Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Why I Quit Orangetheory

Hey there!

I wanted to hop on here and talk about my recent experience with overtraining and why I quit Orangetheory. If you’ve been following along for a little bit, I’ve been kind of beating around the bush about it, just because I was trying to figure things out and what exactly was going on. I was also waiting to get some test results back.

I want to preface this post by saying this is very much my individual story, so I don’t want to assume these things are happening to everybody. And I don’t want to scare anyone or anything like that. With my health background and everything that was going on in my life at the time, the type of activity (i.e. intensity, duration, frequency) I was doing was much too much for me.

I have an autoimmune disease, to start with, so my body is already stressed out. So, me doing high-intensity exercise is already not the best. I’ve managed up until this point, doing CrossFit, Orangetheory, and all my favorite things, but living the way I was living, my body just couldn’t handle it.

How overtraining happened to me

Last Fall, I signed up for Orangetheory, and I love Orangetheory. This is not a knock on Orangetheory. Again, this is my personal experience. But, at the same time, I don’t think I’m alone in this, which is why I’m sharing my experience. Working with one-on-one nutrition clients and connecting with women on social media, I don’t think I’m the only person that has fallen into this overtraining trap.

So, I joined Orangetheory, and I absolutely loved it. I was doing it four days a week, sometimes five days a week. I was truly loving it. I mean, it’s such a FUN workout. I also manage a business, and I’m very much that Type-A personality. I want do ALL the things, and I am constantly taking on more. I have high expectations for myself, and I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I generally just an amped-up person. (I’m working on it, I’m working on it.)

Around this same time, I got a book deal, a macro cookbook deal, and it was something I just could not say no to. And I’ve written books in the past, so I know how insane they are, but this one was just too good to turn down. So, I said “yes,” and it was 300 recipes, a full on cookbook, which is coming out in August. Mark your calendars! It’s already for sale on Amazon, if you want it.

So, I took on the cookbook, and books just take over your life. They are not a small project. I started writing the book, and then right before I officially signed the book contracted, I enrolled in the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition program. I signed up two weeks before the book deal, so I already at a lot on my plate.

And then the new year came… I had 19 one-on-one nutrition clients, along with 48 group coaching clients. Clearly, there was a lot going on in my life. So, I was doing all of this stuff, I’m super stressed out, I was not sleeping well, and I am exercising a lot. Thankfully, I wasn’t under-eating. I’m not somebody who under-eats. I just love food too much, and I knew I was getting more than enough food. I’m more of a stress eater, so not enough calories wasn’t an issue.

Symptoms of overtraining

I started experiencing all sorts of unusual symptoms, but I just ignored them. I’d have a couple of nights of bad sleep, and I was just like, “Oh, that’s annoying,” but I’d blow it off. There were sometimes I was waking up in the middle of the night, and I was so wired that I would get out of bed at 3:00 or 3:30 in the morning and just start working. The routine became part of my life. I had so much to do. I had to write a book! So I just plowed through and ignored the symptoms of stress that I was experiencing.

But then the symptoms were too hard to ignore. I started having blood sugar issues. Now I was waking up in the middle of the night starving. My stomach was growling! And knowing what I know now from the FDN program… if you are constantly stressed out, your cortisol levels are through the roof, and that will absolutely affect your blood sugar levels. So, I was getting crazy cravings, occassional night sweats (also related to blood sugar issues), and I was hungry all the time, which made my sleep even worse. These are just some of the symptoms of overtraining. Check out this blog post for more.

I also started to nap after workouts, which is so unlike me. Sure, I remember in my marathon training days, I wouldn’t want to take a nap after running for 2-3 hours. But it’d be an hour-long Orangetheory class, and I would come home and be like, “I could just nap.” I didn’t nap during the week because I had so much work to do, but on Sundays after class, I would come home and sleep.

I was so tired after my workouts, and workouts aren’t supposed to exhaust you. Yes, you can work hard and challenge your body, but they’re supposed to energize you. You’re supposed to feel good after a workout. And if you are beating yourself down so badly that you want a nap, it’s not good. And same goes if you feel like garbage during your workouts. If you just don’t have the same energy and your performance has gone down, you might be overdoing it with your training.

I used to go and crush every single Orangetheory workout I did. I went into Orangetheory like I would CrossFit, and I shouldn’t have. The intensity was just too much for my body with everything that was going on at the time in my life. Again, this is not a knock at Orangetheory. (It’s not them, it’s me!) I really, really love it as a workout, and I will probably go back at some point when my body is fully recovered.

More symptoms of overtraining that I experienced… I lost muscle mass, and I gained body fat. We had done a Transformation Challenge at Orangetheory. I did an InBody scan, and it was very, very different than the one I had previously done. And it’s funny because the number on the scale pretty much stayed the same, but my body fat increased and my muscle mass decreased. Weight gain is 100% a symptom of overtraining. And granted my training was very different because I wasn’t doing as much strength training as I was before, but I was really surprised how much my body composition had changed from stress. (FYI: Excess cortisol/stress can inhibit muscle growth.)

Your menstrual cycle is said to be your fifth vital sign. And if anything happens with your period… it goes away, your cycle gets longer or shorter, it’s a good indicator that something is going on with your health. I noticed mine got shorter and shorter during this time, and you guys know how I feel about hormones! They are so, so, sooo important. Since I’ve stopped training so hard and my book draft was submitted, my period has gotten back to normal, and I think I’m moving in the right direction.

I received a great question about measuring heart rate as a guide to intensity. And, yes, I did that. I didn’t buy the Orangetheory heart rate monitor because it didn’t work for me (it would die on the floor), but I used my Apple watch. I was consistently in the orange and red zones, so I was crushing workouts, and it was just too much for my body.

Also, at the same time, I was tracking heart rate variability (HRV). If you’ve never heard of this, it’s super interesting. There are all sorts of apps out there that you can use to measure this. I use Welltory and HRV4Training. You  measure your heart rate using your finger on the camera lens. HRV is measuring the intervals between the beats of your heart. The more variability you have, the better cardio health and fitness you have. The less you have, the more the sympathetic system is taking over. Your body is likely stressed, so it’s trying to conserve energy by beating more steadily.

I was tracking HRV for many, many months, and every time I would do Orangetheory, my score would plummet the next day. It was very obvious from day-to-day and even trends over many months, but I just ignored it until my symptoms got really bad, and I gained a bunch of weight.

So, nowadays I am training very differently. I am only doing strength training. If I do any sort of cardio, my heart rate probably doesn’t get above 130 or so. My pace is moderate and very chill. I’m also walking a ton. I’m walking with Murphy, I’m walking with the family, and I’m walking by myself. I had signed up for yoga classes, but with everything going on right now, the studio is closed. I’m not currently doing yoga, but hopefully I will when the studio opens again.

My crazy symptoms have gotten a million times better. I am sleeping amazing now. My hunger and blood sugar issues have very much evened out. I’ve been prioritizing my nutrition, focusing on protein, lots of veggies and fiber, and just consuming lots of good stuff. I’m also trying to relax as much as possible and not take on any new projects.

I haven’t done another InBody scan, so I don’t know exactly what’s going on with my body composition, but I feel better. I feel less puffy. I feel like I’ve maybe put on some muscle. I’m starting to feel strong again. It’s only been 2 months since I quit Orangetheory, but I really feel like taking now the intensity of my workouts and focusing on building strength have made a difference.

Ok, so I’m not saying you shouldn’t do high-intensity workouts like Orangetheory or Peloton. I know a ton of people are Peloton-ing right now, but that’s not the message I’m giving you. If you have other things going on in your life right now that are very stressful… work is crazy, kids are crazy, you’re not sleeping well or eating well (under-eating is a big stressor), it might be something to consider. Take it down a notch with your high-intensity workouts and just stick with strength training.

Strength training is so good for you – obviously, for building muscle, maintaining muscle, longevity and functional fitness moving into your older years, but also having more muscle on your body means you’ll automatically burn more calories and boost your metabolism. Having more muscle helps your hormones, and it makes your body look different. Personally, I don’t care about the scale and what the number says, but I do care about how my body looks.

Lifting weights and lifting heavy (for you) weights is what changes your body. It changes your body composition, the way it looks, and how clothes fit. With the StrongMadeSimple program coming out next week, the timing couldn’t be more perfect. My original plan was to do Orangetheory and lift at home, but then all this crazy stress/hormone stuff happened, so now I’m just strength training at home and starting to see changes!

Overtraining is so common and so many women don’t even realize it’s happening – myself included. Or maybe we just ignore the symptoms or don’t realize we shouldn’t feel so crappy because of our workouts and lifestyle. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “needing” to workout all the time and not taking enough rest days, but  it doesn’t need to be that way. More is not always better.

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Learning Through Play: 101 Ways To Keep Young Minds Occupied At Home

Parents, right off the bat, let me say that there is no right way to be feeling about the current situation. Relief, anxiety, excitement, dread are all normal. We’re all figuring this out as we go along and doing the best we can. Virtual high-five!

This is not a homeschooling post per se. This is about the importance of play as learning, and letting our kids play to restore some balance we don’t always manage in our typical over-scheduled lives.

Here’s the good news if you’re stressed about making sure your kids are still learning why they are at home: they are. I recently attended a workshop with a local homeschool coordinator. The biggest thing I took away was a reminder that all play is learning.

Why Kids Need to Play

Play is how kids learn about the world. Theoretical and Applied Playworker Bob Hughes (awesome title!) lists 16 different types of play that are central to physical, mental, emotional, and social development. By manipulating objects and trying things out (“I wonder what will happen if I give the dog a haircut?”), using their imaginations to role play different scenarios, and moving and challenging their bodies, kids play to learn:

  • How their bodies work
  • Laws of physics
  • Laws of nature
  • How to interact with other people, and the consequences of breaking social norms
  • How to follow rules, and the consequences of breaking those, too

Play builds neural connections and motor skills. Through play, kids get to act out adulting (as in playing house), tap into their creativity, and discover their passions.

Importance of Play

Play is not optional. There is a reason that it’s Primal Blueprint Law #7 and Mark has written about it frequently here. (I’ll put some links at the bottom.) Yet, we all know that kids don’t play today like they used to for a variety of reasons. If this time at home offers one thing, it’s time for playing. This means getting free play, movement time, social time, music and arts time, and family time—checking a bunch of Primal boxes.

I’m not just talking about the kids, by the way. I’m talking about the adults in your house too. How much do YOU play in your normal life? I’m guessing not enough. A lot of the ideas here are fun for the whole family.

Play to Learn: Indoor and Outdoor Activities for Kids

For obvious reasons, I’m not listing things that involve going to parks or other public places. If you can still go for bike rides or kick the soccer ball around outside, great! You can do these inside or in your yard if you have one. I also didn’t list too many options that might necessitate shopping for materials. Pick the ideas that work for you given the ages of your kids, what stuff you already have at home, and how much space you have.

Before You Begin…

If you’re like us, you have a stash of art supplies, board games, boxes of legos and blocks, and sports equipment stuck on shelves and in closets. Dig it out and take inventory. What do you already have in your home that your kids can play with? Even bigger kids enjoy revisiting things like blocks and playdough, especially when they’re stuck at home.

Creativity Stations

I have a friend who, when her kids were little, would put out a craft or art project every night. When her boys woke up in the morning, it was waiting for them to explore at their leisure. It made for a lot of fun and peaceful mornings in their house. (Yes, she’s a supermom.)

I’m adapting this idea by designating a “creativity station.” Realistically, you might as well call this the “mess station.” Maybe it’s a card table in a corner of the living room, on the deck, or in the garage. I’m just giving up my kitchen table for now. Lay out a bunch of supplies and let them have at it. These stay out for several days at my house, then we clean it up and get out something else. Here are some ideas:

Art labs


  • Supplies: paper, coloring books, crayons, markers, paint, stamps, stickers—whatever you have!
  • Ideas: Encourage kids to explore textures by using different types of objects as stamps: sponges, cookie cutters, leafs and sticks from the yard, legos, etc. Make footprints with action figures. Keep a bowl on hand that they can put dirty stuff in to wash. Also keep a pile of rags nearby for wiping dirty hands before they touch the wall.


  • Supplies: Paper; old magazines, newspapers, circulars, coupon mailers; glue; safety scissors
  • Ideas: Give kids a theme (e.g., food, their favorite person) or just let them make whatever they want.


  • Supplies: Construction and tissue paper in different colors; glue; scissors (optional); bowls to keep colored confetti separated (optional)
  • Ideas: Have kids cut or tear colored paper into small pieces like confetti, then use the pieces to create mosaic art. You can use coloring book pages as a “pattern,” or they can draw their own or make it free-form.

Science lab

  • Supplies: Plate or baking sheet; plastic table cloth or drop cloth (optional); containers of different sizes for mixing and pouring; water; food coloring; baking soda; pipettes, medicine droppers, etc. (raid the medicine cabinet); measuring spoons; baking soda; vinegar in a spray bottle; dish soap
  • Ideas: Let kids make “potions” and practice pouring from one container to another. Sprinkle baking soda on a plate, “decorate” with drops of food coloring, then spray with vinegar.
  • There are a ton of ideas for easy and fun science experiments online, too. Check out this lemon volcano and these 10 experiments you can do with water.

3-D creations

  • Supplies: Clay, playdough, tape, toothpicks, chopsticks, straws, rubber bands, paper clips, corks, pipe cleaners, anything else you can find around
  • Ideas: This is fun for free play, or you can challenge your kids to build something specific, like a bridge that will actually hold a small weight.
  • Make your own playdough recipes here and here. (Yes, these are not Primal recipes!)

Archeological dig

  • Supplies: Plastic tub with moon sand, kinetic sand, or dirt; small toys (e.g., plastic animals, blocks, marbles, plastic eggs filled with “treasure”); spoons, paint brushes
  • Ideas: Bury objects for your kids to “excavate.” Have them build ancient ruins.
  • Make your own moon sand recipes here and here.

Family Time

  • Family dance party
    • Let older kids create a custom playlist
    • Freeze dance: Let someone control the pause button; when the music stops, freeze and hold the position
  • Minute to win it games (check Pinterest for ideas)
  • Family book club
  • Sing-alongs
  • Card games
  • Board games
  • Dice games
  • Have a “campout” in your backyard. Make a campfire in a fire pit, place a bunch of candles in a circle, or have your kid make a pretend fire out of sticks and paper.
  • Make a family tree (including genealogy research if you want)
  • Go on a family vacation without leaving the house! There are so many ways to “travel” online. Here are some ideas to get you started:

71 More Activities for Kids

  1. Color the driveway with chalk
  2. Use chalk (outside) or masking tape (inside) to make hopscotch or foursquare
  3. Make noodle or bead necklaces
  4. Draw a comic
  5. Illustrate a favorite book or story
  6. Listen to a song and “draw” what you hear
  7. Origami
  8. Make a flexagon
  9. Gather up broken crayons make something new with them
  10. Move like an animal; take turns guessing which animal the other person is being
  11. Primal essential movements
  12. Resistance exercise with (light) hand weights and resistance bands
  13. Make an obstacle course
  14. Jump rope
  15. Hopping on one foot contest
  16. Do a handstand
  17. Play hacky sack (make your own filled with rice or flour)
  18. Put on as many clothes as you can, then try to do jumping jacks or burpees
  19. Learn to breakdance
  20. Yoga
  21. Meditate
  22. Make a drum kit with bowls and buckets
  23. Make “instruments” like castanets and boomwhackers with household objects
  24. Build a pillow fort
  25. Build a cardboard box fort, paint and decorate it
  26. Build a catapult
  27. Build a Rube Goldberg machine
  28. Make a birdhouse
  29. Identify birds or bugs in your backyard
  30. Learn about animal tracks and make your own
  31. Weed the garden
  32. Dig a hole
  33. Plant an indoor herb garden
  34. Cook together
  35. Learn about food preservation; make sauerkraut or yogurt
  36. Smell boxes: place objects with a distinctive smell—a candle, an orange cut in half—inside an empty tissue box and take turns guessing what’s in there
  37. Touch boxes: same as above, but you have to reach in and feel the object without looking
  38. Learn to tie knots
  39. Make a solar oven
  40. Learn how to build a fire (supervised, obviously)
  41. Make a sundial
  42. Learn how to use a compass
  43. Get a bucket of water and test what sinks or floats
  44. Learn to sew
  45. Follow a finger knitting tutorial
  46. Crochet a small project
  47. Make a t-shirt scarf out of an old shirt
  48. Make tissue paper flowers
  49. Play charades
  50. Make puppets and put on a show
  51. Play hide and seek
  52. Play sardines (the opposite of hide and seek – rules here)
  53. Make the letters of the alphabet with your body
  54. Play 20 questions
  55. Play I spy
  56. Make a word chain
  57. Dig out the old point-and-shoot camera and learn to take pictures
  58. Cloud watching
  59. Build towers and knock them down
  60. Yard scavenger hunt
  61. Find something in the house for every letter of the alphabet
  62. Make a yarn spider web
  63. Juggle
  64. Speak pig latin
  65. Learn a new language
  66. Use a magnifying glass to explore objects up close
  67. Freeze little plastic toys, marbles, etc. in bowls of water, then test ways to free the toys most quickly. Try different techniques like rubbing, spraying with warm water, or sprinkling with salt.
  68. Blow bubbles; make your own bubble solution and bubble makers
  69. Bring some flashlights in a dark room or closet and make shadow puppets
  70. Balloon “hockey” with balloons and brooms
  71. In the snow: fill spray bottles with water and food coloring and “paint” the snow

Give the Kids — AND YOURSELF — A Break

The idea isn’t to keep your kids occupied every minute of the day. It’s ok if they complain about being bored every once in a while. If they are like most modern kids, they aren’t used to having a ton of time on their hands. Present them with options, but let them figure it out on their own if they are old enough.

Your house might be messy and chaotic right now. Your kids might be too. They are certainly not immune to the stress and anxiety in the world, especially your older kids. It’s ok if you don’t have a schedule with neat blocks of school time, movement time, snack time, and chore time, and if your kids haven’t gotten out of their pajamas in a week. Your kids are going to be fine no matter what.

This is not nearly an all-inclusive list. What else has your family been doing to have fun while #stayinghome?


More play activities and lots of homeschooling resources from Unschool.school

100 Ways to Play from the Boston Children’s Museum

More play activities and homeschool ideas from Beyond the Chalkboard

Related posts from Mark’s Daily Apple

The Definitive Guide to Play

The Lost Art of Play: Reclaiming a Primal Tradition

15 Concrete Ways to Play

Why You Absolutely Must Play, Every Day! (plus 10 Pointers for Successful Playtime)


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5 Tips for Keeping a Clean House with Kids

keeping a clean house with kids text

As we navigate the new normal of having our kids home all.the.time. we must adjust our systems and rhythms for tidying up as well. Keeping a clean house with kids around is no small task. I know I’m not the only one who feels like for every one toy, crumb, or misplaced item I pick up two are placed in its spot. Here are some of my tips for minimizing the daily mess and cleaning as I go.

5 Tips For Keeping A Clean House With Kids

1 // Teach them to pick up as they go

One of my house rules is that we must tidy up one room before we move to another. If we’ve been playing in the living room, we have to straighten it up before moving to the basement. Occasionally we leave toys set up (like our trains) if it’s something elaborate, but all small pieces must be picked up. I believe that modeling is the best tool here. This might take 10 years but every bit helps. I always offer to help the kids clean up their toys when they’re finished playing, but I don’t do it all for them. We sing the “clean up clean up” song as we do it, and I do think that helps Birch understand what’s going on. I’ve noticed he will tidy up a batch of toys (or tupperware!) after he’s splayed it all out on the floor. Mazen knows the only rule for building a fort is that he has to put the couch back together before the day is done, and he’s old enough now to do it by himself. 

2 // Have great storage bins and toy zones in your house

This post elaborates on our toy zones. As with any organization project, you must have more storage space than you do things. If you have too many things, you either have to donate some or buy more space! I try not to have our toy bins overflow. Toys do get moved from one zone or room to another, and when things start to overflow, I thin them out and tuck some of the toys away in the boys’ closets. I try to do some toy rotation too, to increase excitement when something “new” comes back out. As I mentioned above, we always pick up one zone before moving to the next. I LOVE these bins from Amazon – they come in a bunch of different designs and colors. They have held up well, and are lightweight enough that they can easily be moved. 

3 // Don’t let them carry around food

The number one way to have a disgustingly dirty house is to let kids wander around with sticky, buttery hands and drip food all over. I have a firm rule that my kids sit down while they eat. Occasionally I break my own rule and will let Birch have a dry food like cereal in a cup and I will find Cheerios for weeks. It only takes one grease stain on the couch to ruin it forever. Despite the rule, Mazen has ruined the arm of our couch closed to the dining room table. It killlllls me. I try to contain the grease as well as I can. 

4 // Get a cordless vacuum

Remember Dustbusters?! The first generation of cordless vacuums. When I think of the sound of my childhood, I can see my mom on her hands and knees dustbusting the house. Mom used to dust bust crumbs all.the.time. We are lucky cordless has evolved to high-power vacuums that you can stand up to usse. The Dyson Cordless Absolute vacuum I have will give you total sticker shock, but it gets used multiple times a day, everyday. Whether it’s crumbs under the high chair or grass tracked in from Mazen and Gus, there is always something to suck up. I love how fast it is to bring out, and I can do my whole main floor in about 3 minutes.

5 // Define some systems so you don’t get behind

Here are some of mine:

  • We run the dishwasher nearly every evening, and emptying it is the first thing I do when I get up while Birch is in his high chair having breakfast
  • We do one load of laundry per person per week. I usually don’t mix people’s clothes because it makes sorting and putting away much faster.
  • The kitchen counters and floors get wiped/vacuumed at the very least each evening before we close the kitchen and start the dishwasher. Usually this vacuum involves our whole kitchen + living area. The bedrooms and family room don’t track in that much floor dirt so we do those much less often.
  • Bed linens and towels get changed and washed once a week, usually on Mondays
  • Floors get mopped once a week, usually on Sundays

My cleaning lady is literally the best money I spend all month. She is a cleaning dream team and gets gunk out of cracks and brings a high power vacuum that gets everything I can’t with my daily cleans. Until recently, she took care of most of the deeper cleans. While we’re all on quarantine, she’s not coming to our house, and we’re doing the cleaning ourselves. It sure makes me appreciate her that much more! I will have to figure out some new systems for the deeper cleans for the time being. More on that soon! 

Look at that sweet post-nap boy!

Bonus: get a dog!

Gus licks up almost all of the food that Birch drops off his high chair. Game changer! 

More Home Neat Home Posts:

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Natural Egg Dye For Easter Eggs

Natural egg dye is one of the simplest, most natural and clean way you can dye eggs this year (or any year!).

Naturally dying your Easter eggs is the best way to make this fun Easter tradition environmentally friendly as well as conducive to a clean eating lifestyle.  After all, dyes and chemicals are something I avoid in my life and on this blog. So why would dying eggs be any different? With Easter so close to Earth day this is a great opportunity to make, clean, eco-friendly choices when celebrating by reducing your family’s exposure to harmful chemicals and artificial food dyes. Not only is dying easter eggs naturally the best option for your family and the environment it is also very easy to do.

Colorful Easter eggs sit on a counter after just being dyed in this guide to making Homemade Egg Dye For Easter Eggs

How to get natural egg dye to stick

The trickiest part about using natural egg dyes for Easter is that sometimes the dyes do not want to stick to the eggs. Just like with dying fabrics and yarn it is best to prepare your eggs for dying so the dye is likely to stick. Giving your eggs a quick rub down with diluted vinegar can help make the dye stick to your eggs by clearing away a thin layer of the shell opening making it more likely to absorb the dyes. Adding vinegar to your natural dyes as well can help make your natural dyes stick to your Easter eggs.

How to get different shades when dying eggs naturally

Getting different shades when dyeing Easter eggs is easier than you think. There are three things that can affect the shade of your naturally dyed eggs. The concentration of the dye is an easy-to-control factor.

For darker eggs, you can add more of the plant you are using to create your dyes. Double the ingredients with the exception of the water and vinegar. For lighter eggs opt to water down your egg dyes but be careful to not overly dilute them.

The best way to get the lighter shades when dyeing Easter eggs is to pull the eggs from the dye quickly giving the dyes less time to absorb. For darker eggs you can leave your eggs in the dye for a longer period of time.

White eggs are most often used for dying Easter eggs as they allow the full vibrancy of the dyes to shine. For more vintage hues swap out the traditional white eggs for richer brown eggs that add a sepia undertone to your favorite easter egg colors.

What foods make your favorite natural egg dye colors

Naturally dyeing easter eggs can be a lot of fun. Children love the experience of turning everyday foods into dyes and watching their masterpieces come to life. This is a great opportunity to do some scientific observation while enjoying the spring holiday break.

  • Brown is one of the simplest dyes to make at home. Soaking eggs is a strong brew of coffee with a tablespoon of vinegar that will leave you with the perfect brown eggs. For texture leave the coffee grounds in the dye and allow any that come out of the cup of dye to remain on the egg until dry.
  • Red and pink Easter eggs can be made by boiling the skins of 2 – 3 red Spanish onions in one cup of water and one tablespoon vinegar. For pink eggs add more water after creating your dye and pull your eggs quickly to remove them at a lighter shade.
  • Yellow is such a bright and cheery color for Easter eggs. For a bright yellow that sticks well to eggs use 3 teaspoons of turmeric powder in 1 cup water and bring to a simmer until the turmeric is dissolved. For a brighter yellow add a teaspoon of vinegar to help the dye stick to the eggs.
  • Green is very easy to do. 2-3 teaspoons of spirulina powder dissolved in 1 cup hot water or one dose of chlorophyll concentrate in a cup of water is a quick and easy way to dye green Easter eggs.
  • For the best orange, you can use 2 teaspoons of chili powder in one cup of boiled water simmering until dissolved. Another option for a more burnt orange is to combine the skins of 2-3 large yellow onions and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric in one cup of water and bring to a simmer.
  • The easiest way to get beautiful purple Easter eggs is by using blackberry juice. Blackberry juice without any additives will give you a deep purple rather quickly. For a lighter more burgundy shade you can boil 1 cup shredded beats in on cup water to make a deep reddish-purple.
  • For beautiful blue eggs you can use blueberries. Ring a handful of blueberries to a boil in a pot mashing as they cook. Stir and strain your dye. Another great option for a pale blue is to boil red cabbage with 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to change the color from purple to blue.

For best results allow your eggs to dry before storing. Just like with other dyes the dye will change in color over time so if you plan to use your naturally dyed eggs as decoration dye them close to when you plan to use them so the humidity of the refrigerator doesn’t affect their appearance.

Need recipe ideas for Easter?

Check these out!

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Monday, March 30, 2020

Why overtraining might be the underlying cause of your weight gain

Did you know that many women are overtraining and don’t even know it? Maybe you’re one of them! Overtraining can cause many health issues, including weight gain…probably the exact opposite of a regular exerciser expects. Let’s explore.

You: Overtraining

In science-y terms, overtraining syndrome is an imbalance between training and recovery. What that means is that there is too much exercise (for you) at too high of an intensity (for you) without enough recovery time (for you). I say ‘for you’ because one of the leading reasons women (and men) fall into the trap of overtraining is comparison. Just because your friend works out all day, every day doesn’t mean you should too!

Anyone can experience overtraining syndrome. An unexpected surge in duration, intensity, or frequency of movement can impact the body in surprising ways. Everyday people are highly prone to overtraining syndrome because of comparison or aggressive goal setting (i.e. training for a marathon, wanting to lose 10 pounds).

Overtraining and Weight Gain

Overtraining syndrome-related weight gain can come from reduced metabolism due to hormonal imbalances or it can come as a byproduct of your emotional state. Yes, really. Depression, anxiety, stress, and fatigue can all cause a person to overeat. Macros be darned, I’m eating that cookie! One may choose to indulge in comfort foods as a means to cope with excess stress or anxiety, see an increase on the scale, run to the gym to ‘remedy’ this, and thus, a cycle of overtraining is created.

When your hormones are out of wack and cortisol is high (from too much exercise, lack of sleep or plain ol’ stress), the body gets pissed off and responds by increasing blood sugar and insulin and lowering metabolism, which cause weight gain, especially around the midsection. Additionally, overtraining can cause something known as HPA Axis Dysfunction. Basically, this is when the increased stress due to overtraining (and other lifestyle actors) causes a severe miscommunication between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands, which causes all kinds of negative physical effects – everything from fatigue and insomnia to gut issues and weight gain.

How to recover from overtraining syndrome

Overtraining is not a badge of honor. Being depressed, irritable, stressed, overly hungry, or fatigued is not normal. If you’re feeling any of these symptoms, make adjustments immediately, before symptoms worsen. Here’s how to do that.


Take a hard look at your workout routine. Is it long or intense? Are you allowing your body to recover? Are you exercising and then performing a physically- or mentally-demanding job? Take an inventory and commit to making adjustments.


Sounds obvious, but if you’ve already spiraled pretty far down the rabbit-hole of overtraining, slam on the brakes now and give your body a few days of rest. Working out 6 or 7 days of week might be too much. Hell, 4 or 5 days might be too much if your training is intense. 


Incorporate adjustments that ensure that you don’t go back into overtraining mode. Consider reducing intensity, duration, or frequency of exercise. Replace your daily 5K run with a yoga session or a foundational strength-based routine. 


Make adjustments to your nutrition, work-life balance, sleep pattern, and stress factors. While overtraining syndrome is a direct result of exercise, these additional life-related issues impact the body and its susceptibility to overtraining syndrome. Don’t disregard how your lifestyle affects your training. It’s a HUGE piece of the puzzle! 

Overcoming Overtraining Syndrome

There is life after overtraining. When you commit to dropping the “all or nothing” mantra and adopting balance, you will win. Not only will your body feel better, but with the right nutrition and exercise regimen, it will look better too. 

My prescription for an ideal exercise program is one that is based on strength-training fundamentals, which is also great for healthy hormones! Lifting heavy (for you) weights builds the essential muscle you need to improve your physique, boost your metabolism, and protect your skeletal system. Shorter, more efficient workouts allow the body the recovery time it needs to keep you in the game longer.

One week from today (April 7th), my 6-week total body strength training solution for building muscle and burning fat, StrongMadeSimple, is on sale. This dumbbells-only training program includes 24 full-length workouts, all 30-40 minutes in length, and designed to increase strength, definition, and lean lines without pushing you to overtrain. This comprehensive 4-days-a-week program is totally do-able for women who want to look like they actually work out, without spending hours exercising.

StrongMadeSimple was designed to get you the results you deserve without sacrificing your health. And because it requires minimal equipment and space, it’s perfect for working out at home. 

StrongMadeSimple is only on sale for a limited time, so be sure to mark your calendar for next TUESDAY (4/7) to get it for yourself. In the meantime, be sure to sign up for the waitlist to get the latest updates (and discounts)! 

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Success Story: Life After Cravings

It’s Monday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Folks, I have been grateful for every story that has come my way over the years. It’s an incredible privilege being on the receiving end of your reflections and evolutions, and they are why I’ve kept at it all these years—knowing the message and information have made a difference in people’s lives. I appreciate every single one. Here, you’ll read about a woman who went through a long period of trial-and-error and ultimately realized that conventional advice was hindering her progress. Thank you to reader, Karine, for sharing your story, and for using your personal transformation to inspire others as a health coach and mentor!


weight-loss-success-storySwitzerland, April 2008, I decide to get ski-fit. I think I am healthier than the average. I am not eating junk food, not smoking and not drinking alcohol. But I am very sedentary, apart from a bit of skiing in winter. I am already a decent skier but need to be fitter to go back-country skiing. This is when you climb the mountain with skins under your skis to find true off-piste skiing.

I buy a gym membership and quickly become addicted. I start lifting (very light) weights every day. I also throw in some cardio to lean out and increase my stamina. I start reading articles about nutrition and fitness and change my nutrition. I follow the nutritional advice from the fitness industry: 5 to 6 meals a day, very high in lean proteins for muscle synthesis and very high in carbs for energy. I am not a big meat eater and there is just so much chicken breast that I can eat everyday! I have to supplement with a lot of protein powder. I am convinced I am doing the right thing.

Australia, 2017. After 9 years of training, I am much fitter, have more stamina and can lift “decent” weights. But I still do not look lean and toned. My first DEXA scan gives me 26% body fat. Very average and unfair, considering that I am training 2.5 hours a day and not over-eating! And I am starving ALL THE TIME. I cannot go 2 hours without eating. Food becomes an obsession and a constant struggle. I also have really bad cravings for sugary food. I need so much will-power to resist banana bread and cookies or not to go overboard with fruits. I eat about 2,200 calories a day, as I exercise a lot, but I am never satiated. According to the calorie in / calorie out principle, I should be losing weight. But this is just not happening. It DOES NOT WORK. Something has to change.

The Shift to a Life Without Cravings

July 2018, I start the Primal Health Coach course. This is a revelation. My big AHA moment. I understand that if I eat a lot of carbs or even very lean proteins, I raise my insulin, which puts me in a fat storage mode. And it is even worse as I eat 6 meals a day. I remain in a fat storage mode all day! The calories in / calories out concept just doesn’t take into account the physiology of our body and how different macronutrients are metabolized differently. It suddenly all makes sense!! I understand why I am so hungry all the time, why I am bloated and have cravings. This is such a relief: I now know what to do. But it is also so frustrating. I have basically wasted 9 years working out super hard to improve my body composition, without any success.

I change my nutrition right away. I start with paleo, low carb, high fat. Mind-blowing! After one week, all my hunger and cravings are gone. I am not bloated anymore. After two weeks, I start losing weight. I decide to go full keto. So easy, and the food is delicious. I love all the healthy fats: avocados, macadamia and pecan nuts, olive oil, fatty pieces of meat. Yum! I don’t feel restricted at all. On the contrary, I don’t think about food all the time anymore and don’t even crave unhealthy processed and sugary foods. After 6 months, my body fat percentage is down to 21%. I still eat the same amount of calories as before, but with different macro nutrients.

I am no longer hungry in the morning and it is also very convenient. I continue to lose some excess fat. After a year and a half on keto, I am now around 16% body fat, which seems to be my happy set point. I am now regaining a bit of weight, but it is only muscles! Six months in, I stop the cardio. I realize that I was overtraining, and my stress levels are a bit high. I also start time restricting eating. I skip breakfast and have a larger lunch and dinner. It is actually very easy.

Not bad for a 47 year old. And all these improvements without much effort. I really wish I had known all this back in 2008…

Mental Benefits of Keto

The other benefits I can see of going keto are that I am far less anxious and stressed than before, and my mood is more stable. I have never suffered from brain fog, but my brain feels super clear in the morning, when I am fasted. And if I am away from home without access to healthy food, I can skip a meal without being hungry.

In the meantime, I discover that I am highly toxic in heavy metals, especially arsenic and mercury. Probably from low-quality protein powders, tap water, dental fillings and conventional food. Another big awakening! I ditch all my conventional cosmetics and cleaning products and replace them with organic non-toxic products. I install a reverse osmosis water filtration system and start buying organic veggies, pasture-raised and grass-fed meat. The heavy metals are going down, but I probably need another year or two to get rid of them.

Sharing what I’ve learned

After taking the Primal Health Coach certification course, I continue studying nutrition with two courses from the Nutrition Network: Low Carbohydrate High Fat / Ketogenic Nutrition & Treatment and LCHF in Clinical Practice. I also start studying the other pillars of a healthy lifestyle: sleep optimization, stress management, exercise and toxin reduction. I am now officially a health coach and nutritionist and start coaching friends and relatives.

The more I learn, the more frustrated I am with the poorly researched, wrong or conflicting mainstream information about nutrition and so-called healthy lifestyles. I realize that, when I talk to people about bad oils, added sugar, excess carbs and gluten, about going to bed at 10 pm to get 8 hours of sleep, about grounding or turning off their phone at night, they look at me as if I were coming from another planet. They have heard a different message pretty much since they were born and it is difficult for me to prove my point over a fifteen-minute conversation.

September 2019. I set up my own website and start blogging about nutrition, sleep, stress, toxins, exercise and anything that can help people getting healthier and feel better. I keep the articles short: a bit of information on how our physiology works and many practical tips that are easy to squeeze into our busy days and have be proven by the research to work.

I just want to raise awareness. It is not because a product is sold in our favorite supermarket that it is healthy. Our modern lifestyles are harmful in so many ways and it is not enough to just avoid junk food and give up smoking. We need to do much more than that: pay attention to what we buy, how much we move, what we think about, the water we drink and how we use technology. We all need to be so much more mindful. We can no longer be on auto-pilot and hope that we will stay healthy. This was my realization anyway. I hope it will make your readers think about it.



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High Highs & Low Lows

I think I can speak for most of us that these past two weeks have been filled with many highs and low lows. One minute the kids are playing together and I’m pulling pancakes out of the oven, and the next minute it seems the world is crumbling beneath us and there is no end to this in sight. We have a lot to be grateful for (house, jobs, food) so we are trying to count our blessings and make the most of this unique situation.

I actually think the timing is great for Birch having his brother home to play. To Birch this is a wonderful time!

Here are some of our adventures from the past week

Spotting a garden snake on a walk

Riding bikes at the church on our street. This parking lot has been such a life saver!!

At the end of every walk we get Birch out and do a big loop around the block with him to get his energy out. He loves it! (Note again i’m in a down coat and Mazen is in short and a tee!! That boy is never cold.)

Climbing the mountain!

Our weather has had high highs and low lows as well. Before this weekend, the low cloud cover was making me go insane. I’d take a cold sunny day or a rainy warm day over low-hanging clouds anytime.

We’ve played fort and book store –

And were thrilled when Grammie sent these 3 crafts!

The stepping stone kit involved mixing plaster in a “disposable mixing bowl” (who has disposable bowls?!) and was not the best indoor activity. I’d recommend a stone painting kit like this instead!

I had some luck with documentary watching during Birch’s nap time, and we watched 72 Dangerous Animals and Chasing Monsters (all about fish). My mind was blown when the host walked through a murky, gator-filled river. HOW is he not scared!? You couldn’t even pay me to canoe in that water!

Here are some of the things we’ve been eating…

Blueberry overnight oats

Hand pies from The Pie Chest with peas + rice

More Pie Chest – pot pies with couscous salad

And homemade pizza night!

We had some frozen salmon from Sitka Salmon that has come in handy when grocery store trips are at a bare minimum. They ship fish right to your door. Herby roasted with a make-shift kale salad.

And finally – drippy sun butter yogurt on the porch!

As always, I hope you guys are doing the best you can right now <3

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Coping with COVID-19, Kevin Gilmartin PhD | Salty Talk 003| THRR

Welcome to Salty Talk. This is a special edition of Healthy Rebellion Radio. Each week on Salty Talk Robb will do a deep dive into current health and performance news, mixed with an occasional Salty conversation with movers and shakers in the world of research, performance, health, and longevity.
For the full the video presentation of this episode and to be a part of the conversation, join us in The Healthy Rebellion online community.

WARNING: These episodes may get “salty” with the occasional expletive.

This episode of The Healthy Rebellion Radio is sponsored by Perfect Keto. Perfect Keto makes eating keto easier. Perfect Keto provides clean low-carb bars, nut butters, and supplements, and the best keto recipes and info so you can keto with confidence. Go to http://perfectketo.com/salty40 and use code SALTY40 for buy one get one 40% off on all Perfect Keto products. 

Today’s Salty Talk is an interview  with Dr. Kevin Gilmartin…
Dr. Gilmartin is a behavioral scientist specializing in law enforcement and public safety related issues. He is the author of the book Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement: A Guide for Officers and Their Families. He previously spent twenty years working in law enforcement in Tucson, Arizona. During his tenure he supervised the Hostage Negotiations Team and the Behavioral Sciences Unit. He is a former recipient of the International Association of Chiefs of Police-Parade Magazine, National Police Officer Citation Award for contributions during hostage negotiations. He presently maintains a consulting relationship with public safety and law enforcement agencies in the U.S, Canada, and Australia. He is a HUGE friend of ours at the Reno Risk Assessment program. 


Download a copy of the transcript here (PDF) – Coming Soon….

Coming soon….


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