3 life lessons i learned from my dog
about a week ago, my family dog, rollie [pronounced rah-lee] passed away. it was a rough week for us, but knowing that he is in a better place, chasing all of the squirrels, and eating all of the ice cream he could have ever dreamed of is comforting. i went home last weekend and it was so weird walking up to my front door and only being greeted by our other dog, rex. we got rollie when he was only eight weeks old and he was a true member of the family to us, not just a pet, and the house definitely felt empty without him there. as you can see from the picture below, he was also really good at posing for selfies.
i am obsessed with dogs and as a dog lover [i often say i like dogs more than people], i don’t see dogs as inferior creatures or things that we can just throw away like other possessions when we get sick of them. dogs are highly intelligent [probably smarter than many people i’ve come in contact with], can feel like we do and i think that we can all learn from them in some way. here are three important life lessons i learned from rollie.
- be persistent. i have never met a dog as persistent as rollie was. quite often, he was persistent to the point of being annoying, especially when it came to begging for food. he would position himself in front of you, as close as he could physically get and just stare. it didn’t matter if it took you three minutes or three hours to give in. he waited until he got what he wanted and 99% of the time, he did just that. when it comes to what you want, what you really desire deep down, be persistent when going after it. stay focused, keep yourself motivated and don’t let setbacks get to you. it may take days, months or even years to reach your goals, but if it’s what you really want, it’ll be worth it.
- be accepting of others, no matter how different they are from you. rollie loved everyone. people, other dogs, cats, baby bunnies… you name it. he was best friends with our cat, sadie, greeted everyone with a wiggling butt [he was an australian shepherd, so he had no tail to wag] and was interested in everything around him to a fault. just because someone has different views or interests than you, dresses “weird” or comes from a background you don’t understand doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with them. give everyone a chance and try not to pass judgement immediately. you never know how important they could end up being to your life path.
- be excited. all the time. about everything. rollie was one of those dogs that was always happy and bouncing off the walls, even in his old age when it was hard for him to get around. breakfast time? so excited. time to go outside? omg yes. going for a car ride? BEST DAY EVER. if you applied this level of excitement to every little thing you did every single day, especially the things you don’t enjoy doing, i guarantee your quality of life, stress levels, and overall outlook on life would improve drastically and every day would feel like the best day ever.
rollie kept us on our toes, brought us so many laughs over the years [and was seriously the cutest puppy ever… just look at that face!] and will be missed so much. rest peacefully, rollie boy. thank you for inspiring this post and being the best dog any kid could ever wish for.
happy labor day + 5 ways to stay healthy at a b.b.q.
can you even believe it’s already the end of august? i have no idea where the summer went and i am not looking forward to the downward spiral into cold weather, winter jackets, avoiding the outdoors by any means necessary and total misery that’s inevitably going to begin within the next few weeks. sometimes i seriously wonder why i haven’t moved to a city where seasons aren’t a thing…
anyway! since it’s labor day a.k.a the last long weekend of summer, i expect that many of us will be spending the weekend drowning our sorrows in food and alcohol, so i thought it would be helpful to chat about how to stay healthy at a barbecue. here are 5 ways to stay healthy at a b.b.q. while still enjoying yourself and letting loose, regardless of what your plans are this weekend!
- b.y.o.f. (bring your own food). no, no, no. i don’t mean you should pack up a little lunchbox full of “good” foods just for yourself that you’ll whip out when everyone else digs into the spread of chips, burgers, and desserts. seriously… who does that? basic b*tches, that’s who. [okay. fine. i’ll admit that i’ve shown up to many-a-barbecue with my own box of veggie burgers, but that’s where i draw the line.] what you should do is make an awesome dip or a healthy dessert to bring to share with everyone. there are tons of quick and easy recipes out there, so finding something that everyone will like won’t be hard. check out my pinterest boards for inspiration!
- scope out the buffet before digging in. before you start piling food on your plate, check out the buffet and see what you’re working’ with. i would say that about 99% of all buffets at picnics and barbecues include some sort of fruit and veggie spread, so you can fill your plate up with some watermelon and raw cucumbers, leaving a little room for that pasta salad and dessert at the end.
- wait before going back for round two. no matter how delicious that burger was or how badly you want a second slice of that key lime pie… wait. take some deep breaths, drink a glass of water and give yourself some time to digest everything before running back for seconds. if you’re still hungry 30 minutes later, go back and serve yourself a small second portion of something you really enjoyed.
- eat a light, healthy breakfast before the party. start your day off with a light, healthy breakfast, such as a smoothie or chia seed pudding, so that you don’t arrive at the party starving. this way, regardless of what your options are, you’ll get in a healthy, nourishing meal no matter what direction the rest of the day takes, if you know what i mean!
- drink water. okay, i cannot stress how important this is, especially if you plan on drinking alcohol. to keep myself hydrated in the heat and help avoid a massive hangover the next morning, i try to drink at least one glass of water for every alcoholic drink i have. i’ll be honest… this doesn’t always happen… we can all get carried away… but, if you can maintain this little policy throughout the day your body will really appreciate it the next day.
so, there you have it! five pretty simple ways to stay healthy at all of the picnics, pool parties, beach cookouts and barbecues you’re headed to this weekend! personally, i’m off to philly tomorrow morning for made in america with one of my girlfriends, so be sure to check out my instagram for videos of my favorite performances and a few philly editions of #eatingfortheinsta. in true bananas + bellinis fashion we have a few healthy and few absolutely not healthy spots mapped out for our food tour of philadelphia. do you have any recommendations for us?
what are your plans for labor day weekend? whatever you’re doing, i hope you have as much fun as these guys did!
photo courtesy of m.w.r. hawaii
3 reasons why balance is better than perfection
in my early 20s, being “perfect” was something that i strived for. this desire manifested itself most prominently in my quest for the perfect body through a strict, vegan diet that eventually morphed into orthorexia. while i had the best of intentions, i became so obsessed with being perfect and healthy that i completely lost sight of who i was, how to take care of myself and how to enjoy my life… the biggest problem was that i didn’t even realize it.
eventually, as quite often happens in these cases, i reached a point where i just couldn’t do it anymore. i was exhausted, stressed out and just generally miserable, even though i had reached a weight i considered “perfect” and had the healthiest diet of anyone i knew. i decided to seek help and was able to work through my issues in a way that was healthy, productive and sustainable. in the years since, my goal is no longer to be perfect, but to be balanced. i work to maintain a lifestyle that makes me happy, keeps me healthy and doesn’t create unnecessary stress in my life. do i have my moments? of course. who doesn’t? but, the difference is that now i know that happiness is achieved through balance, not perfection. here are 3 reasons why balance is better than perfection:
1. balance doesn’t allow for “cheat days” because it’s impossible to cheat. when you are working around the clock to maintain a perfect diet and avoid “bad” foods, a well intentioned “cheat day” can easily turn into a full-on binge where you inhale every cookie within a 10-mile radius because, “it’s okay, i’ll be good the rest of the week”. when you’re balanced, you eat the cookie if you want to eat the cookie no matter what day of the week it is. you skip the gym to go to happy hour with your girlfriends if that’s what you want to do. and you know what? it’s fine. one cookie or one skipped gym session isn’t going to derail everything you’re working for. eating every cookie in the tri-state area? that could cause some problems.
2. balance alleviates stress and anxiety. letting go of the idea of perfection is seriously liberating. as soon as i stopped trying to be perfect, the feeling of anxiety that always consumed me was just not there anymore. i could go about my day without spiraling into a panic over what i was eating for lunch, when i was going to be able to make it to the gym or if the shirt i was wearing made me look fat. when you’re not stressed out over trivial things, you can focus your energy on things that are important, like spending quality time with your friends, getting work done productively and accurately and pursuing hobbies that you are interested in.
3. balance is sustainable. when i was attempting to maintain a strict vegan diet, i had this terrible habit of getting drunk, housing an entire pizza and spending the next day mentally bashing myself and swearing that i would never do it again. i’m sure you’ll be shocked to find out that it did happen again. many, many times. what can i say? i love cheese and was forcing myself to completely avoid something that i really enjoy, all in the name of trying to be perfect. now, i maintain a mostly vegan diet and when i feel like having a slice of pizza, i eat the damn slice of pizza and i rarely go overboard. when you deny, deny, deny all the time, you’re bound to overdo it when your self-control eventually wears thin, and this goes for anything, not just food. perfection is not sustainable over a long period of time… listening to your body, however, is.
so, here’s the thing. “perfect” doesn’t exist. and the chances of you being happy, healthy, enjoying life and maintaining the lifestyle you’ve created in the pursuit of perfection are slim to none. you’re allowed to be obsessed with green juice and yoga while also being obsessed with pizza and taking naps. i am. and not only is it okay, it’s normal and nothing to be ashamed of. once you let go of the idea of being perfect and find a level of balance that you can maintain, your life will take on a new form and you will be the happiest, healthiest, most perfectly imperfect version of yourself possible. i promise.
if you’re struggling to find and maintain healthy balance in your life, i can help! as a part of my health coaching practice, i help my clients to develop healthy habits that allow them to live a happy, healthy life in a way that is realistic, maintainable and allows for those necessary indulgences every once in a while. If you would like more information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about my services and to schedule your free initial consultation!
photo courtesy of steph brescia photography
3 ways to ditch your digital addiction + get reconnected
ferris bueller, one of my ultimate [fictional] crushes, was right when he said it and i think now it’s more relevant than ever: “life moves pretty fast. if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” don’t believe me? let me ask you this: how many times have you found yourself sitting at dinner or at a bar with a group of friends, maybe even your significant other, only to realize that no one is talking and everyone is on their phones, sending a text message, browsing instagram or updating their facebook status? i’m guessing more times than you would like to admit.
last week, i read this article in the new york times about how disconnected our society has become from just about everything in the age of social media and smart phones. it really opened my eyes and got me thinking about my own habits when it comes to these things. i think that most of us can admit to being at least a little overly attached to our phones. we use them to kill time, fill awkward silences and even to avoid conversations that would be really uncomfortable to have in person. i’ve done all of these things and i’m sure everyone reading this has, as well. [don’t worry, no one’s judging you… at least not yet.]
it seems kind of backwards that things that should be keeping us more connected are actually doing the exact opposite. we’re not only pre-occupied and distracted when we’re with our friends and family, but we are also no longer present with ourselves when we’re alone.
after reading this article, i decided that i wanted to make a conscious effort to reduce the time i spend on my phone. don’t get me wrong, i love instagram and being able to see what my friends and family are up to, especially the ones i don’t get to see very often, but i want to be fully present with these people when i am with them and with myself on a regular basis. i think that we could all benefit from unplugging here and there, so i came up with three things we can all do to put down our phones and experience what’s going on around us a little more:
1. stop checking your phone first thing in the morning, right before bed and in the middle of the night. not only will this give you a chance to ease into your day, you’ll sleep better, too. the light from phone screens can have a negative affect on our sleep, especially right before we turn in for the night. experts say it’s best to avoid looking at your phone for at least one hour before you go to bed.
2. step away from your phone for at least two hours each day. whether you leave your phone in your purse/bag when you first get into work or leave it at home when you run out to do errands, two hours a day really isn’t that long.
3. turn off all social media notifications. doing this will help you to resist the urge to see what’s happening on social media all the time, ultimately reducing your phone-in-hand time.
this might seem a like a lot to take on all at once, but that’s okay! if you need to, take it one step at a time and at a pace you are comfortable with. i know that disconnecting from social media and stepping more than five feet away from our phones can be scary, but, you will be okay and i have proof in the form of a real life example. one of my close friends gave up all forms of social media – cold turkey – for lent and guess what? not only did she live to tell about it, after two weeks she said that she didn’t really care anymore. life is still happening, even if that meal, selfie or check-in doesn’t make it to social media. you just might actually enjoy yourself more if you’re not worrying about how many “likes” your status/check-in/picture/tweet is getting. give it a try and see what happens… i would love to know how it’s going for you!
my 10 favorite uses for coconut oil
coconut oil is an anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbal and an anti-viral all rolled into one, so right away you know that it’s not messing around. when consumed regularly, coconut oil is known to support thyroid function, reduce muscle and joint inflammation, aid digestion and sooth stomach ailments, speed up the metabolism, improve cholesterol and overall heart health and kill bacteria and yeast in the body. sounds pretty good, right? here are five easy ways to incorporate it into your diet and start reaping the benefits:
- use it in place of pam or other oils when frying or sautéing food. unlike other oils, coconut oil will retain its nutrients even when heated to high temperatures.
- when cooking and baking, use it to replace vegetable oil and shortening.
- add a tablespoon or two to smoothies to boost your energy and aid digestion.
- layer it onto a slice of toast along with your favorite jam in place of butter for a sweet, healthy breakfast.
- use as an alternative to creamer and a natural sweetener in your coffee or tea.
additionally, adding coconut oil to your beauty regimen is an easy way to cut down on the amount of harmful chemicals entering your body. it will also help free up space in your medicine cabinet because it can take the place of so many other products. here are five ways you can easily incorporate coconut oil into your every day routine:
- use as a face moisturizer and body lotion. i personally moisturize with coconut oil every morning!
- put a small amount on a cotton ball and use as a make-up remover. bonus: it will help reduce the appearance of wrinkles around the eyes and is way cheaper than botox!
- massage into your dry hair one-hour before showering, then shampoo and condition as usual for an all-natural hair mask. you will love how silky and smooth it leaves your hair, i promise.
- place on cuts, burns, blisters or a bad sunburn to speed up the healing process.
- carry it with you in a small container to use as a lip balm.
finally, probably the best thing about coconut oil, aside from all of the health benefits, is that it’s super affordable. you can get a 14 oz. jar from spectrum for around $11, which is a small price to pay for something that can improve your health in so many ways. i always have at least one jar stocked in my kitchen and another in my medicine cabinet. what are some of the ways you have incorporated coconut oil into your every day life?
image courtesy of made of muscle
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