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Switch Up Your Workouts

Hey y’all, so I know you’re still going strong on those New Years resolutions and keeping up with those workouts, so now’s the perfect time to remind you to switch up your workouts for this Wellness Wednesday.

We all know how important it is to keep up with your cardio and it’s also equally important to switch up your workouts to make sure they stay effective. I don’t mean that you have to completely change what you’re doing, because that’s not it at all, but you should mix things up a bit. What many people don’t realize is that if they continue to do the same workout every day, it won’t work the same way that it did a few weeks ago. You need to change it up a bit whether that be trying a new workout to get you out of a rut or just adding to your current workouts. It also doesn’t have to be a permanent change, but if you’re pretty regularly doing cardio and then arms, try adding in a new workout for your arms, you can find several on Pinterest. This will help shake up your workout and get you working a different part of your muscles too. The same thing goes for cardio, if you find that you’ve suddenly hit a rut in what you’re doing, change it up. If you’re on a treadmill, adjust the elevation of your workout, or try going faster and see if you’re finding that to be challenging for you. These changes can be simple tweaks that can make a huge difference.

If you find you’re just growing bored with your current workout or it really doesn’t seem to be working for you, don’t be afraid to try something new! I have tried so many different workout classes and exercises from Zumba to kickboxing to running outside to treadmills and ellipticals, and not all of them worked for me, and that’s ok. I tried it, if I loved it, I kept coming back and if I hated it, I tried something else! Even if everyone raves about it, it’s ok if you don’t enjoy that type of workout. My friend and I tried pilates once, and neither of us got what the big deal was. What works for some doesn’t work for others.

Switch up your workout every now and then and see what a difference it makes!

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Meatless Mondays

Hey y’all! How are your resolutions going so far? We’re only about two weeks in, so hopefully everyone is still going strong. One of my resolutions was to try to eat more veggies and less meat this year. Now, I know the importance of eating meat and I will never fully cut it out of my lifestyle because A) I love a good steak and B) eating meat has many health benefits that I want for my body. However, I can also definitely try to eat a little bit less because that’s also good for my body and good for the environment. So I’m going to try to work harder on incorporating meatless Mondays, as well as only have meat in one meal a day.

Meatless Mondays

So meatless Mondays is essentially no meat on Monday, which for someone who is very used to recipes that use meat, can be a bit difficult. I’m still trying to find healthy lunch and dinner options that are vegetarian, as well as don’t only consist of pasta. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love pasta, but I also am trying to limit that to once a week, so I can’t have it for lunch and dinner. Luckily, Pinterest is a great resource for me, and I also found these frozen black bean burgers that are delicious, and not super high in sodium, which means I can enjoy them without worrying too much about the preservatives factor.

Meatless Lunches

Here is another place where I struggle. So I can enjoy a salad just as much as the next person, but the problem is that I’ll be starving in an hour or two, and that was when the salad had chicken on it! When it’s just a plain salad, that simply doesn’t cut it for me, and I know several others who would agree with me. Once again, I’m having to get a bit more creative with things, but luckily that can also be easily done. Make yourself a peanut butter sandwich to go along with the salad or make up a quinoa and vegetable power bowl. Those are both good sources of protein and don’t contain any meat. Hummus and vegetables and pita bread is another great choice. Again, if this is something you’re considering doing, use your resources, Pinterest never fails with a recipe for something.

At the very least, if you find that you can’t go without any kind of meat on Mondays, go with a lean white meat and try to lower your intake of red meat. I get it, steak is delicious, again I love it, but I also rarely have one because it really isn’t the healthiest option out there. But turkey, chicken, those lean white meats, those are great options to help your heart stay healthy while still getting your meat fix.

If anyone has some vegetarian recipes they’d like to share, please post them in the comments! I’m always looking for new recipes to try 🙂

Don’t Bottle It All Up

We all know what happens when we take a jar or a bottle or even anything and we keep shoving things down in it, eventually it will all come exploding out. The same thing happens for people, when you keep pushing down anger or sadness or any kind of emotion like that, it’ll come out eventually. It may be something big that causes the eruption of emotions and it may be something quite small. No matter what the cause is, it’s important to not bottle it all up.

Psychologically speaking, bottling up or stuffing down our emotions isn’t healthy. There’s a reason therapy is so beneficial, oftentimes because people just need to speak about their emotions and get them out of their heads and bodies and into the world. Not to mention, communication with your loved ones is super important, and it’s usually them that cause these feelings to erupt at certain times.

There can be a lot of things that we may bottle up. We may hide our sadness at something and keep it hidden and whenever more is added, we just shove it down deep and pretend it’s not there. That’s effective, I suppose, for a little while, but at some point, that sadness is going to come up, and it’s going to cause you to break down crying whether at a broken nail or a commercial or something else. The same goes for anger. If you’re angry at someone about something they did, you can try to bottle it up, but if the behavior continues, you’ll find yourself exploding on them, and you may wind up saying things that you won’t be able to take back.

Luckily, there’s a simple cure to this problem. Don’t bottle it up. When someone says or does something that upsets you, you’re allowed to share that they did so. It’s not a bad thing to let someone know if they’re taking advantage of you or at least if that’s how they’re making you feel. One thing I’d definitely suggest is saying something along the lines of, “this makes me feel this way” because sometimes people don’t realize how their actions or words can make you feel. They may not realize that putting you in a certain situation makes you feel very uncomfortable and then that discomfort turns to anger towards them. Basically, you may take something as an attack or as them being inconsiderate, but if they’re unaware it’s an issue, they won’t be able to stop the behavior.

The only way to get these emotions out and work through them is by talking about them. You don’t have to have a therapist to do this either, call up a friend, grab a cup of coffee and just talk. And have those uncomfortable conversations. It may not be pleasant to bring this up to someone, but it’s necessary for your mental wellbeing.

Don’t Join a Gym if You Won’t Go

New Years is a time of the year when gym memberships go up. Everyone is posting about “New Year, new me” and they’re determined to get themselves in shape. They go out, they sign up for a gym nearby that has some New Year membership deal, and then they feel they are good to go. Here’s the problem with that. In a few months, many of those who signed up will be avoiding the gym because it’s just not the right fitness option for them. So here’s my advice: don’t join a gym if you won’t go.

It sounds harsher than I mean for it to sound. Gyms are fantastic, they have cardio equipment, weight machines, free weights, and some even have massage chairs and other amenities that can be taken advantage of. However, for many, that’s just not the right option for them to complete their fitness goals. If you dread getting up and going to the gym and constantly have an excuse not to, then quite simply don’t go. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up on your health goals completely, quite the opposite. It just means your money may be better spent elsewhere.

While most people only think about joining a gym when they are looking at ways to improve their fitness goals, there are actually a bunch of different ways you can meet your health and fitness needs, without ever stepping foot into a gym.

  • Join a sports group. There are many groups you can find on Meetup or even on local bulletin boards where people meet up to play sports. Maybe you’ve always wanted to play tennis or are really interested in getting back on the basketball court after your glory days in high school. Joining a gym won’t help you with that, but joining a group or a league will help you meet new people, and perfect your playing skills.
  • Find a fitness class. There are a few gyms that offer fitness classes with their other equipment, but for the most part fitness classes are separate, so if you’re really looking more for the fitness class rather than the gym equipment, find a fitness class that interests you. My best friend is obsessed with kickboxing, and she goes daily. I personally love to dance, so dance cardio classes are super fun for me to get a workout in without even recognizing that I’m working out. There are so many different classes out there, it’s just a matter of finding one that interests you so you’ll actually want to go.
  • Find a walking group. You don’t need to pay for equipment that you won’t use when you have the great outdoors at your fingertips. The past few months, we’ve had several neighbors and their dogs start joining us on our walks around the neighborhood, so we’re getting some cardio and exercise in while also having some time to socialize with those that live near us.
  • Ride your bicycle. If you have a bike sitting in your garage that you keep meaning to take out, use it as your cardio! You’ll get some fresh air, and if you really enjoying riding your bike, this adventure won’t feel like exercise, unlike going to a gym.

There are other options out there as well, it’s just a matter of finding what interests you. The main point here is that you shouldn’t sign up for a gym because everyone else is, especially if it isn’t something that interests you. Exercise can be fun, if you find the right option for your personality. If you really love the community and workout you get from a gym, then keep going! Everyone is different and there is no one size fits all workout option.

Learn to Rest

This past week I was down with some sort of illness, and I had to do one of the worst things in my mind: rest. I am very much a go go go type of person, and having any kind of downtime can be very difficult for me, especially when I’m sick. This time of year is horrible too since it’s so busy with baking and cleaning and decorating, so I definitely was not feeling like resting. However, my body had a different idea, as I could barely stay awake the first day thanks to a nasty fever. The next day was all about learning to rest so I could move on from the illness.

For those who prefer to constantly be on the move, learning to rest can be pretty difficult, but it’s something we all need to do. Our bodies will tell us when we need to rest, we’ll feel more fatigued or start lacking energy, and when we hit that point, we need to start listening to our bodies and take the downtime. I wasn’t able to bake cookies or do much around the house, but I was able to watch several cheesy Netflix Christmas movies, keeping the Christmas spirit alive, even if I was struggling to stay awake some moments. Whether you prefer to read a book or relax and watch tv when sick, it’s definitely important to allow your body the time to do so, and maybe even schedule some in before you get sick.

While you’re resting, especially while sick, don’t forget the immunity tea, chicken noodle soup, and lots of water. This is cold and flu season, so we all need our immune systems to be on guard, and if your body is telling you to slow down, listen to it! I am so glad I took a couple of days off work to rest and get over whatever I had rather than trying to push through and extending it for more time. Because sadly, that’s the reality of pushing through when you’re sick: you make the sickness last longer.

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!

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.

journaling

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.

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