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The Official Blog of The GEM.

Diamonds on your inside. That’s what we want. Don’t you? This blog is a place to visit for guidance, humor and wit about healthy, happy lives. We only have one life. Make it count!

Tag Archives: exercise


What Pink Ribbons Don’t Say About Breast Cancer Prevention

Posted on by diamondsonyourinside and currently has 5 Comments

In my former, pre-GEM~my world, pre-breast cancer, I spent 17 years in marketing and product development for a luxury linen company. It was a great paying job with lots of responsibility and lots of high-level stress. I was burning the candle at both ends, and was generally a hardcore, bitter, very impatient person. And, I knew it all.

On October 19, 2009, 18 days into “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” that world came to a halt. I was broad sided with a diagnosis of breast cancer that spread to my lymph nodes. Leslie kicked kancer's ass

Crap. I hated pink ribbons. Even more, I hated setbacks.

Later, I realized this setback would be my life changing experience. I was about to learn about peace and happy and a truly healthy lifestyle the hard way.

During my year-long treatment of chemo, surgeries, radiation, sheer exhaustion, I started to dig deep into illness and disease and what I could do to help in the healing process AND make certain it never came back. I learned about alkalinity and inflammation. I discovered very quickly that my previous lifestyle did nothing for my optimal health, so I set out to quell all inflammation in my system.

How?

  • I immediately went out and bought a juicer and Vitamix
  • Went totally on a hard-core, plant-based diet
  • Did a TON of reading and research

I became obsessed with everything related to food and healthy living and quickly discovered first hand the power of juice, clean food and positivity. I learned that inflammation is the root of all disease, so I set out to change my life. I also learned it wasn’t just about food!

What did that mean? In addition to food, your thoughts and your stress are major causes of inflammation.

I needed more. I earned a degree from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, an incredible nutrition school that takes a holistic approach to wellness and focuses on relationships, work, exercise and spirituality as essentials to building good health. I studied lots of brilliant minds on the subject.

The goal: to clean up every dark corner of my world. I dumped the toxic people (oh, yeah baby!), the toxic thoughts, the toxic attitude. I refused to let that stuff into my world. Added yoga, deep breathing, cleaned out my personal care and cleaning products. I changed my environment so to speak. That was a great place to start.

So what about the (toxic) food? So I began embracing a whole-foods, plant-based diet. I cooked, I juiced, I bought organic.

What I quickly realized was there was no place nearby where I felt secure about the quality and selection of the food and juice. Organic was rarely mentioned and almost never honestly served. I couldn’t eat every meal at home, right? So, what happened next? Mary Kathryn and I decided to do it ourselves! Wonder-twin powers activate!

From there, The GEM was born. We created The GEM to be a community where people come to get healthy and happy. And WOW! We were floored by the response. Our baby quickly became a place to find approachable, healthy habits that have a profound effect on your long-term health. Anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-energy vampires. Let food (and disco) be thy medicine, right?

We invite everyone to experience this place of healing and happiness called The GEM.  And hopefully you leave with a little something better than when you enter. Come on in! Don’t wait for a sucker punch from Life to change your thoughts and your habits!

The GEM is living proof that by removing toxins from your life, you will be healthier, stronger and happier. So while the pink ribbons aren’t visible, the disco ball is a constant reminder of the happy, healthy life we all can attain.

YOU ARE YOUR BEST ADVOCATE–whether it is cancer screening or anything else. Take control of your health and happiness each and every moment.  And, don’t be a boob. Perform monthly breast exams. Peace.


5 Ways to Manage Back-to-School Stress

Posted on by diamondsonyourinside and currently has 3 Comments

School is almost back in session which meansThe GEM Juice Bar major organization needed, major scheduling, major traffic, AND obviously, major stress. Stress is an unpleasant fact of life. We all experience it, and for some of us, we allow it to take over our minds and eventually our bodies.

The key is to find ways to manage it—squash it—and don’t let it rule us. Stress does terrible things to your mood, your energy and your overall physiology. Common symptoms of stress we know all too well: insomnia, headaches, jaw pain, back and neck pain, heartburn and nausea, nervousness and anxiety, nail-biting, and trouble focusing. Even high blood pressure, stroke and obesity! But stress does some other crazy sh*t …

  • Stress changes the expression of your genes. Your genes load the gun, the environment pulls the trigger. Your stressed our body produces chemicals, activating genes that change everything — how much fat you store, your immune function, ageing and even the development of CANCER.
  • Stress affects memory function. High levels of stress hormones damage critical parts of the brain, especially the area responsible for memory. People experience adrenal burnout after chronic stress because the brain actually turns off the adrenals. So relax, silly.
  • Stress jacks with your immune system and increases inflammation. Stress is the ultimate immune-modulator. It slows wound healing and increases your susceptibility to infections.
  • Stress slows your ability to metabolize and detoxify. Genes responsible for enzymes that break down fats and detoxify prescription drugs are negatively impacted by stress. Stress also adds to your toxin burden by increasing your cravings for high fat, high sugar foods. We all know that one, right?  The stress hormones actually make you hang on to your fat cells.

 

The American Institute of Stress (AIS) has a list of 50 common signs and symptoms of stress.  Check it out! So in addition to making us cranky and fat, it can also make us chronically ill? Tell me how to fix this!

What we think and feel, and how long we think or feel it, determines our health. The science is strong, and yet so often since stress is considered something we can’t really quantify, it gets dismissed as not being “real.”

Here are a few ways to quell stress in your life:

  1. Meditate. Come on … Don’t quit reading. Meditation can mean different things to different people. Mindfulness, intention setting, gratitude lists all are part of a mediation practice. Simple deep breathing exercises and morning quiet time (even 15 minutes a day will make an enormous difference). Gabby Bernstein rocks. Wayne Dyer too. This does not take the place of your daily prayer. Try deep breathing exercises in the carpool line or at a traffic light. I swear it will change your life.
  2. Laugh. Call a friend, watch a movie, fake it if you have to!
  3. Magnesium. Deficiencies in this mineral have been linked to anxiety as well as a litany of sleep disorders. Go get you some CALM tea today. P.S. It will also keep you regular. There is also a Calm Bath Soak that is amazing as a bedtime ritual along with some lavender oil that will knock your socks off.
  4. Exercise. Do something everyday—preferably something that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat. Walk with a friend, jump on the trampoline with your kids, or turn up Donna Summer and disco dance off of the chandeliers for all I care. Just do it!
  5. Plan your food. At the very least, have healthy food options in your fridge. You can’t manage stress on Cheetos and drive-thrus. Plus eating like that can add MORE depression and anxiety to your life. (Insider scoop, we will be blogging about this in September: simple, healthy fridge options). Start your day with a Green Glow or a superfood-packed Crown Jewel smoothie.  What stressor can possibly bring you down now??

 

We can help you with all this at The GEM, whether with your nutritional needs, a much-needed laugh or schedule a Diamonds Counseling Stress Session – Just ask!

Next up:  Stress and Yoga!!


10 Ways To Increase Your Energy

Posted on by diamondsonyourinside and currently has 3 Comments

Waking up each day with vibrance and energy–like every day is your own disco party–would be awesome, wouldn’t it? No late afternoon dips, no struggling to wake up in the mornings. So many of us struggle to find enough energy.  The good news is there are ways to increase your energy, naturally and easily.

Many factors contribute to our sense of energy and vitality ~ those that zap us and those that invigorate. The foods we eat, the people we meet, how we move our feet. These things can either increase our energy or decrease it.

The culprits for depleting us are stress-related. Think four types:

  1. Chemical – Food or Drug
  2. Emotional
  3. Mental
  4. Physical

The main foods and substances that decrease our energy are:

  • Caffeine, coffee, diet sodas, alcohol, too much meat or not enough, processed/chemical laden foods, tobacco, milk/dairy, sugar and artificial sweeteners and trans fats/fried junk!! It is important to note that certain prescription drugs also zing our energy including anti-depressants.

Foods that increase our energy:

  • Foods that are alive have life force. Food that goes bad is good food. Unprocessed, whole foods: grains, vegetables and beans. These foods have all the components of their original, natural state: fiber, vitamins and minerals. Processing removes these elements. A great rule of thumb I like is: If microorganisms cannot thrive on it, what makes you think you can? Does it come in a box and has a “shelf life?” Then it should be pushed aside.

Everything that we take in is food for our body, mind and spirit. 

Here are 10 ways to increase your energy:

1)  Ease up on the java and “energy” drinks.

  • The ups and downs of caffeine include dehydration and blood sugar ups and downs, making mood swings more frequent. Stimulants like caffeine and sugar may seem to give an initial energy boost, but they actually cause a dip in our energy and blood sugar levels. Green tea is an excellent substitute.
  • Drink more juice. Juicing daily, you provide your body with a high dose of naturally-derived nutrients that boosts your health, support your body’s natural cleansing processes and helps keep you well-protected against toxins and disease. A fresh juice stands in a league of its own. It is simply the best energy drink on the market! Take that, Red Bull.

2)  Water water everywhere! Lots of it.

  • Most Americans are chronically dehydrated. Before you go to sugar or caffeine, have a glass of water with lemon and wait a few minutes to see what happens.
  • Many times you think you are hungry when really it’s your body asking for water!
  • Drink 32 oz of water as soon as you wake up. Have nothing else until that is consumed.

3)  Eat your greens.

  • Think: Green is spring, the time of renewal and refreshing, vital energy.
  • Greens are full of vitamins and nutrients especially CALCIUM and great for improving circulation, lifting the spirit, purifying the blood and strengthening the immune system.
  • You can always DRINK YOUR GREENS TOO.

4)  DON’T BE SWEET ON SWEETS.

  • Sugar is just plain bad. It promotes disease. Sugar causes mood swings, depression and fatigue. And the more you eat, the more you want!
  • Avoid sugar and chemical-filled artificial sweeteners. NEVER, EVER NUTRASWEET.
  • Use gentle sweeteners like maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave nectar and stevia (they have lower glycemic loads).

5)  Animal Protein. Evaluate the amount of animal food you eat. Fried foods are still a definite NO.

  • Eating too much meat, dairy, chicken and eggs can lead to low energy. So can eating too little! Grass-fed, pastured and wild are always good determinants when choosing your meat and fish.
  • It is always a good idea to cut back on dairy. (Acidic, mucous forming, bloating, yuck). Spinach, kale, collards, broccoli are all excellent sources of calcium.
  • Beans are always a great choice for protein. We do NOT need as much as conventional wisdom states.
  • Fried foods zap your energy. Stay away from them.

6) Chill out. Go to bed!

  • When you are tired or stressed, your body craves energy. Instead of answering the call of the late night snack, get to bed earlier and see what happens. Turn off the lights and TV. Without proper sleep, your body cannot properly detox, heal and repair itself.
  • Magnesium is a great supplement to aid in relaxation. I love “Calm” magnesium tea. It really works.
  • Believe it or not, daily breathing techniques can help. Six deep breaths morning and night can really take the edge off and help with emotional and physical stress.

7)  SHAKE THAT.

  • Physical activity is key. Start with simple, walk with 15 minutes a day or take a yoga class and increase from there. It really does energize you! Even when you don’t feel good, moving will make you feel better. It is a proven fact!

8)  Love yourself.

  • Find activities that restore your energy, such as a walk, a bath, visit the DMA, a movie or whatever you enjoy. Schedule a weekly date with yourself to do these things! This is incredibly vital to your internal energy source.

9)  Get in touch with your spirituality.

  • We are spiritual beings in a physical world. All facets of your life need attention for your whole body to feel good.
  • Find ways to get in touch with your spiritual side, be it meditating, dancing, drawing, going to church or temple or being outside in nature.

10) NO ENERGY VAMPIRES. Get rid of relationships that drain you.

  • People can suck the life force out of you. It doesn’t mean that they are bad, but it is good to notice who drains you and why.
  • See if you can change those relationships by communicating and setting boundaries or, end them.

If all else fails, call a friend, meet at The GEM, and drink your juice! We will atleast have the disco music.


Second Hand Smoke For the Mind

Posted on by diamondsonyourinside and currently has 3 Comments

This is the post on sweaty back hair you have been waiting for. This is a problem for so many–both the perpetrators and innocent bystanders. Why, why, why do men feel it necessary to exercise without a shirt? Fat men, skinny men, tall ones, short ones, hairy ones, slick ones, cute ones, scary ones. Trust me on this one fellas, it’s all the same. Plus, women RARELY show up to an exercise class with just a jog bra anymore. Almost never. 1995 is over. Jog Bras as fashion are years out of style. And shirtless attire has NEVER been in season.

Since my site is about being healthy and happy, you might think, “What does this have to do with diamonds on your inside?” I never said we shouldn’t work towards sparkle on your outsides too. I think it is rudely unhealthy for others to invoke this sight upon others. Think second-hand smoke for the mind.

It pains me, yes pains me, to stand next to a shirtless man during my hot yoga. Invariably, they are not in peak condition. We are all in this hot room, sweating our cojones off. You know those shirts that every athletic company uses that are made from SWEAT WICKING MATERIAL? They use it for a reason. And believe me, it works! If you have chosen not to wear one of these aforementioned athletic shirts, guess what? You are dripping your gross, hairy sweat all over the floor–a place where I may be next class. And God forbid I brush up next to you walking past. And the visual image branded in my pysche. I can’t tell you how many I have to endure in my 9 mile walks around White Rock. These guys who elect to go shirtless perhaps may also be the questionably creepy guy trying to pick you up at the bar–gold chain, Ed Hardy pants and all. Just sayin’ there may be a correlation.

You may be thinking, yes, but what about the really good-looking guys. The tanned ones with 5% body fat. I love those guys. Clothed. I am telling you, it is still no bueno. Plus, sometimes it is better to leave something to the imagination. (Don’t even start with bike shorts. Holy Lord!). In fact, to prove my point, I saw Troy Aikman this past weekend running shirtless down Armstrong. Lovely you might think. But you know what? Even as sinewy and handsome as he is, I could have done without this vision of sweaty cheesiness. And he, of all people, should have access to a trunk full of athletic gear.

More disturbing is the amount of websites out there promoting a ‘shirtless lifestyle that is so popular in other countries.’ Forget about Al Queda. This could be the downfall of Rome!

So, what do we do with this info? Please, tell your loved ones that shirtless activity kills. Kills brain cells, kills good thoughts, kills an appetite. We can make a difference people–even one wife beater t-shirt at a time.

Diamonds on your inside / Shirts on your outside,

Leslie