I hope this year has been a terrific one already. January is drawing to a close (already?!) but not before I leave you with this month’s articles and recipes. Enjoy them, and may you find many ways to apply them to your new lifestyle habits!

Articles

Yoga-inspired Dynamic Warm-up

20-minute Calorie-burning HIIT Workout

Little Black Dress Workout

Boost Your Workout with Metabolic Drills

Top Exercises to Gain Thoracic Mobility

Does Exercise Order Really Matter?

Diabetes and Exercise: What Every Fitness Professional Should Know

The Physiology of Fat Loss

Cold Winter Temps Trigger Brown Fat Burning

Improving Chronic Neck Pain with Pilates

Pilates and Chronic Lower Back Pain

Pilates for Larger Bodies

Sun Salutations Solutions

Seniors and Self-myofascial Release

Stretching for Men

Sleep: Fueling Brain and Body

Laughter, Brain Fitness, and Older Adults

The Skinny on Happiness

The Mental Aspects of Chronic Pain

Bust Out of a Food Rut

Eating with the Seasons

Understanding Iron-deficiency Anemia and Sports Anemia

From Farm to Doorstep with a Click

From Heirloom Seeds to Heirloom Breeds

How to Handle a Whole Chicken

DIY Cayenne/St. John’s Wort Salve

Natural Herbal Foot Care

The Wonders of Bergamot

Recipes

Avocado Toast

Banana Blueberry Muffins

On-the-go Breakfast Oatmeal Trail Mix Cupcakes

Baked Peanut Butter Apple Oatmeal

Meyer Lemon, Kale, and Goat Cheese Flatbread

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Power Salad with Lemon Chia Seed Dressing

3 Ingredient Split Pea Soup (vegan)

Spaghetti and Olive Rosemary Meatballs (grain-free)

Goat Cheese Chicken Alfredo (gluten-free)

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili (vegan)

Easy Chickpea Vegetable Stir Fry

Apple Berry Crumble (grain-free)

Mini-Carob Brownies (gluten-free)

Coconut Custard

The Importance of Gratitude

January 22, 2015

We live in a world that tells us we need more. We are bombarded with endless advertisements and images telling us that we aren’t good enough (as we are), that we need this food, that cosmetic, this surgery, that diet, etc., to shape us into something better…and that will make us happier. Sadly, these are industries driven by cold, hard cash. In most cases, you are an afterthought.

Contentment for the life we are leading at this very moment, for the things and people in our lives, offers us far more for a longer duration of time than your favorite snack food, diet plan, retail therapy, or next fat-reducing treatment. Scientifically, contentment works on the brain, reducing stress and anxiety while increasing such feelings as hope and love. Best of all, we just feel better, period. To me, at least, it’s as though one can breathe again after holding their breath under water for an extended period of time.

Experiencing gratitude takes a lot of practice before it can become a habit of contentment. Since our society encourages us to constantly buy, gain, change, we often program ourselves with negative reminders and punishments when we don’t meet our expectations. Part of the practice is letting go of the negative self-talk and replacing it with positive self-talk. Here’s one easy way of doing just that.

Think of five people/things in your life, right now, that you are grateful for.

That’s it.

When you wake up, take a minute to think of five people/things. When you encounter rush hour and it’s making you grumpy, come up with five people/things. When you want something that your budget just won’t allow, think of five people/things. When the fire alarm sounds and irritates you, think of five people/things. Before you shut your eyes at night, think of five people/things. Anytime you need an uplifting boost to your spirits, think of five people/things.

If you can’t think of five at first, think of three.

If you can’t think of three, think of one.

It all comes down to practice–just going through the process of musing on someone or something we can be truly grateful for changes the way our brain works. Over time, it becomes easier to think of the five, until all those negatives you’d once cataloged each day diminish and vanish in a wave of contentment ushered in by thoughts of all the goodness you have in your life right now.

It’s isn’t always easy when you’re feeling down.

No, it’s downright hard when you’re in the dumps.

Do it anyway.

It helps, and it gets easier.

So I stumbled upon this TED talk last week, and thought it important. The statistics are ones I’ve heard repeatedly in the health and fitness industry over the last few years, but a lot of people don’t know them. And they don’t know how to research. Here’s what Robyn O’Brien said about her research journey, and why GMO foods are so much cheaper than organics.

At the end, she encourages her audience (and us) to use the talents we were given to create change in our lives, communities, cities, and even the world. I don’t know about you, but I sat there thinking and realizing what a daunting task this can be. But then I began thinking that any great change starts with small steps.

What do those steps look like for the average, everyday person who perhaps, like my family, has to stick to a budget?

  • Read ingredients on the backs of packages for filler/artificial ingredients. Try to choose those processed foods you like that are clearly labeled as non-GMO and USDA-certified organic.
  • Better yet, try cutting out as many processed foods from your diet as possible. Shop
    Found on Facebook

    Found on Facebook

    bulk at places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, and invest in a blender that can grind up dry goods like wheat berries, oats, nuts, and other whole foods. Become more self-sufficient. (Pinterest is amazing for having recipes to help with this.)

  • Shop around the perimeter of a store rather than down the aisles. You pay a premium for packaging. Why not put that extra money toward foods that benefit the body?
  • Don’t see what you want in your local grocery store? Put in requests. Keep requesting. Get your friends to buy in a similar way and place requests. Your money talks!
  • Look for local farmer’s markets, even if they’re seasonal. Their prices are usually very good and their produce is excellent. Talk with the vendors about how they grow their produce and about their knowledge in the industry. The more you know, the better informed decisions you make.
  • Don’t have a local farmer’s market within a reasonable distance (to you)? Plant a garden! Don’t have a whole lot of space? Look into square-foot gardening!
  • Consider getting into canning and dehydrating foods, or ask your friends if they know someone who does these things. This way, you can have your yummy produce even in the winter!
  • Become a vegetarian. Even just doing Vegetarian Mondays will make an impact on your budget, your health, and even the environment.
  • Not ready to give up meat? Try buying grass-fed and ethically-raised meats, eggs, and dairy. Not seeing what you want in the store? Research farms that sell grass-fed produce. Don’t shy away from the prices of a quarter/half cow. Split the cost between nearby family/friends/neighbors. It’s a lot of meat, and lasts quite a while. Paying a little extra for meats, eggs, and dairy will benefit your waistline (and bottom line) in the long run. (Fun fact: Some people drive 2-3 hours to get their quarter cow!)
  • Shop online for great deals. I find great deals on websites like Amazon for organic oils, cocoa, and coconut sugar that are also harvested in a sustainable fashion that also helps the local farmers.
  • Don’t forget that these principles can extend to your health and beauty habits, and household goods too! Ever heard of reusable paper towels?

Remember, finally, that unless you’ve got a medical reason that requires immediate changes (under doctor supervision), the easiest way to go about changing up eating habits is to do it over time. Start slowly. Once you clear out one item or kind of item from your pantry/freezer/fridge, replace is with a healthier alternative. Learn how to make your favorite nut butters, jams, veggie chips, breads, etc. Do the majority of your food prep on the weekends when you have more time; consider making it a family event. Freeze meals that are ready to dump into a crock pot–another great kitchen investment!–so that you can just thaw, pour, start cooking, and go about your busy day.

In the end, healthy habits also comes down to lifestyle. A lot of people run very busy lives. Pick the things you can do. Consider making room in your schedule for the things you’d like to do. Leave the things you really don’t want to/can’t do alone. Maybe one day you’ll get around to them, or maybe not. But don’t beat yourself up for not getting into canning (or whatever) because you simply don’t have the time/energy to do it when your best friend and next door neighbor tells all her wonderful stories about how full her cellar shelves are getting. You’re doing what you can.

I’ve decided to start posting monthly on essential oils, what they are, why I chose to become a doTERRA wellness advocate, and specifics on oils in addition to letting you all know the monthly specials doTERRA offers. My goal is primarily to educate, but should you choose to make a purchase through my website, I do earn a small commission, (and I thank you for choosing to go through me).

So, first off, a lot of people want to know what are essential oils?

According to Wikipedia, essential oils are concentrated hydrophobic (literally, “water-fearing”) liquids comprised of plant-based volatile aroma compounds. The “essential” part of the description comes about because each oil carries the “essence” of the plant’s characteristic fragrance. Most often, essential oils are harvested through the steam distillation process, though they are also obtained through expression and solvent extraction. Historically, these oils were often used for medicinal purposes. Today, essential oils have a wide application, and are often found in common day products like makeup and perfumes, foods, incense, household cleaners, etc. The branch of alternative medicine that mainly uses essential oils is known as aromatherapy.

There are a lot of brands of essential oils out there. Many can be found in stores. While they might be great on price, they are often cut with chemicals. When searching for a good essential oil, make sure that it is certified pure therapeutic-grade quality. For this reason, I generally advise that you research into the companies you buy or are considering on buying from in order to ensure that they, like doTERRA, are meeting the highest quality standards possible. (The FDA does not regulate the essential oils market as they are viewed as supplements.) Look for companies that quality-check each batch of product made, who work closely with the top names in the oils industry, and who meld traditional aromatherapy applications with modern scientific research. Just because essential oils have been used for hundreds and even thousands of years doesn’t mean that good scientific evidence isn’t necessary. It is, and thankfully more scientists are looking at essential oils for their therapeutic and medicinal benefits. (More on that later.)

I’m going to leave you with a rather long video on frankincense oil presented by one of the top names in the industry and doTERRA’s Dr. Hill. Considered the “King of Oils,” frankincense has long been prized for its fragrance and medicinal properties, and is now being looked at by the medical community for anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, among other things. For more information, check out PubMed.

DoTERRA’s January 2015 Specials:

Linked to more information

Linked to more information, extended till January 15th!

Linked to more information

Linked to more information

Linked to New Year, New You website

Linked to New Year, New You website

As a bonus, here are some recipes that promote a Slim & Sassy lifestyle! Remember, to be healthy requires more than using a product. It requires lifestyle changes! Pick one area to focus on at a time, make small goals to meet an overall larger one, be patient and persistent, and you’ll start seeing results! Good luck and best wishes this year!