Education

Morel of the Story

foraging morel mushrooms eat local

I don’t quite have the words to capture the magic I feel in this place. Particularly in this rainy spring weather. The birds in chorus. The forest full with fresh greens. Moss covered trees. Fungi on everything. Damp bark, the clean, fresh air. Little tree frogs. Red tailed squirrels. A white tail frolicking away from us. The energy of trees that are hundreds of years old. The view of the river bluffs carved from the same glacier that made the ole Mississippi.

I’m at my dad’s (no longer working) farm, that has been in our family for almost 200 years. The farm land (consisting of corn and soybeans as crops) was sold a few years ago. What’s left? 150 acres of woods, creeks, ponds, and furry friends!

Sup lil brah

Sup lil brah

fungi on bark
I want his shell to be replicated into art for my home! So pretty!

I want his shell to be replicated into art for my home! So pretty!

An atmosphere perfect for foraging morels. Morel mushrooms are incredibly good tasting mushrooms that can’t be cultivated. They (seemingly) just grow at random during the Spring. They are native to the midwest– and they are fabulously yummy. I’ve only come down to the farm maybe twice before during this time of year. I remember coming as a kid, and being very disappointed in the process. My husband has a joke he loves to say, “Alexandra vs nature”– well imagine a young kid version of this. Bugs? Cold? Rain? Looking in dirt? Yeah not so ideal. But adult Alexandra, while still hating insects in my space, handles all of this much better. And in fact, I kinda love it!

fresh morel mushroom spring illinois midwest

Walking in the woods, listening to the birds, the crunch of the branches beneath my feet. It is very much a magical, meditative experience.

Then comes the actual search process. This is the part I am learning I am not so good at. I thought being so distinctive, I would have no trouble with this. Pattern recognition is my jam. Well, finding them is a pretty random game. There needs to be some sunlight, so that the land isn’t too moist. And they tend to be close to elm trees, but not necessarily directly under them. Lots of rain seems to help them to pop up, too.

I’m embarrassed that my initial thoughts made me feel like I was in a real life version of Zelda. Searching for any oddities or things out of place. I felt like I was pretty good at that. I found a tree frog, countless spiders, a deer antler, various other types of fungi, deer fur, and more. But the morels… a bit tougher. I found the first one of the trip, but my beginners luck ended there. The thrill of finding one is addictive. It feels like finding gold–nature’s gold, that is! 

My dad really seems to have a knack for it. Miraculously, on day 2, my dad found the hot spot of all hot spots. We found an area with about 100 morels! It was like hitting the jackpot. So so satisfying, everywhere we turned we could find one! So satisfying. 

This is beyond farm to table. This is natural food, uncultivated, just created because mother nature is incredible, then foraged and immediately put on the table. I’m beginning to understand the appeal of hunting. I’m much happier with being the gatherer in the hunter-gathering scenario though! 😅

I’m so thankful for the experience: for the connection to the land and my food! “Morel” of the story: I came back after 3 days having a much deeper appreciation for all that our mother earth provides for us! -AHS

morel mushrooms pike county illinois
morels on burger with spinach
morels with butter and white wine

How to Prepare morels

In terms of preparation- simpler is better! My step mom lightly breads them and fries them. A delicious option if you are into crunch! After cleaning them thoroughly (and I mean thoroughly!!!) I prepared them in a large pan. I heated them and let them release their water for a few minutes. With some of the mushroom juice still available I added several pads of butter, and white wine! They pair beautifully with pasta, steak, or even a burger!

morel mushrooms midwest fresh

The Energetics of Food

I just spent the past two weeks prepping food with my mother and aunt for Easter. It was exhausting, glorious, and 100% #notshedapproved.

Not even half of the tadalles we made!

Not even half of the tadalles we made!

We made these Italian biscuits/cookies/bagels(?) we call “Tadalles” (I think it is derived from the Italian Easter cookies, Taralli). Our family recipe differs from any other recipe I’ve ever seen for them though, which makes them even more special to us! I also helped make a taleggio cheese and mushroom lasagne; lamb stuffed with spinach, goat cheese, and garlic; carrot cake; appetizers; and more.

The food tasted amazing, but I think it has an extra special je ne sais quois that comes from the joy of cooking and preparations for our loved ones.

This is one of my more “woowoo” inclinations, but I believe the energy that you have when you prepare food gets served to whoever is the lucky eater. So when you’re cooking, I think it’s important to mind your attitude and try to make it a joyful, loving experience.

Along the same lines, if you choose to eat animals, I think the energy of the animal gets transferred to you! If those cows had room to graze, and were treated well, their happiness lives on and that’s what you absorb. If, on the other hand, they had a miserable existence and were crammed into small stalls with never any exercise or sunshine– I believe we absorb that energy too. When you view the world from this perspective, it encourages all of your eating decisions to be “soulful” and healthy! It broadens your viewpoint beyond just ourselves, but also to the experience of other life forms.

Traditional Chinese Medicine takes it to another level (see chart below!). Certain foods have certain energetic properties. Feeling anxious? Skip the alcohol and sugar! Have you been a running all over the place lately, super busy? Have some fish with root veggies for a grounding meal!

Why do we tend to crave root vegetables when its colder? Besides being more readily available, they are warming to the body! Why do we like salads and smoothies in the summer? They are cooling, and its what our bodies need!

Eating seasonally and locally helps us become in tune with the natural rhythms of the earth. Not to mention, some local foods can have awesome benefits only available to you– like local bee pollen! If you add it to your diet you have protection against some seasonal allergies! Growing your own food or purchasing from the local farmers markets helps to create connection to our food and locale.

Reprinted with permission from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

Reprinted with permission from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

Have you ever thought about the different ways foods can affect you? What ways will you take the different energetics of food into account as you prepare your meals next week?

  • Will you cook with love and mindfulness?

  • Source your animal protein from happy animals?

  • Go to your local farmers market?

  • Choose to eat or cook foods to help you round out your own energy?

I want to know! Leave me a note below or on social media! xx, AHS

Your body is beautiful

I’m sharing this photo as an act of self love. Even though I see my faults, I also see a strong healthy woman!

I’m sharing this photo as an act of self love. Even though I see my faults, I also see a strong healthy woman!

I was having coffee with a friend last week and I had a realization that I have a low tolerance for talking about weight loss. Upon reflection, I think that’s because no matter what your shape or size is, I truly think you are beautiful no matter what your size is. And obsessing and following extreme diets and exercise regimes to change you… well it upsets me, to be honest. While that may sound contrarian to what my name implies; “Shed” for the Wed, is really about making Soulful Healthy Eating Decisions. It’s so much more than seeing a certain number on the scale.

I’ve made it very clear that I am not about counting calories, weighing food portions, or restricting whole food categories for an extended period of time. I want to teach you how to eat healthfully to make you feel your best on the big day–but more importantly for the rest of your life! And that requires making healthy living sustainable for the long term.

But while you are learning about healthy eats (which will in 99% of the time help you lose weight if that is your objective), I want you to know you are already “wedding ready”. You are a radiant human just as you are right this very moment. If you have a hard time believing that–as so many of us do–I want you to be actively working on loving your body. By showing love for your body, you are showing love for yourself, and when you love yourself, you can truly love others fully and without judgement. And isn’t that what life is all about?

Another incredibly important point–when you love your body you have a healthy relationship with food. You don’t look at cake with disgust or with lust (okay maybe sometimes with lust 😂), but it is neutral. There will always be options that are healthier and options that are less healthy. Foods do not have the labels of “good” or “bad”.

All of this is easier said than done. This work does not happen overnight. Sometimes it can take years of our lives to decondition ourselves from the years of torment we (and society) have placed on ourselves. I’m for sure still working on it, and probably will be for a long time! I’ve compiled some easy actionable tips to start you on the right path:

  1. Look in the mirror and say something nice about what you see once a day (at least!)

  2. Eat vegetables and fruits. By feeding yourself nourishing foods, you are honoring yourself and showing your body love.

  3. Whenever you think a menu item is “bad,” active try to change your mindset in that moment to that it is neutral. Bonus points if someone orders it and you eat some!

  4. Meditate. Take 5 minutes out of your day to just be.

  5. Move your body joyfully. Turn on the happiest song in your Spotify library and have a dance party for one. Or ride your bike outside. Whatever it is, make sure it puts a smile on your face.

What are you doing to show your body some love this week? Leave me a note below or on Instagram/Facebook! With love, AHS

Finding balance: How to Juggle Healthy Eating, Exercise, Insanely Busy Work Life, a Seemingly Endless Social Calendar, and Planning a Wedding!

finding balance shed for the wed healthy eating exercise

If you read this headline and got very excited, well, I’m sorry to disappoint. Before you keep reading looking for the solve, know that there is no miracle solution to finding balance. “Work-life balance” is a myth. You just have one life. Work is a part of that life. It reminds me of what they used to say about working mothers– “she wants to have it all!” well the reality is you can’t have it ALL. Something will always feel like it is out of whack in some capacity. But what you can do is find routine and ritual to keep what matters most to you moving.

I decided to write this post because one of the most put together people I know was one of the people requesting it. If I couldn’t ask her to be a guest blogger on this topic, I was fairly certain there isn’t a clear answer.

This is coming from someone who searched for the answer for years! I remember my first real job out of college. I was working super late every night and really it was my first time really living on my own. I always felt too tired for the gym or to cook when I got home. I ordered takeout nonstop. I craved balance so badly. I kept saying there had to be another way. Well I can tell you, that led me to quit said job and move to another continent for a year in search of a better way of life. And I can say I learned a lot in that one year from the way that the Aussies live their lives in work and play. But moving to another continent is not really an option for most people, nor is it desired! The real question is how to make the life you have right now feel more ideal.

Here are my 3 steps to help you reclaim “balance” in your life.

1) Determine what feels off to you

If you are searching for balance that implies that something is imbalanced. Do you just feel like you are struggling to reach your goals? Do you feel exhausted with your current lifestyle? There is a tool I use with my one-on-one coaching clients called the Circle of Life. It helps you identify where you feel off in your current day-to-day life. What’s amazing is that it can change entirely from one week to the next. But it’s a great place to start if you are struggling to identify what feels off in your day to day. I’ve included it here for you, just because! Note: it includes a variety of facets to life. Those may be applicable to what comprises your circle, or you may need to make an adjustment to fit your life! Ask yourself, “what does balance mean to you?”

Do the exercise and see where your gaps come up for you right now!

2) Set a goal (or not)

Once you are clear on what is off, you can move forward deciding with what is most important that you would like to change. If goals are your thing, you could make yourself a goal to help correct the imbalance. Sometimes I feel like setting goals for everything takes away their power, so I would most likely give myself some weekly objectives (in my world they are different!) I would like to aim for.

An example of my weekly objectives: exercise 4x/week and meditating daily. I have check boxes in my planner for them both. I don’t always hit them, but that is okay too!

If it is something you really care about, you need to make it a priority. If you don’t really want to make it a priority, think about why that is. Maybe it’s that you feel like you should do something, but in your heart, you just don’t care. THAT IS 100% OKAY! But don’t beat yourself up about not working out everyday if it’s not something that you really don’t have any interest in prioritizing.

3) Be Prepared

Now that we are clear on where our imbalance lies, and what we would like to change, now it’s time to make sure it happens. If you have a typical 9-5 the weekend is a great way to get on top of it. Carve out time for yourself during the weekend or whenever your off days are. It’s easy to load up on social events, but make sure you have time for a bit of productivity. I have one friend who says “Sunday’s are sacred”– and it’s become my favorite phrase! For many people it’s meal planning and doing cooking for the week on Sundays. For others it’s plotting out and signing up for their work out classes for the week. Make that time a part of your ritual and then the Sunday scaries become empowering!

I’ll be honest with you, this step is my weakness. Because I work for myself, I’ve just gotten good at doing things that matter on the fly, and that works for me. I wouldn’t aim for that, but know that success looks different to everyone.

As I am all about the healthy eats, I will tell you the number one way to ensure success is to prepare in advance. The Shed nutrition plans have meal plans built in for 8 weeks. If you use one weekend day to really make meals in advance and portion things out for the week, you will be on the right track from the very beginning of the week! It’s all about making that a priority, if that is what matters to you!

Allowing for grace

For me, living intuitively within my body is the goal. I listen to my body and give it room to process. This goes for eating (I eat mindfully, and try to listen to the cues my body gives me) and exercise (if I’ve worked out 3 days in a row, and my muscles are telling me they need a break, I give them a break!). But it also is a part of the bigger picture in my life. Sometimes life is going to be madness, and you need to step it up to make everything come together. But then, you need to allow for time to recoup. We live in a world where productivity is the metric of living a successful life. We’ve been trained to think that way, but really, there is more to life than checking off every item on your to do list. If you don’t make it to the grocery store because you are spending time with people you care about and having meaningful connections with them, then you know what, I would consider that more productive than meal prepping for the week! It all comes down to what really matters to you. And depending on your phase of life this can fluctuate.

Why I love working with brides is because they have a definitive time frame to when they would like to reach their goals. They are highly motivated in the moment that they find me! That being said a bride’s goals and mindset is not the same as a new mother’s, etc. Each phase of life you are in, a new balance becomes clear. Allow yourself to be comfortable in the place that you are in right now!

There isn’t a one size fits all answer

Every individual has their own, unique set of challenges. This is why I have a coaching business and not just online programs that run without me. Because at the end of the day, finding that balance in our day to day lives is hard! Sometimes you need someone there to help you deal with your particular set of circumstances (the Shed platinum program is the best for this!). Following a program works for some people, but other people have more challenges that they need to overcome in order to reach their goals. Your experience is unique to you, and your job is to find what a balanced healthy lifestyle means in the context of your life!


So what does living a balanced life mean to you? Where do you prioritize your time? I want to hear! Leave me a note below or on Insta/FB. -AHS

Celery Juice

16oz of the good stuff!

16oz of the good stuff!

What is the celery juice fad? Why is everyone doing it?

The “global celery juice movement” has been popularized by the Medical Medium (MM). If you haven’t heard of him, there is lot to process there. As a medium, he receives all of his information from the “spirit of compassion” on the other side. Let me tell you, I am all into the woowoo. I don’t doubt that people can communicate with other planes, spirits, or even with God. But whenever there is too much celebrity involved (he has a whole half page of testimonials only from celebrities), I just get a little skeptical. I haven’t read any of his books, but I did read one of his diets when my step-dad was really sick and no one knew what was wrong with him for almost 2 years (he tried the diet for 3 weeks it didn’t help). While I have reservations about the Medical Medium himself, he touts the power of fruits and vegetables, and in that we are 100% aligned. I will cover the basics in this post, but to get a full understanding on all things celery juice from the main source, I recommend reading Celery Juice 101.

The basics

What to do:

Drink 8-16oz of fresh celery juice every morning before eating or drinking anything else. Wait 15-30 minutes before eating breakfast.

Use organic celery, and rinse it. I also cut off the ends. If using conventional celery, wash with clear fragrance-free dish soap. Juice it in a juicer, or blend and then filter through a cheese cloth. Drink up.

Working your way up to 16oz is advised, because it can have a cleansing effect (which is your body eliminating toxins). If you prepare in advance, it will only keep for 24 hours. Seal it in a mason jar with a lid.

What not to do:

If you do any of the following it will take away from the “medicinal properties”, per MM:

  • Make more than 24 hours worth in advance. It won’t keep.

  • Add anything else (ice, or other fruits or vegetables)

  • Drink with the fiber (like if you blended it and then skipped the filtering)


My experience

The process:

I drank the celery juice for about 6 days in total non-consecutively.

It was also recommended to me to use a blender and use a cheese cloth instead of a juicer. I never bought the cheese cloth so I just kept using my juicer. I love my juicer but it needs to be cleaned almost immediately after use– time consuming and annoying. Because of that I didn’t do it every morning.

I did add ice sometimes, it made it super delicious to me (that was before I knew it was a no no!). A couple of times when I made it for me and hubby, I added other things (apple and cucumber) to make it more palatable. It was super yummy we both couldn’t get enough of it–but I did notice that it didn’t feel quite as awesome as when I drank it plain.

How I felt:

benefits of celery juice

I felt very clear and light when I drank the juice in the am. It also made me crave healthier things throughout the day. During this time, I had some dental work done and my gums were sore. Unintentionally, I realized that the juice was totally soothing on my gums.

It really did “cleanse,” even with just 8oz- so starting slow was important. I did work my way up to the 16oz and didn’t notice a huge difference.

Overall, it just made me feel just, good. Its hard to explain, but it definitely felt like my system was very pleased to have the green boost!

 

Final thoughts

Ideally, I would have done it for a longer period and sequentially, but it just didn’t work out that way. I think I would have been able to see stronger results. Without a doubt, when I drank the juice as prescribed, I felt good. Very good. And that is never something to discount. I know now that it is a great thing to do when I just need to feel good in my body.

The question I kept asking myself was how to make this a tangible apart of my daily routine. And is it worth the time. It can be a bit of a pain making it fresh every morning. Just time consuming. I recommend washing and trimming ends in advance to save some time.

Also, as a generally healthy person, I question if I need to be drinking it every day. It is supposedly very healing, and great for breastfeeding, but I just can’t imagine a world I make this juice every day. I do know that if I was suffering from an illness, I would prioritize making it.

My net takeaway: it definitely doesn’t hurt. Especially if you feel like your body needs a serious pick me up. If you can find the time to add it into your routine, I would definitely recommend it.

Have you tried celery juice? I would love to hear your thoughts! Send me a DM on Instagram or Facebook to let me know what you think. Chin chin! - AHS

Intuitive Eating

Yeah, that’s me being a lovely example of not practicing mindful eating! Or am I? 3 bite rule?! Side note: I love the dapper groomsman strutting across the floor! Photo by Kristin LaVoie

Yeah, that’s me being a lovely example of not practicing mindful eating! Or am I? 3 bite rule?! Side note: I love the dapper groomsman strutting across the floor! Photo by Kristin LaVoie

Hello bride tribe!!

Today I wanted to talk to you about one of my favorite things to work on when I coach clients one-on-one, Intuitive Eating. Also, often referred to as “Mindful Eating,” it’s all about finding your own flow.

It’s interesting, because my coaching clients tend to fall into one of two camps. The first: “tell me what to do and I’ll do it” and the second, “I already know what to do but I have trouble executing.” In all actuality, both types of clients are desperately in need of more mindfulness in their own lives and routines. Client one is great at doing whatever they need to do to “see results”- and often times ignore their bodily cues. Client two may recognize their body cues more easily - but have a hard time finding the right rhythm of mindfulness in their day-to-day lives. Either way- we end up working on becoming more mindful and intuitive, especially in regards to consumption!

If you had a standard American childhood (I’m sure this applies to many places outside of America as well, but not sure where to draw the line, lol) you grew up on three main meals and then several snacks throughout the day. You may have dropped one or two of those as you grew up and life became busy and hectic- but I’m guessing you probably still think in terms of 3 meals a day (even if you’re consciously skipping one)! We have a societal routine of breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. It’s just what we do! And nothing is wrong with eating 3 meals–in fact, the Shed program is built around it! But the key here is - if you are having three square meals a day- are you actually hungry when you eat? Or are you forcing it? Are you starving by mealtime? Are you eating quickly to get all the food in on your lunch break? I often have three meals a day, but I listen to my body cues to tell me when to eat and how much. We need to tune into our bodies to figure out what it needs! Vs what it’s scheduled for.

But before we look inward, we need to clear out some of the bad habits that make it difficult to assess our bodily needs! It’s easier to follow your body’s cues when you aren’t exhausted, or surrounded by other people. For example, I am horrible at listening to it when I am at parties or around my mother (lol, seriously though), but I’m great at it during the work week when I’m predominantly by myself. The following includes some of the biggest culprits to preventing mindful, intuitive eating.

Basically, you want to avoid and break these habits:

emotional eating

Don’t eat when you are overly stressed, sad, or mad. 1) It’s hard to feel hunger (or it subsiding) when you are in extreme emotional states. 2) It can create a bad connection between food and emotion. You never want to rely on any substance to make feelings go away. This goes for wine too!

Eating because “it’s time to eat”

If you eat just because it’s lunch time but you are still full from breakfast, you are doing your body a disservice by eating. If you can, wait until you start to feel those hunger cues before starting the next meal. If work makes that tricky for you, try having small snacks on hand so that if you do get hungry and you are in a meeting you have something to hold you over.

Grazing

Similarly to above, grazing is a similar form of non-mindful eating. Have you ever been completely non-aware and you snap out of it when you are looking in the refrigerator? Boredom and eating just because are the opposite of mindful eating. Make sure you are actually interested in eating a snack before proceeding.

Technology at meal times

Eating while watching tv or looking at your phone is basically the death of mindfulness. It is very difficult to process what you’re eating when you are zoning out. It’s also a great way to get in the habit of eating dinner with your fiancé/e! Romance bonus points!

over eating because something is too delicious

By eating slowly, you will be able to listen to your hunger cues and not over indulge. If you are eating dessert- this is a great time to use the three-bite rule. Have three bites of the deliciousness and then stop. Most of the time, you will feel totally satisfied!


Seriously, this work can take a lifetime, so don’t beat yourself up if you catch yourself doing any of those things. Pick one to work on for the next two weeks, and then once you feel good about it, add another one to your healthy habit to do!

Now that you’ve cleared out your anti-mindful habits, now it’s time to add in some of the good stuff!

Things to incorporate:

1-minute body scans

Before eating, take one minute and close your eyes, and focus on every part of your body, one part at a time, from head to toes. You will be able to identify if you are tense, or stressed, famished, full, bored, or tired (or anything else!). So many times we turn to food when we are looking for a distraction. This will help you realize if you actually are hungry or if you are just looking for something to pass the time. It is maybe the biggest step in becoming in tune with your body, and in turn your eating habits!

drinking lots of water

Many times we think we are hungry when in fact, we are just dehydrated! The cue is very often confused in the body! Water will make you feel great and will make sure you are tuning into your real hunger!

Eat slowly

Which also means, try to prevent extreme hunger when you can- because it is difficult to slow down when you are hangry! But when you slow down, you can fully appreciate all of the flavors of the wonderful meal you are eating, you will know when you are full, because your stomach will have time to communicate with the brain, you won’t overeat and you will enjoy more! What’s not to love about all of that??


There, for sure, is an art to becoming more mindful and intuitive around your eating habits. And even if you are tuned in–it doesn’t always mean you listen! Mindfulness is a practice just like anything else. It’s not something that is easily checked off on your list of to dos. But, when you add the practice to your life you will be able to listen to yourself and know what you need. No long term coaching required. Once you find your own internal rhythm and know how to listen to your body, you will never have to go on a diet again! It is hands down maybe the best habit to get into for living a healthy lifestyle for the long run!

What are you going to switch up to have more mindfulness in your routine? Leave me a note below or on social! -AHS

The Glow Up

Hello beauties! First and foremost: this is your reminder that you are amazing and perfect just as you are. Right this very second! Are you feeling your fabulous selves today? Do a lil shimmy! Okay, now we’re ready!

I created Shed for the Wed because I wanted to help brides feel good! Planning a wedding whether for 500 people or just an intimate occasion with just your nearest and dearest can be stressful. It can bring up a lot of different emotions and can be downright exhausting! I want you to feel* full of life, love, and energy during your engagement. And I want to help you glow on the big day. There are many ways to accomplish this task, but the foundations of achieving this are the 3 Ss: Sustenance, Sweat, and Spirit. These are the basics that I want you to make sure you prioritizing in your pre-wedding routine. I will dive into each of the three Ss more in later posts- but I wanted to lay the foundation for the wedding glow up!

glow up - food for fuel vitamins minerals eat the rainbow

Sustenance

It is so, so critical to fuel your body with foods that provide nutritional value. Make sure you are “eating the rainbow” and getting your vitamins and minerals through whole food sources that are accessible for your body to process. Eating this way (and eliminating foods that may hinder it) give you ample energy and make your skin glow from the inside out.

Beyond that, have you ever noticed when you haven’t been eating healthy foods and perhaps have been drinking too much alcohol, you tend to feel more anxious or sad? This is not unusual, but you may not have made the correlation before. Healthy foods and water galore help not just your glow, but your mind too! All of this was taken into consideration when creating the Shed for the Wed Nutrition Programs! You can have piece of mind that you are fueling you glow and not adding to your pre-wedding nerves!

Sweat

yoga wheel exercise sweat it out sweating for the wedding

Getting your sweat on is the most obvious place people start when #sheddingforthewedding - which is actually why I don’t focus on it that much. I’m sure you already know there are serious benefits to exercise. Ranging from good heart health, increased bone density, all the way to relief from depression and anxiety– it really is fantastic. I find that when I have a good sweat routine, I know I’m taking care of my body, and I automatically just feel better about myself. When you build physical strength, you also build mental strength. I include it in the glow up list mostly because it’s an awesome way to boost your confidence. Just don’t overdo it- if you focus too much on sweating for the wedding, it can actually end up doing more harm then good.


Spirit

Spirit is the hardest to define, because we are have different essences to our beings and our souls and what satisfies my spirit may be very different to yours. But it is maybe the most important part of the glow up. You should be LIT about your life. I blather on about “self-care” quite a bit. But really any of the things on the following list could fall into that category. Do things that you love every single day.

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

Connection

  • Going on date night with your boo (*ahem* I mean almost spouse)

  • Belly laughs with friends

  • Spending time with loved ones

  • Volunteering

  • Cooking for loved ones

Nature

  • Swimming in the sea

  • Sunshine

  • Hiking (also counts as sweating!)

  • Gardening

Mindset

Spirituality

  • Praying

  • Going to church (or temple, mosque, whatever your affiliation)

  • Meditating (again)

Creativity

  • Making music

  • Writing

  • Painting

  • Drawing

  • Blogging

  • Cooking

Other

  • Traveling

  • Participating in activism

  • Snuggle time with a pet

  • Taking a social media hiatus

  • Whatever you consider fun!

My spirit is flying high on this one! Hiking, sunshine, nature, travel, all with my favorite person- doesn’t get much better than that! <3

My spirit is flying high on this one! Hiking, sunshine, nature, travel, all with my favorite person- doesn’t get much better than that! <3

The 3 Ss are the perfect trifecta to maximize your glow up for the big day. Which one are you going to begin to focus on first? Leave me a note in the comments or on Instagram or FB!

Happy glowing!

-AHS


*It’s okay to feel any emotion during this time, but I’m assuming you want to feel your best, thus I want to help you get there! Have a read of this post if you are feeling less than stellar mentally during your engagement.

FREEBIE Alert! I'm giving away one of my favorite coaching tools for free!

free food and wellness tracker health coaching experience

A lot of times when I tell people I’m a health coach, they don’t know what exactly it is what I do. They say, “Like a nutritionist?” or “so you’re a personal trainer.” I respond, “Kinda!”

Yes, I focus on foundational nutrition and activity but there is a large part of the title that people seem to miss– “coach”.

When I work with clients one on one, I coach them, first and foremost. Some of my job is sharing resources and education, but really it is about YOUR life and meeting you where you’re at. Everyone is different and each person has their own challenges in meeting their health goals. Coaching is a personalized tailored experience to you- so we base it around where you are at in your life right now.

The first thing I do when coaching clients is I have them fill out one week of this food and wellness tracker–100% accurately and judgement free. That means writing down every single thing you put in your mouth. It is an incredible tool. After one week of using it - it becomes super clear to me, and to most of my clients, where they need to clean up their routine. You would be surprised how many people walk into it thinking they know the positive and negatives of their routines, but a week later have completely different findings. If you are just getting started on your health journey this is the perfect place to start. Good news for you: if you sign up to be on my email newsletter- I’m giving it to you for free!!

how to use the journal:

I fold up the journal and tuck it in my planner (which comes everywhere with me!). The key is to keep it on you- whatever is convenient for you. If you prefer to be paperless, it’s an interactive pdf- so you can type in each box.

After you eat or drink anything, write it down. It’s important to also document your water intake (it’s programed for your standard 8 glasses a day), work outs and self care too. There is a box dedicated to gratitude- and I like to set a gratitude mantra for the week, such as, “I am grateful that my body supports me in all that I do.”

When you do this exercise for the first time, don’t let the fact that you have to write it down deter you from your current habits. It just skews your data. For example, a coworker has Starbursts on their desk to share. You normally would grab one, but the thought of writing down one Starburst is just annoying so you choose not to have it. That’s a missed opportunity to see how often this happens throughout your day and week!

At the end of the week, go through the journal, day by day, and see what stands out to you. Are you having a lot of carbs at lunch? Are there more snacks than you realized? Do you not do any self care? Were you nowhere close to hitting 8 glasses of water a day? Are you skipping breakfast?

Pick one thing to focus on during the next week and set a goal for yourself. Bonus points if you tell someone else the goal so you have an accountability buddy! If you hit the goal, see if you can do it again the next week, and maybe add one more item to your goals for the week. See how quickly you begin to reform your habits!

You can continue to use the tracker as you make progress towards your goals, but try not to get too reliant on tracking. It isn’t sustainable forever, and sometimes can lead to obsessive behavior.


Are you going to try the wellness planner out? Have questions? Want to tell me your new goals? Slide into my DMs on the gram or shoot me an email alexandra@shedforthewed.com. XX -AHS

Should you switch to natural deodorant before your wedding? A breakdown of transitioning to natural deodorant

Natural deodorant has been around for years, but I've noticed a huge uptick recently in people ready to make the shift! It has been on my mind for a while, and for a while I mean about 13 years. My step-mom is a breast cancer survivor and since she went through the experience, natural deodorant has been on my to-do list (continue reading for the "why").  But when is the right time to make the switch? Would it be okay to do before your wedding? This post walks you through my experience switching to natural deodorant and my recommendation for when to make the switch.

Why to switch

I'm not a super smelly or sweaty person.... or so I thought. I had been using a regular solid antiperspirant stick for years. It worked very well, but, the main active ingredient was aluminum

Why do regular antiperspirants use aluminum? It blocks the sweat glands, preventing sweat from coming out. [Sweat itself doesn't smell, but when it interacts with bacteria on the body, it can create an odor. This is why depending on who you are- you may be more or less smelly. Different types of bacteria thrive on different skin types. This is also why good hygiene is key. Shower, people!] But what is the issue with aluminum? From Cancer.org: 

"Some research suggests that aluminum-containing underarm antiperspirants, which are applied frequently and left on the skin near the breast, may be absorbed by the skin and have estrogen-like (hormonal) effects.
Because estrogen can promote the growth of breast cancer cells, some scientists have suggested that the aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants may contribute to the development of breast cancer. In addition, it has been suggested that aluminum may have direct activity in breast tissue." 

That being said, it is important to note that no studies have confirmed that aluminum could increase breast cancer risks. Another doozy that has been associated with aluminum products - Alzheimers! Again, there has been no scientific evidence proving there is any link. However, the way I see it is science is fickle, studies are often flawed (anyone who has ever paid attention to nutrition studies are super aware of this!), and there is always new data emerging. I would rather be safe than sorry! Thus the search for the perfect natural deodorant commenced. 


My experience 

First, let's talk about the fact that everyone is different, and my experience may be different than yours. But, switching to natural deodorant has been a bit of a struggle for me. 

So far I have tried 3 different varieties of natural deodorant. And the key operating word is deodorant - not to be confused with antiperspirant. As stated above, antiperspirants block the sweat from coming out, deodorant just masks the smell. And that is a big change to get used to.

Option 1: Life Stinks

life stinks natural deodorant what to expect when you transition to natural deodorant

The first has been in my beauty bag for years. It's called Life Stinks by the Duggan Sisters. They are a small, local (yay!), Chicago business. It comes in a powder that smells like lavender or cedar. You can also purchase a "Stink Stick" that you put on first if you are a heavy sweater. I tried it for awhile years ago, but couldn't make the commitment. Mostly, I felt like I sweat much more compared to my normal antiperspirant (which isn't a knock on them, just the nature of the beast). I gave it a shot again recently when I started testing out natural deodorants.  At the end of the day, I'm just not into the powder, but it is purely personal preference. I throw it in my gym bag and will put it on post sweat to help absorb the moisture, but not for daily use. I like the feeling of putting on a stick. It is closer to my original routine and is an easier transition. Ingredients: aluminum free sodium bicarbonate, tea tree oil and lavender or cedarwood oil

Option 2: Dear Me

Dear Me Organic Deodorant

The second try was Dear Me Natural Organic Deodorant. I found them on Instagram and I decided to give it a shot. As of right now they have one scent blend called, "Make My Day". It smells great. This was really my first hardcore attempt at switching. I started with it at the beginning of March. It worked beautifully for the first month. I wasn't particularly sweaty or smelly! Success! Then at the end of April I brought it with me on my trip to South Africa. Let's just say my body had not transitioned to a warmer climate and neither did the deodorant. I was stinky. And it was a challenge. I returned home from the trip to warmer weather in Chicago, and the problem persisted. I was showering twice a day just to keep the pits stink-free. That being said, it definitely could've been the "detox" time period I had read about- when your body is expelling toxins and smelliness is increased for a while. I did also get some mild irritation and redness when I first switched, too. It went away though. BUT–I used it the entire time I was in yoga teacher training–and I felt like it held its own! 

Another random consideration, the first ingredient in Dear Me is coconut oil, which means at warmer temperatures it will melt. You can store in the fridge and get a refreshing cool feeling when you apply in the morning, but don't leave it in your beach bag. I really did like this deodorant a lot and it lasted me for about 4 months. I would definitely consider bringing it back for the colder months. Ingredients: Coconut Oil, Beeswax, High Quality Baking Soda, Arrow Root Powder, Peppermint Essential Oil, Palmarosa Essential Oil, Tea Tree Essential Oil

Option 3: Native

native natural deodorant switching to natural deodorant
Native natural deodorant ingredients aluminum free paraben free

For the last month I have been using Native deodorant. It is another stick blend. There are actually quite a few scents available- I opted for the seasonal blend, Rosé (duh). I also purchased a little mini of their bestseller, coconut & vanilla. It's a bit harder (doesn't use as much every application) than Dear Me, so I think it will last awhile. So far I really have liked it.  There are quite a few more ingredients in it- but it really works very well. I still am a lil' stinkier at the end of the day, so I reapply (and really scent is truly gone- it doesn't feel like I'm covering it up with perfume or something) or I shower before bed. Honestly, this is the first time I feel like life is business as usual since I switched to natural deodorant this winter. What I found super interesting is that they have a probiotic in their ingredients - L. acidophilus! I'm curious to know if by adding that bacteria it changes the dynamic of the smell. If any of you know the answer, please share! <3 Bonus- if you decide to try Native and use this link we both get a free mini-deodorant. Yes, pls! Ingredients: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Arrowroot Powder, Stearyl Alcohol, Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda), Shea Fruit Butter, Coconut Oil, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Polyglycerol-3 Beeswax, Jojoba Esters, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), L. acidophilus, Dextrose, Glyceryl Caprylate, Glyceryl Undecylenate, Fragrance

The Outcome

My conclusion - there isn't a simple answer. The effectiveness appears to go up with the number of ingredients in the deodorant, but I would prefer a simpler blend. As of right now I am happy with Native, but I haven't ruled out trying the others again, or trying new blends. It's interesting because we all have different bacteria that thrives on our skin- so there is not one answer that works best for everyone! I would recommend trying out any of the options above to see how they work for you. I feel like I've finally become comfortable with using natural deodorant- my next mission is to get my husband to try it too! 


What to expect when you switch from a normal antiperspirant to a natural deodorant

Helpful tips for switching from Native!&nbsp;

Helpful tips for switching from Native! 

  1. It's not business as usual. Things will feel different under there. It takes time to get used to an increased level of perspiration. 
  2. You may be stinkier for a period of time while you detoxify- or not. Some recommend doing an armpit detox mask. I didn't try, but perhaps would help eliminate the toxin stink period. 
  3. Some natural deodorants may stain your clothes. I didn't notice this more so than my previous anti-perspirant, but it's good to be aware of. 
  4. Shave your pits the night before to prevent irritation. 
  5. Reapplying is your friend. 

 


The Verdict?

So when is the right time to switch to natural deodorant? I don't believe there ever really is going to be a good time, but I would wait until after your wedding! Maybe even wait until you get home from the honeymoon. If you are ready to take the plunge, I would start at least 6 months before wedding. I think there are too many X factors. Pit stains on a white dress? Worrying about lifting your arms when dancing on your big day? Detox stink kicking in on your honeymoon? I would stick to what has worked for you in the past. Don't change anything up unless its not working! After the wedding passes you have your whole life to test out what works for you and your bod!


Have you tried natural deodorant? Did you make the switch before the wedding? Any brand recommendations to try? I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave me a note here or on Insta/FB. - AHS

Gut Health 300

At long last, the practical final installment of the gut health series! This post is to help provide practical tips to increase probiotics and prebiotics in ya life to increase your gut/ overall health! Before you get started you may want to recap the previous posts in the Gut Health series. 

 

Probiotics

Here are some of the easiest ways to add healthy bacteria into your gut! 

  1. The easiest way to get more probiotics in your life is to take a probiotic supplement. For more info on how to pick the right one - read Gut Health 200. However, they are expensive, and if your gut is already in good shape, it may not be necessary to continue long term. I always advocate to try to get the bulk of your nutrients from whole foods, and here is no different. 
  2. Lean in and switch to the 'booch instead of soda. Kombucha - you've probably heard of this bubbly, magical drink. It is actually fermented tea, and is an awesome way to get more good bacteria in your life. Make sure you find brands that keep the sugar to no more than 4gs per serving. Bonus, if you are hooked on soda- it is a great substitute!
  3. Add more fermented foods into your life! Fermented foods such as kimchi (the national food of Korea! A spicy pickled cabbage dish) or sauerkraut (European origin pickled cabbage dish) are #shedapproved and are loaded with the good stuff. This is particularly good in the winter when fresh produce is less available (or historically was less available! That is how people would stay healthy all year round!). While Kimchi is not available everywhere, you can opt to go to a Korean mart and they are typically sold there. Many grocery stores sell sauerkraut. If those aren't in your neighborhood you can always make it yourself (Links: How to make easy kimchi at homeHow to make sauerkraut in a mason jar).  
  4. Greek yogurt (or Siggi's Icelandic style) and kefir are Month 1 #shedapproved and a great source of good bacteria. You know that watery stuff that sits on the top of yogurt? Don't pour it out or avoid it- that's where the healthy bacteria live! Be sure to mix it in fully! My one warning here is to avoid added sugar in your yogurt/kefir. Better to get the plain, full fat versions and add your own berries and honey! 
  5. Beer and Wine! Whaaaaat? Alcohol? Yep. The catch? Commercial beer is rigorously filtered and won't have the health benefits. Just another reason to try home brew! Also, don't overdo it. It negates the health benefits! Stick to one beer or glass of wine at a time (2 tops!) to maximize the benefits and prevent weight gain!  

prebiotics 

Prebiotics keep the good gut bacteria happy and healthy! Because they need food too! The key to making gut bacteria happy? FIBER!!

  1. Freeze pre-ripe (lightly green still) bananas to add to your smoothies. You don't notice the flavor/texture difference as much as if you just ate them outright. Bonus - there is less sugar in these nanners so they are better on the waistline!
  2. Raw dandelion greens salad with raw asparagus (see recipe below!). Refreshing, light, crunchy, and yummy!
  3. Jicama chips (I mean fries. I swear I don't know where these Britishism are coming from)! So refreshing in the heat of summer. Check out the recipe below! 
  4. GG crisps/crackers. Month 1 Shed approved and LOADED UP with fiber. Be sure to look for the ones with psyllium husks (pumpkin and sunflower seed versions have this) on the ingredients list for gut friendly bonus!
  5. Any other fruits and veggies you like. The key here is the fiber, so leave the skins on (where you can - ie cucumbers, apples, etc) and eat up all the pulp you can! 

Here is a list of some of the top prebiotic foods not included above: 

  • Raw chicory root - the top source, with almost 60% fiber
  • Raw Jerusalem artichoke 
  • Raw garlic
  • Raw leeks
  • Raw onions 
  • Cooked onions
  • Whole wheat 
  • Legumes

This is by no means an exhaustive list, it's more of a prompting to get some new healthy eats in your routine! I hope you found the Gut Health series educational and beneficial. What are you going to do to add more gut friendly foods into your routine? Leave me a comment here or on Instagram! - AHS


Mexican style raw Jicama fries 

jicama fries chips mexican style tajin gut health prebiotics

Ingredients

  • 1 jicama
  • Extra virgin olive oil (start with a tbsp, add as necessary)
  • Tajin* or other chili lime seasoning blend to taste

Instructions

Peel jicama with a vegetable peeler. Cut into "fry" shape. I made mine a bit thicker. Coat lightly with olive oil and Tajin. Eat immediately for a filling snack and/or appy!

*Tajin is a Mexican spice blend that is amazing on fruit- it's incredible on watermelon too! You can order off amazon or get it at your local Mexican store if there is one close to you! You can also make this gringo style with paprika, onion powder, and chili powder.  


Dandelion Greens Salad

(adapted from the SHED program) (serves 1) 

This salad is an amazing summer detox salad and gut health booster! 

Ingredients

  • 1⁄2 apple, chopped (skin on!)
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 2 cups dandelion greens
  • 3 spears of raw asparagus, chopped into 4 bites pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1⁄2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sprinkle of parmesan (optional)

Instructions

Mix ingredients in a bowl and enjoy a crunchy gut healthy lunch!