I recently watched a lecture/ yoga class and it really inspired me. A. The instructor, Melissa Bourgeois, is adorable. B. She had the entire class reinforcing and practicing positions of power! Most people don't realize having forward head posture, causing your body to slump forward, can be very detrimental to your entire spine and health. (Think of the position you're usually in when you're looking down at your phone, sitting in front of the computer, or standing over a sink or stove.) While poor body positioning can turn into a potentially serious health risk, it also strongly impacts how other people perceive you. What's even more alarming and real is that it influences how you feel about yourself.
Melissa had us get in a Peter Pan-like stance, standing as tall as we could, with elbows out, fists on hips, and legs spread, taking up as much space as we could. Standing tall is obviously great for your posture and spine, but it also makes a HUGE impact on making you feel more powerful! (This is how the fashion statement "power heels" came about.) So, today's form of self-care is STAND TALL. Take up space and let the world know you have arrived! It will make you feel more powerful, embracing your inner badass, AND it will make you look like an alluring, tall glass of water.
Practice this at home in front of the mirror! Since you're in the privacy of your own home, really stretch it out and accentuate this stance: stand tall, reach your hands up to the sky, and feel limitless. When you're sitting in traffic, lift your body up like you have a string coming out of the top of your head and you're slowly being lifted up. When you're at your computer or looking at your phone, pretend like you have a back brace on and avoid rounding your shoulders. Again, this really is so important because when we reinforce bad posture, we cause a misalignment in our spines, which effect all vital organs and muscle function. (This is why I think Chiropractors should be a part of everyone's primary healthcare...and I used the term "healthcare", not "sickcare". Don't wait until you experience symptoms to be "forced" improve your lifestyle-- it's all about prevention, friends!)
So, stand like a model, a soldier, made-over Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, a superhero, or just the super-powerful version of amazing YOU!
*p.s. I want to remind you- these are guidelines and suggestions offered so that you become more mindful and rehearsed at taking out the time EACH DAY to take care of yourself! So, while it is my intention to post frequently, I feel confident that you can successfully fill in the blanks without my help! And, if you have trouble, here is an adorable illustration with a VARIETY of suggestions!
So, just because I have taken a nice blog break, I hope that doesn't mean you've omitted taking daily bits of "you" time! (My absence was because I needed a little "me" time...aka catching up on school work!)
Today's form of self-care is something that most of us love doing-- if not in public then at least in the car or the privacy of our own home. It's DANCING! This might sound slightly ridiculous to some, but you should never underestimate the power of dancing and its mood-altering potency.
Dancing has a wide range of physical and mental benefits including:
What I love most about dancing is that it allows you to be connected and present in your body, BUT you are also able to vacate. It's an usual combo-- usually, in order to be present you must sit with your thoughts, which is extremely healthy, but some people avoid it if they have unresolved internal "junk" they're either subconsciously or consciously trying to dodge. Vacating is great because it does allow you to get away from reality for a bit. With everything, there's always a necessary balance. If you find yourself going from activity to activity, leaving yourself with little to no time for reflection, or being "in your body/ present", maybe consider asking yourself why. But, this is why dancing is so wonderful because you stay in your body and are able to set aside what's bothering you and simply feel the music and the steps.
There are many ways that you can fit a little dancing in your life. Some great examples are Zumba, local or online dance classes, various PlayStation and Xbox video games, and the easiest: play your radio, stereo, iPod and just dance! I have had the urge to take tap for probably 10 years and this blog has pushed me to ask around and find a tap teacher. I've had the shoes for maybe four years and now is the time! So, stay tuned for horrifying/ hysterical clips of my progress! My hope is to get my adorable niece to take classes with me (she is the adorable babe in the video above). Another way I implement this in my world is occasionally going to a local dance hall, Legends, and attempt to learn the new "trendy" line dances...it isn't pretty, but it's really fun!
Do you enjoy dancing!? In the comments below, let me know what form of dance you prefer and where you like to bust it out!
This particular form of self-care helps your skin's natural repair process, reduces your chance for blemishes, improves your skin's texture, allows your skin to easily absorb and retain moisture and vitamins from your skincare products, AND (my personal favorite) Elle Macpherson and Christie Brinkley claim they owe their gorgeous, youthful skin to this regimen! No, it's not some expensive laser treatment or high-dollar magical product, it's EXFOLIATING.
Some may avoid scrubs because they have dry, problematic skin, but, really, using it during these winter months is one of the best times of the year to keep up...and the kind of exfoliator is everything. Removing layers of dead skin removes the barricade blocking your skin product's healing powers and allows your body to ramp cell-turnover (producing new skin cells, repairing damaged skin).
Finding the right kind of exfoliator is important because the bad stuff, full of harsh, drying ingredients is why this regimen sometimes gets a bad rep. Some of my favorite options are Himalaya's Purifying Neem Face Pack, available at most health food grocers, and Joanna Vargas's Exfoliating Mask, available online. They're my top picks because of their pure ingredients and both double as a mask + scrub.
My other favorite option is good ol' DIY: coffee grinds and coconut oil. What's great about this homemade coconut coffee scrub is that it costs very little and it comes with the same fabulous benefits of many pricey store-bought options. You can utilize your used coffee grinds from that day, the caffeine will give your skin a nice temporary tighten, and both ingredients offer your skin antioxidants! The coconut oil also offers loads of moisture, antimicrobial power, fighting bacteria that causes blemishes, and it contains nourishing & protective vitamin E, reducing the effects of aging. Hopefully, you have quality coffee and coconut oil at home-- if you don't, I would suggest opting for organic...remember: you're detoxifying your face so, the last thing you want to do is dampen your efforts by attempting to do so with products containing toxins. Simply take a spoon full of grinds with a spoon full of oil, mix together by rubbing hands together over sink, and rub mixture onto face and neck (or entire body) in circular motions-- then, rinse clean with warm water!
Remember: your face shouldn't be the only part of your body receiving this loving attention! Spoil yourself by scrubbing yourself from head-to-toe! Since I have sensitive skin, I typically only exfoliate once a week-- although, Elle and Christie's skin secret is doing it each day. Not only is this routine great for your skin, but, it also increases circulation (great for keeping you warmer in these freezing temps). SUCH a win, win, win...
Let me know how it goes! (And please, don't be shy! I have really enjoyed receiving private messages from those of you who enjoy this blog, but I would love for you to step out and comment!)
Repost from February 2015
The moment I saw more snow start to fall this evening, I decided my clean PANCAKES would be the perfect thing to warm my soul! This recipe took me quite some time to master...and since they make me SO happy, I thought I should spread the love and share my "top secret", EASY recipe! Doesn't hurt that they're gluten free, sugar free, gluten free, dairy free, right? The one thing I want in exchange for this recipe: please make sure you do these clean pancakes justice and use a healthy topping! See below recipe for serving suggestions.
I used all organic. It isn't necessary but it is more than ideal!
Yields approx. 6 pancakes
- 3/4 cup brown rice flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon pink salt
- 1 cup almond milk, unsweetened. (If not homemade, my favorite is Pure Almond Milk.)
- 1 tablespoon lakanto (pure monk fruit), xylitol, erythritol, or one Sweet Leaf stevia packet. I usually use stevia or mix half brown lakanto and half xylitol but they're all good sugar replacement options!
- 1 egg
- Extra-virgin coconut oil, to grease pan
* Optional: 1-2 teaspoons alcohol-free vanilla extract and/or cinnamon
Mix all dry ingredients together. Add milk and egg and whisk until smooth. Add a little bit of coconut oil to pan. Warm pan on medium-low to medium heat. Once the pan is warmed, pour batter, as usual! Once the edges are smooth and center is bubbly, flip!
My favorite topping options:
- I love the convenient bags of organic frozen berries at the grocery (mixed berries, blueberries, or strawberries). Simply cover the bottom of a pan with a bit of water, add frozen fruit, and sauté on medium-high heat, until most of the water is gone.
* Optional step: To thicken the juice, add 1 tablespoon of Bulletproof's Collagelatin
Collagelatin supports rapid repair of tissues and bones, helps support joint mobility and smooth, healthy skin! It becomes gelatinous in cooled liquids, mixes easily in hot liquids, and is great to use to thicken sauces. You can enjoy this warm, but if you let it chill, it will become a jam-like consistency.
- Peeled, chopped, baked green apples with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg...and chopped walnuts are a nice addition.
- Fresh berries are great if you want to add them to your batter and bake them into the pancakes.
- Add walnuts, organic/ grass-fed butter, cinnamon & spice, and lakanto in a pan. Sauté on medium heat until mixture becomes thickened, for a "nut roll-esque" pancake.
- Grass-fed butter with cinnamon and a little more of the sweetener. Simple but delicious.
- Almond butter (unsweetened) with any/all of the following: chia seeds, shredded coconut, pure cacao powder, one of the 3 sugar alternatives listed in recipe.
- Sweetened and spiced pumpkin puree.
....I could go on and on for days!
Happy and healthy eating! - Holly
This particular post (and form of self-care) will be very short and to the point: be nice to people. By being polite, mindful, gracious to other people, you are causing a ripple effect that will surely come back to you. We all have experienced some unpleasant situations when we are just the innocent bystander caught in someone else's bad day. Take it from Taylor Swift, it's best to shake it off! Give your feelings validation if something hurt you or made you mad and then, do the unthinkable: try to correct them with kindness. I don't mean shake your finger at them, but lead by example.
If a stranger is abrasive towards you, you don't know what they're going through (which doesn't justify their attitude), but, sometimes, you have to just feel compassion for individuals who don't have the harnessed strength you may have. It's actually very sad that they let external affairs inflict and burden their day to such an extent. Turning the other cheek can be one of your most powerful tools. Like attracts like so, do everything it takes to avoid dampening your positive vibrations. No one is deserving or important enough to steal your joy and opportunity to have a great day. My dad has always said, "be a thermostat, not a thermometer" and I think it's great wisdom to put in your back pocket each morning. By being nice to people, we are allowing others to do the same.
Need some bonus inspiration? Watch Disney's Pollyanna. This movie molded me at a very young age and is definitely the most impactful piece of cinema I've seen! I'm completely serious, it will change you.
If you want to get involved and make an even bigger impact, join the "DUDE. be nice." movement...really great cause and really cool t-shirts.
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, the early bird catches the worm, and Benjamin Franklin once said, "The early morning has gold in its mouth." For years, people have tried to figure out what makes a businessman a "tycoon", a mom "super", or an athlete a "champion". A lot of these answer seekers have come up with one hypothesis: it all lies in their morning ritual. So, for today's form of self-care: create a morning routine!
There is so much opportunity in the early morning. You are able to get your head on straight, feed yourself some nourishment that will successfully energize you, and tie up any loose ends that could potentially dampen your day. Many successful people have thing in common and it's that they start their day early. This isn't so much me challenging you to wake up at 5:00 every morning, but to make sure you're giving yourself enough time to prep for your day, before you step out the door in the morning, and, also, that this time is quality time.
In my opinion, I don't know that it's so much that these successful people are getting a competitive advantage because of the extra hours, I think it must have to do with the fact that just as soon as you wake up, you are much more in-tune with your subconscious, or "superconscious". Your subconscious is said to be the part of your brain that holds your "geniusness". If you are able to harness the power of your subconscious mind, you could access all of your most creative, feasible ideas...and, even, where those lost set of keys are! I don't like to rewrite what's already been written well so, if you want the full lowdown, this is a great article explaining it here.
Now, to the self-care part! Whether you like to read, exercise, or find it practical to do your food prep in the morning, I suggest you pick a healthy routine that works for you, keeps you as calm as possible, and stick with it. One of the lecturers at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition boasts the benefits of writing in a journal first thing after you open your eyes. "Morning pages, created by Julia Cameron, are an empowering tool used to cultivate creativity and personal transformation. The idea is to wake up and immediately write a few pages about anything, simply transcribing your thoughts. The purpose of writing in the early morning rather than the evening is significant, as it allows you to capture your thoughts before your ego is awake and your usual defenses are in place. Your vulnerability in the early morning allows you to write truthfully and purposefully. Morning Pages are like a tough love friend - they encourage you to face your aversions and urge you to take action on your own behalf."
Prayer, meditation, visualization, and affirmations are all things I try to rotate in my routine. They are a great way to reinforce priorities and stay mindful of your intentions. Visualizing a successful day before you have it is such a valuable tool; especially if you have a big day ahead of you with potential stressors like a big meeting or proposal you want to excel at. Many athletes and businesspeople swear by this technique.
Some of my other A.M. loves: starting my day with a tall glass of water, brewing a cup of tea or making a delicious Bulletproof coffee in the morning (if I'm needing to be particularly productive or peppy), and getting/ giving love to my dog, Eloise.
Your mornings hold so much powerful potential! Do you fill that time with meaningful or nourishing activities? Do you have a morning routine, an early riser ritual, or crave a new change? Let me know in the comments below!
When I decided to start eating clean, I never realized the domino effect that would take place. Once you being eliminating nonsense from your diet, your body begins slowly cleansing itself from built up toxins. The first time I really noticed a difference, other than the immediate gift of amplified energy and not having to diet anymore, I kid you not, was when I went for a run along the river. I was honestly amazed. The colors where SO much brighter than normal...it was a mind-blowing distraction during my entire run because I kept wondering, "what in the world is going on?"! Then, I finally traced it to my lifestyle change. I think it had to do with multiple factors. One, it was a little bit of a meta-physical outcome-- a change of perspective and a brighter outlook. Two, by eliminating chemicals and faux food from my diet, my senses were amplified and I sort of became superhuman and capable of seeing in technicolor! Some of the other things I experienced: balanced mood, reduced stress and anxiety, clearer skin, no more brain fog, memories, ideas, and words were much more accessible, and no more 4:00 slump!
Sadly, this is how all humans should function, but most of America is cheating itself because we've slowly began feeding our bodies "matter" that contains more engineered ingredients than real food. (This is actually what has gotten many companies to legally not be able to call their chicken "chicken", beef "beef", and cheese "cheese"...I'm talking to you KFC, Taco Bell, and Kraft!) Eating is a means to nourish and replenish your body with supplementation. Pure and simple. I used to think that by eating "healthy", I would have to eat lettuce and string beans...void of any lovely flavor or enjoyment. Or, if I wanted to lose weight, I would be "healthy" by eating 100 Calorie Packs, Lean Cuisines, and Subway. Now, I just call that eating "skinny". There is nothing really healthy about it. I learned that the hard way.
I began deteriorating a little over three years ago. From the outside, I'm sure I seemed fine. I worked really hard to keep a trim figure and stayed VERY active at the gym. But, I started feeling all sorts of unfavorable symptoms across the board. These symptoms became so debilitating that I no longer felt like myself and I was so desperate that I gave up all of the foods I cherished...so I thought. After an interesting and eye-opening few years, I learned A LOT. I learned that these "frankenfoods", sugar, and processed carbs had caused my body to have system-wide inflammation, which caused me to accumulate an auto-immune disorder. That's why my body started to malfunction. My life was forever changed. The most exciting thing of all is that I realized, in order to get and stay slim, you can eat PILES of delicious and flavorful food! You don't even have to stray far from what you're used to. Eat steak, butter, muffins, pasta, cookies, casseroles, and, even, gummy bears! BUT and this is a HUGE but, you have to pay attention to the quality and the ingredients. Where food is sourced, what it was raised on, what it is treated with, etc. ALL plays a massive role in either contributing to your health in a positive or negative way! Your body metabolizes one hamburger completely different from another. One could actually contribute to your health and one could contribute to your early demise.
So, what exactly is "eating clean"? Eating clean, to me, is eating food in its purest form, free from anything man made in a lab. Some of the words not associated with clean eating are GMOs, heavy pesticides, processed, refined, hydrogenated, high fructose...I could go on and on. Also, keeping in mind, if you can't understand what's on the label, your body isn't going to understand it either. If someone had to create a name you can't pronounce for it, it's probably not real food. Another tip: if the item you're buying is something as pure as coconut milk and there are four ingredients on the label, that's unnecessary. Just keep it simple.
Please note: I am not suggesting you throw out your pantry or never eat fast-food again, but I am going to challenge you to start reading food labels. NOT the calories or fat, but the actual ingredients! The only thing I do suggest gazing at is the sugar content, which will eventually be in a blog post of its own.
I realize, this may be a heavy post because it is challenging you to consider switching things up a bit so, I'm offering Tulsans a little loving treat! Sign up below to take a complimentary grocery store tour. January 16th at 9 AM. (I will email you with more details.) If you don't live in the Tulsa area but would like some pointers, contact me for some free resources!
So, I have been on the very common roller-coaster ride when it comes to fitness. I have been in life stages when I was working out all of the time, working out some, or not at all. Many of us come up with excuses and experience this never ending battle of internal dialog about "should I go?", "I'm really tired", "I'm too hungry right now." A long while back, I was watching the Ellen Show and she said something that hasn't left me, (paraphrasing of course), "there is never a time when you make yourself go work out and regret doing so afterward". I tested this theory and it is 100% true. Once you get over the mental hurdle, you're always satisfied that you pushed yourself...leaving you with an improved body and a bonus sense of accomplishment, mostly thanks to the endorphins pumping through your veins! Another great quote, "Food is the most overused anxiety drug. Exercise is the most underutilized anti-depressant." Part of this theory has been tested by many reputable scholars, including Harvard Medical School, and it has proven to be very useful for people suffering from depression and anxiety. Click here for the article. So, if getting slim and toned wasn't enough of an incentive, it definitely does wonders to improve your overall sense of well being.,,among a host of other benefits.
This particular entry is in response to one of the top excuses or reservations I hear from clients, "I hate the gym" and/ or "I can't afford a gym membership". A solution: explore the opportunities of working out at home! What I love about this task is that it alleviates many of the concerns about working out: child care, shortage of time, finances, physical insecurities, and creeps who lurk and loiter. There are SO many affordable and free options these days-- you can't avoid getting at least 15 minutes in a day. Your heart and body will thank you for it.
Some of my favorite options are Daily Burn, Body Building, and many YouTube personalities geared towards women and men. What's great about Daily Burn and Body Building is that they both offer customized training programs for your personal fitness goals and track you along the way. I am currently a Daily Burn subscriber and really enjoy it so far! (Love pilates with Andrea Speir.) You even get to decide on your workout, based on if you just have time for 15 minutes, 30, or more. When you sign up, you get a 30 day trial and it costs $12.99 a month after. (This is the only option that costs anything but you don't have to pay an initial membership fee and can cancel at any time, without penalties.)
Some of these options do require access to more equipment than others-- so, depending on what you choose, you could be looking at an affordable, one-time investment for basics like a yoga mat, dumbbells, and a medicine ball. All of these class videos are accessible on a computer, apps for most smartphones, and/or TV, if it's connected to your internet.
Lastly, another option: you can kick it old school with some classic workout videos! I love Mari Winsor pilates DVDs and you can't go wrong with Billy Blanks Tae Bo...actually, I guess you can go wrong if you have certain mobility problems. Which reminds me, I should probably put this out there just in case: if you are considering a new exercise routine and have health concerns, I suggest that you ask your doctor before pursuing. There, I am legally off the hook now : )
I have personally tested all of these forms of at-home fitness entertainment (with the exception of all of the YouTube channels) and have had a lot of fun with them and think you will too! Getting into a routine is your best bet-- so, if you can, I would suggest deciding on weekly standing dates with yourself. Pick designated days and a specific time slot to just decide you WILL be showing up. Also a fun option: grab a friend, or a handful of friends, and rotate hosting a fitness date! This is an especially awesome option for moms who could take advantage of the double opportunity to fit in a fun workout together, while letting their kids enjoy a play date.
A mind hack I love to use when I'm really tired is that I tell myself I'll just work out for 15 minutes. 100% of the time, I'll exceed that time limit. BUT, even just 15 minutes a day will impact your fabulous physique.
Do you have a home routine that you love? Please share below!
Update: While I do love some of these virtual trainers, I am not always totally in love with most of their diet recommendations. Daily Burn is okay, but I am a firm believer that vegetables should really be emphasized during each meal. If you would like specific personal recommendations, I would be happy to help!
Today, I woke up with that not-so-fabulous congested, lump in my throat feeling. (I'll spare going into any more detail.) On a normal day, I would consider staying home and resting up, but since it has been a long holiday weekend, I decided to get with it and play medicine woman. (Something I enjoy on the regular.) I grabbed my tried and true coconut oil, scooped a heaping spoonful, and let it dissolve in my mouth. After swooshing the oil in my mouth for about 15 minutes (like mouthwash), while doing my usual morning routine, I spit it out in the toilet, used my alcohol-free mouth wash, copper tongue scraper, and brushed my teeth...I promise it isn't as tedious as it seems. Low and behold, I went from feeling like a 3 to a 7! This Ayurvedic practice and very useful form of self-care is called Oil Pulling. How did it help? Not only does oil pulling help detoxify your mouth, which is what its most known for, it also reduces inflammation in your oral cavities and sinuses.
This isn't the first time this ancient remedy has come through. I've been doing it for three years to whiten my teeth, promote clear skin, and insure oral health...and it made me remember why I used to do it daily! Instead of re-writing what's been written by many, here is a wonderful article by Dr. Axe explaining in detail how it works, the benefits, and thorough instructions!
Some clients have shared that the process of the coconut oil going from solid to liquid grosses them out-- in that case, I suggest melting it in a pan first, or just opting for another oil such as sesame oil or olive oil. Just like most things I talk about, quality is everything! I suggest using organic (pesticide free), extra-virgin (extracted with a machine and not chemicals), and cold-pressed (it hasn't been treated with high temperatures, compromising its quality). Getting the cleanest oil available is especially important when it comes to oil pulling because one of the main purposes is to eliminate toxins...the same toxins that come from foods that are laced with pesticides and chemicals.
So, give it a shot, see what you think, and check back to let me know how it goes in the comments below! (I usually see teeth whitening results after just a few uses!)
Growing up, weekends were for chores, errands, and play and Sundays were for church, lunch, and naps. Even if you're not a particularly religious person, the weekend, in many cultures and religions hold our day of rest, or "Sabbath". Why it's consistently practiced by many (including those who practice Wicca, apparently) is because it's so very necessary. We all need at least one day to reset our body.
Some of us have different ideas and and ideals when it comes to this rest and reset thing. While I am not about to bash anyone who has a weekly tradition of "Sunday Funday" (a carafe of mimosas followed by a Bloody Mary buffet), I do want to touch on one thing...this one thing has nothing to do with moral fiber! Unless you are as mystical as a unicorn and can tolerate copious amounts of alcohol without feeling the aftermath of blahness and compromised productivity on Monday morning, this doesn't pertain to you. But, those of you who are in the majority and don't fall into this somewhat miraculous category: for the sake of your wonderful self, if you do participate in this tradition and it has you feeling a little blue, empty, or debilitated, maybe reconsider it. There's nothing wrong with a few mimosas, but if any voluntary activity happens to come with a negative backlash, in any shape or form, I wholeheartedly hope that you try to tap into your motive and see if it can be satisfied with a more beneficial pastime. The weekend is for nurturing yourself. What that means to you is probably completely different from the next person, but just be sure it is actually helpful or encouraging in your development.
I am also not going to suggest that people forgot scrumptious stacks of pancakes on Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon chicken fried steaks, but I will just put the thought in your head: while allowing your body to rest on the weekend, maybe giving your intestines a day of rest could be equally valuable? We put loads of responsibility on our livers, depending on what we eat and drink, and autoimmunity starts in the gut. Do I fast every Sunday? Nope, I don't. While fasting is probably the optimum choice for most, I rarely go that extreme, but I also never dub the weekend my "cheat days". I think that can be a slippery slope and I believe that working to achieve balance is always the perfect long-term and short-term goal.
(If you're interested in learning how to make healthier alternatives to things like pancakes and chicken fried steak, I'm your girl and would love to schedule a complimentary consultation to chat about how I can help you with your lifestyle goals and any other related interests you may have!)
So, to tie this all together. The purpose of this blog is to give you the opportunity to refine yourself from the inside out via forms of self-care-- so that you can step out into this world as the optimized version of yourself. Redefining your days of rest is the perfect chance for you to ask yourself if you're needing some down time because maybe the week was hectic or, maybe, you're needing to make up for not exerting yourself enough during the week and need some face time? (...and by "face time", I don't mean FaceTime.) Maybe you need to take these days to play catch-up on FUN or catch up on sleep?
What is your idea of rest or reset?...while keeping with the nurturing side of self-care. Please share in the comment space below!
(Also, for those of you in the world of retail, restaurants, etc., I am not leaving you out! I know your schedule may be inconsistent but consistently during the weekends. So, your weekday off is still considered your day of reset.)