Abby is an active blogger. Through her wellness and lifestyle blogging, she gives practical tips for green living, raising healthy and happy children, holistic health and lifestyle through a mind, body and spirit approach. Abby is all about seasonal food preparation and healthy recipes for busy families on-the-go. You can read more of her blogs on her Passionate Wellness site at abbymason.com.

 

Your mother told you so…

Abby Mason - May 2017

The report is due in two hours. Or perhaps you’re in the middle of a mid-term exam. Or you’re making sales calls. Suddenly, bam! Around 10:30 a.m. you hit a wall. All you want to do is look out the window.

Hmmm…what did you eat for breakfast?

I hate to say, “I told you so,” so I’ll turn to Mom, who has said it countless times: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s the meal that’s designed to supply a third of the macro and micro nutrients your body needs to run without a hitch.

So what are you eating each morning to do all these things? A cup of coffee gulped down on the go? A cup of sugary yogurt and a muffin eaten at your desk? Nothing at all?

Your body deserves so much better than that.  And so do you!

When you eat a good breakfast, your day goes smoothly. No growling stomachs, low blood sugar shakiness, or wandering attention to keep you from nailing those big goals you’ve made for yourself.

What Breakfast is Right for You?

One of the best—and most fun—ways to find out which foods serve YOU most powerfully is something called the Breakfast Experiment. For one week, eat a different breakfast each day. Record in a notebook what you ate, how you felt immediately after the meal, and how you felt again two hours later.

  • Day one: Scrambled eggs or tofu
  • Day two: Bean soup or a bean salad
  • Day three: Oatmeal
  • Day four: Boxed breakfast cereal
  • Day five: Muffin and coffee
  • Day six: Fresh fruit
  • Day seven: Fresh vegetables

Feel free to repeat the experiment for another seven days with different foods each morning. Which breakfasts made you feel energized? Which ones didn’t? After the experiment, try adding in more of the foods that made you feel great!

Get Even Healthier!

Would you like to learn how to choose the best breakfasts for you? (And the best lunches, dinners, and snacks?) Are you curious about how health coaching can help you make your own healthy changes? Let’s talk! Schedule an initial, free complimentary consultation with me today—or pass this offer on to someone you care about!

To your health!

Abby

Be Radiant from the Inside Out

Abby Mason - March 2017

It starts by eating a diet full of colorful and nutritious whole foods, along with eliminating and/or reducing harmful toxins from our environment and our bodies. I am talking about the emotional as well as physical toxins here. Negative thoughts don’t serve you or your potential.  I encourage you to find ways to remove them from your life, which will be very beneficial to your emotional (internal) well-being. The physical toxins are those that are in the air we breathe inside as well as outside of our homes. It’s the added and unnatural chemicals found in our carpets, paint, furniture, body, skin and hair care products, cleaning products, certain types of pots and pans, plastics, etc.

What we eat on a daily basis affects our body on the inside as well as the outside. Eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals will give you beautiful lustrous hair, vibrant, youthful skin and healthy nails. Who doesn’t want that?! How many of these foods find their way to your plate every day?

SUPER FOODS FOR GLOWING HEALTH AND AGELESS/TIMELESS HAIR, SKIN AND NAILS:

LEAFY GREENS:  Leafy greens are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Fiber is a great nutrient to help with weight loss because it provides you with a feeling of fullness, which assists in controlling hunger. These glorious plants are also loaded with water, which benefits your hair, skin and nails. You can eat as many leafy greens a day as you want   because they are low in calories.

BERRIES:  These beautiful little gems are powerful in helping to prevent disease and control inflammation in your body as well as reduce the LDL (bad) cholesterol.

CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES: They can help prevent the growth of cells that can lead to cancer because they minimize free radical production. These vegetables include Bok Choy, Kale, Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Cauliflower and Broccoli. Enjoy these vegetables sautéed, steamed or roasted.

CHIA SEEDS: Are the highest plant based source for Omega-3 fatty acids. They are packed with fiber, minerals, protein and antioxidants. They help you feel full fast because they expand when added to liquid.

WILD SALMON: This is a good source for Omega-3 fatty acids. It is also high in vitamin D, B2, B3, B6 and B12. Of course, it is a great source of protein as well.

WALNUTS: They are rich in omega-3’s. About a fourth of a cup is the perfect amount for a single serving. Walnuts are so great for brain health. Add some to the top of your salad for a great plant based source of protein.

AVOCADO: These little beauties are full of healthy fats, which help defend your body against heart disease and cancer.

DARK CHOCOLATE: It is packed with antioxidants. It helps stabilize your mood. It can lower blood pressure and enhance blood flow. Look for organic dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. YUM!

MUSHROOMS: A great source to help prevent cancer. They are high in antioxidants.  Mushrooms contain minerals such as selenium, potassium, copper, iron and phosphorus. These guys are also a great source of vitamin D and B.

BEETS: Are a great liver detoxifier.

SWEET POTATOES AND CARROTS: They contain vitamins A, B6 and C. They also contain potassium, calcium and fiber. Orange vegetables are high in Phytonutrients, which help prevent disease. They are also high in beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. 

SEA VEGETABLES: Are high in iron and vitamin C. Some of the benefits are prevention of chronic disease and slowing the aging process. They are a good source for detoxifying your body of heavy metals and other pollutants in the environment.

GREEN TEA:  It is high in antioxidants, which can help in preventing cell damage. It can also assist with blood flow and lower cholesterol.

WATER: Your skin requires adequate amounts of water to stay hydrated. Dehydrated skin will show more wrinkles and look dry. The best way to determine what is the right amount for your unique body is to divide your body weight in half. Drink that amount in ounces of water every day. If you live in a warmer climate or exercise rigorously, you will need to up your intake a bit to stay properly hydrated.

Eating healthy, seasonal and organic as much as possible equals a vibrant you! 

 

10 Simple Steps To Surviving The Holiday Season

Abby Mason - December 2016

                                  

What a wonderful time of year it is!  All the hustle and bustle of the Holidays can be very exciting and also a little draining.  It’s super important to make sure you are taking fabulous care of yourself during this time to ensure you feel your best emotionally and physically.  As lovely as the holidays are, they can also bring a little added stress with all of the parties spent with friends, coworkers and extended family.  If you are like me, sometimes these moments can be a little exhausting and quite frankly, stressful.  Family is wonderful, but there have been times when issues have come up.  Staying focused, positive and having a heart of compassion and forgiveness has always helped me get through it in a genuine and peaceful way.

  1. STAY HYDRATED – Proper hydration is so important to your body functioning at an optimal level.  Did you know that sometimes if you find yourself craving sweets, you could actually be dehydrated?  Your body is in need of water at that moment, not something highly processed or loaded with sugar.
  2. GET ENOUGH QUALITY SLEEP – Getting quality sleep is what your body needs to set you up for a healthy day ahead.   When you give your body the amount of sleep it requires, it is able to replenish and rewire.  Your hormones are able to come back to balance, which is so important to your entire body and mind.
  3. MINIMIZE THE SUGAR – Sugar is such a hot topic today.  What does it really do to your body?  Does it actually cause negative health problems?  Yes, the answer is yes!  Sugar is highly inflammatory in excess.  We are consuming far too much in our daily lives.  Sugar is in almost every processed food today.  Eating more of a whole food and seasonal food diet is exactly what your body needs to be at its best throughout the year.  It is also important to eat less sugar because over consumption of sugar causes chronic inflammation, which can weaken the immune system.
  4. TAKE THIS FREE VIA CHARACTER STRENGTH QUIZ TO USE YOUR TOP STRENGTHS DURING THIS HECTIC YET FUN TIME OF YEAR – Taking this quiz (http://abbymason.pro.viasurvey.org/Account/Register ) shows you what your top strengths are.  When you are aware of your top strengths, you can learn to access them throughout each day and week to help you feel strong and centered.
  5. MOVE YOUR BODY – Movement is very important to healthy bones and muscles.  Daily movement is also a key component to living a long and full life.  Don’t you notice when you exercise that you not only feel better physically, but emotionally as well?
  6. TRY TO EAT BALANCED MEALS THROUGHOUT THE DAY – Skipping meals is no good!  When you have too much time between meals, your blood sugar levels get out of whack and you start to crave something that will quickly bring you more energy.  Usually, this tends to be something overly processed.  Instead of giving you lasting energy, this form of food actually causes an increase or spike in alertness and then it is followed by a drop, which leaves you feeling lethargic and foggy headed.
  7. PRACTICE A GRATITUDE EXERCISE EVERY NIGHT BEFORE GOING TO SLEEP – Our days are full of crazy and hectic schedules especially this time of year.  Not just with schedules, but the Holidays can be a very emotional time.  Family stuff, relationship stuff, etc. can all come to the surface in a time where we are meant to be merry and jolly.  Make a habit of saying a few things that you are grateful for each day, as part of your nightly ritual.  This way when things do come up that make you sad or bring you down, practicing gratitude can help shift your focus back to a more positive mindset.
  8. PRACTICE DEEP BREATHING – When you practice deep breathing, it really does help reduce stress and take you out of the heat of the moment.  My favorite way to get back to “Zen” throughout the day is with Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing technique (http://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/stress-anxiety/breathing-three-exercises/  ).If I start to feel a little stressed, this really helps me rewire and feel more balanced.
  9. HAVE A HEART OF FORGIVENESS – Forgiveness is so important to our overall soul centered way of life.  Holding a grudge or staying angry about something really only hurts you in the long run.  Why not forgive those in your life whom you might feel wronged by even if they aren’t asking for it?  You might be surprised to notice how much better you feel.
  10. FIND HUMOR IN EVERYTHING – LAUGH HARDER AND SMILE MORE – There is a lot of serious stuff going on in our lives and in the world around us.  I truly believe that if we all try a little harder to bring more joy, humor, laughter and smiles to the people we interact with it will create a ripple effect of positivity.  This way, more and more people can be lifted up and find genuine happiness in their lives each and every day!

From my family to yours, have a fantastic and lovely Holiday Season!

 

Do You Want To Make Your Dreams A Reality?

Abby Mason - October 2016

 

How often have you wished you could make a dream that you have had become your reality?  Does it seem like something that could actually happen or does it seem like something that is too far out of reach?  What if nothing was holding you back?  What would your life look like if you were living it the way you truly want?

We hear stories all the time of people who have transformed their lives or the lives of others in uplifting and inspiring ways:

  • The doctor who was able to find the root cause and a cure for his patient’s difficult to heal illness.
  • The woman who decided to get up off the couch and take back her life by loosing the 150 lbs. that kept her housebound for years.
  • The mama who would stop at nothing to find a way to help her sick child become healthy again.
  • The grandmother that is 95 years old and is as sharp and vibrant as ever due to a lifetime of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

People all over the world, people just like you, are making their dreams come true.

If they can do it, so can you!  These individuals were successful and you aren’t any different from them.  You too have what it takes.

What is holding you back?

I know it isn’t easy.  There could be any number of things standing between you and your life’s dream.  Are they reason enough to keep your dream on hold?

“Obstacles are like wild animals.  They are cowards but they will bluff you if they can.  If they see you are afraid of them…they are liable to spring upon you; but if you look them squarely in the eye, they will slink out of sight.” ~Orison Swett Marden, writer

Could setting goals help? 

You CAN turn your dreams into reality. It begins with one small step at a time: 

  • Put an end date on the calendar of when you would like to reach this goal/make your dream a reality.
  • List all of the small action steps you can take to get to the finish line.
  •  Put one action step in your calendar each week that will help you get to your end goal.
  • Figure out what it is that is causing you to be fearful or scared of completing your goal/dream.  Take out a blank piece of paper and ask yourself this question:  What is the worst thing that could happen?  What would you do to manage or confront it?
  • When you have accomplished each step/activity, give yourself a small reward.
  • Check the step off your list once you have accomplished it.
  •  With each step that you check off, you will become happier, inspired and motivated to pursue what it is you want.

I would love to help you make your health/lifestyle dreams come true.  I am a Board Certified Holistic Health Coach and will be your mentor and advocate during your journey. Individual wellness programs are tailored specifically to meet the needs of each client. To learn more about my Holistic Health Coaching services, visit our website at thewinchesterinstitute.com, or contact amason@thewinchesterinstutute.com

Are You Burning the Candle at Both    Ends?

Abby Mason- August 2016 

If you could just sit quietly for a moment, close your eyes and calm your breath, what thoughts come into your head? If you could give yourself just 20 minutes a day just for you to recharge, what would you do? What would you do if time was not an issue? What would you do if you were expected to take this time for yourself each day?

Self-care is not a selfish thing to do. Did you know if you don't make time to take care of yourself, you will not be any good to those around you? If you are constantly going from one thing to the next, you run the risk of becoming depleted emotionally and exhausted physically. It is really important to give yourself permission to take this time to get back to feeling centered and grounded.

I have been making an effort to do this 3-5 times a week. My goal is to take 20-30 minutes each day to shut out the world and spend time doing something I enjoy and makes me feel alive. On days I don't practice self-care, I am running from one thing to the next and I notice I have somewhat of a knot in my stomach. It feels like a ball of anxiety and tension. Feeling this way raises cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol is a good thing when it comes to helping us through a scary or dangerous situation. It is our fight or flight response in the body. For example, if you are walking in a big city and you suddenly feel like you are being followed, your immediate response is to get to somewhere safe. The adrenaline in your body kicks in, which launches your energy into high gear and you do what it takes to get out of there. Once you realize there is no longer a threat, your body calms and the stress of the incident slowly dissipates. This is a normal bodily responseHowever, constantly feeling stressed and overworked on a regular basis can lead to all kinds of health problems such as digestive issues, depression, heart disease, weight gain, trouble sleeping, anxiety and brain fog.

I have noticed I am less stressed and have more sense of calm in my day when I make it a priority to do something just for me. Here are several things that you can do to help feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the rest of your day.

  • Hot bath with a few drops of lavender or other calming essential oil
  • Read a good book
  • Take a walk in nature
  • Listen to your favorite music
  • Dance
  • Get a massage
  • Sing a song
  • Good quality sleep (7-8 hours)
  • Breathing exercises
  • Favorite way to exercise
  • At home spa treatment
  • Dry skin brushing
  • Prayer or meditation
  • Journaling
  • Talking on the phone to a good friend or loved one
  • DIY shower body scrub (see below for one of my favorite recipes)

I encourage you to find something you can do at least two times this week just for you! Notice how you feel afterwards. Can you commit to doing this on a regular basis? You deserve it! For more information, contact Abby at 813-390-9181 or amason@thewinchesterinstitute.com.

Calming Body Scrub:

1/2 cup organic brown sugar of coconut palm sugar

2 Tbsp local honey or Manuka honey

3/4 cup sweet almond oil or jojoba oil

5-10 drops Lavender Essential Oil

Mix all ingredients and place in a glass jar with lid.Transfer the amount you need to a BPA free plastic container for each shower.

Get a Healthy Glow

Abby Mason - July 2016

It’s not just about what you put in your body, but also what you put on your body. Below are the list of ingredients found in so many, beauty, skin care and hair care products that are toxic and harmful to your body.   Your skin is your largest organ. What you put on it gets absorbed into the bloodstream. When you buy products that contain these ingredients, you are exposing your body to chemicals, which can cause birth defects, cancer, infertility, learning disabilities, reproductive problems and skin allergies.

  • Benzoyl Peroxide (found in acne products)    
  • BHA/BHT  
  • DEA (Diethanolamine),
  • MEA (Monoethanolamine),
  • TEA (Triethanolamine) - a foam booster
  • Dioxin (often found in antibacterial ingredients such as triclosan, emulsifiers, ethoxylated cleansers and PEGs)
  • DMDM & Urea (Imidazolidinyl) (2 formaldehyde releasing preservatives)
  • FD&C Color and Pigments (synthetic colors)
  • Hydroquinone
  • Isopropyl Alcohol (found in hair color rinses, body rubs, hand lotions and aftershave lotions)
  • Lead
  • Mineral Oil
  • Nanoparticles
  • Parabens (Methyl, Butyl, Ethyl, Propyl) (Used as preservatives)
  • PEG (Polyethylene glycol) (found in baby care, personal
  • Petrolatum
  • Phthalates (often in most products)
  • Propylene Glycol (PG) and Butylene Glycol (petroleum plastics)
  • Quaternium-15 (a preservative in many haircare and skincare products)
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) (found in 90% of personal care products, which foam)
  • Sunscreen Chemicals (avobenzone, benzphenone, ethoxycinnamate, and PABA are some of the common used ingredients)
  • Sulfates
  • Synthetic Fragrance
  • Talc (found in makeup, adult and children's powders, foundations)
  • Triclosan (a synthetic antibacterial ingredient)

 Sources: healinglifestyles.com, mindbodygreen.com, healthychild.org, drfranklipman.com ewg.org/skindeep/ 

The Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen

Abby Mason - June 3, 2016

I am sure you already know how important it is to feed yourself and your loved ones the best quality food available. Are you aware, however, that certain fruits and vegetables are better for you when purchased organically?  

There are so many toxins in our environment and pesticides and chemicals on our food. I wanted to give you a handy tool to help you make the best decisions possible while taking a trip to your local market.  I have included the “Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen” list of foods.

The Dirty Dozen are the fruits and vegetables that contain the most amount of pesticides. Even when you wash the fruits and vegetables, the pesticides that were sprayed onto the plants and on the ground get into the root system of the plant. You sure don’t want to ingest these toxic chemicals.  Try to purchase these foods labeled organic as much as possible. This is really important!

 The Clean Fifteen are those that can be purchased conventionally when organic is not an option.  They are the fruits and vegetables that have been shown to contain the least amount of pesticides.

Dirty Dozen

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Necatarines
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • Snap Peas
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Bell Pepper
  • And, Hot Peppers, Kale & Collard Greens

Clean Fifteen

  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Sweet Peas
  • Sweet Potatoes

Source:ewg.org 

Spring Clean Your Body

Abby Mason - May 2016

As spring arrives, the energy from the earth is rising all around us. In Ancient Medicine, we are connected to the earth and that energy is rising in our body as well. This is why spring is the best time to detox and rejuvenate. There are so many toxins surrounding us each day, through products in our home, in our skincare, in the foods we eat and in the environment. Without a diet rich in whole foods, the liver has to work really hard to keep us healthy. The liver controls the smooth flow of energy in our body. When it gets stuck, stagnation will take place. If the liver is over-burdened by toxins, it will get congested and won't be able to function properly. When the liver is congested and the rising energy gets stuck, we can experience headaches, lack of creativity and frustration. This congestion can also show up as allergies and in different ways on our skin (acne, eczema, etc). This is the way the body will flush out toxins.

Here are some ways to detox the body in the spring: 

  1. Fasting-no food, just water for a period of 2-3 days (this isn't for everyone). 
  2. Vegan/Vegetarian meals for a period of 21 days (animal fats and proteins and oils will congest the liver).
  3. You can do a juice cleanse for 3 days. 
  4. Try the Master Cleanse, which is: maple syrup, lemon juice, filtered water and cayenne pepper for 3-5 days. When you fast from food, this gives your body time to rejuvenate and detoxify.

Andrea Beaman, a nationally renowned Holistic Health Coach and Natural Foods Chef, suggests that before you start any cleanse, you must first do a bug and parasite cleanse. This will assist you in feeling well during a detox. There are some tinctures that you can use to do this. Take Bug Free, Black Walnut Hull or Wormwood for 14-21 days before you do a liver (or Kidney) cleanse (found on Amazon.com). Simply follow the instructions on the bottle.

If you would like to try a juice cleanse, here are some foods that are really good at supporting the liver: When you fast, you will notice a feeling of tightness in your body. A fast releases everything into the bloodstream and your body will break it down. It will get rid of what you don't need.

  1. Beets - are a blood cleanser and a blood builder when cooked. Beets are very nutritious for the blood, which helps when the liver is detoxifying the blood.
  2. Carrots - are a healthy form of glucose. The Mitochondria in the cells in our body use glucose and convert it to fuel for energy.
  3. Parsley - is great for the kidneys. It helps the kidneys detoxify the water system in our body and our blood. The best way to support the liver in cleansing is to make sure all of the detoxification systems in our body are properly functioning and supported. Other smaller greens/herbs (cilantro, basil) are great here as well. Herbs are the first greens to pop up in the spring and are so rich in chlorophyll, which is oxygenating for the blood.
  4. Ginger and Tumeric - are both anti-inflammatory, circulatory stimulants and antioxidants.
  5. Apples - are a great way to give a little bulk and natural sugar to your juice.
  6. Celery - contains magnesium, which can help soothe the nervous system. It can help reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure due to a compound called phthalates.
  7. Cayenne - can deliver a little natural heat to the body. When you are drinking these cold juices all day, you may start to feel a little sluggish and bloated. Just add two sprinkles once you have finished juicing to your glass and stir into the juice.

If you feel constipated (due to the lack of fiber), try adding Yellow Dock (25-30 drops 2-3 times a day) to get the bowels moving in a gentle way.

If you would prefer to add in vegetarian whole foods to your gentle cleanse, here are some more foods that are great in supporting your liver:

  1. Fennel - is really good for the digestive system and helps to eliminate gas.Cilantro - is great at detoxifying metals.
  2. Dill - is cooling. When the liver gets congested, it will get hot (this is where the liver heat rises and will come out as redness on the skin, acne, eczema, etc.).Scallions - are great for the lungs and large intestine (which are other detoxification organs).
  3. Local Honey - is great to add to your salad dressing as it can help with seasonal allergies.
  4. Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice - is wonderful for getting the lymphatic system moving. It is also good to add to your salad dressing. You could also swap it for Apple Cider Vinegar or Burdock Root.
  5. Dandelion Greens - are an amazing liver detoxifier because they promote the formation of bile and the release ofbile. They are a digestive bitter, which supports and cleanses the liver.
  6. Purple Cabbage - is a good source of vitamins A and C as well as fiber and potassium. It also contains sulfur compounds, which are good for detoxifying the liver.For loose leaf tea during a cleanse try adding these herbs.
  7. Burdock Root - is great lymph mover, which helps support the immune system.Nettles - nourish your kidneys. They promote the release of uric acid in the joints and also help stimulate the lymph system to boost immunity. They are a diuretic, which help remove excess protein waste and support the adrenals.
  8. Nettles also help minimize skin problems. They are the most nutritive leafy green that is rich in potassium and minerals. 
  9. Milky Oats - are antispasmodic. When you cleanse, you might feel tightness or cramping as your body is starting to release. Milky Oats can help relax the digestive system.

It is a good idea to switch up your cleanses and notice how your body feels. Even if you eat clean most of the time, a detox is very beneficial because it helps remove the environmental toxins from your body. In the spring, all of these toxins are coming up.