adhering to a particular diet.  Start to discover how different foods and liquids affect you.  Notice how your body feels and how each change of diet affects you not just physically, but mentally as well.

Have you ever tried a diet that didn’t work for you?  How did you know it wasn’t right for you?  I’d love to hear about it!  Share your experience in the comments below!



July 3, 2017by admin0

In the world of kid’s menus and school lunches, an overabundance of commercials featuring cute little cartoon characters promoting the latest sugary cereal or processed snack, the thought of teaching our children what it means to eat healthy food can be completely and utterly overwhelming.  I’m not going to lie, as parents, the deck is really stacked against us.

We have come to a point in our human evolution where we have been programmed to think that hot dogs, pizza, mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and french fries are ideal foods to feed growing little humans.  I have to admit that when my oldest was younger and I wasn’t yet tuned into the effect of food on health, I too thought that those were the only options.  It doesn’t help that any restaurant you visit, no matter the quality of the establishment, the kids menu tends to consist of those same items.  When our kids go to school, they are fed the same food, pizza Friday, chicken nuggets and french fries.  It’s really maddening when you stop and think about it for a minute.  Our kids are being constantly bombarded by highly processed, chemicalized foods that are completely devoid of any nutritional value.

Unfortunately, none of this is a coincidence.  The meat and dairy industries have a vested interest, and they are using our kids as pawns to build their massive fortunes.  Getting a kid hooked on meat and dairy at a young age ensures they have a lifelong customer.  It’s just business to them.  This is a topic for another blog post, but if you are interested in learning more about this, I highly suggest hopping on Netflix and checking out the following documentaries: Food MattersWhat the HealthForks Over KnivesEarthlings (this is a really hard one to watch, just to warn you – not kid friendly), Food Inc., and Cowspiracy.

When I changed my eating habits to be healthy, I made a conscious effort in my approach to spreading health through my family.  Let’s be real, nobody likes to be told how to eat.  I also didn’t want to start cultivating eating disorders in my children by making them neurotic about food.  I want them to have the power to make their own decisions, to eat what makes them feel good, not to be terrified of making the wrong decision.

I wanted to share with you what has worked for me in hopes that it will help you:

  1. I’m the cook in my house, so that helped.  Let me assure you, you do not have to be a chef to eat healthy.  Most of my meals are simply some roasted potatoes and veggies.  If you can turn on an oven, you can eat healthy.  Anyways, back to my point.  If you are the cook in your house, let’s be honest…you have the power to transform your kitchen and the foods you are feeding your children.  Here’s my suggestion, start small.  If your kiddos are used to the typical pizza dinner or grilled cheese and chips for lunch, see how you can make those options a bit healthier.  There’s a big difference between ordering a pizza from Pizza Hut and making your own pizza at home with cauliflower crust and fresh veggies.  It’s also a super fun bonding time with the kids.  My 2-year-old LOVES to make her own pizza, it gives her the power of choice.  It starts in the grocery store, she gets to pick the veggies she wants on her pizza.  When we get home, I let her help me cut the veggies up and then she generously sprinkles them on the cauliflower crust, which you can make on your own (here’s a great vegan cauliflower crust recipe) or if you don’t have time, you can find a frozen one in the freezer section of most grocery stores.  When it comes out of the oven she is gleaming with pride and excitement that she created her own food from start to finish.  It makes my heart smile, and it empowers her as a young woman to make her own food choices.  It’s a far cry from mommy forcing her to eat a plate full of green beans.
  2. It’s a process.  It won’t happen overnight and it won’t happen just because you want it to happen.  It’s going to take effort on your part.  What I’m really saying is…it starts with you.  If you think you can sit and eat junk food and drink soda all day and expect your kiddos to eat healthy just because you tell them to, it’s going to be a rough journey.  They watch us.  Even when they are sleeping, they instinctively know that mommy is pigging out on a bag of bon bons.  Trust me, they always know.  We are the adults and we have to lead by example.
  3. Kid’s birthday parties used to FILL me with anxiety when I started on this journey.  We all know that the typical food options at a kid’s party are soda, pizza, cake and candy.  And probably some ice cream.  I let them eat it.  I know, shocking!  I can’t say that I’m happy about it, but I allow them to make their own decisions.  Inevitably, they get a tummy ache, and that, my friends is a teachable moment!  I talk them through why they might have a tummy ache, maybe it’s because of the overload of sugar and processed chemicals in the food they ate?  Does that mean my kids won’t sell their souls for candy?  No.  They’re kids living in American society.  But, they are aware that it’s the candy and processed food that gives them a belly ache.  For me, it’s all about giving them space to cultivate awareness and that in time, they will make the best decision for their body.  Pro tip: eat a healthy meal BEFORE you head out to the birthday party.  Then they won’t be super hungry at the party and may even opt out of the junk food.
  4. Quality really matters.  Let’s look at a good ol’ PB&J.  There is a huge nutritional difference between traditional white bread and some hearty, sprouted grain bread like Ezekiel.  White bread is super processed and essentially devoid of any nutritional value, but sprouted grain bread is loaded with vitamins and minerals and isn’t highly processed.  Sometimes PB&J sandwiches are unavoidable, but slab that PB&J on some sprouted grain bread, add some chia seeds and bee pollen and substitute the peanut butter from some Justin’s Almond Butter and suddenly your PB&J just became loaded with nutritional value.
  5. Ingredients matter.  This is something I talk about all the time.  When you can, buy organic and local fruits and veggies and stick to organic meat if you consume meat.  I know organic tends to cost more, but conventional meat is LOADED with pesticides, hormones and antibiotics and tiny little humans just aren’t able to handle that kind of toxic exposure.  Their livers and kidneys are still developing and simply cannot detoxify such large amounts of toxins and chemicals.  Here’s a great study on the absorption of pesticides in conventional vs. organic food in children.  We have seen such a spike in childhood illnesses, everything from autoimmune diseases to cancer to autism since increasing the use of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics in our meats and produce.  Here’s another great article on the subject.  If organic is out of your price range, consider joining a CSA (check out Local Harvest to find one near you) or shopping at your local Farmer’s Market.  Both are great and much more affordable options to getting good local and organic meat and produce.  Another great option is to stick to the Dirty Dozen, which lists the most pesticide laden fruits and veggies every year, the produce that you should buy organic and the Clean 15 which lists the produce you can get away with buying conventional.
  6. Let them eat what you eat.  This whole idea that kids need to have different meals than adults is just silly.  In my house, I make a bunch of veggies, some rice or potatoes and usually a chicken breast for my partner.  They get to choose which veggies they want, but this whole idea that they need a different “kids meal” is not happening.  Who has time for that?  When we go out to eat, we don’t even look at the kid’s menu unless they have healthy options, which I am proud to say some establishments do indeed offer.  I usually just order them something healthy off the regular menu and the three of them split it.  It usually ends up being way cheaper AND they are eating healthy food, not your standard hot dog and french fries.  If the restaurant doesn’t have any regular menu items that I think they will eat, I have never had a problem ordering a plate of steamed veggies and rice.  The kids tear it up.
  7. Pack lunches.  If you saw what they are feeding our kids in school, I know you would be outraged.  I also know this takes a little bit of effort, but keep it simple.  Some sliced fruit, the PB&J from #4 and a handful of baby carrots is a super easy and quick to prepare lunch that I make regularly for my oldest daughter.  It doesn’t have to be a super fancy spread, keep it simple so that it can be sustainable.  Involve your kids in packing their lunch.  Ask them to pick their top five favorite fruits and start rotating them.  I really love these eco friendly stainless steel lunch boxes from UKonserve.  They last forever and don’t have any plastic.

 

Kid Update:

After a year (a WHOLE YEAR) of me eating a plant-based diet, my oldest daughter started to become a little more willing to try some of mommy’s veggies.  Slow and steady wins the race, y’all.  Soon after, she made the executive decision to be a vegetarian and has remained so for awhile now.  She chooses to no longer eat meat because she has a general understanding of how the animals that she thinks are so cute end up on the plate for dinner.  Will she be a vegetarian forever?  Who knows, she’s 7.  What is more important is that she is involved in making decisions about how she fuels her body.

My two babies have been a bit easier because they have been around healthy food since birth.

Lo Lo, my almost 3-year old loves any and all raw veggies.  She will munch on a head of lettuce or a bowl of spinach and eat a green pepper like it’s an apple.  This is because this is all she knows.  I don’t keep junk food in the house.  When we shop, I involve her in the process, she knows what foods make her feel good and which make her belly hurt.  A “snack” for her isn’t a candy bar, it’s apples with some almond butter, or maybe some fresh cherries or blueberries.  She also generally chooses to not eat meat, although she will eat chicken from time to time.  I ensure that it is good quality chicken.

Vasili, my baby boy, is a slim eater, so I’ll keep you updated.  He eats what I eat, so he is vegan, unless Yia Yia and Papou sneak him some meat when he goes to visit.  That’s a whole other blog post.  His favorite food is broccoli, and who can blame him?  Mini trees are so cool looking and they taste delicious.

Don’t give up, keep your head held high and know that they are watching you.  Bring mindfulness around what you are feeding yourself, and your kids will follow.  All they want is a happy and healthy parent.  You are the example.  You got this.

 

Plants for Life,
Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200



June 19, 2017by admin1

 

I have a family member, a person very near and dear to me whom I struggle to have a sincere relationship with.  Can anyone relate to tough relationships with family members?  Of course you can, we all have them to varying degrees.  The thing is, I really do love this person.  She is my family, my blood.  But, I have such a hard time getting close to her, developing a meaningful relationship of depth and weight with her, being myself around her.

If we weren’t related, I’m not sure she is somebody I would want to have a relationship with.  We are polar opposites in every single way you could possibly imagine.  From politics, to parenting, to social justice, to religion and spirituality, there is not one topic that comes to mind that her and I see eye to eye on.  It’s often hard for me to even have a conversation with her because I feel like I’m walking on eggshells.

It’s not her fault, she has the right to be herself just like I do.

The thing is, I spent most of my life not loving myself.  Feeling like I didn’t fit in, running from reality so I wouldn’t have to see myself for who I really was and do the inside work.  Four years ago, I came to a jumping off point.  I knew that if I didn’t start getting honest with myself, uncovering the causes and conditions of why I was the way I was, doing the work instead of blaming everyone else for my problems, I was going to die.  That may seem extreme, unless you knew me at the time, then you know I speak the truth.

So, I dug in and started on a spiritual path.  A path to self-awareness, to service to others, to a God of my own understanding.  So much in my life has changed in the past four years.  Yes, of course the outside stuff has changed, I live in a different house, drive a different car, but more than that, the inside stuff is no longer covered in darkness.  I feel a connection to light, to a higher power.  I live in gratitude rather than victimization.  I have a beautiful life.  I also love who I am, not in an ego-driven way, but from a place of gratitude.

But, how do you stand in your own truth AND have a relationship with someone you fundamentally disagree with?  

That’s the question I have been struggling with for years now…

Throughout this spiritual journey, the Universe has put some absolutely amazing people in my life.  These people are my rock.  They have shown me a love unlike anything I have ever experienced.  They have helped guide me on the path.  These relationships are rooted in love, in supporting each other, in challenging each other do to better.  I am so incredibly grateful for the village of beautiful souls that has grown up around me.  I would not be where I am today without those people.

But I still struggle to have a genuine relationship with this family member.

Over the past several weeks I have been asking myself over and over, “Why is it so hard for me to have a relationship with this person?  Why do I let her get under my skin so much?  Why can’t I be more accepting?”

I haven’t found one definitive answer to these questions, but I thought I’d share what has popped up in my prayer and meditation in hopes that it may help someone:

 It’s not her, it’s me: There is nothing I can do about her thoughts, behaviors, words and actions.  As much as I want to show her the truth according to Stephanie, that is not my job.  She has the right to think and feel the way she chooses.  It is part of her own journey in this lifetime.  Who am I to judge her journey or to step in and interfere with a growth opportunity for her?  This is much easier said than done.  Some of the beliefs that she has are extremely offensive to me and entire populations of people.  But, I have to pause and reflect on my own life.  In my own spiritual development, there have been many times where my thoughts, words and actions have been hurtful to others and my awareness of how much I was hurting others was little to none.  I have to trust that God has a plan for her, just like she did for me.  Faith over fear.  Trust the process.

She’s doing the best she can with what she knows:  The thing is, we are all doing the best we can.  We are all a compilation of our life experiences, and it takes a lot of strength to step out of the societal norms and discover your own truth.  It’s much easier to just go with the flow and do things the way you are told, because it doesn’t require much thought or pushback from those around you.  My favorite quote of all time is by the late great Maya Angelou, “When you know better, you do better.”  I have found this to be true, and you never know when the Universe is going to present you or your family members with an opportunity for self-knowledge and personal growth.

If you spot it, you got it:  Ugh.  This is the hardest life lesson for me, but it also is 100% accurate.  Usually, when something somebody else is doing is REALLY getting under my skin, it’s because I myself have the propensity to act the same exact way if my own house isn’t in order.  All the behaviors that she engages in that drive me absolutely bonkers are behaviors that I myself can easily and often unconsciously engage in if I am not doing the work to stay connected and on the spiritual path.

They say you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family.  I don’t really like this saying, because I think that a power greater than me specifically put me into this family and surrounds me with different friends to help me grow and develop, to learn the lessons I am meant to learn in this lifetime.  The tricky part is that not all of the relationships we find ourselves in are going to be unicorns and rainbows.  Sometimes the biggest lessons in spiritual growth come from those super tough relationships.  If I was only in relationships with people that think like me, I would be stagnant.  Learning how to interact with those that are different from me is how I grow and begin to develop compassion.

I don’t have a magical answer for how to have better relationships with family members that you perhaps don’t see eye to eye with.  I don’t think it’s that simple.  But, it starts with a willingness to stop blaming others and to start looking at yourself.  How can you be helpful to your family?  Getting out of self and into service is where it always starts for me.  It makes me feel like I am useful, it gives me purpose and it benefits the other person.  Then, work to change your perspective.  Instead of dreading any and all interactions with a certain someone, look at those interactions as an opportunity to develop compassion.

Do I do this perfectly?  HELL NO.  But, I try.  I’m working to have compassion and to activate that pause button when I feel like just reacting.  It’s hard.  It will take time, but I’m in it for the long haul.  Family is forever.

Plants for Life,

Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200



June 12, 2017by admin0

This week, I could no longer ward off the voice of a power greater than myself working in my life.  I thought it would be fun to share the story with you, in hopes that maybe some people can relate.

My story starts last summer.  For about a year now, I have been talking (key word “talking”, which is more than “thinking”) about wanting to ditch the van dur​​ing the day when it’s just me and no kiddos and opt for something a little more environmentally friendly.  As you may or may not know, I have three kids, and when I’m transporting all three kiddos, a van is necessary.  But, since I work during the day, running all over Baltimore meeting health coaching clients and teaching yoga, it’s jut me.  Just me and a big ol’ minivan.  

It all started with me mentioning OUT LOUD last summer that I wanted to get a road bike because it killed me every time I clicked that automatic start button for the gas guzzling not so environmentally friendly van.  It started with me just speaking my truth.  Getting it out of my head and into my reality.  What happened next is what happens to everyone when we put something out into the universe, if we are paying attention: the universe provides.

Now, of course I wanted to have a road bike that exact day last summer that I spoke my truth out loud because, “Hello, my name is Stephanie and I love instant gratification”.  But, that’s not how it works.  I had to be patient.  No matter how much I wanted a bike last summer, the timing just wasn’t right.  I didn’t have the money to spend on it, I didn’t know if I was really ready to fully commit, and on and on.  But, I didn’t give up.  I know, because my experience has shown me, that if something is meant to happen, it will, regardless of what I do.  So, deep down, I knew that if I was meant to be a biking momma, the universe would conspire to make that happen with or without my input. 

Well, the day finally came almost a year later when the funds were available and the timing just felt right.  How did I know it was time?  That feeling of misalignment could no longer be ignored.  That’s always how it always works for me.  It started with an awareness that my actions were not matched with my personal beliefs.  My action of driving around a minivan with just myself in it was not aligned with my personal beliefs for doing everything I can to help save the environment.  

At first, it was just a little bit uncomfortable.  I would get into the van and think, “I should really be on a bike instead of driving this huge van,” but after I got going, the thought would disappear and I would go about my merry day.  As time progressed, that thought, that misalignment of spiritual principles and actions became unavoidable.  Now, every single time I was getting in the car, I would have the uncomfortable feeling like my actions didn’t match my beliefs.  

Then, I started to become SUPER aware of all the cyclists on the streets around me, as if they were specifically there to show me that it was possible to use a road bike as a main means of transportation.  It’s funny because I never used to pay attention to the cyclist on the street, except to not hit them.  But I started to notice them in drones.  Their bright helmets, tight bike shorts, skinny bike tires, fat bike tires, and all their accessories.  It eventually got to the point where I could no longer ignore that feeling of being misaligned, and it was off to the cycle shop for this momma.

Here’s the thing, you may be thinking, “All of this over a silly bike?”  YES.  

It’s so much bigger than a silly bike.

It’s about listening to the universe (substitute whatever word works for you here – God, Mother Spirit, The Big Kahoona, Higher Power) when it talks to you.  Once you start trekking down this road of spiritual practice, I have noticed that it gets harder and harder to ignore that inner voice.  Does it mean that I always listen to it?  HELL NO.  I am human.  But, it no longer feels good to me to try and remain oblivious, to try to ignore that calling, that voice, that thought.  It’s downright uncomfortable.  It even gets to the point where that is all I think about and I can no longer ward it off.  

Funny how the universe works.

So, I am in week one of navigating the streets of Baltimore on my new road bike.  I am super lucky because I have a dear friend who is passionate about cycling (and more importantly, safe cycling) that has offered to show me the best ways to navigate this city. Even though I am only a week in, and my ass is so sore I can barely sit, I no longer feel misaligned.  I feel like I’m doing what I am supposed to be doing, and that’s how I know that I am in alignment with the will of the universe rather than just running the Stephanie show, oblivious to everyone and everything around me.

As I work in my sits bones to the bumpy roads of Baltimore, I’m smiling.  The warm sun shinning on me, cars whipping by me.  At night, I can put my head on my pillow and fall asleep with ease because I know that my values are aligned with my actions.  That I am doing my part to help improve the environment, something that is near and dear to my heart.  Am I perfect, NO.  But, it’s the little actions over time that add up to have a major effect.

Maybe for you, it’s not a bike, or the environment.  Maybe it’s something totally different.  Maybe it’s something at work, or in your relationship, or in how you feed yourself.  What is it that keeps nagging you, begging you to pay attention, but you keep stuffing it down in hopes that it’ll go away?  What is one simple step you can take this week to get it out of your head and into your reality?  Speak your truth!  Know that you are supported, and that the path will be cleared for you if you just flex that faith muscle and take it one day at a time.

 

Plants for Life,

Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200


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June 8, 2017by admin2

Last week I shared with you my journey into veganism.  It has been amazing, has brought me health, significant weight loss, a connection to nature and so much more spiritual growth that I have a hard time even putting into words.  But, it's in my nature to be a curious person, so last December I conducted an experiment.  I pissed off every vegan I knew and dove head first into a ketogenic diet for a month.

Go big or go home, that's my motto.

Here's the thing, I believe that there is no one diet that works for everybody.  Although I was having success with a plant based diet, I kept hearing about this new low carb/high fat keto craze and my curiosity got the best of me.  So, I made the conscious decision to try it for a month and see how I felt.  How can I help coach others in their own health journey if I myself don't remain open-minded and ready to learn?

For those of you that don't know, let me just break down what the Ketogenic Diet is at it's core (also called Low Carb High Fat - LCHF).  Keto peeps change their metabolic state by switching from glucose as their primary source of energy to ketones.  The premise is that ketone bodies are derived from fat and are a much more stable, steady source of energy than glucose, which is derived from carbohydrates.  Entering ketosis usually takes anywhere from 3 days to a week. Once you’re in ketosis, you’ll be using fat for energy, instead of carbs. This includes the fat you eat and stored body fat.  I was told to get ready to lose weight, be more alert, and less hungry.

So, what does a ketogenic plate look like?

  • 65-75% fat
  • 20-30% protein (animal protein)
  • 5% carbs

5% carbs translates to about 25 g of carbs/day. A sweet potato, for example, has about 27 grams of carbs.

Essentially I went from eating a lot of grains, no animal protein, tons of veg and low to moderate levels of fat to zero grains, a ton of animal protein and a super high amount of healthy fats.

Lots of avocados.  Lots of veggies (this part I liked), but I would add a ton of grass fed butter or ghee to everything.  Kerrygold butter lined the shelves of my fridge.  I even started making Bulletproof coffee, commonly known as butter coffee.  I would add a couple tbsp of grass fed butter and a couple tbsp of MCT oil (or coconut oil) to my coffee in the morning.

Needless to say, it was a far cry from my previous, plant-centric diet.

I even reintroduced cheese.

Here's the thing though, to give the keto diet a fair review, I stuck to my core principal that ingredients matter.  All of the meat I purchased was grass fed, all the dairy and butter were also grass fed, the chicken and eggs were pastured, no processed foods and all organic veggies.  I think this is where a lot of people make a big mistake with keto.  Let's be honest, organic, grass fed meat and dairy and pastured chicken and eggs are freaking expensive.  Usually what happens is it is just not sustainable financially.  I know a few people that follow a keto diet and load up on conventional, hormone, antibiotic and pesticide laden meat and "cheese like" products because it's cheaper.  I'm not blaming them, I get it.  My first grocery store bill on a keto diet was over $200 dollars, almost double what it had been under a vegan diet.

So, what happened?

At first, I went through a MAJOR carb withdrawal.  It was crazy!  I literally felt like I was on another planet for 3 days.  I remember sitting on my couch and having a conversation with my cleaning lady and as she was talking I kept asking myself within the comforts of my own mind, "Is this real or am I dreaming?"  It was unlike anything I have ever experienced.  I also had a major headache that hit on day 2.  I made sure to stay hydrated and kept chugging along.

After that initial cab withdrawal, I did return to my body.  After 7 days on a keto diet, I lost almost 10 pounds.  I was pretty intrigued.  Maybe there was something to this!  Something else I also started to notice is that I wasn't as hungry as I used to be.  In the morning, I would have my butter coffee and that would keep me full until about 2 in the afternoon.  My lunches and dinners were comprised of a piece of meat or fish and a bunch of veggies sauteed in grass fed butter.

To be completely transparent, I do not have a gall bladder.  This is a problem when consuming a high fat diet as the gall bladder stores bile, which is necessary to emulsify any dietary fats we consume.  If you don't have a gall bladder, the liver releases a constant small stream of bile directly into your intestines, which isn't enough to break down a high amount of fat. I knew that I was going to have problems with this, so I supplemented with ox bile.  That stuff is intense.  It's quite literally freeze dried bile from an ox.  You take it before eating a high fat meal and it mimics that bolus release of bile that would normally come from your gall bladder.

It took a solid week of experimenting with ox bile dosage and to be honest, I don't think I ever found the right dose.  If I took to much, you would find me puking my guts up in a fetal position on my bathroom floor, passing a ton of cow farts.  It was more painful that being in labor.  If I didn't take enough, I would get a similar pain, although slightly less intense (similar to bad acid reflux) because my body was having a hard time digesting the high amounts of fat I was consuming.

To say I was frustrated would be an understatement.  About halfway into my experiment, I had to drop the butter coffee.  My body just could not handle so much fat.  As I am writing this blog pot, I can almost feel that pain starting to develop right at the base of my sternum.

In addition to all these problems with such a high fat consumption, I noticed that after week 2, my energy levels started to drop pretty quickly.  When I was eating plant based, I always felt light and happy.  Similar to how plants sway in the wind under the morning sun.  Hang in there with me, I know it's far out there, but I have a point.  When I was doing keto, I started feeling heavy, sluggish and low in energy.  Similar to a big ol' cow slowly munching on grass in the middle of the field.

I know, it's kinda weird.  I had always heard that we take on the energy of what we eat.  And I always thought that people that subscribed to that belief were juuuuust a little out there.  But, this was 100% my experience.  I could feel myself taking on the energy of a cow when I was eating a lot of beef products.  Lazy, heavy, slow, sluggish.  When I switched to more chicken, I reminded myself of a chicken, flighty, jumpy, high anxiety, clucking at everyone around me.  It was bizarre.

Another thing happened.  I became very aware of the souls of the animals I was consuming.  To be clear, my journey into veganism had everything to do with my own health and nothing to do with a political statement or animal rights.  But, as I was cooking this giant slab of flesh and tasting the blood of the animal in my mouth, I became disgusted.

Before I went plant based, I (like most people) believed that I needed animal meat to survive.  After all, where the hell was I going to get my protein???  But now that I had been plant based and knew that I didn't need meat to survive and that plants have tons of protein (and had major muscle gains while consuming a vegan diet), I could no longer justify eating meat.  I simply felt unaligned with my own moral and ethical principles that I didn't even know I had.

After four weeks, I put my keto cookbooks back on the shelf.  I had had enough.  Enough pain, enough misalignment.  It was back to plants for this chick.  It took my body a good month of being plant based again to recover.

I think keto may work for some people, but I'm definitely not one of those people.  But, I'm glad I did it.  I became clearer on what fuels my body, what makes me thrive.  I also am so incredibly grateful for the deeper insight I gained, the clarity on my own moral principles.

Have you experimented with keto or do you follow a keto diet?  I would love to hear about your experience.  If you feel so inclined, comment below.  I remain open minded, knowing that this diet might work for some more than others.  In general, however, my main motto still remains: eat whole foods, mostly plants, most of the time.

Back to plants.

Plants for Life,

Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200



June 1, 2017by admin0

I’m pretty new to this blog thing.  Truth be told, I’m winging it!  I love to geek out and share all kinds of nutritional info with you, but I think it’s important that I share a bit about myself!  So this post is going to be personal, REAL personal.

So, buckle your seatbelt, we about to go deep y’all.

You may or may not know that I am a vegan.  I really don’t even like that word, “vegan”.  I remember when people used to tell me they were vegan before I myself was one, and I immediately thought, “This chick thinks she’s better than me” and “Here comes the lecture about why I’m a horrible person because I eat chicken”.

I don’t want to be an angry vegan.

One of my favorite authors and podcasters, Rich Roll, has coined the term “Plant Powered” and that’s what I roll with.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about animal rights or the environment, I just think it’s important that as a plant powered person, I don’t act like a raging lunatic forcing my political agenda on the general population.  I want people to eat more plants, not be running from me because I’m preaching the gospel of veganism.

Am I perfect?  Hell no!  Sometimes I get on my soap box, and I usually realize it as the words are coming out of my mouth and I can’t stop it.

Overall, I try and spread the message of eat whole foods, mostly plants, most of the time.

I wasn’t always vegan.  I used to love my McDonald’s quarter pounders, my Chick-Fil-A friend chicken, pizza, all the goods.  I even used to date a guy whose brother was vegan and I thought, “What a weirdo!  Why deprive yourself??”

My current partner, Nick, and I have three kids.  Sophia, my oldest, just turned 7.  Then there’s Penelope (affectionately called Lo LO) who’s 2 and Vasili, my baby boy, who’s 1.  I am 32 years old.  When I had Sophia, I was YOUNG, like 25 years old young.  I remember I got pregnant, gained a bunch of weight, had my daughter in May, and was back in a bikini two months later riding jetskis with Nick.

Then came age and two kids back to back.  There was no more bouncing back.

I had Penelope when  I was 29 and three months after I had her, we found out I was pregnant again.  9 months later, when I was 30, Vasili made his way into the world.  My body was completely different from anything I’ve ever known it to be.  I would look in the mirror and think, “Whose body is this!??!?!”  My average weight before the babies was about 130, give or take 10 pounds.  After having Vasili, I weighed in at 220 pounds.

220 pounds.

I had never experienced what it was like to be heavy.  Man, did I take that for granted.  Everyone kept saying, “Go easy on yourself!  You just had two babies!”.  But, let’s keep this real.  It was so hard for me.  I felt so uncomfortable in my skin.  For the first time, I had stretch marks, I had to buy new jeans (size 16) and felt so incredibly self-conscious.

I remember right after having Vasili, the kids, Nick and I went to the indoor pool at the YMCA.  I have never been more aware of my body as I was that day.  Before we even got to the pool, I had to go to Kohl’s to buy a one-piece maternity bathing suit because nothing I had even remotely fit.  I ended up getting the only one that fit, it was bright orange.  I mean, BRIGHT orange.  I literally looked like a felon.  I wore a pair of Nick’s swim trunks on the bottom, to cover up my thighs.  As I waded around the pool with all the other moms and kiddos, I couldn’t even be present to enjoy the swim time with my babies.  All I could think about was how fat I felt.  I was wondering what other people were thinking of me.  Did they know I just had a baby?  Do they think I’m fat?

It was exhausting.

On top of not feeling great in my body, I had ZERO energy.  I mean, zero.  It took everything in me just to stay awake all day.  I would usually start my day out with a big plate of eggs, bacon and toast.  It was delicious, but afterwards, I just wanted to nap.  I couldn’t drink a ton of caffeine because I was breastfeeding, so I was on my own.  Most days, all I could do was sit on the couch and watch my kids play.

And my mood.  To put it nicely, I was cranky.  All the time.  I didn’t want to be, but I just always had this irritability.  On top of being cranky and tired, I always felt like I was in a haze.  Like I never really woke up from my sleep the night before.

In October of 2015, I had had enough.  I actually remember the day, October 27.  It’s the day I finally decided to do something different.

I have been blessed with beautiful people in my life and yoga, both of which have taught be about prayer and meditation.  I began to pray for an intuitive thought, asking Mother Spirit (or God, or Universe, or High Power, or whatever you call that thing that is greater than yourself) to guide me to a path of health and wellness.  My prayer often sounded like “Spirit, show me how to be healthy today”.  That’s it.

In my meditation, I would get this nagging feeling to eat more plants.  I know that sounds so crazy, but it’s true.  Then Mother Spirit started putting plant powered people into my life.

A guy named Phil told me to read this book called “The Engine 2 Diet” by Rip Esselstyn.  That book changed the trajectory of my life.  I learned that a vegan, or plant based diet, is not in fact, crazy or rooted in deprivation.  He talked about all the foods you could eat, why they were good for you, what effect they had on you and, most importantly, the science behind a plant based diet.

My family is rampant with diabetes and heart disease and I knew innately that I was on the path to both if I didn’t change anything.

So it all started with making a decision, and that decision was…I AM WORTH IT.

I am one of those all or nothing people, so there was no transitory period for me.  I was all in.  No more meat, dairy or eggs for me.  No more Chick-Fil-A drive through.  I started to eat a whole foods, plant based diet.

In the beginning, I thought it was going to be super expensive and super difficult.  I was so wrong.  In fact, it was a lot cheaper than eating junky carryout everyday.  I started getting back into cooking, a passion that I had dropped many years ago because I just didn’t have the energy or motivation to do it anymore.  I started googling plant based recipes, searching for plant based bloggers and podcasts (that’s how I found Rich Roll), and became a plant powered machine.

I didn’t lose weight immediately, but I did gain a TON of energy.  So much so, that I started going to the gym everyday.  I would pack the kids up in the van and drive over to the gym where they went off to the kid’s room and I went to the weights.  At first, I had NO IDEA what I was doing.  But, I didn’t let that stop me.  I showed up anyway and just moved my body.

After about a week, I remember the brain fog lifting.  At the time, I didn’t know I had brain fog.  I didn’t know it until it was gone.  I had never been so clear and focused in my life.

There was something to this plant based diet after all.

Then my skin cleared up.  I thought I was doomed to acne for awhile because of all the hormones associated with just having a baby and breastfeeding.  I was wrong.  Plants fixed that problem for me.  My skin not only cleared of any acne, but it started to have this healthy, radiant glow about it.  It was awesome.

For the first few months, I didn’t have much weight loss.  A few pounds here and there, but nothing drastic.  I was discouraged, to say the least.  I kept reading on different blogs that people went plant based and they lost like 50 pounds in a day.  Or at least that was my perception.  But I DIDN’T GIVE UP.  How could I?  I was feeling more alive than I had ever felt in my entire life!  I had energy to workout for a couple hours AND play with my kids all day, all without an afternoon nap or a venti coffee from Starbucks.

After about five or six months, the weight started to fall off.

After 1 year, I lost 80 pounds.

80 pounds.

But, more than losing 80 pounds, I also started to become aware of how my food choices affect the environment, the animals and the future of the world.  Every second, 2 football fields worth of Amazon rainforest are bulldozed to make room for animal agriculture.  In fact, animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the combined exhaust from all transportation.  I also started to learn about conventional farming practices, the absolutely horrendous conditions that these animals are forced to “live” in, and I use the term “live” loosely.  And then there’s the amount of water it takes to support all these animals.

It was astonishing, and I will probably do a future blog post on this topic alone.

My favorite quote of all time is by Maya Angelou, “When you know better, you do better”.  I couldn’t unlearn what I was learning, and my diet started to align with my unique set of spiritual principles.  When people said things to me like, “You’re not a baby cow, why would you drink cow’s milk?”, I understood that.  Or, “What’s the difference between eating a chicken and eating your pet dog?”.  That made sense to me.

Fast forward two years and going plant based has changed everything about my life.  Not only have I lost almost 100 pounds in a healthy and sustainable way, it has also helped me discover my passion for nutrition and health coaching, which is now my business and what I do for a living.  It has allowed me to deepen my yoga practice because I am actually in tune with who I am as a human being.  It has given me the gift of being awake enough to be present with my children.

If you are considering going plant based, go at your own pace.  Not everyone is meant to go plant based overnight.  Start eating more whole foods (i.e. things not in packages), mostly veggies, most of the time.  I know it will change your life, like it did mine.

Plants for Life,
Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200



May 22, 2017by admin0

Welcome back for Week 3 of my Gut Health Series!  If you missed Week 1 and Week 2, click here to check it out!  This week, I will be talking about specific short term diets that are great for restoring your gut flora.  I am in no way sponsored by any of these companies, I truly think they are beneficial to gut health restoration.

The following diets/protocols may seem intense, but if you are a person that suffers from IBS, eczema, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, GERD, candida, chronic fatigue, depression, weight problems, hormone imbalances, and/or other autoimmune diseases, you are probably sick and tired of beating your head against the wall in search of symptom relief.  If you have found that you’ve tried every medication and either they don’t work or they cause more symptoms, maybe it’s time to explore the impact of nutrition.  It never hurts to keep an open mind and learn what your options are.  You deserve to be healthy and happy.  Here are my top three diets for gut flora restoration that I learned about while attending the Institute for Integrative Nutrition:

 

The Body Ecology Diet:

This diet was developed by Donna Gates, M.Ed., ABAAHP.  She is an international best-selling author, teacher and lecturer on digestive health and anti-aging protocols.  She spent over 25 years studying Eastern healing systems and Western fad diets and has a deep understanding of how your gut health affects ever system in your body.

The BED is a great, back-to-basics approach to restoring gut health and vitality.  If you struggle with candida, chronic fatigue, depression, weight problems, early aging, ADHD, autism, hormone imbalance and/or auto-immune disorders, you may benefit from the BED.  The BED is not a diet but rather a lifestyle. The BED (gluten free, sugar-free, probiotic rich) and their associated products are specifically designed to help cultivate, nourish, cleanse and repair the inner ecosystem of your digestive system.

I highly recommend checking out their website where you can learn more about the BED, their products, different courses they offer and more.  It’s a website loaded with all kinds of helpful information.

 

Low FODMAP Diet

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.  These are big fancy names that refer to a collection of molecules found in food that are often poorly absorbed by some people, especially people with a dysbiosis (imbalance) in their gut flora.  It is recommended to follow a strict low FODMAP diet for 8 weeks, preferably under the supervision of a Health Coach or dietitian.  After the 8 weeks, foods can be gradually reintroduced, noting how you tolerate each food and adjusting your food plan accordingly.  If you are interested in doing an 8-week trial of a low FODMAP diet with me, please click here to schedule a free Initial Consultation.

 

GAPS Diet

The GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet was originally derived from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) created by Dr. Sidney Valentine Hass to naturally treat chronic inflammatory digestive conditions that result from a damaged gut lining.  SCD became popular when a mom, by the name of Elaine Gottschall, healed her own child of Ulcerative Colitis and then became an advocate for SCD.  She even wrote a book entitled “Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet”.  The GAPS diet focuses on removing foods that are hard to digest and are damaging to the gut microbiome and replacing them with nutrient-dense foods, allowing the intestinal lining to heal and seal.

The GAPS protocol is broken down into three protocols: Nutritional, Supplementation and Detoxification.  The Nutritional Protocol restricts all grains, commercial dairy, starchy veggies and all processed carbs while focusing on easily digestible and nutrient dense foods.  The Supplementation Protocol is tailored to the individual, but generally includes a commercial probiotic, essential fatty acids, cod liver oil, and targeted digestive support.  The Detoxification Protocol cleanses the liver and colon through juicing, GAPS milkshakes, and enemas while reducing the general toxic load by restricting man-made chemicals and heavy metals.

If you visit the GAPS Diet website, you can find a Certified GAPS Practitioner to work with.

 

I hope this Gut Series was helpful and answered some of your questions about gut health.  Personally, I think the topic of the microbiome is fascinating!  Research into this vast unknown is just in it’s infancy, but scientists have discovered some amazing things so far.  If you are interested in learning more about gut health, please feel free to email me at info@stephaniemisanik.com.  Here’s to happy, healthy bellies!

 

Plants for Life,

Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200