The Six Commandments for Yoga Beginners

First, I want to say congratulations! If you completed the 30 Day Yoga Challenge, awesome. If you did not, that is okay! I started this challenge because I wanted to improve my posture and flexibility. Now that I have completed it, I have learned so much more. That being said, I feel it is important to share with you what I have gained, and I also want to thank those of you who have reached out to me with such kind words and inspiration.

The Six Commandments for Yoga Beginners

  • Yoga is not a race: When I first started the 30 Day Yoga Challenge, I had this idea in my mind that after one month, suddenly I would be able to bend like a pretzel and stand on my head. I don’t know if it was my Type A perfectionist personality or being slightly delusional, but I soon discovered that becoming an expert in yoga after 30 days is just not possible (and slightly insane). In fact, if you enter your own yoga practice with this idea in your mind, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and probably missing out on the actual benefits yoga provides.

mindfullness

  • Be mindful: As a therapist, I often incorporate core mindfulness based skills into therapy sessions. These skills are derived from Buddhist traditions, but do not inherently contain religious practices. In short, it is a way of being in the present moment. It is a state of mind that allows you to be in the here and now, to fully participate and observe your own state of being, and to allow judgmental thoughts to float away so that you can be effective in getting what you want in your life. This, in my opinion, is the hardest part of yoga. Often times our thoughts, whether it be thinking about what we are having for dinner or the fight we just had with a loved one, distract us from the present. In order to fully practice yoga, mindfulness is key.  Savasana, also known as corpse pose, can be considered the most difficult pose in yoga, as it requires you to be completely mindful. Although, my cats beg to differ. Yes, there are three of them and yes, I am obsessed.

IMG_0028 copy

  • Practice: Practice, practice, practice. Yoga is hard as all hell. I know that yoga instructors appear to be some mythical creatures that can balance on their head and knit a sweater at the same time. How do you think they got there? If you want to really expand your practice, and eventually learn more intricate and difficult postures, you must practice. At this time, I am committing to practicing yoga 6 days a week, with 3 of those days involving a full hour.
  • Get your friends involved: Friends that play together stay together? Or something like that…I found that the more I surround myself with individuals who want to stay fit, the easier it is to actually stick with it. I have nothing against eating pizza and drinking a beer (or five), and I certainly am not going to preach about organic this and all-natural that, but I do believe in a balance. If you want to eat that pizza pie, you better be willing to work off those calories the next day or buhbye. I have found that those individuals who refuse to try and have a balanced life, also tend to make attempts to sabotage your healthy habits. It is absolutely unbelievable how often some people comment about what I am eating in a negative way. I am often accused of eating like a “rabbit” because I choose a salad with grilled chicken over a large pizza and fries. Food is fuel people, and if I wanted to function like a McDonald’s, I would eat there regularly.  The next time someone negatively comments on your healthy habits, take a good look at their habits. I guarantee they are unhappy with their life.
  • Get Medical Clearance: This is a big one. I have suffered from numerous injuries and I am currently dealing with some sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Have I stopped doing yoga? No. Do I have an appointment with a doctor to get clearance to continue my practice? Absolutely. Although yoga provides numerous health benefits, it is still hard on the body. If we are being mindful, we must also be aware of any discomfort we have during our practice, and be sure to modify the postures to our own ability. Play it safe kiddies.

Liza-yoga-cartoon500

  • Attend a Yoga Class: When I am at home, I am the yoga master. The reality? I have absolutely no idea if my form is correct (and half the time, no idea what the hell I am doing). The only way to know for sure is to have a qualified instructor assist you when developing your yoga foundation. Many studios offer introduction courses that you can register for. Do you need to attend yoga classes forever? No. Yoga classes can be insanely expensive, but you should at least build your initial foundation with the help of a professional. Check out videos on youtube and this awesome website for some free yoga!

I will be starting a New Yoga Challenge in May and I hope you will join me.

Namaste.

Advertisements

For Boston: The Strength of the Human Spirit

September 11th 2001

9-11

I was sitting in my 9th grade English class, tuning out my teacher as usual, when suddenly a student running late to class entered, chest heaving, and anxiously spoke, “Something happened in New York, there was some kind of crash at the Trade Center.”

The teacher quietly looked across the room at the student, telling the classroom that they are not sure what had happened yet, that all of the details had not been released, and for everyone to calm down. Looking back at it, I think it was her way of trying to protect any shred of innocence and naivety we may have had left.

I remember the bell ringing, signaling that the class was finally over. As I walked into the hallway, I felt my stomach muscles tighten in that way when you know something terrible has happened. Suddenly, a stern yet worried voice boomed over the loud speaker, letting students know that yes indeed, something had happened, something terrible. Students flooded the halls, with pained expressions on their faces, some crying, some confused, and others rushing to the main office to try and contact their parents.

I remember entering the cafeteria, and walking over to my friends, not realizing I had tears stained to my flushed cheeks.

My father was working in New York that day, and I had no idea if he was safe.

My mother had picked me up from school shortly after. My father was okay. I still did not fully understand; fully grasp the severity of what had happened. Sure, there were many devastating events I read about in history books, but never, not once in my young life did I think I would be part of a historical tragedy. The kind of tragedy that you think, “My kids will be reading about this some day.”  The kind of tragedy that changes you, forces you to shred the last bit of childhood wonderment from your soul. That was the moment I realized that there was, in fact, a kind of evil in the world that I will never understand.

Here we are, 12 years later, and that feeling in my stomach has returned as my heart breaks for Boston.

This isn’t about comparing the tragic events. This isn’t even about pointing out the number of people who were hurt, killed, changed forever.

This is about recognizing that when terrible events like this happen, we must turn to the people we love, reach out to the people in need, and let all hatred melt away from our minds.

mr. rogers

I needed time to process what had happened. In the past year, we have been bombarded with so many horrific events that my mind and my heart felt completely overloaded.

After scrolling the numerous messages on social media websites, I noticed that some people ached just as I did, others chose to respond with apathetic discourse, and some even chose to make this about gun control (like seriously? stop it. just stop). I found myself angry, sad, and frustrated.

No matter how people chose to deal with their feelings in this terrible tragedy; all of these responses echoed the same underlying emotion…fear.

We are scared, all of us. It is easy to say, “I am not surprised about what happened in Boston,” considering all of the terrible violent stories in the news. It is easy to focus on gun control to “protect” oneself when a criminal is on the loose. Sure, it is easy to cover up this fear by emotionally disconnecting or projecting your feelings on to another issue like gun laws.

But this is not a time for easy. This is not a time to disconnect. This is not a time to talk about gun control.

This is a time to come together, soak it in, step away from your computer, get out of your damn seat and hug someone.

quote-non-violence-is-the-greatest-force-at-the-disposal-of-mankind-it-is-mightier-than-the-mightiest-mahatma-gandhi-68088

Start small. Smile at your coworker who looks like they are having a bad day. Stand up to the bully harassing the kid in your school.  Advocate for the underdog. Pick up your phone and call a friend that you haven’t spoken to in months. Disregard the jealous, the mean, and the selfish.

We may not be able to control what every person in the world does, we may never be able to stop the terrible tragedies that happen every single day, and we may never ever be able to understand why and how things like this happen, but we can always come together, support each other, and fight every evil act with the kindness, love, and the strength of our human spirit.

 istock_000014186302xsmall

We Love You Boston.

Namaste.

Too Legit to Quit: Fit and Friendly Alcohol Choices

I wanted to take a break from discussing my 30 Day Yoga Challenge (which is going fantastic) and focus on something very important to me, something I hold extremely dear and near to my heart, the apple of my eye, the cherry on my sundae (insert drumroll here)…my very good friend named alcohol.

applause

If you have ever tried to lose weight, I am sure you have been confused by all of the articles out there that state either: alcohol is terrible for weight loss or alcohol may help weight loss (umm yeah, I am perplexed).

 how-alcohol-travels-through-the-body_50ca3deb65aab_w1038

Either way, I don’t care. These days, I detest dieting, loath calorie restriction, and I refuse to label foods as “good” or “bad.” As long as you consume alcoholic beverages in moderation (and responsibly), I see no reason to eliminate something you enjoy from your lifestyle. If you are feeling scholarly this morning, click on that picture above to learn a little bit more about how alcohol travels through your body.

That being said, I also believe in trying to find smarter choices. Why work hard all week exercising and eating healthy, just to blow it all by taking in extra calories at the bar?

Top 3 Fit-Friendly Alcohol Choices

  • Vodka/Rum/Tequila: I put these champions together because they hold the same caloric value. Per 1.5 ounces (which is about one shot for my lushes out there), these delicious choices total about 100 calories! Try choosing low calorie mixers to pair these with. For my vodka lovers (here’s to you Belvedere), crystal light is your best friend. It will add practically zero calories to your beverage and it tastes AMAZING. For my rum friends, a rum and coke is the way to go. Although I am not a huge believer in soda and I try to avoid it, a diet coke may be useful in moderation. Tequila? Well good news here, you don’t need a mixer. Grab a lime, some salt, a few friends, and I guarantee you will have a good time while keeping your waistline in check.
  • Wine: Sometimes we all want to pretend we are being classy while poisoning our bodies. This is where wine comes in. Red and white wines carry a measly 20 calories per ounce. So, for my mathematicians, a 5-ounce glass would be only 100 calories (Look at that math skill, I am so smart). Sweeter blush wines may run a bit higher, around 32 calories per ounce. There has also been research indicating red wine may benefit heart health and even help keep extra pounds from piling on.
  • Light Beer: It’s summer time, you’re on the beach, and nothing tastes better than popping open a delicious Corona Light. I don’t care how badly you want to lose weight, would you seriously deny yourself of this pleasure? Per 12 ounces, a light beer carries approximately 100 calories, where a regular beer can run anywhere between 150-200 calories.

just_drinks_for_web

Although I do not believe in any type of food restriction, you may want to use caution when choosing a fancy cocktail from a restaurant. In comparison to my fit-friendly choices mentioned above, these drinks can run up to 500 calories each. Keep in mind these calorie totals are estimates, as many restaurants use extra sugar and high calorie mixers.

Pina Colada     500
Chocolate martini       450
Coffee liqueur      350
Long Island Iced Tea  300
Margarita      280
Mojito      215
Cosmopolitan       215

If you remember anything from what you just read, remember that alcohol still provides zero, zilch, nada, nutrition. I will say it one more time, slowly, M-O-D-E-R-A-T-I-O-N. Meaning, if you plan on continuing a healthy lifestyle, binge drinking is something you should probably try to avoid. Personally, I follow the 80% rule. As long as I am eating healthy and exercising 80% of the time, I will allow myself to indulge (I truly cannot resist those little golden balls of heaven… Ferrero Rocher, in fact, I eat chocolate daily). Remember, living a healthy lifestyle does not mean eliminating a few guilty pleasures. If you are planning on always being perfect with your nutrition, I recommend never returning to this blog again (actually, please do return, I enjoy a challenge).

For those of you following the yoga challenge, keep pushing because we are halfway through it! If you skipped a day (or a week), it is okay. Roll out that yoga mat right now and get to it.

Namaste.

Credits:
NIAAA
totaldui
sparkpeople
livestrong

8 Yoga Tips For Beginners

It has been one week since I started the 30 Day Yoga Challenge.

For those of you who are joining me in this challenge, congrats! I have to say I was pretty surprised when friends, family, and acquaintances showed interest in doing this with me, committing to an entire month of yoga practice, but it has been a pleasant surprise, filled with positivity, inspiration, and motivation.

Highlight of the week: Having a 30 minute tree pose staring contest with my boyfriend, Rand, following a few glasses of wine. Yeah, that happened. 

yoga cat tree pose

That being said, I learned a thing or two during this first week. Let’s start with a disclaimer: I am very beginner when it comes to yoga. I can’t stand on my head or bend like a pretzel yet, but I am truly committed to learning and working from the ground up.

Here are my top 8 yoga tips for beginners.

Yoga Mat: I have no idea at this point how many yoga mats I have purchased in the past four years. Some people enjoy mats with a little more cushion (got to keep that tushy cushy), while others enjoy mats that feel practically like a hardwood floor (just thinking about those types of mats sincerely hurts my tailbone). Either way, purchase a really good mat that works for you. You can find yoga mats at most stores, usually for an affordable price (anywhere between $15-50). For my eco-friendly friends, they even sell environmental friendly mats, but those tend to be a tad bit more expensive. Remember, this is the mat your body will be utilizing every day during your yoga practice, so make sure you purchase what works for you.

Yoga Block: My sister purchased me a yoga block about 4 years ago for Christmas, and I just used it for the first time this week. Despite the fact that the yoga block could have been extremely useful the past four years, something blocked my prefrontal cortex from making rational decisions (I blame graduate school). Not only does it help provide stability for difficult postures, but it also prevents you from over-stretching, helping to avoid unnecessary injuries. Again, yoga blocks are pretty cheap ($10-20) and can be found at most stores.

Trial and Error: Finding the right yoga class or yoga video is like finding the right gynecologist/proctologist (oh yeah, I went there). Some instructors can be ostentatious and downright creepy. Try out a few different classes to see what it is you like/dislike. The yoga instructor is the one guiding you through each posture, so you want to make sure you feel both comfortable and connected to the practice.

Clothing: My favorite topic. Whatever you choose to wear during yoga, make sure it is practical. Baggy pants and tops usually get in the way when you are trying to transition from one posture to the next (Seriously, try doing yoga in sweatpants and let me know how quickly they slide off your booty). I am obsessed with yoga pants. Whether or not you actually practice yoga, I am pretty confident almost all females are equally obsessed with this fashion trend. Not only are they extremely comfortable, but they are super cute and sexy. Check out Victoria’s Secret yoga line. It is a little pricey, but totally worth it. Take away message: I am giving you an excuse to go shopping.

Learn the Language: To prevent sounding pedantic, hear me out for a moment. I previously did not believe it was important to learn the language. I’m not a yoga instructor and I do not want to sound like a pretentious hippie (Quite the oxymoron and yes, I am a bit judgy this morning). Learning the language will help you deepen your practice and make it a hell of a lot easier to follow each sequence. When learning the postures, we have to watch the instructor closely, but once learned, it is much easier to just listen and focus on the movement. For those who want to learn more, check out your bookstore and read a little. I just purchased The Complete Yoga Book, by James Hewitt. Unfortunately, Yoga for Dummies was not in-stock.

Invite your friends: As Chalene Johnson once said, “If your friends don’t like to workout, get new friends!” Okay, so that is a bit dramatic, but if your friends exercise with you, it makes hitting that yoga mat after a long day much easier. Rand, who would rather lift heavy weights than even look at a yoga mat, decided to join me a few times this week, supporting me in this challenge. If you haven’t tried yoga with your partner, do it. Not only can they help correct your form, but you will have a guaranteed laugh when you land on your ass. Half moon pose anyone?

half moon pose

Be Mindful: Previously when I practiced yoga, I had this neurotic urge to always be perfect with each posture. Well, if I were “perfect,” I would most likely be an instructor, so I needed a little reality check. Yoga is not about perfection, nor is it about pushing your body past your limit. If you are constantly comparing your posture to others in a judgmental way, then you are not being fully present with your mind and body. Focus less on being advanced, and focus more on your journey of getting there. I am fully aware I sound like a walking cliché right now, but it is true. I realized that by focusing on my breath and the movement, my postures improved and the more relaxed I felt following the sequence.

Laugh a little: Every person will fall, stumble, and roll off of their mat at some point. Yoga is hard. It requires concentration, balance, and flexibility. I know some yoga classes require silence, and you certainly don’t want to be a distraction in class, but every once and awhile, just laugh at yourself. Yoga does not need to be so serious all of the time. Remember, you won’t be perfect, you will fall, and mistakes happen. Get over it.

If you have any advice for yoga beginners that I did not include, please feel free to share.

Only 22 more days to go! Keep pushing. Remember: If you skip a day, try not to beat yourself up about it! Life Happens.

Namaste.

30 Day Yoga Challenge

yoga_calm_1

After two weeks of being plagued by illness (or as my boyfriend so eloquently stated, I was a succubus), and another week of being unnecessarily lazy, I decided I need a serious challenge to get this badonkadonk back in shape. I literally feel like my muscles have atrophied into oblivion.

Side note: I have an insanely busy schedule.

I work full-time in the mental health field and commute 2 hours each day. This means that 10-12 hours of my day are spent either at work or traveling to and from work. When I am at home, I have to cook, clean, and care for my three adorable kitty cats, all of which are on special diets, making even their feeding schedules time-consuming. Most of my phone calls to friends and family are conducted during my long drives, and whatever extra hours I have in my day goes towards exercising, watching reality television, and spending time with my extremely attractive boyfriend (boyfriend has a name, it’s Rand, and he is pretty awesome).

That being said, obviously I am considering adding more to this list…because I am insane.

After reading this blog entry, I was inspired. I always preach to my clients that they need to practice self-care, yet I certainly do not take my own advice. Rand always tells me I am a machine (I know, he really does have adorable, romantic nicknames for me, doesn’t he?). In fact, I have no idea how to relax. If I have absolutely nothing scheduled, nothing to do, clean, or organize, I am unable to just sit down and chill out. I always have to be moving around or doing something. At this very moment, instead of sipping my coffee and vegging out in front of the television, I am writing this blog entry…get the picture?

After all of this rambling, I guess I should talk about the challenge.

30 Day Yoga Challenge

  1. I will complete 30 consecutive days of yoga, which is pretty self-explanatory.
  2. I must complete a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga per day, including one day of yoga over 20 minutes.
  3. Yoga does not have to be completed in a class format, and can be conducted at home.
  4. I can try any level of yoga, but I must complete more than 3 poses in a sequence.
  5. Yoga can be completed at any time of day.

So there it is. You may be reading this and thinking, challenge? seriously? five minutes a day does not seem like a challenge, you’re a drama queen. Okay, so I am a drama queen, but this brings me to the second part of my challenge.

90 Day Exercise Challenge

  1. I will complete all 3 phases of the ChaLean Extreme program in 3 months (Burn, Push, Lean Phase).
  2. I will follow the class schedule as much as possible, and complete 5 workouts a week.
  3. I will continue to do 15-30 minutes of physical therapy for my lower back and hip, approximately 3-5 days a week.

A disclaimer for this challenge. I will not be angry or hate myself if I need to skip a day, life happens, and I will try my best. 

Before I got sick, I was following the ChaLean Extreme program religiously, and I lost approximately 8 lbs in a month and a half, with inches melting away like butta. I had only 2 weeks of the program left to complete before I got sick. Due to the succubus sabbatical I took, I felt I needed to start the program from the beginning, as I am pretty sure I pulled a muscle from lifting a 5 lb weight yesterday.

In my previous entry on Herbal Remedies, I mentioned my long history with knee problems. Well, due to these injuries and my awesome luck, I also developed a strange lower back and hip problem, causing my hip to just dislocate whenever it feels like it. This is where the physical therapy part of the challenge comes in.

So overall, I may be pretty insane, but this is my slightly neurotic way of practicing self-care and wellness. If I have problems just relaxing, well then, maybe that is exactly what I have to practice, and I feel yoga will be my path to understanding how to slow down and be mindful of my health. I am no yogi, and I am certainly very (I mean very) beginner, but we all have to start somewhere, right?

Resources for the challenge

Yoga Journal Okay, so this website is amazing. Not only do they have actual yoga videos that you can follow, free of charge, but they also allow you to customize and build your own sequence. Did I mention that it is free?

If you love beachbody workouts as much as I do, check out ChaLean Extreme (unfortunately, I am unable to provide a direct link to the website…darn internet rules). If you would like a link to the customized workout sheets for the program, contact me. I may also provide information regarding the program in future posts.

So get off your couch, put down the cheez-its (why are they so amazing…why?) grab your yoga mat, and join me, April 1st, in this challenge.

Namaste.

Herbal Remedies

I have always been extremely clumsy, accident prone, with a Ph.D. in the art of bad luck.

Now, before I sound like a complete hypochondriac, let’s briefly review a snippet of my track record, shall we?

In high school, I ended up in the hospital after my “friend” decided he would pick me up in the mall. The result? A dislocated patella. (Crazy girl side note: My kneecap ended up on the side of my leg, and despite the excruciating pain, I refused to let the nurse cut my favorite pair of jeans. I mean, how hard is it to find the perfect pair of jeans? Don’t judge me. It took me a year to heal and my knee was never the same).

In college, I ended up at the health center after an insane rash developed all over my body, only to be told by the doctor (and I use that term loosely) that I had scabies (which turned out to be untrue…how gross). I went to my primary care doctor, who was so shocked by the misdiagnosis that he literally knee-slap laughed in my face, all while bracing himself on the counter. I, in fact, was having my first allergic reaction in my life at age 18. Since that time, allergy medication has been my savior (I’m looking at you Claritin D).

Shortly after, I was attacked by my refrigerator (true story) in my dorm room. I will spare you the details, but that refrigerator was out to get me. After weeks of MRI’s and X-rays, I was eventually told my ACL pretty much no longer existed and I needed surgery. Lucky for me, this was the same leg I messed up previously, so it was proficient at being completely useless.

In short, I have a lot of hands-on experience being a patient. Let’s get to my point, shall we?

How many times have you gone to the doctor, handed over approximately 20-60 dollars for your co-pay (imagine how many cups of coffee you could purchase with that still in your pocket…), only to be told one of the following statements.

Here, take this Z-Pack.

Here, try this (enter any steroid, acne, skin cream here) and see what happens.

Oh, it is probably just stress.

Or my personal favorite…

If you still have pain in a year, come back and see me.

Don’t get me wrong, I know going to the doctor is a necessary part of life. I also know medication and medical research has helped improve the lives of many, heal those that need healing, and save the lives of loved ones. I don’t despise the medical profession, and I am not a liberal hippie cursing the corporate pharmaceutical companies for feeding the capitalist agenda (okay, so they are kind of  like legal drug dealers). In fact, my boyfriend’s mother is a doctor, who is extremely helpful, intelligent, kind, and always looking for an answer to any health woe that comes her way, whether through a natural cure or with the use of an appropriate medication.

But…a big but…

Some physician’s just straight up suck.

We have all been in a situation where a doctor prescribes you a medication because they have no idea what is wrong with you and pretends to care about your overall well-being, all while never making eye contact with you or taking the time to actually understand your symptoms.

In a way, I understand. We live in a culture where if you take a pill, your problem is fixed. Oh you’re depressed? Take a pill. Oh, you have acne? Here, try this prescription face wash. Oh, you need to shed some pounds? Diet pills are the answer! Even schools and some employers require a doctor’s note, forcing you to trek over to your primary care doctor.

In my quest to heal some of my health problems, I realized that not everything requires a pill or a visit to my doctor. For example, recently I learned that many health issues can even be correlated to allergies, forcing you to change your environment and even your diet (hence why I will be going gluten free, future posts shall follow).

Because I know many people in my life suffer from similar health problems, I thought I would share my top three herbal remedies that I use on a regular, and almost daily, basis. Please keep in mind that I am obviously not a doctor and before trying any of these remedies, do your own research. Some people have this misconception that because something is “herbal” “organic” “natural” that it is safe. NOT TRUE. Anything you put in or on your body could potentially have a side effect.

Turmeric

Image

Scientific name: Curcuma longa, Curcuma domestica

Turmeric is a miraculous spice that is grown in India and some tropical regions of Asia. The active ingredient in Turmeric is called curcumin. Not only is the color and taste of Turmeric used in food coloring and flavoring, but turmeric is also an antioxidant, and continues to undergo research for anti-cancer effects! How cool is that?

Why use it?

Well, besides the amazing superman cancer fighting powers, turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and can help relieve inflammation caused by arthritis and muscle sprains/aches. Turmeric also protects against liver diseases, reduces cholesterol, and my personal favorite, is a remedy for numerous digestive problems including irritable bowel syndrome, colitis,  and Crohn’s disease.

Ginger Root

Image

Scientific name: Zingiber officinale

Mmm Ginger…If you are a sushi lover, you have encountered this delicious herb. Originally cultivated in South Asia, the underground stem, also known as the rhizome, is used for both its edible and medicinal properties.  Ginger has similar uses as my previous friend Turmeric. It is primarily used to treat various types of stomach problems, but there is also evidence it provides pain relief for arthritis and muscle soreness, upper respiratory tract infections, and back/chest pain.

Just like Turmeric, ginger is an anti-inflamatory. Just pop a little ginger in your mouth when you’re feeling nauseous, and in about a half hour you will be up and running. Plus, I am giving you an excuse to go out and eat more sushi. Now I want sushi…

Tea Tree Oil

tea_tree_plant

Scientific/medical name(s): Melaleuca alternifolia

The most mysterious of the three, and probably the stinkiest, not many people have heard about the wonders of tea tree oil. It is an exctract from a plant native to Australia. Traditionally, tea tree oil was used as a topical antiseptic and antifungal treatment.

Tea tree oil is an effective treatment for acne, toenail fungus, eczema, and even gum disease (all of those super attractive things).

One of the coolest treatments I have heard of is the use of tea tree oil to combat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), which is resistant to most, if not all, antibiotic treatment. Research continues in this area.

Word of caution: Although all of the three natural remedies listed can have side effects, tea tree oil can cause severe allergic reactions and should never be ingested. Also, keep out of reach of animals. Not only is it toxic for some animals, but the smell can make them cuckoobananas. My one bengal cat, Nala, goes absolutely insane when she smells it. One whiff of that stuff and she starts drooling, sprinting, and bunny kicking anything she finds.

Sources:
Wedmd.com
Cancer.org
My own miraculous memory storage of wonders

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

If you are like most people in the world, you are probably on a diet as we speak.

Losing weight is a simple mathematical equation. There are 3,500 calories in a pound. Essentially, if you were to eat approximately 500 calories less each day, you could lose a pound a week (note: this is not taking into account exercise/activity level or your maximum daily caloric intake allotted)

We all took math class, and most of us know how to subtract, so why is it so difficult for people to lose weight and keep it off?

“I’ll start my diet on Monday.”

This is the mantra that ruins it all.

Many people who diet, myself included, fall victim to the all or nothing mentality when it comes to fitness and nutrition. Let’s set the stage, shall we?

It is Friday night and you are getting ready to go out with your friends. As you sip on your one cocktail of the night (or so you tell yourself), your tummy grumbling in anguish from “banking” calories all day, you reflect on the many smart eating choices you made since Monday. All week you have denied yourself the right to indulge in those cupcakes that your boyfriend brought home from the store, you stuck your nose up at your co-workers as they greedily shoved their faces with bagels and croissants, and you exercised vigorously everyday to try and squeeze into those skinny jeans that have been sitting in your closet since last summer.

Fast forward to Sunday morning. After a full weekend of eating out, drinking, and getting fancy drinks from the Starbucks drive-thru to cure your weekend hangover, you pretty much threw your diet out the window. Like most, your Sunday probably consists of you being curled up in your bed surrounded by a pizza box, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and chocolate truffles, kicking yourself for not sticking to your diet that weekend. Suddenly, without fault, that mantra sneaks into your head… “I’ll start my diet on Monday.”

Before you know it, you traded in those skinny jeans for sweat pants, and your new best friends are the remote control and your refrigerator.

If you are serious about losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle, then repeating this mantra on a weekly basis is sure to send you down a sad road of self-hatred and an irrational anger towards your food.

The first step in eliminating this barrier in your weight loss journey, is to stop dieting. I know, sounds pretty crazy right?

Let’s take a second and look at the word diet. Take away the “t” and the word die pretty much sums up how most of us feel trying to function when being on one. It is important to look at healthy eating as a lifestyle, not a medieval torture device.

Here are a few simple guidelines that have helped me work towards a healthier lifestyle.

Stop Making Excuses
The number one reason why I choose not to exercise is because of lack of time. The truth is, I would LOVE to wake up at 10 a.m. and exercise, but that just is not realistic. I have work and well, a life. Exercise should be a priority. Hopefully you brush your teeth and shower daily, so why not put exercise on that list of being non-negotiable? Wake up earlier to make time.

Keep Track

As cumbersome as it might sound, write down everything, and I mean everything, that you put in your mouth (get your mind out of the gutter). You may not think a little bit of extra cream in your coffee or nibbling on that second cookie makes a huge difference, but if you were to “accidentally” eat an extra 200 calories a day, that totals 1,400 extra calories a week! Tip: Bring your lunch to work rather than eating out. Not only will you keep your waistline from expanding, but you will also save your wallet from shrinking.

Mix it up!

If you are someone who can run on the treadmill every single day, and still feel excited to workout, then good for you. I hate you (kidding…sort of). In my experience, I have found that when I mix up my workouts during the week, I tend to be more consistent with exercise, and I enjoy it more. It is important that you also incorporate weight lifting or some sort of resistance training in your weekly plan. Although cardiovascular exercise burns calories, lifting weights keeps you toned and enhances your physique. With more muscle, your workouts will become more efficient, meaning MORE calories burned overall.

Put down the bottle.

Don’t get me wrong, I love drinking Belvedere on a Friday (and Saturday…sometimes Sunday, sorry mom…) night. But alcohol can be the evil nemesis on your weight loss journey. One issue with alcohol is that it offers zero nutrition. It is essentially empty calories. Alcohol also lowers our inhibitions. Combine these two issues, and you have a recipe for disaster. Not only will you be hungry after a night out, but you may also become the next victim of a midnight madness binge in your kitchen (Helloooo there pizza, doritos, and oh wait, are those oreos!?). If you really want to go out and have a few drinks, add more cardio to your daily routine instead of restricting calories and “banking” them for later in the day.

H20

Drink. More. Water. If you are someone who enjoys soda or juice, try replacing those beverages with some good ole H20. Many people do not realize that feeling hungry can actually be a symptom of dehydration. Drinking water will not only make you feel less hungry, but it can also help reduce headaches and binge-eating behaviors. Tip: Try drinking a glass of water before your meal to reduce over-eating.

Break the Fast

Breakfast. Eat it. Enough said.

It is important that you find what workouts you enjoy and to stop depriving yourself of foods you love! Moderation is key and being honest about your eating habits is a must. The only person standing between yourself and your weight loss goals is you.