with Lisa Farrar, The Plant Based Health Coach
Lisa

Less Exercise Can Actually Be a Good Thing

We all need movement. Our bodies are designed to move, to exercise, and sweat. It's a good thing and it's what most of us are lacking in our day to day. 

 

So why am I writing about exercising less for health? 

 

walking

 

There's a few reasons really and it's pretty simple but something we often don't think about when it comes to getting our sweat on. 

 

Before I get into why less exercise can be a good thing, I know there are some of you out there who are rolling your eyes about this topic/title and I get it. I used to be you. 

 

I used to be the girl that believed in pushing myself with my exercise routine. I used to love to see how far my body could go whether it be running, lifting, HITT workouts, and so on. I loved the high of, "Wow, I just did that, I feel so strong and healthy." It didn't matter to me if I was first place or last, what mattered is that I did it to the best of my ability, of course I got competitive but mostly with myself. I constantly wanted to improve on whatever it is I was working toward - running times, how much I could lift, etc.  

 

Here's the reality. While yes, at times I felt so strong, athletic, and capable, I once pushed my body so much with running long distances, I caused my IT Band to flare up (this is the connective tissue between the knee and hip and it causes lots of knee pain). This set me back big time and it happened because of a couple of reasons. One - I was focusing on logging all these long distance miles running and not on strengthening the leg, hip, and glute muscles I was using for running causing the flare up. Two - I was forcing runs even with irritation because I didn't want to be bothered to stop for an injury which further aggravated the flare up until I could barely walk. 

 

I was so annoyed when this happened because I had been training for some longer distance obstacle races and I didn't want my training to be interrupted for any reason. This narrow-minded goal took a toll and instead of listening to my body to correct the issue before it got so bad I could barely move, I decided to go with the "I'll suck it up and fight through it" mindset. Well, you know how well that way of thought works out. This injury landed me in physical therapy for almost two months, going through painful treatments to get my IT Band to loosen up and then lots of strengthening of the muscles I had been neglecting with very minimal running in between. 

 

Looking back, here is what I believe was the underlying issue - I didn't truly want to be out on those long runs. I actually dreaded them at times even though I wanted to prove to myself I could make it that far and log all those miles. Even while I was out on those long runs, I was counting down the miles until I would be done and then I would be nearly worthless the rest of the day from exhaustion. My body gave me all sorts of signs that those long runs were not truly benefiting my health, but I could justify the long runs because hey, it's running - I was out burning calories and getting cardio. I was also raised through sports with the mindset that pain = you're getting stronger. *Insert face palm here*

 

My IT Band injury was a manifestation of sorts, my body's way of forcing me to reevaluate. When we push, push, push doing something that we don't feel good about, it eventually blows up for us in some way or another (this is not just true for exercising). For me, it was my injury with running. The good thing that came out of all of this was that by being forced to slow down, to go through the physical therapy, I surprisingly felt so much relief, not just mentally but also physically. I didn't HAVE to go on those long runs anymore because I simply couldn't physically do it at the time. I was forced to find movement in other ways and you know what? My body thanked me for it tenfold. I felt better slowing down and taking a step back from those long runs than I had felt in months, the recovery was epic and exactly what my body had been trying to tell me it needed for so long! 

 

You see, slowing down, changing our routines, and moving in different ways than we're used to can help us relax and see that we can feel healthier and strong if we just stop and listen to our bodies. Of course, this is an ongoing practice of constantly checking in with ourselves and making sure we're moving in ways that we're excited about and that makes us feel good both mentally and physically which is a win-win. Dreading a workout and counting the minutes until it's over isn't a healthy way of exercising. When we let go of that rigid way of thinking about movement and instead listen to our body, we get so much more out of our workouts. 

 

It's taken some time for me to learn this lesson but I find now that slowing down to walk instead of run makes me feel light and healthy. I still get movement and cardio in and best of all, I slow down and notice simple things I wouldn't notice on a run- like kids playing tag and laughing, birds chirping, toads jumping across the sidewalk, and those little things make me so happy. It's uplifting and I actually want to get outside and go for a walk - I don't dread it. Of course, I still run but now it's with intention instead of constantly forcing it and working against my body and that's the point. Intention counts! 

 

So how do you exercise with intention and know how to listen to your body?

 

  1. If you're not excited about your workout and it's being forced - you're probably not getting the most out of your workout anyway and it's time to mix it up and try something new. Working out with intention means being excited to move.
  2. Feeling drained is a bad sign. Keep in mind that minor aches and pains are a part of getting in shape but this should NOT be something you're experiencing on a regular basis, especially the same type of pain over and over. If you do have an ongoing pain or injury, this is your body's way of telling you that it's being pushed too far and could use some TLC- maybe even from a doctor!
  3. Be open to changing it up on a regular basis. There are so many different ways to move your body and get exercise, ask yourself on a regular basis what you want to try, what sounds interesting, what makes you feel physically excited and then give it a shot. Always remember to check in with yourself afterwards to see how you felt about it not just physically but also mentally. 

While exercise is essential to living a healthy life, be mindful of the type of exercise you're engaging with on a regular basis. Don't be afraid to mix it up and slow it down (or speed it up if you've been taking it slow for a while). If you've been doing lots of high intensity workouts, try some yoga and see how your body reacts. Running a lot? Try throwing some walks in there.

 

I firmly believe that life has seasons in all realms. We're constantly going through periods of transition and sometimes when it comes to exercise, less truly is more. 

 

Warmly,

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Lisa

Staying Healthy Summer to Fall

Since we are smack in the middle of summer and everyone is busy with vacations, get-togethers, and doing all the things, it’s incredibly important to pause and check in with your health.

 

Even though you might not be ready to think about fall (or if you're like me - you're a little excited for it), how well our bodies transition with the seasons largely depends on how well we take care of ourselves right now during the summer months. The healthier you are going into the end of summer, the better off you will fare moving into fall and winter, aka... your body will be better equipped to fight cold and flu season. 

 

This is why I have put together 7 very simple tips so you can check in with yourself and adjust as needed while there is still time left this summer so you can feel great in your body. 

mineral-water

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate - and I'm not talking about those cocktails by the pool kind of hydration.

Your body needs water and during the hot months of summer, we typically need extra H2O to support our cellular health and function, especially if we are being active in the outdoor heat. Our cells require proper hydration to flush out toxins and to regulate all of our bodily systems. How are you doing with water intake? I like to take a big glass of water with me to bed, that way, when I wake up in the morning when my body is most dehydrated, I can drink the full glass and maximize my hydration. Think about it - You haven't ate or drank anything for hours and there is nothing in your system that your body has to filter through first thing in the morning so this allows water intake to go straight to your cells that desperately need some good old H20. 

 

Bonus tips - Coconut water is full of electrolytes and is a great way to replenish and hydrate the body after being in the heat or being active (also helps after a few too many alcoholic beverages but try to avoid alcohol as much as possible to keep inflammation down in your body). 

 

Add fruits and herbs such as mint, basil, strawberries, or cucumbers to your water for some flavor punch and more minerals. 


2. Add in loads of local, seasonal, and organic fruits and veggies. Eating seasonally means that we eat fruits and vegetables growing in your area at that time of year. This is extremely important because those particular foods help support our immune systems for our particular environment at that specific time of year. For summer, think garden veggies- tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, beans, etc. On top of supporting our bodies for the environment we're living in, eating seasonally and locally also means that the food most likely didn't have to travel far to get from farm to table and that means more nutrients. The longer a fruit or vegetable goes from time of picking to get to your plate, the more nutrients it will lose so maximize your nutrition by choosing seasonal, local, and organic as much as possible. 

 

Bonus tip- fruits help to cool the body in the summer heat- don’t be afraid of sugar in fruits, your body knows what to do with it and will appreciate all the extra fiber. Be mindful to avoid fruit juices as they don't contain the fiber your body needs and can spike blood sugar levels very quickly. 


3. Keep Moving. It’s easy to stay indoors in the air conditioning where it’s more comfortable and you can binge some Netflix. However, netflix isn't exactly conducive to moving your body. Even small amounts of exercise can have a profound impact on your health. Exercising gets the lymphatic system moving which helps flush toxins from your system and reduce inflammation within the body and that means less illness, feeling better, staying regular in the bathroom, and strengthen all of your body systems.

 

Bonus tip- Try to get outdoors as much as possible for some fresh air and move in the early hours of the day or later to avoid the high heat during the middle of the day. Keep it simple and fun by going for walks, swimming, biking, or doing some basic strength exercises. The key is to mix it up often and have fun with moving your body. Find what works best for you, sometimes finding a buddy will help keep you both accountable. 


4. Plan Ahead!!! Most of us are on the go quite a bit in the summer and even if we’re not, it’s incredibly important to plan ahead for everything! Whether you’re vacationing, heading to a cookout, or doing lunch with some friends, there are typically many opportunities to over indulge in some not so healthy foods or activities. Consider what your schedule will look like, what foods you can take with you, and make a plan in advance for how much you intend to indulge vs choosing healthier options. You don’t have to be the mother saint of everything healthy, but if you want to feel good in your body, planning is 100% the best thing you can do to keep yourself in check. For instance- Going to a cookout? See if you can take along a healthy option. Vacationing? Maybe you make a few of your own meals instead of eating out every meal or you check out restaurant menus ahead of time to find the healthier options and order an extra side of veggies.


5. Add in the good stuff first. You don’t have to deprive yourself at all. Piggy backing off of tips number #2 and #4, plan ahead to add in fruits and veggies to your meal first. That way, you fill up on the good stuff and tend to crowd out more of the not so great stuff plus you ensure you’re body is getting the nutrition it needs while not feeling like you have to avoid everything under the sun.


6. Practice self care and slow things down. We are on the go all the time these days and it’s more important than ever to take time to yourself to slow down, recuperate, and relax. What makes you feel calm and rejuvenated? A bath, reading a book, painting, dancing, getting a massage, playing a game with someone you love? Do whatever it is that fills your cup so to speak- unplugged! Get out of in front of your screens, away from technology, and do whatever makes you feel happy. Even if it’s 5 minutes here and there, slow down to fill up!


7. Get Your Zzz’s. We give our kids a bedtime routine or we usually had one as a kid ourselves. When and why did we ever stop this practice? Sleep is crucial to our health and well-being. It’s our bodies time to repair itself and without decent sleep, we simply don’t function on any level at our best. Getting into an evening routine can certainly help with getting to sleep and staying asleep through the night.

 

Check in with your health, how are you doing in each of these areas so far this summer? What could use some more attention and improvement? Being aware of areas we need to focus on with our health is the first step to improving those aspects that could use some extra attention. 

 

Be gentle with yourself and start with one thing at a time, all the little things you do in the course of a day, a week, a month... they add up and it all matters. If you would like some support with getting started or maintaining some of these habits, let's chat - schedule a free consult by clicking here. 

 

Here's to enjoying the rest of your summer, 

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Lisa

Date-Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Every time I talk to someone about transitioning to a plant based diet, they inevitably ask me for recipes. They need help finding those plant based recipes that replicate their favorite comfort foods.

 

So I've been playing in the kitchen again and have decided to bring back the blog to bring you exactly what you're asking for...  some plant based comfort food recipes! I'm no expert food blogger... yet! It's been quite a while since I have blogged at all so please bear with me as I dive into the world of food blogging. It will be a work in progress. 

 

We're starting with the chocolate chip cookie. Why the chocolate chip cookie? 

 

Well, that's what I was hungry for and the hubs metabolism has spiked with more running recently so he's been wanting some more protein snacks to have on hand to keep him satiated throughout the day. 

 

My solution was some protein rich chocolate chip cookies. I found a couple recipes on Pinterest but didn't quite have the ingredients for either recipe I thought looked good so I decided to come up with my own inspired by one of the recipes that used chickpeas as the base. We love chickpeas in our house so I was pretty sure I could not go wrong with these cookies.  

 

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Luckily, I was right and they turned out so amazing that I've made the recipe a couple times now and we've devoured the cookies (a little too quickly) both times! 

 

Time to jump into the one of the other main ingredients... the dates. If you have never tried a date before, I highly recommend trying one asap! To me, dates are one of the most perfect foods nature has ever provided for us. Although they may not look that appealing, trust me when I say they are sweet, chewy and deliciousness. 

 

Plus, they are full of minerals and vitamins!

 

dates

 

In this recipe, I made a date paste using 10 soaked dates (soaked in water) and a few tablespoons of almond milk. I use my high powered blender for the date paste but you can definitely use a food processor. Date paste is an alternative to using a sweetener such as maple syrup or honey.

 

You can use date paste in several recipes as a sub for sweetener or enjoy it as a sweet topping for other desserts. While sugar is sugar, dates contain so many nutrients and fiber that I'm A-Okay with using dates as a sweetener in recipes. 

 

date paste

 

Once you prep the date paste, the next thing to prep is a flax egg. It's incredibly simple to make a flax egg and because the flax gets gelatinous when mixed with liquid (water), it works perfectly as a plant based egg substitute. 

 

flax

 

To make a flax egg, you will mix 1 Tbsp of flax meal with 3 Tbsp of water and let it sit for a few minutes before using to allow the water to be absorbed by the flax. Again, more fiber and nutrients are added by using flax. Be sure to use flax meal (ground flax) as opposed to the full flax seed. 

 

Once you've prepped the date paste and flax egg, everything else except the chocolate chips go into a food processor. 

 

food processor

 

Once the cookie dough is blended, you'll mix in the dairy free chocolate chips and scoop the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet to pop in the oven. 

 

mixed up

 

I like to press down on the dough once it's scooped onto the baking sheet to flatten the cookie. This allows them to bake more evenly and ensure the the center gets fully baked. While I know many people love eating raw cookie dough and this one is totally edible, you'll want these cookies to bake all the way through or they will fall apart and not store well. 

 

Out of the oven

 

The cookies will bake until they start to brown on top. It's important to allow the cookies to cool completely before storing. 

 

Date-Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep Ahead
10 minutes

Date Paste

10 Pitted Dates

3-4 Tbsp Almond Milk

You'll want to prep the date paste first by soaking your pitted dates (10 total for this recipe) in filtered water for approximately 10 minutes. After the dates have soaked, you'll drain the water off and add the dates to a high powered blender or food processor with 3-4 Tbsp of non-dairy milk such as almond milk. Process into a paste. 

Flax Egg 

1 Tbsp Flax meal (ground flax)

3 Tbsp water

To prep the flax egg, combine flax meal with water and let sit for 3-5 minutes until gelatinous. 

 
Cooking Time
15-20 minutes
Yields Approx. 24 cookies


Ingredients

Date paste (10 dates + 3 Tbsp Almond Milk)

Flax egg (1 Tbsp flax meal + 3 Tbsp water)

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup almond flour 

1 tsp vanilla 

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 cups non-dairy dark chocolate chips 

 
Directions
 

Preheat oven to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Prep date paste and flax egg. Combine all ingredients, including date paste and flax egg, in food processor, except chocolate chips. Once ingredients are combined into dough, mix in chocolate chips with a spatula. 

Scoop dough by Tbsp onto parchment line baking sheet and flatten cookies for baking. Bake 15-20 minutes keeping a close eye not to burn. Cookies are done when they begin to brown on top. Remove from oven and let cool completely before storing. 

Enjoy with a glass of almond milk! 

 

Print Recipe Here


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