How to safely use your plastic water bottles

In the aftermath of the hurricane, this topic has come up again. In my household, we have twelve gallons of water stocked up in the laundry room as I type this. Normally, I don’t drink out of plastic, partly for environmental reasons and partly for health concerns. In my house, you will see only stainless steel and glass cups or bottles. To my knowledge, there is no convenient way to stock up on water in the event of an impending power outage other than the plastic options we currently have. So, if you’re like me and have lots leftover, what’s the deal?

First, a lesson on chemicals found in plastic. There are three main ones of concern. First is polycarbonate, a monomer made of bisphenol A, or BPA, which has a recycling code of “7” on the bottom of the bottle.  You’ve probably heard of it, especially if you’ve had children recently. Most all baby bottles and cups are sold with a label “BPA-free,” although the research is a big mixed on it’s safety. BPA has been linked to certain types of cancers and reproductive issues as well as increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. However, it is generally recognized as safe by most manufacturers if consumed in normal amounts (very small). Interestingly, this scientific review does give some compelling evidence of the research that there is in fact some cause for concern, stating:

“there are now over 125 published studies funded by government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health documenting that BPA has a wide range of significant effects including structural and neurochemical changes throughout the brain associated with behavioral changes, such as hyperactivity, learning deficits, increased aggression, and increased likelihood of drug dependency; abnormalities in sperm production in males and oocytes in females; disruption of hormone production and fertility in both males and females; immune disorders, increased growth rate; and early sexual maturation. Most of the small number of studies funded by government agencies that report no significant effects of BPA used one model animal (the CD-SD rat) that after being subjected to selective breeding for over 1000 generations has become extremely insensitive to any estrogenic chemical or drug.”

Luckily, you won’t see it much because of the negative view it has in the public eye (rightfully so.)

The second one is polyvinyl chloride or PVC which has a recycling code of “3.” You probably won’t see it much on the bottom of your water bottles because it’s known carcinogenic properties. A basic building block of polyvinyl chloride is chlorine (duh.) Unfortunately, chlorine production releases dioxins into the environment. This is not good. It’s used mostly to make vinyl-like plastic as a flame retardant (aka binders, shower curtains, children’s lunch-boxes, vinyl flooring, crib mattresses, yoga mats, it’s everywhere.)

Now for the third one, the one that you want to pay attention to, polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, which has a recycling code of “1.” The one has been approved globally for safe usage, including the Food and Drug Administration. There is some concern that it may leach a substance called antimony into the food or drink it is holding, which is a known carcinogen and may cause menstrual irregularities and even miscarriages in women when exposed in high levels due to occupational hazards. So far is there is no known scientific evidence supporting that exposure levels in food or drink would be high enough to cause the same issues. However, this study did find that under extreme conditions of worst case scenarios (including high temperatures), antimony does leach into water at levels higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s daily intake recommendations. I did a quick look through my pantry and found several food items with the number 1 on the bottom including honey, salad dressing, and peanut butter.

Now on to my suggestions for keeping it safe:

  1. Avoid the temptation of reusing those plastic bottles and jugs. I know they look so clean and reusable (there was only water in them after all!). But the more you use it, the more likely the chemicals in the plastic will start to leach into your drinking water. This is especially true once you start washing them in hot water (no putting them in the dishwasher!). If the bottle is marked with a “1”  or “7” on the bottom, it likely contains BPA or PET and why risk it?
  2. Don’t store them in the garage. I know, if you stocked up on a ton, it can be difficult to find a reasonable place to store it all. But in the south, it’s still pretty hot here and temperatures are rising into the 90s. Heat breaks the plastic down and that increases the risk of the chemicals leaching into the water. This holds true if you left a water bottle in your car for a bit.
  3. Aside from chemicals, don’t create a science experiment. I took a look at our water jugs and fortunately, ours have the number “2” on the bottom, which are actually pretty safe. However, I still do not plan to refill them because of the risk of bacterial growth. Now that the jug is opened and air has been allowed in, that moist environment is ideal for bacteria to start growing.  Even if you washed them, over time the water just sitting there with air exposure is going to create an environment for invisible bacteria to start growing. Don’t risk it.
  4. Consider essential oils. One main reason I drink only out of stainless steel or glass is because I add a drop or two of citrus essential oil to every glass of water I consume and because of the purity, it will degrade any plastic I add it to. For the reasons stated above, I’d prefer not to consume those chemicals! Aside from that, there are several health benefits to adding citrus to drinking water. Lemon, for example, contains three main constituents, called limonene, β-pinene, γ-terpinene, which have a positive effect on mood, the immune system, and digestion. It’s also great for cleansing the body and surfaces (ya know, in case a bacteria or germ happens to sneak into my water bottle – makes me feel better!)
  5. In summary, stock up enough water to have one gallon per person per number of expected days of no running water and recycle when you’re done to save the environment. For my family of four, we got twelve gallons for three expected days and then filled up both of our bath tubs to flush the toilets and get clean. Luckily, we didn’t need it all and will now be prepared for next time!

P.S. If you’re looking for online support with like minded moms striving to live a healthier lifestyle, you may be interested in joining my free online support group here.

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Jillian McMullen, RDN, CSOWM, LDN

Foods that stop bloating

You know that feeling. There’s no real reason for your weight to have tipped the scale, but you can’t button your favorite pair of shorts. It’s a fat pants kinda day with a blousy blouse to cover up what you’re feeling looks bit like a pot belly. What if you could eat your way to a thinner stomach and get rid of that bloated feeling? You actually can.

First, it helps to understand why this happens. And it happens to everyone. Often women more so because of hormones. (You probably knew that though!) Pre-menopausal women often feel bloated at varying times of the month with bloating and fluid retention being two common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

Another reason may be because of dietary habits, either eating too much or too little fiber. Too much fiber, especially if the body is not used to it, can cause excess gas. Too little fiber can cause constipation. It can also happen if you eat foods that are particularly gas forming such as beans, broccoli, cabbage, dried fruit, asparagus, brussel sprouts, artichokes, onions, radishes, cauliflower and fatty or fried foods. The goal is to aim for 25-30 grams of fiber daily, I’ll talk about what that looks like since the typical American diet contains around 10 grams.

A big reason, however, is due to emotional stress. We often give too little credit to the impact that this can have on our physical health. In fact, it is estimated that 25 to 45 million people in the U.S. are affected with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and 2 in 3 of those are women. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is characterized by diarrhea alternating with constipation worsened by stress.

The last one I am going to include here is small bowel bacterial overgrowth. I talk about the importance of probiotics in my recent post here because it can definitely help combat this condition. I’ve seen this mostly in people who have had a recent gastrointestinal surgery and those taking antibiotics for prolonged periods of time.

So now for the good stuff, what foods can you eat to prevent this from happening? Because nobody has time to be feeling bloating and gross.

  • Cayenne pepper: it’s a natural laxative because it stimulates the digestive enzymes to get moving.
  • Ginger: old remedy for soothing stomach discomfort, haven’t we all had ginger ale at some point in our lives for a stomach upset? Sadly, most ginger ales don’t contain any real ginger at all. You are better off boiling and straining some fresh ginger or adding a drop of pure ginger essential oil into some tea or hot water.
  • Fennel: inhibits muscle spasms which calms down symptoms of IBS. Cook your next meal with some of the fresh herb or take 1-2 drops of the pure essential oil in a capsule.
  • Peppermint: similar to fennel, the menthol in peppermint relaxes your muscles and allows you to release any pent up gas or flatulence. Because if you are struggling with reflux, this may aggravate it because it also relaxes the sphincter at the end of the esophagus causing stomach acid to revert back up in those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD.) Make peppermint tea by adding fresh mint leaves or a drop of peppermint essential oil to a cup of hot black tea. The hot water can also help get things moving along, especially helpful for constipation. Avoid chewing peppermint gum as this can make gas worse since gum may cause you to swallow air.
  • Lemon: acts as a natural diuretic and helps if you are retaining excess fluid. Squeeze some fresh lemons or add a drop of pure lemon essential oil into your water. Avoid drinking your water out of a straw since that can cause you to swallow excess air and make bloating worse.
  • Berries: they are 85 to 95% water, making them great for reducing bloat. They are also an excellent source of soluble fiber, a type of fiber that dissolves in water and one that many of us don’t get enough of in our diets. In order to promote bowel regularity and prevent bloating, we need plenty of this along with insoluble fiber, the kind that does not dissolve in water (so think apple skin and celery.)
  • Watermelon: it’s high in water, making it a natural diuretic to remove excess fluid retention. Also great source of soluble fiber like the berries.
  • Probiotic containing foods: such as yogurt, kefir, and kombucha or add a good supplement to your daily regimen (more on that here).

I’ve given you many ideas that offer additional health properties beyond reducing bloat. That’s one of the many great things about choosing natural options for improving your health. If you are interested in learning more about the essential oil options I mentioned, feel free to reach out to me at one of the links below.

P.S. If you’re looking for online support with like minded moms striving to live a healthier lifestyle, you may be interested in joining my free online support group here.

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Jillian McMullen, RDN, CSOWM, LDN

Anxious eating & why it’s the worst!

I used to think I wasn’t an emotional eater. That I couldn’t understand the concept of eating when you’re sad, lonely, angry, overly stressed, or even bored. Until I found myself devouring a bag of m&ms down into my anxious stomach.

Anxiety. Most of us feel it at some time or another. It’s our body’s healthy response to imminent danger. Except when there is none. And then we’re just sitting there fearing the world around us but we really don’t know what is making us want to jump out of our own skin. So why food? It’s a distraction. And a damn good one at that.

Anxiety is really uncomfortable. Our world gives us so many reasons to feel it more often than not. The symptoms range from a flipping stomach, mild or severe headache, pounding heart, shaky hands, sweating, inability to focus, crying, irrational fear. None of these symptoms are easy to sit in. And multiply them by ten during an anxiety attack. The most common reason for ER visits in the U.S. is due to chest pain, which is often caused by anxiety attacks. Anxiety attacks from unsuspecting individuals that think they are having a heart attack. I believe this is why many people fall into drug and alcohol addiction or otherwise. Escaping it consumes the thoughts of an anxious person.

And then there’s food. High carbohydrate, high fat, sugary food to be exact. Why? Because it triggers a dopamine response similar to narcotic-like drugs that lessens the anxiety. But, exactly like a drug, over time the brain becomes less stimulated by the food and needs more to experience the same effect. This is why people can feel like they’re addicted to sugar. In a sense, they are.

How can you get rid of it without becoming addicted to an unhealthy habit? I was taught by a psychologist that the best way was to ride it out. Sounds crazy right? But in reality, an anxiety attack isn’t going to kill you like a heart attack and it WILL eventually end. The fear that leads to the unhealthy habit to make it end NOW is that it will NEVER end. But rest assured, most anxiety attacks end in an average of 10 minutes.

What about that nagging, everyday anxiety that many of us feel until we’re elbow deep into a bag of potato chips? Personally, I’ve found listening to music, prayer, and deep breaths with citrus essential oils to be most helpful. If you don’t have citrus essential oils, a fresh cut orange, lemon, or grapefruit will do. Studies have indicated that most adults take shallow breathes from our sternum. However, as children, we start out taking deep, slow breathes from our abdomens – about six per minute. This is how we are naturally built. But as we age and life happens, we take quicker, shorter breaths that feed less oxygen into our nervous systems. No wonder stress has such a damaging physical effect on our bodies!

For other types of emotions I’ve recommended journaling. For the anxious person this isn’t always realistic due to the inability to focus. So try simpler tasks like coloring, painting, and going for a short walk. Thing is, as I’ve said in my previous posts on the subject of emotional eating, you won’t know what works until you give it a shot. We all know eating works. But if you’re reading my posts, I’m guessing you want to get away from that.

Let me know in the comments what you discover works for you, whether in this post or not and let’s help each other!

Looking for a community of support? Request to be added to my online group here.

Your body is going to fight you on this

I know if I could just get on the treadmill (which, by the way is making a fantastic clothes hanger currently), I would lose the weight I want to. So why can’t I?

My problem is, I can’t stick to a diet. I like food too much.

I don’t have enough discipline.

I don’t have enough willpower. 

Any of these sound familiar? I know there are a lot of other reasons that lead to weight loss failure over and over again. But the above are not valid. In fact, they are just different versions of you blaming yourself and beating yourself up for a physiological response that frankly, you have zero control over. What angers me though, is that the dieting industry capitalizes on this and continues to throw it in your face with more programs, gimmicks, books, pills, exercise equipment, blenders, vitamins, injections, and lies to make you think it’s easy, if you’d just have enough willpower and get over yourself.

Here’s why I’m calling them out:

Our bodies are uniquely designed to promote weight stabilization. This means even though our food intake may vary from day to day, generally speaking, our weight does not vary widely on a day to day basis. Thus, in times of extreme calorie deprivation (i.e. meal skipping), our body will compensate by slowing down the metabolic rate to conserve calorie expenditure. This is why skipping meals are usually ineffective at causing weight loss. But our body also signals us with hormones to tell us when it is time to eat and when we’ve had enough at each meal. These hormones, called ghrelin and leptin, are responsible for appetite regulation. When we override our body’s signals (i.e. leptin is produced to tell us we are full) because a food is tasty by overeating, that’s when weight gain occurs. Especially when we are doing nothing to burn off the extra calories consumed.

But here’s the thing. In several studies, including one in 2002, when blood plasma levels of ghrelin were taken in obese subjects after a 17% initial weight loss, they found a 24% increase in ghrelin levels. Translation: they were HUNGRY. Hungrier than when they started. Why? Because their body was fighting them to put all that hard earned weight loss back on!! What’s even more disheartening, when you lose weight, there is less of you to maintain, and this means a slower metabolism (i.e. you are burning less calories in spite of feeling like you are starving to death.) So if you feel like you gain weight just by LOOKING at that slice of pizza, you probably are.

Sounds crappy, huh? Because it is. The world of weight loss is very grim. To date, weight loss surgery is the only long term strategy that yields weight loss even close to what most people have set for their goal. This includes not only a number on the scale (when asked, most people desire to lose around 50% of their initial body weight), but also health-related such as resolution of diabetes, heart disease, and sleep apnea. For someone who has these serious health issues and their body mass index is above 35 and especially if their body mass index is above 40, it is something to seriously consider. Weight loss surgery usually results in a 25-35% initial weight loss that stays off long term. Why? One reason was demonstrated in the same study referenced above. Gastric Bypass resulted in a 77% reduction of ghrelin production. Translation: they weren’t hungry!! While the study didn’t include those who had Sleeve Gastrectomy, the results are similar as it does remove the part of the stomach that produces ghrelin. (As a side note, the laparoscopic adjustable band does not have this affect at all as the stomach remains in tact.)

But what if you’re not a candidate for surgery? Or you aren’t ready to take that step in your life yet? It changes every aspect of your life, after all. You could go on a crash diet, you’ve probably done it before. I’ve met many of you who have lost at least 50-100lbs at one time or another in your lifetime. But how are you going to keep yourself from gaining it all back this time? Biology is not on your side.

For starters, get a plan to fight back when your body starts resisting your efforts. It’s going to fight you every step of the way. One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was to find people who are in places of life that I want to be in and do what they do. For the person wanting to maintain significant weight loss off long term, the ones to follow have registered themselves on the National Weight Control Registry and recorded their daily habits. YES, it’s that easy for you to see what they are doing!!  Here are some common behaviors, according to the registry findings:

  • 78% eat breakfast every day
  • 75% weigh themselves at least once a week
  • 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week
  • 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day

Second, don’t be afraid of appetite suppressants. But I’m going to suggest if you choose to use some of the synthetic ones available on the market, that you choose one that can be recommended and prescribed by your doctor who is knowledgeable in this subject AND you use them sparingly during the weight loss phase. You will need them more during your weight maintenance phase when your ghrelin levels are in overproduction and you are starving. If you use them too early on, you risk becoming tolerant of them and then they are useless to you when you really need them.

If you are interested in a natural option that can be used during and after, I have seen amazing results with the use of essential oils such as grapefruit, peppermint, lemon, ginger, and cinnamon in combination with each other. The benefit of natural options is that they work to bring the body into balance and are always working with the body in it’s ever changing state, something you need during times of significant weight loss. For more information, be sure to contact me and I would be happy to discuss more with you to see if it’s a right fit for your goals.

Lastly, realize that this is a journey and you need to be flexible with not only your expectations, but yourself. Weight loss is challenging and the dieting industry capitalizes on the self doubt and guilty feelings that many of you feel. In short, it actually doesn’t matter how you lose the weight. What matters is that you have a good plan in place to keep it off.

P.S. If you’re looking for online support with like minded moms striving to live a healthier lifestyle and lose weight, you may be interested in joining my free support group here.

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Email: contact@jillianmcmullen.com

Jillian McMullen, CSOWM, RDN, LDN

Sugar is an addiction

Duh. I know you know that. At least on some level because you probably are addicted to it yourself. Many of us are.

Once you get that taste for sugar it’s really really hard to untaste it. In recent years studies have confirmed that when somebody eats sugar it lights up the same centers in the brain that make us feel good as if we had just taken a drug like cocaine or heroin. So if you are consuming sugar, then you really are getting a dopamine response which triggers actions in your body that make you feel good, relax you, and leave you wanting more.

But it’s not long-lasting and eventually you’re going to be craving that feeling again.  It feels good. And worse much like somebody who is addicted to a drug, eventually you’re going to require more and more of it to get the same feeling, which has also been suggested in recent studies.

It’s why so many of us can’t quite kick the soda habit. Fun fact: Coca Cola was named after cocaine because at one point it did contain cocaine. That has since been replaced with caffeine (arguably equally as addictive) and high fructose corn syrup. Next time you’re around people between the hours of two and four PM, observe their behavior and probably your own, too. It’s what I like to call the “3 o’clock low”. This is when people start looking for coffee, soda and a snack. The snack is something like chips, cookies, crackers, or something high in carbs and low in protein. Everyone wants/needs a sugar high to make it to dinner time (or at least to clock out time.)

It’s not a secret that this isn’t good for the body. But what do you do about it? It’s possibly the most common and most difficult habit standing in the way of my clients and their health goals.

Eliminate it. That’s right. I said it. Cold turkey. In many addictions, weaning is the way to go because of withdrawal dangers. But not in this case. Even small amounts of sugar prove to keep the brain stimulated and wanting more. Can you really eat just eat one Hershey kiss? One Oreo? Ten potato chips? One doughnut? A one inch square brownie? 1/4 cup m&ms? Five crackers? You get my point.

I love me some coffee. But I’ve learned to have it without sugar. That includes the substitutes too. Why? Because when we have sweet tasting things, we are signaling our brains that a feel good response is coming. Except it doesn’t with zero calorie sweeteners because they don’t illicit the dopamine response. So guess what? You start looking for something that will. We all want to feel good. Especially when stressed, sad, mad, bored, or in pain. And dopamine does the job well.

So ya, cold turkey. Will you magically no longer want to eat sugar anymore? Not quite. Physically, it’s going to take your body about two solid weeks to move on from the cravings. In a rat study done at Princeton, there were withdrawal symptoms including chattering teeth and heightened anxiety which kept them staying in one place rather than exploring as rats normally do.

Emotionally, you’re going to need to find another means to deal with it. Trial and error. Some find emotional peace in journaling. Others in a new hobby (or revisiting an old one). There’s also meditation, talking to trusted friends, taking a walk outside, reading, my favorite – essential oils, and the list goes on. We live in a world with lots of options. Options that aren’t as readily available as food. But they’re there. And not all of them work. That’s why I said trial and error. You will find something that works better than food, without the guilt. Without the calories.

Let me know in the comments what you’re trying. What works, what doesn’t.

P.S. Looking for online support with like minded women? You may be interested in joining my Facebook group for support from women and moms trying to get healthy and lose weight just like you!

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Jillian McMullen, CSOWM, RDN, LD

You don’t have to eat 3 meals a day

There. I said it.

And I’ll admit, I used to tell people quite opposite when I was working full-time and had the schedule that was conducive to eating three squares a day. Wake up, coffee, eat on the way to work. Lunch break at 12:30pm. Go home cook dinner for the fam. Repeat.

But now I work from home and I struggle to have a schedule that repeats itself daily. And I struggle to take the ten minutes to prepare a meal even though I have more than enough time to do it now.

But life happens and meals aren’t always at the top of my list of priorities. I have a four year old who colors on the walls & floors with permanent marker, paints the tile with toothpaste, scatters cereal in places cereal shouldn’t be scattered, and pulls all of the stuffing out of pillows for fun. A ten minute meal might as well be ten minutes to my own version of the movie, “Home Alone” on steroids.

So what DO I recommend to avoid eating the kitchen pantry by dinnertime because I skipped lunch trying to tame the wild monkey that I call my four year old son? Here’s my short list:

  1. Eat something high in protein (>15 grams) every three to five hours. Go more than five hours without a food rich in protein and you’re likely going to be ready to eat a football player under the table.
  2. Eat within two hours of waking up. Breakfast really IS the most important meal of the day. Skip breakfast and the whole day is going to fall apart. So set yourself up for success and start with 30 grams of protein. Think two eggs and a greek yogurt, a three egg white omelet with cheese, a high quality protein shake (I recommend Core Power, Premier Protein, dōTERRA Trim Shake), or cottage cheese with peaches and a handful of nuts.
  3. Drink your water. I’ll never stop saying this. Preferably half of your body weight (pounds) in ounces. I give lots of advice in previous posts on how to make this work in your life.

So in summary, include lots of protein and eat every three hours. Life isn’t perfect and neither will your meals be. If you can eat three meals per day with planned snacks, by all means, please do. If not, don’t beat yourself up – relax, you’re living your Plan B life, which happens 90% of the time. And that’s still a success!

Need individual help to discover your Plan B life? Contact me today to set up an individual consult for a plan specifically designed to fit you and your lifestyle!

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Jillian McMullen, CSOWM, RDN, LDN

So you wanna lose 50+ pounds in 2017

Are you overwhelmed already just thinking about it? I don’t doubt it. Our brains are not wired to think in one huge “mountain” like that. There is good reason children’s classes are set up in block scheduling, allowing them to change subjects every hour or so. The human mind simply does not have the capacity to focus on one thing for extended periods of time, even if it is something we love.

New Years resolutions can bring a lot of hope, though. Hope for 12 months of better decisions, financial opportunities, physical improvements, and time investments. And we often imagine 12 months of unrealistic expectations with very little planning involved. For more information on New Years resolution, see my previous post.

But I wanna talk to those of you specifically that want to lose quite a bit of weight and stick to the plan longer than January 12th this go around. Those of you that, this time next year, wanna be relishing in your success while gleefully trying on a new winter ensemble several sizes smaller than what you are wearing right now. The only resolution you have for 2018 is to get out more and maintain your fantastic weight.

So listen up, here are a few tips to start thinking about NOW. Yes, before Christmas and before January 1 rolls around. That is not the time to start deciding you are doing this for realz this time.

  1. Make a plan. What kind of cooking tools do you need? Is your kitchen in working order or have you kept Chic-fil-a in business for the past 6 months? When will you plan your meals? Do you need to find some new recipes? Do you need to join/rejoin weight watchers? Are you going to follow a diet plan or something else? Are you going to hire a dietitian or heath coach? When will you allow for your “trigger foods,” if at all? How/when do you plan to grocery shop? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Do you need a gym membership? Where? Do you need an accountability partner? Who? Do you need a new lunch box? Or just a new lunch spot? How will you reward yourself with non-food related incentives when you’ve hit milestones?
  2. Increase you water intake. Please do this NOW. Most adults are chronically dehydrated and don’t even know it because they are just used to the crappy feeling. But it’s not normal to be fatigued, excessively hungry, and/or crave sweets. All of these are signs of dehydration. How much water do you need? Half your body weight (pounds) in ounces. For example, a 200lb person will need to consume 100 ounces of water per day (there are 8 ounces in 1 cup, therefore, roughly 12 cups of water or 6 bottles). Start increasing it now so you aren’t dealing with this when you’re trying to decrease your food intake.
  3. Figure out your goal for weight loss and then break it down into smaller goals so you don’t go fleeing when it’s “go time”. I recommend 5-10 pound increments followed by a non-food reward system to celebrate. There needs to be a prize at the end of each achievement, especially for those first 10-20 pounds when the weight loss may not be all that noticeable (depending on where you’re starting from). And believe it or not, the same will happen for the last 10 pounds or so. Think of it like a new haircut. Everyone notices and showers you with compliments for a few days and then it ends. They get used to it and you don’t hear a word again as your hair continues to slowly grow back out.

If you are interested in learning more about my take on weight loss in the New Year using natural and holistic options, click here to join my FREE online class on December 29th for 48 hours only.

He actually does allow more than you can handle, so take the manna

This is a difficult time of year for many of us. Financially, emotionally, physically. While the holidays are joyous, they have a tendency to drain much of our resources, too.

It’s a time we naturally reflect on the year. And the years seems to go by faster and faster, don’t they? 2016 was a tough one. For all of us. So much strife and hatred. And then the holidays come and we are reminded of our losses, those we are missing, financial hardships, and it can be downright sad.

I’ll be honest. This year I’ve felt much like one of the Israelites depending on God for my daily manna. There hasn’t been much, if any, leftover to store up for days ahead. Not financially, not physically, not emotionally. For the first time in my life, I became a work at home mom. In many ways, a dream come true. But difficult. And I don’t work on my own schedule like I thought I would. I work on two little boys’ schedule. I am just not used to stopping every ten minutes to pour a drink, fix a snack, change the television channel, clean up a mess, or wipe a butt. It’s downright maddening to take two hours to finish a project that should take fifteen minutes.

Financially, it’s been tough. I absolutely love working from home as a 100% self-employed woman. Making this decision earlier this year, without a doubt, was a calling God placed on my life. At the time, I was sure He was telling me that I would prosper as a momtreprenuer and show the world how amazing I would be as a work at home mom. How I could inspire other moms to do the same. But that wasn’t His plan at all. What He wanted for me was to see how He could could provide for my family’s daily needs even when I had no idea how those needs would be met.

And He’s been faithful. It’s another post for all of the ways He has provided for us. And how I attended my company’s national convention to walk the stage so that I could celebrate hitting a big milestone in my business last September.

Emotionally, we are limited. When times get hard and stressful, we turn to food, alcohol, medications or drugs, shopping, and other ineffective outlets to stuff it down. I know many of my readers struggle in this area, especially emotional eating. In 1 Cor 10:13, the scripture tells us this, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” This scripture is often misunderstood because we assume that means He won’t give us more than we can handle. That’s false. This scripture is referring to being tempted in ways that move us away from dependance on Him. (i.e. eating a jar of nutella after a hard day.) 

So we get blindsided when hardship comes our way because we believed God knew we weren’t strong enough to handle that situation. Truth is, He did know. We are weak in all hardships that come our way. We have to make the choice to accept His provisions and guidance. (i.e. don’t buy that jar of nutella in the first place).

​What I have learned this year and am most thankful for is that even though difficulties may come my way, He is always there paving a path and providing the manna.

Could you use some extra support from like-minded women on a journey to wellness? Click on over here to receive an invitation to join our secret Facebook community!

​If you struggle in the area of emotional eating, I highly recommend Lysa Terkeursts’ book, Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food.

 

 

Is sleep deprivation making you gain weight?

I see this most often in shift workers (think healthcare, law enforcement), new parents, chronically stressed and those with other types of chronicimg_3665 illness (it’s difficult to sleep when you have pain or other issues going on in your body.)

Our body is naturally wired for deep, restful (REM) sleep at night, when it’s the darkest. It’s the circadian rhythm. That’s hard to fight when it’s biology. Another issue is schedules are typically thrown off at night. Do you eat normally scheduled meals or exercise on a regular routine when your sleep patterns are thrown off? Most of us don’t. And that favors weight gain.

That deep, REM sleep our body so desperately needs is massively disrupted in the above scenarios. Without enough of it, we experience an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol, which favors fat cell growth.There is also an increase in the production of the hormone ghrelin, the one that tells your body to EAT, while a decrease in the production of leptin, the one that tells your body you don’t need to eat anymore. In a fairly recent study, when individuals were deprived of just a few hours of sleep over 5 days, they consumed as much as 300 extra calories per day and gained an average of 2 pounds. That’s a lot! And it was high sugar, high fat carbohydrates they wanted. Ouch!

So what can you do? Try these tips:

  1. Stay in bed, regardless. Read a fictional novel IN BED 30 minutes before your established sleep time. In the beginning, you may be reading until 3 o’clock in the morning but rest assured, your body is receiving 60% of the rest it needs even if you are AWAKE. This time will eventually get earlier and earlier until you can’t even finish the first page. Be aware of electronics and make sure they have a night setting without that back lighting that triggers your brain to stay alert. If you get out of bed, that goes down to 0%. If you start clock watching, tossing and turning, or doing whatever frustrating thing we are all guilty of when we can’t sleep, it’s 0%. Be aware, I said FICTIONAL NOVEL. No self helps here or you will fall asleep thinking about how you need to improve your life and and your wrongdoings. No bueno. Save that for another time.
  2. Establish a night time routine, around one hour before bedtime. Just like we do for children! Get your pjs on, take a nice bath or shower, get your teeth brushed, whatever you need to do to start telling your active brain to SLOW DOWN. No alcohol here, it actually disrupts restful sleep. But a nice cup of decaf tea can help. And please, put the dang phone away! I have been known to stick mine on airplane mode from time to time when I REALLY need to hang it up.
  3. There are natural options to help with sleep. Melatonin is one I’ve tried, although I don’t use often because there are so many on the market and it’s hard to know one from the other. So unfortunately, I can’t speak to brand here. But your doctor may be able to help you out. Valerian root has been talked about in the holistic health world for years, but I do not typically recommend this due to warnings about possible liver damage. My favorite are certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils because they support the body’s natural ability to wind down and promote a restful night’s sleep. Specifically, lavender and vetiver. I diffuse lavender most nights and the restful blend, a blend made with lavender, vetiver, sandalwood, ho wood, and others for my children every night. For more about that, contact me using the links below.

P.S. If you’ve been looking for support, you’ve come to the right place, request to join my online support group for all things nutrition and weight loss support.

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email: contact@jillianmcmullen.com

Jillian McMullen, CSOWM, RDN, LDN

Why go small sometimes?

I talk a lot about making small changes and small steps. That’s okay sometimes.

In my career as a Dietitian counseling hundreds of clients, it really never worked out when someone tried to drastically change their lifestyle over night. Sure, when I was new and green in the field, I tried to get people to do that. But guess what happened when they came back for their follow up appointment?

No progress. Almost always. And for those that did make progress, the “all or nothing” personality types, they usually fell off the wagon a few weeks later. It was pretty discouraging to witness. And even more discouraging for them to experience. Feel great only to go back into a cycle of defeat.

I am currently reading a book, “The Slight Edge,” by Jeff Olson. You can apply the concepts in the book to just about anything in life. He talks about how we either make daily errors in judgement to failure or follow simple daily disciplines to success. In terms of our dietary habits, we go for instant gratification in our daily dietary habits because eating that cheeseburger and fries won’t likely give us a heart attack on the spot. It won’t make us gain 20 pounds, either. It’s the habitual errors in judgement we make every single day that do it. Opposite is true as well. Eating a grilled chicken salad isn’t going to make us fit and energized right away, but making that choice over the burger and fries every day for lunch WILL over time.

And what if you chose to walk for just 15 minutes today? No, you won’t lose any weight by doing it.  And your fitness level won’t change, either. But, what if you kept at it and committed to it for four times a week, every week? By this time next year, you will likely be able to walk a 5K or even more.

For the last couple of weeks, I have been working from home. Something I have never done before in my ten year career as a Dietitian. Downfall of being home, within arms reach of the kitchen? Extra snacking that isn’t always healthy. So, I will leave you here with a simple, healthy recipe I made yesterday. It’s easy to make, filling, and easy to choose over the junk that might be sitting in the pantry!power bites

P.S. If you’ve been looking for support, you’ve come to the right place, request to join my online support group for all things nutrition and weight loss support.

Follow me on Facebook for daily livestreams

Instagram: TheOilRD

email: contact@jillianmcmullen.com

Jillian McMullen, CSOWM, RDN, LDN