The Happy Healthy Hunny 2-Week Clean Eating Reset

Overview

What is clean eating? There are a lot of opinions on what “clean” food really is, but to me it means eating things that either

  1. are a plant,
  2. grew from a plant,
  3. ate a plant,
  4. ate something that ate a plant, or
  5. are products of either 3 or 4 – meaning something like milk.

Basically, not eating things that were made in an industrial plant.

The Clean Eating Reset is designed to help you start kicking cravings to sugar and processed foods so that you have an easier time sticking to a healthy lifestyle. Once sugar and nutrient-deficient processed foods are in our bodies, we want more and more of them. The only way to kick the cravings is to let these foods (or I should say “foods”) pass through your system so that your body forgets about them and no longer craves them. Processed foods and sugar are truly a drug designed to be addictive and need to be treated as such.

Why 2 weeks? Because two weeks is a time frame that you’re likely to stick to. A 30-day clean eating program can seem really daunting and big challenges that we’re not used to doing often lead us to feeling overwhelmed and then self-sabotaging ourselves. This doesn’t mean that you can’t keep going past the two weeks, but I do think you’ll have an easier time staying committed to the reset by starting with two weeks.

I’m also including tips and challenges for self-care because cleaning out negative thoughts from your mind is really important to living a healthy lifestyle. The vast majority of our unhealthy habits and choices stem from a negative emotion and if you can turn those emotions around and/or learn how to cope with them in healthier ways, you’ll see a huge turnaround in your physical health.

Thank you for trying out my Clean Eating Reset and congratulations on making a decision to work towards a happier and healthier You!

Clean Food List

Vegetables:

  • All vegetables are clean if they come fresh or frozen!

Proteins:

  • Meats such as chicken, turkey, pork, beef, and wild game
  • Fish such as tuna, haddock, salmon, and shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Natural protein powders derived from plants, like the Vega brand
  • Nuts do have protein, but are considered more of a fat source
  • Beans do have protein, but are considered more of a carb source
  • Note: Foods like chicken nuggets and fish sticks do not count as “clean” because even though they started as a clean food, they were processed in an industrial plant. Keep proteins as close to their natural source as possible, unless it’s a ground meat product with no additives

Fats:

  • Nuts- raw, dry roasted, and/or salted are all OK
  • Nut spreads – with no additives like sugar
  • Seeds – such as Chia and Flax
  • Egg yolk
  • Avocado
  • Olive Oil & Coconut Oil
  • Animal fat
  • Whole Fat: Butter & Milk & Greek Yogurt (limit dairy intake)

Carbs:

  • Fruit – just like vegetables, they’re clean fresh or frozen!
  • Potatoes – regular or sweet
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Beans
  • Oats (minimally processed)
  • Whole Grains (limit as much as possible)

Beverages:

  • Water – lots of it!
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Fresh-squeezed fruit & vegetable juice
  • Coconut, Almond, and other nut milks are all clean if there are no additives

Self-Care

Tips:

  • Work on having a positive mindset focused “I can do this and whatever else I set my mind to”
  • Replace criticisms of yourself with compliments
  • Surround yourself with people who bring you positivity instead of negativity and lift you up instead of put you down
  • Smile at yourself whenever you look in the mirror to build confidence and self-love
  • Take time for yourself to do things you enjoy to remind yourself that your needs are a priority
  • Focus on your health and how you feel rather than how you look
  • Stick to physical activities you actually enjoy so that exercise doesn’t feel like a punishment or something you “have to do”
  • Always focus on the things you have accomplished instead of the goals you have not reached
  • Have the courage to follow your intuition and to follow the paths that you know are right for you, rather than letting other people guide your life. It will limit feelings of helplessness and build more self-confidence.

Challenges:

  • During the reset, have at least 80% of your meals be home-cooked, even if they were cooked at someone else’s home or by someone else.
  • Over the two weeks, set aside time for physical activity at least 6 times. It can be going to the gym, doing a workout at home, going for a walk around the neighborhood, or anything else that gets you moving. Make sure to only pick activities you enjoy!
  • Over the two weeks, set aside time for meditation at least 2 times. It can be as little as 5 minutes in total silence or listening to a soothing song and connecting with what you are feeling in the moment. Or it can be a longer guided meditation directed towards a goal you have.
  • Make a list of the ways you want to feel as a new “goals” list instead of one that is appearance-based and keep that somewhere you can look at whenever you’re feeling discourage or un-motivated.
  • Every time you criticize yourself or someone else makes a criticism of you, give yourself 3 compliments to negate the criticism.

What are your favorite clean eating recipes and favorite things to do for self-care? Comment below or on the Facebook post!

Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy You,

Ashley


5 Simple Ways to Build Self-Love

Self-love is the most important part of living a happy – and healthy – life. It’s what gives you the confidence and strength to fight for the life you deserve surrounded by others who empower you instead of one filled with self-doubt surrounded by people who tear you down further. Self-love doesn’t mean you can’t love others and they can’t love you. It means that you love yourself so fully that you are able to love others selflessly and that other people’s love of you is simply a bonus rather than the determining factor of your happiness.

Self-love is knowing that you are worth all of the beautiful things in life you desire and having the courage to get them for yourself.

But building self-love can be tough. We live in a world that constantly makes us aware of our “flaws”.  It tells us we’re not smart enough. We’re not thin enough. We’re not pretty enough. We’re not good enough. It’s up to you to break through all of that negative noise and convince yourself that are good enough.

Here are simple things you can do on a daily basis to improve your self-love:

  1. Smile at yourself whenever you look in a mirror. This is honestly the easiest and most impactful way to build self-love. Think about the warm fuzzies you feel when someone else smiles at you. You have the power to give those feelings to yourself whenever you smile in a mirror. It’s a silent way of saying “I like you. You are worth kindness.” And the best part is that those feelings or worth are coming from yourself, making other people’s opinions of you unimportant.
  2. Accept compliments from other people. How often does someone compliment you and your response is to negate that compliment whether out loud to that person or in your own head? Imagine the difference it would make in your self-esteem to believe the compliments you get instead of always putting yourself down.
  3. Take time for self-care. Most of us are guilty of making the other people in our life our priority and never taking the time to put ourselves first. It’s so important to take “me time” to do something good for yourself. Whether that’s getting a massage, getting your nails done, doing an at-home spa night, taking your favorite spin class, quietly reading a great book, or binge-watching your favorite TV show. As long as it’s something YOU want to do that makes YOU happy, do it! It’s a simple way to remind yourself that your needs are just as important as everyone else’s.
  4. Stand up for yourself. This one is a bit more challenging and uncomfortable to do at first, but it is so worth it. Think about the people in your life who push you around and make you feel bad about yourself. Now imagine standing up to those people and preventing them from putting you down. It can be scary standing up to someone, especially if they are in a position “above” you such as a boss or parent, but allowing someone to insult you or push you around on a regular basis can have a huge negative impact on your self-worth and the sooner you stop their behavior, the sooner you’ll feel better about yourself.
  5. Make a list of everything you like about yourself. Once you start your list, you’ll be surprised by how quickly it will grow! It may start out as just a few things, but over time that list will grow as your self-love grows. You can either keep a running list on a piece of paper or you can put sticky notes somewhere in your home that you’ll see every day so you’ll have a constant reminder of all of the great things about you. Imagine the impact of combatting the negative messages you receive every day from the outside world with your own positive words about yourself. Now that’s self-empowerment!

Do you have other ways to improve your self-love? Share them in the comments either on my site or Facebook page!

Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy You,

Ashley


The Best Cardio for Weight Loss

There are some inexplainable people out there who actually enjoy cardio and do it for fun, but I’ve found that when most people step onto a treadmill it’s for one thing only: weight loss.

There are plenty of debates out there of what the best method of cardio is to burn fat and the one I believe most in is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). That means raising your heart rate up, dropping it back down, and doing it all over again. You can either set up a weight training circuit for a HIIT workout or simply do it on a piece of cardio equipment. I much prefer cardio equipment to going outside for a HIIT-style workout because it’s a lot easier to track what you’re doing in terms of resistance, speed, time, and intensity.

Since this article is titled “the best cardio for weight loss” we’re going to just talk about cardio and save weight training for weight loss for another time. (Although I did write an article just under this one on the Fitness tab about the benefits of weight training that mention weight loss).

So why is HIIT such a great way to burn fat? Well, raising your heart rate and dropping it back down repeatedly over short periods of time will actually boost your metabolism long after your workout is over. So instead of spending an hour at a moderate steady pace doing cardio, you can spend 15-30 minutes at a high intensity and end up burning more calories and fat over time. Think about all you can do with that extra 30-45 minutes! Like adding in some weight training for those of you don’t *wink* *wink*. Or snuggled up on the couch having more time for a Netflix binge. The choice is yours.

What does HIIT look like in cardio form? Sprints! What qualifies as a sprint? Hitting roughly 75% or greater of your max heart rate. An easy way to guestimate of your max heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. There are lots of variations to that equation, but all of them will get you in the same ball park. Most cardio equipment will have hand sensors so you can keep track of your heart rate while you’re working out.

Now that we know sprints are the way to go and what qualifies as a sprint, the only thing left to discuss is timing. That means how long you should be at your sprint pace to raise your heart rate and how long you should be at your low/moderate pace to drop your heart rate. And the wonderful answer is that you can totally accommodate your interval times to your cardiovascular strength levels and your general preferences. So, someone without a lot of cardiovascular strength may be more comfortable starting at an interval timing of 30 seconds “on” (or sprinting) and 1 minute 30 seconds “off” (or at the lower speed). You can eventually work up to making your “on” and “off” times even, for instance doing 1 minute each. The idea is to take just enough time to catch your breath and gear up for the next sprint without totally relaxing and going into a cool down.

Play around with your intervals and see what gives you the best workout for the level you’re at! The beautiful thing about sprints is that you can always be adjusting them as far as timing, speed, and equipment so you never have to get bored and your body never gets a chance to adjust. If you have any specific sprinting questions, please leave them in the comments either here on my site or on my Facebook page and I’m happy to answer them 🙂

Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy You,

Ashley


How to De-Stress and Reduce Symptoms of Anxiety

Whether you suffer from full-blown anxiety or just the stress of daily life, there are simple things you can do every day to feel better. I will say that if you do have anxiety, it is always a smart move to at least talk to your primary care doctor and hopefully see a therapist because these tips may not be enough. But I do believe they can make a big difference for those with daily stress and also help in the quality of life for those suffering from anxiety.

The most important thing you can do is to to identify what causes you stress/anxiety and, if you are able to, avoid those situations and people. For example: I personally struggle with large crowds, so I avoid bars/clubs, large parties, and I do my shopping when I know the store won’t be its busiest.

However, sometimes it can be difficult to avoid our stressors, like in the instance of our jobs. If you are not prepared to leave your job and it is causing you a lot of stress, it is important to find ways to manage that stress. If there are certain co-workers who are adding to the problem, try having a respectful conversation with them about how they can help you out or at least not make things worse for you. You can also use your lunch break to completely leave the building to get a mental break in your day that will allow you to regroup. If it is the amount of work you have stressing you out, try creating to-do lists and check things off as you go so that you continue to feel accomplished and your tasks feel manageable.

Work is one (and probably the most common) example, but there are many other factors in our life that can be contributing to our stress/anxiety. Each case will have its own specific ways in which it can be helped, but let’s talk about general methods of reducing stress that may apply to a situation you find yourself in.

  • Meditate. Meditating at least once a day – whether in the morning, mid-day, or at night – is a great way to calm your mind and center yourself. It is a period of time for you to disconnect with the world and focus on yourself and what you are feeling. Guided meditations are an excellent way to bring positivity into your life.
  • Prioritize. Sometimes just having too many things going on can cause a lot of stress. Being able to look at the bigger picture and prioritize what should be done first and possibly finding things that can be taken off of the list altogether will help a lot with stress management.
  • Prioritize part 2. Another way to look at prioritizing is to decide what deserves your energy and attention and what does not. Sometimes there are things that stress us out that are beyond our control and it is important to be able to remove them from our thoughts and not give them any energy. Instead, focus your energy and attention on the positive things in your life to bring more peace and happiness.
  • Breathe. When you do find yourself caught up in stress and anxiety and it feels overwhelming, take a few moments to breathe. Think of it as a mini meditation where all you are focusing on is your breath and centering yourself. It is a great opportunity to tune out whatever is causing you stress and to focus on something simple.
  • Talk. Sometimes the most helpful thing to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed is to talk to someone about it. It gives you a chance to get out of your own head and see things more clearly. Plus, venting always feels great because you know you are not alone in your problem. Whether the person gives you advice you wouldn’t have come up with on your own or just provides emotional support, you’re going to leave the conversation feeling much better and more in control of whatever is stressing you out.
  • Exercise. Whether it’s running it out, lifting it out, dancing it out, punching it out, or doing whatever you like best, exercising is an incredible stress-reliever. Not only do you create an outlet for your aggression, you also release feel-good endorphins that will help fight off the negativity in your life.
  • Reduce Caffeine. As someone who used to drink 4 cups of coffee a day and constantly had the jitters and was an anxious wreck, I can confidently say that reducing your caffeine intake will work wonders on your stress and anxiety. You don’t need to go cold turkey (I still have 1-2 cups per day), but keep lowering your intake until you feel those daily jitters go away and find that your stress levels have been significantly reduced.

If you have any other methods of stress-reduction, feel free to leave them in the comments 🙂 I’d love to hear your ideas!

Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy You,

Ashley


The Best Daily Supplements and Their Benefits

Let me start out by saying that every person has different needs based on their genetic makeup and diet so it’s important to know what vitamin deficiencies you have before starting a daily regimen. Surprisingly, there is such a thing as overdoing it with vitamins! The best thing to do is to go to your doctor to find out what you are lacking and then create a mix of supplements and vitamins that work best for your body.

Because we all have different deficiencies, a multi-vitamin isn’t a great option because they try to be a “one-size-fits-all” solution and that’s just not how our bodies work. By taking a multi-vitamin, you’ll end up overdoing it on some vitamins while still have deficiencies with others.

That said, let’s talk about some of the most common supplements and vitamins that can really make a big impact on your daily life and overall health.

Probiotics & Prebiotics:

A daily probiotic/prebiotic is hands-down my favorite supplement. There is nothing worse than dealing with digestional discomfort. Many of us suffer from bloating, going to the bathroom too much or not enough, and just general pain in our stomachs. There are different reasons for these issues – ranging from overdoing it on antibiotics to simply having an unbalanced fiber intake to having food sensitivities – but a good-quality probiotic can make a world of difference by fixing your gut bacteria. The best probiotics are ones that still have live cultures. These ones are typically found refrigerated either in pill form. The other way they’re refrigerated? As pickles! That’s right – eating pickled vegetables (that have to stay refrigerated) is a great source of probiotics. Other natural food sources of probiotics are: yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh.  Now you’re probably wondering what the heck is a prEbiotic. A prebiotic is the food for a probiotic, which means having prebiotics helps your probiotics to work better for you. Like probiotics, you can find a prebiotic pill, but there are also foods you can incorporate into your daily diet instead. These include: raw chicory root, raw or cooked onions, raw Jerusalem artichokes,  raw garlic, raw dandelion greens, raw leeks, raw asparagus, and bananas.

Fish Oil:

Fish oil is another one of my favorites that I will never give up. Fish oil is packed full of omega-3 fatty acids, which can also be found in oily fish like salmon. Unless you’re eating a lot of omega-3 fatty acids in your food, a great way to get a lot of health benefits is to pop a fish oil pill every day. Some of the benefits of fish oil are: lowered risk of heart disease, improved mental health and cognitive functioning, supports eye health and vision as you age, and reduces inflammation.

Vitamin D:

I started taking vitamin D3 a couple of years ago because I was told it can help with the “winter blues”, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you spend a lot of time outdoors in warmer climates, chances are you get enough vitamin D from the sun. But a lot of us spend most of our time indoors and/or live in climates that are not sunny and warm year-round. So, if you don’t get a lot of sun exposure, taking vitamin D every day can have a lot of benefits. These benefits include: reduces depression; promotes bone health by aiding in the absorption of calcium; lowers blood pressure; aids in weight-loss; and reduces the risk of diabetes, heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.

Calcium:

Calcium is extremely important for your health and best way to get it is definitely through your diet. Unfortunately, most people suffer from calcium deficiencies so a calcium supplement could be the way to go if your diet doesn’t include a lot of dairy, leafy greens, and beans. The benefits of calcium include: bone, heart, muscle, and nerve health and possibly protecting against cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Vitamin E:

Another popular choice for a daily vitamin is vitamin E. It can be found in certain plant foods, but if you have a deficiency then a daily supplement may be the way to go. The benefits of vitamin E are seemingly endless, but they include: balanced cholesterol, disease prevention, skin repair, thicker hair, balanced hormones, improved PMS symptoms, improved vision, brain health such as helping those with Alzheimer’s, and improved physical endurance and muscle strength.

Vitamin A:

The last vitamin we’ll discuss is vitamin A, which is a powerful antioxidant. There are two main sources of vitamin A, which are active vitamin A – found in animal product – and beta carotene – found in colorful fruits and vegetables. You want to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin A either from your diet or a supplement because there are so many great benefits, including: eye health, immune support, reduced inflammation, skin health and cell growth, and cancer prevention.

These were just a few of the many vitamins and supplements that can help you feel – and even look – better and there are many more! Again, the best way to know what you need is to go to your doctor and get tested for deficiencies. I hope learning about all of the benefits mentioned above inspires you to take more control over your health!

Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy You,

Ashley