The Day I Almost Died…And What You Need To Know

I’ve had a lot of questions lately about my lack of posts on social media in the last year and am finally ready to share why…

 

I never wanted kids until I just did.

As a nutritionist, I often hear “well you probably never get sick”. And it’s true, I don’t often get colds or the flu. So while my friends and family sniffle and snot around me, I seem to be able to carry on unaffected. Lucky me, right?

However, I’m certainly not immune to challenges along the way.  Eight months after getting married my husband and I, after years of wavering on the fact, decided we wanted to start our own little family. Easy right?

Totally naïve to anything other than the mission at hand, for many months we casually tried to conceive.  This turned into months of temperature testing and ovulation tests only to end up in the doctor’s office asking “now what?”. I’m a nutritionist – I eat well, I take all the right supplements, I move by body (If I’m being honest I could do better in this department), I skip the fast foods and trans fats. What gives?

Turns out 1 in 6 couples struggle with infertility and unfortunately for me, I fell into this newfound statistic. Being a self starting, A-type entrepreneur, I figured, “ok, lets figure this out ASAP and move on with it”.

Enter Naturopathic Doctors, Osteopaths, Chinese Acupuncturists and then the infertility clinic. If you have gone down this road, you know the unbelievable disruption and stress this brings.

There are many stages of the infertility process. It starts with basic monitoring of your ovulation cycle: this includes internal ultrasounds, blood work, doctors appointments often many times a week.  Then it moves to more intense and medicated cycles to grow more eggs . Add in scheduled intercourse (honestly, not as much fun as you might think), long waits and the never-ending fear of “what if this never happens for me?”.

The pinnacle of our journey arrived about a year after starting infertility treatments when our doctor said that we were in an “unexplained infertility zone” and might want to consider the dreaded IVF (In-vitro Fertilization).  I had been mentally preparing myself …just in case. And here we were, with a very scary decision to make. Could we handle the emotional and physically toll this would take on us (mostly me) and where the heck do we find the money?

Ten days of twice a day injections, unbelievable bloating, discomfort and fatigue. I was willingly pumping myself with hormones to help my body grow an extraordinary number of eggs, as well as another to prevent ovulation. It was a hormonal nightmare and one that I questioned several times. And rightfully so, with only a 50% shot of success, was this all worth it?

The next scary step included surgery. Being a nutritionist, having to take Ativan to manage my fears of being awake for what was described as “ a very painful procedure” and being sedated with a cocktail of drugs was really tough. I strive to be as natural as possible. I take meds as a last resort, I eat clean, use organic body care, don’t use chemicals in my cleaning products, take supplements and essential oils.  This was taking me to the limits of my comfort zone. But I had to believe it was worth it.

The next day, we knew that 9 eggs had been retrieved but only 4 had fertilized. Devastating. Already, we were down over 50% and still had 4 more days of waiting. This was probably the hardest. Waiting for the call each day to tell us how many of our little embryos had survived the night. Each day felt like a week.

On day 5, we got the call. One had made it. There were many emotions. Fear, nerves, excitement, trepidation – everything hinged on this one embryo. Everything we had gone through was resting on this teeny tiny clump of cells. No pressure right?

Cue more waiting, and 2 weeks later the big day arrived. Pregnancy test day! Oh the nerves. It had felt like an eternity to get to this place.  The call came at 3pm. I remember clearly as it was later than I had expected. It was positive! Time stopped, the world slowed for a brief moment, we had made it. All the waiting, crying, pain and money were worth it!

The next few days were a blur. After 2 days of pure bliss, more blood work confirmed my beta levels (pregnancy hormone) were dropping. I should expect to lose the pregnancy I was told. It was a low few days. Everything we worked towards was slipping away and I couldn’t do a damn thing about it.

Now for the part you really need to know about…

Three weeks later, the last day of my summer vacation, the same day I brought home my sweet new puppy Gibson (my consolation prize for all we had been through), I woke up at 2am with the most intense pain I have ever felt. Upon  waking my stomach bloated an almost pregnancy like state. Thinking I was going to be sick or needed to use the washroom, I stumbled to the washroom. I was light headed, dizzy and sweating like crazy and so fearing I’d fall, I went back to bed to wake up my husband, colliding with walls as I went.

It never occurred to me that something was seriously wrong until I got up for clients in the morning and realized the pain was just as intense but now I could hardly walk. I put a call into my fertility clinic thinking that perhaps I had grown a cyst from all the hormones during my IVF cycle and that it was bursting.

A few hours later and loaded up with Tylenol 3, I got the results of my ultrasound and blood work. I was pregnant and it was stuck in my Fallopian tube. I was rushed to the hospital and into surgery where I had my right Fallopian tube removed. Turns out, that miscarriage I had 3 weeks earlier… wasn’t in fact a miscarriage at all. Despite experiencing bleeding (a sign I was told to expect) due to miscarrying, my little embryo had detached itself from my uterus lining and moved to the Fallopian tube where it decided to settle in. The pain I felt, was a 5 week embryo tearing through my Fallopian tube, causing massive internal bleeding. I was later told that I would likely have died that day, had I not gone into the fertility clinic and insisted on help.

Waking up from surgery with 2 liters of blood removed from my body, 3 painful incisions, one less reproductive organ and no baby was probably the lowest day we had. How the heck would I become pregnant now with only 1 tube? It was miserable.

I also received a call the next day from my fertility doctor- she wanted to apologize. I will never forget her words. She told me that the clinic had forgotten to run more blood work with me to ensure my beta levels (pregnancy hormone), post miscarriage where down to zero before I was given the all clear. What this means in reality – had the clinic been doing their job and checked my hormones like they should have, they would have seen my beta levels start to rise after the embryo reattached itself inside my Fallopian tube. Because I was looked over due to their impending 3 week summer vacation, I unfortunately lost not only my tube and almost my life, but now have a 50% less shot at becoming pregnant naturally.

What Is An Ectopic Pregnancy?

This is a serious condition when the embryo attaches itself outside of the uterus and in many cases the Fallopian tube. However, the embryo can also attach itself in other area like the cervix and ovaries.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Symptoms similar to early pregnancy like a missed period, sore breasts and cramping
  • Abdominal/belly pain
  • Vaginal Bleeding
  • Extreme pain and belly bloating
  • Nausea and vomiting due to pain
  • Dizziness and or weakness
  • Intense urge to have a bowel movement
  • Pain on one side of your body
  • Shoulder, neck or rectum pain

Note: This is a medical emergency and 911 should be notified should you experience any of the following:

  • Pain in your rectum or an intense urge to have a bowel movement could mean you’re bleeding internally.
  • Pain in your shoulder could also be an emergency. While it might not sound pregnancy-related, if one of your Fallopian tubes bursts, blood can pool near your diaphragm and irritate nerves that run to your shoulder.
  • If your pain is severe, sharp, and sudden, or if you feel lightheaded or dizzy, or if you’ve fainted, call 911 immediately. These are all signs you could be going into shock.

(https://www.webmd.com/baby/ectopic-pregnancy-symptoms)

What I Learned

  • Ask lots of questions and be informed: Never once during the whole process was I informed about ectopic pregnancy and what to look out for. I was never told that infertility and IVF are risk factors for having an ectopic pregnancy. Know the risks, don’t trust that you are being given all the information
  • Advocate for yourself. If your gut tells you something is wrong, listen. You are probably right.

Update

I’ve heard it said from friends, that a dog (or any pet you have an emotional attachment to) is good for the soul. Gibson helped me to heal from this traumatic series of events in ways I will probably never fully understand.

5 weeks after surgery, my husband and I received the best news! We were/are expecting. I write this to you 17 weeks pregnant and very much looking forward to meeting our little miracle baby girl.

Out of all the bad, came good and wonderful things. I write this in hope that this story can not only shed some light on what likely multiple people in your life are going through on some level or another, but also to educate and make you aware of this serious condition and what you can do to save the life of yourself or someone that you love.

yours in health,

Michelle xo

 

Visit Strong’s profile on Pinterest.

For questions, feel free to contact us here!

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YOU Matter: Free Food Therapy Session with Your Gut Guru Nutritionist

“YOU Matter: Free Food Therapy Session with Your Gut Guru Nutritionist” by Strong Nutrition

Our pace of “life” here in Canada seems to have increased yet our health seems to be suffering. We all want to be and do better but sometimes we can’t figure out how to make that happen. Taking care of ourselves seems to be on the long list of to do’s. It always comes after the kids soccer, family commitments, household chores, birthday celebrations or work.

When do YOU really matter? What is the moment that you will say I do need to take care of myself? All over the world this month including Canada, leaders will celebrate International Self-Care Day and make mention of the importance of healthy living and eating as part of the agenda.

We all have heard the saying “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ― Hippocrates but what does that really mean for you? When do YOU matter and how can food help?

3 FREE FOOD THERAPY SESSIONS WITH YOUR GUT GURU

#1 STOP LOOKING AT FOOD AS THE ENEMY. START THINKING OF FOOD AS ENERGY.

Foodie’s are everywhere. But maybe you don’t consider yourself one and truthfully have no desire. Super fine of course!  But food is one of the most basic essentials of life. So rather than dreading the kitchen cupboard if we switch the mindset and chatter to wow look at what is fresh in my fridge or in my cupboard we can learn to love food. Food is energy and food is our natural medicine. Therapy for our soul and our body. When we look at what goes in our bodies as super important to self-care we learn to appreciate every last healthy bite.

#2 MAKE FOOD SUCCESS A CHOICE.

Man, another meal to plan and another trip to the grocery store. When does it end? Shop once, eat twice. That is the only way it works for me. I always plan my meals and write out my grocery list on the weekends. When I do plan I always make a little extra chicken or quinoa salad. Not everyone loves leftovers but let’s just call it re-“presented” chicken so it shows up in a stir fry the next day or a pasta. It really can be that simple but please do not overthink. Simplicity is key here! Visit your local farmers markets as early as May to make the shopping trip an excursion to not only get what is in season, but from the hands of local farmers that love what they do!

#3 CELEBRATE YOUR FOOD.

I love to travel. And I love food. So when you combine the two you end of with a “World Food Tour” right out of your own kitchen with a little creativity and lots of adventurous spirit. Ever notice that the Europeans are known for their long drawn out meals. They consider food as their time to relax and celebrate. Slow down and appreciate where the food came from and eat in season. They got this down!

Food made with love, nourishes our bodies with love. Simplicity is again essential. Cool tip that I love to share is the combination of food and travel right here at home. More deets to follow next month! Check out this veggie recipe to escape to Africa for a little Moroccan flair. Maybe even add a beautiful rug and low lights to set the mood for a Marrakesh filled exotic night with your family!

Send me your thoughts on how food is your “healthy “medicine and what self-care means to you. We would love to feature your ideas on the next blog and share with our Strong community!

Check out Strong Pinterest Board for more amazing recipes 

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Fibre-riffic Banana Bean Chia Muffins

Fibre-riffic Banana Bean Chia Muffins

“Fibre-riffic Banana Bean Chia Muffins” by Strong Nutrition

If you are one of those people who love cookie dough, then you absolutely need these Fibre-riffic Banana Bean Chia Muffins in your life! They are super chewy and have the same texture as raw dough. Yum right?! These babies are also uber kid friendly, easy to make and freeze like a dream; make ahead for outings or a late night sweet craving.

Recently, I went in for day surgery and knew I would be in bed for the rest of the day recovering. I wanted to make sure I had something satisfying in my belly…salad and chicken just wasn’t going to cut it that day. Plus, knowing that my surgery would include medications, I wanted to ensure I was consuming plenty of fibre to ensure that the pipes were working in tip-top form in order to be able to draw these toxins out of my body as soon as possible.

Fibre acts like a scrub brush on the intestinal system, allowing waste to more easily move through and out of the system. Fibre plays an intricate part of keeping toxins, cholesterol, weight, blood sugar, hormones, cravings (and so much more) in check.

There are two types of fibre- insoluble and soluble.

Insoluble: does not dissolve in water, meaning it does not get broken down as it passes through the digestive tract, Examples of these foods are nuts and seeds (chia) and cereals (not captain crunch).

Soluble Fibre: This fibre does dissolve in the GI system and is great for those suffering from constipation. Examples are fruits and root vegetables.

What Else?

While rocking it out in the fibre category, these beauties are also protein and (healthy) fat rich. Why should you care? I’ve said it before and will say it again- proteins and fats help to keep us feeling full and satisfied which helps to prevent unnecessary snacking later on. If you struggle with your weight, than the best foods you can reach for are proteins (eggs, hemp seeds, organic chicken, turkey and plain Greek yogurt) and fats (chia, coconut, olives, avocado, flax seeds, nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds).

Ingredients for Fibre-riffic Banana Bean Chia Muffins

1 cup white kidney beans

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut (plus 2tbsp extra for topping on muffins)

1tbps chia seeds

1 over-ripe banana

Slightly less than 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/8 cup tahini

1/8 cup any other nut butter of your choice

2.5 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

Directions

Makes 8-9 muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine all ingredients into a high powered blender or food processor

Place paper muffin cups into a muffin tray

With a large spoon, fill each muffin cup 3/4 up and top with a few flakes of unsweetened coconut

Place in the oven for 17-20 minutes (if you like your muffins slightly under done, aim for 16-17 minutes)

Once cooked, place on a cooling rack and enjoy!

 

Visit Strong’s profile on Pinterest.

We hope you enjoyed our Fibre-riffic Banana Bean Chia Muffins

For questions, feel free to contact us here!

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Bloat, Burp and Burden: Nutritionist Shares How to Fix

“Bloat, Burp and Burden: Nutritionist Shares How to Fix” By Strong Nutrition

We all have those friends that apologize after a meal or a drink when their body reacts with a loud digestive embarrassing response! Ekk! The fact of the matter is, many people suffer from the challenge and burden of an ongoing digestive distress. Digestive upset and gut issues plague millions of people annually –  you are not alone!

Have a look and share with me if you relate to any of our friends below!

5 Friends that Suffer from Bloat, Burp and Burden: Nutritionist Shares How to Fix

 

1. Bloated Belching Barb

It is NOT normal to belch constantly if our bodies are in perfect working order. This is a sign that we are eating too quickly, combining the wrong foods together, drinking with our meals or eating too many simple carbohydrates. As an expert nutritionist specializing in gut health, I hear about these digestive woes everyday. So what can be done? Be mindful of what you are combining together. Some macronutrients digest quicker (carbs) in our stomachs than others (protein), causing food to ferment and cause inflammation. Eating a piece of fruit after having a big steak can cause the fruit to sit and ferment while it waits for the protein in the steak to break down!

 

2. Constipated Carlie

POOP,  a conversation I happily have with each and every single client. Why? Well I firmly believe that our poop tells us a lot about the health of our GI system.  Hard, painful stood? No urge? Food in your stool? It all tells us a story. So what should Carlie do?  Start with keeping a food diary. Simple, yes. Helpful and super critical, definitely. Let’s work together to see what foods you are eating and what is causing your gut health to be out of balance. This is a great start. Constipation can be caused by a number of challenges. Yes, water is critical but so is understanding food intolerances. Watch out for common offenders like sugar, simple carbs like bread and pasta, dairy, soy and gluten.

3. Recurring Reflux Ralph

Heartburn is not fun and Ralph struggles daily with this. He has been prescribed medications to manage the pain and eats Tums like candy. Nothing seems to help. Let’s find out why the reflux is happening rather than bandaid and just stop the pain. Very often reflux can occur not because you have too much acid, but actually just the opposite! Not enough acid could also be the cause. Crazy right?! When we stop the production of acid we can cause even more issues. Couple of things Ralph can do to manage his reflux. Take 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar before his meals to stimulate acid production and help digest food. If he is having symptoms, sleeping with his pillow slightly elevated can help ease this uncomfortable feeling. Lastly, understanding what foods are causing the inflammation and reflux is key. Consider simple carbs like alcohol, breads and pasta, red meat and super spicy foods as possible irritants. This is a common complaint in my clinic that can be solved! We got your back!

4. Gassy Grim Gail

Gail can clear a room. You know the friend that is completely lady like until she eats certain food combinations. I would share with Gail some simple quick changes to manage her “gas” and undigested foods. No more drinking with meals and chew your food slowly and fully! Yes, Gail you can eliminate or reduce your gas by doing these simple changes. You may have to look at what foods are causing you gas and the food combinations you are eating. Before I knew I had a dairy intolerance I thought it was perfectly normal to create smells and sounds like this. You are not alone Gail but this has to stop!

5.Diarrhea Debilitated Denise

“I can’t join you tonight.” … for Denise means, I am spending the night at the porcelain party for one. Scared to leave the house because the trips to the bathroom can be non-stop after eating certain foods, ugh! So what can she do about it?  Lack of good bacteria to properly absorb and breakdown foods is often the culprit. Consider consuming foods that help populate the gut with lots of good bacteria. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles will help  create harmony in the gut. Want more? well look no further than at the power of probiotics. These are highly concentrated strains of bacteria that will only help to tame Denise’s tummy.

The statistics from the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation confirm that “more than 20 million Canadians suffer from digestive disorders every year.” Those of you who are affected know how devastating this can be on your personal and professional life. However, because few people speak openly about their digestive symptoms, the magnitude of the problem is underestimated by government, employers and the general public.

I see all of your friends in my clinic daily and can shed insight with practical results that can make a difference in their gut health. There is no reason anyone should have to live with debilitating and potentially ongoing health risks with poor gut health. Let them know, there are solutions!

Get a free consult to share your challenges and to be the best you!

In best health,

Michelle xo

Visit me on Pinterest for fabulous and inspirational recipes!

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How to Reduce Toxin Exposure

How To Reduce Toxin Exposure

“How to Reduce Toxin Exposure” by Strong Nutrition

How Toxic Are You?

We are inundated with an innumerable measure of toxins this day in age. Off-gassing from couches, mattresses and carpets, chemicals from dry cleaning, plastics, pesticides and herbicides on our food, the lotions and potions we slather on our bodies daily and not to mention the ridiculous amount of stress we are all under. It’s everywhere.

Why You Should Care

According to Frederica Perera, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University, “Scientists and researchers are concerned that many of these chemicals may be carcinogenic or wreak havoc with our hormones, our body’s regulating system. But the impact of these chemicals may be most severe on the developing brain”. Brain development is the “most complete and most rapid during the first nine months, prenatally”.

The relevancy of this information is huge as this just happens to be Infertility Awareness Week.

Infertility affects 1/6 couples, so learning more about all the causes of this growing issue is of the greatest of importance.

According to the Environmental Working Group

“Of the 287 chemicals we detected in umbilical cord blood, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests”.

How to Reduce Toxin Exposure

Infinity Jars: I am absolutely loving this new product I came across recently. These specialized glass jars provide ultra-violet filtering that keeps products fresh for much longer than plastic or other clear glass containers.

These are perfect for storing spices, herbs, tea, flours and trail mix so they stay fresh longer. Olive oil and other oils can easily go bad, infinity jars help to protect the integrity of these compounds. I also use these jars to store my coconut oil  based body lotion to help preserve its freshness.

Bleach to Boho: Do you find yourself stuffy and sneezing after a good bathroom scrub-down? About 5 years ago I noticed these welcomed symptoms started around the first spritz and after looking into what I was using,  I was shocked at the ingredients  in these cleaning cocktails.

Instead, make the switch to cleaner and greener ingredients that wont compromise your health. Here is one of my favourite cleaning recipes:

1/4 cup white vinegar

1tbsp baking soda

6-7 drops lemon essential oil

In a 6oz glass spray bottle, fill with vinegar and essential oil-add the baking soda last and then fill the rest of the bottle up with water. To use, shake gently and use a cloth to wipe the surface you are cleaning.

Make- Up Break- Up: According to Dr Mercola, the average woman is exposed to 168 different chemicals each day, mostly coming from personal care products. THAT IS INSANE! Think about it, all of those products seep into the skin, travel in and around the body, make their way to the liver in order to be processed and then they need to be ultimately eliminated. Problem is, whether from over burden of too many toxins or from impaired detox ability, our bodies often cannot get rid of everything! So these chemicals stick around and wreak havoc on our endocrine systems causing fertility issues, weight gain, PCOS and other hormonal challenges.

Instead, lets ditch the lotions and potions, blushes and bronzers for cleaner products.

Top 3 Substitutions I Love:

  1. Coconut oil as a body and face moisturizer
  2. Penny Lane Deodorant is made from essential oils, cornstarch and coconut oil
  3. NatraCare tampons instead of the conventional bleached out ones you find in most drug stores

and for a BONUS, if you want to smell sweet all day long, consider your favourite essential oil scent. Mine is anything lavender or citrus…in particular Citrus Bliss by DoTerra. If you want to reap the medicinal benefits of these oils while enjoying toxic free fragrance, let me know and I can show you all the difference uses for your favourite scents!

 

 

Visit Strong’s profile on Pinterest.

We hope you enjoyed our guide on How to Reduce Toxin Exposure

For questions, feel free to contact us here!

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Gut and Mental Health Connection | The Gut Guru Guide

“Gut and Mental Health Connection| The Gut Guru Guide” by Strong Nutrition

Statistics by the Canadian Mental Health Association show that 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. This number is staggering and we as a community need to come together and chat about the Gut and Mental Health Connection.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in Canada and it is time to #getloud about what we can do to help. I know as a Nutritionist, that there is not a day in my clinic that a client does not share that they are stressed, on overload and/or taking medications to help them cope.

So how exactly is it that what we eat or don’t eat directly affects mental health?

Like your brain, the gut has its own nervous system, which sends information to the brain via nerves. This helps explain why you might feel queasy when you’re nervous or stressed. Just as the brain impacts the gut, what we put in our gut can impact the functioning of the brain. A few simple changes to our diet may reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders.

5 Foods to Improve Your Gut and Mental Health Connection:

1. Fish

Since our brains are made up largely of fat and our bodies cannot manufacture essential fatty acids, we have to rely on a diet rich in omega-3s to meet our daily needs or with supplementation.

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild cold water fish (e.g. salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel), seaweed, chicken (flax seed fed) and walnuts are great choices.  Omega-3s can have an effect on the production of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals responsible for our moods) including serotonin. Add these foods at least 2-3x week to your diet and talk to us about supplementation that is best for you to improve your mood.

2. Whole Grains and Complex Carbohydrates

Our brain receives its main source of energy from glucose, which comes from carbohydrates. When we consume simple carbohydrates that create spikes in blood sugar they can add to a low mood. In my clinic, I discuss with my clients the effects of these simple sugars.  The roller coaster of emotions and cravings caused by these spikes in blood sugar lead to poor choices and emotional overload.  By contrast, complex carbs release glucose slowly, helping us feel full longer and providing a steady source of fuel for the brain and body. Healthy sources of complex carbohydrates include quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, oats, wild rice, barley and beans.

3. Lean and Clean Protein

Next to carbohydrates, protein is the most abundant substance in the body. The amino acid tryptophan, a building block of protein, influences mood by producing the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Serotonin is associated with depression. Lean protein sources, including fish, turkey, chicken and eggs help keep serotonin levels balanced. Along with complex carbohydrates, which actually facilitate the entry of tryptophan into the brain, lean and clean protein sources can help reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety. The addition of lean protein will also help manage and stabilize your blood level spikes making you feel more in control and reduce cravings.

4. More Greens

Your mom was right. Eat your leafy greens such as spinach, romaine, turnip and mustard greens, and broccoli. They are high in folic acid and B vitamins. The research is out there and deficiencies in folate as well as other B vitamins have been linked with higher rates of depression and fatigue.

Eat your greens!

5. Fermented Foods

Fermented foods, such as plain yogurt with active cultures, kefir, kimchi, tempeh and certain pickled vegetables, contain probiotics (healthy bacteria) which have been shown in studies to reduce anxiety and stress hormones. I also see many clients eating too many processed foods. This may compromise the delicate balance of healthy and unhealthy bacteria in the gut. Stick to these fermented foods to increase the health of your gut and ultimately your mental health.

Looking for tasty gut promoting recipes? Check out my recipe book for Stress and Anxiety: Little Book of Big Flavours.

Understanding the gut and mental health connection and why this makes sense is super important to us at Strong Nutrition. Give me a shout and #getloud about mental health. You deserve this!

In best health,

Michelle xo 

Visit Strong’s profile on Pinterest.

For questions, feel free to contact us here!

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Fig Vanilla Banana Protein Shake

Figgy Vanilla Banana Shake Up

“Fig Vanilla Banana Protein Shake” by Strong Nutrition

This tasty recipe sorta fell into my lap a few weeks ago and I’ve been dying to share it with you! In a post workout frenzie I went rummaging through my cupboards looking for someone to quench my thirst and what would soon be hunger.

Earlier that day, Genuine Health had sent me samples of their new coconut flavoured fermented protein powder, so with dried figs on hand, only 1/2 a lonely frozen banana, an almost empty carton of coconut milk and the last bit of chia seeds, I concocted this beaut.

These days my workouts consist of videos online. I’m loving Tone It Up right now and Youtube has a ton of great JIllian Michael 30 minute workouts that make getting a quickie in super convenient when things get busy. Plus, with winter at our backs,  dragging myself to the gym just wasn’t an option!

Post Workout Fueling

A lot of people walk into my office who train crazy hard! Whether it be in the gym, running, biking or any other sports or interest, I’m uber impressed by these folks…but one of the most common issues I hear from them is either they are tired or that their workouts are not progressing. Like what the heck right?! This is all too often related to poor post recovery fueling.

To get the most out of a workout, you need to consider two key components.

  1. Protein
  2. Carbs

Now wait, don’t freak out just yet at the thought of carbs. Hugely misunderstood, carbs are vitally important to our good health.  So when I say eat carbs post workout, I’m not talking about white pasta, potato, rice and bread, I’m talking about the good guys- the slow releasing carbs that replenish our sugar stores and help with a speed recovery.

The Good Guys

  • quinoa
  • fruit like apples, berries and pears.
  • sweet potato
  • beets
  • squash
  • lentils and beans
  • veggies (of all colours)
  • carrots
  • whole grain sprouted breads (use these sparingly)

So you might be wondering how much? A good question for sure. Here is my ‘take’. Men and women need differing amounts of these macro nutrients; it all depends on your size, how often you train, blood sugars, if you have excess body fat plus other factors.

A good rule of thumb is a fist size portion of both. Ie. 1 chicken breast and a sweet potato about the size of your fist. Or 1/2 cup berries and 1 cup plain Greek yogurt.

Now don’t forget you can add other ingredients too… as you can see in this recipe below, I included maca for hormonal balance, vanilla for a little extra sweetness (sans extra sugar) and if I were to  have any spinach, that too would have made a perfect addition to this recipe.

Protein Sources Perfect for Post Workout Recovery

  • Clean protein powders
  • 3tbsp  hemp seeds
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Fish
  • Poultry (preferably organic)
  • Tofu (non GMO/organic)

Ingredients for Fig Vanilla Banana Protein Shake

1/2 frozen banana

2 dried figs

1 cup water

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 scoop coconut flavoured Fermented Vegan Proetins + by Genuine Health

handful of spinach (optional)

1tbsp chia seeds

1/2 tsp maca powder

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Combine all ingredients into a high powered blender and blend until smoothie. Top with ice cubes and flakes of unsweetened coconut flakes. Enjoy!

Visit Strong’s profile on Pinterest.

Now go and enjoy this delicious Fig Vanilla Banana Protein Shake

For questions, feel free to contact us here!

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Tropic-Kale Quinoa Salad

Tropic-Kale Quinoa Salad

“Tropic-Kale Quinoa Salad” by Strong Nutrition

This yummy Tropic-Kale Quinoa Salad was inspired by our first day of warm weather here in Toronto. The sun was out and I had summer on my mind. Weekends at the cottage, reading and boating, hikes and BBQ season had me in just the right mood to create this delish dish.

Not only does it taste like a dream, but it holds up all week. I get it, our lives are busy and sometimes creating healthy meals is tough. So this dish can be made in bulk and eaten over 3-4 days. Most kale dishes can actually stand up longer in the fridge, but with the mango, I’d suggest only leaving for 3-4 days total. Pair it with chicken at lunch for a quick grab, or use it as a side dish at dinnertime to appease even the pickiest of eaters. For vegans and vegetarians, I didn’t forget you. Add 3tbsp of hemp on top of your portion- that combined with the protein from the quinoa and nuts will provide you with the perfect balance of amino acids.

Protein is so key to our health. It forms the basis of all bodily functions; too many people come into my office with fatigue, sleep and hormonal issues, weight gain (and so much more) and I firmly believe this is often due to too little protein in the diet.

Protein isn’t just found in meats, eggs, yogurt and fish- it is also found in a variety of plant based foods like hemp, quality protein powders and GMO free soy products. This variety should provide anyone with enough sources to ensure they are getting at least 3 servings per day.

Note: There are tons of other combinations of foods you can add to this salad to spice it up to your liking. Consider red cabbage, pumpkin seeds instead of peanuts, scallions, pineapple or grapes instead of mango, unsweetened coconut, caramelized onions. The list goes one, there is no end to the possibilities!

I hope you enjoy this salad as much as I enjoyed creating (and eating) it!

Health Benefits of Protein

  • Supports a healthy metabolism to aid in fat loss
  • Aids in would healing
  • Regulates blood sugar and hormones leading to better mood management
  • Facilitates the production of lean muscle mass
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Creates better concentration and learning potential

Ingredients for Tropic-Kale Quinoa Salad

1 head dino kale, washed and cut into thin ribbons

1 mango diced

3/4 cup cooked quinoa Tip: try cooking in organic vegetable broth, it gives the quinoa added flavour!

1/3 cup unsalted raw peanuts

Dressing

1/3 cup olive oil

juice from 1/2 fresh lemon

1.5 tbsp raw honey

1 tsp Dijon mustard

sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions

 

Cook quinoa and let it cool off to the side. Note: I like to cook extra and use later in the week with another dish.

Add kale to a bowl and gently massage the leaves for about 1 minute until they turn a slightly darker colour and appear slightly wilted. Then add the diced mango and cooled quinoa to the bowl with the kale.

*squeeze any excess juice from mango pit onto into the bowl.

Combine the ingredients to make the dressing and add over top of the salad. You can do this a few hour prior to serving as the kale will hold up and not wilt.

Once ready to serve, top with peanuts and enjoy!

 

Visit Strong’s profile on Pinterest.

Now go and enjoy this delicious Tropic-Kale Quinoa Salad

For questions, feel free to contact us here!

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Turkey Vegetable Cabbage Rolls

Turkey Vegetable Cabbage Rolls

“Turkey Vegetable Cabbage Rolls” by Strong Nutrition

I am obsessed with these Turkey Vegetable Cabbage Rolls. They are packed full of flavour, last all week long (if you can make a bit of time to prepare them ahead of time) and are chalk full of nutrients! Protein packed turkey, veggies galore and picked cabbage help support a boosted immune system, fat loss and a healthy gut environment.

Here at Strong Nutrition, gut issues are one of the biggest issues we see. First the bloating, next comes the constipation and heartburn, no doubt a lot of you are really suffering. As a consequence we are wreaking havoc on our ability to absorb nutrients which are key for keeping up our immune and energy levels (plus so much more!). At any rate, I know how this feels. For many years I suffered with many of these symptoms until I cleaned up my diet, supported my system with the proper supplements and started using more fermented foods in my cooking. For this reason cabbage rolls are a staple in my diet!

I hope you enjoy these beauties as much as I do. Please comment below and let us know how much you loved them too with a picture of your meal!

Foods that Support a Healthy Gut

 

Ingredients for Turkey Vegetable Cabbage Rolls

1 head pickled cabbage  (buy these at some grocery stores like Metro and specialty grocery stores) * make sure there is no sugar in the ingredient list

2lbs ground turkey or chicken (use organic where possible)

1 medium white onion diced

1 medium zucchini shredded (and squeeze the water out)

1 large shredded carrot

1/4 cup brown rice

2-3 stocks celery finely diced *optional

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp paprika

sea salt and pepper to taste

1 tin of tomato paste for the sauce

 

Directions

On the stove top, brown and cook the meat. Add all ingredients (except tomato paste and cabbage). Let cool once cooked

In the meantime, pull cabbage leaves apart making sure to keep them intact, and place in a cold bowl of water.

Gently run a knife over the thick end of the spine of the cabbage and remove part of it. The goal here is to make this easier to eat when cooked.

Scoop 2-3oz of turkey mixture at the bottom of each cabbage leaf (near the spine), roll over once so the turkey is tucked in, then roll in the sides and finish by rolling up the rest of the cabbage lead until it in in a tight bundle.

Next, place call cabbage rolls into a large cooking pot or dutch oven

In a separate small bowl, empty the tomato paste and add 2 cups of water to thin out the paste.

Drizzle this mixture over the cabbage rolls in the pot

From here, add enough water to almost over the tops of the cabbage roll.

Place the lid on the pot and into the oven.

Cook on 400 degrees for 30 minutes and then turn the oven down to 350 and cook for another 2.5 hours.

Check on the rolls periodically to ensure there is still enough water and that they are not burning. If needed, add a little as you cook.

Note: at the end of the cooking time, there should be 1/4 inch of tomato paste liquid  at the bottom of the pot to be used for a sauce.

Enjoy with salad or roasted veggies!

 

Visit Strong’s profile on Pinterest.

Now go and enjoy these delicious Turkey Vegetable Cabbage Rolls

For questions, feel free to contact us here!

 

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Energy Fat Bombs

Coconut, Sunflower Seed and Lentil Energy Fat Bombs

“Coconut, Sunflower Seed and Lentil Energy Fat Bombs” by Strong Nutrition

I’m totally diggin’ these no bake fat bombs…and you will too once you give them a try. Loaded with protein from the lentils and of course the almighty coconut flakes, seeds, coconut oil and almond meal to create these super tasty, omega 3 rich, brain supporting, fat busting, energy driving fat bombs! Kids, adults – everyone needs a little extra good healthy fat in their diet, so these are absolutely perfect! I love adding these to a mid afternoon snack, the fat cuts the hunger and boosts energy…and if you do end up with any cravings, these little energy fat bombs will surly do the trick!

Finally, feel free to play around with this recipe and make it your own. The key here is to keep the sugars low (honey, dried fruits). Of course some is needed, but as you will see in the recipe, the banana, cinnamon, honey and vanilla already provide adequate amount of the sweet to these little bombs.

Other ingredients for you to consider

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Oats
  • Bee Pollen
  • Protein powder
  • Dates, apricot or figs
  • Spices like nutmeg and clove
  • Ground flax seeds
  • Hemp Seeds

Why oh why do I love fat so much?

  • Fat helps to keep you feeling satisfied and helps prevent unnecessary snacking
  • Good fats are über anti inflammatory – so great for those who have excess inflammation from injuries and arthritis
  • Reduces cravings for sugar and carbs aka. the bad guys
  • Good fat helps encourage the body to lose that unwanted unhealthy fat around the belly
  • Fats help to balance out blood sugars and hormones – key for great energy, sleep and weight loss

Other ways to incorporate healthy fat into your diet

Now that we know fat is so vital to good health, we can make an extra effort to consume plant based sources of fat throughout the day. This is quite simple actually.

  • Add hemp and omega 3 fatty chia seeds to smoothie and salads and soups
  • Drizzle high quality extra virgin olive oil onto cooked veggies and meat once plated
  • Use coconut oil to cook your eggs
  • Slather coconut oil as face and body cream once you get out of the shower
  • Make avocado apart of your smoothies, salads and side dishes
  • Make these: Salmon Avocado Paleo Lettuce Wraps
  • and this Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip (Dairy-Free)

Ingredients for Energy Fat Bombs

1 cup unsweetened coconut

2tbsp melted coconut oil

1tsp maca powder

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1 ripe banana

pinch of sea salt

1 tsp cinnamon

3tbsp raw honey

3/4 cup cooked lentils (I like brown or green)

1/2 cup almond meal (you can also use coconut flour)

Instructions

Place all of these yummy  ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth, making sure that all of the mixture is well incorporated.

Then, remove the blade from the food processor, and with your tablespoon, scoop out the mixture and roll into balls.

Place each ball on a tray and let set in the fridge for about 30 minutes before consuming. This last step is optional but it does allow the  energy bomb to hold together a little better.

Lastly, pack these little gems for school lunches or keep for that 2-3pm dip when cravings start to kick in.

Storage: in the fridge, in an airtight glass container

Recipe makes approximately 10-12 balls

Enjoy!

 

Visit Strong’s profile on Pinterest.

Now go and enjoy these delicious energy fat bombs!

 

For questions, feel free to contact us here!

 

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Win Your Food Fight ~ Get Rid of Emotional Eating Forever

Do you want to win? Is food your nemesis and something you always fight having to think about or make a healthy choice? Have you tried every fad diet and program known to mankind? If any of this sounds familiar and makes you super stressed and frustrated, you are not alone. I wanted to  celebrate National Nutrition Month talking about you and your food fight.

Literally, millions of people everyday struggle to choose the healthy choices that will allow them to live a life that allows them to feel full of energy, optimize their weight and long-term health. I believe this does NOT have to be this difficult. There really are NO secrets to feeling sexy and healthy!

TOP 5 SOLUTIONS TO WIN YOUR FOOD FIGHT

1. It Starts With You

Emotional eating allows you to feel in control of your pleasures and satisfaction. It can numb negative stuff going on in your life and make it easy to ignore. Start with you and your feelings and yes, feel them! All of them! I recommend even naming the feeling ~ mad, frustrated, sad, lonely, angry maybe guilty. When you name your feeling you will be that much better at listening to really what you body or mind needs. The choice will be clearer.

2. Know Your Triggers

So it’s night time and the kids are in bed, you are exhausted from your busy work day and dammit this is your time. So you reach for the bag of chips or cookies and say “I deserve this!” It is holiday and party time so why not? I deserve to eat whatever I want. We have all been there. Bored, celebrating or simply exhausted and just need to reach for the crappy snacks that we think will make us feel better. Know your triggers. Be aware that when you are tired or going on vacation that is when you fall off the wagon ride.  Of course, it is fine to celebrate and enjoy but know WHY you are choosing the junk and that it is not simply one of your trigger reactions.  Be in control and mindful of your choices.

3. Spoil Yourself with Well Deserved Pleasures

There are many ways to spoil yourself other than with food. Yes, food marketing campaigns always make it easy for us to fall into that trap and think we can feel just like that person in the commercial after the bag of Oreos is empty?!?! Choose the pleasures that we know will make you feel better, more mindful. Take a hot bath with lavendar epsom salts, go for a walk outdoors, attend a hot yoga class, make your favorite hot drink to slowly enjoy and make your healthy food and treats look better than any magazine shot. Angela Liddon does this fabulously! Check out her images of beautiful, inviting healthy food in her book. Pleasures can be celebrated without the sugar, carb loaded junk. Find your pleasure and spoil yourself!

4. Eat When Your Hungry

Sounds simple, right! Bored, tired or just happen to be in the kitchen? It doesn’t mean that it is time to eat. You know this. We need to eat when we are hungry not just because it is there or a habit. You know the people that we wish would think before they speak? Well, it’s the same for food. Stop. Think. Feel. Ask yourself, am I really hungry or just think I am. Be mindful about your hunger!

5. Do You Know How Beautiful You Are?

We all do it. Look at the magazines, television and people at the coffee shop and think wow if only I looked like that. Nowadays, social media with all the amazing filters and editing tools can make anyone look like they want. But the photo will never capture the true beauty within you or that confidence when you wear your favourite jeans or the smile when you light up the room and share your beauty. Just think how many industries would go out of business if we actually liked and celebrated the gorgeousness we have.  It’s time to know we are beautiful and love thyself.

Food doesn’t have to be the fight you need to win. Celebrate the goodness in you and your healthy choices! If you want any further help understand your personal challenges check my services out for one on one consulting. You will always “win” with being mindful and celebrating your uniqueness and beauty.

In your best health,

Michelle xox0
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Image credit: Brooke Lark

5 Minute Dairy Free Broccoli Soup

Yes, you read that right! 5 Minute Broccoli Soup

Just 5 quick minutes of prep and you will have yourself a uber nutritious broccoli soup that I promised even the veggie haters out there would like.

Gluten free, dairy free, soy free.. basically allergen free, this soup recipe will be a staple in your household soon enough.

The first time I made this was one of those nights we all dread. I got home late from the clinic, nothing was planned, fridge wasn’t stocked…we’ve all  been there. Luckily I had a few key ingredients hanging around and voila! This beauty came to light. Since making this, I continue to experiment by adding in other veggies that might be on their way out in the fridge…soup is a great way to avoid this waste.

Ingredients for Broccoli Soup:

  • 1 bunch broccoli roughly chopped (even the stems)
  • 4 cups low sodium (or homemade) veggie or chicken stock
  • 2 medium sized garlic cloves roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 2tbsp nutritional yeast (for the vegan cheesy factor)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 3tbsp hemp seeds per serving (optional)

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil

Once the stems of the broccoli are fork tender, use hand blender to puree ingredients until smooth.

Recipe makes 6 servings

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Banana Coconut Chia Pudding

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch Chia!

There is nothing better than having breakfasts and snacks prepped and ready for a busy week. I love this recipe as it’s a simple and delicious option that can be put together anywhere from 1-5 days ahead of time. My only suggestion – add the banana and coconut at the last minute to keep them as fresh as possible!

Chia seeds are super rich omega 3 fatty acid beauties- perfect for protecting our cells, healthy fat loss, balancing blood sugars and hormones and keeping cravings away.

Cinnamon is the perfect, non-sugar based sweet spice that actually helps to lower our blood sugars. This is key for diabetics or those suffering from hormonal issues like PCOS and for energy balance through the day.

And if you don’t LOVE banana and coconut? No problem, feel free to get creative with the toppings you use (just make sure they are healthy). Enjoy!!

Ingredients for Chia Pudding

  • 4oz coconut milk (unsweetened)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • ½ tsp agave nectar or raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 banana sliced into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut

Directions

  1. In a large, deep bowl combine the coconut milk, chia, agave, vanilla and cinnamon. Stir until combined and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Stir the mixture a few times.
  2. When set, top with remaining banana and coconut.
  3. Enjoy as a snack or breakfast!

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5 Reasons to Celebrate Hot Tea Month for Your Health

Tea is my drink of choice at this time of year! I am not sure about you but when it is cold and grey and I am looking to fight off cold and flu season I will always turn on the kettle and steep a cup. There are so many reasons that I appreciate a good cup of leaves and water. If you check out your city you will stumble across some super cool hangouts serving amazing cups of tea. Look out java, this could be the drink of choice for so many people like around the world. It is said that tea is the second highest consumed beverage in the world and may be taking over as the coolest new drink on the street for so many great health reasons and not just to detox.

5 Reasons to Celebrate Hot Tea Month for Your Health

1. Hydration – I always get my 8-10 cups of water in when I add tea to my day. Tea makes sense when it is cold and dreary and keeps me hydrated.  There are lots of choices with herbal and green tea to find one you love.

2. Cleansing & Detoxifying – When I add lemon and ginger to my tea I know I am giving myself the easiest liver and skin detox possible.

3. Antioxidants & Immunity – A cup full of polyphenols and antioxidants that can fight off illness is always worth the steep.

4. Relaxation & Calm – Contemplating and stepping back from the chaos of work, life and technology just works with a cup of tea.

5. Weight Loss & Increased Metabolism – Teas like green tea, matcha and yerba mate are known to increase your metabolism and burn calories.

Grab your cup of leaves and water and sip slowly and savour the tranquility along with amazing health benefits!

From my cup to yours,

Michelle xo

Image credit:Vee O

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5 Must Have Winter Essentials to Keep Fat at Bay

Some of us struggle with the cold, dark months we experience from November until April in Canada. I get it! The biggest challenge is that it makes us want to couch up and Netflix binge. Then come Spring we feel like we need this post hibernation starvation diet.  There are a number of essentials we can make happen to enjoy a healthy and joyful winter season.

1. Light Box Magic

Keep this magic device in your bedroom and wake up peacefully. Allow your body to slowly adjust to the morning. I love my light box! Sleep is should be treasured and with a light box you can enjoy a restful night sleep and transition into the hustle and bustle of the morning without the annoying buzz of an alarm or blaring hit song of the week.

2. Book Your Next Adventure

The anticipation of your next trip, adventure or new experience is half the fun! Get your plans into your calendar and enjoy the excitement of knowing that you will enjoy quality time with my friends or family. This doesn’t have to be the biggest trip you have ever had or cost a fortune. Take a day trip to try snowshoeing, hike in the woods with a close friend and your pooch, outdoor skating or a pond hockey game can feel like you have changed it up and got out of your cave. Now, that being said there is nothing better than a day at Scandinave Spa or an escape to somewhere warm. We all love that winter vacation whether hitting the slopes or the sun and surf. Just make a plan and look forward to your time!

3. Vitamin D

So many of us go from the car to the garage to the work parking garage, back home. Never even setting a step outside …  forget getting any Vitamin D naturally from the outdoors!?!?! Many autoimmune and chronic illness’ can be related to deficiencies in Vitamin D. This essential Vitamin provides us with needed support for our adrenals, nervous system and hormone regulation.The body will store fat if we are stressed out and our hormones are not balanced.  It is recommended we need a minimum of 2-3000 Vit D IU/drops a day. Liquid form is the easiest way to add it to your daily routine. You can slide this into your smoothie, take it straight up or add to your morning yoghurt. Check out our recommended quality supplements at strong.metagenics.com and receive 20% off your order.

4. Protein Rich Snacks

Super essential to keeping our body fat low! Protein is thermogenic and will burn fat if we consume it at regular times throughout the day. If we can burn fat and stabilize our blood sugar we can optimize how we feel and will be less likely to reach for the comfort foods and cravings of sugary or salty foods. Try and add minimum of 3 protein servings a day to your diet and watch how you feel. Maybe start your day with a protein rich smoothie and include snacks that are heavy on the healthy protein scale.

5. Essential Oils

You’ve probably heard of these but what exactly are they? Essential Oils are natural, highly concentrated oils found in plants. Think about the mist that you see and smell when you peel into an orange… these are the oils of the rind. Tested and bottled, these oils can be UH-MAZING for supporting a multitude of health issues. In particular (for sake of this article), fat loss. There are lots of different reasons we don’t lose fat, and one of them is elevated blood sugars from stress, consuming too many carbs and or junk. Cinnamon Bark is a beauty way to help lower blood sugars and help lower body fat. Add  1 drop of this oil to a smoothie or glass of water a day and let it go to work on your sugars!

For more info on this or other oils, drop me a line, I’d love to set up a 15 min free wellness consult.

Make this winter your healthiest yet with these essentials. Follow me on social media as I share my adventures and tricks to enjoy the winter months out of hibernation!

In best health,

Michelle xx

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