Bust The Holiday Stress Cycle

Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanza, the holidays can be a great time of joy for many. But for others, they are filled with anxiety and stress. You can set yourself on a more positive path – and bust the holiday stress cycle – when you understand the how to best support your body for joy.

When stress hits at this time of year, it’s easy to turn to that tray of cookies for moral support. After all, cookies won’t criticize you about your choices the way your family will. What we don’t realize is that we are self-medicating with sweets – the quick spike of sugar in our system can bring an increase in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of well-being and happiness. Sadly, the benefit is fleeting, and we find ourselves reaching for another fix.

How do we bust the holiday stress cycle? First admit that it’s a problem, and then consciously choose some strategies to support a different outcome. I am offering you these tips for boosting your energy and outlook through these coming weeks.

Be active

Instead of reaching for the holiday goodies when you feel a lag in energy, get outside in the fresh air for a walk, hit the gym, chase your kids in the yard, or just do something physical that appeals to you. You’ll release the stress and the exercise will help release the proper chemicals in your brain to make you feel better.

Workout your mind

Your brain needs exercise too! Rather than allowing your mind to dwell on the negative things that push you toward those cookies, give your mind something constructive to do. Take 10 to 20 minutes to yourself to read something engaging for you, or work on a crossword puzzle or something else that stimulates your mind in an enjoyable way. I use my Sudoku app for this purpose. It will help you feel refreshed.

Focus on healthful eating

While it’s true that the holidays are certainly a time for more indulgent meals, when you focus on your healthful eating prior to those big family dinners, it won’t be such a shock to your waistline. Make sure you’re eating meals that have a small amount of protein, a portion of good fat, minimal grain-based carbs and lots of vegetables. Don’t skip meals. If you starve yourself all day because your job or your family (or both!) is making you nuts, you’re more prone to stuffing yourself at dinner with things that aren’t very healthful.

Practice moderation

Yes, there are certainly foods we only get to enjoy during this time of year. But again, eating all of them isn’t going to do any good. So indulge mindfully and moderately. Looking forward to your sister’s famous pecan pie? Then focus on eating that when the time comes and say no to treats that aren’t as delicious.

Forgive yourself and others

No one is perfect. If you find you caved in to peer pressure at work and ate treats you declared you wouldn’t, forgive yourself and move on. Take a deep breath or two and release the situation. Get back on track with the next food choice and move your body. But above all, keep your head up and your focus on gratitude.

Make gratitude your focus

I have noticed that more and more people are recognizing how a gratitude practice is  profound in its effects. It isn’t time consuming – you are simply recording 3-5 things for which you are grateful on a daily basis. I have found it helpful to write these on an index card to review throughout the day. Something as simple as being thankful for the poinsettia arrangement my husband brought home, or the uplifting smells of spices, can shift my energy … and yours.

YOU are on my gratitude list. I am thankful for all who recognize that they have a choice related to their health. I’m passionate about encouraging the choices that will support their body and supporting those who prioritize their pursuit of wellness!

Kelly Lutman Pursue Wellness

Prioritize Self-Care

Do You Prioritize Self-Care?

December is a busy month! Many of us love the holidays, yet when you get past the anticipated special moments, there is far more demand on each of us. Will you come through the holidays with positive outlook or will you claw your way through to the end?

Are you doing the holiday cooking?
Who is hosting or organizing the holiday parties?
Are you the primary shopper? And who does the wrapping?
If you send Christmas cards, are you the one who writes the letter or signs and addresses the cards?
And then there’s cleaning the house, hosting guests …. and your daily responsibilities, too!

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired just reading this!

You could hire some help or you could come into this holiday season with a plan to focus on nourishing yourself for the tasks at hand. And by nourishing yourself, I’m not speaking of what you eat. There is more to it than food.

In my coaching training, we discovered primary and secondary foods. You might be surprised to hear that the edible stuff is secondary, and primary food pertains to your full well-being. It encompasses your relationships, career, physical activity and spirituality. You can eat healthy real foods, but if you are falling short in primary food, you won’t experience wellness.

What Is Self-Care?

We – women and men – need to nourish our minds, our spirits, our innermost beings. That’s where self-care comes in. Self-care is defined as the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. Thriving is dependent on whether you prioritize self-care.

In an aircraft safety briefing, you are directed to put your oxygen mask on first. Does that sound selfish? How can you pour out to others without first filling up? If you would answer “yes” to any of the following questions, you need to shift your focus …

Are you feeling overwhelmed?
Do you ever feel like you’re running on empty?
Have you been feeling like you’ve lost your focus?
Have you experienced weight gain?
Are you feeling irritable or impatient?
Has your skin been acting up?

What Does Self-Care Look Like?

It can be as unique as you are, and you are the only one who can determine what will fill you up. Perhaps it’s a walk in the woods or coffee with a friend. It may be a mani/pedi, a massage or a walk on the beach. Self-Care is not usually an exhausting or sweaty activity, but rather one that recharges you. I found a list of self-care activities in this blog post to spark ideas. And it may take some experimentation to determine what works best.

Those who prioritize self-care have been known to experience positive impacts on their mental and physical health. It is an essential step to truly living a healthy, more balanced life. You, and those around you, are worth it.

As noted above, self-care is not a one-size-fits-all experience. It is important that you keep an open mind and remain committed to your self-care practice in order to reap the benefits. My goal is that you thrive this Christmas and set a new priority of self-care for the rest of your life.

You are important to so many people, and they need you to practice self-care so that you are there for them. Fill your cup to the brim for you and pour out for them. Everyone benefits!

Kelly Lutman Pursue Wellness

Should You Eliminate Gluten?

Do you know someone who has eliminated gluten from their diet? Have you considered exploring this approach for yourself, or do you consider it going overboard? Why should you eliminate gluten?

I’ve written about the potential issues of consuming wheat-based foods in the past. To recap, the greatest concerns are the increased concentration of gluten in our modern wheat, and the use of glyphosate on wheat fields prior to harvest. That means that each bite of wheat comes with a dose of glyphosate.

I often find that my clients have some sensitivity to wheat or gluten, which is a protein in wheat. In the absence of testing for sensitivity, these are some situations where I recommend elimination of wheat from the diet….

An Autoimmune Disease Diagnosis

Consuming gluten can promote intestinal permeability (or leaky gut), which is a precursor of all autoimmune disease activation. In case you doubt this, I encourage you to listen to the first 20 minutes of this interview with Dr Allessio Fasano , a pioneering doctor who has identified gluten’s role in promoting permeability and how this permeability contributes to autoimmune activity.

Type 2 Diabetes

In this case, I recommend elimination of all wheat, though not all gluten-containing grains such as barley or rye. The primary concern with wheat is its high glycemic load in a diet for individuals with insulin resistance. This means that consumption of wheat spikes your blood glucose (sugar) levels which the Type 2 diabetic body cannot well manage.

An Overtly Obese Body

Similarly, I recommend eliminating wheat if you have an overtly obese body. The high glycemic load that comes with wheat consumption usually leads to insulin-mediated body fat increase. And that can lead to metabolic syndrome.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

For those suffering with IBD, the digestive system is already compromised, but the gluten and glyphosate from wheat (did you listen to Dr Fasano’s interview?) add fuel to the fire.

Struggle With Chronic Depression

There is increasing evidence that gluten can cause changes in brain chemistry which can lead to depression. Do you struggle with depression? Then I recommend eliminating it completely for at least 2 months before reintroducing to gauge the impact.

Do you find yourself in any of these conditions? Have you explored ways to support your body based on diet and nutrition in conjunction with your conventional medical treatment? You don’t need to find your way on your own. A Functional Medicine Health Coach can help you navigate the path. Let’s chat about your situation and how I can support you.

Are you wondering where the future will lead? The best way to get a different outcome is to change your approach. Should you eliminate gluten? Maybe. And you don’t have to go it alone.

Kelly Lutman Pursue Wellness

Got Milk – Do You Really Need It?

Do you have a friend or family member who follows a dairy-free approach to eating? Does it seem like an odd choice – one that feels slightly un-American? Do you really need milk?

We’ve all seen the “Got Milk” commercials and print ads, and I’m sure you heard your Mom tell you to drink your milk for strong bones. But is milk truly beneficial to your body? Maybe, maybe not.

If have shared about food sensitivities in the past. Some of my clients test positive for allergies or sensitivities, and I recommend that they stop eating dairy completely while we evaluate whether their body is lacking necessary enzymes to digest dairy. Even if they don’t test positive, I may still recommend that they omit dairy for if any of these conditions exist:

Have Allergies, Asthma, or Chronic Sinus

Some individuals are susceptible to an increase in mucus production when consuming dairy foods. This doesn’t happen to everyone, hence the many blog articles you may find that claim this is a myth. But the scientific study I link here shows that it has been clearly demonstrated. The best way I know to determine whether it would affect a person’s body in this way is to eliminate dairy foods for a month and then reintroduce to observe any changes.

Have Estrogen-mediated Cancer

or significant hormone imbalance. Dairy foods are reproductive substances which contain substantial levels of hormones that can cause significant shifts in your own body’s hormone balance. It is best to be mindful of the many outside sources of hormones or substances the body reads as similar to hormones so that we don’t inadvertently contribute to dis-ease.

Have Chronically Loose Stools

This can be caused by your body’s insufficient production of lactase, an enzyme that helps to break down lactose from dairy-based foods. It has been estimated that 2/3 of the world’s population is lactose-intolerant. This can speed the motility of foods through the digestive system, resulting in poor absorption of nutrients.

Have High Levels of Inflammation

Dairy products can increase acidity in the body and stir the fire of inflammation. Already dealing with an inflammatory diagnosis? You can cool the fire by removing all dairy from your diet.

Have Irritable Bowel  Syndrome or Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Those who struggle with IBS or IBD often find that diary-based foods cause flares in their symptoms due to hyper-fermentation of lactose.

Have you been focused on improving your wellness and felt as though you were missing something? I’ve seen simple adjustments like omitting dairy have a significantly beneficial effect.

Granted, an online search will present articles that assure you that dairy isn’t a problem. I would suggest you consider the source of these articles. Perhaps the dairy industry connected to the authors of those articles. Is there a conflict of interest?

Will elimination of dairy work for you? Only way to know for sure is to test it. I must be 100% elimination. Your body is immensely intelligent and knows when you consume even a “taste.” Could you benefit from the support of a coach? I’m here for you.

Kelly Lutman Pursue Wellness

When you want to improve the way you are eating, home-cooked meals are the best approach. How do you fit cooking into your busy schedule? Meal prep hacks!

Meal Prep Hacks For Your Busy Schedule

When you want to improve the way you are eating, home-cooked meals are the best context for success. Yet you may think that your busy schedule leaves you with no hope for making your own meals, even if such an approach would save you money. The answer? Meal prep hacks.

I completely understand. I hope to show you some hacks that could work for your unique schedule and lifestyle. Today, I’m sharing a few meal prep hacks so that you don’t have to stress about not having enough time.

Build your meals around your main dish

Try switching it up so that you don’t feel like you’re eating the same thing every day and build the rest of the meal to complement your main dish. For example, you can make chicken with steamed veggies and brown rice for one meal-prep batch and teriyaki salmon bowls for another. This will streamline the process behind meal-prepping while using most of the same ingredients.

Try ingredient-prepping

Sometimes, packaging ready-to-go meals a week in advance can leave your food looking soggy and a bit unappetizing. Plus, you might change your mind as to which ingredients you want to eat in a meal. Instead of creating an entire meal, you may prefer to prepare the individual components. Chop different vegetables, cook a batch of brown rice or quinoa, and separate your fruit into portions. Then, you can assemble your meals and season them according to your mood. The washing, cutting, and cooking take the longest when you meal-prep. If you do that one session on the weekend, the rest of the week should be smooth sailing.

Always make enough for leftovers

Nobody wants to spend more time in the kitchen than necessary, but we all have to eat. If you’re already cooking, double the portion sizes so that your efforts result in two meals. If your dinner doesn’t seem like a convenient meal for packaging to save, then double-up the individual ingredients. For example, if you’re making rice, make double, eat half for your dinner and store the other half of it away for your meal prep. If you’re already chopping up some sweet potato to roast in the oven, add a few extra. This will save you a lot of time.

Switch up your sauces and dressings

This is the best way to avoid your meal-prep becoming boring and bland. If you’ve followed tip #2, you should have your ingredients all ready and prepared to go. The ingredients should be unseasoned unless you have to marinate in advance. When preparing a meal, you can quickly add whatever dressing or seasoning you want. You should also prepare your sauces and dressings in advance so that you don’t have to throw on some store-bought condiments that usually contain a lot of artificial preservatives and sugar. Homemade hummus has a long shelf-life and is so versatile. You can also make a variety of different salad dressings or even pasta sauces, which should last you the whole week.

The best way to improve the quality of your food for the sake of your health is to prepare more of your meals yourself. I’m not saying you have to prepare all of your meals yourself, yet each meal made at home from natural ingredients is a step toward better health. Start small with a few meals and explore ingredient combinations that work for you, then add a few more. If you need some ideas, here are a few that you can try. Your body will thank you.

Kelly Lutman Pursue Wellness

Arm Yourself Against Illness

‘Tis the season – the flu season is being heralded all around us. Are you prepared? And how can you arm yourself against illness, be it flu or cold or other form?

Though there’s no guaranteed way to avoid getting sick, supporting your immune system is what I consider the best way (even ahead of vaccines). Here are 7 ways to arm your immune system:

Decrease Stress

Prioritize taking time daily to enjoy relaxing activities such as meditation or listening to music, which reduce physical perception of stress. When experiencing stress, your body releases hormones that can tax your immune system and raise your susceptibility.

Get Out In The Sun

The sun does more for you than raise your Vitamin D levels – it improves your circadian rhythm and lifts your spirits. So get outside, even in the cold. If getting sufficient levels of UVA rays from the sun is difficult in the winter where you live, explore getting a Vitamin D lamp or lightbox. These simulate noontime sunshine and can provide an alternate source of “sunshine.”

Exercise (Or Move) Regularly

Getting 30 minutes of physical activity daily will increase your blood circulation and can help strengthen your immune system. Movement helps antibodies and white blood cells move around the body faster so they may detect invaders sooner. Walking outside combines sun and exercise – win!

Eat Purposefully

No single food will fend off a cold or flu but certain nutrients can help protect your body from bacteria, viruses and other germs. Consider these foods:

  • Garlic and ginger – antiviral and antibiotic
  • Wild-caught salmon & cold-water fish – Omega3
  • Pumpkin seeds, grass-fed meat – Zinc
  • Brazil nuts, broccoli, sardines – Selenium
  • Bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, kale, citrus (fruit not juice) – Vitamin C
  • Reduce sugar which depresses the immune system for hours after consumption

Boost Vitamin D Levels

Vitamin D is crucial for healthy immune function and maintaining a positive mood in the winter. Therefore, have your blood vitamin D level tested and supplement it if your level is below 30 nanograms per milliliter.

Drink More Water

Hydration is key to whole-body health. Every system in your body needs adequate water to function properly. It’s not just liquids your body needs – water or herbal teas provide hydration.

Prioritize Restful Sleep

Clinical study has demonstrated that several days of partial sleep deprivation has significant detrimental effects on immune function. Adults should try to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night, while those with a compromised immune system should get even more.

You can’t expect your immune system to function well if you don’t support it with the right building blocks. A vaccination won’t cover you if you are skimping in the other areas. Rather, it will initially depress your immune system.

So take a cue from the airline safety briefing and put your oxygen mask on first.

Kelly Lutman Pursue Wellness

Magnesium Is A Nutrient Powerhouse

Magnesium Is A Nutritional Powerhouse

Do you remember much of the periodic table of elements from Chemistry class? Though I never learned the elements in high school, I’m gaining more respect for them these days. Especially #12 – magnesium. Magnesium is a nutritional powerhouse.

If you’ve played on a sports team, I’m sure you’ve experienced the normal dynamics of a couple leading players and many supporting ones. Magnesium is a supporting player that many of us are lacking.
Read more

Meatless Monday or Change One Meal A Day?

I’m sure you have heard of the “meatless Monday” movement. The idea is to have one day a week when you focus on eating plant-based meals and take a break from animal proteins. Another approach is to change one meal a day to plant-based foods. For many, this has been an interesting exercise that encourages them to think outside our cultural norm.

You know that I encourage including protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates in your meals for a balanced nutritional benefit. You may be wondering how to do this when planning a meatless meal. It’s not hard at all. Read more

Are You Disrupting Your Metabolism?

Are You Disrupting Your Metabolism?

If your metabolism is running at a healthy level, it burns off your calories and keeps you feeling energized. Exercise and plenty of sleep help your metabolism function optimally, but are you disrupting your metabolism with certain foods you eat?

These foods could be reducing the metabolic fire you count on to keep things running optimally. Read more

Are There Poor Quality Ingredients In Your Multivitamin

Are There Poor Quality Ingredients In Your Multivitamin?

Fruits and vegetables have less to offer us nutritionally than they did a few decades ago. This is an unfortunate fact of life in America. Our topsoil is depleted of nutrients, therefore, many people choose to boost their nutritional intake with a multivitamin supplement. But are there poor quality ingredients in your multivitamin?

Have you seen all the choices out there? And how do you know which is a good one? Read more