3 things you can do to improve your health that don’t involve diet + exercise
this time of the year is all about “resolutions” … many of which include diet and exercise. i’m sick of resolutions and sick of talking about “eat this, not that” and “5 moves to a flatter stomach”. let’s mix it up and talk about 3 things you can do every day to improve your health that don’t involve diet and exercise.
1. meditate. you’ve probably heard a lot about meditation… especially in the last year or so. it’s one of those things that’s becoming less weird as more and more people, from every walk of life, incorporate it into their routine.
it’s no longer just something that yogis or crunchy hippies do. that’s because it’s effing good for you. it’s known to reduce stress, help manage anxiety, slow aging, improve sleep, increase happiness, and strengthen the cardiovascular and immune systems. pretty crazy, right?
if you’re new to meditation, i recommend starting out with just 5 minutes per day, and using a guided meditation [you can find a lot of options on youtube… i really like this one]. once you’re comfortable with 5 minutes, up it to 10… then 15… then 20… and so on. i like to meditate first thing in the morning for about 20 minutes… it really helps to wake me up and start my day on the right foot!
2. spend time outside. let’s get real for a sec. most of us spend the majority of our time inside. at work, at home, commuting, at restaurants, the gym… i could go on forever, but i think you get the idea. all of these places are manufactured… they aren’t natural. ever think that actually spending time in nature could be… what we’re meant to do?
spending time in nature can boost serotonin levels, which helps stabilize your mood and regulates a number of bodily functions, including digestion and sleep. being outside also exposes you to the sun a.k.a. the best source of vitamin d there is.
take a 15 minute walk on your lunch break [yes, even if you live/work in a city], sit in the park and read a book, or find a restaurant with outdoor seating for your next boozy brunch. a little bit of time outside goes a long way!
3. drink water. okay, okay, maybe this technically has something to do with your “diet”… but not really. so i’m going for it. how many times in your life have you been told you need to drink more water? how many times have you told yourself that you need to be drinking more water? probably a lot. so, why don’t you just effing do it?
not to beat a dead horse, but water is like… SO good for you. water IS life. your body needs to be fully hydrated to operate properly. seriously, pretty much none of your systems can work the way they are supposed to without it. it aids digestion and kidney function, flushes out toxins, keeps your skin glowing, energizes the muscles, and can help manage hunger, which ultimately aids in weight loss.
and luckily, drinking water is really easy. we just have to make sure we’re actually doing it. i recommend buying a nice reusable water bottle [m obsessing over these swell x gray malin bottles] and taking it with you literally everywhere. having a nice water bottle actually makes me want to drink more water. kinda how buying new workout clothes motivates me to start working out more. also, keep a glass of water by your bed, and drink it first thing in the morning. you need to get re-hydrated after a long night of rest!
implement these 3 things in your daily routine [or even just one of them at a time] and you’ll notice a difference in how you feel… physically and mentally. you will improve your health… and your body will be so happy with you!
i went without make-up for 1 week + this is what happened
make-up. one of the things i love to hate and hate to love. i’ve never been one of those girls who cakes on the foundation, chisels out her cheekbones a la kim kardashian, or even knows how to create a smokey eye [but if you are, more power to you], and i’ve always taken a pretty simple approach to my make-up routine. i try to stick to as few natural products as possible… bb creme with spf, a little cheek stain, mascara… done. maybe a little more than this for a night out… but you get the idea.
part of the reason i don’t have a very extensive make-up routine is because i’ve been blessed with pretty clear skin. i never experienced acne the way some people do, but i’m human, after all, and still get the occasional breakout. also, it’s safe to say that i’m not always [re: never] good about taking my make-up off before working out, or before going to bed after a late night… not exactly the best approach to skincare.
… and over the past couple of months, i started seeing exactly the type of things you would expect when you’re working out and sleeping with your make-up on… breakouts… dullness… weird discoloration… and for the life of me i couldn’t find a way to “fix” any of it.
all of this obviously frustrated me… a lot. i started thinking about going back to using face wash and lotions that are full of harmful chemical ingredients… something i’m totally against… but, at least those types of products tend to work… right?
because using these types of products go against just about everything i stand for, i decided to do a little experiment first. what would happen if for a week… just one whole week… i stopped wearing make-up completely, and allowed my skin to breathe… all day every day?
sound scary? it was. make-up has become a crutch for so many of us. i always joke that i can’t go anywhere, including my own kitchen, without having at the very least bb creme and mascara on… and i have friends that are notorious for showing up to go hiking… yes, hiking… in full make-up. i wish i was kidding. i really do.
so, i went for it. no make-up. one week. here’s what happened:
day 1: fully uncomfortable. i felt like i had to give just about everyone i came in contact with a disclaimer that i was purposely going make-up free for a week because i was aware of how bad my skin was, and ask them to not judge me. in retrospect, this is pretty sad… but kind of where we are as a society, right?
day 3: okay, wow, i definitely feel like my skin looks terrible, but this is exactly why i’m doing this. my skin needs a chance to breathe and heal itself. but still, this effing sucks.
day 5: oh, sh*t! all of these blemishes are starting to clear up, aren’t they?! great, this is working.
day 7: damn. my skin hasn’t looked this clear in months. and not only am i noticing the difference, my friends have noticed, too! that must mean things have seriously improved. the blemishes are just about gone, i can actually describe my skin as “glowing” rather than “dull”, and you know what else…
… i feel more confident. weird, right?
after i went without make-up for a week, i realized that it literally doesn’t effing matter. it just doesn’t. my friends didn’t give af when i told them i wasn’t wearing make-up, they didn’t judge me [and they wouldn’t have judged me even if i hadn’t asked them not to]…
… and if they had judged me… then that would have been an entirely different conversation.
this post has turned out to be waaaaayyyyyyy longer than i expected it to be, so, here’s the moral of the story. make-up is great. i’m not giving up make-up. i’m not alicia keys, and this isn’t a new way of life for me. i enjoy using make-up and always will, but i do plan to use less make-up, especially on a day-to-day basis. my daily routine is going to consistent of the bare minimum: bb creme with spf, cheek stain, mascara, maybe a little colored lip or highlighter. easy peasy. nights out? events? i’ll go all out when i feel like it.
this little experiment has taught me that wearing a full face of make-up every single day is just not necessary… unless i want it to be. going forward, i’ll be much more comfortable not only wearing less make-up, but wearing no make-up on the days where i wake up a little late, or my skin needs a break… or when i just don’t effing feel like it.
and never forget: it’s not about whatcha look like, it’s about the kind of person you are. anyone can make themselves look pretty, but if they’re a sh*tty person… that’s way harder to change. and no one likes a sh*tty person.
want to try going make-up free? do it! and then tell me about it! i’d love to hear how it goes… so email me! firstname.lastname@example.org.
healthy lifestyle staples: apple cider vinegar
the healthy lifestyle staples series is my chance to let all of you in on all of the healthy products that i cannot live without and always keep on hand. from reusable water bottles to tongue scrapers to hot lemon water, there are quite a few things that i rely on to make my life easier and healthier on a regular basis…. and as the list continues to grow, i want to make sure I’m keeping all of you in the loop! today, i’m bringing you the low down on apple cider vinegar and why it’s one of the staples in my arsenal of healthy products.
apple cider vinegar is one of those products, much like coconut oil, that has more uses than i can even begin to list here. among those ways, it can do many things from balancing your body’s pH to disinfecting surfaces in your home and it works wonders on your hair and skin. here are 5 simple ways that i use apple cider vinegar on a day-to-day basis that you can start doing right away:
- as an all-natural toner: apple cider vinegar is great for balancing your skin’s pH and evening out your skin tone naturally. because it’s rather strong, you should always dilute it with water before applying it directly to your face. i make my own apple cider vinegar toner [recipe here] and use this as a part of my morning and evening skincare routine every. single. day.
- as a hair rinse: dilute some apple cider vinegar with water [i usually do about 1 part apple cider vinegar to 10 parts water] and pour it over your hair immediately after shampooing and conditioning. it will strip any leftover residue from your locks and leave them silkier and shinier than you can even imagine… just be careful to not get any in your eyes!
- to detoxify your body: every single morning, without fail, i always drink a cup of hot lemon water with cayenne pepper, turmeric and a cap-full of apple cider vinegar [recipe here]. while balancing your body’s internal pH, apple cider vinegar has also been shown to help stimulate the lymphatic system, clear out sinus congestion and detoxify the liver. getting all of these benefits is as easy as adding a tablespoon to the first glass of water you drink each day.
- to clean your home: apple cider vinegar can replace quite a few household cleaners, which not only reduces the amount of chemicals you are exposed to on a daily basis, but will help you save a little money [and space!], too. mix 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1 cup of water to make an all-natural cleaner [you can mix the two together in a spray bottle to make it easier to use] that can be used on sinks, stoves, ovens, countertops and even your bathtub/shower.
- as a mouthwash: apple cider vinegar can brighten those pearly whites and fight bad breath. gargle a mixture of 1 part apple cider vinegar and 2 parts water before brushing your teeth once a day [i do this in the evening since i usually oil pull in the morning].
bonus tip! another way to sneak some apple cider vinegar into your diet is by using a teaspoon or so as a salad dressing along with a little olive oil… yum.
you can purchase apple cider vinegar at just about any grocery store these days, but i highly recommend buying a raw, organic, unfiltered and unpasteurized version, such as bragg’s.
do you have any other ways of using apple cider vinegar in your every day life? share in the comments below!
image courtesy of wikihow
healthy lifestyle staples: detoxifying lemon water
one of my favorite, cannot live without healthy lifestyle staples is kinda weird [but that should be no surprise at this point]. i was introduced to this little concoction in college and would occasionally throw it into my routine here and there over the years, but only in the past year or so has it become a staple in my regimen.
hot lemon water. with apple cider vinegar. and turmeric. and cayenne pepper. every morning. before breakfast.
i knowwww what you’re thinking: no. but let me explain.
first, hot water with a little bit of lemon is a great way to wake up your digestive system and detoxify your body from the day before…essentially, you’re starting the day with a clean slate.
second, the apple cider vinegar will balance your pH levels aiding digestion, improving immunity and helping to clear up your skin.
finally, the turmeric helps reduce inflammation in the body, and the cayenne pepper gives your digestive system one last little boost.
now we’re talkin’, right? for this detoxifying lemon water elixir all you’ll need is:
- 8 oz. of water, brought to a boil
- the juice from half of a lemon
- 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- cayenne pepper to taste
all you need to do is boil the water, pour it into a mug and stir in the lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, turmeric and cayenne pepper. drink this in the mornings before you eat or drink anything else and try to make this a daily habit if at all possible… that’s how you’ll reap the most benefits!
my top 3 essential oils + their uses
over the past several weeks, i’ve received a handful of emails from you guys asking about what essential oils i use. i’ve mentioned some different essential oils in a few blog posts here and there, but thought it would be more beneficial to dedicate a post to talking about my favorite ones and what i use them for in more detail.
the three oils that i always have on hand [lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus] are great because they each have more than one benefit and more than one way they can be used, so there’s no need to keep your medicine cabinet stocked with twenty different essential oils at all times [although i would kinda love that, not gonna lie]. here are three essential oils that i recommend having in your home at all times.
- lavender oil: this is definitely my favorite essential oil. it smells amazing and really helps with a few different things. most importantly, it can be used to aid relaxation and promote healthy sleep patterns. staying asleep throughout the night is something i struggle with regularly, so heating a little lavender oil in an oil warmer before i go to sleep can really help me relax and set me up for a restful night’s sleep. i’ll also put a few drops in my humidifier to keep the aroma in the air throughout the entire night. lavender oil can also be used to ease headaches by inhaling the aroma or applying it directly to the temples.
- tea tree oil: i use tea tree oil for so many different things at this point that i don’t even know where to begin! tea tree oil is a natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-septic, so it’s uses and benefits cover a lot of ground. it does have a little bit of a harsh scent that takes some getting used to, but i still recommend keeping this one around. personally, i use tea tree oil in my homemade facial toner and as a spot treatment, as it’s anti-bacterial properties help to fight breakouts. i’ll also use it to ease cuts, scrapes or burns in place of neosporin.
- eucalyptus oil: i find that i use eucalyptus oil most often in the winter months when i’m feeling under the weather, as it offers relief to the respiratory system. there are a few ways you can use it, but what i recommend is placing a few drops at the back of the shower as soon as the water is hot, which will create a steam that when breathed in can help ease a cough, sore throat and irritation in the sinuses. because it’s anti-inflammatory, eucalyptus can also soothe sore muscles when applied and massaged directly into the affected area.
if you’re going to start experimenting with essential oils, i recommend investing in high-quality, therapeutic grade, u.s.d.a. organic versions. while they will be a little more expensive, you’re going to experience more of the benefits these babies have to offer with a higher quality oil. i personally love aura cacia products, which you can order online directly from their site or pick up at most health food stores. a few other essential oils that i also recommend checking out are peppermint oil for indigestion [place 2-3 drops in an 8 oz. glass of water] and lemongrass as an insect repellant.
have you experimented with essential oils before? what ones? how did you like them? would love to hear from you in the comments below or via email@example.com!
healthy lifestyle staples: skin brushing
the healthy lifestyle staples series here at bananas + bellinis is something that i think is really important. not only do i get to give you a glimpse of some of the things i do/use on a regular basis, i also get to show you how easy it can be to incorporate healthy habits into your day-to-day life.
today, i want to add another item to my list of healthy lifestyle staples: skin brushing. skin brushing is known to have many health and beauty benefits, such as reducing cellulite, stimulating the lymphatic system, aiding digestion and detoxification of the body, increasing energy and circulation and exfoliating the skin.
the skin is the largest organ in the body and its job is essentially to protect us from anything that might be harmful [toxins, germs, viruses, bacteria, etc]. if the skin is not well taken care of, it’s ability to protect us decreases. skin brushing is an easy way to keep the skin in tip-top shape as a part of your regular skincare regimen.
so, how does it work? by stimulating the skin, you’re essentially getting a bunch of the other systems in your body working. it’s best to do first thing in the morning before showering when your skin is dry and your system is relaxed. you should always brush in the direction of your heart, as this is the way the lymphatic system naturally flows. start with the soles of your feet [the nerve endings there are connected to your entire body], working your way up your legs, over your stomach, booty, hands, arms, chest [ladies, be sure to avoid the ladies, if ya catch my drift] and down your back [see the diagram below]. because you’ve just exfoliated, showering after skin brushing is the best way to go so that you can wash away all of the the dead skins cells. apply some lotion [or coconut oil!] after your shower to soothe the skin and moisturize. you should notice a difference in how your skin looks and feels almost immediately.
a few things to keep in mind when skin brushing:
- don’t brush too hard, you don’t want to irritate the skin
- skip over any cuts, rashes, irritations or varicose veins
- leave your face and neck alone since the skin there is so sensitive
ready to give skin brushing a try? you can buy a skin brush at most drug or health food stores for under $20. you can always order one online, too!
diagram courtesy of healthy lifestyle choices 101
miracle hangover cure: milk thistle extract
as you probably know, one of the recurring themes here at bananas + bellinis is balance, simply because i believe that in order to live a healthy life, you have to live a happy life and happiness doesn’t come from deprivation, restriction or self-inflicted punishment or criticism. i know from personal experience that depriving yourself, obsessing over your food intake and criticizing yourself for your appearance, weight, financial status, life choices, etc. does not lead to happiness… at all.
one thing that i’m not afraid to share is my love for going out and enjoying myself over a few drinks. cocktails, beer, wine… i like all of it. i believe that in moderation, having a drink or two… or three… is perfectly fine and nothing to feel bad about. now, with that being said, there is one kinda out there, health nut thing that i do to give my liver a little prep and that is incorporating milk thistle extract into my supplement regimen the day of an event I know i’ll be drinking at.
milk thistle extract is something that i was introduced to when i was doing a 30-day mind-body cleanse last january and it has seriously changed my life. milk thistle is a plant and the extract that comes from its leaves is known for its ability to detoxify and protect the liver and its vital functions, so obviously this stuff has a place when it comes to the prevention/cure of hangovers.
you can purchase milk thistle extract in tincture or pill form [i prefer the tincture] and take it during the day when you know you have a happy hour or a birthday party to attend. you can put a dropper full in your water or tea as much as you would like throughout the course of the day [the taste isn’t strong] or directly into your drink while at the event. the morning after a night of drinking, especially if I’m not having an #iwokeuplikethis moment, i’ll also put a dropper full into a glass of ice cold water and before i know it, i’m back to 100%.
of course, this trick is much less effective if you drink a lot, a lot or if you start mixing alcohol [that’s never a good idea and I can’t help you there], but give this a try the next time you go out for a few drinks and I promise you won’t know how you ever lived without it.
images courtesy of the glamorous housewife
5 tips for surviving the common cold
with winter fast approaching, many of us will find ourselves [or already have found ourselves] battling the common cold. it usually creeps up out of nowhere and before you know it, you’re waist deep in tissues and mouth-breathing in order to supply your brain with enough oxygen to think straight. fun, right?
i have a few [all-natural!] tricks up my sleeve that i turn to to make myself more comfortable when that cold inevitably hits. these are most effective at the first signs of a cold, so if you feel it coming on, start right away!
1. echinacea: echinacea is a plant known for its immune boosting qualities that is available in a variety of forms. as soon as you notice the signs of a cold, start popping some echinacea supplements or drinking an echinacea tea a few times a day to give your immune system a little oomph.
image courtesy of oglesby
2. the neti pot: the neti pot is one of those things that totally freaks people out when they first hear about it, but is something that you won’t know how you lived without once you give it a try. if you’re not familiar with it, the neti pot is basically a mini-teapot-ish vessel that you fill with a solution of lukewarm water and salt [you don’t want to use just any salt; there are many salts out there made for use with the neti pot]. you then pour the solution into one nostril while leaning over a sink and the salt solution works its way through the sinuses, flushing out any… stuff… that might be hanging out in there through the other nostril. i usually do this two times a day when i’m sick, once in the morning and once right before bed and the relief it provides for sinus pressure and a stuffy nose is almost immediate.
image courtesy of yoga lifestyle
3. eucalyptus oil: the eucalyptus plant has many medicinal properties that come in handy when treating the common cold. it’s an anti-imflammatory and works as as a decongestant, so it’s especially helpful if you have a sore throat, cough and/or a runny/stuff nose. it’s easiest to find and use as an essential oil. for a sore throat, place a few drops in a glass of warm water and gargle for 30 seconds, 2-3 times a day or whenever you feel like you need relief. when I’m in the shower, i also put a few drops on the floor of the tub all the way at the back, as far away from the drain as possible, so that when the hot water hits it, a nice vapor is created that will waft up into your respiratory system, helping to clear congestion and ease a lingering cough.
image courtesy of the health site
4. water: as simple as this sounds, staying hydrated when you’re sick is so important. make sure that you are drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day [you should do this when you aren’t sick, as well] to keep your system running optimally, prevent dehydration, loosen mucus and flush out toxins and germs.
image courtesy of m.n.n.
5. rest: i saved the best for last and this is seriously the most important thing on the list. i cannot stress enough how important it is to take it easy when you’re under the weather. your body is already working hard enough to fight off the cold in the first place, so the last thing you need to do is place even more stress and exhaustion on it. doing so will only make you feel worse and make your recovery time even longer. it’s okay to take a sick day from work or skip the gym when you aren’t feeling well. so email your boss, make yourself a cup of tea and get cozy on the couch with some netflix. your body will thank you for it.
image courtesy of the dog dish
so, while i don’t have a magic, instant cure for the common cold [sorry if you were expecting that from this post!], all of the things on this list will definitely alleviate your symptoms and make you a little more comfortable while it runs its course through your system. if you have any other tips for surviving the cold that i didn’t include, please share them in the comments below.
stay well and get better soon!
feature image courtesy of pearls of profundity
quiz: do you need a health coach?
“health coach” is a relatively new term that’s becoming more and more mainstream every day. however, when i tell someone that i’m a health coach, 9 out of 10 times that statement is answered with, “a health coach? what’s a health coach?” it dawned on me that some of you reading my blog might not be familiar with what a health coach is either… and so, this post was born!
so, what is a health coach? the answer is actually pretty simple. i always describe a health coach as someone who works with clients to address their health concerns, help them establish goals related to their overall health and wellness, and then ultimately acts as an educator and support system as they make lifestyle changes and work towards their goals. in addition to addressing concerns around diet and physical health, a health coach will also look at other aspects of a person’s life, including relationships, work-life balance, physical activity, hobbies and spirituality, to see how these things might be contributing to their health issues.
as a health coach, i don’t push one particular diet, prescribe rigid diet plans, count calories or suggest that clients make dramatic lifestyle changes all at once. instead, i work with clients over an extended period of time [typically six months, but sometimes longer], looking at where their life needs balance and making suggestions for small, manageable changes they can make and stick to over time.
to give you an example, if a client tells me that their goal is to lose 20 pounds, the first thing i would look at is their diet. if there are major issues, like they eat mcdonald’s every day and drink soda with each meal, i’m not going to tell them to immediately stop eating mcdonald’s and drinking soda [even though they should] because even if they did this, it. would. not. stick. instead, i’d suggest that they try replacing one soda per day with a glass of water or, if they are feeling adventurous, a green juice. and then if that goes well, maybe we’ll try replacing one burger with a vegetarian sandwich and so on.
as they make progress, we’ll keep making small changes that they can maintain. and, best of all, i’m there to guide and support them throughout the entire process and hold them accountable. this approach might not get you results overnight, but it will get you results that last. it’s about creating a new, healthy lifestyle, not crash dieting, losing the weight you wanted to lose and gaining it back when you finally decide to binge on everything you have been depriving yourself of.
so, do you need a health coach? take this quiz to find out!
- do you have health concerns that do not require medical attention, but you don’t know how to address on your own?
- do you feel like you are constantly trying the latest fad diet, with minimal results?
- do you feel like you have made changes to your diet or routine that are supposed to make you feel good, but don’t?
- are you lacking balance in [any aspect of] your life?
- are you ready to make lifestyle changes to improve your health, but aren’t sure where to start?
if you answered “yes” to any of these questions, working with a health coach is something that will help you to reach your goals and live a happy, healthy, balanced life.
if you’re ready to take this step towards creating a life that you are obsessed with, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. if you mention this blog post, you will receive one month of free health coaching [in addition to your free initial consultation] when you sign up for a 6-month program. not sure if working with a health coach is right for you? email me with your questions! i’d be more than happy to chat with you and see if this might be a good fit.
i can’t wait to hear from you!
image courtesy of steph brescia photography
healthy lifestyle staples: tongue scraping
okay, i know what you’re thinking. tongue scraping? is she serious? what even is that?! well, i’m 100% serious and after you read this article, i guarantee you’ll go buy yourself a tongue scraper and love it.
so, why is this a healthy lifestyle staple? tongue scraping, or jiva shodhana in sanskrit, is an ancient ayurvedic practice that is known for not only keeping your mouth extra clean, but can help to detoxify the entire body, as well. here are three great reasons to start using a tongue scraper asap:
- it improves oral health. because tongue scraping removes the bacteria that forms on your tongue throughout the day, it will ultimately leave you with fresher breath, less plaque buildup and healthier gums. it can also reduce your chances of getting cavities.
- it aids digestion. tongue scraping will clear up your taste buds so that you can really taste the food you are eating and begin the digestion process smoothly. digestion begins with salivation and if you can’t truly taste your food, your body won’t know how to properly begin to break it down, which can screw up the whole process. and no one wants that.
- it boosts your immunity. because the tongue is the first line of defense in your immune system, removing toxins and bacteria from it can prevent them from being reabsorbed into the body, which is especially important during cold and flu season.
i know that this sounds really weird, but give it a try. i guarantee once you start you will wonder how you have ever gone without doing it. it’s best to do it twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, right after you brush your teeth. i personally use this tongue scraper by dr. tung’s. the stainless steel versions are preferable to the plastic ones and you can purchase one on amazon for around $5-$7.
image courtesy of the chalkboard
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