Hi, lovelies! I'm back to dish out more scoop on what I am digging right now, what's lighting me up, making me tick, and floating my boat. I hope you are all surviving the winter and staying inspired--even when it's drab, gray, bitter cold and dreary outside. And, I hope you're able to stay positive during this time of political unrest and uncertainty. Did they make a snapchat filter with one of the pink hats from the Women's March? If so, I missed it, so the pic to the left is the closest I could get. I am trying to surround myself with positive, inspiring people, art, literature, messages, music, lots of love and lots of laughter. I will donate to and fight for causes and organizations that are threatened under this administration, and I will always try to be a beacon of love, light, hope, compassion, understanding, tolerance, forgiveness and courage. We must be the change we want to see in the world--now more than ever. We must wake up and rise up. We must mobilize and exercise our power #lovetrumpshate. I think it's also helpful to remind myself, as the very wise Mike Dooley (more on him below) recently mentioned in a podcast interview, that there is more love in the world than hate, there are more good people than bad, we laugh more than we cry, there is much more peace than war on this planet, we are healthy more than we're sick, etc., etc. We turn on the news and see only the scary, the sad, the ugliness. Let's focus on the good, and let's look for it every day. What you focus on expands, so let's focus on all that is right and beautiful. Oh my goodness--BACK TO WHAT I AM DIGGING RIGHT NOW. Here goes...
TV Show: This Is Us
It has been a while since I have been into a tv show. There are some programmed into my DVR that kind of feel like homework to watch and others I just completely end up dismissing because they aren't good enough to carve out precious time to watch. And then there are the shows that, on the day they air, keep you looking forward to it all day long. I felt that way about Lost, Friday Night Lights, and Parenthood to name a few. This show is a delightful cocktail of incredible writing, great music, talented actors, heart-tugging stories, little twists and surprises...it's worth watching, my friends. Trust. If you haven't been tuning in, you can go here to watch every episode and catch up. I don't have a lot of time for television, but I happily make time for this.
Food: Pitaya (Dragonfruit)
I know smoothies and smoothie bowls are kind of summery, and sometimes after I have one during the winter, I have to jump immediately into a super hot bath to warm my body up, BUT...they are delicious, nutritious, easy to digest, and they make a great meal replacement. Pitaya (pee-tah-yah) may be a word you have never heard nor said, but you should get to know it. Dragonfruit, it's other moniker, is not only a bizarre ingredient in the mystery baskets on Chopped, but it's an incredible addition to smoothies. Acai bowls are gaining popularity across the nation, and a Pitaya bowl is it's magenta cousin. I would occasionally have the pleasure of enjoying one at a smoothie shop in California, and a few years ago, I started seeing the smoothie packs at Whole Foods Market stores when I traveled. Recently, the Whole Foods here in Wichita started to stock it, and I did a happy dance right there in the freezer aisle. Pitaya is LOADED with vitamins and minerals, it's low in calories, it contains calcium, healthy fats, protein, boosts the immune system and even may lower blood sugar levels. And, it's naturally the most beautiful color you have ever seen! If you can't find it at your local Whole Foods, you can order it here.
The picture to the right shows what you will find at Whole Foods. Each bag comes with four individual packs of frozen puree ready to add to the blender, as seen below.
Pitaya Smoothie Bowl
1 cup coconut milk
1 Dragonfruit smoothie pack
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/2 cup frozen strawberries or cherries
handful baby spinach (optional)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder or *collagen peptides
fresh fruit, granola, toasted coconut for topping
A Vitamix or similar high-powered blender is the best for any type of smoothie bowl. Smoothie bowls are typically thicker--like the consistency of soft-serve ice cream, so you need the tamper to push down the ingredients. Put the liquid in first, then the protein or collagen powder, then the frozen fruit and pitaya, and the spinach last, if using. Blend until smooth, but be patient, because thicker smoothies take some time. Top with your favorite toppings, and enjoy!
*see below for more information on collagen
Supplement: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
If you are strictly vegan or even vegetarian, you may want to skip this, but this stuff is a GAME CHANGER, so read on if you are not. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies and pretty much the glue that holds our body together. It is in every connective tissue--muscles, joints, bones, skin, tendons, blood vessels, and OUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM. You may know from the skin care industry that collagen is what makes our skin strong and elastic. As we age, our collagen production decreases, resulting in wrinkles, sagging skin, joint pain, and even digestive issues. Ingesting collagen is a huge boost to your skin elasticity, strengthens your nails, hair and teeth, can reduce cellulite and stretch marks, it's like WD40 for your joints, it soothes and heals the lining of your gut, and it has the right amino acid profile to improve your metabolism, your liver health and your heart health! This stuff is amazing!! It has 18 grams of protein per serving, is made from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows, it is tasteless and odorless, and you can mix it in ANYTHING. A serving of this incredible protein only contains 72 calories, folks. I put it in smoothies, coffee, tea lattes, soups--it dissolves easily. You can find this protein on the Vital Proteins website or you Wichita peeps can drive right on over to Prairie Health and Wellness or Custom Rx who both stock it. Take it for your gut health, my friends. SO many health problems today can be traced back to issues in our gut. A healthy gut is an indicator of a healthy body. The gorgeous skin, hair, and nails will be the icing on the cake!
Podcast: On Air with Ella
My podcast addiction started with This American Life, which led to Serial, which led to frantic searching for more podcasts after the final episode of Serial Season One. If you are a podcast listener, you know that it can sometimes become a chain reaction, because podcasters interview other podcasters who interview more podcasters. It's a beautiful thing how quickly you can build up an arsenal of incredible podcasts that provide not only entertainment, but valuable, interesting and inspiring content. If you are unfamiliar with On Air with Ella, find it on itunes or whatever app you use for podcasts, and start bingeing. I heard Ella interviewed on another podcast while on a road trip, I found her podcast immediately, and I think I listened to five or six episodes in a row. I have learned SO much from this podcast, you guys. Ella is a mother, a wife, a businesswoman, a triathlete, an all-around badass, and she is real, she is human, and she is relatable. She makes sure things are explained in a way that is understandable, she puts everything important in the show notes, and the information is fantastic. She is funny, super smart, humble, articulate, and somebody you just want to hang out with. I love how she encourages her listeners to "start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can". We are all starting from different places, with different struggles, different access to resources. She gets it. Start from the beginning and listen to her first episode, which is an interview with Joe Cross of "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead". And, then call me for a juice cleanse after you stream that documentary on Netflix :). I feel so lucky to have found this podcast. It inspires me to live better.
Exercise: Rogue Personal Training
I have been trying to mix it up in my 40's and make sure I am getting a variety with respect to my workouts. It keeps me from getting bored and complacent, and it keeps me from going to the gym and doing the same thing over and over. I like an expert telling me what to do, and Landon Branine, at Rogue Personal Training, is that expert. He is a certified personal trainer with a degree in health management, and he not only talks the talk, but he walks the walk. He is an inspiring example of what one can achieve when practicing good nutrition and fitness. Twice a week, I show up with two or three other lovely ladies, and he has us lifting, pushing, pulling, and doing exercises I would NEVER know or think to do on my own. He pushes us, he believes in us, and he somehow makes it different every single time. It is tough to get through that hour, but I leave there with a feeling of accomplishment. I also leave wanting more, and that says a lot, right? He knows his stuff, his gym is incredibly well-equipped, and he will make you work muscles you haven't felt before. Waking up with muscle soreness the morning after happens on a weekly basis, which proves that I did something, and I love it. If you live in the Wichita area, you should check it out. You can get more information and see pictures on their website. If you don't live in the area, I encourage you to seek out a similar situation--safe facility, knowledgeable trainer, and a group of fun people to sweat with.
Product: Schmidt's Deodorant
When it comes to choosing natural products, deodorant is the hardest. We are what we absorb, and it takes about 26 seconds for all the chemicals in our personal care products to enter the bloodstream. I know women who are incredibly careful about their body lotions, foundation, and every other potion they slather on their skin, but the anti-perspirant/deodorant is the exception. Because, smelling bad and pitting out your shirt is unacceptable to most :). But here's the deal, folks--first of all, we are supposed to sweat. It is one of our body's ways of eliminating toxins, so when we plug up those sweat glands, we are recirculating toxins in our system. Secondly, our armpits are very close to our lymph nodes and breast tissue. Most antiperspirant/deodorants have a pretty gnarly cocktail of chemicals--heavy metals (aluminum), synthetic fragrances, and preservatives. Many of these ingredients disrupt our endocrine system by mimicking estrogen and confusing our bodies. We already live in a world where most people are estrogen dominant due to the plastics we are exposed to (did you know BPA was originally used AS a synthetic estrogen? It was years later that scientists discovered that it was useful as a plasticizer!) So, there are many alternatives on the market. My husband swears by salt spray. I prefer something that smells good, but I don't want to smell like a hippie. The Schmidt's Bergamot and Lime is the best natural deodorant I have tried so far. It smells amazing, I understand every ingredient, you could literally eat it, and it does have some wetness absorbing action that won't plug your sweat glands. If you start googling the safety of antiperspirants, you will find lots of information arguing both sides. I like to go the natural, safer route whenever I can, because I feel like I am reducing my toxic load and honoring my body that way. However, here is a more balanced approach of mine: I use the Schmidt's most days, but if I have to give a presentation or lecture in front of a large group, I might pull out the big guns. You can find this natural deodorant on the shelf at Sprouts or here if you want to give it a try! If you are interested in learning about an entire line of cosmetics and personal care products that are safe and effective, visit my Beautycounter website.
Email Subscription: Notes from the Universe
I know, I know--you probably get way too many emails that clog up your inbox. I do, too, but there are some that I actually look forward to. Notes from the Universe is a little dose of thought-provoking inspiration--usually only a few sentences, so not a huge time investment. Mike Dooley is a NY Times Bestselling author, a speaker and an entrepreneur who started writing these little notes as "Monday Morning Motivators" but then turned it into much more. Now he has 700,000 subscribers from 185 different countries getting these little messages from "the Universe". They are great reminders of how we have the power to build the lives we dream about. They are food for thought. Some will hit you over the head, and others may not have a huge impact, but they are worth the few seconds it takes to read them. It's fun. I will occasionally come across memes on Instagram or Pinterest with inspiring quotes, but I love knowing these are going to hit my inbox on the regular. I linked to an interview that introduced me to Mike Dooley in the very first paragraph in this post, so listen if you are interested. He is very inspiring. You can find out more and sign up to receive these "Notes from the Universe" here. Here are some samples:
"Whether it’s praise, love, criticism, money, time, space, power, punishment, sorrow, laughter, care, pain, or pleasure…the more you give, the more you will receive."
"Love always wins.
Kindness always prevails.
And smiles always disarm."
"For all things and non-things that you may ever want, understand that sometimes the fastest way to get them is to forget them, and to focus instead on just being the most amazing human being you can be. At which point all of your heart’s desires, spoken or unspoken, will be drawn to you more powerfully than a magnet is drawn to steel."
He puts your name in them, so it really feels like the Universe is talking directly to you. Enjoy!
One really important thing I have learned throughout my research on health and wellness is that stress trumps everything. You can eat a perfect diet, work out regularly, take the right supplements, and surround yourself with healthy relationships, but if you are under stress, your health will decline no matter your other efforts. The human body has a strong physiological response to stress, which manifests itself in all kinds of unpleasant ways. It weakens your immune system, it increases fat storage around your mid-section, and it messes with your brain chemistry, just to name a few. How can we combat stress and keep it at bay? Meditation can make a positive difference. Carving out time to sit with yourself, to tune into your body, focus on your breathing and to quiet the mind can make a significant impact on how you handle stress. Many experts believe meditation can improve several aspects of your heath and your life, including creativity and sleep. Headspace is a free app you can download on your smart phone, and it is a great starting point if you are new to meditation. The meditations are only ten minutes, they are guided by a pleasant British voice, and they are something you can squeeze in whenever you can. Morning is a great time as it really sets the tone for your day. Give it a try. It might just be a total game changer for you.
Thanks for reading all the way to the end, my friends. I hope you find inspiration and joy in the above as much as I do, and may it lead you to even more places of inspiration and joy. I will be back in a couple months with more of what I am loving, and hopefully there will be a book recommendation in the next one. I am reading several books right now, and I need to finish at least one of them before I gush. I usually read before I close my eyes at night, and I often only get through a page or two, so it takes me a while!
Stay warm and stay positive. Embrace winter for it's invitation to snuggle under blankets, sip hot drinks, wear sweatpants and hibernate. Share with me any feedback you have on any of the above! Love you all!