October 1, 2015
I owe you the articles and recipes I’ve collected this past month, but we’ve had some unexpected events happen in our lives that have made things a bit chaotic around this place. For one, we learned that my husband won’t be promoted and so we’re having to follow some other plans that we’ve had in place in case of this happening. And things are really falling into place for us! It’s exciting but at the same time nerve-wracking. The military has been our life for 11 years (13 for my husband) and now it’s all changing. There are so many things to be grateful for, to be sure, but I’d like to share that with you in more detail and tonight I don’t have the time. We leave for our whirlwind trip in 12 hours!
Wishing you all the best until I get back in 10 days’ time!
September 17, 2015
I cannot take credit for this idea. I heard about it when I attended Mommy Con last fall, but I think it’s a terrific idea. If you are looking to reduce the amount of sweets your children are eating during Halloween–which begins the holiday sweets-eating frenzy that happens from October through the new year–then try the Switch Witch.
Here’s how this idea works:
- Go Trick or Treating!
- Somehow pry the candy out of your children’s little hands.
- Tell them about how the Switch Witch will be bringing them an extra special Halloween treat that they will receive the next morning.
- Give them this gift wrapped up all pretty!
- Take the hidden candy and donate it…but make sure it goes out of your house.
Some people might think that taking a child’s candy away is a bit extreme, but let’s be realistic. Our kids come into contact with far too much sugar on any given day. They don’t need the sugary drug that is handed out to them on Halloween any more than we do. Sugar is well-known for altering brain chemicals. It is more addicting than heroin. Therefore, why not start a healthier tradition that not only removes most or all of the over-abundance of candy from the premises, but also encourages your children to learn or read or do something amazing (whatever that gift you give might be)?
Do you have a favorite alternative to Halloween candy? I’d love to hear about it!
September 10, 2015
Yoga pants have recently come under fire, even so far as there being proposed laws against them, and not without reason. Sometimes, these pants aren’t flattering. And I don’t mean to your body shape. As a mind-body fitness instructor, one of the things we’re supposed to do is monitor clothing so that it doesn’t distract others from their workouts.
Don’t get me wrong. We’re not apparel policemen. However, if we see that a certain item might not be comfortable or be too revealing, it’s up to us to say something. And that makes for very awkward conversations. People are already self-conscious enough these days. I hate to be the one to have to say, “Hey, hun, you need to wear different bottoms next time.”
Let me stop and say right now that I love yoga pants. I find them very comfortable. They’ve kept me clothed through two pregnancies. They are a staple of my fitness wardrobe.
So why do I bring it up? Because I don’t want to have to have this conversation EVER. I’ve been fortunate in my teaching career to only have run across one or two students who have pants that are see-through. One was fairly recently, and I didn’t get a chance to let her know about them either.
But what really prompted this post was a recent conversation with another student who went yoga pants shopping. She said that she couldn’t find anything because every time she pressed on the fabric with her hand, she could see it. It was frustrating. She was asking me for brand recommendations.
I recommended trying them on.
Let’s face it. Like anything else, there’s an industry that surrounds yoga and Pilates clothing. That means money. You don’t have to spend it though. The general recommendation is that you are comfortable and that your clothes be a little loose to provide room for movement but not too loose to get in the way. A lot of serious yoga practitioners wear tank tops and shorts rather than pants because skin tracts better on skin than on cloth, enabling you to more easily hold poses. A lot of serious Pilates practitioners do likewise because there’s less fabric to get in the way of the continuous fluid movements and therefore fewer distractions from your exercises.
I say wear what is most comfortable for you. Wear layers to class. You never know when you’ll get chilled, particularly as you wind down at the end of class. Go up a size in yoga pants if you aren’t sure the size you try on meets your criteria for a good fit. Try a different brand even. Go long or go short. There’s no one rule except, perhaps, this: next time you try on pants at a store, bend over in front of the mirror. See what the fabric does on your body. Go from there.
That way there are no more awkward conversations about your clothing.
September 3, 2015
I hate saying No. I’m an overachiever. I want to do everything. But sometimes you’ve got to step back from an overly-packed schedule and tell someone you’re sorry but you can’t do it.
I mean, I say NO to my toddler all the time! HAHA! Why shouldn’t I say it to someone else?
Let’s face it, Our time is precious…and sometimes we need it for ourselves. To take a few minutes of peace and quiet. To indulge in our writing. To cook, clean, or do mundane tasks. To read. To do whatever it is on our lists.
I had to say no to something I really enjoy doing. I had to take a step back, reevaluate my priorities, find out where I could fit in more Me Time. I don’t like saying no. I like to keep to commitments when I make them. But this one wasn’t all-binding. I could change my mind at any given time, and since I’ve been slightly crazy with my schedule in August, I wanted to reduce my workload on one day a week. That, for me, is Fridays! I’ve got little to give by Friday. So that commitment had to go.
And I’m glad it’s gone.
In addition, saying no means you’ve stood up for yourself. You’ve taken note of your needs, you’ve been assertive, and that is healthy! Knowing where your boundaries lie is important to reducing anxiety, fatigue, sleeplessness, eating disorders and overweight and obesity, and a whole slew of other diseases and illnesses! When you learn to say no, you’re taking care of you!
Don’t be afraid to say no! Do it whenever you need to, and don’t let anyone else make you feel back for doing so! If they try, they really don’t value you, or your time, and that really is a no-no!
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.
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!
July 30, 2015
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!
July 23, 2015
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!
July 16, 2015
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!