Lifestyle

Anti Inflammatory Lifestyle

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You’ve probably read that chronic, low-level inflammation is the silent killer. If you're like me, it probably scared a bejesus out of you. 

I once asked my friend who is a recognized wellness expert, if we really needed to scare people to death with such messages to make a point? 

My intention with this post is to take the fear out of your mind by providing perspective. Every situation that you're in can have many different points of view, and I want to help you learn how to explore them. If you regularly read my blog, you know that I’m the girl who likes to look from a billion different points until I understand some topic. I am not ashamed to ask when I don't know, and I'm not ashamed to ask many different experts. I like it holistic.

If there was no darkness, how could we see the light? 

Let's get into nitty gritty of the inflammation.

Inflammation is important. It’s a part of the body’s normal and healthy response to injury or immune system impairment. There are different forms of inflammation: it could be visible on the skin; it could manifest as a pain in joints; or it could be a low-level, cellular inflammation. Typically, with cellular inflammation people cannot feel anything, until they have enough in-organ damage which translates to chronic disease (obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer, asthma, allergies, cancer and heart disease). 

The answer could be quite simple and accessible to EVERYBODY. The problem is - it's not very profitable for big pharma, food industry, and those who market their products and services as "revolutionary." 

If you want to focus on the anti-inflammatory diet, I suggest that you read the book called The Zone Diet, by Dr. Barry Sears. It’s by no means a diet plan (which I appreciate), quick cleanse or detox, but a compelling guide on how to create the lifestyle to live long, healthy, and disease free life.

If you're ready to put in the work - you'll understand the importance of the long-term approach and create the sustainable lifestyle.

The truth is - all the chronic diseases connect to the inflammation. Given the latest discoveries within the field of epigenetics, we know that eating the right foods and having the right lifestyle can keep our genes at bay, without exposing us to our "destiny." In other words, if you have a gene that would give you a celiac disease, it may never express itself unless poor lifestyle choices trigger it. 

Gaining weight, getting sick, aging faster - it’s all about the cellular inflammation. However, as I mentioned earlier, the inflammation is also necessary.

What switches on the inflammation?

Omega 6 fatty acids (plant oils), saturated fatty acids, trans fats, refined sugar, alcohol, food additives, low-quality dairy products, heavy metals, pollution, excess carbs, stress, feelings of hatred, toxic relationships, psychological factors.

How to switch off the inflammation?

By taking omega 3 fatty acids and polyphenols (compounds that give color to the fruits and vegetables), long walks, breathing. Drink pure water, green tea, eat blueberries, dark chocolate, wild-caught salmon, ginger, turmeric, chia, buckwheat, quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, oats, flax, hemp, walnuts, almonds, pomegranates, raspberries, peas, onions, squashes, lentils, beans, cinnamon, raw cacao, thyme, basil, rosemary, garlic, dark leafy greens, and kelp.

How to live life to reduce the inflammation? 

Dr. Sears says that the key is in balancing your plate. Practically, that would look like this (almost all book is summoned in a few sentences):

One-third of your plate consists of colorful vegetables, other third of the palm-sized lean protein (plant-based or animal), and the last third saved for a whole (ideally sprouted) grains which will lower your cortisol, and a dash of fat (olive oil, avocado or nuts). Avoiding refined carbohydrates is essential as they dramatically increase inflammation. Take a quality omega 3 (DHA&EPA) supplement and indulge in low sugar polyphenols (berries, leafy greens, beetroot, sweet potato).

Meditate, practice yoga, have a regular low-impact exercise.  

Be consistent with what you do. David Wolf said that it is not important how much of something you take, but how consistent you are with that. 

Whenever you feel overwhelmed, just come back to basics and Do Simple Better

Love You,
Marija

 

Should You Avoid Gluten?

By now, probably majority of the people have their own opinion about gluten. A few minutes on Google, and voila - they become experts. What I could notice is that in reality, people don't know that much.

Are you in doubt about gluten, wondering whether it's safe for you to consume it, or should you maybe start avoiding it? Do you think that you're going to solve all of your health issues by removing gluten from your diet? The noise is real, and thus, let me give you some scientific, but easy to understand hints on what is real and what is not so practical about gluten.

What is gluten? 

Gluten is a protein in wheat, rye, barely. Gluten consists of gliadin and glutenin (which gives polymeric structure to make a workable dough). In the human body, gliadin brakes to peptides which bind to the human brain and act like opiates

Some of those opiates have various effects. For example, if you’re susceptible to multiple things - autism, ADD, binge eating, bipolar, depression - it could provoke those conditions. For regular consumers, it stimulates appetite on average for 400 more calories per day.  

If undigested, proteins in grains can cause intestinal permeability, better known as the leaky gut syndrome.

There has been noted a 4x increase in the Celiac disease since the 1950s. It doubled in the last 20 years. The problem with today's wheat is that it is not the same grain as we used to eat in the 60s. Chemical mutagenesis changed wheat both with x-rays, gamma rays, and other chemicals. One of the changes introduced to wheat was a gene called Glia-alpha 9, which is a gliadin protein in gluten. Your mom might tolerate warm loaves of bread and butter when she was your age, but you might experience an utterly different reaction to it.

There are three categories of the disorders caused by gluten:

1. Autoimmune - body is attacking itself in the presence of gluten (celiac disease)
2. Allergic - the immune system is attacking the allergen (undigested gluten particles)
3. Gluten sensitivity - it’s still a mystery, as it doesn’t have autoimmune nature, nor it’s allergic, but somehow it affects the body. 

How do they manifest? 

1. Celiac - more than 300 signs have been identified by now. It can be intestinal symptoms (gas, bloating), but many people get extraintestinal symptoms such as a foggy brain, slowness, achy joints, headaches, migraines, skin rashes. It’s systemic condition that affects the whole body.
2. Wheat allergy - itching, hives, swelling, loosing/shortening the breath. 
3. Gluten sensitivity - symptoms might overlap the celiac, but the majority of the people get extraintestinal symptoms, rather than intestinal symptoms.

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How to know where you stand?

There are pretty accurate testing for Celiac disease nowadays. It consists of several steps that physicians can do. Firstly, a person needs to have symptoms compatible with Celiac disease. Then physicians perform serological screening, genetic testing from saliva and biopsy of small intestines. To get accurate results, a person must eat gluten before testing.

In case that tests confirm that you don’t have celiac or wheat allergy, you can try an elimination diet. There are many options for this, and I always suggest that you liaise with professionals that have experience in doing this. 

Who's eating GF nowadays?

Gluten-free eating has become a huge trend. Many people consider this to be a healthier way of living. A fair share of the population believes that it’s a weight loss diet. The celiac disease community has driven the trend. Then the other diet trends such as low carb, paleo, raw have made their contribution as well. Hello-effect is also significant (I'm doing what my neighbor is doing) which leave us in ignorance, and uncertain of the reason why we do what we do. 

Gluten-free choices are not necessarily healthier options.

Learn how to read labels beyond GF claim. Many products contain ingredients that are detrimental to human bodies even though they have the gluten-free claim on the packaging. Some of them such as tapioca starch, rice flour, cornstarch or potato flour can raise blood sugar even higher than wheat. 

What if you have issues with gluten?

Don’t be scared. You are lucky that your body is sending you clear signals. Embark on the journey of healing and focus on repairing your gut lining. Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating vegetables, fruits, lean meats. Supplement in agreement with your naturopathic or functional medicine doctor. There are whole grains that are gluten-free such as oats, brown and wild rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, corn, amaranth. You can also use nuts, seeds and nut flours for baking.

The most significant challenge is changing your eating habits. It can take a lot of your mental energy. I wholeheartedly suggest that you find someone to support you on this journey. It will be much more pleasant and way too less stressful. 

Put your heart and soul into it and choose the best options for yourself. Give the most significant gift to yourself and learn how to simplify your life and take the outstanding care of yourself. 

Remember, Do Simple Better! 


Choose wisely as your lifestyle becomes the set of your daily choices.

Love you,
Marija 

How To Start Your Health Journey

Hello from Miami guys! 

Let’s get it straight - the journey to health is not the journey to finding a magic pill. When I say a pill, I don’t mean a tablet only, but also a dietary theory, the best exercise plan, the best herb, the best supplement, the best ritual. If you still believe the opposite, you probably find yourself marinating in the vastness of different approaches going from one thing to the next. I reckon it’s entertaining, but it ain’t gonna give you any results.

We are all different. Moreover, you are different today then you were yesterday. The reality is - we are changing all the time. Seasons are changing; weather is changing, level of the ocean is changing. Your mood fluctuates, your sleep may vary, your stress levels go up and down, your hormones as well. It is impossible to claim that the answer is to find the one thing that would work you wonders. 

Cultivating active approach to your health is the name of the game. It’s not easy guys, but that's the way through!

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WHERE THE HACK TO START?

Start by checking in how your body feels. Do a quick head to toe body scan. Where is the tension? What do you crave? Are you tired? Are you thirsty? 

For you who read my blog, I intend to provide the freshest knowledge and the motivation to help you start your journey to living healthy lives. My philosophy is that the healthy lifestyle is a simple lifestyle. I want you to learn how to call in your intuition, to learn how to read your body’s signals, and to commit to respecting your unique body’s needs. 

Please remember that something that looks simple doesn’t always have to be easy. Your work is to become disciplined around the smallest things.

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Here's how to start rolling:

CHEW YOUR FOOD

Digestion begins in the mouth. Enzymes in your saliva start digesting your food with the first bite. By thoroughly chewing your food, your body will better assimilate nutrients, and you will slow down your eating. You’ll soon realize that you don’t need much food to feel satiated. The question is should you chew 15 times or 30 times per mouthful? Well, experts say 30, or until it becomes liquid, but for you who don’t chew thoroughly, 15 times will be a significant milestone. 

EAT MINDFULLY

I remember having lunch while responding to the email, entertaining the colleague or being focused on what the client was talking. Dinner was mostly about getting the kids to chew while I was mindlessly shoving the food into my mouth. Well, not anymore. I like to eat when I eat. Try to become aware that the fork is entering your mouth. Place your cutlery on the plate every single time while chewing that bite. Mindful eating is such a profound practice, but it takes constant practice. I guarantee that you'll achieve surprising results if you savor your food with no distractions. 

BE GRATEFUL

Are you grateful for the food in front of you? Not only that you needed to come up with the idea about what to cook, make a trip to the supermarket, prepare the food, but there had also been many other people involved in growing it, sourcing it and making it available for you. Gratefulness is about acknowledging the blessings that surround you. I've just learned from Deepak Chopra at the IIN conference here in Miami that the new study shows that keeping a daily gratitude journal lowers the inflammatory markers in heart patients. How amazing is that!

DRINK PLAIN WATER

I was walking with my boy the other day when he started to complain how hungry he felt. It was strange because he had a good meal an hour before we left. I let him stay with the feeling as we went deeper into the woods. At some point, he said: "I know, mommy. I’m not hungry at all; I’m thirsty." Many people are chronically dehydrated. Start your day with plain water without adding anything to it. It will help you flush out the toxins from your body. If you feel hungry between your meals, drink one or two large glasses of water, then check in and see if you’re genuinely hungry. 

UP YOUR VEGGIES 

You might contemplate vegan, LCHF, vegetarian, paleo regimen or something else to improve your lifestyle. Until you understand what indeed works for you and how to do it properly, I suggest that you up your veggies. As simple as that. Many vegans eat enormous amounts of sugar or plant-based crappy processed foods that are full of nasty chemicals. On the other end, a lot of people who are on LCHF diet consume very low-quality milk and nonorganic meets saturated with hormones and antibiotics. Some of the gluten-free devotees eat processed gluten-free foods, which have high glycemic starches in it. Wherever you are on your journey, you can always eat a salad with every meal. Vegetables will provide essential nutrients and minerals that will support your body and lower the cellular inflammation. 

When you master the basics, you’ll be able to enter the next level with more energy, enthusiasm and without the overwhelm.

Do Simple Better and do not hesitate to ask for help if you recognize that you’re not progressing. Remember, lifestyle is a set of choices that you make on a daily basis, so choose wisely.

Love you,
Marija

Don't Neglect Your 30s - Set The Stage To Thrive

You know those gorgeous women and men who blossom in their 40s? I reckon they’ve taken excellent and conscious care of themselves in their 30s. 

The other day I felt so tired in the middle of the day. I got feverish for the first time in many years. Nevertheless, I stayed in the go-go-go mood as I had to meet a deadline. My husband came and told me that I had looked like I needed to take a rest. He continued: “You are 30 now. You aren't 20 anymore, and you need to listen to your body more carefully”. I felt as if I heard the guardian angel speaking ♥ 

I’ve been teaching the importance of self-care, but in all honesty, deep inside I believed that I've still had some time to work my way around all that maintenance. I was doing great, and I thought that was enough.

Knowing something is not the same as doing it. In that light, to be able to practice self-care we need to become aware of our behavior - moment by moment.  

I wrote this holistic guide for myself and for you who are interested in getting the most out of the decade before us. I know that some of my friends who are in their 40s might feel as if they’ve missed on something, but please know that our bodies are the powerhouses that will give back generously as soon as we start treating them well. They regenerate themselves every seven years, and the best thing you can do for yourself is to start now.

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NUTRITION AND GUT HEALTH

It’s high time to understand that nutrition is not a calorie in and calorie out. Most disease start in the gut. Your gut is connected to your immune system and your brain. About 80% of your immune system is in the gut. The majority of serotonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for our sense of wellbeing and satisfaction) is produced in the gut. Brittle nails, brain fog, poor digestion, dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, allergies, PMS, migraine, depression, mental challenges, fluid retention, constipation, bloating - could all be the symptoms of leaky gut. All the anti-wrinkle creams won’t work if you don’t have decent gut health. Gut health is one of the most important things when it comes to fertility. Eat food that is basic, directly related to the land or sea that is fresh, whole and unprocessed. Don’t neglect the power of bone broth and fermented veggies. Learn how to cook at home and let go of takeaways.

MENTAL HEALTH

Mental health is high up on my priority list. Managing stress, resolving pain, becoming aware of the emotions and feeling them instead of neglecting them has been on my radar all the time. I know so many people that are afraid of their pain. I used to be as well. Pain could only be resolved once we feel it. Dr. Bernie Siegel said that the number one problem most patients face is the inability to love themselves. This gotta change, folks. If you suffer from any addictions (cigarette, coffee, alcohol, food, drugs, sugar, sex), know that they are not the problem. The ACE study said that they are the solution to the unresolved pain. Make your 30s a decade to identify and resolve your pain. 

SPIRITUALITY

If you feel like everyone is getting woo around Higher Power, God, Universe, Mother Earth, and other entities, and it feels intimidating to you, I want to encourage you to consider a different perspective. Our healthcare and dietary imbalances and woes are related to a disconnect from nature’s processes, from pleasure, and from the feminine in every one of us (both men and women). We encounter so many distractions from media, friends, influencers, governments, telling us how to be and what to do. The solution is to connect with ourselves, to love and appreciate our bodies, to power your lives with love, cultivate the discipline of pleasure, and move with delight. You can be religious; you can be spiritual, or both. Find what works for you, but know that the ultimate goal of spirituality is to connect with love and to surrender

FITNESS

During your 30s the motivation to exercise to get the beach body is loosing on its intensity. We start experiencing back pain from sedentary lifestyle that we cultivated during our 20s. The 30s bring bone density loss, loss of a muscle mass and steady weight gain. If you have a sedentary job, I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to start the regular exercise routine. Not only that your body will become strong and more flexible, and that you’ll prevent conditions as mentioned earlier, but you'll also be able to assimilate the nutrients from the food that you eat, ingest more oxygen and sweat out the toxins from your beautiful temple. Now, I hear many times that people don’t like to exercise. What I discovered is that majority of people had tried only one type of exercise, and base their judgment on that single unpleasant experience. Going to the gym isn’t the only way to exercise. Explore barre, hot yoga, pilates reformer, TRX. If all of these options evoke the same feelings of resistance within you, then commit to making 10.000 steps per day. Only by trying different things you’ll get to know what you like. You cannot think your way through - you must try!

BREAST HEALTH

There is a lovely book called Goddesses Never Age by Dr. Christiane Northrup. In that book, she gives a detailed manual on how to holistically care for your breasts. Some of the things that she recommends are regular breast massage to increase the flow of the lymph fluids and blood to the tissues and bring them oxygen and vital nutrients. She says that going without the bra as much as possible is very important for the same reason. Acknowledge and express your feelings, eliminate negative self-talk around breasts, open yourself to love, and sweat regularly to remove toxins and reduce cortisol. She suggests taking vitamin D3, vitamin C, omega 3, coenzyme Q10, and iodine. Avoid drinking as it’s connected to breast cancer. Eat rich, a low glycemic diet with plenty of high-fiber vegetables. Know that insulin resistance is a risk factor for breast cancer and the smartest thing you could do is to cut down on sugars as soon as possible.

SKIN
 
Do you still expose your skin to the sun? It’s crucial to do so, but only for the 15 minutes and in the morning. In our 30s we start getting the first wrinkles. Depending on your genetics, lifestyle, type of the skin, some will wrinkle faster than others. Taking plenty of water, having regular exercise, cultivating restorative sleep, eating right fats, taking various strains of probiotics, supplementing with vitamin C and consuming a low sugar diet, will significantly attribute to having healthy, radiant and beautiful skin. Another critical thing to remember - your skin is all over your body, not just on your face. Ditch the synthetic lotions and potions and use au natural coconut oil, sesame oil or some more conscious products based on natural ingredients. Your body absorbs chemicals from the products that you put topically, and you don’t want them to end up disrupting your endocrine system. 

SLEEP 

If there were one single thing that I should choose from this list - that would be sleep. Go to sleep every evening at the same time, ideally at 10 pm, as much as you can. At least one hour before hitting the bed, turn off your computer, your phone, TV, and other gadgets. Blue light is not your friend, and you want to shut it down, so it doesn’t interfere with the melatonin production. Following the circadian rhythm of nature is the best advice to regulate your sleep naturally. Create the rituals that will help you end your day. For example, I like to take a shower with warm water, put the body oil, massage my face and scalp and thoroughly comb my hair. I love the silky sleeping mask, and I start using it with the first days of spring. 

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Does this seem hard to you? Let me know as I'd love to learn how you feel about my approach. I'm here to serve you, and I want to do my best to find the way that will support your efforts. In that light, I'll appreciate your honest feedback. You can reach me via Instagram, Facebook, email, or here in the comments. 

If you ever feel overwhelmed, remember to get back to Doing Simple Better. As you know, lifestyle is the set of daily choices, and I know that you’re wise enough to choose the best for yourself. 

Love you,
Marija 

Check In With Yourself, Before The Spring Blues Hits

In a corporate world, March is the month that marks the ending of the Q1, or the first quarter of the year. Depending on the fulfillment of the plans, companies start adjusting and navigating their business activities to reach their goals. 

However, on a personal level, many people (and especially women) start to disconnect from the intentions they set in January when they had put the effort to dig deeper and connect with themselves, define and set their goals for the year ahead. They agreed to become healthier, to lose weight, and to devote more time for self-improvement. Nevertheless, exactly around this time of the year, they find themselves in a rut, choosing to go back and live with the flow. Everything becomes too much, and priorities change. Work, children, families, cooking, boss, business trips, spring blues and all that jazz puts us in defensive (I just wanna take a rest) mode. We start convincing ourselves that we need to lose the grip, to stop being too harsh to ourselves, and to relax into what life brings. 

But here is the reality guys: we're giving up and giving in.

It’s so easy to lose the motivation in this part of the year.  We tend to start putting the plasters on the open wounds. 

As I’d gone through the same pattern, I wanted to help you to pull yourself together and realign with your January intentions in a loving and supportive manner. It’s normal to feel this way at this time of the year, and you are not alone in that situation. We’re all going from excitement to sadness, just as spring weather can vary from heavy rain to clear blue skies. Changing the seasons is never easy, especially going from the winter to the spring. It requires our awareness, gentleness, clear boundaries and radical self-care. Deepak Chopra explains that when kids are confused, wining, nervous, parents get to put them to sleep and they wake up fresh. As adults, we need to see through the confusion that our bodies are falling into. Self-care is needed as an answer to our body's needs. It's a way of lovingly parenting ourselves. 

If I had the magic wound, I’d take your hand and show you how lovely, powerful and amazing you actually are. Please remember that you don’t need to become anything for anyone; you don’t need to show the world the picture perfect, you don’t need to change yourself for anybody else. Instead, start making choices that are in your best interest. Start choosing the right things for yourself which will help you feel great in your day. When you shine, when you're radiant and joyful is when you're expressing your true self. 

Tonight when you go to the bathroom to remove your make up, take five more minutes for this exercise. I promise that you’ll get the new, beautiful wings to keep flying with joy, with love, and with grace. 

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Dim the light, get some candles, defuse a few drops of essential oils (lavender or frankincense are the best for this purpose) and be radically honest with yourself. Take a deep breath in, count until 4, hold while counting until 7, and exhale until 8. Repeat this cycle 4 times. After the last exhale, connect with yourself and invite your inner intelligence to guide you. 

Start by asking yourself:

1. Did I step out of my comfort zone?
2. Am I fully present? 
3. Am I kind? 
4. What can I stop doing?

Now, take a deep breath in into your belly (your collar bones stay on the place without moving), and you exhale all the air with the whooshing sound. 

Take another deep breath and connect with your goals by asking these simple questions.

1. What is one word you want to describe 2018?
2. What will you make more time for? 

Whatever the answers, thank yourself for showing up, put the moisturizer on, blow out the candles and slowly walk to your bed. 
 
Sleep tight and when you wake up - remember the one word that you want to describe 2018. 

Do simple better, and remember that the lifestyle is a set of decisions you make on a daily basis, so chose wisely. 

Love you,
Marija

Coffee - Get The Most Out Of This Social Lubricant And A Legal Drug

Wanna meet over a cup of coffee? I can’t even tell how many times this question has led to the most interesting discussions I’ve ever had. In my home country, coffee culture is huge. 

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There are tradition, rituals, memories, and relief connected to drinking coffee and no research could ever beat the value that people get out of that. In defense of coffee, scientists are proving that it helps us live longer, avoid Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, some meta-analyses suggest that we could experience the worsening of anxiety, depression, heart palpitations, insomnia, headaches and some cancers. 

Whatever the science says, I noticed that people get defensive around coffee, justifying their choice religiously. 

As we raise our consciousness around health, the “righteousness” of coffee drinking becomes the source of concern for many. Some people, afraid of its acidity and other side effects start swapping their morning cup of joe with other drinks. I get so many questions regarding coffee, and I never get to answer them in the black and white, good and bad fashion. There is a vast space between those polarities that is worth exploring. 

Now, if you want to understand whether coffee is your jam or not, how to formulate a healthy relationship with coffee, how to approach the trend of a butter-rich aka Bulletproof coffee, this article will probably help you get some clues and ideas on how to navigate the world of a massive noise around this black decadence. I also share the information on how women are affected by cortisol and how to manage your afternoon slump, which could positively turn your life around

Is coffee your jam?

Coffee isn't good nor bad. It’s about its quality, your genetic predisposition to metabolize it slowly or rapidly, your age and the quantity you take. Caffeine is the primary troublemaker here. Without getting too scientific, it’s essential for you to understand if you are a fast or a slow metabolizer. If you metabolize caffeine slowly, it means that it stays in your body for a long time and circulates your system triggering your stress hormones. If you break down the caffeine fast, you’ll get more benefits of the coffee plant itself that has plenty of antioxidants and polyphenols in it.  

In case you are slow metabolizer (and the majority of people are), the best idea is to keep your dose to a minimum. For the additional antioxidants - use dark leafy vegetables, blueberries, and turn towards eating a whole foods diet.

People prone to feeling stress and anxiety tend to be especially sensitive to caffeine. One way to determine if your daily dose is making you suffer is to stop drinking coffee and other sources of caffeine (chocolate, black tea, energy drinks) for three weeks and see how your body feels. 

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How is your relationship with coffee?

The main downside of the coffee is that it triggers the stress response system. No doubt that people nowadays are facing the chronic stress. Our adrenals are already overworked (helping us run away from that lion (boss, wife, children, goals) that keeps chasing us), and coffee only adds to that process. If you experience heart palpitations, jittery or shaky feeling in your body - it could be that coffee triggers it to secrete even more adrenaline and cortisol. 

Coffee is also addictive. Not precisely like other drugs, but enough to make you drink more of it to experience the same sensation. My husband was a heavy coffee drinker. I mean 5-6 cups a day. Sometimes more. He knew that his brain had addictive nature, so he decided to stop drinking it entirely and cold turkey. It wasn’t easy as his body's reactions were backfiring, but drinking plenty of water has helped tremendously, just as forming the new and healthier habits that have replaced this addictive behavior. 

Dr. Elson Haas writes that caffeine needed to produce stimulation increases with regular use, as is typical of all addictive drugs. Looking at his list of pros and cons, I realize that there are more side effects of drinking coffee. Could moderation help? It could if you are the person that can tolerate even moderate amounts of coffee. 

If you have a history of drinking vast amounts of coffee and you believe that it doesn’t affect you, you might be experiencing the numbness of your receptors. That means that your system is under chronic stress, so it doesn’t even react to caffeine anymore. 

The best solution here would be to wean yourself off the coffee for the few weeks to be able to set your system back to its baseline. Consuming alkaline diet and plenty of water together with regular sweating through exercise and sauna could do wonders for your physical and mental state.

Have you tried the Bulletproof coffee? 

That frothy, buttery cup of joe - I could live off one cup a day without taking any food. Even though I am not a coffee drinker, it’s hard to resist a bulletproof version. It's made out of the best quality coffee beans that don't contain any mold, a piece of a grass-fed unsalted butter, and a spoon of MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil which is a derivate from coconut oil. People who are on ketogenic or paleo-style diets like to experiment with this coffee. It’s a massive appetite suppressant, focus enhancer, yet it has a severe downside - if you stay away from the whole produce (veggies, a little meat), you’ll deplete your body from nutrition that is vital for it to thrive. It will soon show on your face and in your performance. However, if you decide to experiment with the Bulletproof coffee to take your appetite back to its baseline, I would friendly suggest that as soon as your desire for food gets back to normal, you increase your veggies consumption and take some quality protein. If you continue to avoid them (because you don’t feel hungry), you’ll trigger your body's stress response which could take you back to where you had started.  Not fun. 

If the only problem is caffeine, can we have a decaffeinated version instead?

Decaf is not caffeine free. It still has the caffeine in it but the smaller doses. Here’s the truth bomb - decaf coffee is saturated with chemicals. Avoiding the caffeine will give you plenty of nasties, so always chose an organic version. 

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Many women, your’s truly included, experience afternoon slump. 

And many women take that afternoon cup of coffee or a piece of dark chocolate to increase their energy levels. However, this could signal that your blood sugar levels might have dropped significantly. Have you had pastries, sweets, muffins, porridges, bagels, bread earlier in the day? Or, have you maybe entirely skipped your breakfast or lunch? 

Look into these things first and try eating the foods that don’t raise your insulin too much. Eggs, some wilted or fresh greens, and good fats would make your body naturally regulate the afternoon energy slump.

One final note that I want to share because it keeps showing up as a pattern with my clients is that if you are a stress oriented person, with the obsessive-compulsive disorder, with anxiety, trouble sleeping - coffee is not going to be right for you. Its toxic properties will outweigh all the antioxidants that it provides. Dr. Sarah Gottfried writes that for many women (herself included) the cortisol surge never turns off. It keeps us alive by raising blood sugar, increasing blood pressure and modulating inflammation. Caffeine can add to this pile by making your heart beats like the jungle drum. 

Being informed and aware is the first step. Now is your turn to scan your body, take a look at your behavior and act accordingly. If you cannot do it alone, always reach for help.

Remember, do simple better and know that lifestyle is the set of daily choices, so choose wisely.

Much love,
Marija

Self-love Menu For The Bad Days

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I've met a countless number of people thinking that my life is so perfect. Given that I'm still fairly young with quite a lot of life experience which I've gathered throughout my studies, traveling, working, living abroad while raising a young family and building a new company, I figure that it's quite easy to assume that I have it all sorted. The reality is - in appreciation of all the blessings that I can count, there is no such thing as perfection.  

Ebb and flow are real. It happens to each and every one of us. The question is - how do we deal with it. Some people say that it's not about the situation, but how we choose to see it. I believe that circumstances are an important part of the whole story. We cannot ignore them. However, I realized that in order to survive and hopefully thrive in spite of any circumstances, we need a well-established support system in order to deal with whatever comes our way. All those tiny things that we tend to put aside thinking that only a big life-changing event would get us out of the rut, are actually vital to get us on our feet again.

For those of you interested in how it is to live in a foreign country and raise the children - I'll tell you this - it is a no joke folks. You'll never have the history, you'll never know the unwritten social rules and at the end of the day - you'll always be a foreigner. It's only thanks to this experience that I've finally understood the importance of mastering the art of living. That is a secret of living your life gracefully.

As my gift to you, I'm sharing a Self-love Menu For The Bad Days that I've created for myself to help me survive. It's something that works for me, and you can use it as an inspiration to make your own list of the things that are close to your heart. When the going gets tough, take a look at it and feel free to help yourself.  

You welcome!

Do simple better and remember that lifestyle is a set of choices you make on a daily basis, so choose wisely.

Xo,

Marija 

Click here to download your PDF Self-love Menu .

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Your Journey to Hotn(m)ess

Have you ever imagined your head standing on someone else's body?

Speaking from the physical standpoint, for example, have you thought about how you could look if you lose extra weight, put on some muscle, improve your image or change your posture? How would you show up in the world? What would be different? 

For many of us - even tho we want to believe differently - the answer is - nothing!

 

We tend to get into the trap of judgment of what will happen one day when we are good enough, or disciplined enough. That’s the unhealthy approach that leads to a downward spiral of shame and blame, and I beg you to stop doing that now. It will not make progress faster. Trust me. Instead, learn to appreciate the pleasure that’s coming from the incremental changes.

Let me try to help you with some actionable steps in this article on how to enjoy and savor the process of transformation.

It’s not easy to chill when we’re continually being told how to look, how to behave, what to eat, how much, how to interact, what to wear, what profession to chose. Everything. 

Connecting with yourself, your desires and your capabilities feel like launching the space shuttle to Mars. Benchmarks are all around, and we are taught to follow the metrics (not only in numbers but in pictures, status, degree, profession). Society is doing everything to domesticate us. 

The shift doesn’t come with age; it comes with awareness. 

Trust me on this one. No matter how old you are, what will determine your capability to break through societal dogma that teaches you how you should be is not your age, education, nor money, but your level of consciousness and self-awareness. 

If you are walking your walk unconsciously - I bet that you are feeling kind of - okay, or may I say - great in your ignorance. On the other hand, if you feel intimidated by the engineered picture perfect - you’re probably becoming to live your life more consciously than the majority of the people around you. 

Don’t get me wrong - wherever you are, it’s not your fault. We’re humans, the social animals. As such, we get influenced by many sources - media (and a lot), influencers (if only we could follow their blueprint for life), science (will tell us with “precision" what to do).

I believe that setting the goals is excellent and if you do, I appreciate you so much for that. You understand that whatever achievement you’ve had in your life has come as a result of setting the goal. However, I’d like to encourage you to pay attention to the process of achieving your goal. That is the real GOLDEN PATH with so much potential in it. 

If it’s on your way, it’s your way
— Lao Tzu
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During the pursuit of your goal, if you open up and confront with what you find in yourself, and become willing to adjust your habits and behaviors, you’ll have a wholly transformational experience. Start asking yourself questions like: “Why am I not being able to follow through?, or "Why do I feel envious?, or “Where is this resistance coming from?". If you want something to work in your life, speak the truth and be centered around it. 

Even tho you might never be able to look like Victoria Secret angel, or the hottest fitness guru (and the majority of people aren't), you still might feel happier and healthier than before because of your journey or experience that you’ve had along the way. 

Having the role model is easy, but the role models can distract us from our journey - whether or not we even notice that. 
— Dallas Hartwig

 

Open up to authenticity, honesty, and integrity as a new cornerstone of what is considered hot. I encourage you to be vulnerable and to say - "Here’s who I am even overweight and messy. I know there is some work that I need to do and I am willing to embrace the process." 

By doing this, you’ll become the person that will have a higher awareness of your journey and someone who will be able to have a meaningful conversation with others. AND THAT IS HOT! Don't try to cover your modest inner world with excessive attention to outer expression through clothes, shoes, makeup, jewelry. 

What if you decide to become healthy? Do you think that you’ll miss out on hotness? No way! Your whole being will become lighter, your skin and eyes will be radiant and glowing, you’ll become calmer and more centered, and the most importantly - you’ll become a loving and compassionate person. 

Your life is going to change when you get to know yourself. 

The perfect scale number or a fitness model's fat percentage will never make a mean person become a better human. Your unhappiness will only get exacerbated if you start chasing the metrics. Instead, look inside and commit to doing some inner work. Become little happier each day. 

Your task is to become a healthier person not just in body, but in mind and spirit, as well as your heart and community. By doing so, you are going to become as hot as you desired. 

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Now, let's see where to start!

1. ASK YOURSELF WHY YOU WANT SOMETHING.

This may sound repetitive, but reminding yourself daily why you want to achieve something will settle into your subconscious mind. Learn to check in with yourself daily, and you’ll stay grounded on your path.

2. EVALUATE YOUR INSTAGRAM FEED.

This one is hugely important - evaluate how each person that you follow makes you feel. You don’t even have to label that feeling any further than - "I feel inspired," or "I don't feel inspired." And then take responsibility for the images and energies that you allow into your screen. Put yourself first and feel free to unfollow those that do not make you go and do something good.  

3. WHERE DO YOU SPEND YOUR RESOURCES  (TIME, ENERGY, MONEY)?

Is your spending in alignment with your values and your goals? Are you sitting in cafes with friends every day drinking lattes while your goal is to get in shape? Does your behavior take you closer to your goal? 

4. MEDITATE.

Advice that follows is not a cliche, so you better pay attention. A lot of people meditate and still stay in their heads. If you want to get the benefits of meditation or prayer, you want to build the stronger center. Your spirit needs to get grounded. Practice meditation and pay attention to your energy levels. Your energy (chi) is vital for your feeling of centeredness. If you feel energetic, this means that you are on the good path.

Do simple better and remember that lifestyle is a set of choices you make on a daily basis, so choose wisely. 

Much love,
Marija

P.S. If you liked this article and find it insightful, I'd so much appreciate if you could share it with your friends on social media. Thank you & love you!

You Cannot Swallow Sleep - Here's What You Can Do

Hello beautiful!
 
I have a confession – I’ve been struggling with sleep for quite some time. Getting to fall asleep has been challenging for me in the last year. As a holistic health coach, I’ve been working with people and helping them master the sleep, yet I’ve been struggling with the same thing myself. 

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As I wanted a sharp focus, vitality, energy to work, create, run around with my boys, as well as the ability to be present with my family and friends, I knew I needed to hack my sleep. However, let’s get clear here - I don’t value sleep only regarding being a servant of waking life (improving memory, appearance, immunity), but as an extension of natural rhythms on our planet.

It's easy to realize that I was very motivated to learn what was going on with my staying awake and getting energized in the evening. Hopefully, my insights will help you in finding that missing piece of the puzzle, so you can accept the benefits from the sacred time you spend in your bed (and stop looking at it as a wasted time).

First of all, here’s a little bit of a hot truth about the importance of sleep. The facts always get my attention on point, so here you are. There is substantial evidence emerging from chronic, severe illnesses tied to not having enough sleep. Short sleepers have 50% increase in the risk of viral infection, insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, mood disorders. 

Insomnia is an early sign of depression and depression is a late stage of insomnia.

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If we consume too much, we won’t be able to sleep well. Consumption of poor indoor light during the day, an excess amount of information and food that inflame our bodies all contribute to the accumulation of excess energy.
 
We have the reluctance to go down and let go. People who do not sleep well get excessively energized at night. Are we able to emotionally, physiologically and spiritually let go? There is very much turbulence that’s happening all the time, and we have to know how to calm our minds, our bodies and prepare them for sleep. 

I actually learned how to do this thanks to my kids. They need a structured nighttime routine to fall asleep - showering, brushing the teeth, putting on pajamas, hearing a story, getting and giving plenty of kisses and bam - they are off. However, if I just tell them to go to sleep - that will never happen. Adults, just as kids, need to unplug and disconnect from daily events slowly. 

Some people keep saying that we should take a rest, so does it mean that we can go and watch TV to relax? Did you know that rest is not about having fun, reading a book, hiking or watching TV, nor scrolling the Instagram page? Rest is being in bed, unplugged, meditating and preserving the energy.

While we sleep and dream the brain digests and assimilates the information that it has received during the day. Dreams are the part of the memory consolidation as well as emotional healing.
 
Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine say that we need to be in horizontal position by 10 pm as that is the time when we get a second wind if we stay up. The horizontal position helps our bodies balance the liquids.

Now, there is a vast body of research on the effects that sleep has on our hormonal balance. It affects regulation of cortisol, leptin, ghrelin, HGH, etc. I will cover this subject another time, but for now, I want to share what has changed my life for better - release of a Human Growth Hormone (HGH) during the sleep. That one is responsible for antiaging, tissue regeneration, liver regeneration, muscle building, a breakdown of fat stores, normalization of blood sugar. If I don’t sleep well, I will wake up with tension in my calves. However, thanks to HGH release - I wake up fully refreshed and with my limbs ready to move and be active during the day. 

We cannot swallow sleep through pill, tea or milk. We should build faith in our capacity to sleep. Our task is to learn to let go of the emotions, aspirations and other things that we carry to the bed. Chronic use of sleeping pills increase the risk of cancer, more than smoking, so play smart. 

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Now, I suggest that you observe your behavior during the day. When do you wake up? How do you feel when you wake up? How does your day look? Are there tasks that drain you? How do you feel after meeting certain people? Can you easily identify your thoughts? What and when do you eat? How much do you move? When do you get tired?  

When you get clarity on what is going on on daily basis, I suggest that you apply some of the following hacks. Discovering them all at once can give you additional stress, so take it slowly. Less is more, give yourself a time and find out what works for you. 

1. TURN OFF YOUR PHONE

I mean it. I've been guilty of this one. Entertaining yourself with your phone is such a time waster which provides additional stimulation for your brain. We don't need that before going to bed. All the information coming from different photos, news and articles interfere with our intention to relax. My goal is to turn the airplane mode on at 6 pm. 

2. HAVE A LIGHT MEAL 3-4 HOURS BEFORE GOING TO BED

Your body starts cleaning the house around 10 pm. If you eat at that time, it will be too busy digesting the food and you'll miss a part of the valuable cleansing process and as a result wake up grumpy, sluggish or exhausted.

3. SHOWER WITH WARM WATER AND USE LAVANDER ESSENTIAL OIL

If your nervous system is aroused, showering with warm water can calm you down. I do not recommend to finish with a few seconds of cold water as this will wake you up. Leave it for the morning or afternoon pick me up, and instead use a few drops of lavender essential oil to inhale under the rush of the warm water. That will help you regulate the activity of your nervous system and get you ready for the beautiful and restorative sleep.

4. USE BLUE BLOCKERS IF YOU NEED TO WORK AT NIGHT

Any light suppresses the production of melatonin, but the blue light is even more powerful in doing so. Melatonin helps us sleep, so we want to make sure that our body is producing sufficient amount of it. Our eyes are the gateways for light, as well as our skin, so for the basic protection use the blue light blocker glasses. In case you need to work at night, I have a nugget for you - the most amazing software that removes the blue light from your computer called F.lux. Here you can get it for free. You welcome! 

5. GUIDED MEDITATION FOR SLEEP

I love guided meditations. They are so comforting and they easily propel me into the world of fairy tales. The most important thing is to find the voice that you like. Here is one beautiful meditation for chakra alignment that you can listen with your earphones while already in your bed. No worries if you fall asleep - that's exactly what we aim for. 

Do simple better and remember that lifestyle is a set of choices you make on a daily basis, so choose wisely. 

Have a beautiful holiday!

Love,
Marija

Get Happier And Forget About Happiness

Achieving happiness has become a goal for many of us. Wherever I travel people ask me if Danish happiness is a myth or a truth. I came from London yesterday where I met at least 7-8 people that were curious about this topic. I have to admit that I do not believe in the westernized idea of happiness, nor that we can achieve it by any means. Happiness is not out there. It’s present; it’s here. It’s about you choosing to tap into it or not to tap into it in every single moment. 

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Scheduling quality time with your children or partner, or scheduling time for self-care, self-love and other human activities makes me think of us as robots, not humans.  

I have to admit that this realization came after years of living western lifestyle. My schedule was full for months in advance. Every social event, even a walk or a coffee with a friend would be scheduled on the calendar for the weeks to come. For example, you invite people for dinner a month or two months in advance. In the meantime you don’t speak to each other, you don’t see each other, but they'd show up on the exact day, and you’d have your scheduled time to socialize. If you don’t feel like socializing that day - I’m sorry, it's on your calendar. 

So, if we have to follow the schedule for our work/study commitments, our children’s activities, or maybe even our exercise routines, what is it that we don’t have to schedule to live our human lives and express our human nature? Is our meticulous schedule making us happy? Does it give us enough space to think about anything else but ourselves?

Who are the happy people?

Happy people are those who are more interested in other people’s problems, and they want to help. They are altruistic, they give money away, or they volunteer. They will give a hand if a family member, a colleague or a friend needs it. They care about the world. They are able to turn outward and think about problems of other people. They are healthier, have healthier habits, and they make better team members and better leaders. 

When people are unhappy, they tend to stay within their realm of problems; they become isolated and defensive. They don’t cope with diversity very well. 

How to feel happier?

Starting with your body is an excellent idea. I’ll explain why. Physical experience always informs the emotional experience. If you have the energy and vitality, that will affect everything that you do. If you want to be happier, get enough sleep and cultivate exercising habits. 

Sleep will affect your mood, concentration, energy levels, immune function, hunger, and satiety, as well as the processes that help in gaining muscles/losing fat. 

Relationships - to feel happy we need to feel like we have meaningful and intimate bonds, that we belong, that we can confide and that we can get support. Take a look at your relationships and be honest - do you have someone who is close to you? 

Self-knowledge is a crucial part of the happiness equation. If you don’t know yourself, you won’t be happy. You can build a happy life only on the firm foundation of your nature, interests, and values. 

 

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What I know for sure is that happiness is coming from taking action.

Ask your self - what can I do now to feel little happier instead of how can I achieve happiness?

You’ve probably heard about the correlation between expectations and happiness. Some people would say that to be happy we need to lower our expectations. This notion has never resonated with me, and thanks to my teacher Gretchen Rubin, I understand that happiness is not about reducing the expectations, but understanding our attitude towards the inner and the outer expectations. In other words, are you able to meet the expectations that you have for yourself and on the other hand, are you able to meet the expectations that others have from you?

If this sounds like monkey business, keep reading for one more minute.

As per Gretchen Rubin, there are four tendencies and knowing which one is yours will help you design the environment in which you’ll be inspired to take the constant action. None of us is the same, and none of us gets inspired in the same way. Here's the brief overview:

1. UPHOLDERS - they are the most disciplined of all. They happily respond to both outer and inner expectations. 
2. QUESTIONERS - they question everything. If it sounds reasonable to them, they’ll do it. If not, they won’t.
3. REBELS - resist all expectations - outer and inner alike. They want to do what they want to do, and if you ask them to do something, they’ll likely do the opposite. 
4. OBLIGERS - very good in meeting the outer expectations, but hard with personal expectations. 

In order to help you discover your tendency, I’m sharing the link to the online test that will help you do just that. After submitting your email address, you’ll receive a short but detailed guide on how you can tackle your barriers and actually take the action. It's not the annoying and spammy newsletter, and you can always unsubscribe from it if you don't feel like you get the value from it.

Everything that I am sharing in this post is proven and free, and I wish for you to use it for good.


Now, I'd love to learn what's your tendency? Feel free to share in the comments below. 


With much love,
Marija

Why You Should Stop Celebrating The Small Victories

Hello dear friends! 

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I believe that you’ve heard many times how important it is to celebrate your wins. To some extent, I could agree with this one, but not as a general rule. If you are trying to replace an old habit or to form a new one, I’d tell you this - it's better to forget about celebrating the small wins. Here’s why. 

Celebrating the small victories can be an excellent platform for self-sabotage. Whatever habit you are trying to change or to form, celebrating the small successes will reinforce the existence of the old pattern.  

For example, you go on a diet for a few days, and then you tell yourself how wonderfully you did. Your conscious mind is happy and proud, but your subconscious receives the message that this was an extraordinary occurrence and not something normal. Your brain will do everything to keep the homeostasis in the body, remember that. Any change is a threat to it, and it would rather accept the known although terrible, than the unknown which would be even better for you. That is why you don’t want the change to happen very quickly, because habits won’t be able to stick. 

If you feel that you’re doing something unusual or exceptional, your subconscious mind is receiving the message that this is not an ordinary achievement.

Take your accomplishment in stride. Your subconscious understands habituation. Practice doing something every day - over and over again without giving it attention through celebration.

Make it your usual mode of operating until you get where you want to go. Only then acknowledge the great job you did. During the journey behave as it’s how you normaly do it and avoid celebrating. Consciously work on your subconsciousness - shape it into believing that this is how you operate on a regular basis. 

Nevertheless, if you’re a type A (go, go, go) person, here’s the catch that you'd perhaps want to consider. 

If achieving your goals is what motivates you, as well as crossing off the tasks on your to-do lists, your focus is probably on the next thing that is coming your way.

If you find that this is true for you, I believe that you'd benefit from developing the awareness of your achievements. Your subconscious perceives your striving as the response to a perpetual lack. You want to manage this drama lovingly and constructively. Give yourself applause. Unlike in the habit-forming process that I mentioned before, for your daily functioning is healthy and much needed to acknowledge your accomplishments. 

Stay strong and practice awareness. It’s the crucial component of every change. You got to know where you are starting from.

Much love,
Marija 

How To Master The Winter (In Order To Thrive In Summer)

Hello, my dear friends! 

Hope you had a proper time to rest and digest during the festive season. If you’re slowly shifting gears into expecting longer days and warmer weather, you'll love this text. I'll share with you a compelling take on how to be and what to do during the next couple of months to welcome the spring with a lot of energy and excitement, avoiding the pitfalls along the way. 

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As you can notice - winter is not over yet! We have a few more months to go before the sunshine makes us fly high. I'd love for you to read this and to explore the meaning of winter to get everything you need and set yourself up for the warmer months that follow.

If you are anything like me, your social media feed might explode with endless lists on how to start the New Year off right, how to set goals, plan for the year ahead and repair the damage from the festive season. However, the reality is - we’re not going to apply 10 things straight after reading them. Here is why - our habits are more powerful than our knowledge. 

Now, I intend to help you understand the meaning of the winter season that is (still!) on and to help you get ready for the spring and summer months that will require much more of your energy. This time of the year is not about focusing your power on that booty. It’s about learning how to give yourself an additional boost and how to create habits by getting the most out of the winter and eventually becoming that beauty or the beast (whatever floats your boat). If you get this - you’ll be set for the best year ever. 

As you've probably noticed - it’s still cold and dark. Days are short; windows get frozen in the morning. However, we live in the cult of light, where everything needs to be bright and shiny. We try our best to stay away from the dark, from the shadow, from the introspection. We are encouraged to be hustlers, to stay up late, and to be up early. We live in the world where yang energy dominates. I’ll explain.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is the time of the yin energy. The time for introspection, femininity, dreaming, imagining, restoration and stillness. It’s the perfect time to figure what you want. Nevertheless, we get intimidated by the opportunities that winter give us - one of the worry and anxiety or another of the possibilities. Winter serves as the preparation for the spring which is the time of anger, clarity, and the time when we define our boundaries. All those things will lead us to joy, bounty, and fun of the early summer. 

How do we mess up?

Thanks to the countless festive occasions during Holidays, we tend to act as if winter was the summer. We stay up late; we spend energy on socializing with many people, we have plenty eating and drinking occasions, and we try to keep up with our stressful end-of-the-year tasks both at work and with our families. Eventually, we get so tired of doing this whole summer thing, as it entirely exhausts us and makes us empty. That is why I love the potential that January brings - we can finally live according to the season.

If we stay ignorant to the requirement of the winter season - we’ll suffer (hey there, spring blues). We wouldn’t be able to give anything from an empty bowl. Our bodies would continue to shut down, and we’d probably end up with colds as well as the hormonal imbalances, migraines or headaches in the months to come. 

What could we do? 

Firstly - stop living as if it was July on Ibiza. Staying up late, drinking, going out and hosting is going to tax your body. I know that it’s fun, but it’s not the best season for it. Days are short, and nature’s circadian rhythms are calling for more rest and replenishment. The festive season is now over, and you can give this a try. Prioritise your sleep and get deep and restorative rest. Try giving up on your phone, computer or TV at 9 pm, dim the blue light and make peace with being less entertained. Grab the book, make a cuppa and chill out. Make it the time when you stay with yourself and when you ask yourself hard questions. Stay with the answers no matter how much you like them or don't like them. Take advantage of this precious time and do not push this inner work towards the long summer nights - that time is going to be about something else, which I’ll happily share with you.

Try making it about sleep, movement, and food. 

Winter has challenged me after moving to Scandinavia. Even though I love winter and I adore hygge, being in this mood for eight months straight every year was h-a-r-d until I learned how to do it. Eventually, it made me get closer to discovering who I was. And that's been one of my life goals. 

I learned a lot about periodization. I learned that focus is the most powerful thing and that setting  goals within the seasons make so much sense. Winter is the time when you build the foundation. You build intimacy with people, you take better care of yourself, create routines around cooking, bedtime, and exercising. 

How to move?

Winter is not the best time to get the long duration workout. It’s not the perfect time for endless cardio trainings such as running, aerobics, spinning. Focus for winter is building - strength, muscle mass, bone density. It’s important to make your structure and give it potential. Our goal should be to become a useful human being and to be able to play without the fear of yet another injury. By building body strength, we build our inner strength. And that's my jam.

It took me years to understand the importance of patient and methodical building of the foundation as I was the all in or all out type of person. I believed other people rather than myself. And don’t get me wrong - there is nothing wrong with other people, it’s about us giving our power away to others without taking the responsibility. It's an easy way around. I learned the importance of understanding our values and how vital it is to match them with our behavior. 

What to eat?

I cannot finish this text without mentioning the food. Even though this topic is highly polarising, I tend to approach it according to the knowledge I have acquired by studying more than 100 different dietary theories ranging from East to West. I do not support labeling nor religious take on nutrition, and I tend to value quality more than anything. Real quality. Not whole grain biscuits type of quality. I believe in honestly sourced, pastured, grass-fed, free-range, organic or bio-dynamic rather than any vegan, vegetarian or paleo movement (especially if done poorly).

In that light, let's explore what makes the best choice for winter. Stews, soups, broths, good quality protein, warm vegetables such as sweet potatoes, beets, cabbage, parsnips, carrots, celeriac and more robust greens such as kale and fennel should be a foundation of our winter diet. We don’t need much fruit. We need to be careful about the types of fat we consume. Feel free to regularly change the sources of fat - use nuts, seeds, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, olives, avocados, olive oil and flaxseed oil. They will make your hormones work well, and your arteries happy. However, an alert here - watch out not to eat cakes and candies if you are to up your fat intake. Your body won't be very fond of it. 

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Now, I'll try to help you with a powerful exercise that gave me so much clarity. Imagine you are 20 years older than you are now and ask yourself: How would I live if I could go back? How would I like to feel? What would be the most important to me? Then, take the paper, make two columns and decide what you want to keep doing and what needs to change. This exercise will help you get clarity and will induce the lasting change informed by internal motivation. 

To wrap it up - follow the common sense, relax as much as you can, pay close attention to the circadian rhythm of nature, sleep, rest, move, eat in season and watch the quality of the stuff you consume - foods, cosmetics, books, movies, people, water. 

It all becomes - you.

When you master the basics, you'll be set to dig into more juicy stuff.

Have fun!

Love,
Marija 

 

Health Coaching - What Does It Feel Like?

You know that feeling when you feel trapped between what you should do, what you want to do and a common sense? You know what to eat, but you don’t. Different gurus are saying different things, and you’d like to escape the ivory tower, but you feel so confused that all the advice you receive is taking you only so far.

And then you eat whatever is the most convenient and even more.

  Source:  Unsplash

Source: Unsplash

Health Coaching is about learning how to shift your perspective from fixed to the growth mindset. It helps you bridge the gap between nutrition and self-development. Health Coach allows people to understand the variety of healthy foods and help them put those into practice in a way that will have a massive impact on their wellbeing.

Why you need a mindset to eat? Because it will give you the capacity to accept the process of learning, trial, and error.

Health coaching is a life-enhancing process through which we learn to respect ourselves, our desires, our body's needs, nature’s cycles, circadian rhythms. It’s not about the rigidity of a diet plan (unless you're addressing a severe health issue), but about making conscious choices that would lead to feeling your best - all the time. 

It’s about getting to know yourself and exploring your needs.

Food can be a catalyst for a deeper transformation.

I practice Holistic Health Coaching, which means that I help people take an in-depth look at how all areas of their life are functioning. Does stress which you experience at your work or in your relationships causes you to overeat? Does lack of sleep or low energy prevent you from exercising? How all areas of your life affect your health? You gradually build self-awareness which enables you to notice when it’s about emotional imbalance and when your body sends signals of physiological need.

The bottom line is that you learn to trust your judgment what and when to eat.

  Source:     U     nsplash

Source: Unsplash

Defining your “why”

When you decide to make a shift, it’s critical to know why you want it. If you feel you’re ready for a change, then you probably already have a clue. Sometimes it's buried deeper within, and sometimes it's evident and bold. In the first case, there are compelling coaching tools that I use to explore your motivation. I promise you, understanding why you do something will make a world of difference for your perseverance and motivation. 

Food is a magic in colors. It has the power to facilitate weight loss, reduce cravings, enhance your sleep, boost your energy and improve your metabolism. Skin, hair - you got this! As I work with my clients, I help them gain a deeper understanding of the foods and lifestyle choices that work best for them. As a result, they experience improved energy, balance and overall health.

Bio-individuality

One person’s food is another person’s poison.

I experience some food allergies, but my children don’t. For example, when I eat wheat, I get hives on my body. However, my children's gut health is so robust that their bodies don’t react. As we want it to stay that way - we're taking good care of their gut.

Bio-individuality is the anchor which helps me to support people to make positive changes that consider their unique needs, lifestyle, preferences and ancestral background.

Scared to Make Changes?

I understand. It can feel daunting, panicky, cause anxiety or resistance. But let me tell you this. It’s not healthy to jump into something new before profoundly understanding your eating patterns and what stands behind them. You can always hit the bookstore, and you'll find numerous diet books which you can follow on your own. 

You need to be emotionally ready to get to the place you desire. 

There is some pre-work to be done before jumping in the cold water of change. This work entitles observing, learning and moving at the pace that is comfortable to you. Firstly, you need to keep up emotionally with the switch and go through the process step by step. If you rush the process, you'll likely revert to the old way of eating, thinking and being.

That’s why I teach people how to enjoy the process and get the most out of it. A celebration of every victory or a setback is the real-time emotional exercise that eventually makes you stronger and capable to endure and meet your dream.

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Source: Unsplash

Cooking

God bless all those people that have time, inspiration, organization skills, ability, and passion. But what when you lack some or all of these? How to keep up with the healthy lifestyle if you’re not healthy food nut or a well-established home chef?

I teach you fundamentals. I show you how to eat functionally and how to eat beautifully without stressing around it.

Feeding yourself is about nourishment, fun, and time-management. If food prep lasts forever - then it's not for the everyday. If it's without the flavor, then our taste buds would crave something juicier. 

Now, let’s take some action.

My gift to you is a 50 minutes FREE mini session to help you get on with your health and lifestyle.

 

What if your weight is not your fault?

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Source: Unsplash 

The concept of calorie in vs. calorie out has died in this decade. With the abundant research on this topic, we finally get to understand that there’s more to weight loss than how much we eat vs. how long we sit.

Food is information. Food is not just calories. It tells our cells what to do. We change our gene expression, our blood and our microbiome with every bite. Food impacts our bodies in many ways. Think of your enzymes, gene expressions, cellular communication, hormones, immune function, detoxification of the body, gut flora and digestive function as well as your mitochondria.

Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. We live in a world with 39% adults, 18 years and older that are overweight. Of these over 13% are obese.

WHO (World Health Organisation) determines BMI over 25 as to overweight and over 30 to obese.

Being overweight and obese is influenced by multiple factors: environmental, genetic, physiological and psychological.

However, many official resources still base dietary recommendations on the energy balance - how much you put in, vs. how much you spend. In that light, I wonder: do we lack the willpower, motivation, character, or could it be something else? Is it possible that so many people are lazy and missing moral fortitude?

Dietary composition is what primarily drives obesity and not the calories.

By studying this topic and researching more than 100 different dietary theories, I’ve come across the term “addictive foods” for many times. I asked myself - if some foods are biologically addictive, how come that governments don’t regulate their consumption? How come that we advertise sugar to children? How come that diabetes is covered by primary medical insurance?

41 million children under the age of 5 have been overweight or obese during the last year.

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Source: Unsplash 

In the noise of contradictory dietary theories, abundant research, success stories and devastating data, we tend to forget that every food we eat needs to go through our human biology.

Energy balance (calorie in/out) seems like a very naive and basic outlook on how our bodies interact with the food.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, our metabolic rate, our storage of fat as well as our hunger depends on dietary composition, food quality, hormones, neurotransmitters and inflammatory cytokines.

Moderation and the willpower is a fiction in the face of food addiction.

According to Michael Moss, the author of the book Salt, Sugar and Fat who analyzed 300 different food industry scientists, there has been a deliberate creation of addictive foods. Taste institutes hire craving experts who produce the foods that we cannot seem to get enough of.

The calories in/out approach can induce the weight loss, which can work in the short term. However, the compensatory mechanisms in the body will eventually override calorie restriction leading to increased weight. Our hormones easily backfire and make a havoc in the body, making it susceptible to future weight gain. Remember, food is information. Broccoli and Oreos might have the same calories, but they are biochemically different which causes your body to respond differently.

Furthermore, when the weight loss is achieved by dieting, there is a high rate of relapse among people who have lost weight. This notion has a firm physiological basis. Our body wants to get back into its homeostatic state which means that it does everything to maintain internal stability to compensate for changes. For example, if you take a cold shower, body raises its temperature. The homeostatic regulation of body weight occurs primarily in the part of the brain called hypothalamus. This system protects us against weight loss more vigorously than from weight gain.

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Source: Unsplash

Does being fat make you hungry or being hungry make you fat?

Dr. Hyman argues that overeating doesn’t make us fat. Being hungry is driven by the kind of foods we eat. Being fat makes us overeat.

He says that visceral or belly fat is the driver of our behavior. It is anabolic, hungry and wants to build and grow. It makes hormones, inflammatory cytokines, neurotransmitters.

Behavioural and neurophysiological changes that happen upon ingesting the certain foods are very similar to those with substance dependence.

Some argue that there is no such thing as food addiction, and others point to an unhealthy behavior happening on an individual level.

In order to shed some light on addictive behavior, I’m sharing Yale Food addiction Questionnaire with an intention to help you explore the possible addiction to high-fat and high sugar foods.

Yale Food addiction Questionnaire:

1. Do you consume certain foods even if you are not hungry because of cravings?
2. Worry about cutting down on certain foods?
3. Feel sluggish or fatigued from overeating?
4. Health or social problems (affecting school or work) because of food issues and yet keep eating the way you do?
5. Spend time dealing with negative feelings from overeating certain foods?
6. Withdrawal symptoms such as agitation and anxiety when you cut down on certain foods?
7. Behaviour around food and eating causes you significant distress?
8. Food issues decrease your availability to function effectively?
9. Need more and more of the foods you crave to experience any pleasure or to reduce negative emotions?

Relying on your willpower will set you up for failure. This resource isn’t infinite, and by every decision you make during the day, you are deliberately spending it. By the time you get to choose the food you’ll eat for dinner, your cravings will overpower your will.

People tend to have much more control over what they eat than how much they eat. If you change what you eat (real food, high plant-based, phytonutrient rich food, low glycemic load food), you’ll start to improve your metabolism.

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Source: Unsplash

Where to start?

1. Increase diet quality
2. Improve dietary composition
3. Introduce foods that lower systemic inflammation
4. Treat insulin resistance with proper exercise and right phytonutrients

And most importantly, during the process, make sure to find an accountability partner. It could be your friend, trainer, colleague, health coach, but it's crucial to have somebody other than yourself to hold you accountable. Being vulnerable to another human can help you reach your wellness goals much faster and for a long term. 

Sources:
1. Priya S., Joseph P., The defense of body weight: a physiological basis for weight regain after weight loss. Int. J. Med.Sci. (2014)
2. Dirk De Ridder, Patrick Manning, Sook Ling Leong, Samantha Ross, Wayne Sutherland, Caroline Horwath and Sven Vanneste, The brain, obesity, and addiction: an EEG neuroimaging study, Nature (2017)
3. http://global.rethinkobesity.com/science.html
4. www.who.int

 

Deconstruct Your Excess

Nothing succeeds like excess. If a little of something is good, more must be better.
— Arianna Huffington
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Source: Unsplash

“More" in today's world serves as a legitimate measure of success, life’s mission and an ultimate life goal for many. It’s the proof that we’re doing everything as society intended and performing very well. We collect more stuff, take more education, live in the bigger houses, drive bigger cars, have more clothes. Society has taught us on how to be hungry for more. If you want more stuff in your life, people will pat your back.

We are widely encouraged to feel that settling for enough is for those of us who are weak and non-ambitious. Capitalist societies have given us a detailed manual on how to live life and how to measure our success. Every deviation would be considered either inappropriate or a non-volatile act of the extreme luck - depending on the outcome.

In that light, I was wondering, what about the excess weight?! What about that stubborn layers of fat that wouldn’t go away, that protect us from something?

What about that obvious statement of insatiable hunger for more?

Here's how it usually goes. Early morning, you get to the bathroom and face your reflection in the mirror. You give it a glimpse, lightly smile and affirm that you need to get rid of that annoying flab that’s stopping you from living your best life.

So what do you do? You either get to punish yourself with another circle of deprivation that balances you out until the emotional craving for the equilibrium caused by lack, propels you in yet another cycle of over-eating.

Perhaps you start re-inforcing all the blessings that you’ve earned in this lifetime, go on with your life as you know it, hoping to eventually manifest what you genuinely desire of your body.

Enough is not the amount. It’s your relationship with what you already have. - Geneen Roth

The major diseases are not the causes of death. Diseases are effects. What is causing them in 80% of the cases is a day to day lifestyle choices. There is still no pill that can outsmart your body’s intelligence in a way that it stays blind to your poor daily decisions. The power of food and lifestyle is so high that we can re-fashion our medical destiny at the very level of our genes.

So, how to apply this to healing our relationship with food?

We either get so scared that we promptly get out of our way and start applying everything that could make us not to die prematurely, or we give it a little more thought. We obtain more knowledge which leads us to more cerebral eating.

The next level is to connect to our bodies which lead us to more intuitive eating. We explore different dietary approaches, consult different practitioners and then, armed with the cutting edge knowledge, we get the feeling of having the power.

However, knowledge is not the power. We need the effort to translate it into energy. The initiative is called the action.

Exploring the health from the holistic perspective by integrating different aspects of your living experience could be your path to freedom. Everyone can do it.

Do you have an excuse?

Explore it with me on your FREE mini session that you can schedule now.

Sources:
1. Dr. David Katz, notes from lectures
2. Huffington, Arianna. Thrive. New York, NY: Penguin, 2014.
3. McGinnis JM, Foege WH. Actual causes of death in the United States. JAMA 1993.