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Pace Yourself on Holiday Treats

The holidays are officially here and I know one of the biggest downsides, and biggest upsides, is that it’s cookie season. I am an avid baker, and I love trying new recipes out, which means I also looove eating cookies. Unfortunately, that’s not the best choice when it comes to healthy eating, so this means falling back on my favorite thing. Moderation.

Everything in moderation is my standard for things. I don’t overindulge, but I also don’t restrict myself to where I won’t have a piece of chocolate cake if I want it. However, I do have to exercise a bit more self control during Christmas cookie times because those are so delicious. Just make sure to pace yourself. Set yourself a limit and enjoy only a few a day, and make sure you have other healthy snacks in there too. There’s no harm in helping yourself to an extra cookie or two if you can balance it out.

One thing I like to do is pick and choose where my sugar comes from. If I go to Starbucks that day, I avoid the extra sugars elsewhere like in desserts, because I know that White Chocolate Mocha or Peppermint Mocha I love so much is loaded with sugar. However, if I’ve been having unsweetened herbal tea and water, then there is no reason for me to refuse the dessert menu or not help myself to a couple of cookies from the tray.

Another option is to lower the sugar count in your cookies. There are so many recipes out there and it’s easy to do. Another thing I like to do is increase the flour while decreasing the sugar. You get fluffier cookies, and the sweetness really doesn’t change.

Do you have any tips or suggestions for pacing yourself during the holidays? Drop them below, I’d love to read them!

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Take Care of Your Skin This Winter

It’s finally getting cold here in Florida, and my skin is feeling it! I usually deal with chapped lips, but my hands are getting in on it too, and they are cracked and peeling with all this dry cold weather. Luckily, there are several ways to tackle this, and take care of your skin this winter, and it’s in perfect time for Wellness Wednesday!

  • Get a good hand lotion. I don’t mean a regular lotion, I mean one specifically made for dry, cracked skin. The other stuff will help temporarily, but you really need something to moisturize for a while and specifically for this type of skin. Jergens has an option that works, as does Aveeno, and Vaseline. I used the Vaseline one this evening when my hands were absolutely bright red and cracking, and it helped so much!
  • Stay hydrated. Part of dry skin is dehydration, so it’s important to keep up your water intake even in the winter. I know this can be difficult since we aren’t as likely to feel thirsty, but trust me, your skin will thank you.
  • Try sleeping with lotion gloves at night. I got a pack of keratin gloves for my hands in a subscription box and they are specifically made to help keep your hands in great shape all winter long.
  • Use a moisturizing hand sanitizer. We are in the midst of cold and flu season, which means I am washing my hands even more than normal and using hand sanitizer, both of which dry your hands out even more, which is why I was so excited when my friend sent me a lotion that was also a hand sanitizer. Now I can keep my hands germ free, and moisturized all season long.
  • Wear gloves while doing dishes. If you find that your hands are getting even more dried out after doing chores, wear gloves while you do them! Keeping your hands dry may give them more time to heal and not get as dried out.
  • Try a hydrocortisone cream if it gets really bad. If you’ve been ignoring it for a bit, a regular lotion may not work as well, but a hydrocortisone cream should get your hands back to normal.
  • Put an antibacterial cream on any open spots. If your hands have gotten to the point where they are cracked and bleeding, make sure you take care of those spots to avoid an infection. Keep them clean and use an anti-bacterial cream.

While we certainly can’t prevent dry skin, we can fight back against it. These tips help me out during the winter months, and hopefully they’ll provide you some relief as well!

Try Essential Oils

Hey y’all, so with the holidays coming up, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and then BAM Christmas, I think it’s safe to say everyone’s feeling the stress a bit more. I know I sure am, and when I get stressed, I start looking for different ways to help me handle the stress. One way that is a great option for many people is essential oils. While I certainly don’t believe essential oils can cure everything, I do think that a pleasant scent while you are dealing with potentially unpleasant emotions or feelings can make a huge difference in stress levels.

Scientific evidence backing up the use of essential oils is slim, but I know for myself, whether it’s a placebo effect or not, breathing in certain scents helps me to calm down and relax for a bit. There are many people who will agree with this sentiment and have found using essential oils to be beneficial in several ways.

Certain scents help with certain things, so depending on what’s going on with you, you may need a different scent than one I would reach for during the holiday season. Here are the associated health claims with each one.

  • Peppermint is used to boost energy and aid in digestion (while peppermints themselves are great for eating, you don’t want to eat peppermint essential oils, just enjoy the Christmas-y scent they bring 🙂 )
  • Lavender, Bergamot, and Sandalwood are all used to relieve stress and help with relaxation
  • Rose helps with anxiety
  • Chamomile is a mood booster and helps with relaxation (a cup of chamomile tea is one of my favorites after stressful evenings)
  • Ylang-Ylang helps with headaches and nausea
  • Tea Tree helps with fighting infections and immunity (tea tree oil on your scalp can also help relieve dandruff, just make sure to use a small amount)
  • Jasmine helps with depression
  • Lemon helps digestion, mood, headaches, and more. It’s also a great scent for kitchens, very fresh and clean.

If you want to find out more information about essential oils, check out this article https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-are-essential-oils#types It’s a great resource for those who are interested in trying these out.

Journaling

Hey y’all so for this Wellness Wednesday, let’s talk about journaling. I am actually new to journaling. I kept a diary for a bit when I was a tween (I mean, what girl didn’t), but I never really got into that, and so when journaling really started becoming popular, I was iffy about it. Well, I am here to tell you that I am ready to give it a shot!

You may be wondering, what made me change my mind about journaling. First, as a psychology major, I try to keep up with things related to mental health, so that means anything new as far as ways to help improve your mental health, ways to relax, ways to rewire your brain in a positive way, I want to hear about it and learn about it. Journaling is no different, especially since there are many journals that guide you through the process and only take a few minutes out of each day. Studies are showing that journaling has a positive impact on reducing stress, helping you to let go of anxieties, and even rewiring your brain to think in a more positive manner. I mean, with all of that going for it, I figure, a little more positivity can never hurt!

I went ahead and bought two very different journals to get started. The first is a two minute morning journal. It’s designed to help you “win every day” and one of the ways it does that is by having you write down something you’re letting go of today. You also write what you’re grateful for, every single morning when you get up. They say, the more specific the better, and here’s where the sign behind that comes into play. When we focus on things we are lacking in our lives, we become a little more down about things, especially when bad stuff happens, and we forget all the great things we have. By putting those thoughts in your head first thing in the morning, you’re making your brain think about positive things and keeping it at the forefront of your mind right at the start of your day, which will help you have a more positive and upbeat attitude about things in the future, even if your day takes a turn for the bad. The second journal is a bit different in that it has several journeys for you to go on, thus providing journaling in different areas for your life for a long time. There’s a spiritual, achievement, humanitarian, mending fences, self-discovery, and more. I figured, that is definitely something worth exploring, even if you’re pretty certain you know who you are and what you believe or what you want out of life, taking a deeper look could help clarify some things for you.

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So give journaling a try, if it’s not for you, no harm done, but if you find it helps you out in any way, even if it’s just giving you some time to sit down and unwind, then it was definitely worth it.

Abs, Abs, Abs

Hey y’all! For this Wellness Wednesday, we’re going to be talking about abs. That’s right, it’s winter time, and I am still working on my abs, keeping them from disappearing even though sweater season is right around the corner. At least, in my case, I sure hope it is, Florida seems slow on the winter update.

So before you start moaning and groaning, let me first say that having a strong core can help you with so much more than just looking great at the pool or beach. While it definitely has that benefit, it’s also helpful for keeping you balanced, as well as helping you to build muscle in other areas. Not to mention, if you are a dancer or even singer, a stronger core will help you to perform better. I remember my ballet days, and despite the main focus being on my posture and form and stretching my legs, I also had to have a good core to be able to do some of those moves. So if you’ve ever wanted to pursue dance or singing, then you’ll definitely want to work on those abs.

Now, you may be thinking, ick crunches, I hate crunches. I actually don’t hate crunches, but they can get a bit boring. Not to mention, regular crunches only work one part of your abs, while you have other parts that need to be worked too. Luckily, there are some variations on crunches, which I do every single night.

  1. Froggy crunches. I’m sure there’s a better name for them, but they make me think of frogs for some reason. Basically, lay down on your back and put your feet together, with your knees on opposite sides, like the butterfly stretch, except laying down. Then do your crunches as normal.
  2. Legs up crunches. Again, a simple variation, you’ll just want to lift your legs up in the air, bent at the knees and do your crunches as normal.
  3. Planks. Oh planks, can’t say I don’t hate those, but they are fantastic for working on your abs. They aren’t necessarily a crunch variation, but they’re a great workout so they had to make the list.
  4. Standing crunches. These are better if you don’t want to get down on the floor. So you’ll stand with your feet shoulder length apart, and you’ll bring your leg up to your chest, one at a time, alternating, while also crunching your stomach inward.

I am trying to keep my health a focus and priority, and that means not taking many days off from workouts. These are some of my go-tos for every day, and so far I’m really seeing progress that I’m very happy with. I hope they help you out and that you continue to make fitness a priority in your life as well! And don’t feel that you can’t start now, New Years doesn’t have to be the starting point to getting your health where you want it.

Skincare Must Do’s

Hey y’all so one thing I’ve really been focusing on lately is my skincare. It’s soo necessary, especially as we age, and there are so many things that can help. So for this Wellness Wednesday, it’s all about our skin.

Fun fact, did you know the skin is the largest organ on the body? Since that’s the case, it’s more important than ever to take care of your skin.

Here are some skincare must do’s:

  1. Drink water. This is the biggest thing you can do, your skin will be glowing and you’ll feel great!
  2. Apply a face mask once a week. As someone with sensitive skin, this can be a bit difficult sometimes, and it took some trial and error, but I finally found some that worked well for me and relax my skin without causing irritation. It’s also great for self-care.
  3. Remove your makeup each night. I’m not going to lie, I slack at this one way too often. But there are studies saying it can age you, not to mention give you acne and other skin issues, so make sure to set aside some time to remove it every single night.
  4. Use a toner. Even if you don’t have oily skin or an acne issue, use a toner. It’ll help even out your skin tone and keep your skin from getting oily or acne-filled.
  5. Moisturize. Again, sometimes with oilier skin you may think you don’t need any more moisture, but moisturizing is good for your skin, especially as we get into colder weather (everywhere but Florida anyway).
  6. Exfoliate weekly. Even if you wash your face every day, build up can still happen, so make sure you exfoliate each week. It’ll help clean out the buildup and gunk that can gather.
  7. Get a good cleanser. There’s no question that you need a quality cleanser for your skin. I’ve tried several kinds, my favorite is one by SheaMoisture and they have several options.
  8. Use a jade roller. This is good if you deal with puffiness under your eyes or wake up with some puffy skin one morning. The best part, you can put it in the fridge and it’ll really cool your face down.
  9. Stop touching your face! Again, this is one thing I’m horrible about, but I’m trying to work on it every day. Touching your face multiple times can cause wrinkles, acne, and more.
  10. Eat for your skin. You are what you eat, so make sure you are eating healthy foods and nourishing your body and your skin. Cucumbers are not just good for over your eyes 🙂

 

Get Your Greens

Hey y’all so by now we’ve all heard it enough since we were kids to eat our greens. In fact, it’s just as important now to eat your greens as it was then. No, you’re probably not still growing into a big strong kid, but your body still needs that fuel and for this Wellness Wednesday, it’s all about getting your greens!

A colorful plate is a healthy plate is what health experts are saying, and while it’s tempting to look at a bowl of M&Ms or Skittles that’s not quite what they mean when they talk about a colorful plate. Instead, think about veggies!M&M's Chocolates in Bowl

I personally have always been pretty good about eating my vegetables, even since I was a kid. I always like broccoli, green beans, peas, even lima beans. But thankfully, my palate has expanded since then to now include other greens like kale, spinach, and asparagus. However, I understand that not everyone loves these things, which is why there are some easy ways to sneak it into foods, so you won’t even taste it. These tips are great for if you have kiddos too or simply struggle to make those healthy meals each night!

Get your greens tips:

  • Blend them in a smoothie. Adding fresh or frozen kale or spinach to a smoothie automatically bumps the healthy up a level, and with it blended with other fruit and delicious protein powder, you won’t even taste it! I even found a protein powder that has greens and the protein, I ordered some this weekend and once it arrives, I’ll start making my smoothies that way. If you’re interested, it’s Tone It Up Greens and Vanilla Protein Powder. Their protein is plant-based, and tastes fantastic.Clear Glass Bottle Filled With Broccoli Shake
  • Add them to pasta dishes. I know when I was a kid, I was a bit of a picky eater, but you know what would guarantee I’d eat it? Put it in pasta. I’d eat anything if there was pasta over or under it, and sadly, that hasn’t changed. But it’s a great way to get some spinach or even zucchini in your diet, without really noticing the taste.unnamed (2)
  • Speaking of zucchini, did you know there are zucchini brownies and muffins out there to make? They taste great, and I can assure you, you won’t even taste it. One of my favorites is pumpkin zucchini muffins, which you can find the recipe here. 
  • Eat them with rice for a delicious power bowl. These can be prepped ahead of time, and are so easy to make. Just start with a bed of brown rice, then add your favorite veggies, heavy on the greens, and voila, you have a delicious and healthy lunch that didn’t take too long to prepare.
  • Add them to casseroles. With the blend of different flavors, you won’t even realize you’re eating a whole bunch of veggies, because it tastes so good! There’s a plethora of healthy casserole dishes out there, all you have to do is a quick web search to pull up some recipes.
  • Make a veggie soup. Simple, delicious, and perfect for the cooler weather, soups can be a wonderful option for dinner with sandwiches or bread or salad, and you can get plenty of greens in there.

 

Get an Air Purifier

Whether you are a pet owner or you suffer from seasonal allergies, getting an air purifier can be a great option for you to upgrade the air in your home. As a pet owner, I of course have air purifiers in my home specifically designed for pet dander, and as a seasonal allergy sufferer as well, let me tell you, these things are amazing.

I personally use Levoit air purifiers in my bedrooms, and they work fantastic! If one of your concerns is the noise, cast that care away, they have night modes, as well as run nearly silently. I keep mine running on 2 out of 3 levels, and I don’t even hear it. They are also very small, so they can sit on the floor or on a dresser without taking up too much space, which is nice if you have smaller rooms.

air purifier for bedroom

The only thing I will warn any pet parents on is getting an air purifier that has an ionizer. Unfortunately, ionizers release ozone into the air as a byproduct, which can actually be harmful to small creatures, especially within the house. So opt for one that doesn’t have that option, and you will be well on your way to combatting some of you allergy meds and just having cleaner air throughout your home.

Hair and Scalp Care

Hey y’all! So one of the things I’ve been blessed with my entire life is super thick hair. I mean, when I go to a hair stylist, I usually hear “there’s just sooo much of it” and then something along the lines of “I could do so much with this” which while I know is super flattering and great for me and my future kids, it also means I have to take care of a ton of hair. I personally love keeping my hair silky and frizz-free, no easy task in Florida, and I have to use several products to do so. So if you’ve found yourself lacking a bit in the hair and scalp care department, this post is for you!

  • Get rid of any dandruff with tea tree oil. That’s right, while those shampoos may help you out, they are full of harsh chemicals whereas tea tree oil is not. It’ll give a cool tingling feeling as it works, and get rid of any flakes you may have.
  • Use a hair mask once a week. This is important to help keep your hair healthy. Heat damage is real, and if you don’t protect and nourish your hair, you’ll have frizzy and heat-damaged ends. I use a leave-in conditioner usually on Sundays that stays in for 5 minutes and not only makes my hair smell amazing, but also makes it super silky smooth, perfect to start the week on a good note.
  • Use heat protectant. Use it before you straighten, curl, or blow-dry.
  • Get your hair cut regularly. This one is key too, you can’t have healthy looking hair if you don’t take care of it and lose those split ends that are weighing your hair down. I know it seems counter-intuitive to cut your hair, especially if you are trying to grow it out, but sometimes you just have to do it.
  • Be careful how much you color. I used to dye my hair blonde, and I managed to keep it pretty healthy by using protectants, argan oil, and deep conditioning treatments, but after several years, even with all of that, it starts to show, so be careful how much you color your hair, and make sure your hair stylist uses a conditioning product after each color treatment.
  • Get a scalp massager/brush. They cost maybe $10 at Amazon and can really help you to get rid of any product buildup and make sure you’re really scrubbing your scalp with each wash. Plus, they come in cute colors!

Do you have any tips I forgot to keep your hair growing strong, shiny, and healthy? Let me know in the comments!

Have a Cup of Tea

Ahh tea, one of my absolute favorite drinks. It’s perfect for hot or cold weather, since you can drink it hot or iced, and there are so many flavors and styles, it’s impossible not to enjoy a good cup of tea. Not to mention, you can drink it however you like, with milk, sugar, lemon, nothing added at all, how you drink the tea is completely up to you. But you know what’s even better than all of that? The health benefits of drinking a good cup of tea.

I’ve been having a cup of tea each morning for months now, and even when I was a kid, my gram and I used to do tea parties each afternoon where we’d enjoy a cup of tea in her tea china. Needless to say, that holds amazing memories for me, and that’s definitely where my love of tea came from. However, if you don’t have something like that that made you a tea drinker, these health benefits may just convince you to have a cup of tea.

Health Benefits of Drinking Tea:

  • Soothes a sore throat. I think it’s safe to say we all want a nice hot cup of tea when we’re feeling sick and have a sore throat. It’s soothing, and there are certain types of tea that are better than others for helping it. Lemon tea is great for helping with that, as are the special Throat Coat teas that are made specifically with sore throats in mind.
  • Helps ease your stomach. A cup of ginger or peppermint tea can help if you are having some nausea or an upset stomach. It’s an all natural way to get feeling better in no time!
  • Helps ease anxiety. Peppermint and chamomile tea are great for helping when you are feeling anxious or stressed. If you’re struggling to sleep at night, chamomile is great as are special blends of night time tea that may include lavender or chamomile.
  • Gives antioxidants. Most teas, but especially green teas, are high in antioxidants which help your body to stay healthy. Having a cup of green tea each day can be extremely beneficial to your health.
  • Wakes you up. Green tea has an all-natural form of caffeine, so if you feel you can’t quite quit the coffee habit, this is a great alternative to help you still get that jolt. Black tea is also full of caffeine, so that’s a great option as well.
  • May help reduce heart issues and cancer. Tea has these things called flavonoids in it, which can be very beneficial for reducing heart issues and even potentially helping protect against cancer. Seems like a great reason to add a cup or two to your diet!
  • Lower cholesterol. Oolong tea has actually be found to help lower bad cholesterol in an animal study, so if that’s a health issue you’re currently working with, it certainly couldn’t hurt to add a cup or two each day to help with that.

The reality is, there are so many benefits to tea, some of which are just relaxation and enjoyment. One of my favorite things that I’ve done with some family friends is going to an afternoon tea and just spending time together over delicious little snacks and several pots of tea.

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