Posts tagged Christmas
So Many Gifts!

So this has been an amazing week and I have so much to share with you!

My itty bitty baby bump! I'm 6'1" tall and it's still early yet ;)

My itty bitty baby bump! I'm 6'1" tall and it's still early yet ;)

First off, I would like to officially, publicly, announce that I am PREGNANT!!! and my husband and I are over the moon with happiness! Honestly, after my accident I was scared that I might not be able to have children and even after I was told I still could, I feared there was some injury or damage that had gone unnoticed that would still cause problems. But thankfully, joyfully, we got pregnant pretty easily once we started trying!

I feel so blessed and grateful, and appreciative of the amazing healing my body has accomplished! Yes, I still have scars - physical and emotional - but my body is healthily and happily carrying a little person now! I am in awe.

Learning to walk again in the hospital after  the accident . Head shaved, arm still in a cast with pins in my wrist, and I remember my left leg (that had been broken in 5 places) felt heavy and numb, like dead wood. I was 23 years old at the time.

Learning to walk again in the hospital after the accident. Head shaved, arm still in a cast with pins in my wrist, and I remember my left leg (that had been broken in 5 places) felt heavy and numb, like dead wood. I was 23 years old at the time.

 


Secondly, if you follow me on social media you probably saw that I wrote my exam on Thursday to earn my personal trainer certification with the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and passed with flying colors! I am so excited to have the qualifications necessary to work with and help people (you?!) one-on-one! I plan to start training later in the New Year and when I open the doors to accept new clients, I will let you know in my newsletter so make sure you sign up (top right of this page!) to make sure you're in the know! 

And now, with Christmas right around the corner, I wanted to give you some gift ideas with products and companies that I have, use and LOVE! Some of the links are affiliate links, so I would get a teeny commission if you use the link to buy something, but all the items are meant to help you! Anything I would make goes to helping me support this site but I hope you love and enjoy these things as much as i do! 

The next three companies make the most comfortable, stylish and functional organic clothing I've found yet! I don't like wearing synthetics made from petroleum (nylon, polyester, etc.) next to my skin when I work out and sweat, and the same goes for non-organic cotton which is sprayed with nasty pesticides, because I know there are cleaner, healthier options. I found these companies and since wearing their clothing regularly for months, I love them! They seem to have some killer pre-Christmas sales happening too, so check them out!

PACT apparel  - This company makes the MOST comfortable undies I have ever owned (ladies, no panty lines!) and everything they make is ORGANIC and Fair Trade, and they hold a ton of other awesome certifications!

Plus You can feel good when you buy their products! So if you need stocking stuffers, head over to their website to pick up CUTE socks, COMFY undies and the softest, most comfortable leggings and tees (plus camisoles, hoodies, tights and long johns!) Besides, who wants to wear pesticide-soaked cotton next to your most precious parts?! Every pattern they release is a limited edition so grab it while you can, and if your size is sold out, unfortunately it's gone. But every spring and fall brings new looks!

YOGIIZA - Organic yoga wear. This company is a recent discovery but I have two of their yoga/sports bras and three tank tops and I love them all! I know more Yogiiza apparel is in my future. It's is so soft and stretchy and comfy, yet supportive. Really well made and I love how it looks on! 

Here, I am working out (side lunges with a shoulder raise!) wearing a chocolate and turquoise color Yogiiza tank, Yogiiza sports bra and Gramicci leggings.

Here, I am working out (side lunges with a shoulder raise!) wearing a chocolate and turquoise color Yogiiza tank, Yogiiza sports bra and Gramicci leggings.

Gramicci - I discovered this company earlier this year while searching high and low for organic workout wear. Their NPT Athletic organic cotton and hemp line was the first thing I tried when making the switch to organic workout wear. And I keep looking with excitement every time they come out with a new line or new pieces! The hemp is naturally antibacterial so you don't smell all gross and sweaty even after an intense workout and the cuts and seaming of the clothes make easy movement a breeze. One feature I love is the little pocket in the waistband of the leggings where i can stick small things like my rings when they start to chafe during a workout! They are also committed to greener manufacturing.

 

Now for other things that have improved my life, and I hope they do the same for you!

Want to decorate your Christmas cookies without using the typical artificial (petroleum) food dye that's linked to hyperactivity in children? India Tree makes natural food dyes from vegetable colorants, and colored sprinkles made with the same. Seems like a great stocking stuffer to me!


I mentioned this film in last week's post and it's one of my favorite documentaries now. Released over the summer, I saw it in the theater and found it shocking, infuriating but also really inspirational because it shows what can be done. Our "food system" is broken and our nation is sick but there is a way through. This would be an awesome gift for anyone who cares about their health and is ready to make a change, or just become more informed.


Food, Inc. is THE film that inspired my husband and I to completely change how we eat. It wasn't a drastic change so don't feel intimidated but armed with the information in this film, it was easy for us to make smarter, better choices. The film is extremely well done, engrossing and inspiring. Shocking, too, in parts. It would be a great gift for anyone! It's kind of amazing :)


 

I recently found a toothbrush with a bamboo handle and I love it! Have you ever thought about how much plastic goes into the landfills because of all the toothbrushes we throw away? I'm using a different brand than this (the brand I found in my local store wasn't available on Amazon) but it looks pretty much the same as these and the bamboo is a sustainable resource (it grows back, fast) that will decompose when you throw the toothbrush away. Seems like a great gift for anyone who cares about the environment, and their teeth!


This book. Oh my god, THIS BOOK. I can't even begin to tell you how incredible it is and why everyone needs to read it. This book finally made me understand meditation and its benefits, and if you're like me and you need to know WHY something works, this book has it. The author is a science journalist who writes extremely well and who has faced more in her life than most of us, yet is still able to help thousands with her writing. It's so good. Just buy it for everyone you know who needs a little healing in their life.

 

I read this book right after I got out of the rehab hospital and it gave me SO. MUCH. HOPE! For anyone who has suffered a brain injury and is lucid and focused enough to read it, or the family or friends of anyone with a brain injury, this book is incredible. It's full of case studies that show the remarkable healing power of our brains and despite the scientific content, it's EXTREMELY well written and hard to put down. Highly recommended!!! 

 

I love these spices! All organic, never sprayed with pesticides and no GMO ingredients. These spices are not certified gluten free but I've never reacted to them, and they have many spice and seasoning mixes that are gluten free. And the little glass bottles are so cute to look at and re-use!

I know many of you are reading from Canada and the Amazon links are to the U.S. site, but hopefully you can get them on Amazon.ca, or in a store near you!

You can also purchase photographic prints, cards and keepsakes for the art lover in your life from m.y. photography!

What are your stories of healing? Has your body ever amazed you with its ability to heal? Has healing been hard and left you wondering how you'll ever feel like yourself again? I'd love to hear from you in the comments! 
And I hope this helps you with your last minute Christmas shopping! If you have any gift ideas of your own you want to share, leave them in the comments below! And what's on your wish list? I hope Santa brings you exactly what you're hoping for!

xo Maggie


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Sweet Dreams...

Annie Lennox was onto something more than just her original meaning when she wrote her 80s hit. We've all experienced the hold sugar can have on us. Its sticky, cloying fingers taking hold, convincing us to just have one more bite...Ok two.  

Here's the official music video for Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics. Besides getting a big dose of nostalgia (I totally was the girl singing into a spoon in my living room while listening to my mom's cassette tape!), the lyrics can totally work in this context.

I'll be honest, I have a HUGE sweet tooth. Chocolate, candy, cookies, ice cream, cupcakes... I love it all. And despite trying to "eat clean" and making my health a priority (which means I don't eat much sweet stuff), I still crave it sometimes! 

With Christmas right around the corner and Thanksgiving just behind us, you're probably inundated with holiday treats already. Little goodies hanging out on the counter, in the living room as part of the decor... I know, traditions (or are they just habits?) are hard to break and sweets make you feel all warm and fuzzy... at least in the short term.

Sugar.

Sugar.

I discovered, though, as my healing journey progressed, that too much sugar has a pretty gnarly effect on me cognitively, and it messes with my digestion! Personally, too much sugar (even too much simple carbs or starchy foods, which also get broken down into glucose, or blood sugar, in our bodies) makes me cranky, emotional, HUNGRY, tired and foods I can normally eat without issue suddenly give me indigestion. I'm a mess! And I'm not the only one. Sugar can have a detrimental effect on all of us and after I saw the film, Fed Up, over the summer, I was floored by what's happening to people because of the sweet stuff we love so much. Obesity and diabetes typically come to mind but it's even linked to developing depression and dementia!

Fed Up official trailer

Sugar has been on my mind a lot this week. A report by The Cornucopia Institute  came out recently focusing on the unhealthy and sometimes dangerous ingredients often found in yogurt, including... you guessed it - sugar.

When I worked with The Cornucopia Institute this past summer, I worked on this report and most of  the section on sweeteners was researched and written by yours truly! I already knew sugar wasn't good for me but doing research into the details was really shocking and eye-opening!

When talking about sugar, I don't want to scare you off naturally occurring sugar found in fruit, grains and dairy. Those are part of complete, whole foods that come with everything we need to digest and use those sugars in a beneficial way. No, the bad guy here is ADDED sugar. And yogurt, despite being thought of, and marketed as, a health food, often has a ton of it. Even the organic brands.

While doing research, I perused the yogurts available at a grocery store I frequent and picked up an individually sized cup of Stonyfield fat-free Chocolate Underground flavor yogurt. I flipped it over, expecting to see the 24, 26, or 28 grams of sugar per serving that I'd been seeing on the "nutrition facts" labels of fruit flavored yogurts. HA! No, this baby has 35 GRAMS OF SUGAR! A Snickers bar has 27 grams of sugar. I was stunned. 

Ok, we're going to eat sugary food. It's yummy. We like it. But how much is "ok" to eat? The World Health Organization recently lowered its recommendations to 5% of our total daily caloric intake, which works out to about 25 grams of added sugar per day.

Coconut sugar (left), cane sugar (right)

Coconut sugar (left), cane sugar (right)

One teaspoon of sugar weighs about 4 grams, so 25 grams would be about 6 teaspoons, and on most of the yogurts I researched, we get that in one freaking serving! Scary, right? And we haven't even gotten as far as that cookie I had at lunch, or the dessert you want after dinner. Or the Christmas cookies that will soon fill the cookie jar! So what are we to do?

I don't avoid added sugars altogether. I do try to minimize them because of how it makes me feel but that all started with being mindful and aware of how I felt after I ate something and started to feel bad. Like I blogged about gluten last week, food affects how I feel! I still have still have cognitive challenges caused by my TBI, so why on earth would I want to compound those difficulties by eating food that makes it worse?!

When it comes to the holidays, I do indulge. But I pay attention to what I'm eating and why and I don't just pig out mindlessly. Because I can't eat gluten, it saves me from most of the cakes and cookies that tend to lie around people's homes and I'm quite happy to make treats of my own, where I can control the preparation, and the sugar content!

A lot of information is circulating the internet about "healthy" sugars but I really want you to know, THERE IS NO SUCH THING. Ok yes, coconut and maple sugar do contain some minerals that may be beneficial, and raw honey has some enzymes, but they're still sugar with similar fructose/glucose ratios to table sugar. And agave with it's low glycemic index? It can be around 90% fructose, which doesn't spike your blood sugar but rather goes straight to your liver to be processed where it generates the production of fat and other undesirable things! Because it's not glucose, it can't be used for energy in the same way and it affects the brain differently. Glucose makes us feel satisfied, but fructose doesn't and we just get hungrier, so we eat more, which can contribute to weight gain, too.

You probably know that fructose is the "fruit sugar" - the type of sugar found in fruit. But again, don't write off fruit! Remember the fiber and nutrients found in fruit that we need. And besides, fruit like apples, grapes and blueberries have only 5-10% fructose by weight. Dates and raisins have more than that but I'd still pick those, with their fiber and vitamins, over a chocolate bar any day! I actually frequently snack on dried organic mango and pineapple and they've totally become a satisfying and healthy stand in for gummy candy! The sugar content is still higher than fresh fruit, so I limit how much I eat, but it never makes me feel drained and gross! :)

DriedMango650QuoteWM.jpg

Ok, this is getting long. I just get so fired up about it because sugar is making us SO sick as a nation and it's is hiding in so many processed foods where we wouldn't even think to look. When was the last time you checked the "per serving" sugar content of your pasta sauce? If you have a favorite sugar-free pasta sauce, please share it in the comments below this post!

Eating real, whole foods that you make yourself can help you avoid sugar overload. Sugar hides in processed food (and fast food is typically loaded with it) so reading the label is always a good defense when you have to buy something in a package. If you're worried about your sugar consumption over the holidays, just make it your goal to be mindful of it! Don't deprive yourself, just pay attention. You may find you don't actually want ANOTHER green Christmas tree cookie after all. Drinking lots of water and going to bed on time helps me too. Sometimes what I mistake for hunger or a sugar craving is really just a bit of dehydration, or a need for a quick energy boost because I'm actually tired

If you need holiday gift ideas, check out THIS post ;) Wishing you a beautiful holiday season and no sugar hangovers!

xo Maggie


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