The temperatures are climbing, and so I like to reiterate something that I say each summer to my own students. Drink plenty of water to fend off dehydration (and, therefore, headaches and dry skin)! With that being said, and because it’s getting late here (and my daughter is an early bird), I’ll waste no more time but give you the articles and recipes I’ve been saving, including one on the most important drink we can enjoy! Have a happy rest of June, friends!

 

Articles

Maximize Muscle Growth

Train Like an MMA Fighter

Anaerobic Training: Program Design

The Metabolic Effects of HIIT

How to Add Speed Training to Your Workout

Fat-blasting Upper Body Workout

Arms Workout

Overcoming and Eliminating Rotator Cuff Injuries

Abs Circuit Workout

5 Exercises for Runners

Fat-blasting Step Mill Interval Workout

Total-body Barbell Workout

Loaded Movement Training

Functional Fitness for Pregnancy

Can Pilates Improve Sleep?

“I’m Not Flexible Enough for Yoga”

How to Find the Right  Yoga Teacher

Yoga Legs in 7 Minutes

One-arm Plank

Weight-loss Lies

Exercise and Appetite

When You Eat is Important

Why H2O is Your Friend

4 Food Myths

Top Superfoods that Heal the Body

The Need for Magnesium

Cherry Juice and Insomnia

How to Substitute Sweeteners

How to Choose the Right Oil

Your Neck and Your Health

DIY Bath Bombs

Homemade Sunscreen Lotion Bars

 

Recipes

Blueberry Bars (gluten-free, vegan)

A Salad for Salad-haters

Roasted, Easy, Herby Spiralized Vegetables

Pumpkin Chili

GF/V Spinach Tortillas

PB Banana Cookies

Mocha Ice Cream (vegan)

Lemon Poppy Seed Ice Cream (vegan)

Chocolate Coconut Bars

Two of my goals this year were to learn how to make my own skincare products and become more debt-free. I’ve also had a growing interest in essential oils in the past two years, since being formally introduced to them through my yoga teacher training (one goal accomplished, by the way, back in January). Well, this week, after much waiting (on what direction the husband’s career was going to take) and praying, I’ve finally committed to becoming a doTERRA wellness advocate! And I’m terribly excited!

 

I’ve tried several brands of essential oils in the past, but none have stood up to the quality that I’ve found with doTERRA. Their oils are more fragrant, richer, and work better than any other product that I’ve used in the past. Here are some of my experiences with their oils:

 

  • Melaleuca (tea tree) oil is a staple in my kit. I use it in almost everything, from adding it to sugar scrubs to cloth wipes (I cloth diaper) for my daughter. Since skin issues run in my family, melaleuca helps soothe and heal eczema and psoriasis flare-ups. It also has kept my daughter rash free from birth!
  • Lavender is another one of my must-haves. Not only is it extremely calming and helps with insomnia, from which I suffer from time to time, it also aids in digestion and intestinal relief. When my daughter was a few months old, she developed bad gas. I placed a drop of lavender in a vegetable carrier oil and rubbed it clockwise on her belly, and it helped relieve her pain and pass the gas.
  • Peppermint is both invigorating and relaxing. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I developed some swelling in my ankles. Another student of mine had very bad edema throughout her own pregnancy. We both experienced water loss–in her words, she no longer felt like she was going to “burst out of her skin.” (I gave her the rest of my bottle to keep.)
  • Ginger is well-known for it’s effect on nausea. As many of you who follow this blog may know, I had extreme nausea throughout my entire pregnancy. Ginger, combined with peppermint beadlettes (which doTERRA still sells), greatly reduced my nausea so that I could complete a yoga training.
  • Lemon is not only one of my favorite fragrances, it also tastes fabulous in water and has powerful detoxifying properties. I love putting a drop or two into a glass–and that’s all you need!
  • Wild orange has an uplifting fragrance that, when I wear it on my wrists, just makes me a little bit happier and gives me a slight boost in energy. Yet, it does not promote anxiety, but acts as a soothing scent while not making you sleepy.
  • Oregano was once used in a yoga class I took during a training to help support the immune system. We were focusing on moving lymph. I don’t know precisely how it worked, but I felt terrific after class.
  • DeepBlue is an oil blend that I personally have not tried but several of my friends and family have. My favorite story is that of my mother, who has a couple herniated discs in her back. When DeepBlue was applied to her back at the site of pain, she had instant relief for quite some time. (Note, no oil takes away pain permanently.)

 

There are many oils out there that I haven’t yet tried. Recent studies suggest that cancer patients may be helped by such oils as frankincense and sandalwood. The woman who introduced me to doTERRA’s products stated that she hadn’t had a MRSA outbreak since she’d started a regular essential oil regimen. One of my instructors told me that she hasn’t been sick since she’s begun using them regularly.

 

Regardless of whether or not you try doTERRA, there are a few things you want to look for when sourcing essential oils. First, look for the use of science in the quality testing done by the company–doTERRA uses mass spectrometry and gas chromatography to verify the purity of their products. Look also to see whether a company gets their products independently tested for purity. DoTERRA uses one such source that certifies the oils’ purity. Third, make certain that you are using a therapeutic-grade oil that is not cut with any other fillers. Part of the reason why many store-bought oils are so inexpensive is because the oils in them are cut with fillers.

 

Most importantly, if you have any questions at all, talk with a consultant. Also talk with a doctor knowledgeable in alternative holistic practices, especially if you have conditions. By and large, good, certified pure, therapeutic-grade oils are not toxic to use, but it is important to know which ones will help and which ones may hinder. The FDA does not regulate the development, sales, and use of essential oils as they are considered supplements.

 

On one final note, I will be posting doTERRA’s specials each month with information on them. There is no obligation to purchase. It is as much informational as it is a plug for my fledgling business. Please always feel free to contact me with questions. I will do my best to answer them.

 

This month’s oils:

  • Balance (blend): “Everyone experiences moments of disconnectedness or anxiety. The warm, woody aroma of Balance, doTERRA’s grounding blend, creates a sense of calm and well-being. We perfectly blend spruce, rosewood, frankincense, and blue tansy with fractionated coconut oil to offer an enticing fragrance which promotes tranquility and a sense of balance. For aromatic and topical use.” (Taken from doTERRA website.)
  • TerraShield (blend): “TerraShield is an all-natural formula of citronella, cedarwood, and a blend of 11 other therapeutic-grade essential oils blended in a base of fractionated coconut oil. A primary function of essential oils in plants is protecting against insects and other predators. Unlike other products that contain synthetic and toxic chemicals, TerraShield is a natural approach to managing exposure to biting insects. TerraShield’s fresh, light citrus smell is wonderfully invigorating and can be used safely by everyone in the family. One application provides coverage that lasts up to 6 hours.” (Taken from doTERRA website.)

 

Those who may have sensitive skin may wish to use a vegetable carrier oil (fractionated coconut oil, olive oil, etc.) to dilute pure essential oils. While the two above are already blended with a carrier base, the wearer can choose to dilute them further if necessary. Consult physicians if the sensitivity becomes worse or before using any oils on young children.

 

Want to know more? Watch this “Ask Dr. Hill” about TerraShield:

If you’re like me, you probably just heard cash registers ringing up huge bills in your ears. Yes, fitness equipment is not cheap. But hear me out. There are a few good reasons to buy your own stuff.

 

First off, you may or may not be able to get to the gym all the time. A lot of people–stay-at-home moms like myself, for instance–don’t have the time or finances to pay for club memberships, and it can be quite depressing to look at yourself in the mirror every day wondering how you’re going to fight the battle of the bulge when your money is going elsewhere and you’re gym doesn’t stay open 24 hours a day. And if you haven’t noticed yet, there are a lot of online fitness channels starting to take notice, which have monthly fees that are easier to swallow than the daily price of a studio class. Yet, many of these classes recommend, or even require, some (usually small) equipment.

 

Second, why not invest in the workouts you love most? Get a TRX or a couple kettlebells if you plan on making them a regular part of your weekly regimen. Buy good quality equipment and take care of it so that it lasts a long time. Some brands of, say for example, yoga mats are said to last a lifetime if they’re properly maintained (i.e. cleaned and stored).

 

Third, think about germs. I personally am not a germophobe but I know many people are. When you utilize the equipment that is out for general use, it may or may not be cleaned. I’m particularly thinking of mats here. Facilities are required to clean their machines but a good many times cleaning aerobics equipments falls upon the student, who may just be in a fired up hurry that day. Plus, when they get used a lot, even if cleaned, mats can really begin to smell.

 

Last, freedom of choice is valuable. Let’s face it: life happens and it may derail any getting to the gym one day or week, so having something at home as a supplemental backup plan can really save us from a sudden case of gym woes. As most of us believe, I think, something is better than nothing.

 

What about the money? I said it up top–it is expensive to invest in equipment. However, the price of one video game or a salon pedicure can buy a nice mat. A month of not eating out may get you that TRX.

 

It all comes down to priorities. Our health should be one of our most important priorities, as a healthy body allows for the best quality of life we can have. Buying fitness equipment does not mean you have to eternally sacrifice all the fun you’ve been having. It’s about making a great lifestyle choice so you can go on having fun, and look and, most importantly, feel good too!

 

Quick, Easy DIY Pilates/Yoga Mat Wash

Dilute 1/4 cup white vinegar with 1 cup of distilled water. Pour into a spray bottle and add 5-10 drops each of tea tree and lavender essential oils. Carry with you in your purse or mat bag. Use at the end of each class.

I am very fortunate to have a student who has a good friend whose a dietician. I recently wanted to know what the difference between a fast and a cleanse was, according to a dietician’s vocabulary. (Note, religious fasting takes a different form and comes with a different mindset. I am not discussing that here.) More to the point, I was interested in what she had to say about the Dr. Oz juice cleanse.

 

My interest in juicing stems back to my childhood, when my uncle worked for the Juice Man, and, more recently, it was reignited after watching the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. The subject of the documentary, Joe Cross, went through a 60-day doctor-supervised juice diet. (For more on the subject, Dr. Oz has information here.) It was amazing to watch Joe not only change the direction his health–and therefore life–was heading, but also reaching out to others who needed the same help.

 

Linked to source

Linked to source

The main reason I revisited this idea just this past weekend was simple. I wanted to cleanse my body. I had no intention of dieting, fasting, or in any way hitting the gym hard while cutting calories. I am a mom, and am still breastfeeding. Cutting calories is a bad idea.

 

So, let me just repeat: my idea of a juice cleanse is not a fast or a diet, and it is done over a short period of time (3 days).

 

I’ll also stop now and say the all-important phrase: I am not a doctor or a registered dietician. Before attempting any kind of diet, fast, cleanse, or exercise regimen, always consult your physician, dietician, and/or medical team, particularly if you suffer from any ailments.

 

Finally, before I launch into what I did, I’ll expound upon what the dietician conveyed to me. She describes fasting as a period of time in which one doesn’t eat anything, and states that even for short durations it is detrimental to the metabolic system, which need food in order to burn calories. Cleansing, she says, is done after you’ve consumed a lot of processed foods and feel heavy. It can also be a great way to jump start a healthy lifestyle change like cleaner eating. She also said that if one already eats clean, then cleansing isn’t necessary.

 

But because I’d had a hard time keeping anything healthy down during my pregnancy, and because I have students who ask me questions regarding diet as a part of healthy living, I thought I’d try a cleanse. As the dietician did, I modified the plan and ate along with the juices.

 

Here’s the basic breakdown of what I did:

 

  • I followed the three main juices from Dr. Oz’s detox plan–red in the morning, green at lunch, blue in the evening; and had an extra one ready in case I needed it–you could substitute this for tea, of which sadly I’d run out.
  • Because I did not have a juicer, I chose store-bought juices that had no additives or fillers, that were nothing but fruits and veggies. Due to the fact that many of these are sweetened with fruit, I limited my fruit intake.
  • I eliminated meat, dairy, and processed products from my consumption for the three days.
  • I ate as many vegetables as I wanted. I also ate as many heart-healthy fats as I wanted (usually 2-4 servings per day, mostly from nut butter).
  • I ate a huge salad at dinner to help keep me full overnight, and drizzled these with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • My sweet treat was dates and, once, a drizzle of honey.
  • I drank a lot of water.
  • I kept my exercising simple: walking and yoga.

 

Besides a minor headache on the first day, I’m happy to say that I really didn’t suffer any negative side effects. (Headaches are common occurrences when cleansing because the brain also goes through a chemical change.) Whenever I was hungry, I reached for celery and a nut butter of choice (this time, sunbutter, which was one of two “processed” thing I ate as I didn’t have it raw, if one wants to call ground up sunflower seeds processed), almonds and a few dates. For breakfast, I enjoyed steel cut oats and pumpkin with a splash of coconut almond milk (the other “processed” food–almonds, water, and coconut cream were the only ingredients).

 

Surprisingly, I didn’t find it very difficult (as day three is often rumored to be), although I was definitely ready to dig into the shrimp curry I’d made the day before I began by the time I’d ended. I think that this is perhaps because I didn’t cut food out completely, but choose to eat a vegan, mostly raw, whole foods diet. Overall, I’d have to say the experience was a positive one.

 

To reiterate on the final note, if you choose to do any kind of cleanse, make sure you consult the appropriate experts. Plan ahead, putting extra money aside for the necessary foods. Tell the others in your family what you are planning to do. Most of all, be smart about it. If something doesn’t feel right, modify so that you don’t get ill or have a more serious incident occur.

 

ADDENDUM 6/8/2014: There is one note I should have added–had I remembered, I would have prepared some beans and rice for meals too. Besides this, I am happy to note that my body feels as though it’s running more efficiently, especially when it comes to waste removal. Also, my cravings for sweet things haven’t been as hard to handle. So, all in all, a good experience!