I’m going to keep this post very short because the article to Using Essential Oils Safely’s all about hydrosols is extremely detailed…and therefore extremely long. In short, a hydrosol is the steam that collects while an essential oil is undergoing distillation. It is gentle and very safe for young children and even babies!

But enough from me. Here’s the article!

Looking for good, organic hydrosols? One place I know of currently that sells them for a decent price is Plant Therapy. That isn’t to say that there aren’t other companies out there who sell them. It’s just the one that I’ve seen most often discussed when referring to hydrosols. I believe Aromahead Institute also has recommendations. And there’s Mountain Rose Herbs. As usual, always do your research before investing!

This post stems from thoughts I’ve had while writing last week’s post. It’s a very simple idea that has a lasting impact. What is it? How does it change your perspective on lifestyle and behavioral habits? Maybe it doesn’t, but I bet there is something you’d like to change in your life to make it healthier, with more energy.

There are NO quick fixes.

That’s it. It’s that simple. You cannot start something today and expect to see long-term results tomorrow. It takes time. It takes planning and goal-setting. It takes dedication to the bigger picture–the lifelong picture.

I teach yoga and Pilates classes, and one of the most common questions I get from students is, “How do I get more flexible?” Or, they tell me that they’re there to increase their range of motion (ROM), the fitness term for flexibility. My response: it takes 8 years of continual practice and/or stretching (e.g. every day, or six days a week at minimum) to reach your maximum ROM. Everyone’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise, but should we really be surprised that it takes baby steps and constant practice to increase or change one habit into a better one?

Whether we’re discussing diet, exercise, or daily lifestyle, it’s best if things change slowly. It reduces a shock to the bodily system. It allows your brain to keep up with the chemical changes that are occurring within it. It reduces the likelihood of relapses into the bad habits we are seeking to change, and especially prevents us from playing that old record of negative thoughts that so often cycle through our minds when something goes “wrong.”

Sure, you are likely to see results on programs or when implementing a new regimen right away. That’s because your body has not experienced those things before, and must learn to adapt. But what happens when the adaptation causes a plateau?

You must not give up! Plateaus are good in the short term because they allow your body to grow accustomed to the new behavior you have implemented. Don’t fret if it takes a few weeks. You’ll start seeing progress again.

If you notice that you’ve plateaued for a long period of time, then it’s best to reevaluate your current lifestyle habits, see where you might have been derailed, and continue toward your health and wellness goals. I always advise not to beat yourself up if this happens. Life is full of bumps in the road, and some of those bumps are manholes that suddenly swallow us up without warning. Get back on the horse the moment you can, without excuses, a little wiser and a little more vigilant when it comes to knowing what sidetracked you in the first place.

How do you stay motivated when you get off course? I have recently discovered that Pinterest is a great help! You can make secret boards on it and use them as vision boards for what you want to achieve in your life. Recently, I learned that if you make goals, you should make them visual as well as writing them down, as it communicates with a different part of the brain–and when you do this, you are more likely to keep them in mind and achieve them! So give it a go, and create your own secret vision board for the lifestyle you want to lead today!

This is probably not the typical money-saving post you’ll read on health. I’m not a proponent of specialty diets or supplements. They work for some people, but not for everyone…and if you choose to do one, you tend to have to go through a trial and error period of time until you find what works for you. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: there’s no one diet or exercise regimen for everyone. You’ve got to find what works for you.

The other reason why I don’t promote any one kind of plan is that I don’t have the money to put into supplementation. I have found that whole foods work best…and work even better if you can cut out the crap found in processed (i.e. packaged) foods. Yes, there are other factors that make a difference. There’s been a lot of talk about gut health and pre- and probiotics found in foods, and those are important things too! There’s been talk about Candida and how it affects your health, and that’s an important fact also! I may do posts on both of these topics, and more, in the future.

Right now, I just want to talk about three simple–but difficult–ways you can improve your health without spending a dime.

The first is to hydrate. Almost everyone doesn’t drink enough water and, thankfully, we live in a land that has the technology to easily purify water. I don’t particularly like plastic water bottles on account of their chemical toxins, but sometimes we have to do what we have to do to get something in us. Drink water. Drink a lot of water. For a lot of reasons, like:

  • Gets the bowels moving first thing in the morning.
  • Keeps the skin, hair, and nails hydrated.
  • Flushes out built up toxins from muscles.
  • Keeps our cells happy.
  • Keeps you full and less likely to binge eat.

The second is to reduce or eliminate processed foods from your diet. This is something that is really, really difficult for everyone, myself included. Packaged foods are convenient and quick, and our lives aren’t getting any slower. This is why meal planning is becoming more and more valuable for those who wants to eat better AND stick to a budget. This does require some organization and discipline. You’ve got to decide on your meals for the week. You’ve got to stick to a shopping list and avoid the goody aisle. You’ve got to stick with your meal plans even when you’re tired–so prepping on the weekend when you have some time is essential but hard to do when you just want to turn into the proverbial vegetable. In the end, you’ve got to decide what’s more important, sticking to your budget and health regimen or letting unnecessary costs and calories add up.

Let me add right now that I believe in cheating. Sometimes. The more I read and study nutrition, the more I believe that an occasional treat or cheat meal is good for our sanity. But by occasional, I’m thinking like twice a month or once a week, and no more!

I’ll also be completely honest on this one. I’ve had the roughest time doing this myself lately! Ever since I had Baby #2, I just want to eat crap. But it’s a vicious cycle to do so–when you eat processed foods (especially sweets, my downfall), it changes the chemical makeup of your brain so that you crave more of what’s not good for you. So tread carefully on your cheat meals or desserts. If you aren’t careful, they could lead you down a slippery slope that is very hard to climb back up. Please trust me on this. Right now, it’s my personal struggle in the health department! But I’m not discouraged and I’m not giving up!

Third, and last, to save more money, get moving. Go on a hike, walk your dog, mow your lawn, do something. In the short term, being a couch potato may seem like a great idea. We get tired. We come home worn and frustrated and wanting to gorge on that bag or container of our favorite comfort food. Go workout instead, for a couple reasons:

  • It changes the chemicals in our brains from a fight/flight mechanism to a calming but happy one.
  • It makes us pause and think about our choices.
  • It reduces our heath expenses in the long run–this is a big one, as more studies are showing that going to the gym for an hour each day, but then sitting for 8+ at work, may actually do very little for us. THIS is why it’s so important to get up each hour and move around a little bit, even if it means walking down a hallway and back! Daily activity levels are vital, and may be more important than gym time over the course of a lifetime.
  • It’s fun–find what works for you and smile while you do it, and watch your mindset change!

My mom has chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. There are many days that she hurts and is exhausted. But recently she told me that even on her really bad days she’s found that walking one block makes her feel better over the long term. In essence, it reverses a lot of the pain and fatigue she experiences because she got up and moved a little. Not much, but a little.

Want to hear more about my mom? Last winter, she could barely move around her house. This summer, she’s been walking 5-10 miles each day! Yes, you can do it too!

Want to hear another awesome story? I’ve got a girlfriend who wanted to lose quite a bit of weight. We discussed eating whole foods and moderate amounts of exercise to help her start the weight loss process. She didn’t want someone to counsel her. She just needed advice. One year into it, she suddenly contacted me and told me that she’d lost 55-65 pounds!! And felt terrific…and she’s looking terrific too! She’s back down to her high school weight, and we’ve been out for 13 years now!

I could go on, but I’ll stop here. There are a plethora of ways out there that are willing to help you lose weight and get healthy, but for a price. If you aren’t sure you want to spend the money OR if you don’t have the money, start with small steps. Choose one thing to work on and gradually add others until you’re achieving the healthy lifestyle you want to live! It takes work. It takes discipline. It takes dedication. But you can do it!

Holy smokes! This month totally got away from me! Here’s to getting back into a routine come July! Until then, enjoy these fantastic articles and recipes (yes, there are more than two this time LOL)!

Articles

Mental Toughness Techniques for Peak Performance

Reciprocal Superset Training Burns More Calories (Study)

The Secrets to Behavioral Change: Principles & Practice

Pregnant Instructor FAQs

Tips for Group Fit Instructors

5 Exercises Every Runner Should Do

6 Exercises for a Stronger Core

5 x 5 Workout to Improve Strength

15-minute Drill to Rev Up Cardio

Strengthening Techniques to Alleviate Muscle/Joint Pain

Which Physical Activities = Better Sleep?

How to Tell if You’ve Reached a Plateau

5 Exercise Mistakes that Could Get You Hurt

Become a Healthy Road Warrior

Best Approach to Recovery: Passive vs. Active

Stretching for Men

Plank Pose

The Art of Falling on Your Face

Pilates Practice and Cholesterol Levels

Help for Pregnant Women with Depression

Meditation and Healthy Aging

Mindful Tips to Avoid Technology Addiction

America’s Top 5 Diets

Navigating the Summer BBQ (Podcast)

What You Need to Know about Coconut Water

Sugar Shock: Why It’s Time to Get Serious about Taming the Sweet Tooth

Mindfulness is the Best Sweetener

Make Natural Bug Repellent

About Beautycounter Products

Recipes

Berry Quinoa Salad

Lamb Tacos

Honey Sesame Chicken (Paleo)

Healthy Chocolate Pudding

Raw Fudge Brownie Chunk Ice Cream

Matcha Chip Ice Cream

Best Iced Coffee You’ve Ever Had

I love essential oils! Truly I do. I think they’re a wonderful way to boost a healthy lifestyle. They smell good. They work how people say they’re supposed to. They have all kinds of properties that are just plain good when diffused or diluted.

So why am I giving up selling them?

A couple reasons:

1. The market is saturated with “experts” hoping to earn a quick buck off their customers. I’m just not like that.

2. As I’ve been learning more about essential oils and their properties, I just don’t think that some of the claims made by direct sales companies are entirely accurate. Oh, they have good products! Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against the products. It’s more of the generalizations of some statements. As I keep reading up on essential oils and follow Robert Tisserand’s newsletter, I’m just realizing that using EO’s isn’t that simple.

3. To tie in with reason #2, I frankly don’t know enough to feel good about selling EO’s to others and give them good, safe information. For this reason, I’m hoping to eventually get my arromatherapy certification so I can better understand EO properties and how they can help (or not) each individual person.

It’s really that simple! If you’re looking for good places to begin learning more about essential oils, here are a few good starting points:

  • The Tisserand Institute (both the page and the newsletter)
  • Robert Tisserand on Facebook
  • Using Essential Oils Safely–both the website and Facebook page
  • Plant Therapy blog
  • Aromahead Institute (aromatherapy certification courses available here)

I’m still going to routinely share information about essential oils with you as I read up on them! I feel like the more informed people are, the better choices they can make for themselves! Just to reiterate: always do your own research! One of the best ways to learn about EO’s is to start smelling all kinds of brands. After a while, your nose knows which ones are good to use!

I’m finally getting back into the swing of things. It’s slow and sometimes I’m not going to get to blogging, but I’m trying to get back to this as often as I possibly can! I really love writing and sharing all the wonderful information I learn each month along the way!

A few small tips to take your fitness routines to the next level:

  • If you’ve not checked out Yoga International’s website, you should. They do free week-long mini-immersions that might pique your interest.
  • Recent studies state that cross-training is vital to overall health and the prevention of muscular imbalances in the body. Whether you’re a mind-body enthusiast or CrossFit pro, consider doing something completely different from your norm.
  • I’m a huge proponent for barefoot running (I love my Vibrams!) but I also know that barefoot shoes are not for everyone. Consider researching forward- and mid-foot strikes to minimize the extreme forces placed upon your joints and lower back from heel-strike running patterns.

I’m chuckling to myself because apparently I forgot to keep recipes this month! There are two tasty breakfasts for you to try, but most of this edition of articles and recipes is dedicated to strength training!

Articles

8 Ways Strength Training Creates Change

Train This, Not That: Legs

Complex Training: Strength and Conditioning

Strength Training for a Cardio Fan

9 Exercises You Didn’t Know You Could Do with a Barbell

Plank Variations for Core Strength

Resistance Training for Endurance Athletes

Outdoor Functional Training Exercises

Total Body Battle Ropes Workout

Which Comes First: Strength or Cardio?

Alleviate Muscle and Joint Pain with Self-myofascial Release (Part 1)

Alleviate Muscle and Joint Pain with Stretching Techniques (Part 2)

Uniform Movement is Injurious, Cross-training is Essential

The Easiest Mistake to Make in Backbends

Releasing Tension in the Psoas

Yoga for School Teachers (video)

Yoga for Strengthening Your Back (video)

Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Pregnant Women

Mindfulness Meditation Restructures Brain’s Gray Matter

New Findings On Alzheimer’s Risk

5 Tips to Detox Your Body and Get Back on Track

Eating More Whole Grains/Bran Tied to Lower Mortality

How to Get to Sleep When You Have a Cold (EO’s)

Heliochrysum and Lavender EO’s for Bruises

Essential Oils for Teething?

All About Hydrosols

How to Melt Shea Butter/Natural Oils for Body Care

Recipes

Raspberry Coconut Creme Brulee Oatmeal

Pumpkin Macadamia Nut Pancakes (gluten-free)

I’ve been documenting my cloth diapering experience here because I think it’s important for moms to realize that it’s doable. And more than doable, it’s easy. With water usage becoming more of an issue, it is also environmentally friendly because cloth diapers use less water when washed than companies do when making their disposables.

Yes, there is an initial cost involved when considering cloth diapering your child, but that investment goes a long way toward subsequent children. For instance, for my first child I paid about $700 for my cloth stash (over the majority of my pregnancy, so $50-100 a month); add laundry detergent for a year and I’m probably looking at about $800 for the first year of diapering one child. That’s really not that bad for someone who wants to test all the diapers!

For my second, I probably spent around $500 for an initial stash, and a good bit of that went toward newborn and Size 1 diapers because I didn’t want to have to change her as often at night. (That was a rough learning experience with my first.) The great thing is that now that my first is getting closer to potty training and is using fewer diapers throughout the day, I have more that I can use between the two of them as my second grows into the originals I purchased for my first.

So, to calculate my expenses: for two in the first 20 months of cloth diapering, I’ve probably spent $1400 (this includes laundry detergent, bum butter, sprays, Snappis, reusable liners, and of course diapers). Not bad considering that the average costs for using disposables on one child in their diaper-wearing years is $1500-$2500. And, honestly, I think I’ll be spending less with each year to come!

There is some talk among cloth diapering mamas about stashes. Should you have a stash for each or share. My call: go by your budget. When it comes down to it, you really don’t need a stash for each. It’s just nice to know that you’ve got enough for each in case you run low.

The only thing I’ve noticed a change with two in cloth is how often I have to do the laundry. Once every two days. Honestly, though, it’s not that bad. My loads are smaller than they were and they’re getting cleaner since they don’t sit 3+ days anymore. Plus, hubby made me a clothes drying rack so I can take advantage of all the sunshine we get in the desert! It’s been superb to have sun-bleached diapers instead of stains. They are stiff when I take them in, but a quick tumble in the dryer helps with softening them up.

Other than that, I’ve not had any more stress when it comes to cloth diapering two under two. It’s rather amusing sometimes, actually. My first often makes yuck noises when I’m changing her sister! But thank goodness she knows when diapers are dirty. It means she’s getting closer to potty training–and that will be a fun experience of its own.

So I’ve been trying to get to this blog for a couple weeks and it just hasn’t happened. Why? Because I started selling Jamberry Nails at the beginning of the month, so in addition to two under two, I’ve been giving myself a crash course between online parties!

toxic fiveAs a rule, I don’t buy just anything. I”m not huge into selling because there’s so much cheap and toxic stuff out there, particularly in the beauty department. In fact, over the past few years, I’ve gotten away from store-bought beauty products altogether. I hardly ever wear makeup, and I never get to a nail salon anymore for pedicures. The two or three times I’ve gone in the past two years have been less than wonderful experiences; last time, the nail tech gouged the instep of my foot with a cheap, substandard callous file. The mark is almost healed.

About 7 years ago, I heard a news report about how the toxic chemicals in nail polish actually shortened the nail techs’ lives by something like 7 years. (Here’s a good article on the effects of inhalation of nail polish chemicals on their health.) This was before Jamberry had been founded, but it made me begin thinking about the terrible stuff that fills so many beauty products, be it nail polish or makeup. It’s been a long road of research (the Environmental Working Group is a great starting point for those interested in learning what’s in their beauty products), but I”m finally pulling it together. (I’ll talk more about how aromatherapy and essential oils play into this in a future post.)

what jamberry doesnt haveOne of the amazing twists in life is that good things often fall into your lap. I’d never heard of Jamberry until I was invited to a Facebook party last fall. It was instant love! Here was an answer to my concerns about the stink (I absolutely hate the smell of polish) and the chemicals, and I could do my own nails at home rather than try and find time in my hectic schedule to get to a salon without the constant nagging worries of what is going on with my children. (Queue heavenly music.) What mom doesn’t want a few less worries, and a few more minutes for herself?

Several facts made me decide to join as a consultant, was several facts: they’re budget-friendly, user-friendly (including kid-friendly), allergen-free (from what I can tell, anyway) and non-toxic, not to mention cruelty-free and made in the USA. The clencher actually was their salon-quality nail lacquers, which are five-free rather than the usual three-free. Their nail wraps are terrific, beautiful, and full of persoNAILity, but the attention to details like the reduction of chemical exposure is very important to me.

The toxins in our environment are one of, if not the biggest, risk factors for developing cancer. The more we can reduce the amount we’re exposed to, the better. What is so sad is that the beauty industry promotes a lot of products that make us look good but are full of nasty toxins. We plaster them on our skin, our biggest organ, which absorbs what is slathered onto it. If I can bring awareness to others in order to help them reduce exposure to toxins, in addition to stress reduction, I think I’ve done my job well.

***

Author note: I have linked up my website, and do receive commissions from any sales placed through it. If you have any questions about Jamberry’s products, or hosting or consultant opportunities, please feel free to email me at hothandsfabfeet@gmail.com. Please also note that I do not actively promote through my blog posts. Any mention of my business is directly linked to topics that are health and fitness related in an effort to create awareness and promote a better quality of life for others.

April Fools! No, not really. I meant to get this post up last week, but it didn’t quite happen. I ended up giving birth instead! We have a second beautiful little girl whose bringing much joy to her entire family.

I plan on taking the month of April off from blogging so I can get used to the changes two children under two bring to one’s life. (However, I do plan on putting up an April articles/recipes post at some point so I don’t have an overflowing email account, haha.) In the meantime, I hope you are doing well and enjoy what this blog has to offer. Until May, then: May Spring rains bring you beautiful flowers!

Articles

5 Compound Moves for Your Workout

8 Creative Ways to Use a Medicine Ball

No Equipment Needed Workout

Functional Strength Training Combos

TRX for Mobility and Flexibility

CrossFit Study

Maximize HIIT with Metabolic Strength Conditioning

7 Signs You May Be Overtraining

5 Tips for Weight Training for Weight Loss

Pre- and Post-workout Nutrition for HIIT

Food Labeling and Your Health

You May Live Longer Eating and Mediterranean Diet (Study)

Wake Up Your Glutes

Menopause and Mind-body Fitness

How Upward-facing Dog and Cobra Differ

Tennis Ball Techniques for Tight Muscles

Homemade Cheek Tint

Gelatin Hair Mask

Recipes

Maple Pumpkin Scones (gluten-free, vegan)

Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Pistachio Flat Bread

Curried Pumpkin Stew

Cabbage Slaw with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Smashed Chickpea, Avocado, and Pesto Salad

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Avocado, Goat Cheese, and Candied Pistachios

Roasted Mushroom, Kale, and Goat Cheese Tacos

Lemon Curd Cupcakes

Passover Lemon Coconut Macaroons (gluten-free, vegan)

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I’ve also added April’s doTERRA specials! Please feel free to visit my website if you are interested in anything, and as always, feel free to ask questions. There are quite a number of new products that have been rolled out in the past few weeks. Check them out!

Extended through April 15!

Extended through April 15! Deep Blue is an excellent way to reduce aches and pains.

Melaleuca (tea tree) oil is fantastic for treating the skin; and DigestZen Blend is great for balancing gut health.

Melaleuca (tea tree) oil is fantastic for treating the skin; and DigestZen Blend is great for balancing gut health.

Last week slipped away from me as follows: WE FINALLY GOT OUR TAX REFUND, SO NOW I CAN BUY CLOTH DIAPERS AND NURSING TANKS–AND, OH, IT’S GETTING HOT, HOT, HOT OUTSIDE AND MY DAUGHTER DOESN’T HAVE ANY SUMMER CLOTHES FOR HER SIZE, SO WE NEED SOME OF THOSE TOO! Needless to say, with my head swimming with baby and toddler needs, I didn’t get this post out, but as I’ve had several pregnant women in my classes come up to me asking about my experience with natural childbirth and any advice I can give them, I thought I’d pass along the information here.

Please note: I’m not a medical practitioner. All of the advice that follows merely comes from my own experience. Seek a qualified medical practitioner to answer any and all your questions with regards to your health care options.

Almost all mothers, particularly first-time mothers, have fears. Many of these are related to the pain, or perceived pain, that you’ll encounter while giving birth. Make no mistakes–I’m not going to lie–giving birth to a child hurtsA lot. Underline that at least three times.

With that said, here are the four main points I tell mothers interested in going a natural route for childbirth:

  • Trust your body: it knows what it’s doing. The key is to keep your head when the going starts getting rough.
  • It’s a mind game: in order to achieve that natural birth plan, you’ve got to be mentally prepared to override your impulses for pain-relief. You’ve got to be tougher mentally than the contractions that can–and do–make you cry.
  • Breathe: practicing yoga breathing (slow, steady breaths) is one of the best ways to help your body relax as you’re going through contractions. You can also look to see if there are birthing classes in your area for breathing tips and techniques. Relaxation is key to a successful natural birth.
  • Go with the flow: stuff happens. All our perfectly laid-out plans don’t always go accordingly, and sometimes we’re totally thrown off by the sudden need for medical intervention. Don’t beat yourself up because your drug-free plans went awry. It’s better than you and baby are safe (via a c-section, etc.) than risk further complications and your lives.

One final thought I’ll touch upon before I wrap up. Make sure that you’ve got a good “team” or support person with you while you go through the birthing process. My husband was fantastic. He jumped right in, did what the nurses and midwife instructed him to do without batting an eyelash. They were even cracking jokes!

Not all men are like that. We know families whose guys were squeamish, and that just creates more stress than a mother in the middle of childbirth needs. Seek someone else (a parent or friend) or hire a doula (birthing coach) to help you if your significant other can’t or won’t be there for you physically, emotionally, etc.

Most importantly, make sure that you are completely comfortable with how your doctor will be delivering your child(ren). If you aren’t, I suggest finding someone you’ll like well, or even love. Even with all our amazing technological advances in medicine today, childbirth is still a risky business as well as being a very personal experience. The fewer worries you have going into the birthing process, the more you’ll be able to put your game face on, concentrate on having baby, and celebrating the life that’s coming to rest in your arms.

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