I’ve had one of those weeks. The ones that drag you through the mud. In fact, today I’ve rather felt a little like mud. But that’s okay! Days like this can get you down but you don’t have to let them! One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is the power of positive thinking! It’s as simple as recognizing a negative thought, acknowledging it, and replacing it with something positive. It’s not always easy, but it is important! I hope you’ll give it a try. In the meantime, enjoy these articles and recipes!

Articles

8 Hormones Involved in Exercise

Concurrent Training Can Jeopardize Strength Gains

The Effects of Alcohol on Muscle Gains

How to Dead Lift

Steady State vs. Interval Training

4 Moves to Help You Master the Pull Up

6 Effective Squat Variations You Need to Try

Heart-pumping Plyometrics Workout

Upper Body Explosive Training Workout

10-minute Core Workout

10-minute Glutes Workout

What You Don’t Know about Food Labeling Could Undermine Your Health

Post-workout Tips

15 Ways to be Kind to Your Adrenals

Citrus Oils and Breast Health

About Carrier Oils

Recipes

Zucchini Bread Baked Oatmeal

Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancakes

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Pancakes (vegan)

Caprese Avocado Toast

Greek Tacos

Grilled Polenta Rounds with Black Bean & Avocado Salsa

Chocolate Chip Blueberry Bars (w/flourless option)

Pineapple Mango Sorbet

Almond Biscotti (gluten-free)

Pie Crust (gluten-free)

The Benefits of Matcha Tea

August 13, 2015

After I had my first daughter, we did her baby shower in a tea shop. The owner is one of the few tea masters in the USA, and she expounded upon the benefits of quality Matcha tea, a powdered green tea that one whisks into a frothy hot drink…or mix it in with some lemonade or your favorite quick bread. The uses of it are endless. An avid tea drinker, I was fascinated. As a writer, I’d done some research on tea but had not come across much on matcha.

Found on Flickr. All rights reserved to the artist.

Found on Flickr. All rights reserved to the artist.

Lately, people have been expounding upon all its benefits. There are reports that it fights cancer, burns more fat and calories, and may even have anti-aging properties. The tea master’s favorite reason to use matcha was boosting energy, something I definitely noticed when I was taking it regularly.

Matcha has become a trend of late, something that may or may not be a good thing. (I never do like trends when it comes to foods because they tend to be fads rather than real lifestyle behavioral changes.) While I hope that more studies will come out on matcha, I still suggest drinking it in its most natural state: in hot water. Some people think it tastes like grass, but to me good quality matcha has a sweet, smooth, even velvety flavor that is uniquely its own. The tea master told me to make matcha by doing the following:

  • Mix 1/4-1/2 tsp. matcha powder in 1/2 c. hot (not boiling) water
  • Whisk until frothy

It’s that simple. You want to buy ceremonial-grade matcha green tea whenever possible. This means paying a little more. A lot of store matchas are cheaper and that means they’re bitter and inferior in quality. The Tea Lady Boutique is the tea master’s online store and a great place to get good matcha (I’ve tried and like it) and I’m looking forward to doing an update about Steeped Tea‘s matcha. Both are ceremonial-grade, which means you’ll pay around $30+ for a package. Keep an eye out for the update!

Wow! I totally forgot it was the last week of the month last week, and so forgot to post these! Here are some awesome articles and recipes! Enjoy and stay cool!

Articles

A Girl’s Guide to Weight Training

6 Benefits of Using Weightlifting Machines

The Science of Suspension Exercise

7 Squat Variations

Master the Push Up

Summer-inspired Core Circuit

3 Exercises to Do Instead of Burpees

3 Arm Balance Secrets

4 Ways to Avoid Yoga Injuries

Hip Anatomy: Build Stability

The Science of Breathing

Fuzzy Thinking?

Should You Go Grain-free?

Women, Alcohol, and the Snack Attack

35 Homemade Spice Mixes

Natural Sunburn Relief

Recipes

Coconut Raspberry Bread

Cucumber, Chickpea, and Pita Salad

Fried Rice Recipe (with Cauliflower option)

Grilled Steak Fajitas

Indian Street “Burger”

Zucchini Cake

Peach Almond Crisp

Homemade Chocolate Pudding Pie (No Tofu)

No Bake Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies

Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream

5 Green Smoothie Recipes

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.

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