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A few other things….

I am so appreciative of the feedback I heard from my last blog about meal planning – anyone who has started it I’d love to hear how it is going?

With that I thought maybe I’d share a few other things that I have changed around my house to be healthier & more cost efficient.

First thing I remember doing was homemade deodorant…I know I know – “you must be NUTS?”  Yes I am for sure but I did it because I was always super sweaty – like had prescription antiperspirant that would literally singe my armpits – it wasn’t enjoyable to say the least.  So I started doing some investigating and decided to try this.  It was unbelievably helpful.  I do NOT sweat nearly as much anymore and find many days I even forget to put deodorant on.  Here is the link for what I have made, I don’t add the Vit. E and almost always use Lavender Oil (I have used a lemon verbena before in the summer that is nice).  My only warning is coconut oil has a low melting point so don’t pack it on a hot vacation place – likely it will melt before you get there 🙂 .  I alway keep mine in a small ball jar.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Deodorant/

Speaking of coconut oil – I use it for EVERYTHING!!!  We cook with it, I use it as facial moisturizer, skin lotion, for bug bites, scratches – you name it I always start with coconut oil.

The next big thing I changed was laundry soap. I wish I would have calculated how much money I have saved just in laundry products.  I love this “recipe”, it is simple, smells great, cleans well and one batch lasts for months in our house (I maybe make it 2-3 times a year).  Here is the recipe I use – you can search in Pinterest and find 100 different variations:

1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax– Found in the detergent aisle

1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda– Found in the detergent aisle

2 (14.1 oz) Bars of Fels-Naptha or Zote Soap– Found in the detergent aisle – I use the large holes in my cheese grater to make the soap smaller.  (I prefer the smell of the Fels-Naptha – the Zote is pink and also smells fresh but I much prefer the Fels-Naptha)

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1 (4 lb) Box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda– Found in the cooking aisle (You could also get two 2 lb box, we couldn’t find the larger 4lb box when we went)

I layer this into a bucket and stir every so often – I have a nice glass jar I keep it in and use about 2 tablespoons/load.

These are probably my two favorite changes I’ve made.  We do other things like wash wood floors with vinegar, water and some essential oils and I always soak fruits and veggies in vinegar and water.

I would LOVE to add to my list of things I could do to be more cost efficient and healthier here at the McGrath house so PLEASE pass along any tricks, recipes and/or ideas you have!

 

May the Sun Rise to Meet You

Do you remember The Best Six Doctors? Well, today feels like a perfect day to consider how important sunshine is. In the past 2 weeks, in my area, we saw 9 days of rain. A couple other days were overcast, so really, we only had a few days with sunshine. So what difference does it make? What does sunshine do for us? Just look at these Facebook posts and you will get a sense of the general attitude around all this rain.

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Most of us have heard about the link between excessive sun exposure and skin cancers as well as aging of the skin. The key word here is “excessive.” Is it possible there is an amount of sunshine that is good for us? The answer is definitively, Yes. Questions remain about how much is enough, how much is too much. This is all complicated by a person’s general health & skin type, as well as the season and time of day. But YES – some sunshine is good for us.

The sun stimulates our bodies to produce Vitamin D, which is important for the health of bones & teeth. Vitamin D also plays a role in supporting our immune system.

Sun exposure also lifts our mood! For those of us who live in the 40th parallel north region (that includes you, New Yorkers!), we are fully aware of the mood shifts that occur when there are only 9 hours of light each day. How many of us have longed for a Spring Break vacation closer to the equator? Do you yearn for spring, when the days lengthen again?

One reason for this is sun exposure triggers our bodies to produce serotonin, which is key for decreasing depressed feelings, anxiety, stress and the mood changes that can be associated with menstrual cycles in women.

What are some of the other potential health benefits of sunshine?

  • There are some skin conditions that can improve with sun exposure (i.e. psoriasis)
  • Possible reduction in certain types of cancers
  • Possible improved symptoms in particular autoimmune conditions

So what do we do?

There are no clear recommendations that would apply to everyone. However, the World Health Organization recommends 5 to 15 minutes of sun exposure to the hands, face and arms, two or three times per week during the summer months. Times may be shorter between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, when rays are at their strongest, or when living close to the equator.

If you are going to be out in the sun for more than 15 minutes, be sure to protect your skin from overexposure to dangerous rays. The American Cancer Society has good ideas for how to protect your skin.

Bottom line, enjoy some sunshine to improve your health! 

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Here’s what made my life SOOOO much easier…

It was a little over 8 years ago that I realized I needed to figure out a “new plan” or else we may never eat healthy.  My son was just a baby and I’d get home from work, pick him up from daycare, want to play with him after not seeing him all day  – and before I knew it it was 5pm and I had NO idea what we were going to eat for dinner.  If we were in the mood for something, likely I didn’t have the ingredients for it, there was not time to thaw meats or sauces so we’d order out, eat junk or not eat much at all – along with that it would STRESS ME OUT!!

I consider myself a pretty organized person but had never needed to be organized around food so here is what I did:

I put a dry/erase board on the fridge with the days of the week and a spot for “Needed Groceries”.  On Saturdays I would look through recipes and write our meals for each day on the board (I should note here I never plan more than 3-4 meals/week.  I have left overs on the board at least once a week and paninis or sandwiches one day – that has made it feel way more attainable).  That’s it – that was my big “OMG” moment/action.

Here is all the little bonuses I’ve found:

  1.  Having the menu on the fridge for all to see was a BIG bonus.  If I was going to be late my husband could look at the board and start dinner.
  2. We don’t end up with a lot of “munchie/junky” food in the house because I only shop and buy ingredients I need for the recipes on my weekly menu.
  3. Cooking became FUN.  I’ve enjoyed creating boards on Pinterest for “Dinner”, “Salads”, “Soup”, and of course “Dessert”!  I often use Sundays to prep and cook whatever I can to make the week easier (especially now that our son is almost 9 and plays sports so our nights can be hectic…but that’s another blog 🙂 )
  4. Less Stress
  5. Left Overs are always a good option to bring to work for lunch to help save money and make healthy choices at lunch.

So that was my “Ah-Ha” moment years ago.  I’ve stayed faithful to that system since then (although the whiteboard is no longer on the fridge) and am so thankful for that simple change all those years ago.  I’d love to hear your meal planning stories, techniques and/or ideas – (there is probably something I can steal from you 🙂 )!

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The Best Six Doctors

How much time do you spend considering, “How can I improve my health?”

Reality check — I know I am guilty of investing more time than I would like to admit fixated on “How can I look stronger, fitter, thinner,…?”  But truly at this time, I want to focus on – What would make me healthier?

I love this meme:

Doctors

There is so much truth in this meme. But just like many simplistic statements about complex issues, there are limitations. In My Love of Greens, we touched on Good Diet, but even that was simplistic, in that we only focused on fruit and vegetable intake — not a well-rounded diet.

Today,  let’s delve into “Exercise.” What does that really mean? How much? What kind?

Many of us are aware of the recommendations from the American Heart Association (AHA) about physical activity:

AHA Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults

 

I think many of us can understand those recommendations and even explain the potential benefits:

  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (reduced heart attack and stroke)
  • Reduced risk of diabetes
  • Reduced risk of cancers
  • Weight control
  • Strengthen bones and muscles
  • Improve your ability to perform daily tasks safely, without injury (including reduced falls)
  • Improved mental health and mood
  • Improved chances of living longer

It’s important to note that the AHA is quick to point out that “Something is better than nothing.” So cool! You can also add 10 minutes a day of activity to your routine and this helps! So perhaps the meme should say “Activity” rather than “Exercise.” There is value to just moving during your day. I love this concept — any of us can improve our health just by moving more. That could mean dancing in the kitchen while preparing dinner or taking a loop around the grocery store before grabbing a cart to start shopping. Moving more might mean transitioning from a routine, leisurely walk after dinner to intentionally walking briskly up a hill every day. For others, moving more might translate to going to a group fitness class to work with an instructor who helps us to move in a more efficient, safe manner with the goal to achieve improved strength, flexibility & cardiovascular fitness. This rule of thumb of just moving more is so inclusive — it can work for any of us, no matter our starting point.

So — I guess the key here is to evaluate: Where am I currently with my activity level? Am I meeting the AHA physical activity recommendations? If not, what can I do to improve my level of activity? Taking into consideration the presence of any injuries, as well as current health, what is a realistic goal to increase my activity? How can I fit this into my schedule? Who can I lean on for support as I try to make this change?

If you find your answers and come up with a plan, go for it! And be sure to let us know how you are doing.

If obstacles creep up, I would love to hear about them. What is it that prevents you from increasing your daily activity? I am truly interested in hearing from you. As Niki and I said in our first blog, “This is a no-judgement zone. We are here to listen and learn.” I look forward to hearing from you and learning with you.

Doctors edit

Swipe and Pray

What are you like when it comes to money?  Do you keep receipts?  Do you actually keep track of your “checking account”…like do you “balance your checkbook  –  or do you swipe and pray?

I hate to admit it but I am a “swipe and pray” kind of girl.  I do nothing to keep track of my finances, when it is bill time, I pay them and then frivolously spend the rest (and not even on great stuff…just stuff).  I have retirement funds, Roths, IRA’s and who knows what else and I have NO idea what that really means.  I don’t even open the mutual fund statements when they come (I figure I don’t know what it means so I assume my investor is doing his job well and I will be able to retire comfortably).

So recently a friend said to me “Is it true that when you want something you put your energy toward it?”

Me:  “Yes – absolutely”

Her: “Well then wouldn’t it be safe to say if you’d like more money it would be worthwhile to focus some time and energy on it?”

Me:  “Yes – when you say it that way – yes that makes total sense”.

So that is my challenge – to become more aware of what and where I am spending (that’s first – then maybe even start to save a little).  I put EveryDollar and Mint on my phone.  I’ve been using EveryDollar regularly – but have already realized… I shop too much, constant receipts to account for – ugh!!! 🙂

I’d love to hear any tips/ideas you have that have helped with you attened to your finances with the hopes that it could help me too!  I (and my bank account) thank you! 🙂

My Love of Greens

My very first job was working in the gardens of Mr & Mrs Clark, my neighbors in the town where I grew up. They had several gardens — flowers and vegetable. I was responsible for preparing the soil, planting, weeding, watering, cutting and harvesting. Mr Clark also raised bees, so I was able to extract honey from the honeycomb — and I was never stung! 🙂

Amongst my fondest memories was sitting in the rows of vegetables on hot summer days, plucking beans or peas off the plant and eating the harvest right there. I learned to enjoy fresh vegetables, uncooked, with no dip nor dressing. To this day, I prefer eating salads with my fingers, without dressing. I am fortunate. I love vegetables.

After college, I spent a year living near Jericho, where fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant. As the seasons cycled, the produce changed and I was constantly introduced to new amazing flavors and textures. The smells and colors were so refreshing.

I returned to the USA and spent another 7 years as a student, eating primarily at cafeterias and restaurants. As I think back, I do not believe I was avoiding vegetables, but I also do not recall vegetables being part of these meals. Have you ever noticed that you can order some of the most amazing food at restaurants but the dish is often wanting for any vegetable? In contrast, some of my fondest memories of eating out involved incredible vegetable dishes — Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, The Inn at Erlowest in Lake George, India House in Syracuse (to name a few).

Fortunately, I have returned to a place in my life, where vegetables are just part of our meals. But am I getting enough? The recommendations vary, depending on which institution you ask, but I think it’s fair to say we should each be eating 5-10 handfuls of vegetables & fruits every day. If you think about the past 24 hours, can you estimate how many handfuls of fruits and vegetables you ate? Did you get close to 5-10?

We all hear the messages, “Eat less sugar…less fat…fewer calories…less salt.” What if we focused on eating MORE of something? Would it seem easier to add food, rather than constantly focusing on restricting food?

So if you think you are falling short on your vegetable & fruit intake, here is my challenge to you: Take one day to plan out your meals and snacks. Focus on enjoying 5-10 handfuls of vegetables and fruits. Be simple or get creative with them. Consider sharing your challenge on social media. Gather ideas from others on how to eat MORE!

P.S. Why should we eat more fruits and vegetables? The American Heart Association has answers!  To learn more, go to:  About Fruits and Vegetables

Or you can check out Hanna Talks Health to learn more about healthier choices eating out:  Table for… How Many?

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What are you afraid of?

Have you ever been paralyzed by fear?  Maybe it was a spider, or being on the top of a high building, or taking that new job – whatever it was had you stopped dead in your tracks thinking “holy smokes I can’t do this!”

Why is it we allow fear to do this to us?  When we look at the simple definition of fear it’s defined as: “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”  I think the key word there is BELIEF…we believe this could potentially be something bad and just that simple belief makes the body and mind do unbelievable things…anxious feeling, worried, excuses, we create this “alternate world” – all the things that COULD happen (which I find only worsens the fear for me).  Can you relate to this feeling?  This heightened state of fear because you’ve create all the “what if’s” in your mind and now they have you gasping for breath?  We read all the quotes about fear holding us down, preventing growth, kills more dreams than failure ever will…just google it – the quotes are endless – AND TRUE!

Remember when we were kids and there was no fear (or think about your own kids who seem afraid of nothing) – remember how free and able we felt?  At what point did we start fearing our dreams – limiting our growth?  And what about when those dreams today start to become a reality…have you ever found yourself sabotaging them out of fear?  I caught myself doing it this week!!!

Now that I can recognize fear creeping in and trying to wreak havoc on my dreams I am able to take a deep breath and refocus that energy.  I am going to think about how amazing life WILL be when that dream comes true instead of worrying about all the little things along the way, instead of sabotaging my own dream before it even has a chance to come true.

So I ask you:

What are you afraid of?

Have you ever found yourself sabotaging your own dreams?

What would your life be like if you didn’t have fear?  Fear quotes best images pics photos pictures (22)

Trust

Trust is that feeling that allows me to let down my guard, to forego fear and to proceed into the unknown with a feeling of confidence that I will be OK. Trust is the foundation of what allows me to become vulnerable; allows me to welcome new experiences.

I always thought of myself as a trusting person. I generally meet people and start with the assumption they are basically trustworthy; subsequently allowing the cues they give off to guide me.

So why am I so distrustful of new fitness experiences?  Why was starting a new fitness adventure challenging my ability to trust at first sight?

The stakes are higher in a way:

I make time to train but that time is limited. I do not have time to waste and still meet my goals.

I fear injury. What if I get hurt and my fitness journey is interrupted?

Frankly, I do not want to embarrass myself. I said it — I do not want to look weak or uncoordinated.

“Word of mouth” is the primary cited reason someone goes to a particular gym. And I can see why!  The first thing I did when I needed a new place to go was to ask my friends for advice. I said I want a place with an effective work-out. I want to have fun. I want to be challenged. But bottom line, now I realize what I really wanted — I wanted to trust this new place.

Based on the recommendations of friends, I have now tried CrossFit, yoga, primal movements, boxilates, spinning, pilates, boot camp and boxing. During all these experiences, I try to consider — what makes me trust?

Some of the reasons seem silly — professional signage, music playing, a clear indication of where to go once I entered, where do I put my shoes, who can I approach with questions. Some of the reasons were unexpected — did other gym members make me feel welcome? Did members guide me about where to stand, what equipment I needed, what to expect.

For me, the primary factor in establishing trust was the class instructor. Was the instructor confident, providing clear expectations for the class early on. Did the instructor communicate in some way that I will be able to do this? Is this class achievable for me? 

This has been a learning experience for me — being attentive to what it takes for me to trust when I take a new class. But I wonder still, what do others need? Can you identify what it is that bolsters your trust in a new experience? Help me understand what helps you trust and what interferes with establishing trust.

Furthermore, I challenge you — once you identify those factors that help you to trust a new experience, can you use that knowledge to help someone else find their way into trying something new?  As one of my friends said to me, “sometimes the most worthwhile influences we have on others come in non-obvious ways and everyday interactions.”  Let’s help each other find trust.

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I’m a bully!!!

I’m a school teacher – we hear so often how bad bullying is…it makes kids unable to focus, challenges their desire to come to school, makes them feel worthless – the list could go on and on and it’s true!!!!!

Well I realized I am a BULLY!!!!!  I’m a thigh, butt & belly BULLY!!!!!  I say and think the most dreadful things about those parts.  I stare at them in the mirror, I pinch them and say “ugh why are you so jiggly, why do you have those pockets of cellulite” etc…. Well guess what – they don’t LIKE that!!!  Just like a child that is bullied I think those body parts feel the same way – worthless, under appreciated and not loved – so why would they want to work for me?  Why would they want to be the best they can be if no matter what I say/think bad stuff about them?  And thinking of it this way it has helped to change my self talk, helped to make me appreciate those parts more, to recognize they need to feel good too and when they do finally feel worthy and appreciated I’m willing to bet they want to be the best they can be (which by the way they may already be – I just have been unable to appreciate them!!)

So are you a bully?  What parts of your body feel bullied?  Can you imagine being them for a moment and just try to change your perspective and approach and see if you all can be happier living in your body together?

What do you think…..

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