Category Archives: wellness

Top 5 Green Actions

Lately I’ve been noticing that I am easily distracted. I get my mind set on doing something based on what an “expert in the field” is saying only to turn around and hear another “expert” telling me I need to be doing something else. With all the modes of communication available to me it’s easy to be bogged down with excessive information. I feel like they are just throwing bits and pieces of stories at me and hoping something will stick.

This is especially true when it comes to living green. There are about a hundred thousand things everyone could be doing to build a better world but it would be impossible for every person to do each of these things. I’ve narrowed it down to what I believe are the top five things. These are the actions I personally can see myself continuing to do or working toward doing more often.

1. Buying less stuff

We live in a culture where buying and having more stuff and a bigger place to keep it all is marketed as the fastest way to find happiness. I believe this to be wrong. Work on finding happiness within yourself through relationships, hobbies and activities. Collect only things that you actually need, rather than things that are advertised to make you think you want them.

2. Buying products from socially responsible companies

There are certain things you will probably never stop buying and for each person these special items may be different. Be sure that you are purchasing your favorite items from socially and environmentally responsible companies. Follow the links to my guides below for more information:

And be sure that when you do make purchases you bring your reusable bag.

3. Using alternative forms of transportation

The most significant change an individual could make toward reducing their carbon footprint is to cut down on how much they drive. Trains, buses, bikes, carpool. Avoid spending time in a vehicle occupied only by yourself and your imaginary friend. Read more in Getting Around.

4. Eating less meat and more sustainably grown and harvested food

Meat
Recognize the importance of knowing where your food comes from and what is being used to grow or raise it. Find out more, read Buying Food: The Naked Truth about Local and Organic. Decide for yourself whether fish should be on your menu: 

5. Conserving energy and water at home

When it comes to conserving energy and water, small adjustments can have a big impact. Protect the environment by conserving energy and water with these 100+ tips. Additionally, check out The Pros and Cons of Wind Power.

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30 Day Self Improvement Challenge

Swapping your closet can be exhausting, but going from summer to fall is one of the best times of the year. You get to do away with your flimsy, sticky tube tops that offer no support or protection and snuggle into cozy sweaters and things that make you feel warm and safe. And as an added bonus you never know what you’ll find from last year: a 20, your favorite lip gloss, an unopened lollipop, or a list of goals you made last fall.

My plan with this list was to discover characteristics within myself that I wanted to improve, work on these individually for 30 days (according to science, it takes 30 consecutive days to form a habit) each and discover an improved version of myself in about months. The reality was that I lost the list in my move to Portland and forgot all about my self-improvement goals. But it’s never too late to start again so now I’m sharing my list with you.

 “Instead of complaining that the rose bush is full of thorns, be happy the thorn bush has roses.” ~Buddhist Proverb
We all complain. Even if you argue that you are the happiest person in the world, you still complain sometimes. Sometimes we complain without even realizing it, but rarely is it ever helpful. Instead of complaining I will…
  • change the way I think about situations by seeing the positive instead of the negative.
  • practice yoga in order to become more mindful.
  • train myself to be less judgmental.
  • keep a list of things I am grateful for.
  • avoid fueling other people who are on the complain train by changing the subject or asking them to stop.
  • accept the situation or change the situation.
  • do more of what makes me happy and fulfilled and less of what makes me complain.
  • take care of myself so I am better equipped to handle difficult situations.

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”
~ Henry James

Kindness is one of the simplest thing to give to another person, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in ourselves and forget about it. Or maybe we don’t know how to be kind:

  • Express gratitude to the people around you for things they do.
  • Replace judgement with understanding.
  • Replace un-constructive criticism with encouragement and constructive criticism.
  • Just be there for someone – listen, hug, sit with them.
  • Offer to help someone practically with a household chore, when they’re moving, or when they’re carrying something heavy.
  • Remember the little things: little notes, letting someone merge into your lane while driving, holding the door for someone, helping someone with directions if they seem lost, a surprise gift.
  • Be kinder towards yourself.

 “No one has ever become poor by giving.” 
~ Anne Frank
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day to day life but it’s important to remember the less fortunate. I cannot volunteer every day for 21 days but my goal is to volunteer with an organization I feel passionate about once a week and for the remaining days be mindful of the important people in my life and think about how I can be there for them.

 “Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”
~ Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield
We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon: you have a deadline but instead are squandering your precious time on social media and cat videos. Break the cycle and get s**t done:
  • Organize your tasks into smaller steps that are more easily managed.
  • Change your environment to be more productive.
  • Create a detailed timeline with deadlines for each task to be completed by.
  • Eliminate the temptation of your favorite procrastination.
  • Surround yourself with inspiring people who take action.
  • Inform others of your goals, they are bound to ask about your progress when they see you.
  • Get advice from those who have already achieved their goals.
  • Revisit your goals to be sure they are still what you want.
  • Don’t make it complicated, there is no perfect time to do something.
  • Just do it – strategizing, planning and hypothesizing should not become your newest form of procrastination.
“Acceptance is such an important commodity, some have called it the first law of personal growth.”
~ Peter McWilliams

In dealing with situation and other people’s actions, we have 3 options: cut them out of our life, be frustrated or accept and embrace it. The only empowering option is acceptance. Why?

  • Life is too short for frustration.
  • You are forced to find the good. 
  • It creates realistic expectations for the future.
  • You likely do things that are just as frustrating.
  • It strengthens your relationships.
“As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.”
~ Robin S. Sharma

Your comfort zone may make you feel snug and safe but the boundaries leave little room for personal growth. Over time this once protective blanket may feel more like a straight jacket trapping you with boredom and fear. Stretch your zone a little and invite a little excitement and adventure in.

  • Make a fool out of yourself without fear of what others think.
  • Try something new, the worst that can happen is you fail.
  • Take a minute to discover some of the subtle fears that plague you every day and face them.
  • Become comfortable taking risks (not to be confused with being reckless). Your comfort zone is predictable to stretch it you have to do the unexpected.
  • Find comfort in the unknown.

-XOXO-

What’s on your list?

9 Awesome Fitness and Nutrition Apps

I am obsessed with my iPhone. I have my phone with me at all times to check in on my Etsy shop, to keep up with my friends on social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) and to research new project ideas on Pinterest. Come to think about it… this might not be healthy… I probably need help… Well I’ll worry about that later.

I am always looking for new apps to help me with the simplest of tasks. With that said, my iPhone has become my most reliable workout buddy. Here are some of my favorite apps for gym and home workouts.

Free Fitness

  • Bit Timer is a great app for strength training intervals. You can set the work time, rest time and the number of intervals you wish to repeat. Play your get pumped music in the background and the app will alert you when it’s time to start and end.
  • Gymboss allows you to create a timer with intervals and rounds. It also has preset programs and a basic stop watch.
  • Nike Training Club comes with various workouts and workout programs at the beginner, intermediate or advanced level. Use it for cardio, strength or a combo and set goals for toning, leaning out, getting strong or targeting certain areas. You can preset the amount of time and play your own music in the background.
  • Map My Run means you no longer have to estimate how far you’ve run, this app uses GPS to actually track them. You can change your activity to bike, run, walk and even hike. You can also create pre-made routes to make sure you’re covering the proper distance to meet your goals. Plus you can post your runs to Facebook and Twitter and use the Map My Run community to keep you motivated!
  • Fitness Pro is a great app for fitness junkies and newbies alike. It’s a great guide to new exercises and proper use of gym equipment. It’s not very useful at home but great for the gym.

Paid Fitness

  • Map My Run also has an MVP paid option which gives you coaching so I’m listing it a second time.
  • 10k Pro is a couch to 10k program that has preset goals for 30 days. You begin each day and follow the instructions for a certain amount of time. These instructions are spoken to you as you go along so there’s no need to keep an eye on the time. Fitnesity also has apps with a similar formate for situps, squats, arms, pushups, abs, pullups, cardio etc.
  • Yoga Studio offers classes for all levels and in varying lengths of time. You can specify the ambient sound and leanr about 250 different poses.

Free Nutrition

  • Lose It! is a food journal app to track how many calories are going in and how many are going out.
  • Fooducate helps you out when shopping for food. Use the scanner to scan the barcode of a product and the app assigns a grade based on health.

Give these apps a try and let me know what you think in the comments below.

-XOXO-

How to Wake up Early to Workout

Busy schedules sometimes mean waking up earlier just to get a workout in. I know it’s hard, it was hard for me to wake up early just to write about waking up early to workout. But there are some benefits to getting a workout in before you really start your day.

  • Morning exercises “jump start” your metabolism and kick your body into overdrive, helping you burn more calories throughout the remainder of your day.
  • Doing something good for your body in the morning energizes you for the day.
  • Studies show that working out in the morning helps brain activity for four to ten hours after exercising. Harness your new super power toward good, not evil.
  • Regular exercise leads to better sleep quality meaning you won’t need as much and it’ll gradually be easier to wake up earlier. You might not even need an alarm some days. It’s a cycle of good health.
  • Keeping a consistent exercise schedule regulates your bodies endocrine system and circadian rhythm. This means your body will start to recognize a pattern. It won’t be confused by different wake times and will start to regulate various systems in your body.
  • Working out in the morning leads to healthier diet choices throughout their day. Endorphins tend to suppress appetite.
  • Exercising in the morning gives you an opportunity to plan your day, pray, or just be alone with your thoughts.
  • If you “get it over with” in the morning, your fitness goals are less likely to slip through the cracks of a busy life.
I hope you’re convinced to give morning exercise a try. Here are some helpful tips to help you get up earlier and get moving.
If you’re running out of workout ideas, check out my printable workouts here.

Gluten-ous

It’s time to get to the bottom of this gluten free business. It’s clear that it’s not just going to leave stage right. I’m finally going to investigate gluten and living gluten-free.

According to the Mayo Clinic “A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).” The mayo clinic describes the purpose of a gluten-free diet as, “a treatment for celiac disease.”

Apparently Peter Gibson is the originator of the idea of gluten intolerance. He published a study in 2011 which found gluten to cause gastrointestinal distress in patients without celiac disease. This study was one of the strongest pieces of evidence to date that gluten intolerance is a condition.

Like any good scientist, Gibson was unsatisfied with these results and proceeded to conduct an even more rigorous study in 2013, where he found that subjects reportedly worsening gastrointestinal distress with each meal. Gluten wasn’t the cause, the cause was likely psychological and Gibson stated, “In contrast to our first study… we could find absolutely no specific response to gluten.”

Source: Gluten Free Club

It seems that going gluten-free is largely market driven and not based on any scientific evidence. Manufacturers, large and small, are jumping on the band wagon labeling products as gluten-free to appease the masses. But is it really good for us to adopt a diet sans gluten if celiac disease does not ail us?

Here’s my “professional” opinion: Of course you will feel better when you stop consuming all the pastries and cookies and crackers! It’s logic. Don’t replace these gluten-filled items with the gluten-free products that have come out. These are often even more processed and pumped with extra sugar and fat. If you HAVE to adopt a gluten-free diet, adopt a generally healthier diet as well. If you cook more at home using real ingredients, cutting out more processed foods, you will feel better! Regardless of the presence of gluten, so stop vilifying one food group… please.

Eat more vegetables and fruit. Eat more real ingredients and less processed items. Allow yourself a treat every once in a while. Donut, ice cream, whatever your vice is, everything in moderation.

Source: Flour Advisory Bureau

One good thing I’ve seen coming out of this fad is that gluten-free products are more easily available and less expensive for people who actually do have celiac disease. And that’s a win in my book.

Further reading

Meditation

I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection. For a lot of this journey since I moved to Portland everything was new. I didn’t have a usual breakfast place or a bar that never disappoints. I didn’t have a hike I knew like the back of my hand. I had but one friend. It was exciting because everything was new. Any person I met had a story I hadn’t yet heard. Every restaurant I tried was an experiment. Every place I went, even going to Target, was an adventure. But slowly all these things fell into place. Some of the people I met became regulars in the sitcom that I sometimes view my life as. I started visiting certain restaurants regularly and stopped going to some entirely. I know the routes to get to all the important places I need to visit. All of this happened naturally, I didn’t even notice I was becoming a local (can I say that yet Portland gods? Please don’t strike me down!)

Source: Yellow Wood Design

And now that the novelty of my new hometown has worn off I’ve started reflecting on what I’ve learned. I moved halfway across the country with my best friend to a place I knew no one and had no job prospects. Not only that, I was across the Oregon border before I even knew where I was going to be living! Was this half-made plan everything I dreamed it would be?

So, I’ve spent a lot of my free time thinking. I’d go on walks and think, I’d listen to music and think, I’d drive around and think. And after a little bit of hard thinking my brain would slip into a sort of nothingness. I realized I had been meditating without intending to. After making this realization I decided to do some research.

Source: Karma Jello

The goal of meditation is to focus and quiet your mind, eventually reaching a higher level of awareness and inner calm. You can meditate anywhere and at any time. No matter what’s going on around you, you can access a sense of tranquility and peace.

I’ve constructed a table outlining some various forms of mediation. I’ve found that, as a beginner, mantra meditation works best for me. Of course yoga has always been one of my favorite activities as well.

Information from Mayo Clinic

Here’s a list of ways I practice meditation day to day. Maybe you will be able to utilize some of these tips.

  • Breathe deeply: Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. What are you feeling?
  • Scan your body: Close your eyes and become aware of the sensations in your body. Can you locate the source of your discomfort?
  • Repeat a mantra: Check out Deepak Chopra Soul of Healing affirmation (free on Spotify and All Music) for an A-Z list of mantras you can try.
  • Exercise: Combine your exercise routine with meditation, focus on each movement. How are you changing?
  • Prayer: Write your own prayers and one written by someone else. What are you thankful for?
  • Read and reflect: Read sacred or texts and poems. What does it mean to you?
  • Focus your love and gratitude: Treat those you interact with throughout your day with kindness. How can you help?
  
The most important thing I’ve found through practicing meditation the last of this list. I have realized that I am quick to judge and when offended I jump to conclusions about the other persons motive. By remembering that every person has the right to be happy I realize that they’re actions were probably not directed toward me or meant to hurt me, there is something else going on in that persons life that is affecting their actions. 
I am also prone to move quickly and overlook some of the beautiful things in life. Meditation helps me remember to slow down and appreciate what I have and what is right in front of me instead of mourning the things I have lost and yearning for things I don’t possess. How has meditation influenced your life? New to meditation? Do you think you’d like to give it a try?

12 Weeks of Wellness: Excite

We’ve made it, it’s the final week of wellness. Congratulate yourself because you just spent the last twelve weeks investing in your health. I’m so proud of you! The last order of business is to focus on your external appearance. Your self-confidence runs deep and, believe it or not, promotes your health. Go forth and project this into the world.

This week excite: update your closet to suit your personal style and make an impression

Click the week for more information for why these are important to your wellness

12 Weeks of Wellness: Practice

The 10th week of wellness is upon us. It’s important to remember to have fun in life. If you have a hobby already great keep at it, keep practicing! If you don’t, I am giving you permission to give yourself time to relax and do something you enjoy. I will even send signed notes that you can give to your boss. That probably won’t do anything but I am willing to do that for you anyway. Just shoot me an email.

PHYSICAL & SOCIAL

  • Any team sport
  • yoga
  • Extreme sports
  • Contemporary dance
  • Boxing
  • Martial arts
  • Volunteering
  • Traveling
  • Bodybuilding


ARTISTIC

  • Taking up an instrument
  • Pottery
  • Photography
  • Learning graphic design
  • Watercolor painting
  • Wood-working
  • Sculpting
  • Building models

INTELLECTUALLY STIMULATING

  • Learning a new language
  • Researching a topic
  • Blogging
  • Playing simulation games
  • Creating a comic book
  • Writing poetry
  • Songwriting
  • Completing word games and puzzles
  • Becoming a chess master


COLLECTIONS

  • Wine
  • Shot glasses
  • Postcards
  • Comic books
  • Memorabilia
  • LPs
  • Sports cards and paraphernalia
  • Beanie babies
  • Beer bottles
  • Antique lighters
  • Cigars
  • Pulp literature
  • License plates
  • Decks of cards
  • Stamps


This week practice: take up a new hobby

Click the week for more information on each of these topics that are important to your wellness:

12 Weeks of Wellness: Balance

Food companies have us hooked by strategically including choice ingredients in their food: sugar, salt and fat. These three ingredients offer instantaneous bliss that causes us to continue to pursue happiness by overindulging. You really can’t eat just one. Be sure to pay attention to the amount of sugar and salt you are consuming to avoid some serious health problems in the present and in the future.

This week balance: limit your overall sugar and salt intake

CLICK THE WEEK FOR MORE INFORMATION ON WHY THESE ARE IMPORTANT TO YOUR WELLNESS

12 Weeks of Wellness: Freshen

We’re more than halfway through our 12 weeks of wellness; this week we’ll focus on the home and making your space safe, stress-free zone where you can find relaxation and comfort.

To freshen your space in a sustainable way, check out my Greening your Home Posts: Part 1 and Part 2

This week freshen: nest and take care of your space

12 Weeks of Wellness: Nourish

Last week I talked about nourishing your body through eating more vegetables. This week (the 6th week of wellness) nourish your body through something other than food. This is important on multiple levels. We eat when we’re hungry yes, but many people also eat when they’re thirsty, tired, watching TV or just when they’re bored. Discovering another way to use your time will not only distract you from the feeling of wanting to eat, but it will enrich your life.

This week nourish: focus on something other than food that fills you up

Click the week for more information on each of these topics that are important to your wellness:

12 Weeks of Wellness: Boost

I love vegetables! I think they are crisp and refreshing and vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body. So add a few more to your diet throughout this, the 5th week on our journey toward wellness.

Tips:

There are many ways you can introduce more veggies into your diet. I will list a few here but for a printable list you can hang on your refrigerator click here.

  • Buy vegetables in season, when they are cheapest and at the peak of their flavor.
  • Stock up on frozen veggies that are simply a microwave zap away from eating.
  • Plan meals around vegetables, like a stir-fry, add other food to supplement.
  • Try a veggie salad for a meal.
  • Add shredded zucchini and carrots to meatloaf, casserole, quick bread and muffins.
  • Make your vegetables more appealing by serving them with dip.

This week boost: make sure to eat at least three vegetables each day

Click the week for more information on each of these topics that are important to your wellness.

12 Weeks of Wellness: Unplug

It’s the 4th week of wellness and we’re focusing on how we can unplug from distractions such as technology.

Modern technology is wonderful in many ways. We can communicate with friends and family all around the world. We can get instant updates about world news, sports and events. There are thousands of facets to boost creativity. Job searches have never been easier. Research can be done with a click of a mouse. But with great power comes great responsibility. We have so many things we need to check and update and learn about and watch and read and on and on and on that sometimes we forget about the things happening around us, in the real world outside of cyberspace.

This week unplug: disconnect from unnecessary technology

Click the week for more information on why these are important to your wellness

12 Weeks of Wellness: Stretch

The third week of wellness is upon us and this week we’ll be focusing on stretching, moving, activity. Of course you’ll want to keep up with the good habits you’ve been developing so don’t forget to continue hydrating and getting enough rest.

Exercise is important to a healthy lifestyle for many reasons, regardless of your age, sex, or physical ability.

Mayo Clinic

To accomplish this week’s wellness goal you’ll need to try a new form of exercise. A few ideas include: yoga, walking during your breaks at work or school, running, lifting weights, swimming, etc. The idea is to try something you maybe have been wanting to try but haven’t for whatever reason.

You can check out my Fitness Page for a few ideas if you are unsure about where to start.

This week stretch: try a new form of exercise

Click the week for more information on why these are important to your wellness

12 Weeks of Wellness: Rest

As we continue on our 12 week program toward physical wellness keep up your good hydration habits but add this next weeks focus to your routine. Today we’re talking about rest and why it’s important.

Here is an infographic I created with the same information found on the previous “Sleep is Awesome!” infographic. Enjoy your new-found learning about sleep and why it’s important!

This week rest: wind down early and stick to a regular sleep schedule this week.

Click the week for more information on why these are important to your wellness


12 Weeks of Wellness: Hydrate

On Workout Wednesday I usually produce or re-produce a printable workout. But this week, and for the next eleven weeks I’d like to also focus on wellness: Wellness Wednesday. Because that’s more important than fitness. So to be come simply well I believe the first step is hydration. Water is a source of life for every species on this planet. Without this miracle molecule none of this beautiful blue planet would exist as it is (there would probably be robot llamas and volcanic acid would be the life juice, in fact according to the theory of infinite universes this probably exists).

Anyway, did you know that water makes up over half of your body weight? Your body uses water in many ways. Water cushions and lubricates joints; nourishes and protects the brain, spinal cord and other tissues; helps regulate the body’s temperature; and helps remove waste through perspiration, bowel movements and urination. 

There can be serious problems if you over-hydrate, which is called hyponatremia, or under-hydrate, which leads to dehydration. So check you pee: clear = drink less, dark = drink more.

Additionally, it is not completely true that water is your only source for hydration. Tea, coffee, fruit and vegetable juices, and even sports drinks and sodas can contribute to your daily water needs. However, these substances also add calories and sugars to your systems, which is an added consideration.

Tips for staying hydrated

  • Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. Consider carrying a reusable water bottle and filling it from the tap rather than purchasing bottled water, which is expensive and creates plastic bottle waste.
  • If plain water doesn’t interest you, try adding fruit such as lemon, lime, watermelon, orange or cucumber to your drink.
  • If you’re going to be exercising, make sure you drink water before, during and after your workout.
  • Start and end your day with a glass of water.
  • When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. The sensation of thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water. Drinking water may also contribute to a healthy weight loss plan, as some research suggests drinking water will help you feel full.
  • Drink on a schedule if you have trouble remembering to drink water. For example, drink water when you wake up; at breakfast, lunch and dinner; and when you go to bed. Or drink a small glass of water at the top of each hour.

This week hydrate: sip smart and drink more water! 

Click the week for more information on each of these topics that are important to your wellness.