Hiatus Report

Sometimes in life we get ridiculously buried in work and stressed out over changes that are happening to us or around us. I am in one of these states at the moment. Needless to say I have a lot of priorities, which include but are not limited to: training for a 5k race, working a full-time job and writing this blog. However, it is time for a restructure of this blog, to keep it running and not into the ground.

So I’m taking a week or two, perhaps up to a month but certainly no longer than that, to get my life sorted out, my time managed and my blog restructured. When I return it will be with a bang, I promise you that! I will miss you, Audience, but I will see you again.

Need a Spa Day? Grab a Body Scrub!

There are a few different types of body scrubs out there, varying in the ways they can help your skin. Some release toxins, others moisturize and still others will slough off dead skin as well as tightening the remaining layers. Overall there are two sub-categories of body scrubs: exfoliating and moisturizing. These are sometimes mingled as it all has to do with the mixture of ingredients and how they affect your skin. There are also other sub-categories that have to deal with what their main ingredient is: salt, sugar, coffee, herbal and oatmeal.

Salt is good for exfoliating the skin as it is more abrasive as a body scrub. Salt draws out toxins and promotes healing, so if you eat a lot of heavily processed foods, a salt based scrub may be best for you. Here are some salt scrub recipes that may interest you:

Coconut Lime Scrub

Margarita Salt Scrub

Raspberry Coconut Scrub

Sugar scrubs are great for sensitive or dry skin. They are much more gentle than the abrasive salt based scrubs, so if you’re a red head: stick to the sugar scrubs. Here are some sugar scrub recipes just for you:

Baby Rose Scrub

Coconut Birthday Cake Scrub

Basic Ideas for Sugar Scrub Recipes

Moisturizing Brown Sugar Scrub

Chai Tea Scrubs

Coffee scrubs are good for tightening the skin and getting rid of cellulite. They are very fragrant, but mix very well with chocolates and vanillas to soften the scent and take away the bitter edge. Caffeine is very energizing and helps to achieve a glow to the skin, so if your skin is looking a little dull, reach for the coffee scrubs.

A Great Coffee Scrub Recipe

Herbal scrubs focus mostly on lavender and chamomile, but there are plenty of other herbs out there that can make any combination of scents and effective skin care ingredients. Mostly these are made of oils and herbs, nothing much else. Because of the various mixtures this kind of scrub can be good for almost any type of skin.

An Herbal Scrub with Sage and Almond

The last type is oatmeal. Oatmeal is great for dry or oily skin, as it draws out the toxins and helps to balance the skins natural oils. The only downside to oatmeal is that it makes the scrub a lot more chunky, however throw it in a blender and you no longer have to suffer with that consistency.

Oatmeal Coconut Cookie Scrub

Oatmeal Scrub

Just remember that you shouldn’t use body scrubs more than 3 times a week. When using them, use a circular motion to apply the scrub and not a side to side motion, as it is less abrasive to your skin to do so. If your skin is reddened, feels bruised or is much more dry than normal, you should cease using the scrub until the symptoms dissipate. Good luck and enjoy!

Vinyasa Yoga: Sweat Your Stress Away

Brazilian Yoga is a subset of yoga that is usually known by it’s own subset of yoga: vigorous vinyasa. In this subset of Brazilian yoga you practice the more challenging inversions and arm balances seen in some yoga positions meant for the more experienced, but in a fast-paced setting that makes you sweat. However, that isn’t all that Brazilian Yoga encompasses. It also covers more of the basics, in a less challenging environment.

So what all does Brazilian Yoga cover? It covers your basic salutations and twists that focus on connecting your breath and movement to give you greater flexibility, balance, endurance and strength which is usually called vinyasa yoga. It does cover the vigorous vinyasa, which I described before, and is more invigorating than the basics. And then there is always the acro yoga, which involves two people working together to achieve balance, flow and peace.

typical-vinyasa-yoga-pose

How can Brazilian Yoga help you? By practicing Brazilian Yoga you will notice a difference in overall health, injuries healing or feeling better, and reduction of stress. Your breathing and movement will be as one, so you will lead a more balanced lifestyle. Of course, this is only if you practice Brazilian Yoga regularly, as with any workout you will only feel these affects for so long after you have stopped practicing in it.

Where can you go for Brazilian Yoga classes? It really depends upon which form of it you are looking for, but I recommend looking in your area for vinyasa yoga: if you aren’t experienced, start with the basics and move up from there. Try to choose a Yogi who will give you a great experience and let you learn and release your stress while being in their classes. You want someone with experience in what you would like to learn, so don’t be afraid to ask them some questions before trying out a class—get to know them and see if you appreciate their personal style as well as their teaching style.

Are there other kinds of yoga I might benefit from? Certainly! If you’re not into a challenging, vigorous kind of class, then feel free to check out the Hatha style of yoga, which is more relaxing. Everyone has a preference, so make sure you choose the class that is right for you!

Making Gluten-Free Lemon Muffins

Yesterday I tried cooking in a kitchen that wasn’t mine, trying my hand at a new recipe. Originally I found the recipe on Pinterest and thought they might get gobbled up by the fam. So I made them!

Snapshot 1 (7-16-2014 12-00 PM)

I’m not going to reiterate the entire recipe here, but if you would like the recipe, click here. That also allows you to pin it to your own board, if you wish. Regardless, I soon made the discovery that certain household members really weren’t partial to poppy seeds. So instead of nixing the recipe, I altered it so there wouldn’t be any poppy seeds. Gluten-free lemon muffins, here I come! With Torin’s help (he wanted to see how the recipe was made), I began. First, I started the oven off. I didn’t want to mix everything and turn around to realize I’d forgotten to.

preheat oven

And then I began with the recipe. It called for dry ingredients in one bowl (Torin measured those out) and wet ingredients in the other (I busied myself with these). This included getting lemon zest, which I had only watched my Mum do on occasion.

zest lemon

When it came time to juice the lemon, I had never done that without a reamer. So after a quick Youtube search and a wonderful video explaining a technique, I used it! It worked really well, the lemon yielding a little more than a quarter cup of juice.

lemon juice

Eggs were the final step in the wet ingredient list, but there were six of them, so it was a bit of a task.

eggs

Torin decided he needed to be the whisk wielder that day and blended the wet ingredients effortlessly. Meanwhile, I was washing dishes and trying my damnedest to keep our work area uncluttered and clean.

whisk bowl 1

And then he was mixing the wet and dry ingredients together, whisking it smooth while I greased the muffin tins.

grease the sheets mix bowl 1 n 2

The batter sat, mixed, for five minutes while I worked some more on clean up. When the five minutes were up, I put the batter into the muffin tin and popped it into the oven for half an hour.

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When they came out of the oven they cooled, and then we tried them. Aesthetically, they came out a little on the crispy side, and I have to wonder if that was due to the grease I was forced to use. However, the muffins were moist, very tasty and flavorful!

IMG_20140716_114811

Throughout the day every family member tried them and was surprised at how good they tasted. They remarked on how moist they were and how lemony they tasted. They were all gobbled up that day, but I managed to snap a picture before all of them were gone.

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How Can You Help Your Sleeping Patterns?

Sleeping-Woman

Ever since I was young, my father always told me that I needed my beauty sleep—either he would tell me that if I didn’t I would look like him and that was not beautiful or he would tell me that I would never look as beautiful as him. Either way he said it, I learned my lesson. Of course, if you talk to my mother she would say I still don’t have this whole sleeping thing down, but to each their own and everyone’s sleep cycles are different. Some people sleep lightly, some as heavily as the dead. Some sleep in short stints and others need much more time in bed. So what’s healthy?

The first point of interest is finding the right mattress and pillow(s) for you. Every body is different and needs a different kind of support. If you aren’t sure what is both good for your body and something you like, then I suggest going to a mattress store and asking for help. Not only are the staff knowledgeable, but they might suggest you try out a mattress you never would have thought to try before. As I have personally done this, I can assure you that it’s helpful to get an opinion from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.

Next is a bedtime ritual. You may laugh and say that your bedtime ritual is to flop face first into the pillow whenever you’re tired, but this can actually be a very influential device: daily grooming—for women, taking off your makeup, brushing your hair, etc. may be the right routine for you. Many people read just before bed or watch TV. This is actually a don’t, as these sorts of activities can inspire you to stay up just a little bit longer—only one more chapter or one more episode. Instead, designate a set amount of time to read or watch TV in the evening and then follow up that activity with your nighttime routine. Even some relaxing stretching or yoga is a great pre-sleeping activity.

Third is environment. Lights, sounds (or lack thereof), and temperature can all affect your sleeping patterns. If it’s too hot or too cold it will take you longer to fall asleep. If there’s too much light then you may be woken up—likewise with sounds that are unusual or infrequent. A controlled environment will help you get the best rest for your body: a night-light (ambient light) or no lights is considered “the best”; for noise either ear plugs, a white noise maker or a fan are all good options.

Something to keep in mind is that if you have onsets of insomnia, like I know I do, then you might need to get out of bed and go to a different room to find a “winding down” activity like reading that will help you to become tired and eventually fall asleep.

How much sleep should you have? We’ve all heard those numbers. 7 hours but not a wink more or less. 9 hours—anything over 9 will be too much. The truth is that there is no number there that’s more correct than the others. It all depends upon how you feel and what your lifestyle is like. The more exercise you get, for instance, the more likely you are to sleep through the night. So how do you know? When does it feel good to wake up? That’s your number. If you wish to lessen that number, there are ways such as setting a specific bed time and wake up time. Sleep is one of the most important functions of our body, so pay attention to how much you’re getting and when you’re getting it in order to stay healthy.

Not a Fad, a Lifestyle: Eating Gluten-free or Paleo

The past couple of years I’ve noticed a lot of people referring to gluten-free and paleo fad diets. Being someone who has a mild form of Celiac’s, I have been living primarily gluten-free for 4-5 years and I can say that leaving these diets as a 30-day achievement is not going to do anything for your body. In fact, it disrupts a lot of the processes in one way or another and can leave you more off-balance from having done the fad diet. Which, in turn, will result in you either gaining back the weight you were trying to get rid of or even more.

First off, let us define gluten-free and paleo. Gluten-free means no wheat, barley or rye products. It is not limited to just these, but usually grains such as rice and flours like coconut, almond and tapioca are fine to use. This means that a lot of grain items (pastas, breads, bagels, muffins, etc.) can be made out of these alternatives and therefore grains are permissible as a part of the gluten-free diet. In paleo, however, grains of any type are not a part of the diet, as with legumes, processed foods and alcohol. So now that we know what gluten-free and paleo encompasses, why does the 30-day diet exist? Well, everyone’s always looking for a quick fix or some sort of jump start to losing the weight they would like to lose. While this might be the more prevalent reason, there’s more. A lot of health websites promote a 30-day “kickstart” for the gluten-free or paleo lifestyle. I wonder if people are noticing the difference after 30 days of eating a certain way and then give it up because they achieved the results they were looking for, so they only use the 30-day “kickstart” and then don’t keep it up. For certain, though, this is about achieving specific results and stopping there. Which as I said earlier, can actually hurt more than help.

So how can this hurt more than help? Well let’s point out a few examples: these diets promote a healthy, active metabolism, so the weight may stay off for a little while after you revert to eating heavily processed foods, but it won’t last forever; in addition to metabolism it has been shown to help keep the adrenal glands in working order without any spikes or rapid declines; it also helps to promote the immune system and resist more even in some cases with diseases involved. I know how it feels to have weaknesses in all three of these bodily processes, and I can only imagine what would happen to your body if you rubberbanded back to your old eating habits after having eaten so healthily for a month.

So answer me this: would it be more beneficial for you to feel awake during the day, have less fatigue and less sickness overall? Would you not want to be that healthier you all the time rather than just for a month long weight loss trend? I promise you, there will be even more benefits to keeping the lifestyle than what I already mentioned. I hope that the links involved in this post were helpful to cover points more in depth than I felt I was able to. If you have any questions or links to other useful information on this topic, please comment below and share!

10 Tips For Beginning Runners

Considering I started off today with a joyous run with someone who had no clue how to actually do that, I figured I would compile a little list of tips and tricks for those beginner runners. Some of you are doing it to get in shape and to be badass, some of you want desperately to lose weight and fit into that dress that society says you can only wear once you’re a certain weight, some of you want to run because it screams at you inside your head (but you just don’t think you can possibly do it). Well, I’m here to tell you that all of these are acceptable reasons—just like all other reasons. You want to run? Then goddamn you will run. These are just some tips for you to think about when you’re thinking about heading out there.

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1. Gear isn’t everything, but it is something.

See, this is a tough one because what it really comes down to is not your gear, but gear helps. Such as: you can run in bare feet, it just might not feel the best if you’re not used to it. I suggest: running shoes something dedicated solely to running or cross-training will work, just as long as it’s breathable, the right size and not giving you any soreness/discomfort; stretchy pants that fit you, or shorts because shorts show off your damn fine legs; an athletic top or some kind (if you’re a girl, invest in a really comfortable sports bra, this is really important, trust me); and a hairtie if your hair is always in your face and blinding you.

2. Dynamic stretches first, static stretches after.

If you don’t know what these are you better start learning. Dynamic stretches include hip circles, knee circles and arm circles. They’re stretches that not only get your muscles ready to work, but get your heart rate started up as well. You want to do these before your run because it will loosen you up—you’re less likely to pull a muscle this way. Static stretches are all the ones they probably taught you in PE. You want to do these after your run because it will help work out whatever cramps and kinks you get into yourself from the run. Keep limber, keep yourself unhurt.

3. Pace yourself.

This isn’t a race to see who can hurt themselves the quickest. This isn’t even a race. Not right now. It doesn’t matter if you’re running partner is a lot more fit than you and can walk around the track faster than you can jog it. If they’re complaining about being held up then they need to chill the fuck out. Remind them that you need more time to get up to speed. You don’t become an Astronaut in one day and you sure as hell don’t become an Olympic Runner in that amount of time either. If you’re going down a hill, keep a pace and don’t go flying down it. It won’t help you build your stamina and you’ll actually get tired quicker. Same with if you’re going uphill. Or on level ground. Unless you’re doing planned interval running, don’t try it. You’ll tire yourself out and you won’t be able to reach your goal.

4. Breathe as evenly as you can manage.

Okay, I don’t expect you to be counting out all of your breaths, but this is especially useful if you feel a cramp coming on in the spot right underneath the ribs. Yeah, you know which one I’m talking about. If you count out your breaths and do a “IN, 2, 3; OUT, 2, 3” sequence for a minute or so, your cramp will ease and you’ll be able to continue. This happens to everyone. You’re not dying. Keep running.

5. It’s okay to walk.

It doesn’t matter what the reason is: you feel light-headed, your shin splints are killing you, you need a drink… any of these are okay to admit. Even if you just absolutely can’t go on or you’ll pass out—take a break. It’s okay to say you need one. Especially if you’re just starting out. It’s not okay to take too many breaks, mind you, but it’s perfectly okay to take some breaks.

6. Stay hydrated.

Some days you’re going to feel like you don’t need it—you’re already swimming through the air because it’s so humid. Please, please stay hydrated and don’t pass out while running. You have no idea how much that sucks. Heat exhaustion is no fun and you really don’t want to play with that.

7. If you do get injured, take a few days to recuperate.

It’s not cool to drag yourself around the track like you’re a zombie. Especially if that means one of your limbs is mangled and dragging behind you. No one wants to deal with that shit. So please, just take the time to heal up before you go taking off in a sprint again.

8. Don’t be afraid to push yourself.

Think you can run that little bit farther? Do it. Run until you want to just drop. Don’t do that to yourself (actually keel over), but get yourself to the point where you don’t think you can go any further. Know your physical limits. Push them. Go faster or further, or both!

9. Set goals for yourself.

Whether that’s distance: I want to run a half marathon! Or speed: I want to run a 6 minute mile! Then go ahead and try your hardest to get there. Setting goals and reaching them feels awesome (and it looks pretty cool too!)

10. If you want to race, then race!

Seriously, even if you know you’re going to be in dead last… if you want to run a race and get that experience then do it. Have fun doing it. Love yourself for completing that race and cheer for yourself at the end. Everyone else will be cheering for you too, especially because you just accomplished something amazing! Go you!