Just one thing...
I know, we are all looking forward to the holidays. To celebrations, to staying up late with friends, to drinking a few glasses of champagne and eating that slice of pie. At this time of year we bounce from one decadent holiday to the next - from Halloween to Thanksgiving then Christmas, New Year…and suddenly it is Valentine’s day and we are feeling sluggish, tired and…our jeans really don’t zip up.
What if I told you there is one thing we can do that could help us to keep the weight off, to sleep better, bring back a natural glow to our skin and give us more energy? Would you do it?
As with all the best ideas, it is a pretty simple one. It’s The Green Smoothie. Yes, I know you know what it is. But are you doing it? And if you are doing it, are you doing it consistently? Today I want to share why I think this should become a non-negotiable in our routines.
The green smoothie is a powerful way to begin our day. We are setting in motion a positive trajectory which can inspire us to make better choices later on. It can strengthen our bodies to deal with indulgent behavior and bring mindfulness to moments before we really overdo it, empowering us to say no to that extra glass of wine or portion of dessert because we are more attuned to recognizing the point when we have had enough.
Before we look closer at the details, I would like to offer these three accompanying tips to help you really make it work.
Find a friend. Connect with somebody who will do this with you. Plan together. Share photographs. Check in daily. Accountability is very powerful!
- Shift your mindset. This is not about deprivation. It is about showing yourself some love. You will still be enjoying all that the holiday season has to offer but with the added benefits of a mega-dose of greens. Plus, you may even begin to crave this delicious meal!
- Make it easy. Set yourself up for success by portioning out your ingredients into daily containers in the fridge so you can throw it all into the blender in the morning with ease and speed, getting it done before you can change your mind!
Whilst I know the benefits seem obvious, I am going to go into a little detail here.
Greens are easily transformed into amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. Protein literally means “primary substance”; an accurate description since all the tissues of the body are built and repaired with protein. Vitamin A (or carotene / provitamin A) is essential for the correct use of protein in the body. Provitamin A is highly concentrated in greens, especially kale, parsley and watercress, turnip, collard, beet, mustard and dandelion greens.
These nutrients are encased inside the plant cells. For us to gain the benefits, the cell walls need to be ruptured, and ideally the greens should be worked into a creamy consistency, which most of us do not do when we chew. Blending does this part of the job for us, allowing maximum absorption of nutrition. Blending also means we are able to consume much larger quantities of greens than we could from our plate.
Cortisol and Stress
Cortisol is the “stress hormone” known to interfere with memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase blood pressure, cholesterol and, yes weight gain (PS, this list goes on and on…). Stress is perceived by the body in the same way, regardless of the source, and this includes the kind of food you are eating. In fact, cortisol levels respond rapidly to the foods we eat.
So, stress (including the stress induced by the consumption of highly processed foods and also skipping meals) increases cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels can lead to sleep disruption, which in turn leads to increased appetite and cravings for stimulants. These pick-me-ups (sugar/starch/caffeine…) might fleetingly keep us going but we are just borrowing energy from the future. The cycle continues – your adrenals are fried because of too much stress, which elevates cortisol, which disrupts sleep and leads to the same cravings day after day. This will keep your body at the same weight and shape REGARDLESS of the amount of exercise you are doing. In fact, over-exercising can also add to this cycle of stress.
How to reduce cortisol
In order to reduce cortisol, we need to reduce overall stress which can be encouraged through rituals such as meditation, taking a lovely bath, walking in the park and shifting our exercise routine to incorporate regular periods of more gentle movement so that workouts aren’t always a source of stress upon the body. And, at the same time, we need to CLEAN UP OUR DIET!
We need to remove “food-like substances” (i.e. highly processed foods) and add in foods that will bring down cortisol, foods that are nutrient dense and easily digestible. Yes, you got it right – The Green Smoothie!
The green smoothie is a simple, super efficient way to add a good dose of highly nutritious foods to our routine on a consistent basis.
Finally, remember that when we consume whole, raw foods in their natural state, as we do with this smoothie, our bodies can digest with efficiency, thus conserving more energy for us to do the other things in life...such as attending that party with our full glow on!