Coffee: I Need A Break

I started drinking coffee when I was about 13, mostly because it made me feel cool and mature. 
As time went on, coffee became a part of my everyday life. 

Giving up coffee was something I never thought I’d do. I loved everything about coffee – the process of grinding my own fresh beans, the smell while it brewed, and the taste of those first warm sips. More than anything else I loved the ritual of preparing it for myself first thing in the morning. I went from groggy to alive within in a matter of minutes.

So why give it up?

There are a couple of reasons I decided to take a break from coffee. First, I wasn’t sleeping as restfully as I’d like. I’d fall asleep relatively quickly, but then around 2 or 3 a.m. I’d wake up feeling wide awake, stressed and ready to wake up (a sign of high cortisol). Second, I noticed that my energy levels throughout the day were so up and down. I felt great after my coffee, but then an hour or two later I would crash- feeling fatigued, moody, and craving something to give me energy (a snack, another cup of coffee, or having to lay down). Coffee stresses the adrenals and can cause blood sugar issues, which is why many people complain of anxiety, jitters, irritability and fatigue. Caffeine also dehydrates the body, which leads to aches, pains, and sluggishness long term. I also hated the idea of relying on coffee everyday in order to feel capable. Lastly, I wondered what a coffee-free life would be like. Would I feel different? More clear headed? Less anxious? I wanted to find out. If it was horrible, I could always go back to drinking coffee. There was no harm in doing a little experiment. Plus- I would still be drinking caffeine in the form of matcha.

Matcha is finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves with some amazing health benefits. A serving of matcha offers between 30-70 mg of caffeine while coffee offers anywhere between 95-144 mg depending on how it is prepared. Unlike coffee, matcha supplies a healthy amount of caffeine without causing you to crash a couple hours later. Amino acid L-Theanine in matcha promotes both natural relaxation while simultaneously heightening mental clarity. It is also known to reduce anxiety levels and enhance your mood! In addition, matcha is also packed with antioxidants and immune boosting properties. So matcha is awesome, okay?!

Anyway, I want to share how I stopped drinking coffee as well as some of the tricks that I used in order to make the transition less painful!

How I Stopped... Tips and Tricks

For the longest time, I told myself and others that I would NEVER give up coffee. I was in denial that it actually made me super anxious and irritable. It was difficult because even though coffee made me feel badly, I still preferred that over what I thought I would be like without coffee- unproductive, exhausted, and cranky (boy was I wrong). 

1. Drink A Hot Morning Alternative. For me, this is matcha. I love my morning matcha because I can add in all of the same things I used to love adding to my coffee- collagen Peptides, ghee, coconut butter, MCT Oil, cinnamon, etc. My bulletproof style matcha gives me a steady burst of energy without the jitters of coffee. Also, the ritual of making my matcha reminds me of coffee. I wake up and immediately start boiling water over the stove, add everything to my Vitamix, blend, and the result is a warm, soothing, frothy matcha! I love the taste and the way it makes me feel- steady energy, focused without the jitters, and I don't experience a come down. Lately, I've been using Organic Ceremonial Matcha by Mizuba Tea Co.  

2. Drink Plenty Of Water! I always start my day with a glass of warm water with lemon, and a dash of apple cider vinegar. Water is the cure for everything, just drink it all day everyday. I've really stepped up my hydration through making big mason jars full of infused water. I'll add things like mint leaves, basil, lemon, lime and other fruit to add some subtle flavor. When I know i'm going to be out of the house, I fill up a reusable water bottle and always bring it with me so I don't go too long without water. This helps me feel more awake, decreases headaches, and just better all around!

3. Herbal Tea. I started getting really into herbal tea! I discovered High Garden Tea in Nashville, where they make organic and wildcrafted herbs hand blended and bagged tea. I found so many amazing blends including my current favorite called "Immortal Monk". I make a big batch over the stove with two tea bags in the afternoon, and sip on it all afternoon through the evening. It keeps me calm and occupied while I'm studying, working, cooking, etc. t's just another ritual that I look forward to!

4. Fresh Air. When quitting coffee it’s important to find sources of energy elsewhere. For me, a morning walk with my dogs really wakes me up and puts me in a better mood. The fresh air combined with some activity feels amazing. When i'm in a better mood, I'm less likely to reach for something that doesn't make me feel good. Outdoor activity also boosts our oxygen intake and vitamin D levels too!

5. Sleep! I feel my best on 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Easier said than done, especially if you have a hectic work or family life, but it is so important. By getting adequate sleep, we’re reducing our likelihood of relying on crutches like coffee to keep us going. However, you will notice that sleep will be much more enjoyable when you aren't drinking coffee. Quitting coffee has changed my relationship with sleep, because I'm not stressed out about how i'm going to sleep. Without coffee- I fall asleep quicker, stay asleep throughout the night, and wake up rested- it's beautiful. 

6. Nutrition, duh! Make sure you're eating real food! Find the foods that work best for you. For me, a diet higher in fat gives me long lasting, sustained energy. If you're skipping meals and snacking on processed food it will probably leave you feeling fatigued, moody, and stressed. This will increase the likelihood of needing coffee to make it through the day. Trying eating balanced meals made of real food. Check out some of my recipes for healthy meal ideas!

7. Exercise. I don't know about you, but after a nice workout session I feel energized and ready to tackle the day. Walking, yoga, barre, and tennis have been my favorite forms of movement lately. I've noticed that I feel so much more calm and present during these activities without coffee. Exercise will also keep your mind clear, and your more likely to make healthy decisions for the rest of the day.

8. Support! This will be difficult, so challenge a friend to take on quitting coffee with you. If you have any questions, i'm here for you! Feel free to send me a message on Instagram, or leave a comment below!

I'm sure I will have coffee again in the future, but for now I am perfectly content without it! I feel happier, more energized, and i'm sleeping like a baby. Sometimes, change is good and we have to experiment! We are all in charge of our own health!

Dear Body...

"And I said to my body. Softly. 'I want to be your friend.' It took a long breath. And replied, 'I have been waiting my whole life for this.'"

           I struggled with perfectionism and control for a long time, always taking it out on my body.  Throughout high school and college, I struggled with disordered eating in many different forms. I liked myself when I felt thin, and hated myself when I felt big. It was exhausting, frustrating and confusing, but I was addicted to the sense of control I felt over my body, and I was absolutely terrified of recovery. Growing up, I felt that there was always a big emphasis on appearance and looking a certain way. I felt like if I was thin people would like me, desire me, and respect me. Starvation, over exercise, extreme food rules, guilt and shame surrounding food choices were a daily occurrence. But that's not who I am today. Over the years, I've learned to break free of this vicious cycle, relax, and make peace with food, exercise and my body. I eat and move my body in a way that feels good for me. But I still don't always LOVE the way my body looks, and that's okay. 

Today, I'm sharing a recent letter I wrote to my body. 

Dear Body,

Damn... We've been through a lot together. I'm sorry that I've caused you so much pain. I'm sorry that I've spent decades of my life hating you, criticizing you, and wanting to change you. I took the things you've allowed me to do for granted. You allowed me to succeed at a sport that granted me a free college education, and the best friendship I've ever had. 

To my uniquely shaped stomach, I'm thankful for you. I'm sorry for never thinking you were toned enough. I'm sorry for squeezing you all those times and wanting to make you disappear. I'm sorry for comparing you to other women I saw on TV and Instagram. To my arms, I'm sorry for thinking you were too big and never appreciating you for how strong you were. To my legs, i'm sorry for all those hours I tortured you on the treadmill and tried to make you smaller. To my body, my feelings towards you are no longer dependent on how much I ate today, or how much I exercised. 

Thank you for not giving up on me, and continuing to fight for me when I wasn't giving you what you needed to thrive. You are everything to me, and you deserve more. Please forgive me for all those times I looked at you in utter disgust in dressing room mirrors. For all those nights I went to sleep hungry and deprived you of dinner. I am eternally grateful for your strength, energy, and everything you've allowed me to do. You are literally everything to me. I promise to take care of you, honor you, and trust you. I can't promise that I will love you every day, but I am ready to be your friend. 

Xoxo,

Lexi

         Of course, I do NOT have it all figured out. I can only do my best. If I expected to love myself 100% of the time, I would end up feeling like a failure whenever I have an off day. So I focus on a mindset shift and small victories. One thing that has helped me when I start to regress back into old thinking patterns is replacing negative self-talk with positive words. So talk to yourself the way you'd talk to someone you adore (your best friend, your sister, your mother). I think my best friend is the most gorgeous person alive. When she talks badly about herself I always immediately affirm her that she is beautiful. So why don't you tell yourself how good you look! When you manifest something, you start to become it. When you tell yourself your ugly all the time, of course you will become uncomfortable in your own skin. So start complimenting yourself. Not just on your appearance, but just make a list of things you love about yourself!

I believe there's nothing wrong with wanting to look and feel good (I still love feeling pretty, strong, and fit) but it becomes a problem when your self-worth depends on your physical appearance. For me, it’s about progress, not perfection. The bad body image days are the days its the easiest to fall back into old patterns. You may think to yourself, “I hate my body. I should go to the gym every day this week, and cut out carbs, sugar, and dairy. It will work and then I will finally lose weight, and be happy.” News flash... If that is your mentality, losing weight won't bring you happiness. It will only bring you more anxiety about your body, because guess what? At my lightest weight I was still unhappy with my body. What does help is finding foods and activities that nourish your body, mind and soul. For me, that is taking care of my body. It is creating recipes in the kitchen. It is helping others nourish their body. It is exercising to move and feel good emotionally. It is spending time with my family. It is being outside in the sun. It is listening to a podcast I love. Fill up the space in your mind with positive thoughts, and there will be less space for the negative ones.

I used to be afraid of recovery because I thought my eating disorder gave me control. In reality, my eating disorder controlled me. I promise you, FREEDOM feels a lot better. 

This insight has come from my own experience and my own journey. I hope that it inspires and guides you in your own journey. I plan to share more of my own story in the future, but that is all for now!

Natural Remedies for Cold, Flu & Illness

I'm just going to start out by saying that I really HATE being sick. However, a cold or flu is our bodies way of telling us to take a break, chill out, and take care of our bodies. The worst thing you can do when you feel like you're getting sick, is to ignore the fact that your body is asking for a break, and attempt to push through it. I used to do this all the time! I hated being sick because that meant I would have to miss a workout, stay at home on the couch all day, which resulted in me feeling unproductive and lazy. So I would workout anyway, which ALWAYS came back to bite me. This will only cause more stress to the body, and prolong whatever your body is flighting. So listen to your body, pump the brakes, and take care of yourself. 

These days, I only go on antibiotics if I absolutely need to, so I put together a guide to fighting off sickness at home! There are so many things you can do in the kitchen to boost your immunity, fight off viruses and infections, and shorten your recovery time. I've done loads of research and tried pretty much every natural remedy out there over the years, so here's what works for me based on my experience. 

  1. Water, rest, & comfort are the obvious ones. But I see so many people ignore the basic things your body needs in order to recover. Getting enough sleep is crucial, and even a couple nights of poor sleep can leave the body weak and unable to fight off illness.The immune system is the body’s form of defense, so if the body is stressed it will only prolong the healing time. So if this means cuddling on the couch all day and going to sleep at 8pm- do it, and don't be ashamed of it. 
  2. Bye inflammatory foods! At the first sign of illness, I remove certain food groups from the diet, and make sure to focus on eating only a healing foods that are easy to digest. I try and remove grains, sugars, dairy, and even natural sweeteners. These foods may suppress immune function and slow the body’s healing process. When you are under the weather, the body needs to focus more on healing than digestion, so think about the foods that are easy on your GI tract. Soup, stew, and bone broth are a few of my favorites!
  3. Bone Broth has a ton of health benefits! A large portion of your immune system is located in your gut so foods like bone broth will give your body a little extra TLC. Bone broth provides essential vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and other trace minerals that support the immune system and contain healing compounds. Check out my recipe for homemade Soothing Chicken Bone Broth or find quality packaged bone broth at your local health food store.
  4. Apple Cider Vinegar is pretty much the answer to all of your problems. Apple Cider Vinegar contains a unique blend of vitamins, minerals and enzymes + possesses antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. Check out my recipe for Apple Cider Vinegar Lemonade- this is a miracle drink when I'm under the weather. I double up when i'm sick, but otherwise drink this every morning for it's hydrating, digestive and detoxifying benefits! 
  5. Lemon Water throughout the day is a great way to stay hydrated when you're feeling sick. In the first few days after you come down with an illness, it is so crucial that you boost your hydration! Not only is lemon water more enjoyable than plain water, but it helps to boost your immune system by supplying vitamin C, antioxidants, and antibacterial compounds. I drink this everyday and I really feel like it flushes out my system. 
  6. No caffeine! As hard as this is, it's so important to rest when you are sick. Skipping the coffee and caffeinated tea will allow your body to fully rest without stimulating your nervous system. In addition, caffeine is a diuretic- and the last thing you want when fighting a cold is to be dehydrated. Opt for a superfood smoothie, turmeric latte, or bulletproof hot chocolate (steamed almond milk, raw cacao powder, manuka honey, mct oil, ghee, and collagen peptides). 
  7. Epsom Salt Baths are the best! They will help your mind relax and can reduce body aches. Adding a few drops of essential oils such as tea tree, rosemary, thyme, orange, lavender, lemon, or eucalyptus, may also have a soothing effect.
  8. Fermented Foods can re-introduce beneficial bacteria to the gastrointestinal tract- improving gut health, boosting immune system, and even reducing allergies. I recommend including some form of ferments into your diet regularly to keep your gut and immune system in balance. Some of my favorite are raw fermented vegetables, kombucha, kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut. I love the brand Farmhouse Culture, they make all sorts of fermented vegetables as well as probiotic drinks and gut shots that will support your microbiome!
  9. Raw garlic is a natural antibiotic, anti fungal, and antibacterial. I know this sounds really gross, but raw garlic is a natural remedy for fighting cold and flu. Raw garlic is a powerful antioxidant with antimicrobial, antiviral and antibiotic properties and can knock out your cold! I eat a few cloves a day at onset! If you can't stand the strong taste, chop the garlic clove and combine with a spoonful of manuka honey. 
  10. Manuka Honey has antibacterial properties, in addition to soothing your throat and/or cough! Take one teaspoon of Manuka Honey, 3-4 times per day or add to your herbal tea or warm lemon water. It is also great at protecting your immune system, so if someone around you is sick this may help prevent illness!
  11. Ginger and turmeric root are both great for fighting a cold and strengthening your immune system. Both contain powerful antioxidant compounds (curcumin for turmeric, gingerol for ginger) that benefit your overall health. Ginger may also help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat or other inflammation. I love cooking with these roots in a big soup, stew, or bone broth. Sometimes I even throw some in my water!
  12. Curcumin, zinc, Vitamin C, Probiotics and magnesium are some of my favorite supplements I take to support my immune system! 
  13. Coconut Oil is high in lauric acid and is known to support the immune system and defend against viruses. If feeling sick, add a few tablespoons per day in food or melted into hot tea. 
  14. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are known to have beneficial effects on inflammatory conditions. These health-promoting fatty acids­­ are found in cold-water fish such as wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna and trout. Other great sources include walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds. I know a big piece of wild salmon always lifts my spirt! It doesn't hurt that omega-3 fatty acids also contribute to brain health and improve mood.
  15. Colloidal SIlver is a new one for me! However, It is definitely the most powerful on this list. It's an age-old remedy that is highly effective for supporting the body's immune system. It is a liquid supplement that contains pure silver particles suspended in water, often used to treat illnesses. A chiropractor recommended it to me when I had an ear infection over the summer but didn't want to go on antibiotics. I took a teaspoon every morning for 3 days, and poof! It was gone. 
  • Of course, if you're symptoms don't improve over time, or get worse I recommend seeking medical attention.
IMG_6404.JPG

Beginner's Guide to Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for improving oral health! Including this method in your daily routine helps remove the bacteria in your mouth- resulting in whiter teeth, fewer cavities, fresher breath, and even improved mental clarity! 

What is Oil Pulling and How does it work?

  • Swishing with certain oils in your mouth (such as coconut, sesame, olive, sunflower, etc.) helps remove the bacteria and toxins that cause plaque, bad breath, gum disease, a weakened immune system, bacteria in the GI tract, etc. Unlike chemical teeth whitening treatments that may harm your teeth, there are virtually no negative side effects to oil pulling! 

What oil should I use? 

  • Personally, I love using organic unrefined coconut oil. I've never tried with any other oil because I find the taste and scent of coconut oil to be quite pleasant. In addition, coconut oil has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties which helps fight tooth decay! However, sesame, olive, sunflower, and coconut are the most common oils used.

When should I do it? And for how long?

  • The best time to oil pull is first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything. I take 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil and swish it in my mouth for up to 20 minutes. When I first started, I could barely make it to five minutes before having to spit it out. However, as you get used to the unfamiliar feeling of swishing with oil, you will improve! After twenty minutes I spit it out in the garbage can (because the toxins can effect your pipes). Then, I rinse with warm water, and brush my teeth normally. 

What to expect:

  • At first, the feeling will definitely be uncomfortable. If your using coconut oil, be aware that it is solid at room temperature, but within a few seconds of swishing it will turn to liquid. I find the first few seconds to be the most unpleasant, but keep in mind that the longer you do it the easier it becomes, so try and stick with it! 

Why I swear by this:

  • Ever since I started to include oil pulling in my morning routine a few months ago, I have seen so many improvements in my oral health! I’ve definitely noticed that my breath is fresher and my teeth look and feel so much cleaner. My teeth are the whitest they've ever been, and feel so smooth! It also wakes me up in the morning, leading to mental clarity and focus throughout the day. I’ve never had a cavity or any dental problems, however, oil pulling is effective at reducing the harmful bacteria in your mouth and improving dental health if you are prone to cavities! I encourage you to give it a try- start with five minutes and experience how effective this method is! 
IMG_5758.JPG