4 reasons to eat your veggies

The more you learn about your body and nutrition, the better you’ll become at knowing how to boost energy, reduce cravings, cholesterol, illness, weight and more.  Fortunately, you don’t have to study every hormone to know what to do.   Just grasp these 4 concepts and you’ll be well on your way to your best self:

  1. 95% of our body depends on minerals. While sugar (glucose) is the best fuel for our cells, our body needs minerals to make proteins, enzymes, hormones and neurotransmitters – basically all the things your body needs to function. We don’t make minerals so we have to get them from food. Where do we get them? Veggies and whole grains. Make every bite count by eating carbohydrates that provide fuel and minerals.

  2. Enzymes are catalysts for everything our body needs. Phytonutrients take care of everything it doesn’t (like free radicals). The only way to get these is from dark green and colorful veggies. 

  3. Alakine-rich foods (and lifestyle) nourish us.  Our body thrives in a balanced ph or “alkaline” environment. If we eat foods rich in alkaline minerals like green veggies… and strive to have a balanced, healthy lifestyle we contribute toward that peaceful, ph balanced environment. 

  4. Acidic foods (and lifestyle) deplete us. When we eat foods like sugar, caffeine, alcohol, meat and processed foods, we force our body to pull from its own mineral reserves in our bones, teeth, organs and tissues to neutralize the acid in order to keep your ph on the alkaline side.

Yes, our body does whatever it takes to maintain balance. And, it’s capable of cleaning up after us.. But, when it’s having to work so hard just to function, it’s really not doing what it’s designed to do:

Provide us with the energy, vitality and passion to live the life we were meant to live.  

We can’t follow our heart, or create the life or relationships we’d like to have if we’re exhausted, sick and cranky!

For more on ph balance, including disease-prevention insight, watch this short video from Kris Carr !


Learn more about Eating for Energy (including easy recipes) at my workshop at Barefoot Studio on Saturday, March 10th at 2:30.

The cure-all yoga pose

If you’re thinking about trying yoga, or love it but don’t always have time to get to class. You can do a lot of healing in just 10 minutes with this one pose.

Photo via: Your Yoga Place 

Lying on your back with “legs-up-the-wall” is a magic yoga cure-all. It’s recommended when you:

  • can’t sleep
  • have tight hips and hamstrings
  • feel a cold coming on
  • have jetlag
  • have a headache
  • have PMS
  • need a different perspective or some color in your cheeks

There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to improve all aspects of your health, including digestion, cravings, energy and libido! And, there’s nothing better than legs-up-the-wall to set the stage for a sound sleep.

Give yourself 10 minutes before bed (or anytime throughout the day when you’re feeling overwhelmed… just lock the office door if you’re at work, you may get a few strange looks 😉  Add a lavender eye pillow or place a towel over your eyes and you’ll slip into heaven that much quicker.

Here’s Yoga Journal’s how-to on this amazing pose, along with modifications. They show it with a bolster, but I prefer it without one. Just do what feels best to you.

I like to get into position and turn my focus to softening my eyes, my brow and jaw. I also soften my shoulders, placing them gently on the floor. You’ll be surprised to notice how they stay hunched up, even when you’re laying down – you have to make a conscious effort to soften them.

One more thing – a regular routine of inversions (and legs-up-the wall is an excellent one) will do more to make your skin glow than any amount of cosmetics.

I told you it’s magic!

Crazy, Sexy Juices & Smoothies

Here’s to continuing the Valentine love fest with a different kind of crazy, sexy love…The kind of love that will make you happier, healthier and sexier than you’ve ever felt before.

If you’re intrigued by juicing and smoothies, but not sure where to start, Kris Carr (the wellness warrior, who after being diagnosed with untreatable Stage 4 cancer, has juiced her way to a vibrant health)  has just released an e-book, Crazy Sexy Juices & Succulent Smoothies.”

I appreciate Kris’s insight because it’s always grounded in science.  This new book is sure to answer any question you could possibly have, including:

  • the difference between juicing and blending
  • how to decide what works for you
  • which juicer or blender to buy
  • how to ease greens in your diet without gagging….and much more.

I basically follow Kris’s recipe she demos on ABC’s The Revolution here.

My friend Susan helped me make my first green juice last Summer and I’ve been hooked ever since.

The hardest part of juicing for me is the clean-up. Susan told me to place a plastic produce bag in the juicer to catch all of the debris before starting, then you can just remove it and toss it. One less part to clean. After having to clean the juicer everyday, you start to appreciate every time-saver you can get.

Take care (and drink your veggies… it will help reduce sugar cravings, make your skin glow and get your digestive system in proper order.)



Do you over-commit, then crash?

This seems to be a common theme among my clients and friends lately  …

One client struggling with stomach issues said her lifelong challenge is over-committing, then crashing… in the form of exhaustion, colds, insomnia, and more than an occasional glass of wine for some joy at the end of a long day.

photo & poster by Karen Salmansohn at www.notsalmon.com


Another says she wakes up every morning with good intentions to go for a walk. Before she knows it, the day has flown by filled with chores, errands, projects and commitments, leaving her exhausted without any energy to go for that walk.

Another is emotionally drained after a 4-month job search that’s left her uninspired by any prospects and wondering what to do with her life. Struggling so hard to figure it out is starting to affect her health.

The funny thing is that most people want to talk about the foods causing the exhaustion or what foods to eat for energy. Or, they think if they cut out certain foods, they’ll lose weight…And, once they lose the weight, surely they’ll have more energy to do more of the things they love.

While food does provide a powerful foundation for feeling better, physically and emotionally. Without addressing our tendency to over-commit, we’re always at risk of crashing… which puts us at risk of adrenal fatigue, digestive troubles, diabetes, cancer, the list goes on and on…see this article on Cortisol, Blood Sugar and Adrenal Health for more.)

My tendency to over-commit is always there. I’m not sure it ever goes away… But, I don’t crash as hard anymore. I know to add more of my “little things” when I feel worn down or don’t know what direction to take. And, I don’t always turn to sugar to lift my spirits like I used to. (Sometimes sugar still gets the best of me….It’s pretty potent stuff!)

I think my friend summed up the solution perfectly with this:

“May we both find the space to let go of trying so hard.”

I hope the same for you.

Take care,




Words to live by: Kids Can Cook

Halloween is a day to celebrate kids. I love watching them walk to the door (some slowly, some boldly), ask for candy (some softly, some loudly), and show off their costumes (some shyly, some enthusiastically).

It’s courage and creativity in action.

Today, I’m presenting two little girls who embody the spirit of the day and, they ENJOY eating something besides candy!

Haile (10)  and Nia (6) are sisters on a mission. Their Kids Can Cook online videos show them cooking with and encouraging kids to make real food. Haile is also on the Youth Adviosory Board of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and started the Healthy Girls Adventure Club – she says, all a result of her Mom teaching her how to cook.

I had the pleasure of meeting them at Tucson’s Food Day event where they served salad and offered advice on how to make a tasty, healthy dressing.


Haile suggested starting with “a vinegar for acidity, a high quality olive oil and a sweetener such as raw honey or agave…. this adds lots of flavor to your salad and is much better for you than the processed salad dressings you find in the grocery store.” She was so precious, articulate and confident I wanted to bottle it up and take some of it home.


Her little sister Nia asked me, “Would you like some feta?”  Sign me up, I’ll take anything she’s serving.

There’s nothing wrong with having some candy on Halloween. It’s what we’re eating everyday that counts. When you take the time to make real food, you’re less tempted to overload on sweets.

Check out this video of Haile giving a TED talk for kids in Canada.

“It’s not being a gourmet cook that matters…once you learn to cook you will no longer tolerate bad food when you know how to make better…”

With kids like Haile, our future is in good hands.

Take care,


P.S. Don’t beat yourself up if you indulged in too many snack-sized Snickers. Do something nice for yourself instead. Get some fresh air, go for a walk, take a bath… think about your health goals. If you’d like to talk about them, let me know. I’m giving free one-hour consultations so you can enjoy the holidays and start the New Year well on your way to Your Best Self.









Think integrative vs alternative health care solutions

No matter how you feel about veggies, you”re bound to eat more of them after hearing Kris Carr”s story. She started the Crazy Sexy wellness revolution after being diagnosed with inoperable Stage 4 cancer at age 31. She just turned 40… cancer is still there but she feels healthier than ever.



She”s an inspiration for extreme self care (slowing down, listening within, enjoying life) and taking your health and happiness into your own hands.

When asked by Forbes where we need to go with medicine in the U.S. she says,

“I had to educate myself not just about the disease, but about nutrition and lifestyle practices. What I don’t see today is adequate wellness education in medical schools. Many only offer a week of nutrition training in medical schools. Oftentimes it’s easier to teach, “Just take the drug.”

What does she hope people will take from hearing her story?

“Don’t get overwhelmed, get inspired. Don’t feel like you have to change everything right away, take responsibility for one thing and start there. Slow and steady definitely wins the race when it comes to building a regular self-care plan. Also, think of your plan more like a practice. It grows and changes overtime, just like you girls game for girls for download do.”

She also says,

“health and happiness are our birthrights but they don’t just happen. Learning to take care of yourself and teaching others to do the same is a revolutionary act.”

I know that the more I listen to my body, the better I feel, and the better my life has become. My experience and stories like Kris”s inspired me to become a holistic health and lifestyle counselor. I”m learning about all of the dietary theories, so I can help people make sense of confusing, contradictory info and find the food and lifestyle that works best for them.

Sometimes all that”s needed is having someone to talk to, someone to help create a roadmap that leads to your best, healthiest, most vibrant self.

Email me at denese.bottrell@gmail.com  if you”d like a free one-hour consultation and visit my health counseling web site at yourbestselfhlc.com for more about my approach. And, if you missed Kris”s appearance on Oprah”s Soul Series last week, catch it here.

2 healthy ingredients you won't find at the Farmer's Market

What I learned this week in Nutrition School...

that you won’t find two of the most life-nourishing ingredients in any grocery store or farmer’s market. Nope, you’re going to have go within for these – relationships and gratitude. Something shifts in you when you say thank you and genuinely appreciate others. It softens you, opening you up for more love, better quality relationships, which fill you up with contentment… almost as satisfying as chocolate.

So, in the spirit of relationships & gratitude, I’m thanking a few people on my mind.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do and that you”ll send your own thank-you”s this weekend.

@MarniZarr, dreamdaymusings blogger, long-time friend, and soon to be shop-owner (stay tuned.)  Marni is a master of finding dreamy places & things to do – a bistro, a boutique, a blogger, a band… things I”d never find on my own. She even got my groove back with Zumba.  I’m just happy to be part of her dreamy world. Here’s her “double-duty” recap of our last visit.


 @JennBrouwer, interior designer, blogger, a “fairly” new friend (met her at Tobi Fairley”s Blog Camp this year). I love a good “I found my passion and followed it” story so I wrote this post for Design Everyday’s blog about her journey from nurse to interior designer. And don”t miss her blog. It”s filled with truly helpful tips on everything from home design, menu planning for a family, appreciating life and balancing it all.


Bev White, social media marketer and friend since high school. Bev left the corporate world to set up her own shop, marketing for business she”s truly passionate about. One, is Helping Hands for Single Moms, a non-profit helping single moms stay in school by removing the day-to-day obstacles that can get in the way of finishing. Things like auto & home repairs, medical care… they even get their hair done!  To top that off, she was going to a bridal shower the next day where the bride asked her guests to meet her at a women’s homeless shelter to play with the children there.  Turns out, most of the online casino canada women were married. Their husbands work nights and drop them off at the shelter so they are safe and off the streets.  How sweet, determined and admirable is that?


Lilly of @LillysTable, inspired seasonal meal planner and Food Day organizer.  Lilly has been coordinating Tucson’s Food Day event with Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance . Next Sunday, they’ll host a progressive dinner, one where everyone can walk or bike their way to three locations for appetizers, entree and dessert made with locally grown, culturally rich ingredients. I love Lilly”s blog and process for providing weekly menus. If I had children, I”d appreciate her insight on picky eaters. I”m sure these tips will come in handy for my future clients! Get to know her by joining her free 30 day challenge, starting November 1st.

Finally, I”ve never met Lisa of With Style & Grace or Heidi of 101 Cookbooks but they”ve been spending a lot of time in my kitchen. Lisa introduced me to sweet potatoes with this. I”ve since tossed them in a Lilly-inspired salad, baked them in enchiladas  and combined them with tofu in Heidi’s delicious miso-curry sauce (I used the recipe she has in her latest book, Super Natural Everyday. It calls for 1 T red curry paste instead of harissa.

And thank you, Google & Wikipedia, I didn’t know what harissa was!

Take care,


Back to basics… in the bathtub

When I’m feeling off, as I was recently, I like talking with someone who’s in tune with being in tune with your body. So, I booked an off-the-mat appointment with my yoga teacher who is also an ayurvedic counselor.

Ayurveda is the ancient science of living… it goes hand in hand with yoga… specifically focused on getting your digestion and overall nature or way of being in balance.  What’s interesting is that the foundation of ayurveda is routine. And, I’ve been reading a lot about routine in my Nutrition (health counseling) School studies.

Our bodies crave balance and routine. The busier we are, the more downtime and structure we need…which sounds crazy and impossible…

But, the next time you’re feeling run-down, about to catch a cold, reaching for sugar or not sleeping, take that for what it is – your body telling you it’s trying its hardest to power-through everything you need it to do, it just needs a moment to catch it’s breath.

As I rambled to my teacher about feeling scattered and craving sugar, she gently suggested an oil massage and bath before bed every night.  hhhmmm…. I thought she might want to delve a little deeper into my diet. Try that, she said, and see how you feel.

I know it sounds simple… Mom’s been telling me that for years and she has no idea what ayurveda is.

For whatever reason, I was ready to hear the bath message this time. I tried it and felt better the next day. I’ve started shutting the computer down a little earlier to make time for my new evening ritual…  which of course makes me sleep better, which leaves me rested, with more energy, clarity and vitality for my day.

If a bath doesn’t work for you, try a hot towel scrub (I like this in the mornings before yoga.) Vigorously scrub your body from head to toe with a warm washcloth. Pay special attention to the tense areas like your neck, shoulders and joints. Massage them in a circular motion. This removes toxins, allows your skin to breathe, and more importantly, puts you in tune with where you feel tension.

These simple acts show your body you care and that you value it enough to do what it needs to feel better.

Walking, napping, sitting, writing, taking time to go grocery shopping are also routines and rituals that can bring us back into balance.

What works for you?

p.s.: photos are via Jennifer Brouwer Design ‘s article on “Bathroom Bliss” (beautiful ideas and practical tips!)

p.s.s.:  For more about the program  visit my web site at www.yourbestselfhlc.com (it’s a work in progress… ). And, if you’d like to help me practice my coaching skills, I’d love to give you a free one-hour consultation where we talk about your health goals and what might be preventing you from being your best self. Just leave a note below with your email or send me one at denese@thoughtfulcontent.org.

Kelley Moore & Lisa Thiele’s 30 Day Challenge

Even when you’re bombarded with good-ness in your life… opportunities are coming left and right and dreams are coming true (all typically a by-product of following your heart)…it’s easy to let the most important thing slip – your health.  You’re just too busy to listen to your body and take the time to do what it needs.

Last week, I shared Pamela Slim’s blog post about stopping the madness in the midst of goodness and asking a weight loss counselor for help. This week, Kelley Moore, from For the Love of Design did the same. She recruited Lisa Thiele, of With Style and Grace, an advertising excec turned food stylist, photographer and gluten-free cooking expert (her recipes are amazing) to challenge her for 30 days to get on a better path with her health.

I’ve followed Kelley for over awhile and love her story. She began as a social worker, then started planning events for non-profits, which led to her own event and lifestyle business, her For the Love of Design blog and a regular guest spot on the Nate Berkus Show… now that’s progress!  Recently, she found her self getting so much business in New York that she decided to move from Seattle to the Big City.

You’d think she has it all together, right? What more could she want?

What I love about Kelley is her willingness to be real with her readers. She tells us she doesn’t feel good, has gained weight and is struggling keeping up with her a crazy schedule. She’s exhausted. (Not a good way to be when you’re livelihood and passion depends on your creativity.)

On Monday, she kicked off the challenge, introducing us to Lisa who had helped her shop for and plan her food for the week – and a green smoothie, which I promptly tried and after 3 attempts, decided I love it. (I used 3 limes, I think she meant 3 “slices” of lime. One slice was plenty for me.)

On Tuesday, she posted “Rest Needed”….. she was taking the week off from her regular posting schedule. I was sooooooooo happy to hear this. My first thought on Monday, was “that smoothie is great, but she’s also going to need to slow it down a bit!”

On Friday, she posted this.….. she had come down with bronchitis this week so it had been hard to stick to the plan. That’s her body telling her in a big, bronchitis kind of way to SLOW DOWN.

I’m looking forward to following the challenge and watching what lifestyle change are going to work for Kelley.  I’m pulling for her. She’s an inspiration on many levels. Asking for help is one of them.

What is your body telling you to do?

Becoming a health counselor… what I’m learning

I’m not waiting to share what I’m learning in health counselor school (@nutritionschool)  until I’m certified next June. I’m going to share a bit with you here each week…  Here are just a few of the insights that have resonated with me and some background on why I’ve chosen to get my training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN):

  • With supermarkets the size of football fields with more than 45,000 items, we’ve lost our inner “knowing what to eat.”
  • The diet that makes one thrive, might be terrible for another. For real answers, we need to get our inner knowing back.
  • Health and happiness begin with slowing down to enjoy every moment of your life.
  • Healthiness isn’t about self-discipline or willpower. It’s about finding what feeds you, nourishes you and what makes your life extraordinary.
  • Happy relationships, fulfilling career, exercise routine, spiritual practice can be more important to your health than a healthy diet.
  • As people become healthier, they become empowered to pursue the life of their dreams – the life they came here to live.
  • We spend millions on medication and virtually nothing on prevention, education and holistic health.
  • Our society desperately needs people who can help others deeply nourish their health and inner beauty.

There are all kinds of dynamics at play making nutrition incredibly confusing (marketing, politics, supply, demand, etc).  IIN’s 12-month program gathers the best minds in health, medicine, mindset, cooking, food politics and more to help us understand over 100 dietary theories.

With all of this confusion, the need for guidance in figuring out what is right for you, especially someone who is not pushing a specific plan or agenda, is growing.

Doctors aren’t necessarily trained in “holistic health, wellness and happiness” and while psychologists can delve into your past, helping you understand why you do what you do, they might be just as confused about nutrition as you are.

That said, the medical community is encouraging the use of health counselors as a way to navigate the nonsense.  Check out this CNN interview with Dr. Oz where he says a new tier of health care –  health coaches – people who are trained to help us do the right thing, could play a substantial role in reducing our country’s health care costs.

The idea of working with a health coach is starting to spread with well-known bloggers announcing their quest for help from wellness, life, coaches, counselors  (just this week – Pamela Sim from Escape from Cubicle Nation and Kelley Moore from For the Love of Design.)

While there are all kinds of health coaches with various specialties and philosophies, the best one is the one that works for you. The premise of IIN’s program is that there isn’t one diet that’s right for everyone. The only one that knows what diet will work for you, is you… their health counselors can help you listen to your body, find the food and lifestyle that works for you and the time to take better care of yourself.

When you’re able to do that, your relationships, career, energy, (and your diet) fall into place.  That vibrant glow is certainly not going to happen just because you’re eating veggies, not eating meat, or only eating meat, or having no carbs or fat!  It goes deeper than that.

This holistic philosophy is why I chose to get my certification from IIN.  I know this approach works. Over the years, my yoga practice and teachers have taught me how to listen to my body, trust my intuition, and have faith in uncertainty. My diet has come along, mainly because the more sensitive I’ve become to my body, the more discomfort I find in things that aren’t working for me –

Starbucks and M&M’s do not make Denese her best self!

Even though I know that and do yoga, I still struggle with a consistently healthy diet. I don’t need to go on “a diet” though, I need to slow down and take time each week to plan my meals so that I have the foods that feel good to me readily available and easy to prepare. When I do that, I have more energy and I sleep better. And when I sleep better, I rock.

I’m looking forward to sharing tools that can help you become more grounded and confident so you can start living the life you’ve always wanted.

For more about the program  visit my web site at www.yourbestselfhlc.com (it’s a work on progress… ). And, if you’d like to help me practice my coaching skills, I’d love to give you a free one-hour consultation where we talk about your health goals and what might be preventing you from being your best self. Just leave a note below with your email or send me one at denese@thoughtfulcontent.org.

Take care and have a great weekend,



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