5 Reasons Why Portion Control Works

How to make a simple lunch.png

About four years ago I learned about the portion control containers. These containers were meant to show me how much food from each food group I was eating. They helped me see which food category I lacked in and which food category I was overeating.

What I learned was that as a vegetarian I was eating too many carbohydrates and not enough protein; this includes plant protein. These rainbow-colored containers help you add more flavor to your food without adding calories.

Below are 5 reasons why portion control works for everyone.

Autumn Calabrese Quote
  1. You may be eating too many healthy foods. Have you ever thought that it was wrong to eat too many healthy foods? Well, it turns out that too much of anything isn’t good for you; this includes water. When you eat too many healthy foods of a particular category, your body doesn't respond well. It craves nutrients from other foods, and your body ends up being out of balance.

  2. You may not be eating enough. I was astonished at the fact that although I was eating a lot, I actually wasn't eating enough. I needed to eat more veggies and plant protein to keep my active body awake. Although I was eating healthy, the food containers helped me visually see how much more food I needed to be eating.

  3. You may be overeating your favorite foods. Of course, we all have our favorite foods, but if we only at pasta, fries, or cheesecake, our bodies would be lacking in essential nutrients that other foods have to offer. We would not be performing at our highest potential because our body would be lacking in nutrients.

  4. Eating unbalanced leads to lethargy, brain fog, and much more. When we don't eat foods that nourish our bodies, our bodies begin to react in various ways. For some, it may be acne, eczema, and skin irritations. For others, it may be weight gain, brain fog, and lethargy. Just because one may be eating a bag of chips of day and not gaining any additional weight doesn't mean the chemically processed food isn't doing any harm. Trust me I know this one from experience.

  5. You feel full and nourished. When you eat healthily, you have more energy. You're not always hungry...which leads to eating foods that are not good for you. They are just filling in for a craving because you're not eating enough or you're not eating the right types of foods.

All in all, when you use these fantastic rainbow containers, you're able to see how to put together a healthy meal that is meant to nourish you.

Are you interested in learning more about these rainbow food containers?

7 Ingredients You Should Avoid in Your Processed Foods

Food Ingredients to avoid

Many of the foods we eat are processed. However, the issue isn’t if whether we eat processed foods or not; the issue is if we eat chemically processed foods. You see some foods that are processed contain ingredients that are not food. This non-food ingredients are toxic to our bodies and over time show how harmful they are.

In today’s blog I’m going to list seven ingredients that are added to our foods that do more harm than good over time.

  1. Synthetic Pesticides: Farmers use pesticides to kill insects that feed off the crop. There are organic/safer pesticides and synthetic pesticides. We want to stay away from synthetic pesticides as much as possible. Synthetic pesticides have been linked to thyroid disruption, which can lead to weight gain. You can also purchase foods without pesticides at your local farmer’s market. They’re cheaper than organic foods because they don’t have the organic label.

  2. High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and Artificial Sweeteners (i.e., aspartame, saccharin, etc.): HFCS is found in many food ingredients, including bread, crackers, soda, and so much more. HFCS makes you fat, and makes your insulin level spike. Artificial sweeteners are also bad for weight, and are known for slowing down your metabolism and craving even more sweets. Look for ingredients that have real sugar over artificial sweeteners and HFCS.

  3. Trans Fats: Trans fats are found in most processed foods, and have been linked to heart disease and heart attacks. Instead, make sure the product contains real food oils like olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil. Never purchase any food with cottonseed oil. Cotton is not food.

  4. Artificial and Natural Flavors: Artificial flavors can contain petroleum ingredients. Natural flavors are a bit of a mystery because they can be some chemicals like excitotoxins, which can lead to strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, migraines, fatigue, depression, obesity, and Parkinson’s disease.

  5. Food Dyes: Food dyes are typically artificial, and are also made up of petroleum ingredients. Some even have insect parts! Food dyes may contribute to hyperactivity in children, skin issues, asthma, and allergies. The worst ingredients are yellow #5, tartrazine (E102), yellow #6 (E110), citrus red #2 (E121), blue #2 (E132), red #3 (E127), red #40 (E129), caramel coloring, and blue #1 (E133). Again, look for real food ingredients.

  6. Dough Conditioners: Dough conditioners have been used by bakers for years because it makes the bread fluffy and appetizing. Unfortunately, these conditioners may contain human hair, duck feathers, and even yoga mat chemicals. Avoid bread that uses these ingredients: amino acid L-cysteine, azodicarbonamide or DATEM, potassium bromate, diglycerides, and monoglycerides. Instead, purchase bread-like products like Food for Life’s Ezekiel bread or Canyon Bakehouse’s gluten-free bread.

  7. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): MSG is a flavor enhancer. This ingredient may cause headaches, migraines, vomiting, asthma, heart arrhythmias, depression, skin rashes, itching, nausea, and at times, even seizures. This ingredient is found in some processed foods like chips, frozen dinners, salad dressings, canned foods, and more. This ingredient is labeled in many different ways, including the following names:

     

    ·      Glutamic acid

    ·      Glutamate

    ·      Monopotassium glutamate

    ·      Calcium glutamate

    ·      Magnesium glutamate

    ·      Natrium glutamate

    ·      Anything “hydrolyzed”

    ·      Any “hydrolyzed protein”

    ·      Calcium caseinate

    ·      Protese

    ·      Sodium caseinate

    ·      Yeast extract

    ·      Torula yeast

    ·      Yeast food

    ·      Yeast nutrient

    ·      Autolyzed yeast

    ·      Gelatin

    ·      Vetsin

    ·      Ajinomoto

    ·      Umami

Knowing what’s in your food will help you make better healthy decisions that will improve your overall wellness.

Meal Makeover Boot Camp Express


7 Foods to Boost Your Healthy Glow

7 Foods to Boost Your Healthy Glow

Nutrition is key to our health including energy, strength, and skin health. When you improve the way you eat, you can see a wonderful change to how you feel and how your skin looks and feels. In this blog post, you're going to learn about twelve foods that will improve health, skin, and hair. There will be two colors from the rainbow so keep a look out for that.

Cherries: Cherries are a great way to cleanse the liver. They promote healthy hemoglobin and are also considered to be anti-cancerous. Eat cherries as a snack or add them to a smoothie.

Papaya: Papaya is a tropical fruit that is high in enzymes and vitamins A and C. Papayas help nourish and support healthy eyes and skin. Remove the seeds from a papaya and add berries to the middle, drizzle it with honey for a delicious breakfast. You can also cut up a papaya into cubes, drizzle with honey for a delicious snack.

Kimberly Snyder Quote

Mango: Mangoes are delicious tropical fruit. However, in a perfect climate, they can grow in the coastal mountains of California. Mangoes help with reducing stress. They are also a great fruit to eat before going to bed in order to get a restful night.

Spinach: Spinach is rich in vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A a powerful anti-aging vitamin. Vitamin A helps prevent wrinkles. Spinach also includes manganese, calcium, magnesium, zinc, folate, and selenium.

Berries: Berries of all colors are full antioxidants, which help fight free radicals. Berries also have traces of Omegas 3, 6, and 9, which help nourish skin cells.

Eggplant: Eggplants contain fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B6, red-blue flavonoid plant pigment called anthocyanin. Eating eggplants are known to help with reducing blood pressure, anemia, diabetes, and improving heart health.

Potatoes: Potatoes are a wonderful vegetable that has been given a bad rap for a long time. Potatoes themselves are healthy but when they are fried toxic oil, then they become unhealthy. The skin of the potato is the most nutrient dense part. The skin is full of amino acids, proteins, and phytochemicals. Potatoes are rich in vitamin B6 and lysine, which is a powerful weapon against cancer.

I'm only mentioning seven foods for this blog. The fact is that there are hundreds if not thousands of foods out there that come from the earth that are meant to nourish you and bring you health and beauty. Incorporate foods of different colors in your meal and see how your energy, health, skin, and hair improve.

Watch the video below where I talk more on the subject.

7 Tips to Age Gracefully

Age Gracefully

As we all know, aging is a part of life. How we age is in part up to us. Of course, there is genetics that we have to consider. However, genetics isn't everything. How we live our lives will help shape how we age. Like whether or not we smoke, drink, exercise, or take daily walks. All of our lifestyle habits will impact how we age, not just our genetics.

Below are seven habits that you can incorporate into your life that will help you age gracefully.

Diana von Furstenberg quote
  1. Eat Whole Foods: Forget diets! Diets don't work! Eat real foods like rice, apples, eggplant, etc. and make nutritious meals out of it. Eat foods that will do good for your body and health and enjoy mealtime.

  2. Exercise: Find a workout program that you like and do it. Exercising keeps your body youthful and vigorous. It keeps you looking radiant and helps you maintain a healthy and feminine physique. As we age, it is essential that we continue to work out so that our muscles don't atrophy because that makes us weaker.

  3. Drink 70-75 oz of water: Water is an essential nutrient. It helps flush out toxins, lubricate our joints and keep our skin plump. When we don't drink the adequate amounts of water our skin dries up, it's harder to have bowel, and that keeps toxins in our body.

  4. Use Safer Skincare: What you put on your skin is just as important as what you eat. What we put on our skin can irritate our skin, cause rashes, give us headaches, and itchiness. I've had to deal with a lot of less than adequate skin care. Some skincare works but is not good for my health, and other skincare is good for my health but doesn't work. Make sure the skin care you're using. The European Union has banned more than 1,500 harmful ingredients in skin care products, while here in the U.S. we only ban 30. When selecting a product, do your research and find out if the company is doing its best to create safer skin care products for you.

  5. Lower Stress: Stress is something that is so common that we almost see it as normal. However, normal doesn't mean healthy. If you are dealing with a lot of stress, take a step back and ask yourself why you're dealing with so much pressure. Are you doing too much? Are your kids throwing crazy tantrums every 5 minutes? Whatever the case may be, take a step back and see if you need to remove activities from your schedule, see if you may need some training on how to deal with stressful moments. We can improve how we deal with these situations. Also, add some essential oils to your day to help you breathe better during these tense moments.

  6. Sleep: Sleep is very crucial and yet I've heard people say something to the effect that sleep is a waste of time. Rest is a necessity so that our bodies can replenish your body. Sleeping does help in reducing stress, so it's important sleep at least 7.5-8 hours at night.

  7. Practice Gratitude: When we are grateful for what we have, we tend to smile more. When we smile, our mood improves. Smiling helps release cortisol and endorphins, which helps reduce blood pressure, increase endurance, reduce pain and stress and helps strengthen our immune system. Practicing gratitude helps increase our happiness, which in turn improves our health.

Aging is a part of life, and there is nothing we can do about it. However, how we view aging is our choice. How we decide to live our lives is our choice. What's great about getting older is that "beauty" is less of an issue but who you are as a person becomes more important and valuable.

Watch the video below to learn more.

3 Benefits of Using a Charcoal Mask

Charcoal Mask

Have you tried a charcoal mask? Let me tell you they work! I honestly love them. Charcoal masks come in two different forms. They come in a peel or as a traditional wash off mask. Both masks are great! I believe it's just a matter of preference. I personally like to peel off the mask because it's less messy. Anyway, the benefits of charcoal masks are:

1. Helps brighten your skin

Charcoal helps to remove impurities from your skin. When you remove the mask, you will see how much healthier your skin will look. It will have a healthy glow to it, which indicates good circulation.

2. Helps to exfoliate your skin

Charcoal helps remove dead skin from the area. As it's removing impurities and reviving your skin, it is also helping reduce the appearance of pores, giving your skin a more porcelain look.

3. Great for people with oily skin

Charcoal masks help balance the oil secretion from your skin. If you have oily, acne prone skin, it's good to use once or twice a week. If you have dry skin, you can use it once a week or even less like once a month. It's a great way to detoxify your skin regardless of skin type.

Choosing which type of charcoal mask you want to use is up to you. I personally love the peel mask because it's less messy. I have very dry skin and use it once a week to help detoxify my skin. It's a great way to have an at-home facial.

Why I Wrote Meal Makeover Boot Camp

Why I wrote meal makeover boot camp (1).png

I started writing Meal Makeover Boot Camp in October of 2017. I honestly, just started writing. I didn’t know how but I knew this would end up being a book. I had a lot to share. There is so much confusion about what to eat and how much to eat.

These questions were not a topic just two generations ago. I mean, my grandmothers never worried about portion sizes, their micros or macros. They never spoke those words. They just knew that food had to be real, natural, and tasty.

Mirley Guerra Graf Quote

My goal in writing this book was to go back to basics and learn how to eat for nutrition and pleasure. Food is meant to nourish you and enjoyed.

However, putting together a proper meal was always kind of a challenge for me. I knew how to eat a decent dinner, but breakfast and lunch lacked nutrition. So I started to research and read many books on the food.

I learned how to drink green smoothies for breakfast. It was totally weird at first, but once I got the hang of it, I never looked back. Next, I learned how to put together a nutritious lunch. My lunches always lacked nutrition. They were weak. I mean, I didn't get any energy out of them.

As I learned and put in practice everything I was learning, I realized that my energy levels were improving, my skin was brighter, and I just wanted to share everything I learned! As I put together this book, I realized that no book was like mine. Everyone talked about numbers and fancy terms, but no one simplified breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No one simplified these meals. So I did.

I hope that when you read this book, you will learn how to put together a proper meal that will nourish your body and make you smile.

How to lose weight the healthy way

A number of years ago I learned about a woman who wanted to feel confident and beautiful. She went through a procedure to shrink her stomach and a couple of years later do the mommy makeover (tummy tuck and boob job). Sadly, five days after her second procedure she passed away from a blood clot.

While not all women who undergo the Mommy Makeovers have this fatal outcome, the risk still exists. The pressure of looking "perfect" so we can feel beautiful is so intense that many of us are willing taking shortcuts without taking the risks into consideration.

Healthy looks different on everybody. It even looks different during different stages of our lives. My healthy body now does not look the same or even weigh the same as my healthy body from 10 years ago or even 5 years ago. Our body's healthy weight changes over the years. With that change comes a different perspective on how we love our bodies. We cannot realistically expect our bodies to be the same throughout our lives because it does change through the years. I believe we must strive for better health and appreciation of our bodies and NOT try and look "perfect".

We must remember that our actions are also teaching our children what the standard of beauty is. We must first accept where we are in our health journey. If we feel the need to change it, we must do it in a healthy way. This means by eating healthy daily, exercising, practicing self-love and speaking kindly to ourselves.

Rather than feel that we must alter our bodies let's embrace a new kind of beauty standard. A natural beauty standard that is different for everyone. Remember, healthy looks different on everyone. This even changed me and made me realize the pressure that we put on ourselves to be a certain size quickly is ridiculous. Taking short-cuts isn't the answer. We must make positive changes while embracing our natural beauty and body shape.

How I lost weight the healthy way

I am a mother to two beautiful young girls ages 3 and 1. After giving birth to my first daughter, my hips did not go down back to their original size. I honestly believed that that was as wide as they were going to get and I was happy because I liked having wider hips. Although I was still thin, I was happy of my new body. After I gave birth to my second daughter, my body changed once again. I have a larger chest size and my hips got a little wider (not complaining). 

My hips got wider

It's been really fascinating to see my body change naturally. I still eat healthy and exercise daily and now have a more womanly body. I like that! Of course I have to go shopping for new clothes, which can be expensive but totally fun. 

I'm sharing this with you because there is so much external pressure to go back to your original size after giving birth. And I'm here to tell you that if your body goes back to its original size naturally because you are living a healthy lifestyle, then great! It's in your genes to back to that size. But if you're like me, whose body changed as a result of giving birth and you're living a healthy life too, then wonderful! Not all of us are meant to stay at the same size and shouldn't feel the pressure to do so. 

A number of years ago, I was watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians and remember the episode where Kourtney had just given birth to her first born Mason and was asked by a magazine to post her post-baby body. She had 6 months to do it.

The magazine wanted to encourage and motivate women that they too could lose weight fast and get back to their original size. Kourtney workout for hours and did not eat healthy in the process. The result was that she ended being taken to the ER because she passed out from over pushing her body. She of course learned her lesson and with her second child decided to lose weight the healthy way.

I remember watching this episode and really being impacted by it because I honestly felt bad for her. I didn’t have children at the time but I felt the pressure that she had put on herself, as well as society, and the magazine. I remember thinking I would never pressure myself to lose weight quickly because I didn’t want to end up in the ER like her.

Krystal Marks Quote

Now after I gave birth to my first daughter, I was able to lose the weight quickly. I used to be a size 2/4 and after I gave birth I was a well established size 4. However, after giving birth to my second baby, I did not go back to my size and I also did not lose the weight as quickly as the first time.

Nevertheless, I continued to be consistent in eating healthy and exercising. I did change my exercise regiment, which was whatever I felt like doing to actually following a program that gave me results. I’m currently on week 6 in an 8 week program and I’m seeing and feeling the difference. It’s amazing how your body can improve when you’re making the effort to workout. With eating healthy daily and finding a workout program that works for you, you too can lose your pregnancy weight.

I have to conclude by saying that losing weight after giving birth is not a race. It’s a process that is different for all of us. And the results of us eating healthy, exercising, and even the number of children we’ve given birth to will impact our results, which is part of the experience.

Let me know in the comments below if you need extra encouragement and guidance losing weight after giving birth.

How to make a healthy breakfast

An easy, fast and nutritious way to start the day is with a green smoothie. Green smoothies are a blend of leafy greens and fruit that are designed to give you more fiber, vitamins and minerals in a delicious concoction. The fruit are sweet and full of fiber, which helps to remove toxins from your body and help your skin glow (Snyder, 2013). Green smoothies contain up to four servings of greens and three servings of fruit, which according to Dr. Michael Greger (2015), is more than the daily recommendation.

Green smoothies are fast to make in the morning. It is important to alternate the greens and veggies so that each time you make one, you're getting a new delicious flavor and beautiful nutrients entering your body. This simple habit in the morning will help you lose weight, improve your health, get glowing skin, prevent disease, nourish your family, get fit, and feel happier.

Green smoothies give you more energy because you're getting the sugars from the fruit fast into your system giving you a fast pick me up. The leafy greens and fiber help flush out toxins, your skin clears up. It's a great way to combat acne from the inside out. Green smoothies help you focus more due to the high fiber in greens. They help strengthen your immune system and go to the restroom more regularly. This may seem odd to read, but having regular bowel movements is a sign of great health. Finally, green smoothies help you lose weight in a safe and healthy way (Hansard & Sellner, 2015).

There are a couple of options when drinking your green smoothie. Some people only drink a green smoothie in the morning and are satisfied. Others need to eat a small meal along with the green smoothie in order to feel more satisfied.

It is up to you on how you decided to create your meal. Remember to listen to you body and adjust accordingly.

Option 1: Drink a green smoothie alone or complete your breakfast with an entree of your choice. Only add an entree if the green smoothie alone doesn't fill you up.

Option 2: If the green smoothie fills you up, then consider drinking only the green smoothie for breakfast and having oatmeal or a coconut yogurt parfait as a mid-morning snack.

Over time you're going to see how your body craves a green smoothie and this habit will be engrained in you. You won't have to sit and think about what to eat and you will feel more full and satisfied as well.

To get more information, download my FREE eBook and start improving your meals today!

I hate going to the gym

How to make a simple lunch (2).png

I know, I know…I’m a health coach and fitness coach and I should be more excited about going to the gym…but I’m not. The fact is, is that it’s just such a drag to have to get dressed, then get my girls ready, walk to the gym (I live really close to it) and workout. Going to the gym may interfere with their nap schedule and going to child care isn’t going to guarantee that they’re going to get in their nap.

Beachbody Coach_Mirley

Not to mention that I live on the 2nd floor, by the stairs not the elevator, and have to plan ahead for a possible fit on my way to a gym class. 

When I’m at the gym, I’m not always sure what I’m doing. I mean, I have purchased some programs that allow me to workout in the gym and sometimes I go a class. But every now and then then I have to deal with waiting for people to finish using up the equipment, which can lead to time waisted and that’s is just a huge pet-peeve of mine.

However, I have found a solution to my problem. I workout at home! I love to workout at home because I can do when my girls nap. I have all the weights I need and the workout videos include a warm-up and cool down, which is essential to all workouts! Plus I can do a workout challenge and see the progress I make each time I do the workout.

So, if you also struggle to go to the gym but want to workout with guided videos that include a nutrition plan, comment below and let’s schedule a time to chat! I want to discuss with you all of the amazing options to help you get back on track of your fitness and health.

Exercise Affirmation

5 Ways to Save on Groceries

5 ways to save on groceries

Groceries are expensive. Even when you're eliminating fancy foods, it can still be pretty expensive. The fact of the matter is that we need to eat, so grocery shopping is not an option. And if we're looking for optimal health, food can be a little bit more pricey.

However, we can still save on groceries by implementing 5 habits. These habits will not only save you money, but reduce stress, which is always a plus.

  1. Use Cash: Budget out how much money you're going to spend on groceries per month and place that money in an envelope and paper clip how much you'll need per week. . This is a trick that is taught by Dave Ramsey and is perfect for grocery shopping.

  2. Look for sales: This trick I learned from Ruth Soupkup, author of Living Well Spending Less (2014), where she suggests to look out for grocery store sales. This is perfect if you're not into couponing. What's interesting about sales is that if you pay attention closely, you will see that each grocery store has a sale on different produce or meats per week. So you can avoid store hopping.

  3. Clip Coupons: Couponing helps you save lots of money when you make it a habit and become an expert at it. I'm not saying to become a contestant at TLCs Extreme Couponing show but that there are tricks to this game that can help you save lots of money. You can visit websites like www.coupons.com or collect the weekly circulars and cut out from there. If you spend about 30 minutes a week looking for great deals, you can save up to $40 a week!

  4. Avoid purchasing fancy ingredients: Unless you're going use exotic foods regularly, avoid purchasing them. Those foods are expensive and not always necessary for a healthy life. Also, if you find a recipe that has an ingredient that you know you're only going to use once, substitute it for another ingredient. This will keep your grocery shopping simple, which means more money in your pocket.

  5. Meal Plan & Make a List: I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to meal plan and make a list. You will save so much and money when you do so. Keep in mind that you can also have someone else do the shopping for you, if you’re too tempted to shop more than you intended too.

Try out these tips and let me know which tip has worked for you!

Resources:

  1. Ramsey, Dave, and Sharon Ramsey. Financial Peace Revisited. Viking, 2003.

  2. Soupkup, Ruth. Living Well, Spending Less A Dvd Study; 12 Secrets of the Good Life. Zondervan, 2016.

How to Plan Your Weekly Meals

Treasure Yourself Blog Posts (2).png

Meal planning is important because it helps support your health goals. When you have a quality meal plan, you're more than likely going to eat healthier. Meal planning also helps you make a quality grocery list that will keep you from going to the grocery store more than once a week. You also waste less food because you aren't just buying whatever looks good at the moment. Finally, meal planning keeps you from wondering what you're going to eat that day, which may in turn lead to eating out. Now that we know the benefits of meal planning, let's talk about how to do it.

1. How to Prepare

Begin by scheduling a time when you will meal plan. Next, check your calendar to see if you have any dinners or lunches coming up during the week. This way you don't purchase extra food for those days. Finally, go through your cookbooks and plan out your meals.

2. Make a Grocery List

It is absolutely important that you make a grocery list to avoid purchasing any ingredients that you don't need. After you've written down all of the recipes that you're planing on making check your refrigerator to see if you have any of those ingredients. It is a waste of money to purchase ingredients that you already have at home. Once you've written down your meals and looked in your refrigerator and pantry, begin writing down your list of groceries.

3. Grocery Shopping

Now that you've meal planned and made you're grocery list, it's time to go shopping! The best part about being prepared is that you only have to shop for groceries once a week. This saves you time, money and energy. This also keeps you from wasting food. Choose to either go grocery shopping yourself or have a delivery company do it for you like Amazon Prime or Shipt. Know yourself, if you know that you spend more going to the store, then have someone else do the shopping for you. It will save you time, money, and keep you accountable.

4. Time to Eat

I love to cook. I love the smell of spices and herbs in the home. Cooking is just wonderful. Set aside 30 minute to 1 hour to make your meals. I make them daily. However, you can make them on Sunday and save them for the week. It's really up to you. Enjoy the process and enjoy your meal!

Once, you make meal planning a habit, it’s easy eat healthy on a daily basis.

What to avoid in sun-care products

Treasure Yourself Blog Posts (1).png

Conventional sunscreens contain one or more of the three major ingredients listed below that are not good for our health.

  1. Oxybenzone: Oxybenzone is linked to allergies, immunotoxicity, and organ system as well as  developmental/reproductive toxicity. 

  2. Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate): Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) is linked to biochemical or cellular level changes, cancer and organ system toxicity. 

  3. Added insect repellents: Added insect repellents can be irritating to the skin when the improper ingredients are used.


None of these ingredients are good for you or your health and it is best to use some form of safer sunscreen. In addition to these ingredients, you want to stay away from SPF above 50. That’s more of a marketing tool and not necessary, plus the ingredients to get more than SPF 50 have a tendency to hazardous. Also stay away from powders, since the SPF doesn’t really stick to your skin. Sprays are great, but you want to make sure the SPF is actually on your skin after spraying.

What to Look For in Sunscreens

When purchasing sunscreens look for ingredients like zinc oxide, avobenzone, and mexoryl SX, which are safe and effective to bounce or reflect the sun’s rays away from the skin!

Use creams, broad - spectrum protection, water-resistant, and SPF between 15 and 50. These SPFs will give you the protection you need without hurting your skin.

Some of my favorite sunscreens

There are three sunscreen brands that I like. They’re harmless, some claim to harmless, and they are effective.

  1. Coola: Coola is a mineral and organic suncare brand that specializes in making safe sunscreen. They make suncreens in creams, tinted moisturizers, sprays, and so much more!

  2. Josie Maran Cosmetics: I love Josie’s products and have been using them on and off for 11 years. Seriously, since Josie Maran began her company. She makes two SPF creams, one is a tinted moisturizer and the other is not. Both are SPF 47 and they include UVA/UVB protection and “unique blend of antioxidants, skin-soothers, and hydrators”

  3. Beautycounter: Now I must fully disclaim that I’m a Beautycounter consultant and I love their mission to create safer, better beauty. Beautycounter creates sunscreen that uses Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which actually bounce or reflect off the sun's rays away from the skin! Their sunscreen is mineral based, which is also great for babies and kids. 


Switch to Safer

If you haven’t joined the movement to switch to safer beauty, I invite you today to do so. There are many brands that are fighting to create safer and better beauty products for the whole family. Safer skincare and beauty is better for your health and the health of your family.

Make the Switch today!

xo, Mirley

www.beautycounter.com/mirleygraf

Resources

  1. “Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47.” Josie Maran Cosmetics, 2018, www.josiemarancosmetics.com/collections/bestsellers/products/argan-daily-moisturizer-spf-47-with-sunboost-atb.

  2. “Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 – 6.7 Oz.” Beautycounter, 2018, www.beautycounter.com/product/countersun-mineral-sunscreen-lotion-spf-30.

  3. “ EWG’s Guide to Safer Safer Sunscreens Sunscreens Be Safe in the Sun This Summer.” Environmental Working Group, July 2017, www.ewg.org/sunscreen.

  4. “Our Story - Our Ethos - COOLA HQ.” COOLA Suncare, 2018, coolasuncare.com/pages/about.

7 Benefits to Using Essential Oils

Essential Oils Benefits

Essential oils are a big thing now. So many people are using them as part of their everyday lives. However, there are many more people that are not using them, or using them incorrectly. In addition, there may be others that don't know the benefits of using essential oils. Essential oils are a great addition to your health and wellness lifestyle. 

The benefits of using essential oils are great! Essential oils can improve your life so much even if you eat well and exercise. Essential will add even greater benefits to your healthy lifestyle.

Benefit #1: Improves Sleep

If you're having a hard time getting to sleep at night using essential oils can help. One can add 1 drop of lavender oil along with 1 TSP of a carrier oil and rub it on your tummy because your tummy is one of the most absorbent parts of your body. Of course you can also place up to 5 drops in a diffuser and let it run while your sleep or you can diffuse doTerra's Serenity: Restful Blend oil. Lastly, you can take a detox bath using 1 cup of Epson salts, 1 TBS of jojoba oil and one 2 to 3 drops of Serenity blend. 

Benefit #2: Reduces Stress & Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are a very common part of our society. With so many things to do, so many deadlines, so many interruptions, and not enough time in the day one can get stressed out and with stress, anxiety can build up. In fact, studies have shown that high levels of stress can lead to illnesses like high blood pressure. Essential oils can help keep one calm. There are a variety of oils that can help reduce stress like ylang ylang, neroli, Roman chamomile, orange, and frankincense. You can breathe in the aroma straight from the bottle without applying it, or you can diffuse up to 5 drops from one or more of the essential oils mentioned. You can also diffuse dōTERRA Balance: Grounding blend, which helps you stay calm during moments of tension. 

Benefit #3: Improves Mood & Energy Levels

Essential oils are great for improving your mood. Smell can bring up so many happy memories or allow you to think positive lovely thoughts. Some oils can actually increase oxygen to your brain. Oils to diffuse include bergamont, grapefruit, lemon, lemongrass, eucalyptus, rosemary , and doTerra's Elevation: Joyful Blend. You can also get a massage home using doTerra's AromaTouch® Massage Blend.

Benefit #4: Reduces Brain Fog

Brain fog affects people of all ages. Unfortunately, the food or non-foods, as I call them, that are in our processed foods affect our body chemistry, which aside from leading weight gain it also leads to brain fog, and ADHD. Although one may stop eating such foods, you may still experience brain fog just due to all of the shiny objects around us. Diffusing essential oils while working or applying them to your wrists may help you stay focused. Try diffusing vetiver, peppermint, frankincense or a blend of the oils I just mentioned. You can also apply doTerra's InTune to your wrists to help reduce brain fog. 

Benefit #5: Helps Balance Hormones

Essential oils do not have hormones but they do help balance them. Oils, like clary sage, geranium and thyme, are known to help to balance one's estrogen and progesterone levels. These oils can help improve hormone conditions like infertility, PCOS, PMS and menopause symptoms. In addition, doTERRA® Phytoestrogen Lifetime Complex, which is a supplement made with plant-based phytoestrogens, flax seed extract, and pomegranate extract. The purpose is to work with hormone deficiency or decrease the affect of harmful metabolites or block xenoestrogens. Also, during your menstrual cycle you can use ClaryCalm, which helps ease the pain.

Benefit #6: Improves Skin & Hair Beauty

Adding essential oils to your skincare or purchasing skincare that contains essential oils will improve your skin's texture, reduce acne, reduce signs of aging, and brighten it's appearance. Many conventional skincare products are full of toxic chemicals that can affect our hormones in a negative way. In addition, studies have shown to help one's hair grow. The best oils for your skin and hair include, lavender, Roman chamomile, frankincense, tea tree, geranium, myrrh, helichrysum, rosemary and clary sage. You can also try doTerra's skincare and haircare products. All of which have safe and effective ingredients as well as using their very own essential oils. 

Benefit #7: Reduces Pain

Essential oils are great to reduce minor pains and aches. I personally use peppermint oil on my temples to reduce headaches. You can add the following oils topically lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, chamomile, rosemary, majoram, thyme, frankincense, turmeric, ginger and myrrh depending on where the pain is. Make sure that you apply with a carrier oil so that you don't burn your skin. ClaryCalm, for example, is a great ready made blend from doTerra to help reduce menstrual cramps. 

All in all, essential oils are a great addition to your health and wellness. However, I must note that essential oils do not replace eating health and exercising. Essential oils just completes one's wellness journey.

Resources:

  1. Axe, Josh. “101 Essential Oil Uses and Benefits.” Dr. Axe, Dr. Axe, 5 Mar. 2018, draxe.com/essential-oil-uses-benefits/#.

  2. “DoTERRA Serenity | DōTERRA Essential Oils.” DoTERRA Fact Sheet | DōTERRA Essential Oils, 16 May 2018, www.doterra.com/US/en/p/doterra-serenity-oil.

  3. “Elevation Joyful Blend | DōTERRA Essential Oils.” DoTERRA Fact Sheet | DōTERRA Essential Oils, 16 May 2018, www.doterra.com/US/en/p/elevation-oil.

  4. “Women's Hormonal Health: Finding Balance | DōTERRA Essential Oils.” DoTERRA Fact Sheet | DōTERRA Essential Oils, 16 May 2018, www.doterra.com/US/en/brochures-magazines-living-winter-2013-2014-womens-hormonal-health.

  5. Zielinski, Eric. The Healing Power of Essential Oils: Soothe Inflammation, Boost Mood, Prevent Autoimmunity, and Feel Great in Every Way. Harmony Books, 2018.

5 Essential Oils Safety Tips for Children

Singles Awareness Day.png

We can never be too cautious when using essential oils on children. Essential oils are very potent and safe but nevertheless must be used correctly to avoid any mishaps. Remember that although essential oils are safe, applying it to children needs to be done carefully because they are very delicate. It's best to test one oil at a time every 24 hours. 

Safety Tip #1: Learn How to Dilute Essential Oils

Just Breathe.png

Only apply 1-2 drops of oil diluted with a carrier oil on a child's skin every 24 hours. Make sure you read the label on the oil. Each oil is different. Applying one drop of lavender topically feels very different than applying one drop of oregano. If diffusing essential oils, only diffuse them 20 minutes a day and no more than twice a day.

Safety Tip #2: Do Not Ingest Oils

I personally don't like the idea of ingesting essential oils. They're very potent and can leave your tummy feeling uneasy. I'm an adult and if I feel uneasy, then I know that giving essential oils to your child will cause more harm.

Safety Tip #3: Avoid Sensitive Areas

Remember, a child's body is more sensitive than an adult's body. For this reason, it is important that you avoid applying essential oils around the eyes, broken skin, irritated skin, inner nose and ears. Also, an adult should be the one to apply essential oils.

Safety Tip #4: Beware of Sunlight Sensitivity

Not all oils are meant to be applied topically with the intention of going outside. One must read the labels of all essential oils. Some oils are prone to sunlight sensitivity. Citrus oils have a higher probability of creating sunlight sensitivity when worn outdoors. Some labels will clearly say to stay out of the sun or UV rays for up to 12 hours. 

Safety Tip #5: Keep Your Essential Oils Safely Stored

Essential oils need to be placed in a medicine cabinet or far away from the reach of little ones. Because essential oils are so potent, they should be not be played with or taken internally. It is important that you supervise your older children when applying essential oils and only an adult should apply essential oils to younger children. 

Knowing these five tips will help you use essential oils wisely when applying them to your children or diluting them around your children. Also, remember to ask your doctor if you want to apply essential oils on your child, especially if your child is under 18 months. 

Resources:

  1. https://www.doterra.com/US/en/promotions-class-powerpoints

  2. https://ultimatebundles.com/sale/heo2018-expert-panel-watch/

How to Use Essential Oils Safely on Children

Essential Oils & Kids

Essential oils are aromatic compounds located in various parts of plants like stems, leaves, bark, seeds, flowers, and other parts of plants. They are very potent and can be diffused, applied topically, and some people even will include a drop of food in their meals, drinks or in a capsule. Not to mention that they have very beautiful fragrant. 

When applying or diffusing essential oils around children, one must know how to do so safely. Although essential oils are typically safe, children tend to be more sensitive to them than adults, which is why it's important to know how to apply them safely on children. If one doesn't know how to use essential oils, they can be unsafe even for adults. 

First, use a brand of essential oils that have a reputation of creating high quality, free of contaminants and is safe to use. This requires testing gives us consumers a peace of mind that we are only using the safest products on us and our children. I personally use doTerra Essential Oils and am very happy with that company's commitment to only deliver the best oils to everyone.

Second, when applying essential oils on children use carrier oils. Essential oils evaporate pretty much on contact and may not be as efficient as when using them with a carrier oil. Carrier oils are the base oils. The oils are virtually oder less and are very hydrating. Great carrier oils include:

  • Avocado Oil: great for dry flaky skin

  • Coconut Oil: great for making body butters.

  • Fractionated Coconut Oil: fractionated coconut oil is coconut oil that has had the lauric acid removed in order to stay liquid during cold temperatures.

  • Sweet Almond Oil: nourishes the skin and is great for babies. However, do watch out for itchy skin. My skin get a little sensitive with it.

Third, the best essential oils for children are lavender, Roman chamomile and Sandalwood. doTerra also has wonderful pre-made essential oil blends called Calming Blend and Grounding Blend, which are great to diffuse in your child's room. 

Finally, the best way to make sure that you are using essential oils safely on children is to first use the essential oils on yourself. Make sure you read the labels and instructions carefully. Educate yourself on a specific essential oil before applying it on your child. 

Safety First: It is important to consult with your child's doctor about any specific health issue before using essential oils on your child. Also, if your child drinks essential oils on accident, call Poison Control 1-800-222-1222. Some of these essential oils can cause lots of harm and in some cases even be deadly when used improperly.

Check out next week's blog post on 5 Essential Oils Tips for Children.

Eat the Rainbow

The thought of eating the rainbow can be difficult to think of. I mean, how do you eat the rainbow throughout the day? Not to mention that putting together a meal can be very confusing because of all the information that is out there. Some people say to load up of animal protein, others on greens. However, many nutritionists, medical doctors and registered dietitians nutritionists agree that it is important to eat the rainbow. This means, to eat foods of all colors and not just stick to one color. All foods that come from the earth have something very special to offer. 

Red Foods
About 74% of Americans don't eat enough red foods. Red foods help DNA health, protects against heart disease and cancer, supports your urinary tract and prostate. Red foods are full of antioxidants and help strengthen your immune system. Red foods can be found in berries, red fruits and vegetables and red beans. You can eat a cup of berries as a snack or as part of an afternoon smoothie. 

Orange and Yellow Foods
About 80% of Americans don't eat enough orange and yellow foods. Orange and yellow foods support your vision, strengthen your immunity system and are part of your overall health, growth and development. They are also full of antioxidants that help strengthen your immune system. Yellow and orange foods include pineapples, potatoes, corn, yellow zucchini, bananas, oranges, persimmons all of which are easy to include in your daily meals by mixing them up. You can add a banana and pineapples to your smoothie or eat oranges and carrots as a snack.

Green Foods

About 69% of Americans don't eat enough green foods. Greens help support our eyes, liver, clean out our arteries, cell turnover, promotes gum health and wound healing as well as keeps our bones strong, improve body odor, help speed up healing process. These are foods like spinach, kale, lettuce. You can make green smoothies as well as salads with these foods. We should eat 1 cup of cruciferous greens like broccoli, arugula or kale and 2 cups of leafy greens like romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce or red lettuce. This will help us get all the quality greens in our system. You get all of your daily greens in my Fountain of Youth Smoothie.

Blue, Violet and Black Foods
About 79% of Americans don't eat enough blue, violet or black foods. These darker colored foods help support our brain, bones, heart and artery health. They also are full of antioxidants and help boost our memory and help protect us against cancer. These foods include black beans, berries and eggplant. You can make dinner meals with black beans or include blueberries and black berries into your smoothie.

White and Brown Foods
White foods are easy to overlook and or be overeaten. White foods foods are great anticancer and anti-inflammatory foods. They also support your immune system, help lower blood pressure and help control your cholesterol. These are foods like grains, nuts, soy and mushrooms. You can make dinner meals with these foods. They should never be overlooked or seen as bad foods. Eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of nut butter and 2 to 3 cups of a whole grain. 

Eating the rainbow and getting foods from different categories will help you get a well balanced diet as well as optimum health.

Resources

  1. Greger, M. (2015). How not to die: Discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease. New York, NY: Flatiron Books.
  2. Hever, J. (2014). The Vegiterranean Diet. Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press.
  3. Olien, D. Superlife: The 5 simple fixes that will make you healthy, fit and eternally awesome. New York, NY: Harper Wave.
  4. Talib, N. (2016). Younger Skin Starts in the Gut: 4-week program to identify and eliminate your skin-aging triggers - gluten, wine, dairy and sugar. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press. 
     

Essential Oils Safety During Pregnancy

Essential Oils & Pregnancy

Although essential oils are natural, pregnant women need to be extra careful with them. Not all essential oils are safe during pregnancy because they can mess with your hormones. First thing you should do is speak with your doctor or health care provider and see if using essential oils is right for you. So before you or someone you know that is pregnant wants to start incorporating essential oils into their routine, please read this article first. 

Essential Oils that should NOT be used during pregnancy are the following: 

  • Angelica

  • Aniseed

  • Basil

  • Birch

  • Black pepper

  • Cedarwood

  • Camphor

  • Cardamom

  • Cassia

  • Cinnamon

  • Citronella

  • Clary sage

  • Clove

  • Cumin

  • Cypress

  • Eucalyptus

  • Fennel

  • Fir

  • Geranium (during the first trimester)

  • Horseradish

  • Hyssop

  • Idaho tansy

  • Jasmine

  • Juniper

  • Lemongrass

  • Manuka

  • Marjoram

  • Melissa

  • Mugwort

  • Mustard

  • Myrrh

  • Nutmeg

  • Oregano

  • Pennyroyal

  • Roman Chamomile (Debatable. Ask your doctor.)

  • Rosemary

  • Rose

  • Sage

  • Thyme

  • Wintergreen

The following essential oils are considered safe during pregnancy:

  • Frankincense

  • Geranium

  • Ginger

  • Grapefruit

  • Lavender

  • Lemon

  • Orange

  • Peppermint

  • Roman Chamomile (Debatable. Ask your doctor.)

  • Sandalwood

  • Ylang Ylang

Roman Chamomile, lavender, geranium and grapefruit are great essential oils to dilute and diffuse to encourage restful sleep. Inhaling ginger can help with nausea. And applying carrier oils like rosehip oil and coconut oil on your tummy can help minimize the looks of stretch marks. 

If you know someone who is expecting, please forward them this blog so they are more informed about which essential oils to avoid. 

Resources

  1. Axe, Josh. Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine. Destiny Image Publishers, 2016.

  2. Babcock, Jillian. “CHEAT SHEET: How to Use Essential Oils Safety.” Dr. Axe, Dr. Axe, 7 May 2018, draxe.com/essential-oil-safety/.

  3. Snyder, Mariza. Smart Mom's Guide to Essential Oils: Natural Solutions for a Healthy Family, Toxin-Free Home and Happier You. Pgw, 2017.

5 Steps to Optimum Meal Planning

Recently, I've been doing a good job planning out my meals. I mean I've been planning out my meals for a while but my grocery list and my meal plans didn't always match. I would either add too much food or not include all the ingredients I needed to make a meal. 

Being sloppy when meal planning can actually become expensive. This is why it's so good to have a system in place when meal planning.

  1. Have a meal planning calendar: I purchased a white board meal planning week calendar. I love this calendar because it allows me to see what I plan to eat for each meal the whole week. This allows me to make a good grocery list that matches what I have planned for the week. 
  2. Fill out your calendar with recipes from 3 to 5 cook books. Don't worry if you eat very similarly every week. I do too. 
  3. Write down all of the ingredients you need based on your calendar. Try not to astray. Write down everything you plan to eat and then purchase all of the foods needed. Next, go to you cupboards and see if there's anything you're running out of and add it to your grocery list. 
  4. Go shopping on your own. You can very well go shopping on your own and purchase everything you have on that list. Try not to go astray. 
  5. Have someone else go shopping for you. I personally don't go grocery shopping anymore. Really because I have two little girls and it's very difficult to go to the store with them. I order food through Amazon Prime and or Shipt. I love purchasing my weekly groceries through them because I save money. I save money because my eyes aren't wandering. It's the best way to purchase food in my opinion. 

Once you create this habit of meal planning, making a grocery list and going grocery shopping, you will see how much easier it is to eat healthy, purchase quality food, and save money.

Beware of Parfum & Fragrance

Have you guys seen the ingredients fragrance or parfum in your skincare, makeup, haircare, body care products? These ingredients are one in the same...except that they are also mystery ingredients and no one really knows wha they are except that they are a blend of chemicals put together in a lab to mimic the smell of a natural element. 

So instead of using essential oils, which are directly derived from plants, companies will use fragrance or parfum because it's less expensive. Even some of the most "natural", "organic", products will still contain fragrance or parfum because those labels don't mean all ingredients are natural or organic but just some. 

Fragrance and parfum are known to be disruptive to your hormones and may give you allergic reactions. The chemical blend to make such fragrance or parfum is unknown and varies from company to company. Even if the label says "natural fragrance", very little is known about what ingredients create the "natural fragrance" blend. Is it essential oils or is the blend mimicking a natural scent?

Fragrances or parfums are not tested for safety. I personally get horrible headaches if the smell of the fragrance or parfum is too strong...even if the smell is pretty. 

When looking at the ingredients of your favorite products make sure that they are using essential oils. Essential oils have many benefits when applying topically and into your hair. They are diluted and blended to create quality hair products, skincare, body care products. 

All of the ingredients should be disclosed and not hidden under the words fragrance or parfum. 

I know that sometimes we turn a blind eye because we want the product to work. But even if it does work, you might get a side effect that could have been avoided if one had just done more research. 

I challenge you this weekend to go through all your products and remove products containing fragrance and parfum and notice what differences you may experience as a result.