5 Tips to Grow out Your Healthy Hair

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC


I don’t know about you, but I think long luscious locks are totally timeless… the perfect accessory.  But growing out your tresses can be tough if you’re dealing with dry, damaged hair that breaks and splits.  I’ve dealt with this myself since I was a teenager and first starting coloring my hair.  But I’m happy to report that I’ve nailed down the perfect recipe for stronger, healthier, shinier hair that grows out beautifully.  As with everything, it takes a holistic approach, inside and out!

1. Go sulfate-free.

Sodium lauryl sulfate is a common ingredient in most shampoos, but what you may not know is that it has a drying and damaging effect on your hair, especially curly or color treated locks.  To maximize your hair’s hydration, and therefore promote softer, stronger hair that’s easy to grow out, opt for a sulfate-free shampoo.  My faves are Wen Conditioning Cleanser, Shea Moisture Moisture Retention Shampoo, and Acure Organics Moroccan Oil Shampoo.

2. Shampoo less.

Even the most moisturizing, natural shampoos out can be drying for hair.  The simple solution is to just shampoo less often!  If you wash your hair daily, start cutting back to every other day, then 2-3 times a week, then eventually just 1-2 times a week, which is ideal.  In the beginning, you may feel that your hair is a little oilier than normal, but the cool part is that your hair naturally adjusts!  I have super oily hair, but can now go almost a full week between washes!  Rock a dry shampoo throughout the week if you need to zap some oil and increase volume!  I like Acure Organics Dry Shampoo and Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo.

3.  Embrace oils.

Oils are your hair’s best friends, for strengthening, conditioning, and imparting amazing shine.  My favorite is argan oil, which is perfect for post-shampoo deep conditioning and heat protection.  Try Argana Vita Organic Argan Oil.  For deeper conditioning, smoothing fly-aways, and treating dry ends, use coconut oil.  The one from your kitchen will do fine, but if you’d like a dedicated batch for beauty, try Spectrum Organic Coconut Oil for Body and Hair.

4.  Supplement smartly.

Getting beautiful hair starts on the inside, and supplementing with some key nutrients is a must.  I love Hair Essentials, which is loaded with everything your body needs to repair damaged follicles and grow healthy hair.  Biotin, iodine, saw palmetto, horsetail and more.. It’s truly a potent formulation that also helps to prevent hair loss! If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, using a good food-based prenatal like VitaminCode Raw Prenatal will give you a lot of the same benefits, while being safe for baby.  Other great supplements for luscious locks are essential fatty acids like fish oil and evening primrose oil.

5.  Eat for gorgeous hair.

You are what you eat, and nutrient-rich foods will give you nutrient-rich hair. Foods like nuts, leafy greens, bananas, cauliflower, legumes, whole grains and cage-free organic eggs are loaded with biotin which strengthens hair and helps it grow.  While foods rich in essential fatty acids like sardines, wild-caught salmon, flax, and walnuts will help hair look shinier and healthier from the inside out!

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How To Meditate: Chakra Meditation Guide – Root To Crown

By: Stephanie Heino

sun rising meditation

As you might have heard, scientists tell us that everything is made up of energy. And this is something ancient cultures have known for thousands of years. The well-developed and proven healing systems of traditional Chinese medicine are based around even flow of energy. Energy flows through different pathways, called Meridians, around the body. This energy that I am talking about has intense focal points called Chakras. There are 7 main chakras in our bodies.

A healthy system works with an even flow of energy. But if the flow of energy gets blocked it works just like a garden hose getting plugged leading the entire system to be dysfunctional. The same thing happens in our body, if just one of the chakra centers is out of balance it can affect everything. And yes, it does feel like you are out of balance.

If you chose to not go and see an energetic healer for a treatment, alternatively, you can work on yourself. But for those of us without a developed psychic sight, how do we know what chakras need attention? Luckily, there are often proven physical, emotional and mental conditions that suggest where attention is needed. When you get the hang of it, it makes sense and your intuition will guide you further. Chakra meditation is a form of meditation that is concentrative, recharging, and cleansing. Chakra meditation is used as a balancing form of meditation, channelling in good energy and and ridding the body of negative energy. The chakras that are the centers for energy within the body, and using chakra meditation helps to keep that energy balanced and aligned.

Chakra meditation can be performed in a couple of different positions including lying down or sitting in a position that feels comfortable and relaxed (cross-legged on the floor works great). It is important that the head and back are aligned. While practicing chakra meditation, many people choose to listen to soft, soothing music or to listen to complementary music that is soft and relaxing. It is important to remember that this form of meditation is very powerful and you should take the effects into consideration before you begin. Usually, it is an excellent idea to start out with a chakra meditation instructor to properly guide you. Chakra meditation uses thought, contemplation, and reflection on the various chakras to bring about the balance that is needed and also to provide more energy as well. As you are meditating, it takes deliberation to focus on the chakras and to get rid of problems and negative energy that may be held in each. If you are going to practice chakra meditation it is important that you understand the seven chakras and how they effect the body and mind, so let me tell you a little bit about each.

Below you see a figure illustrating the chakras from the base of your spine and all the way up to the top of your head. Notice the colours of each chakra, as you will use them in your work.

The Seven Chakras350px-ColouredChakraswithDescriptions

The Root Chakra is located at the base of the spine.
It vibrates with the color frequency of Red. This is the location for your stability, balance and security.The Naval (or Sacral) Chakra is located in the lower abdomen.
It vibrates with the color frequency of Orange. The place for passion and sexuality. It is also the location for psychic abilities and higher consciousness.The Solar Plexus Chakra is located between the navel and sternum. It vibrates with the color frequency of Yellow. This is where spontaneous actions and energy are located. It is also the place where our willpower can be found.The Heart Chakra is located in the center of the chest at the same height as the physical heart. It vibrates with the color frequency of Green. This is the center for compassion and unconditional love.The Throat Chakra is located in the throat region. It vibrates with the color frequency of Blue. This is where our communication abilities and our ability to express our selves verbally are located.The Brow Chakra (Third Eye) is located in the center of the forehead. It vibrates with the color frequency of Indigo. This is our window to the spiritual world. This eye has the ability to see beyond the physical world.The Crown Chakra is located on top of the head. It vibrates with the color frequency of Violet, or pure white light. This chakra is the direct channel to higher consciousness and getting in contact with our Higher Self, which can work as a guide, if you learn to listen to it.

Step by step Chakra meditation guide to open your Chakras – Root to Crown.

Start off by sitting comfortably in the Lotus position or in any posture you find most comfortable. Take a few deep belly breaths, feeling all your tensions, anxieties, and stressors leave your body with each exhalation.

Step 1

The Closed Flower. Close your eyes and take a deep breath all the way down to your root chakra. Imagine a bright red colour at your root chakra area. This is the Chakra of stability and security. Visualize a closed flower on that area. As you breathe in, imagine that the air carries a warm energy to the root chakra flower, which slowly opens. Feel how you are allowing your chakra to heal and be free.

Step 2

chakra-meditation-for-beginners1Sensing. Use your senses and see the red colour clearly in your minds eye. Feel the colour slowly expand from the root chakra flower and stretch out through your legs and all the way down to your toes. Feel it expand from its source up through your body, out your arms and all the way to your fingers. The bright red chakra colour stream also enters your head and fills your whole body with its warmth.

Step 3

Opening The Flower. Feel the love and security as the root chakra flower continues to open, making you feel more and more safe. Say to yourself (mentally) that you will not allow anything to come in the way of the blossoming of this root flower. Any bad experiences or any obstacles are not powerful enough to close this remarkable flower. When you feel that your Chakra has opened, let the bright red colour float upward to your second Chakra, the Sacral Chakra below your naval, and blend with its warm orange colour.

Step 4

The Closed Sacral Flower. See the orange closed sacral chakra flower at your second chakra. Breathe in deeply and feel how the energy is carried to the closed orange sacral flower, and how it stimulates it to open up just a bit. See how the bright colour from the chakra flower slowly leaks out and expands from this Sacral Chakra to all sides.

Step 5

Sensing. Visualize clearly in your mind how the orange colour moves through the bright red root chakra colour and further down to your thighs and legs and finally reaches your feet and toes. Feel how warm and pleasant the sensation is. The warm orange colour also moves upward like the red root colour, passes through your stomach and your chest, and fills it all with a warm secure feeling. It also reaches your arms, hands and finger and your head, filling it all with love and security.

Step 6

Opening The Flower. Allow your sacral chakra to open. You are in a safe and secure environment so allow it to open up and embrace the world as it has become much stronger now. Your source for passion and sexuality and even some psychic abilities is opening and is sharing its warmth and its qualities with the rest of the body and the rest of the world. It does not have to hide anymore, so allow your sacral chakra flower to remain open no matter what the future may bring.

Step 7

Continue. Do the above chakra exercise for each chakra, but remember to change the chakras individual qualities and colour. Try to work with each chakra for at least 5 minutes. Do not rush through the meditation.

Chakra meditation is a great investment in balancing your body, mind and spirit. Comment below and share how you felt afterwards. Good luck!

[Photos: 1, 2, 3]

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The Busy Mom’s Playbook: 5 Tips to Making Time for Health & Wellness

By: Heather Bergstein

Heather Micah 3Before I met Natasha, I used to say I was powered by M&M’s, caffeine and red wine – and I wasn’t joking! It was how I kept up with my crazy life. I’m a single mom with a gorgeous and precocious 5-year-old, a demanding career, a full social calendar, and a couple of side projects which include my own blog and an upstate cottage. All of that translates into someplace to be, someone to see, or something to do at every moment of every day – and excuses about why I couldn’t take proper care of myself.

But about 8 months ago, my lifestyle started to catch up with me. I was sluggish, gaining weight and just felt exhausted. As a birthday present to myself, I went to see Natasha Uspensky, and my journey to health and happiness began. We evaluated my diet and eating habits, and when we had tweaked my approach to food, we moved on to the root of the issue – my lifestyle. That’s where the real work started; I had to stop complaining and making excuses, and I learned that if I didn’t create time to take care of myself, I’d never have it. And worse, I’d be on a path to burnout.

If you’re reading this and can relate to feelings like ‘I don’t have time’, ‘I’m too busy’, and ‘Work is crazy’, I totally get it. But with Natasha’s help I realized I could do it, if I prioritized myself. Whether you are a Mom or not, if you find yourself falling into the ‘I can’t’ trap again, read my 5 tips for making time and space for YOU in your own life!

1. Accept That You’re Busy, and Move On

You know your to-do list is endless, and that probably won’t change. But you can change your approach. Don’t try to do it all, all the time. Instead, be reasonable and do what has to get done, and put yourself on the list as a non-negotiable.

2.  Stop Making Excuses

I made every excuse I could – I played the working mom card, the crazy workweek card, you name it, I said it. But guess what? These are just excuses. If you really want to do something, you will do it, and if you prioritize yourself, you can do it. Stop the excuses, own your life, and just do it already!

3.  Take Baby Steps, and Use Shortcuts

Start with small changes that lead to better habits – not sweeping changes that will lead to burnout. Maybe that means cooking one meal each day at home, or fitting in exercise by walking somewhere instead of cabbing it. And there is no shame is using shortcuts to get there, especially if they save you time. So go ahead – order Fresh Direct – and start creating a little more time for you to do what you need to do.

4.  Don’t Make Everything into a ‘Thing’

This is a Natasha original! If you look at everything you have to get done as a ‘thing’, each day feels like a mountain you have to climb. Accept that you have things to do, and have fun while doing them. And refer to Tip #1 when your to-do list takes over your life.

5. Happy Mommy = Happy Family

As a mom, I always put my son first. But that approach doesn’t really leave time for you as a person, doesn’t provide a lot of balance, and sometimes leads to a martyr attitude! Do the things that make you happy too. If you want to make time for exercise in your weekend, get a sitter and do it. You’ll be happier, and if you’re happier, so is your family!

It won’t be easy to make changes, but it can be done, so buckle down, take a closer look at what’s standing between you and your health, and use these tips to stop the ‘I can’t’s!

Heather Bergstein is a digital marketing and media professional with beauty and fashion expertise. A New Yorker at heart, she and her son Micah (and born-and-bred, legit NYer) live in NYC, and spend weekends bouncing around downtown or relaxing upstate. Heather is the creator and author of City Meets Country, her blog (aka passion project) about their adventures, both city and country.

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Yes to Tomatoes Clear Skin Collection Giveaway!


This month we’re giving away a trio of fabulous products from Yes to Tomatoes!

This line is perfect combination or oily skin that is prone to breakouts, and features natural ingredients that clear up pimples, reduce severity of blemishes, and control oil.

With these products you can cleanse and moisturize your way to clearer skin with acne-fighting ingredients like organic aloe, tomato, African red bush tea, salicylic acid, watermelon and red pepper.  Nourishing oils like almond, jojoba and olive help nourish skin while clearing clogged pores and balancing blotchiness.

Click here to read my review of the Yes To.. product line, one of our absolute favorite drugstore natural beauty finds.

To enter:

Step 1. Make sure you’re following us on Facebook!

Step 2.  Make sure you’re following us on Twitter!  If you already follow us on both, you can follow us on Pinterest!

Step 3.  Leave a comment on this post sharing your favorite skin-clearing remedy.. Bonus points if it’s a natural remedy!

That’s it!

We’ll announce the winner on Friday, May 17th, so make sure to enter before 6pm EST that day!


Thank you everyone for entering, and for sharing your skin clearing tips!

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Get Perfect Youthful Skin with Earthwise Beauty

Perfect Skin by Earthwise Beauty

The quest for effective, skin perfecting beauty products is tough enough as it is, but throw in some stringent criteria for natural ingredients, and you’ve got yourself a doozy.

Enter: Earthwise Beauty, a potent and effective skincare line made from food-grade quality organic, natural ingredients, herbs, and essential oils.  And I have to say, I’m pretty obsessed.

The Marshmallow Suds Face Wash is gentle, anti-inflammatory, and super healing.  It’s packed with soothing and nourishing ingredients that are amazing for all skin types, especially skin that’s prone to breakouts, redness, eczema, allergies or dryness.

I followed that with the Carrot-A-Day Organic Face and Eye Serum, which is a serious powerhouse of age-reversing, brown-spot correcting, acne healing, and redness preventing amazingness.  This stuff is for real.  With aloe, carrot seed, vitamin E and chamomile (among a slew of other potent ingredients), it’s like a tall drink of cool elixir of life for your skin! And it really helps to wake up tired eyes to boot! I’ve also been using it on the back of my hand where I noticed some little sunspots.

For deep skin detoxification and serious anti-aging, I love the Organic Blackstrap Molasses Face Mask.  It’s exfoliating, wrinkle-busting, and really does a number on breakouts!  With Hungarian moor mud, Moroccan lava clay, carrot seed oil, rosehip and vitamin C meet hand-harvested blackstrap molasses for a deeply nourishing mask that really delivers.  My skin feels softer and smoother, pores look less prominent, and I’ve gotta say, I’m pretty glowy.

But my absolute favorite product in this awesome line is the Tangerine Skies Rejuvenating Facial Oil. Not only is this luscious puppy amazing for skin prone to inflammatory conditions like eczema, rosacea, and acne, it’s also firming, brightening, and highly antioxidant.   Crafted from a blend of potent oils like red palm, coconut, and jojoba blended with lemon peel, lemon balm and tangerine — this guy is deeply hydrating and nourishing, without leaving skin greasy. Daily use made my skin more glowing, lustrous, smooth and clear.

Best of all, all of these beautiful products are so clean, so natural, that they’re essentially edible! Now that’s what I’m looking for.

Want to try this amazingness for yourself? Get 15% off with coupon code TheOrganicBeauty!

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March is Giveaway Month on The Organic Beauty!

The-Organic-Beauty-March-GiveawaysMarch is Giveaway Month on The Organic Beauty!

We’ll be reviewing tons of amazing products this month, with huge giveaways all month long for our amazing readers.  Enter to win amazing natural beauty products from Avitalin Skincare, Yes to Blueberries, and Sunny Girl Organics.

Keep checking back all month long for chances to win!


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Holistic 2nd Trimester Must-Have’s

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

Getting some sun on our baby moon during the 2nd trimester!

Ok, mama’s-to-be, here is some good news for you! After the nausea, fatigue and anxiety of the first trimester, things are about to get way, way better.  The second trimester gives you a much needed bit of respite between the drama of the first three months (check out my Holistic 1st Trimester Must-Have’s), and the common discomforts of the 3rd trimesters. Most women get their energy back, generally feel better, and can get back to their lives as normal.

I have to say, I loved the second trimester.  My baby started moving around, I felt great, I was going to prenatal yoga several times a week, and could often be heard uttering things like, “OMG I love being pregnant!”  It was an easy, beautiful time.  This is when you’ll most likely have your baby shower, go on a baby moon, and enjoy some QT with your partner.  Without the joys of hemorrhoids and swollen ankles.  BUT, to experience this time as magical, you’ve got to take some steps to take care of and support your body and baby.  These are your must-have’s to make this happen:


1. Bump Nest Body Pillow ($79)

The second trimester brings with it a bunch of changes to your body, which can make comfortable sleep hard to come by.  A good body pillow is an absolute must. Although there are tons of different ones out there, I love Bump Nest.  It’s insanely comfortable, versatile, and comes in a variety of adorable colors and patterns.


2. Pregnancy Tea ($14.95 for 2.5 oz.)

Herbs do an awesome job at decreasing the various ailments of pregnancy — like swelling and bloating, aches, anxiety, and more.  I’m a big fan of Herblore Pregnancy Tea, which is loaded with potent herbs like dandelion, nettle, red raspberry leaf, and chamomile, among many others!  I drank it throughout my entire pregnancy, and loved the results!


3. Stretch Mark Oil ($11.44 from Earth Mama Angel Baby):

Though you hopefully started moisturizing your belly in the first trimester, the second trimester is when a lot of growth happens, so it’s time to bump things up!  This all-natural stretch mark oil from Earth Mama Baby Angel is free of the parabens and mineral oils present in most pharmacy-bought brands. With organic calendula, borage and jojoba oils, and sweet orange, it does an amazing job at preventing stretch marks and itching skin.  I used it during my whole 2nd and 3rd trimesters, and didn’t get a single new stretch mark (and I am definitely prone to them)!


4. Organic Cotton Nursing Sleep Bra ($30 from Majamas)

If your boobs didn’t already start their mega-expansion, the 2nd trimester is where this will happen.  I grew one full cup size in my 1st trimester, and then another size and a half in the 2nd trimester.  Having a comfortable bra during this..um.. expansive time is absolutely crucial.  And to increase it’s versatility, why not make it a nursing bra that you can use for quite some time after birth! I love this organic nursing sleep bra from Majamas, which helps with back pain and super soft and comfy.  Plus, when you’re nursing, you can rest assured that the fabric is free of chemicals!


5. Maternity Jeans ($49 from Motherhood Maternity)

This is the time to start stocking up on a few key maternity items. Though the Bella Band got me through the 1st trimester, by month 6, all my old jeans were too small.  A good pair of maternity jeans might be the single most versatile piece of clothes you’ll use for the rest of your pregnancy.  I found an awesome pair of skinny jeans at Motherhood Maternity that looked great, and were the most comfortable jeans ever.  Though there are tons to choose from, I recommend jeans/pants with a high belly panel for extra support and comfort later in pregnancy.


6. Prenatal Yoga Workout ($11.99 from Gaiam)

Prenatal yoga is the BEST way to relieve pregnancy swelling, aches and pains, and to prepare your body for an easy and beautiful labor.  It’s also super helpful in preventing excessive weight gain in pregnancy, and is an amazing way to connect with your baby and changing body, and deal with some of the stress and anxiety that can start to crop up as you progress through your pregnancy.  I went to prenatal yoga class as much as possible, but on the days when I just wasn’t feeling up to it, having a great DVD to move with at home was a life saver.  Desi Bartlett is my yoga teacher here in LA, and her DVD feels just like being with her in class!  It features two yoga routines, Strong Mama and Cool Mama, so you can tailor your practice to how you feel on a particular day.  I also used the 10 Minute Solutions Prenatal Pilates DVD a ton to mix things up!


7. Glass Water Bottle ($19 on Amazon)

Staying super hydrated in pregnancy is crucial for decreasing swelling, constipation, and mucous buildup that can creep in during your second trimester. It’s also vital for your amniotic fluid and nourishing your baby!  Since you definitely want to be avoiding toxins like the BPA found in plastic water bottles, investing in a pretty glass water bottle is key.  I take mine with me everywhere to make sure I’m drinking my 2-3 liters of water a day, and love the stylish streamlined look of these bottles from Takeya.


8. Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth

This is an absolute must-read for anyone planning a mindful, natural birth.  Midwife Ina May Gaskin literally wrote the book on the matter, and will help you to commit to an educated, beautiful birth without fear.  I absolutely loved reading this book in my 2nd trimester, and felt so much more prepared and aware, not to mention able to have the birth I wanted after reading it.  NOTE: Read the second half of the book first, and then circle back to the birth stories in the beginning.  It can be really overwhelming to start in on birth stories without any context.  This advice came to me from a friend and awesome holistic mama, and she couldn’t have been more spot on.  Other great 2nd trimester reads are The Birth Partner and Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives.


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Whiten Your Teeth, Naturally!

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

Getting beautiful, pearly whites does not have to mean filling your mouth with chemicals and all kinds of carcinogenic crap.  Hopefully, by now you’re using a natural, fluoride and SLS-free toothpaste (see Get a Squeaky Clean, Organic Smile! for recommendations), but if you need a little more whitening action, there’s a natural route for you too!  Increase consumption of great teeth-whitening foods, and try a natural home whitening paste or mouthwash for amazing results, without the risk!

Teeth Whitening FoodsSTRAWBERRIES:  These bright red babies are full of malic acid and vitamin c, which are naturally whitening for teeth.  Cut a strawberry in half and rub it on your teeth.  Leave the juice on your teeth for a minute or two, then rinse.APPLES AND CELERY:  Eat these teeth-cleaning foods daily for a potent, whitening boost.  They help to remove stains from teeth, kill odor causing bacteria, and increase saliva production, which is the body’s natural way to cleanse teeth!LEMONS:  Lemons are a naturally bleaching food, which works for hair, skin, and teeth!  Start your day off with hot water with fresh lemon juice for a natural whitening boost (which also increases metabolism, helps with weight loss, balances your system’s acidity, and is great for your tummy!), or try the At-Home Whitening Paste below.BAKING SODA:  This is one of nature’s most potent teeth whiteners, and it is an ingredient in many toothpastes. For an added whitening boost, sprinkle some baking soda on top of your toothpaste, brush with straight baking soda twice a month, or mix with lemon juice to make the At-Home Whitening Paste below.Natural At-Home Teeth Whitening Paste

Mix 1 tbsp baking soda with the juice from about 1/4 of a large lemon.  The paste should bubble a bit.  Use a cotton ball to remove saliva from your teeth before applying the paste with your toothbrush.  Leave on for 1 minute, then rinse.  Don’t leave on for more than a minute, as the acid can start to break down tooth enamel!

Natural Mouth Wash

Mix 1 tbsp water with 1 tbsp hydrogen peroxide and swish around in your mouth for 1 minute.  Leave on teeth for another minute before rinsing with water.  This is great for whitening as well as

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Your Guide to a Perfect Night In

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

Living a fabulous life is amazing, and of course, something we’re all striving towards (or should be!), but with all the emphasis on going out, doing, and taking over the world, we sometimes forget the therapeutic effect of a good night in.

Now I don’t mean the kind of sad, pathetic night in where you’re wishing you were somewhere else and bury yourself in reality TV and a pint of ice cream.

I’m talking about the luxurious, pampering, thought-out, fabulous kind of night in that leaves you feeling like there is no where you’d rather be!  Lower your stress levels, feel more in-control of your life, calm your sweet little soul, and get some much needed self-love.  Here’s what you’ll need:

Guide to Staying In

(Clockwise from top left)

1.  Delicious, organic popcorn like Hudson Valley’s Bjorn Qorn, or better yet, make your own (see below)!

2.  A favorite, classic movie or book (you can’t go wrong with Clueless or The Secret Garden!)

3.  An amazing, detoxifying face mask, like Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay ($8)

4.  A cup of delicious, calming tea, like Yogi Kava Stress Relief tea in Honey Lavender ($3.46)

5.  Comfy and luxurious loungewear (no dumpy sweats here!), like these Bamboo Dreams Sugar Pie Pajamas ($99)

Cheesy-Spicy Vegan Popcorn

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup organic popcorn kernels
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Heat olive oil in small pot over medium-high heat.  Add kernels and cover.  When kernels begin to pop, shake pot every few seconds, keeping lid closed.  When pops come a few seconds apart, remove pot from heat and keep covered for a minute to make sure all kernels have popped.  Toss with nutritional yeast, cayenne pepper, and salt.  Add a drizzle of olive oil, if you’d like!


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10 Weight-Loss Hormones You Should Know About!

By: Stephanie Heino

hormones11It might sound counterintuitive, but calorie counting is not everything when it comes to weight loss. It has been discovered that there is a hidden key to shedding pounds, and it’s got little to do with calories or willpower, ladies (although this still plays a big role, of course!). It is time to talk about your hormones, and the surprising effect they have on your weight. Whether it’s your period, menopause, stress or pregnancy, women have felt vulnerable to hormonal cravings and sluggish metabolisms for years. Now science is uncovering several links between female hormones, hunger, weight loss and fat metabolism. And in fact, evidence suggests that taking advantage of female hormones may help you to manage your weight, shape, and appetite. Hormones are the chief executives of the body, managing everything: our sex lives, our stress lives, our immune response. Research has implicated hormonal imbalance in everything from breast cancer to short-term memory loss — as well as what we eat, why we eat it, and what happens to the body once the food is in our body. Which means that when you picked up that oreo, you weren’t just having a weak moment, you were actually a slave to your internal managers – the hormones.

“The neurotransmitter serotonin, which affects mood and appetite, needs proper estrogen levels to be optimal. Low testosterone has been associated with a worsening of memory and mood, and more fat on your belly.” So it is very important to optimize hormone levels through daily exercise, balancing insulin, sleeping well, and lowering stress, in order to create balance within, let us educate you on the 10 most essential fat-loss hormones you should be familiar with:

Ghrelin. Ghrelin is your hunger enemy. It is produced in your stomach and, like many fat-loss hormones, works with your brain to signal that you are hungry. Reducing calories, in an effort to lose weight, causes an increase in ghrelin. Even after 12 months of a reduced-calorie diet, research shows that ghrelin levels stay elevated. In other words, your body never adapts to eating less and constantly sends the “I’m hungry” signal, which is why maintaining weight loss is often harder than losing it in the first place. Make sure to increase your exercise since it decreases ghrelin levels, making it a key component to fat loss and weight maintenance. Eat a diet rich in healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, and low-mercury fish to give your system the good calories it needs to stay full. Also, make sure to eat three meals a day (with dinner being the smallest and lunch the biggest), so keep your blood sugar stable, and ghrelin in its place!

imagesLeptin. Leptin is a type of hormone called an adipokine that is released exclusively from fat cells. Leptin interacts with your brain to get your body to eat less and burn more calories. Its the hormone that tells your body it’s full. The more body fat you have, the more leptin your fat cells will release. However, too much body fat leads to too much leptin being released—a condition called leptin resistance. When this occurs, your brain becomes numb to leptin’s signal. To maximize leptin sensitivity, get adequate sleep and pack your diet full of antioxidant-rich berries and green and red vegetables. Losing weight also enhances leptin sensitivity and gives you some momentum, as the more weight you lose, the more effective leptin will become in your body.

Adiponectinhealth_benefits_of_2_tablespoons_avocado_2. Adiponectin is another adipokine, but unlike leptin, the leaner your body is the more adiponectin your fat cells will release. Adiponetin enhances your muscle’s ability to use carbohydrates for energy, boosts your metabolism, increases the rate at which your body breaks down fat, and curbs your appetite. You can maximize your adiponectin levels by moving more during the day (getting leaner) and replacing simple carbohydrates in your diet with complex carbs (whole grains and legumes) and monounsaturated fats (nuts, avocados, etc).

Insulin. Insulin plays a very important role in your body and is key for recovering from exercise, muscle building, and maintaining optimal blood sugar levels. However, when carbohydrate intakes are high and insulin is left to run wild in the body, it can inhibit the breakdown and burning of stored fat. Insulin and carbohydrates are very tightly linked. The more carbohydrates you eat, the more insulin will be released. To optimize insulin for fat loss, aim to get most of your carbohydrates from vegetables and some fruit. Limit processed grains, sugar and starches. Keep it to whole grains and have a little fruit if you need a sweet fix. “When insulin is secreted in higher amounts, you feel hungrier and you eat more. Willpower does not exist when insulin is high.”

Glucagon. Glucagon is a hormone that acts directly opposite to insulin. While insulin stores carbohydrates and builds fat, glucagon is responsible for breaking down stored carbohydrates and fats and releasing them so your body can use them for energy. Eating healthy proteins with meals is the best way to maximize glucagon release.

CCK. Short for Cholecystokinin, this hormone is released from the cells in your intestines whenever you eat protein or fat. But Catalonian-Spanish-Greens-with-Raisins-and-Pine-Nuts-ForkFingersChopsticksCCK doesn’t just stay in your gut. Instead, it communicates with your nervous system to flip the satiety switch while simultaneously working with your stomach to slow the rate of digestion. The end result is that you feel fuller longer. Take full advantage of CCK by making sure you have healthy protein and fats at every meal.

Epinephrine. Known as a fight or flight hormone, epinephrine drives the burning of fat and its release for energy in the body. Epinephrine can also aid in appetite suppression. Exercise is the best way to turn on epinephrine release in your body, interval training in particular cranks up epinephrine.

Growth Hormone. Considered to be the fountain of youth by many, growth hormone also helps with fat loss. Growth hormone interacts with fat cells and coaxes them to break down and burn stored fat for energy. Growth hormone can be increased through intense exercise like intervals or circuit training and sleep. To maximize the fat-burning effect of growth hormone, train hard and sleep well.

Cortisol. If you’re like many people, you’ve got a demanding job, a family who needs you, and a never-endingoriginal to-do list. No wonder you feel tired or depressed, anxious or irritable. Do you have insomnia, or a non-existing sex life? All are those are symptoms of chronic stress. Stress activates the fight-or-flight response, the body’s involuntary response to a threat that makes our hearts pound and our breath shorten. Chief among the hormones released during this response is the stress hormone cortisol that increases glucose in the blood so we have more energy to fight and deal “dangerous” situations. Cortisol automatically kicks up your appetite, prompting you not only to want to eat huge quantities but especially to want sweets and simple carbohydrates-foods that make insulin levels spike and then plummet, leaving you feeling hungrier than ever-and eating again. And this “stress fat” is also placed in the worst possible place – your belly. Lower your cortisol levels by exercising and doing yoga, sleeping well, meditating, keeping blood sugar stable with regular meals, and eliminating caffeine.

Thyroid Hormone. The most influential for weight loss is the thyroid hormone, which helps regulate metabolism, and insulin, which allocates sugar in the bloodstream. Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their metabolism. To regulate these hormones it is important to follow all of the other tips above.

4 tips for regulating your hormones:

Eat Whole Foods620-best-cancer-fighting-foods-prevent-nuts-berries-greens.imgcache.rev1355167418396
Think a diet high in fiber, complex carbs, and low-glycemic-index foods like whole grains and fiber-rich vegetables and fruit, as well as unsaturated fats, which will take longer to metabolize and help you stave off cravings.

By exercising (even if you just walk, bicycle, run, do yoga, run after your kids at the playground) 40-60 minutes per day, five days a week, you can combat hormonal weight gain. Strength-training can also help with hormonal balance since it alters the cortisol level, helping you burn calories and fat. Even at rest, muscle burns calories, which fat doesn’t.

Check Your Stress
For most people, basic stress-relief measures, such as getting a massage or seeing a life coach, will lead to better hormonal balance. Or why not engage in some yoga? People who practice yoga three times a week tend to gain less weight according to a research.

Get Plenty of Sleephappy-runners-460
According to a research in 2004, people that slept less had lower levels of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin. Other research has shown that just three days of sleep disruption increases insulin resistance in humans!

Raise Those Endorphins
We are all familiar with with eating to make ourselves feel better. To get that natural high, exercise is the way to go (but not the only way!) Let it be finding a new hobby that makes you happy, listening to music you love, dancing while no one is watching, taking a class and learning something new, laughing, and making love, often. I assure you that all these steps may lead you toward feeling more whole as a person, while also shedding those extra pounds on that beautiful body!

Take control of those hormones and lose that weight! If you need help, schedule a free consultation with holistic health and nutrition counselor Natasha Uspensky for guidance! You can do it!

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