5 Big Benefits of Morning Workouts

As I sit here, procrastinating my morning workout, I ponder all of the reasons that I should get up and get moving. I have no doubt that I’ll feel 1,000 times better when it’s done. What is it about a good morning workout that makes us feel superhuman, anyway? Actually, quite a lot…

  1. Exercise awakens us in the best possible way – blood pumping, brain working, body moving. Your energy level will be higher and you’re less likely to hit that mid-day slump, even hours after you sweat. Endorphins are a beautiful thing and can make or break a productive, rewarding, enjoyable day. So, lace up those sneakers and move! And, make sure it’s a workout that you actually enjoy to reap double benefits, mentally and physically.
  2. Burn ALL day. Thanks to EPOC, (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) the body works extra hard to restore and rebuild muscles, increasing metabolism for up to 14 hours post-workout! So, hit it hard for at least 30 minutes and burn more calories for more hours!
  3. Start the day on the right foot. Completing a morning workout will empower you to tackle the rest of your day head on, tackling your to-do list like a champ. Just as you accomplished that workout and crush your fitness goals, you’ll crush your life goals too.
  4. Food is fuel. Your post-workout meal will be used to replenish your muscles and provide you with lasting energy. Had you rolled out of bed, had a big breakfast, and sat at your desk all day, that meal would more likely be stored somewhat as fat instead of fuel. Your body is a machine – keep it moving, keep it fueled, and it will continue to operate well for you.
  5. Sleep better. Not only will you wake up and metabolize food more efficiently, you’ll also wind down and sleep deeper at night. Working out in the evening will awaken your mind and body and can put your body in a state of stress, setting you up for a night of tossing and turning. Following a morning workout, your body (and mind) can rest peacefully and wake up to do it again the next day.

Of course, if you work out in the morning, it’s DONE for the day, a weight off your shoulders…but is it such a bad thing to workout later in the day?? You know what they say: “you’ll never regret a workout.” If you’re not a morning person or cannot fit it into your AM schedule, get it done on your own time because something is better than nothing. To maximize benefits and feel healthier all-around; however, I highly recommend incorporating a few morning workouts into your weekly schedule. If you’ve never been a morning exerciser, start now and you’ll form a new healthy habit in just a few weeks. It’s not black and white, either, you don’t have to do a class or get to the gym. Even just 15-20 minutes of morning yoga in your pajamas or walking to work in the morning will make a difference. PLUS, you’re less likely to skip, cancel, or rush your fitness routine in the morning. Speaking of which, I’m off to workout…why? See #’s 1-5 above!

One Healthy Breakdown: no excuses this morning, get it done!

PB & J Sorbet

This super simple sorbet is easy to whip up any time of day for a tasty treat in as little as three ingredients. If you have a little sweet tooth, you’ll love this alternative to ice cream. No dairy, gluten, or added sugar involved. Basically, think of it like a dessert smoothie…but better. Oh, you may have noticed that I’m kinda in love with anything PB & J…if you don’t feel the same way, just omit the nut butter for a classic berry sorbet.

Ingredients: (makes 2 servings)

  • 1 cup frozen berries (I use a mix of strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon peanut or almond butter
  • 1/4 cup of almond milk
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon cacoa powder for a slight chocolatey taste
  • Optional: 1/2 cup plain yogurt (Greek for protein, coconut for dairy free)

Simply blend all ingredients together until it’s the consistency of sorbet and enjoy! Feel free to add some toppings, like coconut, chopped nuts, granola, cacoa nibs, etc. for a crunch.

One Healthy Breakdown: if you’ve had a bad day, sweeten it with sorbet!

Pregnancy: The Good The Bad & The Ugly

Pregnancy is an amazing process, like no other, and I was lucky enough to feel pretty darn good for the majority of this time…with some definite exceptions. I realize that many women have it a lot worse (and a lot better) than me, this is just my own experience. At the end of the day, all of these pregnancy symptoms are nothing compared to the gift that we’re about to get as a result. With that said, let’s get real about growing a baby, shall we?

First trimester:

The GOOD: for whatever reason, I didn’t experience much nausea in the beginning. In fact, I’m happy to say that my entire pregnancy, I’ve probably been nauseous ten times. Sure, I experienced other “stuff,” (keep reading) but not so much of this classic symptom, fortunately. The best part about the first trimester was the realization that I actually had a baby growing inside me! It wasn’t easy getting pregnant to be honest, so we are that much more thankful that it did happen. Though it was still our little secret during the first trimester, I spent it on cloud nine just thinking about it!

The BAD: the first 13 weeks of pregnancy consisted of lots and lots and lots of naps. Everything made me exhausted, even sleeping. I didn’t stand a chance against this kind of tired – by early afternoon, my eyes were closing and my bed was calling…pretty much everyday. I guess growing a human is exhausting. Luckily, I was able to schedule nap time after getting everything done earlier in the day, so I often gave in and listened to my body.

The UGLY: instead of the typical nausea, my ‘ugly’ pregnancy symptom was much less common, but equally uncomfortable. Apparently, when baby starts to grow and push on internal organs, but still isn’t  large enough for everything to find its place in there, things can get a little ‘mixed up.’ Not once, but twice early on in pregnancy, I ended up in the ER with a distended bladder, meaning that my bladder had stretched out and was not able to contract to pee like normal. I had to get a catheter in order to drain my bladder. Told you it was ugly…

Second trimester:

The GOOD: sharing our baby news was definitely the highlight of the second trimester. At the 12/13 week marks, odds of miscarriage greatly reduce, so that is when people typically let the cat out of the bag. We shared the news with our families and very close friends earlier on with much excitement. We even got all corny and put a ‘bun in the oven’ for our friends to find when we invited them over for drinks (seltzer for me, always seltzer for me.) After the three month mark, I shared on OHH and social media too. At the beginning of the second trimester, I didn’t really look very pregnant yet, but soon after, strangers would start to comment, ask, or congratulate me. That made me realize that my body and my baby were really growing, that this process was really happening. Best of all, towards the end of the second trimester, I began to feel baby girl moving around inside me which is, by far, the coolest feeling in the whole wide world.

The BAD: the end of the first trimester and most of the second trimester was like one long aversion to meat. I typically get a good amount of protein from poultry, meat, and fish, so my diet was definitely thrown off…not to mention my ability to cook dinner. The hubs definitely got the short end of the stick on that one…While we’re on the topic, I should mention that while I didn’t really experience intense food cravings, my body definitely wanted more fresh fruit and refreshing smoothies. One thing that I’ve had every single day during my pregnancy is avocado and I’m pretty sure that habit will not stop with baby’s arrival 🙂

The UGLY: here’s another weird and ugly symptom for ya, as I seem to be the queen of them! After a perfect report at the dentist just a week prior, I started to notice that my bottom gum felt like it was splitting from my teeth and that there was lots of space there that wasn’t there before. Sure enough, it was the very start of pregnancy gingivitis. I was pretty shocked as I try to take really good care of my teeth, but apparently it’s not uncommon. Luckily, with daily flossing and mouthwash, this went away within a few weeks and hasn’t returned.

Third Trimester:

The GOOD: the best part about my pregnancy is that I’ve been able to continue to work out the whole time, which is pretty huge for my sanity and happiness! Fingers crossed that this continues these last few weeks leading up to the big day as I’ve heard that continued exercise can pay off during labor. Don’t get me wrong, I take things pretty easy, don’t let my heart-rate get very high, and rarely break a sweat. Just the continued movement has been great for my health and well-being.

While I don’t push myself the way that I used to, I have been able to continue jogging, spinning, weight-lifting, and circuit training, while really listening to my body. If something hurts, I don’t do it. For the most part, working out makes me feel a million times better, both physically and mentally, so I keep doing it. With additional size comes a bit more difficulty, so I imagine that things may slow down over these next few weeks and that’s o.k. At a minimum, daily walks and some prenatal yoga help to get the blood pumping just fine.

I was also very relieved when my doctor accommodated my request to avoid the glucose drink (full of sugar and genetically modified ingredients) to test for gestational diabetes; he did a simple blood test to evaluate my sugar levels and rule out GD. Thanks, doc.

The BAD: in addition to the exhaustion, extra weight, constant trips to the bathroom, and all else that comes along with the third trimester, I started to experience a few other uncomfortable symptoms. Hello, swelling and sciatica (shooting pain up my right leg and back.) Luckily, this has been fairly minimal and hasn’t gotten in the way of everyday activity, although I do modify certain exercises to avoid any pressure there. As for the swelling, it’s been mostly in my feet, so I try to reverse the blood flow by doing ‘legs up the wall’ almost everyday. Although the bad has been uncomfortable, it’s nothing compared to the ugly…

The UGLY: if you thought that the catheter and the gingivitis were ugly, just you wait…it gets uglier. Trimester 3 kicked off with the start of an itchy rash on my growing belly. The rash soon got worse and spread. And then it got even worse and continued to spread. Just when I thought that it couldn’t get any worse, it got worse and spread…until it was pretty much everywhere, completely unbearable, and debilitating. At it’s worst, I can’t sleep, have no appetite, zero control over my emotions, and was actually losing weight pretty rapidly – not good signs for growing a little human.

I’m still in the midst of dealing with this lovely symptom, which has included trying herbal treatments, multiple oral and topical steroids, antihistamines, biopsies, oatmeal baths, moisturizers, minimizing my wardrobe to a few cotton shirts, and doing anything I can do to get some rest and relief.

Most recently, the doctors think that I have a combination of two rare rashes, stemming from autoimmune changes due to pregnancy, called PUPPS and Pemphigoid Gestationis. The latter is known to effect 1 in every 50,000 – 1 million women…is that unbelievable or what?! Late at night, when I’m at my worst and I haven’t slept in what seems like weeks, I wonder WHY ME?! But then I quickly remind myself that everyone is dealing with something, whatever it may be, and to keep my eye on the prize, a beautiful, healthy blessing <3

*Update: fortunately, the test for Pemphigoid came back negative. The more I read about this ugly diagnosis, the happier I am to say that I don’t have it. We still don’t know much more than that, the consensus seems to be that pregnancy has caused my immune system to lash out (aka rash out) and general medical advice, along with some meds, is to hang in there until baby arrives, when things should clear up pretty quickly thereafter. So, that’s the plan!

My best efforts right now point to what I know: food! Desperate for some relief, I’ve minimized gluten, dairy, added sugar, and caffeine in an attempt to tame this beast. Although my diet is pretty clean and healthy, I’m committed to doing my best to rule out anything that may be causing extra inflammation. I can’t express how ugly this ugly symptom has been, but I am 1,000% positive that it will all be worth it in the end when baby girl is here!

March can’t come soon enough!!!!!

One Healthy Breakdown: nothing good in life comes easy, right? Babies included.

Paleo Strawberry Beet Bars

What looks like a brownie but has zero grains, dairy, chocolate, or added sugar? Another experiment gone right in the OHH kitchen, Paleo Strawberry Beet Bars, of course! These babies are chock-full of superfoods and taste, so much so that even the littlest critics will enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1-2 cooked beets (I used 2 precooked Love Beets)
  • 2 tablespoons goji beries
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 heaping tablespoon hemp seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup almond or peanut butter
  • 5 whole figs or dates
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 heaping tablespoon coconut oil
  • splash of almond milk (if necessary)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a brownie pan with coconut oil. Combine all ingredients in Vitamix or high-powered blender/food processor. Once mixture is blended, pour into pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. Test with a fork or knife to make sure bars are solid, they may need a little bit more time depending on your pan size. Let cool, cut into bars, and enjoy for breakfast, snack, post-workout fuel, or a healthy dessert all week long!

One Healthy Breakdown: these bars are paleo-rific!

Nesting & Investing in the New Year

It’s true what they say about pregnancy and nesting, but the New Year actually brings an even better excuse to clear out the old and make room for the new. Just like we cleanse our bodies of toxins, we can all benefit from cleansing our living space, workspace, and head space of clutter. We’re already spending the majority of the winter months inside, we might as well clean up a little, right?! Nesting is about simplifying and making space for what’s to come, investing in a new year of new possibilities. Whether you’re welcoming a baby into your household, just having house guests, or you have the desire to declutter your life, these tips are for you!

Let go of extra “stuff.” Sometimes we hold on to stuff that we may not even use because we have this fear of not having enough. Having “stuff” can make us feel secure in a way, but do you know what feels so, so much better? Getting rid of the extra stuff and making space – clarifying and simplifying things. That “stuff” can actually weigh us down and hold us back; after all, you know what they say: less is more. Once you clean out the stuff you don’t need, you’ll get it.

Where to start? Choose one small space at a time to make it manageable – your desk, the kitchen pantry, or a closet. Clean out everything you no longer need and organize the rest. Complete each space before moving on to the next.

When we declutter the space around us, we make space both mentally and physically for clarity and new opportunities. Use this open head space to visualize your goals for the New Year. Replace your resolutions with concrete goals and inspiration. Center your focus around inspiring words, mantras, and measurable tasks to ensure that you make progress. You may be inclined to change the decor of a room for a fresh start as well; try painting the walls, rearranging the furniture, or getting a new tool to help organize (anything from a file cabinet to a new mug for your pens.) This physical change may help instigate psychological change as well.

One Healthy Breakdown: get nesting, get focused, and get happy. Do it!

One Healthy Gingerbread Recipe

All I have been wanting to eat lately is food that tastes like Christmas…anyone else?! Spices like cinnamon, clove, ginger, and foods like citrus fruits, pomegranates, and cranberries are lighting up my life. Homemade gingerbread, however, is brand new to me…until now!

Growing up, we always had gingerbread in the house this time of year, but I don’t even know what was in it. After looking at several gingerbread recipes online, I decided to create my own version with more spices and less sugar. Just one taste of this healthy homemade gingerbread and I know it will be a new holiday tradition. I love it THAT much and you will too!

The best part is that this gingerbread contains no granular sugar, just honey, maple syrup, and molasses. (To be honest, I don’t even think I own sugar. There’s just no need for it when there are delicious natural substitutions out there.)

It’s also dairy free and can be made gluten-free as well! Let’s get started, shall we?!

One Healthy Gingerbread Recipe:

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2  cups healthy flour of choice (I used spelt)
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp grated fresh ginger

Toppings:

  • Pomegranate seeds
  • canned full fat coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients, mix wet ingredients, then mix together. You don’t need a fancy mixer, a regular old fork will do. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and fill the pan with batter, leaving a few inches at the top (this stuff rises!) Bake for 45-50 minutes.

To make the frosting, skim the top half of the coconut milk from the can (be sure not to shake it as to only get the thick paste on top). Add in honey, (or maple syrup if you prefer) vanilla extract, and whip it together. This will make a thicker frosting. If you prefer a thinner frosting to drizzle on the bread instead, you can water it down with the thinner coconut milk from the can (or a little bit of water) use 1-2 tablespoons at a time until you get the right consistency.

Once the bread is cool, frost and top with pomegranate seeds, which are equally nutritious, delicious, and festive. Feel free to get creative and try different toppings, like chopped nuts, red and green sprinkles, crushed candy canes, or cinnamon. Make one loaf to have at home and others as gifts. The perfect Christmas breakfast or healthy dessert this time of year!

One Healthy Breakdown: Happy holidays and happy baking!

*Caroline O’Neill is a year round Hamptons resident and health and wellness lifestyle blogger of Bloom & Spark with a passion for nutrition, yoga, food, spirituality and personal development.

The Gift of Holiday Presence

The holidays are meant to be H A P P Y, remember?! Give yourself the gift of presence! (It’s not all about the presents, it’s about the P R E S E N C E.) We often get so wrapped up in the falalalala that we forget to pause, breathe, and actually enjoy the most wonderful time of year. Below are our top tips on staying present, sane, and even H A P P Y throughout the holiday season.

Pick and choose. Your calendar is FULL of holiday parties, cookie exchanges, secret Santas, cocktail parties, and pure busyness. It’s when we over-commit that December becomes a blur and we end up ringing in the New Year in need of a nap, vacation, and detox. What if we stopped saying “yes” to everything and commit to only what we’re actually looking forward to?? Not to sound like the Grinch, but truth is that we have a choice. Say yes to the things that you enjoy and skip the rest; you’ll have more fun and be less burned out!

Embrace the crazy. Holiday shopping, in some regard, is pretty unavoidable for most of us. While it would have been ideal to start the shopping early to avoid the last-minute crunch, for most of us, that concept is long gone (better luck next year!) Instead of heading into the madness with frustration and angst before you even find a parking spot, commit to embrace the chaos, lines, music, and the crowds. Turn shopping into a family affair, girl’s night out, or excuse for a date. Remember that you always have a choice. Remind yourself what the holidays are really about and choose to be positive, you’ll find that the little things just won’t bug you as much. The hustle and bustle is out there, so we might as well embrace it!

Catch your breath. We get so ‘wrapped up’ in the shopping, wrapping, decorating, cookie-baking, caroling…This just leaves us overwhelmed and under the weather. Schedule down time with (or without) friends and family. There’s nothing wrong with staying in for a movie or game night, partying in your pajamas, or soaking up the season solo in a warm bath. Schedule time to do nothing just like you would put aside time for an important event. When you are out and about, remind yourself often to pause, take a long, deep breath and return to the current moment instead of worrying about what’s to come and go. Click here for more mindful tips and here for OHH’s tips on staying healthy throughout the holidays.

It’s the thought that counts…right?! The more thought we put into our gift-giving, the more we enjoy the giving more than the getting. So, instead of thinking of each gift as another check on your to-do list, take some time to put genuine thought before you buy, especially for those near and dear to your heart. Few of us need more “stuff,” so instead of clutter under the tree, spend some time doing for others to fulfill their hearts and yours this holiday season.

One Healthy Breakdown: keep presence over presents this year!

Zucchini + Oats = ZOATS

What’s a zoat?! Much like zoodles are noodles, zoats are oats made out of zucchini (plus, they’re fun to say.) While they’re not the prettiest of breakfast bowls, they sure are delicious and super, duper healthy, without any gluten, dairy, or sugar! What’s better than polishing off a cozy breakfast knowing that you’ve already gotten in a good serving of veggies? Nada.

zoats

Breakfast Zoats (makes 1 large or 2 smaller portions)

Ingredients:

  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons oats
  • 1 heaping spoonful of flaxmeal
  • 1/2 mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tablespoon walnuts or nuts of choice
  • optional: 1 egg or 1 scoop collagen peptides or protein powder of choice

Grate zucchini into a saucepan on heated stove top. Add remaining ingredients, mix together, and simmer until liquid is absorbed. Transfer to bowl and enjoy warm.

One Healthy Breakdown: totes for zoats that taste like oats!

The Gift of Well Necessities

Is there anything better than getting a package in the mail full of healthy new, fun, and tasty snacks? I think not. It’s like Christmas all year round with The Well Necessities Collection, a bag full of *healthy* goodies hand-picked by a fabulous Registered Dietician and Doctor team!

“A seasonal surprise of functional foods and lifestyle essentials that protect and promote your health and well being,” The Well Necessities Collection is the obvious choice for a healthy holiday season and the perfect gift for everyone on your list! Use code OHH10 for 10% off!

twnc

Subscribe to the collection to receive shipments quarterly, each with 10-15 full and sample size products to expand your healthy horizons. Everything is vegan and gluten-free, so whether or not you eat that way, you’ll learn something about what you put in your body. Who knew that pasta made of lentils and gummies packed with biotin can be just as delicious as the real deal?!

From a raw, guilt-free brownie to kale and jicama chips to satisfy your craving for crunch, everything is made of real, whole ingredients. You never know what you’re gonna get with The Well Necessities Collection, but you can rely on lots of fuel-filled food, the latest and greatest wellness products, and a straightforward explanation on why each product is good for you.

As if that’s not yummy enough, Lisa Hayim of The Well Necesities also includes exclusive discount codes so that you can order more of what you love at a reduced rate! TWN Collection is the perfect gift to give your health-conscious friends (and yourself too!) Every season, you’ll look forward to rummaging through the bag, reading about the goods, trying new healthy snacks, and feeling great as a result. Click here to read more about this nutritious, delicious offer and don’t forget to use code OHH10 for 10% off!

One Healthy Breakdown: we’re hooked on the Well NECESSITIES Collection!

Thanksgiving Staples Done Right

Thanksgiving food has a bad rap. Not only is the holiday a celebration of gratitude, giving, and grub, but Thanksgiving dinner can actually be pretty freaking healthy with a little bit of thought, control, and balance. So, ignore the hype, don’t fast for the feast, and go into the meal knowing that it’s not your last, so enjoy! Here’s the deal on those Thanksgiving staples:

thanksgiving

Turkey: the main event. Turkey is actually a healthy, low-fat lean protein with tons of vitamins, so let it take center stage on your plate. It’s when the turkey is covered in stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes and devoured alongside alcohol, dinner rolls, and dessert. So, instead of using the turkey as a means to hold these other foods, actually enjoy the turkey itself!

Potatoes: potatoes are a healthy, starchy veg BUT they’re usually ‘buttered up’ (literally) with tons of butter, cream, and cheese, adding tons of fat. If you’re like us, you’d take sweet potatoes any day over regular white potatoes – they’re sooo much sweeter! Luckily, sweet potatoes are also sooo good for you, full of Vitamins A, B, and C, fiber, and beta-carotene. Just keep it simple with a little bit of oil (olive or coconut) or butter and some cinnamon, rosemary, or your favorite spices. If you agree to disagree and prefer the white mashers over orange, simply enjoy a small serving, not a potato volcano on your plate…unless you’re gearing up for a post-Thanksgiving marathon. In that case, you’ll actually need those carbs!

Brussels Sprouts: this cruciferous veggie is a fall staple in the OHH kitchen. Full of fiber, they’ll help you to digest your holiday meal while lowering cholesterol and risk of certain cancers when eaten regularly. Plus, they’re so damn good! No reason not to pass the sprouts, please!

Cranberry Sauce: sadly, we’re in America and that means that your traditional cranberry sauce is more like a gelatin of sugar (with very little to no cranberries) that plops out of a can. Not so appealing. Why not try to make your own, because real cranberries are actually a great source of antioxidants. Here’s a super simple recipe without the added sugar or chemicals!

Casseroles: yeah, not so healthy. The dish on casseroles: not to rag on this classic holiday dish, but a casserole is basically an excuse to make a normally healthy food (like green beans) into a cheesy, buttery, saucy, glutinous dish, with a bit of veggies hiding inside. Keep things simple and skip the ‘role, just stick to the good old veggies above!

Dessert: Have your cake and eat it too. Pumpkin and pecan pie, yum yum. Ok, so not the healthiest things in the world, but again, pumpkin and pecans themselves are both full of nutrients, so if you’re in charge of the pie, aim to bulk up these ingredients and dial down the sugar. Either way, there’s no need to turn down Thanksgiving dessert, just have a few bites of your very favorite, enjoy the deliciousness, and be done with it. It’s when dessert becomes an all-you-can-eat buffet that’ll have you feeling YUCK with a side of guilt.

One Healthy Breakdown: Thanksgiving is one meal, one day, and the focus should be on gratitude over grub…but enjoy the grub too! Happy, healthy holiday!