4 Ways to De-Stress

By Megan Vick

 

Recently, we took a two-week vacation in the desert southwest – starting in Las Vegas and ending in Tucson, Arizona. Frantically packing just hours before our 8:30 AM departure, we made sure we each had the e-reader, cell phones, tablets, and at least one laptop. When I realized how many electronics we had, I started wondering about how people can truly enjoy a vacation and de-stress while still being “connected.”

 

What happened on our vacation was truly remarkable. Once we arrived in Arizona, the world melted away. We had little to no cell reception and wireless was no where to be found. The laptop and tablets were just extra weight in the travel bag and the phones were turned on airplane mode and used as cameras.

 

And then it happened: I realized I wasn’t stressed out. 

 

I had no control over the lack of connectivity, so I was able to let go and truly enjoy the last half of vacation with my family. So, for those of you looking to de-stress, here are 4 ways you can do it.

 

Relaxed cat

 

1) No Electronics

Absolutely none – not even your e-reader. Without electronics buzzing and tweedling, you can focus on whatever you want: yourself, your partner, your kids, your garden, the way your pinky toe looks – anything you want. You can institute a “No Electronics Day” at your home,  or simply take 30 minutes every day to get away from anything connected.

Try it – you’ll love it.

 

2) Get outside

Being outside – especially on a gorgeous day – will increase those warm and fuzzy feelings, which will help you be more productive later. Spend sometime in your garden, go for a bike ride or run, take a book (yes, a real book) to the park and read for a while, or meditate outside. Connect with nature – not the internet.

 

3) Indulge

Cheat on your diet. Buy the shoes. Get the luxurious skin care item you want.

Do something for yourself that you wouldn’t normally do – even if it’s just for a few minutes.

 

4) Be Selfish

Very similar to indulging, by being selfish, you get the chance to determine what will happen in your day. If you don’t feel like doing the laundry tonight, especially because you’ve done 1-3 above already, then don’t do the laundry. If you need a “mental health” day from work and want to play hooky – do it.

 

At the end of the day, it’s all about moderation. Remember, there is no “Most Stressed Out Person” award. There is only you, your health, and happiness. Without those, you can’t be the best person for your family, for your employer, or the planet.

 

Take care of yourself. There’s only one you – and you are special.

 

Namaste

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The Single Most Important Thing For Your Skin

Maintain A Good Diet.

Yep, I gave it away in the first line of this post! The secret is out! Do I want to sell you every single one of my products? Yes. Do you need a face scrub, bar soap, face moisturizer, and night cream? Yes. Are any of these some sort of miracle cure for less-than-perfect skin? No.

The single most important thing you can do for your skin is to maintain a good diet.

Here are 4 things you can do to improve your diet (which will work toward improving your skin).

1) Drink TONS of Water

Drink it everyday and space it out throughout the day.

2) Eat Fruits and Veggies

Cut out dairy and eggs – they don’t serve much of a purpose. If you’re a meat eater, eat lean cuts of meat in small quantities and infrequently. Try and source your meats from a local farmer with pasture-raised animals. Or, try to cut out meat completely!

3) Detox Your Body

I don’t recommend doing a detox unless you’ve spoken to your healthcare professional and gotten the “all-clear.” Detoxing needs to be done correctly and directions followed to a “T.” If it is done carefully and properly, you’ll feel refreshed and healthy inside and out.

4) Sleep

Sleep well, sleep often, and sleep consistently. When we rest, our body goes into repair mode and it helps heal the little damage we’ve done to ourselves throughout the day.

Do you have any diet tricks to help with your skin? Share them in the comments! Namaste.

 

By Megan Vick

4 Easy Tips to Have a Great Day

By Megan Vick

 

Mornings have never been my thing. Since I was a wee little one, I would stay up far past my bedtime (often reading with a flashlight under the covers) and sleep well into the late morning or early afternoon. Once I started school and then joined “the real world,” I realized I needed to make some major changes to embrace each morning.

1.) Adjust Your Diet
No, you don’t have to do something crazy, but you should pay attention to what you eat and when you eat it. I’m guilty of late-night eating which often keeps me up longer while my food digests. I’ve also noticed if I eat sweets or salty foods, I am less rested when I wake up the following morning.

Sleepy Cat

 

2.) Embrace the Snooze Button
In order to help me get up every day, I set my alarm for an hour (yes, a full hour), before I actually need to get up and get ready. It’s a weird thing I do to psychologically trick myself. When I sleep an hour past my alarm time, I feel like I’ve gotten an extra hour of sleep without having the crazy “I just overslept” feeling. It might seem silly, but not only has it worked for me, I am actually getting out of bed even earlier now!

 

3.) Do SOMETHING

Whether you stretch, do yoga, go for a run, meditate, vacuum, or drink your coffee while hiding in the closet away from the kids (you know who you are), do something to wake yourself up. I prefer to stretch with sun salutations or some light ballet barre warm-ups because it gets my blood flowing. If you have to go to work and sit for the better part of the day, I especially recommend doing light physical activity in the morning.

 

 

4.) Say Positive Affirmations
Each morning while I shower/brush my teeth/dry my hair, I say something like, “Today is going to be a WONDERFUL day” over and over again. By starting your day with a cheery, positive attitude, you’re internal energy will be happy and project happiness toward others around you. When those around you are happy, you can stay happier all the time. It’s a beautiful cycle of happiness.
Here are some other uplifting affirmations:
– Today is going to be a great day!
– I am going to be productive today!
– I will try something new/exciting/intimidating today!
– I will make myself and others smile today!

Believe me, if I can have positive, productive mornings, so can you! Try implementing these steps one at a time and you’ll notice a significant difference in your day.

Have a Great Day Puppy

Paleo vs. Vegan Lifestyle

By Megan Vick

 

At dinner one evening, someone said, “if we were truly meant to eat meat, why do we have to cook it? Doesn’t it make more sense to evolve to eat raw meat like carnivores?”

 

This statement sparked a lively discussion. Many people follow the paleo diet. This means eating things that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have been able to eat: nuts, seeds, meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables.  The paleo diet removes processed and refined foods all together. The belief is that people will be able to be happier and healthier without the processed and refined foods.

 

Caveman Cartoon

 

When speaking about processed and refined foods, this means everything from American cheese slices to any product using refined flour (bread, pasta, cookies) or refined sugar is eliminated from the diet. This may seem a bit extreme given our current society, but many of today’s health problems stem from our crappy diet. Full of processed meats, dairy products, and refined sugars and flours, it’s no wonder our society is getting sicker. With heart disease, cancer, and obesity consistently on the rise with adults and children, what can we do?

 

I can certainly applaud those who follow a Paleo diet. The main concern with the Paleo lifestyle is how much meat is consumed. Even though you may feel better after cutting out processed and refined foods, are you still contributing to cruelty of animals by supporting factory farming? Many of the individuals I know who follow a Paleo diet remove most (if not all) of the icky stuff from their diet, but then INCREASE their portions of meat. This is not the answer.

 

Go Vegan

 

It seems that those who choose to follow a Paleo diet should actually hunt their own food to eat it. Maybe that is an extreme thought, but how can humans begin to appreciate where their food comes from if they cannot hunt it, gather it, or grow it? I am not advocating running out with a makeshift bow and arrow to get your dinner tonight, I just want to get people thinking about food.

 

I’m vegan because it’s natural and easy. After cutting out meat from my life, I haven’t once wanted it back. Whether you follow a vegan lifestyle, a Paleo diet, or the “See-food” diet, remember where your food comes from and what goes into getting to your plate.

 

Namaste

Best Stretches to Increase Your Flexibility!

By Megan Vick

There is nothing like waking up in the morning and stumbling around while you wait for your hamstrings to stretch out.  Or maybe you’ve been dying to try a yoga class and you don’t feel comfortable because you’re not as limber as you once were.  Here are some stretches to help you regain your flexibility.  Just remember to go slowly and gently while you stretch to avoid injury.

 

1. Pike Sit/Long Sit

This is a pretty standard stretch.  Sit on the floor with both legs extended in front of you.  Be sure you are sitting on your sitz bones (the bones in your booty) and not slouching at all.  Your body should make a straight “L” shape.  You may feel tightness in your lower body just by sitting in the proper position.  To maximize your stretch, lean forward and reach your hands to your toes.  Make sure you don’t slouch over your thighs or knees.  Reach forward with the lower back and try to rest your forehead on your shins.  This may not happen right away, but over time, you’ll gain flexibility in your lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles.

 

2. Straddle

Again, this is a stretch most people know.  The easiest way to find this position is to sit in proper Pike Sit position, and then open your legs as far as you can to make a “V”.  Be sure you continue to sit 100% upright- don’t slouch.  To maximize your stretch, flex your feet.  From there, slowly “walk” your hands out in front of you and imagine your spinal cord lengthening as your chest moves closer to the floor.  You’ll gain flexibility in your inner thighs, hamstrings, back, and ankles.

 

3. Splits

Ah, yes.  The dreaded split stretch.  The journey to the splits is long and semi-uncomfortable.  Splits are a great way to strengthen and stretch the hips, glutes, quads, and hamstrings.  The easiest way to start working on your split is stand up on a flat surface and slowly slide one leg forward and the other leg backward.  Make sure you keep your hip bones pointed straight ahead with that front leg!!  If you swivel your hips, you run the risk of injury and make the stretch less effective.  Take your time!  If it helps, place two dining chairs on either side of you to give you support and balance as you move closer to the ground.  Be sure to have both the left and right leg in front to keep your flexibility even!

 

4. Downward Facing Dog

Down Dog is a standard yoga pose that many people know.  It’s a great pose because it strengthens and stretches the body.  Stand on the floor and bend down toward your toes and rest your palms on the floor.  It’s okay if your knees bend to do this.  With your palms still on the floor, take a few steps away from your hands, creating an upside down “V” with your body.  Feel free to adjust as you much as you need to maximize the stretch.  Your weight should be evenly distributed between your palms and your feet.  Take several deep breaths and you will feel the muscles relax.  Stay in this position for at least one minute.  Feel free to gently rest on your knees when you are finished In this pose.

 

5. Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose (or folded leaf) is a relaxing pose for many people.  Start by sitting on your knees with your glutes resting on your heels.  Round forward with your arms stretched out in front of you.  Relax.  Feel free to stretch your arms out more or bring them closer.  This stretches your glutes, back, shoulders, and arms.  Over time, you’ll feel yourself get closer to the ground as your spine elongates.  Enjoy the relaxation this pose brings.

 

6. Cobra Pose

Cobra Pose stretches your abs, chest, biceps, and neck.  Lie on the floor on your stomach.  Place your palms on the floor under your shoulders and press your upper body up.  Your pelvis and legs should remain on the floor while your back is arched.  After doing this pose, I like to push myself back into Child’s Pose for just a few extra moments of relaxation.

 

Remember to move slowly and gently to help avoid injury.  If you have any medical concerns, please see your doctor before changing your exercise routine.

5 Reasons All Women Should Lift Weights

By Megan Vick

 

So many women are afraid of weights because they don’t want to “bulk up.”  By lifting weights and incorporating strength training into your workout routine, women will get sleeker and more toned.  Keep this in mind: A pound of fat looks like 3 grapefruits while a pound of muscle looks like 3 tangerines.

 

1. Prevent Osteoporosis

Ultimately, all women should be weight training to maintain (or rebuild) bone density.  Lifting weights works the muscles, tendons, and ligaments and all of those pull on the bone while you are lifting.  By pulling on the bone, your body sends a signal to start producing more bone cells to prevent damage.  When you have strong bones, you’re less likely to break them.

 

In a study conducted by Earl Mindell and Virginia Hopkins, they found that post-menopausal women who did weight training twice per week for one year increased their bone density by one percent, while women who didn’t do anything lost about two percent of their bone density.

 

2. It’s Different

Lifting is a nice change of pace from the treadmill or elliptical.  When you really get into lifting, you will be able to feel all the little fibers of muscles working to complete your exercise.  Once you notice that, you’ll have the full understanding of how lifting weights helps your body in many other ways.

 

3. You’ll burn more calories

Yep, that’s right.  When you add strength training to your workout, your body will burn more calories.  Want a fast and powerful workout?  Try incorporating bicep curls into your lunges or military presses while you’re doing squats.  You’ll get more done in a shorter time and see faster results.

 

4. Your Chest Will Be Perkier

Exercises like bench presses and chest flys will get the pectoralis muscles working and when those are strong; you’ll have a perkier bust line.  Those same exercises will help you with that unwanted “armpit fat” and keep the “grandma arm” at bay by tightening your triceps muscles.

 

5. Everything Else Will Be Easier

Whether you’re trying to master a headstand in yoga or just playing with your kids, weight training will help you in many other activities.  Strength training will also help increase your endurance making that 5K, or doing the dishes, a little bit easier.  Enjoy a longer, happier life when you lift weights.