Just Live Mindfully

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Category: General

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs

I always hear people talking about carbs, how carbs are bad for you and how you shouldn’t eat them.  But, there’s a difference in carbs.  I find many people don’t acknowledge the difference and don’t realize there are some good carbs out there.

To start, let’s talk about what a carbohydrate actually is.  A carbohydrate is a compound found in foods that contain sugars or starches.  It can be broken down to release energy.

good carbohydrate has a slower rate of absorption which means you don’t get the spike insulin, but rather it helps maintain more natural insulin levels.  It’s also not processed and is only one ingredient.  Think of the produce section in the market you shop – fruits and veggies.

bad carbohydrate is just the opposite.  When eaten, it gives a drastic increase in insulin in the blood which can sometimes cause jitteriness and the crash later on.  This drastic increase can cause more fat stores.  Why?  Because insulin is the hormone that helps create the fat stores.  Remember, fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat, carbohydrates can.

Now you’ll see from my picture above that I’ve got a picture of both.  On the left, we’ve got cherries.  All natural, organic, one ingredient and there is a lot less in the bag, so portion control comes into play.  On the right, we have cheese crackers.  Processed, definitely not organic and look how much is in that bag?!  Clearly different, right?

So what do  the bad carbs do to your body?  As I mentioned before, bad carbs cause the spike in insulin, then resulting in the additional fat stores.  I know this first-hand and am trying to fix it now.  I myself am what is known as a “carbaholic”, or someone that loves carbs and am obsessed.  Thinking back on my life, growing up I loved pasta, cookies, crackers…you get the picture.  Now that I know the difference, it’s helped me not be so afraid of eating fruit and vegetables.

One of my favorite lists comparing the good carbs versus the bad carbs is on my Pinterest page.  On that same board, you can find many ideas for clean snacks, food swaps and much more.  Make sure to connect with me on Pinterest as new content is always being posted.  Now that you know there’s a difference, feel comfortable choosing the good carbs when you’re doing your shopping.

I’m sharing this message about carbs today because I want to help you avoid or counteract what these bad carbs can do to your body.  And if you need more intensive help, ask me how my Eliminate to Feel Great Program can help you learn what foods (including carbs) affect your body on a deeper level.

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My Story

Have you ever really thought about “your story”?  I hadn’t really given it much thought.  A few years ago, I was asked to share my story and I had to really think back.  It all started where everyone’s story begins…at birth.

I was born with asthma.  No one knew it initially, but a few years after I arrived, they found out.  I was sick and in the hospital just about every six months until age 4.  Maybe even a little later.  My  mom jokingly told the doctors to “keep me until they figured out what was wrong”.  Nice, right?!  But it worked.  Needless to say, they found out I had asthma.

Because I was sick all the time, I never wanted to eat.  I had absolutely no appetite and was SUPER skinny.  I mean, I looked like I was sickly.  I can remember a picture taken of me when I was around age seven.  I was on vacation with my family on Cape Cod, playing with my sister in the pool and wearing my two-piece bathing suit.  You could see my ribs.  It was not good.  I was scrawny.  Here’s a picture of my dad and I at our Father / Daughter Dance.  My face is very thin and I was very pale.

About a year later, things started to change.  My asthma started to get better and I discovered something so amazing, I thought I’d lose my mind.  I learned what food was.  Yes, I’m kidding.  My parents fed me, but I found my appetite.  I would eat anything and just about everything.  I LOVED food!  I remember on Sunday mornings after church, my family and I would go to a specific restaurant for breakfast.  Sadly, this restaurant is no longer in business and my parents jokingly blame my sister and I for that.  We could literally clean out the whole buffet if we wanted to.  I definitely found my appetite!

Thankfully despite this appetite, I was active.  I played soccer in the Fall and Winter and soccer and softball in the Spring and Summer.  If I wasn’t this active, I would have gained weight a lot faster than I did.  My parents were happy I had gained a few pounds, though.  Because I was so active, dinners were quick – pasta dinner, fast food, microwaveable meals.  If it was cheap and fast, my family probably had it.  Strangely, I remember having lots of orange soda too.  Odd.

My journey in sports continued through my Sophomore year of high school.  In my Junior year, I stopped being so active because I had to get a job.  I needed things, like a car, gas money, clothes, etc.  My jobs during this time kept me active – I was a janitor, an umpire, a cashier and bagger at a market.  I continued to have jobs like this in college, but that experience with food was much different.  Let’s just say, I won’t forget those steak and cheese subs at 11:30PM.  And adult beverages were everywhere.  It was not good for my waistline.  And being short didn’t help things.  Unfortunately, I didn’t notice my body was changing yet.

After college, my activity level continued, but I was only working.  At a normal check up with my doctor, she noticed a mole.  She did a biopsy and initially the test came back inconclusive.  The C-word popped up in our appointments.  I’m not going to lie, I was nervous.  All I said was “Let me have hair for my wedding”.  Because I only cared about looking good, not feeling good. I was 28 years old, I was the highest my weight has ever been, I was on medicine for high blood pressure and about to be put on medicine for high cholesterol.  Yet, I still didn’t notice something was wrong.

I finally started to notice on a trip to Las Vegas.  We went with friends, including a friend that had a baby shortly before and was already back to her pre-baby weight.  And then I realized, I would be the “fat girl next to the skinny girl at the pool”.  This is what I was telling myself.  Yes,  it was negative self-talk that got me started, but hey, at least I got started.  In a quick 90 days, I lost two dress sizes and 15lbs.  I had changed my eating habits, got myself exercising and off the medications.  Even my asthma was better.  I was feeling like I was on Cloud 9.  Fitness became my drug of choice.  I couldn’t stop and didn’t want to stop.  I ended up losing 25lbs since my journey started and more importantly, I learned what it was like to be HEALTHY!

This was a comparison from our wedding day to our second trip to Las Vegas.  I had changed a lot.  And even since then, I’ve continued to chance.  I have since put some weight back on, but have learned that life is about peaks and valleys and what we do with the challenges that we face.  My work schedule is different now and I have to find time to fit in the health activities that I love.  I make compromises to make it work for me.  Today, my mindset is healthier and I’m happier for the journey I’ve gone down.  Each one of us has a gift to give others and for me, I’ve found living a healthy life is my passion.  I want to help others find the same and if my story can inspire just one person, then I’ve done my job.

If you have read through to the end, that means you’re still here with me.  I hope I’ve helped inspire you in someway.  If I can help more, I’d love to.  Comment below or contact me to set up a time to chat.  Together, we can help you find the life you were meant to live.

Need More Activity in Your Desk Job?

I’ve been working a desk job for the past 13 years and I’ve just recently learned how important being healthy really is.  That includes proper nutrition AND physical activity.  You probably already know, but a lack of physical activity can create an onset of many health risks.  Unfortunately, you cannot have one without the other.

For many people with a full time job, it can be very hard to fit in any type of physical activity and therefore they rely solely on nutrition during the week.  Trust me, I get it.  If you have a demanding full time job like me, your focus the majority of the time is at work or dealing with the demands of your household.  If you’re in a corporate setting, it can be even more challenging.

Many people in a corporate work environment, like myself, sitting more than 5 hours a day.  Yes, I said 5 hours.  Crazy, right?  We’re either working at our desk or in meetings the majority of the day.  Unfortunately this sitting can lead to decreased longevity, among other things.  The American Journal of Preventative Medicine actually found that sitting for long stretches of time can increase our risk for heart disease and cancer.  What’s even more shocking is that even if people had physical activity in their lives, their lifespan was still shortened because of the extended periods of sitting.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely want to live a long, healthy, happy life.  So what do we do to slow the aging process?  One way to do this is to switch to a standing desk or one that can be adjusted throughout the day.  While many corporate offices do not have this luxury yet, I believe there is a movement to go in this direction.  The organization I work for not only has adjustable desks, it also has walk stations where individuals can walk at a slow pace while they work.  I should consider myself lucky.

Another way to get in some activity during your day is to change up your meetings.  Switch from meetings in a conference room to mobile meetings and hold your meetings on the go.  This mobile meeting allows for business activities to take place while allowing small groups for people to get moving.  Think of it in the Spring or Summer – get in some fresh air and get work done!  It’s the best of both worlds, really.

Unfortunately, both of these options may not work for you.  If that’s the case and you just cannot find time to leave your desk, why not get in some activity at your desk.  For starters, make sure you’re sitting with the best posture you have.  This means sitting up straight with your abdominal muscles engaged.  Sitting like this helps you strengthen your core and can help to reduce the early onset of cancer.

Want to kick it up a notch?  Do some leg lifts while at sitting.  This will not only work the strongest muscle group in your body – your legs – but also your core.  If you keep weights or stretch bands at your desk, you can even add some intensity.  You can do even more too!  Just think about squats, tricep dips and wall push-ups just to name a few.

The biggest recommendation I have for you is to stand and stretch at least once an hour.  Stretch your arms and legs as both areas of your body may get stiff.  Whatever you decide, make sure you at least attempt to factor in some physical activity throughout your day.  It can be as little or as much as you want, but I promise you, your body and mind will thank you later.

I’d love to hear what activities you fit in during your workday!  Comment below to share some ideas.

Listen to Your Body…It Knows What It’s Talking About

Ever heard someone tell you to listen to your body?  Yup, I have heard that all the time.  Yet, how often do we really listen to it?!  Not much, I bet.

I am one of those people that don’t listen to it often and sometimes it kicks me in the boo-tay!  Let me give you an example…

A while ago, for the first time that I can ever remember, my lymph nodes under my chin swelled up.  Like I’m talking the size of grapes.  They hurt, it was sensitive to the touch and I literally felt exhausted all the time.  Instead of working out like I normally do, I decided to listen to my body.  It was probably the best thing for me too because I found out I had some sort of infection going on.  This was a wake up call for me because it was my body’s way of telling me to slow down.

For me, life is always crazy busy.  Sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t.  I work a full time job with an hour and a half commute every day, I’m a part time health coach and a part time Stylist with Stella & Dot.  I also have a house to run, we’re trying to start a family and I want to make time for my friends and family.  My time is thin but I love supporting people, volunteering my time and energy and giving my all.  But sometimes, I need to take a step back and remember that I matter too.

My husband calls it “Pell Mell” when you’re pushing the pedal to the metal and going 120 in a 65 mile per hour zone.  I tend to push it a little too hard and you might too.  Sometimes taking more than just one rest day is ok.  Most of us want everything life has to offer, but make sure to take a second and see the bigger picture.  Is it worth it to go Pell Mell just to make yourself stressed out and sick?  I say no.

Moral of my story…take a day for YOU every now and then.  It will help you relax, recover and be ready to support the people around you again with a fresh sense of stability.  What does your next YOU day look like?

What to Drink Before, During and After Your Workout

Have you ever wondered what you should be eating and drinking before your workouts?  Well, I might have the answer for you!

Beachbody Performance is a set of supplements that will help you turbocharge your results, perform better and recover faster.  It is full of plant-based nutrients too!  It was designed by Harvard-trained scientists and is shown to improve energy, stamina, strength, focus and recovery.


Before your workout, Energize is exactly what you need to power through your toughest workout.  I take Energize before every workout to help me focus, push harder and last throughout the entire workout without wanting to give up.  The key ingredients are

  • Beta-alanine – an amino acid that helps reduce lactic acid buildup in your muscles
  • Low-dose caffeine from green tea
  • Quercetin – a phytonutrient that helps improve endurance and delay exercise-induced muscle fatigue

If you’ve ever struggled with low energy, no motivation or lack of focus, this is just the product you need.  Literally, when I take it, I feel like Super Woman.  When I don’t, I feel like a slug.


During my workout, I tend to drink water.  However, there are some workouts where water is just not enough.  That’s where Hydrate comes into play.  Hydrate gives me the extra boost during my workout that I need.

Typical sports drinks have way too much sugar and artificial ingredients that can actually dehydrate you.  The EXACT opposite of what those drinks are supposed to do.  They key ingredients are:

  • A blend of sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium to help maintain the body’s ideal fluid balance
  • Quercetin
  • Low-dose carbohydrates made from natural sugars

Hydrate is specifically formulated with the ideal ratio of carbs, electrolytes and water to replace what’s lost during a tough workout.  It’s the perfect drink during my workout to help me stay hydrated and power through that tough workout.


So what about after?  Well, there are two beverages that I highly recommend – Recover and Recharge.

Have you ever gotten the post workout soreness?  Either right after or the next day?  Recover helps combat that soreness so you can speed up your recovery time, increase muscle growth and restore your strength faster.  The key ingredients are:

  • Pomegranate extract which helps manage that exercise-induced muscle sorenes
  • 20 grams of protein
  • BCAAs – amino acids that help promote muscle synthesis and support muscle regrowth

It comes in a chocolate flavor and is absolutely delicious.  It’s like having a treat after your workout.

The other beverage, Recharge, supports your body overnight to continue fighting that exercise-induced muscle soreness.  It’s like your body is working while you sleep!  This is the prime time for your muscles to recharge so you can keep pushing the next day.  The key ingredients are:

  • Tart Cherry Extract – similar to an anti-inflammatory, this ingredient naturally helps your body heal
  • 20 grams of micellar casein – a slow-release protein that boosts overnight recovery
  • BCAAs

Now, keep in mind, I am not a nutritionist and I am not a doctor.  However, these products were developed by scientists and doctors and tested by NSF International.  That being said, these products work and I can say that because I’ve used them and continue to use them.

If you want to know more about each product, click on the hyperlink above and feel free to ask questions!  I’ll answer what I can and help you decide if these products are right for you!

Freedom

I’m from the United States and “freedom” used to be something that people come to this country for.  However, as I grow up, I’m learning that freedom is not about where you live…it’s about your life and how it’s lived!

memorial-day

In the United States, the majority of the citizens work 40-hour work weeks, have to pay for someone else to watch their children and have to limit the time they spend with their family.  To me, this is NOT what freedom should be about.  Freedom should be about being able to live your life to the fullest, make choices instead of decisions and have all the time you want to do whatever it is you want.

I became an entrepreneur because I want to be able to live free…and I mean truly free! Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and the company I work for, but I don’t get to do a lot of the things I’d like to do because I spend the majority of my time there.  Becoming an entrepreneur and finding my tribe has shown me that soon enough, I WILL be truly free!

One of the things I did when I became an entrepreneur is set my “why”.  Our why can be anything we want and it can be multiple things…and I can assure you, our why is REAL!  Our why is why are on this planet, why we choose to make our lives better and why we do what we do in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!  Ok, so I got a bit historical on you, but it’s true!!!

My why consists of multiple things:

  • I want to live debt free
  • I want to be able to travel without limits
  • I want to raise healthy children and not have someone else raise them (personal preference)
  • I want to be able to make my own hours
  • I want to be able to stay inside when it’s cold and dark outside
  • I want to be able to dye my hair any color I want…even purple
  • I want to wake up without an alarm clock
  • I want to eat breakfast with my husband every morning
  • I want to have the ability to let my creativity fly
  • I want to have an office without any walls
And the list keeps growing!  I could go on and on, but these are just some of my reasons why I do what I do.  It took a very long time to get here, though.  I will tell you, I did not find my passion over night.  Are you just starting to find yours?  What direction are you heading?  I’d love to hear more about what your passion is and what your why is!  Comment below!

Confessions of an Emotional Eater

Have you ever been stressed and just want your favorite cheat food?  For me, it’s sweets that I crave.  Like chocolate or cookies.  For others, it might be something salty, like chips, or crunchy like pretzels.  And if you go even further, it might be an adult beverage.  Here’s my question to you…when you get stressed, what do you do?

For me, I usually eat…and I eat poorly.  My cravings vary too.  Sometimes I just want to eat everything in sight while other days, I just need that one bite.  When it’s bad, it’s really bad.  Anything can set me off when I have these bad days.  It can be meetings all days at work, not being productive at all because of the ebb and flow of the day or even something as simple as the wind blowing my hair the wrong way.

When I have one of these days, I always want to grab that bottle of wine and pour myself one glass.  Instead, I try to have a better plan.  Something like doing a little school work, reading a book or getting my workout in.  And I don’t get too down on myself if I have one glass of wine while I do the better task.  Why?  Because it’s all about balance.

The moral of my story is that no matter how stressed you get, no matter how much life gets you down, always remember that you are on a journey and there will be peaks and valleys.  Try to stick to your plan as much as possible but don’t beat yourself up if you decide to have a treat once in a while.  You can have your cake and eat it too…just watch out for how big your slice is.

Are you an emotional eater too?  What’s your go-to food or beverage when you get like this?  Put yourself out there by commenting below.  I promise you, it will help you relieve some stress just by typing it out.

What Really is a Health Coach?

 

I was asked this question today and wondered if other people are curious what it is too.  When I think about a health coach, I think about the people in the world that help others with the health and wellness goals.  The truth is, a health coach can be so much more than just a personal trainer or a nutritionist.

A health coach really is the guidance that helps you while you’re on your journey.  This person can be your support system, a friend, an ally, a confidant.  A health coach helps you learn the ropes and helps you transition that learning into real action.  In most cases, a health coach and their client learn together.

Health coaches are different from personal trainers, nutritionists, clinicians and educators.   In most cases, the client does not have access to a personal trainer or nutritionist between sessions.  The client of a health coach would have access in between sessions because communication is key to helping the client grow inside and out.  A physician or an educator can give the client all the information in the world and share how this information would help the client be healthy, but in some cases, the physician or educator doesn’t help the client learn how to put it into action.  A health coach would help the client really put the information given into action through cooking demonstrations or workshops.

Don’t get me wrong, a health coach does not replace a physician, personal trainer or a nutritionist.  But a health coach can supplement the care received from these individuals.  Today there are endless opportunities to start a journey toward a healthy, happy life, but where do you start?  This is where a health coach can come in and help guide a client.  A health coach can help the client choose the right meal plan or fitness plan right for the individual.  And the health coach can help the client stick to it.

I recently became a certified health and wellness coach and the information I’ve learned in the past year is amazing.  I want to share it with people and help others learn what it feels like to live a healthy, happy, balanced life.  Are you someone looking for an addition to your current healthcare routine?  Connect with me today and set up your free consultation.

Welcome!

Welcome to Just Live Mindfully – a place to come if you’re looking to learn how to live the healthy, happy life you are meant to live.  My name is Jenn Mullen and I am the owner of Just Live Mindfully.  I am a foodie, a fitness fanatic, a tomboy that has turned into a girly girl who loves all things fashion and a passionate woman looking to help others learn others with their health and wellness needs.

Health and wellness is not just about fitness and nutrition.  It involves all aspects of life – relationships with others, the career you have, what you believe in and yes, it does include physical activity.  Throughout my life, I always thought health and wellness was just about eating extremely well and being physically active every single day.  I had no idea that health and wellness involved laughing every day, having positive relationships with the people around you (“your tribe”) and living a life you design.  Now that I have learned this, my life has improved exponentially.

As Just Live Mindfully grows, my wish is that I am able to inspire and motivate people to be happy, healthy and live a life they have designed.  I hope you will join me on this journey and change the world along side me.