Nothin’ Like EVOO

10702069_904476514773_3840381980300393958_nCiao bella! Although I am a huge fan of all things coconut oil, there’s just nothin’ like the one and only EVOO. Olive oil, rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, is a fundamental part of the Mediterranean Diet. My recent trip to Italy for our honeymoon spiked quite a rekindling for my relationship with olive oil. I’ve always used and loved it, but my appreciation for the oil grew stronger as Italians just don’t live without it. From salad to octopus, (yup) pasta to dessert, olive oil was as essential as water (and wine!) at every meal. Every bite was a bit tastier, richer, and more satiating.

10689850_904476659483_2449018094796810023_nMaking pasta from scratch in Rome!

Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat – aka a healthy fat. Although it is very high in fat content, olive oil’s health benefits are unparalleled. A diet consisting of EVOO regularly is correlated with lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. The phytonutrients in olive oil help to strengthen and protect the blood vessel cells, prevent blockages, and aid digestion. It also transforms a bowl of spaghetti into a work of culinary magic. Bellissima!

1017740_904477602593_2597989234029221327_nWhy EVOO? Extra virgin olive oil is fresh-pressed, less processed, and more pure than regular olive oil. EVOO has been proven to reduce inflammation, cholesterol, and blood pressure. So, instead of butter, margarine, dressing, sauce, etc., turn to EVOO. Olive oil can also be used to treat a sunburn, condition hair, moisturize skin and lips, rid stickiness, polish surfaces, fix a jam, remove eye makeup, and so much more. Who knew?!

One Healthy Breakdown: Rekindle your relationship with this old fave today and you won’t be sorry!

Feeling Fresh & Clean Ending 2014

One engagement, wedding, and honeymoon behind me and I’m ready for a reset, both mentally and physically. The dress fittings have come and gone and life goes on, my friends! Real life is calling and there’s no time like the present. I know you can all relate. If it’s not a wedding, it’s a birthday, a vacation, or another reason to celebrate. There will always be an excuse to sip champagne and eat cake, but it’s about living in moderation and maintaining a healthy body and mind that keeps us stable. Instead of heading into January with holiday bloat and gloat, let’s skip the New Years anticipation and just feel better today. Personally, I feel my best when I’m treating my body and my mind right.

Living a healthy lifestyle is like balancing a scale, the middle point between extremes. Though I didn’t really diet for my wedding, I was definitely hyper-aware of what I put into my body and how I targeted my workouts. While that’s one side of the spectrum, the other was my honeymoon indulgence in all things good and carby; pasta, pizza, wine, dessert, and more wine. While both practices were right for me at the time, (no shame in that!) but I’m excited to find the happy middle that is real life again!

Vintage Balance Scale If you’re in a need of a few small changes, a little reset, and balancing out the scale, join me in the following practices. Let’s do this sans the juice cleanse, starvation, strictness, supplements, or labels. Just some good old fashioned healthy fun to feel good inside and out.

1. Eat clean, lean, and green, whole foods, and indulge mindfully. It’s no surprise that whole foods are the way to go and that fresh fruits and veggies should be at the top of the pyramid. As the seasons shift, our bodies naturally crave more comforting, warming foods. Satisfy these cravings with soups, autumn staples, spiced smoothies, lean protein, whole grains, herbs and spices, and healthy fats. It’s not rocket science and there’s no magic diet involved (thank the lord!) Indulge moderately, chew slowly, and be aware of portion size. Don’t restrict yourselves of your favorite pleasure foods (for me, it’s red wine, nut butter, and dark chocolate) and don’t beat yourself up for indulging, but do avoid processed food and too much of a good thing.

2. Move your body every single day. It’s that simple. I’m all about switching it up, trying new things, and enjoying exercise. To me, a healthy, balanced life includes some grueling workouts that challenge, push, and exhaust as well as less-demanding days to rest, stretch, and recharge. Regardless of what it is, your favorite workouts/classes should be a priority on your calendar. Make it happen, walk more, and treat your body with love, it’s carrying you through life and you won’t get very far without lots of movement.

3. Sleep. Thoughts of our honeymoon are full of amazing memories, sites, and meals as well as physically and emotionally feeling like a  million bucks. No, it wasn’t just because I was on newlywed cloud 9. I slept. A LOT. Sleep is the fuel that charges our bodies to run efficiently and stay healthy, both physically and mentally. 8+ hours – make it happen.

4. Take time for yourself and give yourself permission to RELAX, every single day. Whether you practice daily meditation or not, it’s crucial to take ten minutes a day to breathe, connect with yourself, reflect, refocus, set your intention for the day, do some yoga, and completely relax. Like sleep, this simple practice can make your entire day, week, month, life better all around.

One Healthy Breakdown: It’s really that simple, folks. Let’s commit to feeling fresh and clean heading into 2015!

Food Guilt Be Gone!

Kiley’s Intro: Eating my way through Italy has me thinking a lot about food guilt and lack thereof. Everything tastes better here (of course it does, it’s all fresher than fresh, drizzled with olive oil, accompanied by wine, and followed by gelato!) Italy is pretty much foodie heaven and the focus seems to be on taste, pleasure, and indulgence instead of calories, weight-loss, and diet. What a refreshing change of pace.

FullSizeRenderAs a culture, we tend to infuse shame into indulging in culinary delicacies. We’re taught that sweets, carbs, and alcohol are “bad.” Therefore, instead of feeling happy after a pleasurable meal, we resort to guilt. Shame on us!

Fueling our bodies with nutrients is essential, but eating mindfully and satisfying cravings are also crucial for overall good health. So, how do we make this transformation and rid the guilt? Elise Museles’ (of Kale & Chocolate) provides us with some insightful tips on slowing down, eating mindfully, and replacing food shame with enjoyment…a concept the Italians have down pat!

Does this sound familiar…

I feel GUILTY when:

Indulging in unhealthy foods
Eating when I’m not really hungry
Making poor food choices
Indulging in comfort foods
Munching on sweets
Looking in the mirror

MP900182704And that guilt you feel? It puts your entire life on hold. Not to mention that it serves no useful or forward moving purpose.

Guilt zaps every ounce of energy you have. It drops you into an endless array of stress and pressure. It forces you into a constant battle between your body and your mind.

The minute you introduce guilt into your world, your inner critic becomes the loudest voice in the room. Suddenly, your mind turns into an evil villain – spouting harsh judgments that you instantly start to believe.

Here’s what I know:

Paying attention to your inner critic won’t help you lose weight.
Hating your body isn’t going to get you any closer to looking like a million bucks.
Always thinking “I should” do something will lead to nothing but stress and disappointment.

Are you ready to take the power away from the voices in your head and put it back in your body? Here’s how: you need to show your body some respect by learning to listen to it. Your body is smart. It has a lot to tell you … if you really tune in.

Going through life at warp speed and focusing on your never-ending to-do list, pushing and pushing to get everything done…will never rid you of guilt. Why? Because you’re too busy being a human doing rather than a human being, which prevents you from tuning in…and keeps you from making choices that are in alignment with what your body really needs.

Think about it. If you’re in go-go-go mode:

How can you really know if you’re hungry?
How do you notice the signals that you’re full or satiated?
How do you understand what your cravings really mean?
How do you experience a pleasurable meal and savor all the goodness?
How do you take in all the sensations when you barely have time to chew?

What’s the result of not listening to your body? Oftentimes, a big old serving of guilt.

Your ultimate goal is to find ways to slow down so that you can be more intentional and mindful to create the space to listen to your body. Instead of eating your meal mindlessly while standing up, try sitting down and noticing the smells, the flavors, the tastes and textures. Instead of beating yourself up for wanting the chocolate chip cookie, try paying attention to why you might be having cravings.
Instead of assuming that you need to finish your plate and then feeling uncomfortably full, try putting down your fork and checking in with yourself mid-meal.

guiltOne Healthy Breakdown: When you tune into the wisdom of your body and allow your actions to follow suit, you’re much more likely to make guilt-free choices with food… and beyond.

*Elise Museles is an attorney turned Certified Eating Psychology & Nutrition Expert. She helps women stuck in a motivation-to-frustration cycle adopt a more joyful & positive approach to nourishment that starts with the food on the plate, but ultimately extends to all areas of life. Enter a delicious world full of freedom, ease, and fun at Kale & Chocolate. For daily inspiration, join Elise on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kaleandchocolate.