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6 Tips For Staying On Track Even On Vacation

Summer’s here, and so are many, many temptations. What is it about the summer sunshine that makes us just want to eat…well, bad? There’s the fried foods, the barbecues, and of course the ice cream…and then there’s vacation. For a long time vacation to me meant a vacation from everything – including all sense of rationale and all things healthy. French fries, pizza, danishes and donuts, all was fair game on vacation. No matter how healthy I had become in my eating and exercise habits, when I went on vacation, exercise and healthy eating did not exist. But what I began to realize (thanks in part to my first vacation with Japheth where he inspired (er, forced) me to do workouts each day) was that I really didn’t feel good when experiencing vacation this way. To the point that I was actually taking something away from my vacationing experience by eating poorly and then feeling sluggish, bloated, and gross for the rest of the trip. Things are very different now, and vacations are less about food for me and my family, and more about the experiences, sometimes food-related but most often not. I no longer come home to a post-vacation hangover and a closet full of clothes that fit tighter. It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally got a grasp on how to vacation without letting go of my healthy lifestyle choices! And so I’m sharing these hard-learned tips with you.


6 Tips For Staying On Track Even On Vacation

  1. Plan Ahead. I use the week before vacation to plan meals ahead. It doesn’t take long, and the payoff is huge. I decide what meals to make, how many meals we need, what snacks and grab-n-go items we need, and of course what “fun” foods to take to make the trip special. I like to make bulk meals, such as a large container of chicken salad, and/or my version of potato salad, as well as plenty of boiled eggs, homemade beef jerky, and/or liverwurst for quick meals when needed. If going for more than 2 nights I will usually take my trusty Instant Pot which can be used for cooking meats, steaming veggies, boiling eggs, or warming precooked sausages. This is especially handy if we’re staying in a hotel or somewhere that doesn’t have a full kitchen or oven.
  2. Make and Take “Fun” Foods. Making and taking our own fun foods helps to prevent us from the temptation to eat unhealthy foods while on vacation. For example, I might take a couple of bags of paleo-friendly chips, make a batch of brownies or fudge, or even take our ice cream maker and ingredients for a fun treat! Check out some of my favorite snacks to make and to buy.
  3. Plan a Picnic – or Two. We love picnics, and honestly for our active kids picnics turn out to be more fun than sitting down in a restaurant for an hour. When we picnic, not only are we surrounded by beautiful scenery, but the kids aren’t forced to stay seated or to stay quiet! And I actually enjoy packing a bag of food and drinks for the day, instead of having to worry about taking the time to find a kid-friendly and relatively healthy restaurant, parking, waiting for a table, and entertaining the kids before the food arrives. Even without kids, Japheth and I tend to opt for picnics over eating out, often dining on a blanket under the stars…
  4. Focus on Non-Food Experiences. One thing that has changed dramatically since I changed my way of vacationing, is the amount of quality – and mostly outdoor – experiences that I now engage in. Before, my vacations consisted of a couple of hours of activity a day, between restaurant or bar-hopping, and napping. With the way I eat now, I have more energy and rarely feel the need for napping, even on vacation! And by packing and eating our own food, we have more time to hike, play, swim, and explore everything around us. We find that we have much more time open during the day to see sights, to relax on our own, or to just enjoy moments with our children without the nagging feeling of hunger or need to time everything just right.
  5. Splurge…Reasonably. If you’re someone who has a hard time imagining a vacation being a vacation without certain “bad” foods that you’ve come to know and love, there are ways to still enjoy these foods without going too off track. For example, going out for a homemade ice cream cone at your favorite shop at the beach one night, or grabbing a burger and fries from an old family favorite one day, doesn’t mean you’ve failed. The point is to find ways to enjoy your vacation while still maintaining your healthy living choices, as opposed to going completely overboard and letting go of everything you’ve worked so hard at accomplishing during the other 51 weeks of the year. Which brings me to the next tip:
  6. Perspective. No one is asking – or expecting – you to be perfect. Every individual has their own way of doing things that works for them. For me, the way I vacationed before was not working for me. It made me feel yucky, for lack of a better word, and diminished my vacation experiences because of how food affects my body. That’s me. And probably many of you feel the same way when you take the time to notice. Just as with any lifestyle change, changing the way you view vacationing, and the way you approach vacationing may not be an easy task at first. It takes more work to plan and prepare meals than it does to go to a restaurant. You put more time in ahead of your vacation in order to have more time during the vacation for doing things that don’t involve food. And you have to have the willpower to let go of some of the things that you associate with a “good” vacation in order to help your body feel and function better. But once you make the shift, and approach the change with a healthy and reasonable perspective, you will never vacation the old way again!

My hope is that in reading this, you are inspired to try something different and healthier on your next vacation, while still enjoying this time set aside for yourself! I’d love to hear from you – what tips would you give for staying on track even on vacation?

 

 

 

Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

7 Workout Tips to Maximize Results and Efficiency

If you’re like most people, finding time to exercise is a challenge. In fact, for many of our clients, it’s such a difficult feat that they become discouraged and just skip it altogether. While exercising essential to health, when it comes to time constraints, it is often one of the first things to be pushed aside. For this reason, and many others, we are big proponents of high intensity functional fitness training. This type of training allows you to get the most out of your workout, and to workout anytime, anywhere, for any amount of time that you are able to. Yes, even 5 minutes. Who really doesn’t have 5 minutes? If you want the most out of your workout, in the shortest amount of time possible, read on.


7 Workout Tips to Maximize Results and Efficiency

  1. Do Not Always Rely on Equipment. We talked about the relative inefficiency of machines in this post. Reliance on machines is not only unnecessary but can even be detrimental to your overall health and fitness goals. If you’d like to use equipment, we recommend keeping a kettlebell or a couple of dumbbells at home or at work to use. If you don’t have these available, try using something in your environment: laundry detergent, gallon on milk, bag of kitty litter, a large rock, a pet or a child…the list is endless! And if you still don’t have anything available, the beauty of functional fitness is that you can actually do a very effective workout using body weight only. BAM! No more excuses.
  2. Do Whole Body Movements. One common mistake when working out is focusing too much on the large muscle groups: hamstrings, quads, back, etc. But focusing only – or primarily – on these areas can result in imbalances, pain and even injury. We recommend whole body (or compound or multi-joint), functional movements that affect and benefit every large and small muscle group in the body. Learn more about the many benefits of compound/multi-joint movements in this post. Some examples of these include air squats, burpees, and kettle bell swings.
  3. Be Ok with Sweating, and Breathing Hard. If you want the most out of your workout, and in a short amount of time, your workout needs to be high in intensity, you need to sweat, and increase your heart rate. Yes, it can be hard. But remember, it’s only for a short amount of time!
  4. Take Rest. Make sure you’re incorporating rest periods, in both short and long workouts. There are multiple factors influencing the duration and frequency of rest periods; this article breaks it down.
  5. Switch It Up. There’s no reason you can’t have a little fun with your workouts. It’s beneficial both psychologically and physically to vary up your routine and get creative. Vary up the movements, the style (tabata, power interval, etc), and the environment. The more interesting you make it, the more likely you are to want to continue.
  6. Don’t Skip the Stretch. We are big advocates of incorporating yoga into any workout routine, and it’s not unusual for us to add in yoga postures between and after sets. Make sure you take the time to stretch after working out, take several deep breaths with each pose, and allow your body to enjoy it. Don’t think of it as additional time added to your workout, but rather a necessary part of your workout.
  7. Be Kind to Your Body. This is a big one. Listen to your body and honor what it’s feeling. Modify the movements to avoid pain. Modify workouts to accommodate for injury or illness. Read more about why its important to keep moving, even when not feeling well, here.

So there you go. We hope you use these 7 Tips to Maximize Results and Efficiency in your workout routine. Just remember: exercising doesn’t need to be dreaded, it doesn’t have to be laborious, and it definitely doesn’t need to take a long time. If you need help getting started, or just need a little guidance to improve your performance, contact us for a free consult to learn about our personal training, private yoga sessions, or group fitness or yoga classes.

7 Ways You Can Help Save the Bees…and Why

Beeezzzzzz. I have to admit, it’s only recently that I have come to appreciate bees and all that they do and provide for us. As a child I learned that bees make honey, and that they sting. But the work of these amazing little creatures goes well beyond honey, and the stinging…well, some sting and some don’t; it’s their nature and their defense, and it’s a small price to pay for all that they give us.

Buzz Facts

Here are some bee facts that you may find interesting – and eye opening:

  • Bees pollinate 80% of flowering plants on Earth (Source: One Green Planet)
  • One single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers each day (Source: National Honey Board)
  • Bees are major contributors the floral landscapes that we know and love in nature (Source: One Green Planet)
  • Bees pollinate 70 of the top 100 human food crops (Source: Greenpeace)
  • 1 in 3 bites of food we eat is derived from plants pollinated by bees (Source: USDA)
  • Bees pollinate about 75% of fruits, nuts, and vegetables grown in the US (Source: USDA)
  • Bees have been producing honey from flowering plants for 10-20 million years (Source: National Honey Board)
  • Bees produce honey, which provides a multitude of medicinal and health benefits.

Foods We will Miss…

Here are some of the foods that rely on bee pollination in order to exist:

  • Almonds
  • Allspice
  • Avocados
  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Beets
  • Blackberries
  • Broccoli
  • Blueberries
  • Cashews
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Cherries
  • Coffee
  • Cotton
  • Coconut
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Flax
  • Grapes
  • Grapefruit
  • Guava
  • Kiwi
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Mangos
  • Melons
  • Nectarines
  • Onions
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Pumpkins
  • Raspberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

And this is only a partial list. My guess is that regardless of diet, the disappearance of these foods would affect every. Single. One of us. Not to mention our health as a nation.

7 Ways You Can Help Save the Bees

So what can you do to help? Here are a few of the ways that we as individuals can do our part to help save the bees and contribute to this movement:

  1. Plant bee-friendly flowers and herbs in your garden or yard, and encourage others to do the same.
  2. Keep the weeds. Weeds like dandelions are food for bees – try to avoid weeding as much as possible.
  3. Buy local and organic, from farmers you trust.
  4. Buy local, raw honey.
  5. Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides on your yard/garden, and encourage others – even farmers – to do the same.
  6. Sponsor a hive through The Honeybee Conservancy.
  7. Educate yourself and your children about bees and all that they do for us.

I grew up with very limited knowledge of bees and little consciousness when it comes to our environment in general and how all creatures work together and help each other. It is in spite of this, and because of this that one of my priorities as a parent is to help my children understand the value and importance of not just other humans, but of all creatures.

May all beings be healthy. May all beings be happy. May all beings be free from suffering, and may we help alleviate the suffering of all sentient beings.

What will you do to help save the bees?

 

 

8 Benefits of Honey and What to Look For

If everything is honey, and I am what I eat, I must be made of honey…and life is very sweet!     –Winnie the Pooh

It’s no secret that I love honey. I have always had a sweet tooth, and honey helped me tremendously when transitioning to clean eating, and away from refined sugar. Research now indicates that switching out your sugar for honey can actually result in numerous health benefits. Maybe that silly old bear was on to something.

Not Just Any Honey…

So, like with anything that we buy in our modern society, we have to be mindful about the type of honey that we buy, It’s not enough to buy the cheapest or the first honey you see in a store and congratulate yourself for making a healthy choice. Unfortunately even honey is not safe from big industry and the dilution of good quality to make more quantity. So what do you need to look for when buying honey?

  • Raw. Raw honey is pure, unpasteurized and unfiltered, and contains full nutrient benefit, unlike it’s processed competitors.
  • Local. Raw local honey can boost immunity and relieve allergies by allowing you to consume the very pollen that often triggers allergies, thus gradually desensitizing you to the allergy-inducing offenders. How cool is that?
  • Pure. Of course you want to make sure that the honey you buy is just that – honey. Check the label to make sure it doesn’t contain any added flavors, chemicals, sugar…you get the gist. It should be honey. Pure, local, raw honey.
  • Farmers. While you may be able to find some good quality raw local honey in the grocery stores, it’s always a good idea to buy from your local farmers markets, and ask the farmers questions about their bees and their honey. This not only ensures that you get the purest and freshest honey, but at the same time you’re supporting the farmers in their mission to provide good quality, nutrient-rich foods for the consumers.

Benefits of Honey

So we all know honey is delicious. It’s sweet, it’s smooth, it’s beautiful, and it usually comes in a variety of flavors depending on the bees’ nectar source. And when you taste raw, local honey…it’s indescribable. So if that’s not reason enough to ditch the sugar, here are some of the many benefits of this heavenly sweetener:

  1. Can improve allergy symptoms and boost immunity.
  2. Contains powerful antioxidants polyphenols.
  3. Weight loss management. Studies actually show that, not only can switching from refined sugar to honey promote weight loss, but honey may actually contain an appetite suppressing quality which can lead to weight loss and obesity prevention.
  4. Improves scalp and hair. Honey can improve dermatitis when used on the scalp, and can be used as a conditioner for the hair.
  5. Moisturizes and smoothes skin, making for an excellent natural ingredient in skin care.
  6. Can boost energy.
  7. Helps relieve cold/flu symptoms. Honey contains properties that help soothe and relieve mouth and throat irritation. It’s one of the simplest and most effective remedies for sore throats and coughs.
  8. Antibacterial and antifungal. Honey contains antiseptic properties which make it ideal for treating wounds, and historically it has been used in fighting infections.

So honey is awesome. But before you go out and buy a vat of it like some people might do (not naming any names here), please note that as with any sweetener honey should be consumed in moderation. It is actually 53 percent fructose, which means that despite it’s many health benefits, consuming too much can be detrimental to your body. Best to use it medicinally, as a treat, and a sweetener for your tea; but when needed carbs or an energy boost opt for fresh fruits and veggies instead!

 

Our Top Ten List of All-Natural Self Care Products You Will Want to Buy!

Our journey to a toxic- and chemical-free life is just that – a journey. We do the best we can, but in our modern environment and society it can be challenging. We have found a wonderful network of online bloggers and resources, and of people in the Philadelphia area that share our wellness philosophy, and that makes it much easier. Similar to nutrition and healthy eating, living a chemical-free lifestyle is easier when you have others to talk to about it and to share information and experiences with. I encourage you, as the readers, to comment or reach out to us at any point with your ideas, challenges, and anecdotal experiences too!

As part of our journey, I have gotten into making my own products for most things: skincare, toothpaste, sunscreen, bug spray, healing salves, etc., but honestly it gets to be a lot of work, and a lot of time! I can’t always keep up, and sometimes just don’t want to. It’s those times that I rely on store-bought products that I trust. And for me to trust them, they have to be pretty clean and pure, with ingredients that I know and understand. That said, I always encourage you to do your own research and find which products work best for you and your family! Here are some of our favorites:

Our Top Ten List of All-Natural Self Care Products You Will Want to Buy!

  1. Morocco Method Shampoo – This shampoo is like nothing you’ve ever tried before. Made of completely all-natural ingredients, with a base of clay (yes clay), your hair will be so much healthier and happier you will wonder what you’ve been doing all these years! I seriously could not believe how shiny my hair was from using it. And as someone who has had to wash her hair every single day for 30 years, I have been thrilled to now only need to wash my hair 2-3 times a week! Note, as with any all-natural shampoo method, there is a detox period that your hair will go through. This is a good thing, but can be frustrating while going through it. Please be sure to read the information on the website before trying the shampoo, especially if you’re new to the world of all-natural haircare!
  2. Earthpaste – We love this toothpaste. Another product made from clay (and essential oils), this toothpaste remineralizes, cleans and whitens, naturally.
  3. Branch Basics – Ok, so this isn’t exactly self-care, but cleaners can be a form of caring for yourself, right? We love Branch Basics products and their commitment to safe, all-natural ingredients. I’ve had my battles with all-natural cleaners and after years of frustration I was so happy to stumble upon these. They work amazing, smell amazing, and are sooooo clean. Unfortunately they are currently creating a new formula so you can’t buy from them at the moment, but when their new products come out in the fall I definitely recommend you try them!
  4. Coconut Oil – Skin care, hair care, oral hygiene and health, you name it. Here are some ways that we like to use this super product in our house!
  5. Dry Brush – Have you tried dry brushing yet? There are numerous health benefits to dry brushing, such as exfoliation, energy boosting, promoting lymphatic flow and health. In addition, it feels really good! I love this particular brush because it’s long enough to reach your back, but you can also remove the brush for other spots. Ahhhhhhh.
  6. Boo Boo Salve – This has been a life saver in our house. Our kids are constantly getting scrapes, cuts, you name it, and this works every time. It contains all natural ingredients like beeswax and essential oils, and doesn’t not sting, irritate, or contains anything I don’t approve of. We buy ours from the Herbiary, a local store with amazing natural herbs and oils – check them out!
  7. Dr Bronners – Dr Bronners castille soap is our go-to for use as a body wash and a shampoo. It can also be used as a hand soap or a shaving gel, and many people use it as a household cleaner as well!
  8. Boar Bristle Brush – This is a new discovery for me and my haircare regimen. Boar bristle brushing actually helps to distribute the scalps oils more evenly creating healthier and more beautiful and happy hair. It is also very gentle on the hair itself, resulting in less damage and breaking. I definitely encourage this paired with an all-natural shampoo for best results, and the very best haircare.
  9. Lacrosse Ball – This is a self-care item that everyone should have. It’s inexpensive and can do wonders for tight muscles and knots. Because of its hardness and density, it makes a great tool for massaging and relieving pain and tension.
  10. Epsom Salts – Epsom salts have numerous benefits. Use them for detox baths as an excuse to relax while ridding your body of unwanted toxins, or use them in a hot foot bath to soothe sore feet and to…yes, relax. Ahhhhh.


These are some of my very favorite all-natural self-care products, and I’m always experimenting with others. What are your favorite all-natural self-care products?

 

Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.