Whew! I hope you are beating the heat and dodging the crazy weather that some parts of the country are experiencing. In my neck of the woods, it’s hot–though I feel like it’s cooler than last year–and threatening with monsoons (’tis the season for them). We’ve had a few major flash floods already this month alone. 


This doesn’t mean that you can’t get out and be active, however. There are plenty of ways to do exercise at home. Body weight exercises that incorporate functional training are excellent ways to stay in shape and prevent injury from common, everyday movements. There are also plenty of at-home workout websites with relatively decent monthly fees for those looking to mix things up without a whole lot of equipment.


If you do work out at home, keep in mind the common hazards of doing so. Carpet is a major tripping hazard, as are shoelaces, toys, pets, and even kids. If your household is anything like mine, my daughter wants to be at the center of the action. This is why I do my workout during nap time! Did I mention, nap times are wonderful? You can get things finished (like blog posts, for instance ;))


Below are listed the articles and recipes that I’ve been squirreling away for you. I hope you enjoy them and find them useful in mixing up your regular regimen. 



Natural Dental Care

How to Make Soap

One Spice vs. 14 Drugs

Dark Chocolate and Good Gut Health

7 Reasons to Eat More Fat

Chakra Nutrition

Is Obesity Contagious?

The Real Reason People are Overweight

Habits Preventing Weight Loss

Why You Should Take Time to Meditate

The Mind-body Man

Best Biceps Exercises

Can You Train Upper and Lower Abs Separately?

The Problem with Lifting Too Little

Has HIIT Gotten Out of Hand?

Understanding/Preventing Common Running Injuries

Summer Boot Camp: Core, Legs, and Arms

5 Core Exercises without the Crunch

10 Moves for Men

TRX Full-body Blast Workout

Soccer-inspired Workout

6 Great Post-run Yoga Moves

Breast Cancer Survivors and Yoga

Benefits of Pilates

Teens and Stress

Stress and Exercise Habits



Apple Pie Overnight Oatmeal

Date-sweetened Granola

Garlic Scape Chickpea Omelette with Potato Salad

Celery, Fennel, and Green Apple Salad

Cancer-fighting Red Cabbage Salad

Baby Bok Choy Stoup

Asian-style Cancer-fighting Veggie Soup

Spicy Mushroom and Bok Choy Stir-fry

Toasted Beef Ravioli (Paleo)

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos

Paleo/Vegan Pizza Crust

Fail-proof Fruit Custard

Paleo Tiramasu, Brownies, and Condiments

Chocolate Zucchini Coconut Cake

6 Things You Didn’t Know about Watermelons (plus a recipe)

6 Great Pre-workout Snacks

5 Great Post-workout Snacks

Homemade Spinach Dip

How to Make Lemon Extract

I’m going to do my best to stay off my soapbox for this one, but there are a couple of things I’ve run across lately that have got me thinking that we, as people (as well as parents, for those of us who are), need to be careful in how we discuss mothering with, well, mothers.

The Examples

1. A car sticker: I’m a breastfeeding, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, babywearing kinda mama.

2. A woman posts a picture of her child sleeping in their car seat on a Facebook group asking for advice on how to keep the child’s head from flopping forward. Opinions ranged across the board.

3. Hashtags.

4. Parents from the previous generations.

The Stories

The first example comes from one of my many morning walks. I stumbled across this car sticker while enjoying the coolness of the early morning with my daughter. At first I thought, WOW! I need one of those! because I have strong opinions about the benefits of each of those topics. However, the longer I thought about it while walking, the more I disliked the ring the sticker had. It sounded snooty. No, that’s not what the mama who owned the car surely intended it to sound like, but I nonetheless felt that things like this help form rifts in the parenting community–and if you’ve not yet seen any of those blowups, you’re one lucky person! They get ugly. Fast.

Example two happened yesterday. As one who genuinely just wanted to help the mama, as most who posted, I put in my two cents. I’ve used the velcro strap covers to keep my own daughter’s head from bobbling around, with great results and NO threat to her safety (as I’m a stickler for ensuring the chest harness is lined with her armpits). However, I was immediately jumped on–shut down, if you will–by some other mama who said she as a child passenger safety tech (CPST), who immediately told me that I was doing it wrong and threatening my child’s life. I’m sorry to say, there’s nothing that pushes my hot button more than when someone just shuts me down. (I was nice enough to say “Thank you, I didn’t know,” and keep my mouth shut. Sadly, the debate is still raging–other mamas have offered similar advice to mine and have been likewise corrected by others who are CPST’s or who’ve done more reading on the topic.)

The Hastags idea came from a post I read just this morning. I actually really enjoyed Mandi’s thoughts on the subject and agree with her on quite a few things. My own thoughts, as they pertain to hashtags and parenting, stem from the numerous Facebook and Twitter posts of children who exhibit a certain “gender-prone” behavior at young ages while playing, which their parents brag about for one reason or another. I honestly don’t understand it at all, and it again causes unnecessary flareups that can get quite nasty. Everyone has their own opinions on gender roles and children, and that’s their own business (in my book), but why have we stopped letting kids just play without having to label it as one thing or another?

And, of course, everyone who becomes a parent inevitably runs into a difference of opinions with those who’ve parented before them. There are many stories I’ve read about and discussed with friends, including horrifying stories of people rushing over to mothers who babywear swearing that their child will fall off their backs and yanking at the baby–which is dangerous to the child’s safety and well being; arguments over cloth diapering and formula feeding; pediatricians who, not understanding different methods like Baby-Led Weaning, scoff at it and tell the parents to try something else rather than do the research and make an informed opinion. The list goes on. While I’m one to say that we’re a hearty race not prone to dying off, or else we would have done so long before now, I also believe that sometimes well-intentioned former parents ought to let us newbies find our own way (and not snort when we make mistakes). Some of the “new” ways (like those mentioned in the car sticker), which are actually quite old and time-tested, are not bad ways…they’re just different.

The Conclusion

Parenting is as dividing a topic as it is a blessing, and it can really stress new moms (and dads) out. They’re already stressed out enough trying to figure out who to change diapers and get their kids to eat enough food to keep gaining weight (my latest challenge). The last thing any current parent needs is to be harped on for the choices they’ve made.

So let me finish by saying this:

Each and every person’s situation is unique to their family. Each parent makes the choices they do based on their specific needs. Cloth diapering? Great! But a lot of people simply don’t feel like they have the time and energy to do it, and that’s okay. Want to use a pacifier right out of the hospital because it gives you a little break from breastfeeding? You’re not alone. You’re making the best decisions you can based on your circumstances. Freaking out about car safety? Why not become a CPST? And, just so you know, I’m grateful to the lady who informed me of the risks associated with aftermarket velco straps, though I wish she’d come across in a different manner. 

You, mama, are doing a good job! Don’t let anyone tell you differently. It’s hard being a parent, and while we might have past examples to help us along, our situation is still different. We’re still blind because, loving help from grandparents or not, it’s us doing the job this time and we’ve never done it before. Keep your chin up. You’re doing a good job.

Additional Resources

Car Seat Safety: Safe Kids WorldwideCar Seats for the Littles

Babywearing: Babywearing International, Inc., Facebook groups–Babywearing 101 and Everyday Babywearing

Baby Led Weaning: Baby Led Weaninga book my girlfriend recommended

Breastfeeding: La Leche League, International

More on cloth diapering

General Baby Advice: AAP, Healthy Children (part of AAP), APA, APS-SPR, Dr. Sears (an alternative perspective to child-rearing), PubMed

Pilates Principles

July 17, 2014



It’s been a while since I wrote about Pilates, but as it was my first venture into mind-body fitness and I promised myself I’d become an instructor in it, I thought I’d take the time to write about the basic principles that act as the foundation for Joseph Pilates’ method of “Contrology” which he based on a lifetime of study of movement and fitness. There have been a lot of studies coming out on the benefits of doing Pilates in the past year, ranging from improving sleep to quality of life. Before I launch into the explanations of the six principles (sometimes they vary a little depending on the school teaching them, but these are the main foundational ideas he wrote about), I want to talk about the powerhouse.


In Pilates, the powerhouse is considered your core. Not just your rectus abdominus, the superficial muscle that makes six- or eight-pack abs look good but actually can contribute to back pain when overworked, but the integrated system of muscles that supports your lower back and pelvic girdle. There are a lot of them because the pelvis is where the two halves of your body combine. Besides the rectus, which is focused upon least (in my opinion), the powerhouse includes:


  • The transverse abdominals
  • The internal and external obliques
  • The erector spinae and other back muscles
  • The hip flexors
  • The gluteals




Most of the focus is on the transverse abdominus, obliques, hip flexors, back muscles, and other supporting trunk muscles. Pilates believed–and science has since proved–that all movement originates in the core. When the mind-body link is established through practicing the Pilates principles which underline the method of Contrology, you’ll find that you have an enormous sense of understanding of what’s happening within your body as well as being able to control what your body is doing. It no longer acts of its own accord, but instead you become more mindfully aware of how you  move.


The principles are:


Concentration: perhaps the most important principle (again, in my opinion), it is absolutely necessary to stay focused on what you are doing throughout your practice, whether it be a 15-minute or hour-long workout. Concentration establishes the mind-body link, allowing for new neurological pathways to be established over time with repeating the exercises. It takes at least six seconds to begin establishing these new neurological pathways, and at least 1000 times repeated with an average of 10,000 times, equating roughly to 18 hours of practice for each exercise.


Centering: this principle states that all movement starts in the powerhouse, with the main working muscles being those of the deeper abdominals, back muscles, and glutes. From the powerhouse, each movement flows outward into the rest of the body, enhanced by correct form and anatomical alignment.




Precision: in addition to doing an exercise with full concentration and the activation of the powerhouse, Pilates asks the student to approach each exercise with goal. “Honor every movement,” said Pilates. Every exercise has a purpose, a way it will help build strength and the connection between mind and body. Therefore, each exercise should be done with the aim of achieving perfected repetitions, which is part of the reason most of them are performed in a low number of repetitions. It is vital that, as you practice your exercises, you continually scan your body and breath (coming up) to see if you are doing all six principles.


Breathing: not only do you need to perform exercises as well as possible, you must also breathe with them. The breath is integral to every exercise because it helps create a rhythm and flow with which to follow. It also makes the exercises easier, though it can take getting used to. Sri K. Pattabi Jois used to say to his students, “Incorrect breathing, pain coming.” So many people hold their breath when they work out, causing an increased thoracic pressure (and elevated blood pressure), veins popping out of their bodies, redness in the skin, faintness that might lead to nausea or fainting, etc. As a general rule, a student inhales through the nose on the preparation and exhales through the mouth to execute the movement.


Control: in order to prevent any injury from happening to the body, all exercises need to be done mindfully. A student needs to be in full control of every movement they execute, both in body and mind. (Again, coming back to the link between body-mind is very important in establishing those neurological pathways.) This idea is where Pilates got his “Contrology” term, or “The art of control.” When done without sudden, thoughtless, or haphazard movements (and distracted thoughts), Pilates is one of the safest exercise regimens out there.




Fluidity of movement: also called “flow,” this principle states that each exercise should have a smooth, graceful quality to it; additionally, transitions between each exercise should also flow together. With practice and time, any jerkiness, static rests, or fragmented movements will melt away into an effortless dance-like practice.


As with any exercise, particularly if you are new to it, it’s going to take some time to learn all of this. I highly recommend finding a qualified instructor under whom to study. As I tell my new students, who often look like deer in the headlights when they have to think about all of these things at once (and look a little worn out after class from having used their brains in new, unexpected ways), take things one step at a time. Master one principle at a time–make it the focus of a practice and as you begin to learn the movements, add more and more principles until you can concentrate (no pun intended!) on them all while flowing (hehe!) through all the exercises.

I stretched my brain to think of something to talk about this week besides the products of the month from doTERRA (below). Sometimes, it’s hard to come up with something each week. Then, I stumbled upon this challenge and thought I’d share it for you.



Simple, straightforward. Right? So often, we get caught up in the cyclical nature negative thinking and negative speaking can lead to. Stopping to think about what we’d like to say–how they can affect not only those around is but also ourselves–can lead to the start of cognitive restructuring and positive mood shifts.


Give it a try! See if you notice a difference 🙂


Here are this month’s doTERRA products of the month, plus a great opportunity for those seeking to start up selling essential oils to those in their own communities:


doTERRA Essential Skin Care Clear Skin Foaming Face Wash

SAVE 10% on doTERRA Essential Skin Care Clear Skin Foaming Face Wash! With amazing essential oils like rosewood to manage sebum levels, white willow bark for cell renewal, and black cumin seed with its antioxidants to help protect skin, this gentle cleanser is designed to rid your skin of impurities without stripping it of natural moisture for beautiful, clear skin. For more information on doTERRA’s skin care line, check out this PDF: EssentialSkinCare Foaming Face Wash.

doTERRA Serenity Essential Oil Blend

doTERRA Serenity Essential Oil Blend

This month’s oil of the month is Serenity Essential Oil Blend. I personally used this blend in final relaxation at the end of my yoga class last night, and the whole class really enjoyed its fragrance and calming benefits. Lavender, sweet marjoram, Roman chamomile, ylang ylang, sandalwood and vanilla bean all combine to create a wonderful blend that can bring about a sense of peace  and a good night’s rest. (A friend told me that if she doesn’t put it on her feet before she goes to bed, she has a very hard time falling asleep.)

As an added bonus, for those doTERRA wellness advocates who sell at least 125 product volume (PV) before the 15th of the month, you get a free bottle of Serenity! This has instantly become my favorite essential oil that I have tried thus far. I hope you take the opportunity to do so as well.

One additional note: For those interested in becoming doTERRA wellness advocates, if you enroll between July 1-31 with an order of 100 PV, you will receive another 50 product credits free. (Each item ordered is designated a product volume, PV, usually–with some exceptions–equaling the wholesale value of the item.)

Please note, I am a doTERRA wellness advocate (also known as an Independent Product Consultant, or IPC). I will benefit from any sales made through my website, but promise that I will do my best to bring accurate essential oils and product information to you. Please feel free to leave me any questions you may have and I will do my best to answer them in a timely fashion, and please check out my Facebook page, Joyous Living and Wellness, where I post not only about health and fitness but also the benefits of essential oils.



We’ve all heard of the Mozart Effect and that classical music, in general, promotes skill-learning in children–and, I daresay, adults too. Whether or not the Mozart Effect is an actual phenomenon that makes a child smarter, it is fairly well known that classical music has numerous effects on the body, including calms the mind, eases tension, and possibly improves memory. (Here’s another study on how music affects the brain. And another.)


And then there is this post. Granted, this was found on Facebook. So I did some research and here is what I found, thanks to PubMed:



Don’t understand medical vernacular? Here is a direct quote from the main NLP website:


Neuro-Linguistic Programming™ (NLP™) is defined as the study of the structure of subjective experience and what can be calculated from that and is predicated upon the belief that all behaviour has structure.


Now, at first glance, perhaps all of these things mentioned above-classical music, the Facebook post, PubMed and the quote–look like they have little that links them. But think for a moment. How many times have you been listening to the radio, day in and day out, and suddenly you’re singing along to that new song?


Honestly, I’m not throwing rocks. A review of my Pandora playlist will reveal that I enjoy listening to a wide range of music, from Epica to Clannad, from Sarah Brightman to Hymns, from Azam Ali and Anoushka Shankar to Enya and DJ Tiesto. I listen to almost everything, but classical is one of my go-to favorites, especially when I need to wind down after a long, stressful day, or whenever I need something to keep me in a calm frame of mind.


I’ve also started paying more attention to what I play when my daughter is around because, as the Facebook post suggests, music triggers a part of the brain that helps subconscious learning. With so much of today’s popular music objectifying women and endorsing unhealthy habits, I’d rather not have her listen to it–her brain is a little sponge right now. Whatever she hears, she absorbs.


What you listen to and play around your children is your business, not mine. I am merely posting this information on NLP because, perhaps like you, I had never heard of it before and it’s made me more aware of what I do.