Probiotics: All Health or All Hype?

Just Thrive has provided product for this review. No monetary compensation was provided. All thoughts and opinion are my own.

Just Thrive

As someone who has battled digestive issues for the past few years, I am always a little skeptical when it comes to new “miracle” products. I have tried several probiotics in the past and, for the most part, I’ve been left feeling disappointed and discouraged. When I was offered a sample of Just Thrive probiotic, I had high hopes since all of the reviews I’d read were full of positive feedback, but the twinge of caution remained in the back of my mind.

 

I have been taking Just Thrive for one full week now, and I can already tell a huge difference. Not only have my digestive issues improved, but I have also seen a difference in my skin. I have had keratosis pilaris on the upper part of my arms since I was child and have tried every over-the-counter cream on the market to clear it up to no avail. I have also cut out dairy and gluten from my diet, which helped to lessen the redness to an extent, but not completely. In just one week, I have noticed a drastic change in the appearance of arms. The redness has reduced significantly.

 

As an added bonus, I have noticed my immune system is stronger than before. I have a pretty resilient immune system already from eating clean and incorporating Shakeology into my daily diet. But, I do still get the occasional “summer cold.” Last week, I felt as if I was coming down with one, but I was able to fight it off even though others were sick around me.

 

I am now a firm believer in Just Thrive and will continue to take it daily. I have also been reading great reviews on how this product has helped acid reflux sufferers, and I cannot wait to have my fiancé try it out, too! If you’re looking for a high quality probiotic to include into your routine, definitely give Just Thrive a try!

Advertisements

Healthy Swaps for your Favorite Summer Foods

Happy Friday, friends! For today’s edition of  Friday Favorites, I would love to introduce you to some of my favorite summer foods!

IMG_0202

Growing up in the South, summer was always a special time of year. Swimming in my grandparents pool, eating lots of grilled hamburgers topped with tomatoes straight out of the garden followed by homemade ice cream, and catching lightening bugs in the late afternoon are some of my fondest memories. When I made the decision to get healthier and change my eating habits, I did not want to miss out on the fun times by not being able to eat all of the yummy summer dishes. Thankfully, there are healthy versions of all of the foods I grew up on, and they are still just as delicious!

To download your copy of my 5 Healthy Swaps for you Favorite Summer Foods e-book, just click the link below!

5 Summer Swaps

IMG_0273

Countdown to ‘King’dom

We are less than 60 days away from saying “I Do,” and the craziness is kicking in at full speed! Here are just a few of the exciting updates I have to share along our journey 🙂

image

•I listed my house on Thursday, June 30 and an offer was made on it ONE week later. We accepted, and I signed the contract on Monday! Now it’s a mad dash to get my house packed up and everything moved before the closing date!

image

•I had my first bridal shower on Sunday, which was hosted by my home church. We received so many wonderful gifts that we can’t wait to use in our new home! It was especially nice to catch up with friends and church family that I do not get to see often. We are blessed beyond measure!

image

•Beachbody Summit is in less than TWO weeks, and I am thrilled to get to spend some time with two of my best friends in Music City! We will spend time strategizing for our upcoming VIP Membership group, eating some yummy food (Loveless Cafe, here we come!), and attending conferences on all things health and fitness! It will start Wednesday with PIYO certification with Chalene Johnson herself, and I could not be more excited!!!

image

•We have started getting down to the nitty-gritty details concerning the ceremony and reception. We are looking forward to putting our music playlist for the DJ together this weekend. If you have any suggestions on wedding songs to include in the ceremony or favorite dance music for the reception, I’d love to hear them! 😉

image

The Higher the Hair, the Closer to Heaven!

This edition of Friday Favorites is all about the hair!

As I was doing a little grocery shopping in Publix Wednesday afternoon, a random woman followed me down an aisle and chased after me, specifically to tell me she loved my hair and find out how I was able to so much volume, even at the end of the day. So today, I want to share with you my top three hair care products for maximum volume!

IMG_0341

  1. Big Sexy Hair Root Pump Plus – I spray this right at the roots while my hair is still damp, just before drying my hair. It gives my hair just the right about of “lift.”
  2. Spornette Teasing Brush – My hairstylist introduced me to this style of teasing brush, and it has been a life changer! It can be used to tease the hair at the crown, but it can also be used to smooth the down without pulling out the tease.
  3. Kenra Volume Spray – This stuff is amazing! It only takes a small amount, and it holds hair in place up to 24 hours with no stiffness or sticky residue. Use this after you have teased your hair to finish your style.

And that’s it! Feel free to post any questions or share some of your favorite hair care products in the comments below!

Prebiotics and Probiotics: Becoming a Healthier You

Silver Fern Brand has provided product for this review. No monetary compensation was provided. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Prebiotics and Probiotics

As a health coach, I try to practice what I preach, and this means getting enough water in each day. But let’s face – water can get boring, especially during the summer months when the temptation of lemonade, punch, and soft drinks is abundant!

You can only imagine my excitement when Silver Fern Brand offered to let me sample some of their latest drink mixes! These are not only packed full of fruity flavor (hello – perfect for summer!), but also provides many health benefits. I could not wait to test these out for myself.

After drinking Silver Fern Brand’s Wai Drink Mixes for one week, I can already see a huge impact. Typically, I add a mix to my water mid-morning, and the added 3 grams of fiber suppresses my hunger until lunch. Before introducing these mixes into my diet, I found myself wanting to snack throughout the day, increasing my daily calories and sabotaging my healthy eating. I have also noticed a surge in my energy level. The added prebiotics I receive daily from the drinks provide fiber to the good bacteria in my digestive system, promoting good gut health. This is extremely beneficial as I have developed stomach sensitivities over the past few years. Also, I have dropped a couple of pounds on the scale thanks to the metabolic restoration benefits of the probiotics. I am NOT a proponent of the scale (as I believe that how you feel truly matters more than any number can ever tell you), but this was an added bonus.

Silver Fern Brand’s mission is very much in line with my own: they desire to make an impact on the lives of others by changing the health and nutrition mindset of today’s society. They are creating and re-inventing many products, such as brownie and cookie mixes, popcorn, meal replacement shakes, drink mixes, etc., to be of the utmost nutritional value. Silver Fern Brand makes it easy to live a healthy life while enjoying the things you love. I look forward to trying out more of their products in the days to come – including some yummy German Chocolate Brownies for the upcoming 4th of July holiday!

10 Years Later: A Time of Reflection

My ten year high school class reunion will be held on Saturday. THIS Saturday. Wow, how time flies…

10 Year Transformation

Although I won’t be attending the reunion, the mere thought that it’s actually occurring made me begin thinking of just how much has happened in those short ten years:

  • I went to college and after FINALLY deciding on a major graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting
  • I met some of my very best friends
  • I finally got rid of those 90s bangs…
  • …and clothes…
  • I have a career and work with a fantastic group of people
  • I bought my first car
  • I bought my first house
  • I lost 45 pounds and grew to love fitness so much that I became a health coach
  • I am engaged to a wonderful man who truly is better half, and I get the privilege of marrying him in September 🙂
  • I found out that I get to add “Aunt Rachel” to my title this fall!
  • I have learned that “success” is defined in many ways and I continue to strive for it daily in everything I do

Life is just beginning. Sure, it seems like an eternity and just yesterday all at the same time that I walked across that stage in May 2006 and received my diploma, but the truth of the matter is that life has truly just begun. Reflecting back on these ten years makes me realize how precious time really is and that we should not waste a second of it. So my question to you today is this: “Are you spending your time doing the things that matter?” Will you look back ten years from now and wish you had done things differently? I challenge you to stop to take a moment and be honest with yourself. Are you being intentional with your time, or are you just getting by? These ten years have gone by in the blink of an eye.  I can only imagine that the next ten will go by even faster.

And by then, I can only imagine what items will be added to the list! 😉

Stress Management: Tips to Reduce and Manage Stress

To say that I have been a little stressed over the past few months would be an understatement. Between planning a wedding, getting prepared to move, working two jobs, keeping up with the constant housework, and trying to squeeze in time with my loved ones has left me feeling stretched a little thin.

It is during these times that it’s so important to step back and remember that this season will pass soon enough, and I need to enjoy these moments because I will never get them back. Yes, it is busy and chaotic and STRESSFUL, but learning how to manage the stress is key to finding some balance through the busy! Today, I want to focus on my top stress management tips.

 

  1. Get moving!

Exercise releases endorphins that improve your mood and make you feel better in general. Spending hours at the gym is not the only way to get your body moving. Almost any form of physical activity can help relieve stress and melt away frustration. To experience maximum stress-relieving benefits, you should strive for 30 minutes (or more) a day of active exercise. If this is too much for you, start small and work your way up. Spend 10 minutes doing speed bursts, such as sprints, jump rope, or just chasing after your kids! Once this becomes easy, add a little more time each day. You can also add in little “hacks” throughout the course of the day to sneak in some exercise, such as using the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking your car at the edge of the lot instead of the first available space you see. You will be amazed at the added energy and more positive mind frame you develop!

Once you have incorporated physical activity into your daily lifestyle, try taking on a regular exercise routine. Walking, running, bike riding, swimming, Zumba (or other dance classes), and various aerobic and/or HIIT classes are great choices for beginners. Make sure to pick a routine that you enjoy doing so that you will be sure to stick with it for the long term. If you dread your exercise time each day, you are not helping to manage your stress level. Once you find that “soulmate” workout (for me, it is weight lifting!), you will find that you are more confident, happier, and less stressed overall.

 

  1. Find a support system

I absolutely do not know what I would do without my group! My wonderful circle of family and friends are there to raise my spirits, lift me up when I am down, and speak words of life and encouragement into me when I feel defeated. Sometimes, just having someone to listen to your pain points and problems helps to lighten the load of the burden you have been bearing.

Often times when we are stressed, we find that we isolate ourselves, making stress much worse. Be sure to continue building relationships and stay connected to your support system during these times:

  • Have a girl’s night!
  • Meet for a coffee chat
  • Go see a movie or attend a free concert to get your mind off the matter at hand
  • Call a dear friend
  • Schedule weekly “dates” with your spouse/significant other
  • Try a new fitness/art/dance class

Some of my favorite ways to engage with my “inner circle” is to meet for coffee on a week night with my girls, go out for Mexican food with a best friend, spend quality time with my family, and spend lazy movie nights with my fiancé! 😉

 

  1. Learn how to say “no”

Ok, so I admit – My name is Rachel, and I have a problem saying “no.” I always have. I am one of those “people pleasers” that does my best to be accommodating to everyone and everything and help everyone and on, and on, and on….

Taking on more than you can handle is a guaranteed way to add stress to your life – and can be easily avoided. Know your limits and do not stray from them.  I love to repeat this phrase when I am wondering whether or not it is time to slow down: “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” If you are running on empty, you cannot do anything to the best of your ability. Remove some things off you plate and do not take on more than you can reasonably do at one time. Invest in a planner and schedule out your days. That way, you know exactly how much time you need to do each task and how much time you will have left over in each day. Eliminating the feeling of being overwhelmed will immediately reduce your stress level.

 

  1. “There is a bright side to everything”

My family and friends have heard me say this time and time again, but it is so true. If you look for the bright side in every situation, it makes it much easier to handle. Challenging times will inevitably come our way, but looking for the opportunities for personal development and growth will better equip us when dealing with the same situation in the future. Learn from any mistakes made and move on. Sometimes our choices have nothing to do with the stressful situations in our lives, but we should still take the time to reflect on them and use them as a lesson learned.

 

  1. Take some time for YOU!

As women, we are so concerned with taking care of the people around us, we forget to take time for ourselves. Self-care should be an essential part of our daily lives, especially when we need to alleviate stress. If you are not taking proper care of yourself, you cannot expect to take proper care of anyone else. Schedule your “me” time, even if it is only 10 minutes a day. Go for a walk, take a hot bath, appreciate a warm cup of coffee, watch your favorite TV show, read a chapter of a good book, listen to music – anything that brings you joy and allows you to relax and recharge.

In addition to scheduling your “me” time, make sure that healthy habits are part of your self-care routine. Eat a healthy diet full of real, whole foods and get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

 

I hope you find these tips helpful and you are able to use them to eliminate some stress in your own life! Remember, you only get one life to live – make the most of it!

Unleashing Your True Potential (Part 2): Set Goals

“The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” ~ Michelangelo

 

I was never a big fan of setting goals. Oh sure, I would spend New Year’s Day writing out a long list of things that I wanted to accomplish during the course of the year. Then six months later, I would find the list and realize that I had not crossed off one single thing. I guess I never really made goal setting a priority in my life because I assumed I would not reach them and that would make me a failure. But the truth is I was failure for NOT setting goals and sticking to them. I was setting myself up to fall short time and time again by never striving to better myself. I was not motivating myself to live up to my TRUE potential in life. I was fine just standing on the sidelines letting life pass me by.

Until one day. One day, I realized that I am better than a bystander to my own life. It was time to get out and live it. It was time to set some goals. Then it was time to crush them.  And now it’s time for you to do the same.

The most important thing to remember when you sit down to set your goals is to keep in mind that these goals must align with your core values. What are the things that are most important to YOU? Spending more time with your family? Getting out of debt? Being a successful business woman? Whatever goals you set for yourself should be paving the way to accomplishing the things that matter most in your life. It is also imperative to keep in mind that these are your priorities – no one else’s. You will never truly be happy trying to accomplish a life that you are trying to live for someone else.

Keep in mind that your goals should be attainable as well. Set short term goals that will set you up for long term success. Make weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual goals and sit down to reevaluate them as needed. Are you goals still in line with your priorities? Are you still focused on the things that truly matter? If not, it is time to set new ones.

For me, goal setting has been the key to giving me the drive I needed to succeed. Once I sat down and made a list of the things I needed to accomplish in order to live out my purpose and maximize my true potential, I was filled with motivation to keep going. Once I accomplish one task, I cross it off and move on to another. I keep my list posted where I can see it daily to remind myself that I am striving for something more. I continue to dream big because I know that the possibilities are endless. I may not reach a certain goal within a certain timeframe, but that no longer makes me a failure. It pushes me to try harder, go farther, and unleash my true potential.

I encourage you to sit down sometime this week and write out your list of goals. It is never too late to start becoming who you were meant to be – to reach your TRUE potential.

Unleashing Your True Potential (Part 1): Take Risks

“Who you are tomorrow begins with what you do today.”
― Tim Fargo

 

My personal story looks a little bit different from the typical entrepreneur. How?  Have you ever heard of a successful female working professional that started out with absolutely zero ambition?

Up until a few years ago, that was me. I wanted nothing more than to graduate high school, get married, start a family, and be a stay-at-home mom. Now, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with wanting those things. I just wanted them because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and that was the “safe” choice. That choice would not force me to put in any hard work. I would not have to chase crazy dreams. I would not have to face the fact that I may fail. For an introvert like me, this seemed like the road that would lead to the happiest destination.

By the time graduation came, I was not dating anyone seriously enough to marry, so college was my next best option. I started taking business courses, even though I STILL was not certain what I wanted to do with my life. I felt as if I was just wondering aimlessly. Not knowing my real purpose and continuing to “play it safe” in my decision-making for my life made it incredibly hard to focus in on finding my true calling.

A few years later after graduating with an accounting degree, I came across an opportunity to combine my love of fitness with my knowledge of business. I had no idea if it would work. I was honestly skeptical. I was relatively shy, afraid of rejection, worried about the opinion of others, concerned about making an investment into something that was not a “sure thing,” scared that I did not have enough knowledge to hold my own, and terrified that coming out of my comfort zone would result in yet another failed attempt at living out my purpose.

But I did it anyway.

You see, who you are tomorrow truly starts with the decisions you make today. Had I not taken the risk to invest in myself and realize just how much I am capable of doing, I would not have a viable health and wellness business today. I would not have met some of my BEST friends. I would not have made an impact on the lives of others by helping them reach their true potential. Taking a risk is scary. Not taking it is even scarier. Are you prepared to live with the “what ifs?” Imagine the possibilities when you step out on faith and see just what you can do. Find that confidence. Unleash your TRUE potential.

 

The greater the risk, the sweeter the reward.

Guest Post: Jamie Weaver

Today is GUEST day here, and you guys are in for a special treat. My friend, Jamie Weaver, is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet. I was fortunate to meet Jamie last year at a conference through our partnership with Beachbody (the makers of P90X, Insanity, etc).Jamie runs her own online coaching business at The Fit Fiddler, and she is also a violin teacher (how awesome is that?!). She is passionate about helping women find peace in their lives through exercise and healthy eating so they can more effectively serve their family and community. Check out Jamie’s story below!

13329880_10102700243337593_140894904_n

Try New Things, Especially When it Comes to Your Health – Jamie Weaver

 It seems to me that all too often, people take a back seat when it comes to their personal health. During the past two years I have struggled with digestive issues and food sensitivity, and I was surprised at how many times I heard someone say, “Oh, I have that problem too! But I could never give up such and such food…”

Yes, I am a bit of a health nut. It’s kind of my hobby, so I enjoy learning about nutrition and how our bodies absorb and use food for fuel. If your tummy is always upset, it’s probably not your genetics causing the problem. It’s more likely that you are eating something that your body is not responding well to. The question is, are you willing to do something about it?

The past two years of my life have been an exercise in trying new things! Let me share a bit of my story. In the spring and summer of 2013 I began to rapidly lose weight. At first I thought it was great! Then, towards the end of the summer, I started to feel uncomfortable in my clothes. My stomach became extremely bloated…enough so that I looked two months pregnant! Because I was counting calories at the time, I kept reducing the number of calories I was eating, thinking I was gaining weight. Once my calorie intake had dropped to around 1100-1200 calories per day (all while I was exercising), I knew there was no way I could still be gaining weight. Since I had a friend who was sensitive to gluten, it occurred to me that I might have a food sensitivity.

The first step in trying something new for me was to call Aimee, my gluten-sensitive friend who had also just graduated IIN as a health coach. I set up several Skype sessions for us to go over my health history and to talk about what I was eating. Her guidance and counseling set me on the path to healing. I eliminated gluten and sugar and began drinking bone broth and eating non-inflammatory foods. There was one thing I knew for sure: Google and WebMd were not giving me answers. I needed to talk to a real person.

Throughout the next year I read a lot of information about nutrition. I followed numerous people on Instagram with health accounts. I tried eating vegan, raw, high carb (lots of fruit), mostly paleo, dairy, NO dairy… you get the idea. The best thing about that year is that each of those ways of eating taught me something about my body. My body has also changed as my gut has healed. When my stomach was irritated I couldn’t eat meat without feeling sick. Now, I follow a mostly Paleo diet and feel great!

If there is one thing I could inspire you to do, it would be to ask for help. Seek out a health coach or a friend who knows more than you, and don’t be afraid to spend money! After all, this is about your health. It affects every area of your life.

One of the best resources along this journey has been my Beachbody team and the connections I’ve made through that group of ladies. I have learned to be a better leader, a better friend, I’ve learned skills in business and I’ve tried workouts I never thought I could do. Most of all, I know I’ll never stop trying new things! I am currently finishing out a carb cycling and intermittent fasting program. If you had asked me two years ago if I would train and eat like an athlete, I would have said “I have no idea how to do that!” Now I feel ready to train others.

Investing in yourself is SO worth it! You never know what you can do until you try. So, in summary…

  1. Try new things
  2. Ask for help
  3. Don’t be afraid to make a financial investment

 

You. Are. Worth. It.