This book is a guide about the connection between inadequate sleep and weight gain written particularly for women faced with the fatigue, moodiness, and weight gain that we often experience because of chronic stress or hormonal changes to show how a good night’s sleep will actually enable you to lose weight, especially if you have been chronically sleep deprived.
This book sparked my interest because who wouldn’t love it if all we had to do in order to lose weight was sleep…If this were truly the case, then we would all be skinny, because all of us sleep, right?!
The title, The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Simple Rules for Losing Weight While You Sleep, is appropriate for the book because the book gives you the tools to overcome the stress, poor habits, and environmental challenges that are causing you not to get adequate rest. The author of the book is Michael Breus, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and board-certified sleep expert.
The book shows how simple health and lifestyle changes can help increase your energy level, eliminate many health concerns, and help you lose weight loss without having to eat “rabbit food” every meal of spending a crazy amount of time spent exercising.
I enjoyed reading this book because I learned many things about how sleep affects your body—like how sleep boosts your metabolism, ignites fat burn, and decreases your appetite. I also liked the fact that the book provides information, advice, and practical strategies designed to help you get the sleep you need.
These tools include a realistic action plan designed to help you get both your best sleep and your best body possible, involving a slumber-friendly evening routine, stress management techniques, recipes for healthy meals and snacks all designed to help you fall asleep more easily.
Some of the key factors in losing weight while you sleep, according to this book are…
eating small meals that are high in protein and fiber every three to four hours
eliminating calorie-laden sodas and juices from your diet
substituting an olive oil cooking spray for butter or margarine
sticking to a specific sleep schedule
eliminating all caffeine after 2pm.
not drinking alcohol for three hours before going to bed
not exercising for four hours before going to bed
doing thirty minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise early in the day, most days of the week
Shopping for a nut butter can get overwhelming quickly. There are so many options—almond, peanut, cashew, sunflower, coconut, soy, walnut, multi-nut, hazelnut—and you want to make sure that you are choosing the best of the best.
Things to look for when shopping for a nut butter…
Full Fat...reduced fat butters usually have a ton of sugar and other processed ingredients such as corn syrup solids to give the nut butter the “feel” of a full-fat version
Little or no hydrogenated oils
Low Salt Content
Minimal Added Sugar
No processed ingredients or stabilizers
None of the following words on the label…these words all indicate that the nut butter has tons of added sugar and is more like a dessert—chocolate, flavored, honey/honey nut/honey roasted/honey flax, maple, nutella/hazelnut, vanilla
Requires refrigeration…betters should NOT be able to sit out without going rancid.
Requires stirring…nuts are primarily fat. When you grind them up and store them, the fat should separate from the ground up nuts….if not, some sort of palm oil or hydrogenated oil has been added.
Short ingredients list…ingredients should literally just be whatever nuts are in the butter and salt
Almonds are one of the most nutritious nuts…a great source of riboflavin, magnesium, manganese, vitamin E, flavonoids, healthy fats, calcium, B vitamins, copper, phosphorus, molybdenum, monounsaturated fats, fiber, and protein.
Almond butter can be a good choice for ensuring healthy metabolism, fighting heart disease and cancer, helping combat heart disease, and preventing osteoporosis.
Some of the healthiest almond butters available include…
Barney Butter Bare Almond Butter
Blue Mountain Organics Almond Butter
Dastony 100% Organic Stone-Ground Raw Almond Butter
Justin’s Classic Almond Butter
MaraNatha Raw Almond Butter or Organic Almond Butter
Trader Joe’s Creamy Almond Butter
Whole Foods 365 Organic Unsweetened Almond Butter
Peanut butter is obviously the most popular of all nut butters…a great source of B vitamins, copper, manganese, protein, molybdenum, phosphorus, and vitamin E.
Some of the healthiest peanut butters available include…
Sun Butters...Sunflower seed butter, a great alternative for those with tree nut allergies, can provide even more fiber, magnesium and vitamin E than traditional nut butters…and are also a wonderful source of protein, B vitamins, folic acid, copper, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, healthy fats, and fiber. A great “sun butter” to try is MaraNatha Sunflower Seed Butter.
Getting adequate amounts of protein is important for all women, not only die-hard athletes.
Adequate protein is important for both appearance and long-term health, especially among active women….(okay, now find me one woman who is not active…usually we have more on our plate than one person could possibly handle, right)…
So why is protein so important…and why should we find ways to eat more protein at breakfast…and how…
Protein can keep us, or help us get, skinny. Replacing calories consumed in carbs with calories containing protein contributes to a decrease in fat tissue.
Protein can prevent damage to our cells caused by stress.
Protein controls hunger all day. Eating a high-protein meal, such as Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, early in the day triggers a hormonal response that helps keep hunger at bay all day.
Protein is good for your bones, especially important given the high risk of osteoperosis in women. Protein is vital to proper calcium absorption and bone growth.
Protein is good for your hair. A well-balanced diet is important to keep your hair growing to its fullest. Protein deficiency can cause your hair to grow slowly or not at all.
Protein is good for your muscles. Protein can help our bodies maintain and build muscle mass, important to women as we age. Drinking a protein shake or eating a high-protein snack after working out also helps promote muscle repair.
Protein is good for your skin. Protein can help reduce aging and skin damage caused by the sun.
Protein triggers thermogenesis, also known as a “faster metabolism,” and signals the body to burn more calories before, during, and after meals.
Protein will keep you fuller longer. Eating foods high in protein makes you feel fuller sooner than foods classified as carbs or fat and helps controls appetite later on.
“Protein bites” are a great way to boost your energy levels and “recharge” your batteries throughout the day…plus they are super-easy to make…
(Simply combine the ingredients, chill for thirty minutes, and roll into 1″ balls, Store in airtight container in fridge, unless indicated otherwise…so this is why I’ve simply listed ingredients, instead of directions with each of the following “recipes.”)
1. Peanut Butter No-Bake Energy Bites
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
2. Chocolate Protein Bite…(roll in cocoa after shaped)
1 1/2C pitted dates
1/2C rolled oats
1/4C unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4C flaxseed meal
1/4C chocolate protein powder
1Tbsp espresso powder
3. Coconut Peanut Butter Bites
1 cup oatmeal
2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4. Nutella Energy Bites
1C old fashioned, rolled oats
½C crispy rice cereal (or shredded coconut)
¼C peanut butter
½C ground flaxseed
1Tbsp coconut oil
½C chocolate chips
5. Pumpkin Energy Bites
1C old fashioned oatmeal (uncooked)
1/4C pure pumpkin puree
1/2C wheat germ
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup white chocolate morsels
6. Raw Cookie Dough Bites
2C blanched almond flour
1/2tsp baking soda
1/4tsp sea salt
1/4C coconut oil (solid but soft)
2Tbsp almond butter
mini dark chocolate chips
stevia to taste, if additional sweetener is needed
Blame your midnight refrigerator raids and before-bed snacks on your circadian rhythm, or inner time clock…or come up with any other excuse that you can possibly think of, but how many of us find ourselves raiding the refrigerator in our pajamas before we go to bed every night or while anyone in their right mind would be asleep?
Honestly does it really matter why we find ourselves nibbling away, but instead which snacks should you choose at night?
Thankfully not all midnight or before-bed snacks are that bad for you, and some snacks can actually help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
So exactly which “health-conscious snacks” should you grab first when raiding the fridge at night?
In order to make sure that your bedtime snack can actually help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, there are certain ingredients to look for. These ingredients, as well as sources for these ingredients, include…
Why carbs?…Carbohydrates boost the production of serotonin and melatonin and help reset your circadian rhythm. Carbs also increase your insulin levels, which in turn affects the levels of the crucial sleep-regulating gene PER2 so that you’re drowsy when you should be.
Bananas…Bananas are the perfect bedtime snack…not only because bananas contain not only healthy, complex carbs…but also abundant amounts of potassium and magnesium, two minerals which help your muscles relax, and tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your body produce serotonin….(more on this below)…
Popcorn…Air-popped popcorn contains only thirty calories per cup and is an ideal late-night-TV-watching snack food.
Whole-Grain Crackers…The high-fiber content and low glycemic index of whole grains create a steady stream of glucose in your system throughout the night.
Why folate? Folate helps to regulate sleep patterns, especially in older people.
Hummus...The main ingredient in hummus is chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, which are not only rich in folate, but also vitamin B and tryptophan.
Why magnesium?…Magnesium is a muscle-relaxing mineral that plays a key role in regulating sleep. Yet studies have shown that nearly 70% of adults do not get enough magnesium in their daily diets. Magnesium deficiency has been linked not only to insomnia, but muscle cramps, which can also disrupt sleep.
Almonds and Almond Butter…Almonds are a great source of magnesium…so grabbing a handful of almonds or enjoying a tablespoon of almond butter before bed may help you fall asleep — and stay asleep longer. (more on nut butters next post)…
Granola…Granola, oats, and other whole grain foods not only contain those all-important snooze-promoting carbs mentioned above, but also contain magnesium.
Lentils…Lentils are a superfood that are not only a great source of magnesium, potassium, and protein…but also are high in fiber and low in fat, so you can enjoy them without worrying about gaining weight.
Why melatonin? Melatonin is a sleep-regulating hormone that regulates your internal clock and basically tells your body when it’s time for bed. We talked about melatonin as a supplement in an earlier post, but there are foods that actually contain natural melatonin as well, such as…
Cherries and Cherry Juice…Cherries and cherry juice, especially the tart variety, are rich sources of melatonin, as well as antioxidants and carbohydrates. Studies have shown that people who drink eight ounces of tart cherry juice twice daily fall asleep sooner and then sleep an average hour-and-half longer than those who don’t.
Walnuts…Walnuts another natural source of melatonin….not to mention that they’re just plain good to eat.
Why protein? Protein helps create tryptophan, the sleep-promoting amino acid (see below)…
Edamame...Edamame is high in fiber, protein, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
Cheese and Cottage Cheese...Cheese is full of casein proteins, which provide sleep-inducing tryptophan. Actually cheddar cheese contains more tryptophan than turkey, gram for gram. Eating cheese thirty minutes before going to bed not only will help you fall asleep faster, but has also been shown to improve your metabolism.
Why tryptophan? Tryptophan is a sleep-promoting amino acid that the brain uses to make serotonin and melatonin, hormones that promote relaxation and control sleep and wake cycles.
Cereal and Milk…Milk already contains tryptophan, but adding the carbohydrates of a good whole-grain, low-sugar cereal makes this tryptophan more easily available to the brain.
Greek Yogurt…Not only does Greek yogurt contain tryptophan, but Greek yogurt is also a rich source of protein and calcium, both of which can help regulate melatonin production and help you get your sleeping habits in check.
Peanut Butter…Most of us grew up loving peanut butter, and my Dad would always peanut butter before bed every night when I was growing up. Wonder if he knew that his favorite night-time snack was rich in tryptophan…(or if he really cared?).
Pumpkin Seeds...Pumpkin seeds are packed with a variety of essential nutrients,including substantial amounts of tryptophan.
Three final important tips as far as midnight snacking…
Avoid sugary snacks at bedtime because these will cause a quick glucose spike that can interfere with sleep quality.
Be sure to keep these midnight or pre-bed snacks light. Keep your selection as a 150 to 200 calories actual snack, instead of another complete meal in itself.
Eat no later than thirty minutes before bed so that your body has enough time to digest the food and absorb the nutrients before you go to sleep.
As I sit here this morning, writing this…I am enjoying my first cup of coffee and all seems right with the world…until all chaos and the “resident four year old” also wakes up and the day eventually drags on and on until I am barely able to drag myself back into bed and begin the entire cycle all over again tomorrow.
Sounds like the life of each and every single one of us, right?
And that’s on those mornings when we have had a good night’s sleep…
We have enjoyed that deep, long periods of eight to nine hours of healthy, restorative sleep that is so important for recharging the body and mind, releasing important hormones, repairing cells and muscles, slowing down the aging process, strengthening the immune system, and doing so many more things that are important for the health of the mind and body.
What an awesome feeling to wake up ready to set our feet on the floor and tackle the world.
Wish I could say that about every single morning…
But truth is, like the one-in-three individuals, or seventy million Americans, who will also be heading out the door late to work and driving way over the speed limit in order to get to work on time this morning, I rarely get such rejuvenating and reparative sleep anymore because like, so many of us, I suffer with mild to severe insomnia…an insomnia that has most likely become such as epidemic in today’s fast-paced, technology-saturated world…a lifestyle that seems to be making it difficult for any of us to enjoy a “good night’s rest” anymore.
So what can we do about this lack of sleep?
So far in this “Now What” section, we have looked at using breathing techniques and essential oils to help ourselves catch up on sleep.
Another option, but an option that so many people seem to abuse these days, would be “sleeping pills.”
Yeah, I know…this is supposed to be a blog about my learning to live a healthier and more “politically correct” lifestyle, so I’d be the last one to pop an over-the-counter pill hoping to finally get some sleep…
In fact, both over-the-counter and prescription sleep meds are probably not even worth checking into, for several reasons. These include…
They stop working quite quickly.
They can cause even sleepless nights, than preventing sleepless night after using them for a time.
They prevent us from feeling “awake, alert, and all full of energy”—instead of actually making us sleepy.
They will quite negatively impact our energy levels the day after we take it.
They may create side effects, such as drowsiness, headaches, nasal congestion, memory loss, muscle aches, double vision, diarrhea, and swollen lymph nodes.
They are also highly addictive.
They can be addicting.
They can cause you to “build up a tolerance” for them after taking them for so long, meaning that you now have to take even a higher dosage to get the same benefits that you were getting at first.
They can actually make you sleep problems worse, instead of better.
However, there are some safer-but still-effective, science-backed proven sleep supplements that can offer a “natural” way to help you get to sleep faster, sleep deeper during the night…and get the rest you need to stop this endless cycle of exhaustion. Supplements such as…
1. 5-HTP…5-HTP is an amino acid that produces and stockpiles the serotonin we naturally lose as we age by actually converting into serotonin in the brain itself and then helping to manufacture melatonin, the “feel good” hormone. This amino acid can be found profoundly important for not only sleep and mood, but also learning, sexual behavior, and hormone regulation…and is commonly used to treat depression and insomnia that’s secondary to mood disorders and increase REM sleep. A good option to help you get this amino acid would be Dr. Lipman’s Be Well Sleep Bundle.
2. Flower Essences…Flower essences, such as Bach Rescue Sleep Remedy, can be a good option for those “insomniacs” who are not actually struggling with a serious sleep problem, but do occasionally need some help traveling to the Land of Nod off. Flower essences are made by infusing spring water with various flowers. The most common flowers used to make these flower essence remedies are cherry plum, impatiens, and white chestnut. Flower essences work by helping to quiet racing thoughts, ease a restless mind, and calm frazzled nerves. These essences are particularly great for using to help children fall asleep…(well in that case, I’m going all out and ordering every single bottle and container of flower essences available on Amazon right now(?!))…
3. GABA…GABA (gamma butyric acid)is a naturally-occurring acidproduced in the brain that acts to help calm down the excitatory neurotransmitters, also known as our “fight or flight mechanisms,” and to wake up our parasympathetic nervous system, our “rest and digest” system.
GABA calms and relaxes both the body and muscles so that you feel very calm, drowsy and ready for a good, long night of sleep—both in terms of quantity and quality…and then helps you to get the truly restorative sleep that you need in order to wake up feeling less groggy in the mornings.
4. Holy Basil…Holy basil has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.
Holy basil, available in forms such as New Chapter’s Holy Basil Force, works by moderating the levels of cortisol, a naturally-occurring chemical that normally spikes between 6am and 8am to wake us up.
But often when we are under a lot of stress or going through something emotional, our cortisol levels can get out of whack and leave us consistently waking up at 3am or 4am instead…and who in their right mind wants to wake up that early…except for my spouse when he’s going fishing perhaps…
5. L-theanine...L-theanine, the ingredient that makes green tea such a great antioxidant and “superfood,” also has a calming effect on the brain because it impacts levels of the amino acids affecting serotonin and other neurotransmitters.
7. Melatonin…Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone produced by the pineal gland that keeps us alert during the day and helps us fall asleep at night.
Melatonin is a very popular sleep aid, although melatonin was actually formulated not to treat general insomnia, but to reset the body’s circadian rhythm, or “internal clock,” when it is disrupted because of jet lag, unusual work schedules, parenting young children who have the guts to keep you waking up through the night, and days like today when the switch to/from Daylights Savings Time totally whacks your system and makes you late for church.
Many experts claim that liquid or quick-dissolving melatonin, such as Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve,work best because these allow the hormone to be absorbed directly into the body.
8. Skullcap…Skullcap is a herb that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. This safe, mild herbal sedative excels in relieving anxiety and insomnia, and boosting energy and cognition. A good supplement containing skullcap would be Flora Sleep Essence.
9. Valerian Root…Valerian root, such as Nature’s Way Valerian Root, is a mild sedative that can be very helpful in helping to calm the nervous system by lowering the anxiety response and promoting relaxation and sleep without causing a major hangover or histamine coma or fog.
10. Vitamin Supplement...Perhaps the cure for your insomnia and/or sleepless nights could be as simple as taking a multivitamin supplement. After all, Vitamin B helps tryptophan in your body convert to niacin and serotonin, which regulate sleep and increase REM, and Vitamin D can remedy daytime drowsiness while improving overall well-being.
Listening to about 45 minutes of relaxing music before bed can help you relax and fall asleep faster, sleep longer, wake up less during the night, and feel more rested in the morning.
Listening to the “right” kind of music can slow down your heart rate to the 60-beats-per-minute range needed to enter the “sleep zone,” help you breathe easier, and lower your blood pressure.
The “right” kind of music can masks background noise,
The “right” kind of music can shorten stage two sleep cycles and help you reach restful REM sleep, the restorative part of our sleep, more quickly.
The “right” kind of music can blocking both disruptive external sounds, such as traffic, and internal sounds, such as tinnitus.
The “right” kind of music can fill in uncomfortable silences.
And the “right” kind of music can provide a sense of companionship and security.
So what is the “right” kind of music to listen to if I want to have a good night’s sleep for a change…and what makes it “right”…
Music is a always a matter of personal preference…(just ask any Southern Baptist about their preference between singing hymns or 7-11, seven words sung eleven times, songs in big church)…
But there are certain things to keep in mind when choosing the music that you do listen to at night, such as…
Beats Per Minute…Choose something that has a rhythm of about sixty to eighty beats per minute.
Familiarity…Choose something that you actually are familiar with and like.
Neutrality…Choose music that does not evoke strong emotions.
Pitch Perfect…Choose music with lower pitches, nobody wants or needs to hear anyone scream and squeal right before they go to sleep and tranquil melodies.
Rhythm…Choose music a regular rhythm, not too much syncopation.
Words…Choose music without words…it’s more likely to make you sleepy. Our good friends Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, not to mention Frederic Chopin, have written enough music to fill our playlists from here to eternity.
So what IS the “right” kind of music to listen to if you want to have a good night’s sleep for a change…and what makes it “right”…
The “right” kind of music for you personally to listen to in order to have a good night’s sleep for a change may not be, and probably will not be the “right” kind of music for any other person on this planet Earth.
So the “right” kind of music for you personally to listen to in order to have a good night’s sleep for a change should be music that you choose, based on what you like and what you need from the music at the time.
But to get an idea of the type of music and playlists that have worked for other people, take a look at these top “sleep” playlists from Spotify and these options available from Bedtime Beats.
(posting this here because I just updated my “about me” page today and wanted to see if I could get any feedback, positive or negative, about what I have written, as I start reworking my site…
…yes, I do know that’s not me, just the me that I aspire to be perhaps…
…no, not off on another tangent just yet…sleep is just too dang important not to keep talking about, right(?!))…
One of our primary goals as writers, bloggers, and simply people in general should be to establish friendships and relationships…
A good place to start building these relationships as a blog writer/reader is on the the “About Me” page of any blog…
The “About Me” page is one of the most important pages on any blog. Not only is it one of the most popular pages, but it’s also the page that will make your audience fall in love with you and want to keep coming back for more.
The “About Me” page should basically answer two very important questions…
1. Who am I? 2. Why would anyone want to read anything that I might write?
In addition to answering these two very important questions, your “About Me” page should tell…should keep…and finally should give.
So what should your “About Me” page tell?!
Tell your perspective…Although this is called the “about me” page, it’s not actually about you yourself at all, but really all about your audience. Make sure that you’re attracting the exact audience you’re looking for within the first sentence of your “About Me” page by asking yourself…
What am I providing for them?
What makes your website different from all of the other ones out there?
What should my readers expect to find when they come to your site?
What will they get out of visiting my site?
Who is my target market?
Why should they bookmark your site and keep coming back?
Tell your story…Your story is the one unique thing that separates you from the crowd. Telling your story helps potential followers, clients, employers, and readers relate to you.
People want to know the formal you, not the polished you…the real you probably sitting on your couch in your pajamas with your hair on the top of your head in a ponytail and no makeup on drinking coffee…lots and lots of coffee…
When writing your “About Me” page, answer questions such as…
How can knowing you, following you, or working with you change your life?
What do you like? Now what do you absolutely love?
What do you want to be recognized for?
How did you get started? What inspired you to create your blog?
So how should my “About Me” page be kept?
Keep it concise.—Your audience doesn’t need to know every detail of your life.
Keep it real.—Make sure your About Me bio expresses who you are as a person and a professional in an authentic way, both in terms of content and in terms of your writing style.
Keep it relevant.—Make sure that your About Me bio is relevant to your blog.
So what should your “About Me” page give?
Give your audience a photo or two.—Include at least one high quality picture of both yourself and your workspace. Use this as another chance to truly express your personality and confirm the fact that you’re a real human being that people can know and love.
Give your reader an idea of what city or region you live in—. This gives your readers and followers something to relate to, as well as a peek into your world.
Give your audience the opportunity to stay connected with you. Include links to your Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram account along with an opt-in form for your email list.
Give your audience some direction as to where to go next...such as a list of your most popular articles or a specific page you want them to look at.
All that being said, here is my personal “About Me” page for this Muffins and Magnolias blog…
Christy Floyd, the blogger behind Muffins and Magnolias, has been happily married to her wonderful husband Kurt for the last thirty-one years, and is the mother of three awesome grown daughters and a very active “resident four year old.” She and her husband have lived in Arlington, Texas for the last thirty years, but are originally from Houston, Mississippi.
About Muffins and Magnolias…
I write this blog predominantly for me because as I get older, the more easily I forget what I’ve learned or read and wanted to have a single place to look up the things that I should know and used to know, but no longer know.
Feel free to join me on my journey if you dare.
This journey is towards a more minimalistic, cruelty-free lifestyle than the one that I first began creating when my husband and I got married thirty-one years ago.
Back in 1986, when I first got married, homes and lifestyles were completely different and much more cluttered. I realized this fact about a month ago when I wandered into my first craft show in about twenty years.
Back in 1985, the big-hair and lots-of-hairspray newlyweds like myself desired clutter, ornamentation, and…looking back, perhaps, gaudiness. In 2018, as I help my daughter prepare for her upcoming wedding and new life, it seems like everyone is looking for minimalism and simplicity…
What a change from the days of Silver Dollar City country to farmhouse country during the last thirty years, right?!
Here on my website, I invite you to join me…
…as I break habits that I’ve formed over the last thirty years and swap them with new habits that are better both for my family and the environment….
…as I change our family’s eating habits from what-used-to-be the fast food generation that my kids and myself were all brought up in to a vegan or raw foods…or perhaps just healthier…diet…
…as I take each of the steps throughout my day and attack that particular part of my day to discover how I could be streamlining and doing this better and smarter…such as my mini units on “taking a shower” and “going to bed.”
Join this journey with me. Let’s fight this “yes, I’m having yet another zero birthday this year” drama with courage and skill. Learn with me. Come grow old with me, the best is yet to be.
Join me as I learn about eating a healthier diet, dressing more appropriately for this stage in my life, and celebrating life and making life better one Happy Planner section, one habit, and one day at a time.
Join me as I share stories of true-life Steel Magnolias, those women that I have known, both personally and not, who have truly inspired me.
Join me as I share stories about my own life when I have had to be a “Steel Magnolia,” such as my husband being deployed five times to Afghanistan and Iraq, living with a spouse who has PTSD, and adopting/raising a four-year old in my fifties…
Come grow old with me…Join me as I journey…
Now for overkill, I found this list of questions as a post on the GoodReads website in the Young Adult section with the following introductory paragraph…
posted a list of questions that you can answer if you are bored or something or just for fun. You don’t have to answer any or all of them. Its kind of a waste of time!
I took the time to answer all 110 questions…
Yes, I must have been bored or something…Yes, surprisingly I actually found time to waste…Yes, perhaps I could be called narcissistic and vain…
But more importantly, for you as a fellow blog reader and/or writer, to see how even stupid quizzes like this can be used to brainstorm blog topics and fill in an editorial calendar…
1. What is your favorite Primary song? Jesus Loves Me
2. What is your favorite nursery rhyme? Hickory, Dickory Dock
3. What is your favorite subject in school? Statistics
4. What is your favorite flavor of jelly beans? Licorice
5. Which flavor of ice-cream do you prefer? Coffee
6. What do you think is your very best feature or characteristic? Perseverance
7. What is your strongest talent? Knowing when to keep my mouth shut
8. Do you play a musical instrument, if so which one(s)?vyes…piano…
9. What do you usually do when you have leisure time on your hands? Sleep
10. What is your favorite season and why? fall…SEC football…
11. If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go? London
12. What is your favorite color? Red
13. Who is your best friend and how did you meet? Jesus…nursery at church
14. What is your favorite home cooked meal? Chicken and dumplings
15. What is your favorite grab and go meal? Chipotle
16. Do you prefer to wear pants or dresses? Pants…duh…
17. How many siblings do you have? Two
18. What is you favorite snack? The first thing that I can find
19. When do you usually do your homework? Really?!
20. What is your favorite electronic device? My back-up mirror on my car
21. If you could be any animal which one would you prefer to be and why? Possum…they can actually get by with rolling over and “playing possum”…and even toddlers fall for it…
22. What kind of vehicle do you usually ride in? Ford Edge
23. Do you have pets? Two cats and one dog
24. When was the last time you visited a park and what did you do while there? Two weeks ago…ate ice cream with my grandson
25. What is your favorite sport to watch? SEC football
26. Which sport do you most enjoy actively participating in? Too funny…
27. What do you usually do when you meet someone for the first time? Hope that they won’t shake my hand, or even worse hug me…
28. When was the last time you stayed or hosted a sleepover with friends? Does going to my mom’s last month count…
29. If you have to dress and leave in a hurry what is the one thing you can easily cut out of your routine? Bra
30. Do you plan to go to college? Been there, done that, got a t-shirt
31. What job do you think you would most enjoy as an adult? The one I have now…
32. Do you hope to have children of your own? If so how many. Another funny question…probably three girls…
33. What was the last item you cooked and ate? Watermelon
34. How many books did you read last year? One..,the Bible…
35. Where did you spend your last family vacation? my mom’s
36. Do you have relatives in other states? If so, which ones? Yes…Mississippi and North Carolina
37. Have you ever made jell-o? It’s disgusting
38. Are you ticklish? Yes
39. What size shoe do you wear? 6
40. How many pairs of shoes do you currently own? Too many to count…that I actually wear—two…
41. Which one fashion accessory do you like better than others? Wedding ring
42. Do you have chores at home you are responsible for? Another funny question…
43. If you were called on to serve a mission where would you least like to serve? Somewhere where people hugging and touching and kissing each other on the cheek is not a part of tradition or custom…
44. If you were called on to serve a mission where would you most like to serve? Somewhere not too hot but not too cold…
45. What age do you consider old? Maybe 80
46. Which birthday are you most looking forward to and why? At this age?!
47. Do you prefer pens or pencils? Pens
48. Do you like your handwriting? Yes
49. Were you named after anyone? Named after the book Christy
50. When did you last visit the zoo? October
51. Have you ever stayed on a farm? Yes
52. Have you ever been horseback riding? Yes
53. Have you ever been water skiing? No
54. What do you most like to do in the snow? Get out of it
55. What is your favorite all-time movie? the Blind Side
56. Can you change a tire? No
57. Is your room more clean or more messy? Perfectly clean
58. Do you prefer a bath or a shower? Shower
59. What do you prefer to drink with your morning meal? Vodka
60. If you had to be stranded on a deserted island with one person who would you want that one person to be? Brad Paisley
61. Which animal would you most like for your pet? Reptar
62. Do you like sweet treats or salty treats? Both
63. Have you ever sung in the shower? No…I hate to sing…
64. Do you find it easy to save money? Not with three daughters in college
65. Do you get an allowance? Whatever Kurt wins from his fishing tournaments
66. Do you have more friends that are boys or girls? Most are men and women of legal drinking age…except for Emily
67. Which do you prefer you had – straight or curly hair? Washed and combed
68. What color eyes do you most like? Green
69. Do you prefer colored or white socks? With what else?!
70. What would you say is your normal exercise routine? Rolling out of bed…
71. Have you ever had acrylic nails? Yes…they would get caught between the keys of my piano and fly across the room…
72. Have you ever colored your hair? Would I ever admit it…
73. What do you do when something funny happens? Pee my pants
74. mountains in a very, very long time…
How do you earn money? Play piano for dead people
75. Do you like to dance? Nope…
76. Are you on any teams or in any clubs in your school? If so which ones? I would love to go back to school…maybe I could be on the badminton team…
77. Where do you keep your spending money? starbucks
78. Do you save trinkets and mementos? Not on purpose
79. Did you have a favorite toy as a child? Yes…wanna know what it was…
80. Do you share a bedroom? Yeah…most married people do that…
81. Do you like drinking from the cup or a straw? Depends on where that cup came from…
82. Do you like ice in your cold beverages? Yes…unless it’s a beer…
83. What is your favorite sandwich? Reuben
84. Do you carry floss in your purse? I don’t even carry a purse…
85. Where is the fartherest you have ever traveled? By car or boat or plane…probably Frankfurt, Germany to Atlanta
86. Do you have family members who live in another country? If so, which family members and where do they live. No..in the country, yes…in another country, no…
87. Which family member do you most resemble? Probably my Dad
88. Which family member are you more like? Probably my Dad
89. What is the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you? Life in general
90. Do you live in a house, trailer or apartment, etc.? House
91. Have you ever won anything? If so, what did you win? Yes…won $100 playing Bingo at my dad’s Christmas party when I was three…
92. Do you prefer fresh air or air conditioned air? What’s the difference?
93. Do you prefer mountainous or flat regions? Haven’t seen
94. What is your favorite reading material? Facebook
95. Name all of the pets you have ever had? Tramp, Chloe, Sheldon, max
96. Do you mow the lawn at your residence? You have got to be kidding!!!
97. Have you ever been in a musical drama or play? If so, what was it? No…I’m usually behind the piano…
98. Have you ever visited a planetarium? if so, where? No…
99. What is your favorite childhood memory? Just being a “lucky bum” in general
100. Do you usually buy or carry your lunch when at school? Don’t go to school…I dropped out..,
101. What is your favorite fruit? Strawberry Ice Cream
102. What color of clothing do you most like to wear? Black
103. What is your favorite cereal? Frosted Shredded Mini-Wheats
104. What is your favorite breakfast? Cinnamon rolls
105. Who do you spend more time with? My “significant other”
106. What is the longest car trip you have ever taken? Columbia, South Carolina to dfw
107. Do you know how to iron your clothes? No
108. Can you sew a button on your clothing? No…well, yeah…but usually just shove that article of clothing into the closet and find something else
109. Have you ever cut your own hair? No
110. Are you creative in any way? If so, which way(s)? No
When I first heard of bergamot essential oil and found out that it was a citrus fruit, my initial reaction was, “Gee, I’ve never heard of that before. Let’s go to Sprouts and go buy some bergamot oranges.”
But nestled among all the other citrus fruits, there was no sign of the bergamot orange.
Perhaps because the bergamot orange itself is inedible? Kinda like the penguin who can’t fly in the bird world, right?!
Anyway, bergamot essential oil is extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a fragrant citrus fruit that is the size of an orange and has a taste that is much sweeter than your typical lemon.
The bergamot orange is the most delicate of the citrus plants, requiring the special climate and soil found mainly in the Mediterranean. For this reason, most of the oranges used to make bergamot essential oil will have been harvested from trees located in the Ionian Sea coastal areas of the province of Reggio di Calabria in the southern part of Italy. Considering that the production of three ounces of bergamot oil requires one hundred bergamot oranges, there must be too many trees there to count(?!)…
If you’re like me, you’ve been enjoying the benefits and taste of bergamot for years without even realizing it. This is because an essence from the skin of the bergamot orange is extracted and used to give Earl Grey tea its distinctively citrus aroma and flavor.
And even though the bergamot orange is supposedly inedible, the bergamot orange is still used in Italian cooking to make Turkish delight and marmalade such as this recipe from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders.
As far as essential oils are concerned, bergamot has a very strong, very sweet citrus-based scent with a hint of florals and a strange spiciness. It is considered to be uplifting and relaxing, and blends particularly well with sandalwood, jasmine, and rosemary.
As far as the best uses for bergamot essential uses, here are a few of the best reasons to open the bottle…(no, not that bottle of whiskey or gin…the bottle of essential oil that you only spent how much for(?!))…
1. Aches and Pains...Bergamot essential oil stimulates the secretion of certain hormones which lessen the sensitivity of nerves to pain and help reduce the feeling of pain in the body. This makes bergamot essential oil an excellent choice for using topically when you are seeking quick relief from muscle cramps and headaches.
2. Anxiety…Bergamot stimulates the activity of certain hormones in the body, like dopamine and serotonin, and improves blood circulation. This makes bergamot essential oil a good choice when you are looking for an essential oil that will help the most in relieving stress and anxiety, and soothing frazzled nerves…and helping to treat stress-associated ailments such as high blood pressure, insomnia, and depression.
3. Cardiovascular Disease…The iconic coast of Italy in the Calabria region, where the bergamot orange is grown, is an area where people have experienced low incidents of cardiovascular diseases for generations. The soil in the region supposedly has some secret “fountain on youth” potion that results in the fruits and vegetables having been grown there, such as the bergamot orange, positively affecting your cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, HDL and blood glucose level.
4. Deodorants…The refreshing aroma and natural cleansing/disinfectant properties of bergamot oil make this an excellent choice whenever you are considering which essential oil to be used in deodorant or household cleaners and air fresheners.
5. Digestive System…According to traditional Chinese medicine, bergamot essential oil is the best treatment for keeping your your digestive system work properly. So if you’re needing anything pertaining to your digestive system and pooping mechanisms—indigestion, gas, constipation—this is probably the essential oil of choice.
6. Respiratory…Bergamot essential oil is one of the best essential oils for anyone suffering from respiratory problems or asthma…
Honestly, this is the one essential oil that I made a special trip to Whole Foods to buy as soon as we completed last month’s journey to Cook’s Children’s Hospital after the “resident four year old” had an asthma attack.
Much rather breathe in bergamot and cough up that phlegm and mucus, than breathe in a deep sigh of relief when you finally leave the pediatric ward and have to cough up enough to pay for an ambulance ride and two night vacation with room service.
Might be using bergamot in my diffuser for a long, long while now…
7. Skincare…Bergamot is used extensively in such cosmetic and skincare products as creams, lotions, shampoos, soaps, cleansers, and perfume. In fact, about one-third of all men’s and about half of women’s perfumes contain bergamot essential oil.
One main reason that bergamot is used in these products is its ability to help more evenly distribute pigments and melanin when used to help heal marks on the skin, such as wounds and scars and acne. Using bergamot topically to treat such marks allows these marks to gradually fade away into a more even, attractive skin tone instead of leaving noticeable scars on the affected areas for many years.
Also, bergamot acts as an antiseptic agent that allows for fast healing of not only wounds as previously mentioned, but also helps heal cracked heels, ulcers, and eczema.
Bergamot Rollerball Stress Mess…Combine 3 drops grapefruit essential oil, 2 drops frankincense essential oil, and 2 drops bergamot essential oil in a dark rollerball bottle. Fill remainder of bottle with a light carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil. Apply to pulse points as needed. Store in a cool, dark place.
When I first started using essential oils, I felt overwhelmed by the selections and how little I knew. Which one should I choose, and why? Almost like being a kid in a candy store.
But as I have started reading and studying more about living a healthier lifestyle and beginning new habits, I have also learned more about which essential oils work best for what the problem is.
For example, these are the best essential oils for helping to cure insomnia that are out there…but instead of going into depth about each one of these in this post, I have decided to choose one oil per month, and detail more and more reasons and ways to use that particular essential oil that particular month…
For example, the Essential Oil of the Month is bergamot (see next post…oh wait, you can’t…because at this point I haven’t finished writing it)…
Anyway, here are the best options as far as essential oils to help you sleep…
1. Bergamot…Bergamot essential oil is a cold-pressed essential oil that is produced by cells inside the rind and peel of a bergamot orange, a citrus fruit that has been used as a fragrance ingredient since around the year 1714. It takes about one hundred bergamot oranges to yield three ounces of bergamot oil.
Bergamot essential oil smells like a sweet light orange peel oil with a floral note and has a bright, yet calming and relaxing, effect. Bergamot essential oil is used to give Earl Grey tea its flavor, to calm anxious feelings, and to reduce both the heart rate and blood pressure.
2. Cedarwood…Cedarwood essential oil is an essential oil that is produced from the foliage of various types of pine and cypress trees. The oil has an earthy, woodsy smell and supports healthy function of the pineal gland, which releases melatonin, the body’s natural sleepy hormone.
3. Frankincense…Frankincense essential oil is a steam-distilled essential oil obtained from the tree resin of four main species of trees from the Boswellia genus. Frankincense essential oil has an earthy, balsamic fragrance and is perfect for balancing emotions, supporting healthy sleep, calming your mind and supporting your body’s natural response to healing.
4. Juniper Berry…Juniper Berry essential oil is a steam-distilled essential oil that has a calming, grounding effect and an earthy, woodsy smell. The oil is extracted from the leaves and twigs of about fifty different species of junipers plant, a member of the cypress family that can grow anywhere within the Northern Hemisphere, all the way from the Arctic down towards tropical Africa, Pakistan, and the mountains of Central America. Most of the juniper berry essential oil that we use here in America has been harvested from juniper plants found in middle Tennessee, northern Alabama, and southern Kentucky.
5. Lavender…Lavender essential oil is a steam-distilled essential oil that is obtained from the flower spikes of certain species of the lavender plant, a member of the mint family. Lavender essential oil has a relaxing and calming effect…and is used to reduce heart rate and blood pressure, help reduce feelings of tension, and calm emotions.
Most of us are already familiar with the lavender plant because the plant has been used as ornamental plants in garden and landscaping, as a culinary herb, and was one of the common colors in that magical 64-count box of Crayola crayons…the bo that had the sharpener on the back of the box…and that every kid in the classroom envied unless they had one themselves.
6. Marjoram…Marjoram essential oil is steam-distilled from from the flowering leaves and tops of the marjoram plant, a somewhat cold-sensitive perennial herb or undershrub, that was referred to by the Romans as the “herb of happiness” and to the Greeks as the “joy of the mountains.”
The leaves have a unique mixture of sweet “pine” and citrus flavor. Most of us have had a marjoram spice container at least once in our spice cabinet of marjoram. If not an actual jar of marjoram by itself, perhaps a spice blend containing marjoram, such as herbes de Provence and za’atar…(I probably still have all three of these spices in the same container from back when I purchased thirty-one years ago when I first got married….let me go see)…
Anyway, marjoram essential oil is wonderful for muscles and joints, but it also excels in creating peaceful sleep and calming frazzled nerves.
7. Roman Chamomile…Roman Chamomile essential oil has a calming, soothing, and relaxing effect and is perfect for helping to get rid of restlessness and anxious feelings.
The Roman chamomile plant is a low perennial plant found in dry fields, gardens, and cultivated grounds in Europe, North America, and in Argentina…and is used for making foods, herbal teas, perfumes, and cosmetics.
8. Sandalwood...Sandalwood essential oil is a steam-distilled oil extracted from chips and billets cut from the heartwood of various species of sandalwood trees. Sandalwoods belong to the same botanical family as European mistletoe and can befound in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, Indonesia, Hawaii, and other Pacific Islands. Sandalwood is the second most expensive wood in the world, after African blackwood.
Sandalwood has a distinctive rich, woodsy smell that has been highly valued for centuries as an ingredient in perfumes, cosmetics.
9. Vetiver…Vetiver essential oil is distilled from the roots of a type of grass that is widely cultivated in tropical regions such as Haiti, India, and Indonesia. Vetiver has a psychologically grounding, calming and stabilizing effect and a rich and earthy smell.
10. Ylang Ylang…Ylang ylang essential oil is extracted from the flowers of a ylang-ylang tree that is native in the rainforest habitats of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. Ylang-ylang is also widely used in oriental- or floral-themed perfumes such as Chanel No. 5…and is also believed to relieve high blood pressure, to help with skin problems, and to be an aphrodisiac. In fact, in Indonesia, ylang-ylang flowers are spread on the bed of newlywed couples.
Another option for using your essential oils is topically.
There are times when deciding whether to use your oils aromatically or topically seems like perfectly good common sense.Applying oils topically simply works better for certain circumstances, such as when using them for aches, pain, sore muscles, and injuries.
Then there are other times when how to best use your oils isn’t so obvious…such as when using essential oils for such issues as sleep, anxiety and lack of energy.
But how can I be sure that I am using my essential oils the “best” way possible?
The decision between using the diffuser to use the oils aromatically or applying the oil topically basically depends on whether or not you need the effects to benefit your entire body, or just one centralized area.
If you need the benefits throughout, it is best to use the diffuser because this delivers a quick dose of “good stuff” into the bloodstream. This usually works best when dealing with emotional, neurological, and respiratory issues.
If you need the benefits to focus on one particular area, it is best to apply topically. Substances that are applied topically to the skin slowly permeate and are absorbed through the skin, eventually entering into the bloodstream.
For example, people suffering from problems sleeping benefit from using oils topically because studies have shown that the chemical components of lavender essential oil enter the bloodstream within five minutes of massaging the lavender essential oil onto the skin.
How do I use essential oils topically?
To use essential oils topically, start with only one or two drops of the essential oil. This should be all that you usually need because only a little bit of essential oil can go a very, very long way.
Sounds way too simple, right?!
Well, actually it is…and here’s why…
Before applying the essential oil to your skin, you will most likely need to dilute the essential oil with a “carrier oil.” (Examples of carrier oils that can be used to dilute essential oils include olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, and avocado oil.)
“Most likely”…gee, that tells me a whole lot, right?
There are several types of essential oils on the market today that may or may not require diluting the oil with a carrier oil first. But the instructions on the essential oil itself will be the best place to figure out if and how the oil needs to be diluted.
But a few classifications of essential oils that you might want to keep in mind are…
Neat Oils…This may depend on the essential oil itself as to whether or not you need to dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil first. There is a category of oils classified as “neat” oils that do not require diluting with a carrier oil before each use. These include…
Hot Oils…Then there are other essential oils that are high in phenols and must ALWAYS be diluted with a carrier oil before being used topically. These include cassia, cinnamon, clove, oregano, lemongrass, bergamot, and thyme.
Sensitive Oils…“Sensitive” oils are those that do not require dilution before use topically, but should be diluted before use on young or sensitive skin. These include black pepper, eucalyptus, ginger, and peppermint.
Photosensitive Oils…“Photosensitive” oils contain furocoumarins, a type of extremely photosensitive compounds that may cause a rash or darkened skin if used before exposure to sunlight, sunlamps, or other sources of UV light. Such types of light should be avoided for up to twelve hours after using these oils topically. These “photosensitive” oils are typically citrus oils such as angelica, bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, orange, and tangerine.
Diluting your essential oils does not make the essential oil less effective, but actually offers many benefits that can make the essential oil work even better. These benefits include helping to “carry” the essential oil onto the skin, preventing particular oils from feeling too warm on the skin, keeping the essential oil from evaporating too quickly, increasing the surface area that your essential oil can cover at one time, enhancing absorption through dry skin, and preventing “sensitivity responses.”
Sensitivity Responses? Gee, made the skeptic in me wonder if essential oils are even worth the effort when I first read about “sensitivity responses”…
The truth is that just like almost anything else that you could possibly use on your skin, there is a chance—ever so slight—that a given essential oil could cause a reaction or “sensitivity response” for some individuals.
You can avoid such reactions by applying a small amount of essential oil to an ” inconspicuous” area and checking regularly to make sure that no reaction takes place before using it many more places also.
It is also a good idea to keep track of what oils you use, amounts used, where you apply, your thoughts and impressions on that particular oil, and any reactions that you do experience. Also try only one new essential oil at a time.
Another good idea would be to go ahead and mix your essential oil and your carrier oil together, and then store in a used or empty essential oil bottle or roller bottle so that you won’t have to dilute the oil every single time that you want to use it.
Finally, be aware of the importance of purchasing and using only quality essential oils from reputable sources. Do not assume anything about the purity, the efficacy, or the reliability of the essential oil.
Because many manufacturers have been reported as actually mixing essential oils with synthetic materials or other unknown ingredients to help stretch the oils and reduce costs, you need to be confident that you are actually getting the product that you are paying for. (no, this is not a plug for a future offer…just a fact…don’t worry)…
Essential oils should not have an expiration date. If there actually is a date on the bottle, this probably means that the oil contains additives and might not be from a good source.
Where do I apply the oil?
The soles of your feethave large pores that rapidly absorb essential oils and are not very sensitive, so this is a very good, safe place to start using essential oils topically. Simply and massage in two to four drops of your essential oil.
Other places where insomniacs and people who can’t sleep and people who are stressed out and so forth might want to try applying oils for help in dealing with stress and anxiety include across the forehead, behind the ears, the temples, the tops of your shoulders, and your wrists.
Good options of essential oils for this would be frankincense, lavender, peppermint, and cedarwood. (Just wait, my next post is about which essential oils are best for sleeplessness.)…