Wellness

THE SUNSHINE VITAMIN

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Did you know that 40-60% of the US population is deficient in the beneficial (and crucial) vitamin D, otherwise known as “The Sunshine Vitamin”?

This is especially true for those living in a northern region and because it is extremely rare in foods, it's nearly impossible to get all of our needs from food alone.

What is it and why are we deficient?

Simply put, Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is produced by the body in response to sunlight exposure on the skin. However, in order for our bodies to convert the cholesterol in our skin to Vitamin D, we need UVB exposure, which is typically what we are trying to avoid when we lather ourselves up with sunscreen.

When we apply an SPF of 8+ or higher, the amount of Vitamin D that can be made by the body decreases by about 95%, which is great for skin cancer prevention, but not for your Vitamin D requirements – or your overall health and well being. If you think you’re getting your daily dose when sitting in a sunny window at work or driving down the highway, think again. Window glass blocks essentially all UVB rays preventing the skin’s absorption.

Do you have darker skin AND live in a northern region (think: north of an imaginary border from Northern California to Boston)? You have higher levels of melanin in your skin which makes your skin better at screening out most of the already limited sunlight you’re exposed to for those 4-6 months out of the year.

And if getting older wasn't enough already, as we age, our body’s ability to produce Vitamin D is reduced by 75%. 

If you're a plant-based eater, have malabsorption issues, or have Crohn’s or Celiac disease, you’re at higher risk for deficiency as well.

Pregnant or trying to conceive? It's highly recommended you take additional supplementation to support both you and your baby during this time. Most prenatal vitamins contain 400 IU and studies have shown taking an additional 4,000 IU daily had the greatest benefit for preventing pre-term labor and infections.

Low levels in the body are associated with:

  • Increased risk of cancers
  • Development of diabetes
  • Decreased immunity
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Neurological disorders
  • Increased symptoms of anxiety and depression

The take-away? We all need Vitamin D supplementation!

Food vs. Sun vs. Supplements

Vitamin D is extremely rare in foods and the likelihood that you’re getting in enough daily from food alone is pretty low. Some good sources include fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, fish liver oils such as cod liver oil, mushrooms, whole raw milk products, and eggs so begin making an effort to eat more Vitamin D-rich foods.

Additionally, attempt to get at least 15 minutes of sun exposure (without sunscreen), 2-3 times per week.

However, the easiest way to ensure adequate amounts in our system is through simple supplementation and it's one of top recommendations for everyone. 

How much do you need?

The official recommendation for supplementation is only 400 IU but this is purely to prevent deficiency, not for optimal health. The recommended intake to maintain OPTIMAL and HEALTHY levels in the body (which is what we strive for, right?) is approximately 4,000 IU (from sun, food, and supplementation). That's a big difference! And if you’ve been deficient recently and are trying to regulate your stores, you might require up to 5,000/day for 6-12 weeks afterwards.

My go to D supplement is Thorne liquid D. It has 1,000 IU in 2 drops so you can adjust for your own personal requirements. 

Example:

  • Pregnant or trying to conceive and taking a prenatal that has 400 IU, add an additional 6 drops (3,000 IU) of Liquid D
  • Northern regions and darker skin: Take 4,000-5000 IU in winter months and 2,000 IU in sunny months
  • Aging population 5,000 IU

*I recommend discussing your personal vitamin D status and supplementation needs with your physician, nutritionist, or dietitian before considering a vitamin D supplement. 

And in regards to sun exposure, I am not recommending you avoid sunscreen, but balance your exposure with/without protection so you absorb your D needs while still preventing your risk of developing skin cancer.

If you're unsure of your personal needs, feel free to reach out!

Happy sunning!

I WANT TO GIVE YOU MORE

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Here we are in the second week of 2018. While most people take the holidays to reflect on the past year and put their intentions and resolutions out there on January 1st, I needed some extra time this year. Time to really think about what you want from me, how I can help you, what's been holding me back from giving it to you, and how to actually make it all happen moving forward. So if you want to get right to it, scroll down to THE TAKEAWAY. Or if you want to read the brief emo/reflective side of Kirsten, read on.

REFLECTION:

On a personal note, this past year did not pass by without challenge, questioning moments, or deep heartache, but it was also filled with SO much gratitude, excitement, growth, love, adventure, and motivation. All of you, and the experiences, conversations, frustrations, opportunities, hurdles, and moments in between the moments that have filled the last 12 months have been nothing short of strengthening and heart opening.

On a professional note, I have to admit, when I left Los Angeles 3 years ago, I had this underlying feeling that maybe leaving wasn't the best choice for my career, but thank you, Seattle, you proved me wrong in 2017. 

Now for 2018, I want to give you more.

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MY REQUEST FOR YOU:

As you look back on 2017, I challenge you to reflect on the things you’re proud of, the moments you felt powerful and strong in your body and your mind, and also those moments that have taken you to your knees and made you vulnerably human. Because being human and striking a balance is what it’s all about.

Life is going to happen. And along with all of life's greatest moments, you're going to have the not-so-great ones that throw you off track, or maybe even prevent you from getting on track in the first place. You'll get sick, your kids will get sick, burnout will happen, you won't have enough time, you'll will eat that cake that you think you shouldn't eat (but I want to tell you why you should) and you're sometimes going to feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.

So the question is, moving forward, how do you work around and through "real life" and stay on track with your health?

THE TAKEAWAY:

Here's what I'm getting at. I chose this path years ago for the same reasons I have today. I want to help you, support you and guide you so you don't feel alone on this journey of figuring out what works for you and what will help you accomplish your goals amidst the chaos. I want to help you figure out where to start, how to continue, and help you live a healthy and balanced life. 

And that means more from me in new ways.

My priority for 2018 is to help you feel even more in control of your health and body, optimize what you're doing, help you understand the how and why so those adjustments you're making stick, and simplify it all. 

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I want you feel you have a resource to the thousands of opinions out there on health and wellness. Because let's face it, there are more than thousands, there are a bagillion, and it can be really effing confusing!

As most of you know, RWF isn’t focused on any one particular style of fitness, nutrition or lifestyle. It’s not about gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, whole30, keto, crossfit, HIIT training, yoga, or any other wellness trend (but those all have their place and they all work for different reasons and different goals).

RWF is about taking you, and where you're at, along with your health history, personal struggles, experience, and the real life that surrounds you daily, and building a solution that works for YOUR body, and YOUR life, right now.

WHAT I NEED FROM YOU:

SO, in 2018, What can I do to help you be your best this year? 

I want to help you through better services, tools, more communication, less communication, whatever your schedule and heart desire. So tell me what you need and want from me.

Here’s to good health, happiness and being more human in 2018,

xx Kirsten

Holidays - Should You Workout or Take a Break?

Holidays - Should You Workout or Take a Break?

Traveling for the holidays?? Hotel room, the in-laws, friendsgiving airbnb...the holidays don't have to mean your fitness takes a down turn!

Pack shorts and a tee (or those black leggings you know you’re going to wear anyway), and sneak in a quick 20-minute bodyweight workout. It can make a huge difference in your energy and prevent that dreaded feeling you know you're going to have when everything just…feels...so...hard...in your workout next week.

That “use it or lose it” principle you hear about, is actually a thing (sigh). It’s known as “disuse atrophy” and can happen in as little as 72 hours. BUT, that doesn’t mean all progress is lost when taking a week off. The more fit the muscle (and therefore, you), the slower the atrophy.

So, if you’re someone who exercises vigorously 5-7 days a week, you might actually benefit from giving your body a chance to recover, so listen to it and embrace it! Maybe you just pack along a travel foam roller for some muscle regeneration.

But if you've just started out on your fitness journey, keep it up and make sure to get at least one day in while you're traveling to maintain progress, slow down atrophy, and stay consistent with those healthy habits you’re building. And I promise you'll feel a million times better knowing you fit a workout in before noshing on all the delicious holiday treats.

Soup for the Soul and all the Healing that goes with it...

Running With Forks Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

It's that time of year. Everyone at the office is running around with a runny nose, coughing and sneezing and you've got someone with a Man Cold at home (the man cold is REAL people. and if you're a woman reading this, you can sympathize. and if you're a man, be honest, you know it's true)

I have a few staple tricks in my back pocket that work like a charm, every time.

If you, or anyone in your life is feeling achy, sluggish, drained and like you're about to fight something you don't want, or need your man to NOT catch the Man Cold, apply these 4 things and I'm certain you've got one up on whatever's coming your way.

First things first...there is a magical tincture that I keep close at all times. Dose up on this potent tincture COLD AND SINUS BLASTER by Vitality Works (*not sponsored). Even if it's not a cold OR in your sinuses, the primary ingredients are exactly what your system needs to battle the demons. I've tried other brands and other tinctures and this is the only one that has proven to work without fail, every time. Instructions will tell you to add to 8oz of water, skip that, take a full dropper-full straight and follow with a few sips of water if needed. Potent magic. Take 2-3 times a day for 2 days.

Second, make a little concoction of 5 drops of Oregano Oil (or whatever the dosage is for a brand you like) and a dose of an Echinacea Goldenseal tincture in 4 oz of water and take it down. Take once daily for 2-3 days.

Third, give yourself some delicious love with 1-2 Tbsp of raw Manuka Honey a day. Unlike any other honey, the nutritional benefits of Manuka are 4x that of regular flower honey giving it a UMF (unique manuka factor - a global standard in identifying and measuring the antibacterial strength). Make sure the manuka honey is labeled with the standard UMF rating of 16+ or greater for the medicinal benefits. Take it straight by the spoonful, but if that's too sweet for you, add to your warm tea.

And lastly, make this delicious soup or any variation of the basic recipe below. Use whatever root vegetables you have on hand, swap the orzo for pasta or rice, add extra greens, and slurp away.

Just what the doctor ordered ..

And perhaps you're just in need of cozying up with something warm, hearty and inviting. Let's face it, we all need to feel swaddled at times and this comforting soup does just that. 

Chicken and Lemon Orzo Soup

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 parsnips, chopped
  • 4 c chicken broth and 2 c water
  • 1 c orzo
  • 1 small parmesan rind
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 a rotisserie chicken, separated into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 c chopped kale
  • 1 c chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat olive oil in large dutch oven or soup pot. Add onion and a pinch of salt and saute until translucent. Add carrots, parsnips and celery and saute until fork tender.
  2. Add chicken broth and water and bring to a boil. Add orzo and parmesan rind and cook until orzo is al dente.
  3. Add chicken, kale, lemon juice and zest, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

STAY WARM, STAY HEALTHY PEOPLE.

The Power of Posture

Running With Forks Yoga and Posture

The most underrated, yet influential, aspect of our health and wellness is our POSTURE.

We all know the mind and body are connected, but it is far more incredible and powerful than we give credit. Not only does posture affect our physical health and function but very importantly, posture affects our mental health and vice versa – think confidence, happiness and the ability to handle emotional and stressful situations. 

Two things to think about: How posture affects our mental state, and how posture affects our physical health and ability to move.

Consider what your posture looks like when you are feeling sad, blue or insecure in a situation. Our body pulls inward towards a fetal, self-protective positioning. Think about your posture during your daily activities – maybe you're sitting here reading this while hunched over your blue-lit screen of choice, slouching with rounded shoulders and a forward head carry, at your desk, in your car or on your phone .. these positions can negatively impact your happiness, your ability to deal with stressful situations, AND how you move and function. 

When we sit or stand with this poor posture, physically, we are compromising our ability to breathe deeply and fully, move properly, and ultimately down the road will lead to micro-trauma, muscular imbalances and injury such as neck, shoulder and lower back pain. Having a strong skeletal and muscular alignment allows the body to function at its best – efficiently, effectively and safely – minimizing the risk of injury and again, vice versa, improving your emotional state. 

Consider what your posture looks like when you are happy, excited and confident in a situation. Shoulders back, chest open, head up, core engaged and feet firmly planted on the ground. When we stand with a powerful posture – even when we don't feel so confident and powerful, there is a positive chemical shift in the brain which will ultimately shift our mood. AND, you guessed it, we can move safely and efficiently.

Through awareness and small adjustments to your routine, you have the power to change your energy and mood as well as your physical appearance, how people perceive you and your resilience to stress, injury and trauma.

For the sake of your physical and mental health, let's get in line. Exercises to promote strong posture coming your way.