Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What’s Next?

When I started this blog, I had no intention of turning this into yet another food blog. There are enough of those out there already.

Instead I wanted to talk about my journey to take our family to a more minimalistic and healthier lifestyle, especially since my husband was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Some of the topics that I have learned more about so far in this journey have included…

  • How to deal with insomnia
  • Which cruelty-free products in my daily so-called “beauty” routine
  • What clothes to include as you switch to a minimalistic capsule wardrobe
  • How to read nutritional labels
  • What foods you can eat on a Raw Foods Pyramid

Even so, changing our lifestyle from the typical “Deep South” menu where everything is deep-fried or has lots and lots of cheese and heavy cream on it has taken priority right now.

So in these next few posts I’m going to be looking at the next rung of the Raw Foods Pyramid…

Leafy Greens…

Growing up in the Deep South, I never thought that I would actually enjoy eating, much less, cooking…things like turnip greens or collard greens. But now I actually enjoy eating them…especially when they’re served with lots and lots of bacon.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that adults consume at least three cups of dark green vegetables each week.

Thankfully, there are several varieties of leafy greens out there…I find the idea of eating three cups of mustard greens or collard greens still repulsive, but my Mom would be so glad that I actually do eat them now instead of feeding to the dog while she wasn’t looking.

So which ones should you choose and how do you use these before they sit too long in your food rotter, if you’re anything like me…

All leafy are packed with important and powerful nutrients, and most can also be found year round. This makes adding them to your menu for the week quite an easy task.

As far as nutritional value, all leafy greens are typically low in calories and fat….and high in protein per calorie, dietary fiber, vitamin C, pro-vitamin A carotenoids, folate, manganese and vitamin K.

Studies have shown that eating leafy greens may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by 14 percent, a fact that I wish that I’d known when I first got married 32 years ago. Leafy greens have also been shown to improve your eyesight, bone health and skin elasticity while helping your blood to clot normally.

And even better, there are so many more varieties that can keep you from feeling like you are simply eating the required bowl of bagged salad every single night, night after night…

Some options that we will be taking a look at are…

  • Arugula
  • Beet Greens
  • Bok Choy
  • Boston (Butterhead)
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Collard Greens
  • Edible Green Leaves
  • Endive
  • Iceberg
  • Kale
  • Microgreens
  • Mustard Greens
  • Rapini (Broccoli Rabe)
  • Romaine
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnip Greens
  • Watercress

 

Advertisements
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What’s In My…School Backpack of Our “Resident Four Year Old”

Today the “resident four year old” starts pre-k for the fall…a moment that any fifty year old chasing a four year old 24/7 looks forward to all summer long.

I imagine that I will drop him off and then come home and sleep until it’s time to pick him back up…I’ll let you know…

So even though he’s only in pre-K and doesn’t need too many things to take with him to school other than his lunch, a stuffed animal, and a nap-pad…(oh year, teachers…good luck getting him to take a nap)…this made me think about upgrading out school and office supplies to more environmentally friendly options.

Even school and office supplies can be unfriendly to the environment, as well as toxic…

A few of the toxic chemicals that are sometimes included in school and office supplies include…

  • asbestos (a known carcinogen) in crayons
  • benzene (a probable carcinogen) in dry-erase markers
  • lead (a neurotoxin) in children’s water bottles
  • phthalates (linked to hormone and developmental problems) in 3-ring binders

Not only that many of the companies that make school and office supplies are not cruelty-free.

So it’s important to think about things like that instead of simpy running to Dollar General and buying the cheapest items so that you can cross them off that dreaded back-to-school school supply shopping list this year…

A few trains of thought as far as shopping for school and supplies include…

1.Backpacks…As far as backpacks are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose natural materials, such as cotton or hemp. Never choose PVC plastic at all costs.

2.  Crayons and Markers…As far as crayons are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose crayons that are composed from beeswax and soy products. Always avoid cheap crayons which may be laced with asbestos.

3. Lunch Boxes…As far as lunch boxes are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose reusable and durable, PVC-free lunch bags and lunch boxes that will last more than one season. Another great options, especially for adults, would be stainless steels. But whatever you do, avoid using plastic baggies and plastic wrap. Invest in a stainless steel water bottle….(I will look at a few more great options as well as ideas as to what to put in your lunch boxes in a future post).

4. Markers…As far as markers are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose water based markers. Many permanent markers contains chemicals such as xylene, toluene, and other VOCs…which stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, my “one new thing learned at school today” for today.

5. Paper…As far as loose-leaf paper, notebooks, and binders are concerned, the main train of thought should be to shop for items made with recycled paper, and binders that either do not have a plastic cover or are clearly labeled PVC-free.

6. Pencils and Pens…As far as pencils and pens are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose pencils that are made from recycled materials or wood from sustainably managed forest…and pens made from recycled plastic.

Thankfully there are sources for better school and office supplies that you would typically find at the local dollar store…sure, they may be more expensive…and honestly, these options might not be way more expensive…but depending on how committed you are or are not about the above concerns in all areas of your family’s life, you may want to get out your debit card so that you can buy some really cool new gadgets for the new school year.

Finally, some really great places online to shop or at least browse at these other options include…

Beginning with Breakfast, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Yes, Actually You CAN Take It With You

Now that we’ve established the fact that all of us should be drinking more water and talked about a few ways to make drinking water more of a habit, let’s look at a few of the things that will make this goal easier to achieve.

Sure, you could simply buy bottled water, more on which kinds of bottled water to buy later, but having a portable water bottle that you can carry with you everywhere you go is a much smarter option. In fact, using reusable water bottles…

  • does not create the litter that typical water bottles do. More than thirty billion water bottles are consumed every year…and most of those empty bottles end up eventually stockpiled in landfills.
  • saves you money. Tap water costs 240 to 10,000 times less than bottles water. Last year, people dumped thirty-eight billion water bottles into landfills worldwide.
  • is environmental-friendly. Bottled water production consumes over one thousand times more energy than tap water.
  • saves water. Producing one liter of bottled water actually requires three liters of ordinary municipal water.
  • makes you a smarter consumer…ordinary tap water and then making the consumer think that they are getting some super-water with extraordinary powers to cure what ails you. Wrong!!! Shockingly, 24% of bottle water is actually just repackaged tap water.

Seems like such an easy option, until you start looking at the different options available.

So how do you know which water bottle to choose?

By thinking about the different types and features of reusable water bottles so that you can make a good decision once you get to the store.

 

Materials…The first factor to consider when choosing the perfect water bottle in what the bottle is made from. Water bottles can be found in many different materials—including aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, polyethylene, and copolyester.

 

1.Plastic…The first material that portable water bottles can be made from, and the first material that comes to most of us when we think of them, is plastic. Benefits of using plastic bottles include…

  • affordable
    can repeatedly drop one without worrying about breaking or shattering it
    can take just about whatever abuse you give them
    easy to tote around
    incredibly durable
    lightweight
    readily available
    travel

Brands To Consider

  • Fit & Fresh
  • GOBIEH20
  • Nalgene

 

2. Metal…Metal options include stainless steel and aluminum, and are ideal for those who are tough on their water bottles. Benefits of using metal water bottles include…
  • doesn’t retain smells and tastes
  • double-wall construction that gives them outstanding insulating properties
  • keeps water cool for an extended period of time
  • keeps water fresh tasting, but some absorb heat and make the water warm
  • provides better insulation than plastics
  • very durable

Brands To Consider

    • Earth Lust
    • Hydro Flask
    • Klean Kanteen

 

3. Glass Bottles…A third option for water bottles is glass. Benefits of using glass reusable water bottles include being totally recyclable. Brands of reusable glass bottles include…

  • bottlesUP
  • Life Factory
  • Love Bottle
  • Takeya

In addition to first choosing which material you would like your water bottle to be, there are other questions that you should ask yourself, including…

Easy to Carry

  • Does the water bottle have a belt holster that can hold your water bottle if you participate in activities where you need to be hands-free or if you just get tired of carrying a water bottle?
  • Will the bottle be easy to carry?

 

Easy to Clean

  • Is it dishwasher-safe? Can washing the bottle in the dishwasher actualy clean the inside thoroughly or does it have to be hand washed?
  • If you will have to wash the bottle by hand, is the opening wide enough to get a bottle brush inside them in order to clean it?

 

Opening…In addition to checking the neck of the bottle to make sure that it will be easy to clean, ask yourself if the mouth of the bottle will be easy to fill with ice cubes and water…

 

Drinking Valve…

  • Does the valve lock securely enough to prevent the bottle from leaking?
  • Is the valve wide enough to provide optimal flow?
  • Does the water bottles come with a push-pull valve or a bite valves?
  • Which type of valve do you prefer?
  • Insulators
  • – Some water bottles come with sleeves that help keep your drink warm or cold. This comes in handy depending on your walking or hiking weather conditions. A nice, cold drink is a definite plus on a hot, summer day.

 

Size

  • How many ounces will the bottle hold?
  • How many ounces does your ideal bottle need to hold?
  • Will you have a source of water nearby, such as a water fountain, to use if and when you need to refill the bottle?
  • Will the bottle fit in the cup holders in your car?

 

 

Filter

  • Does the bottle have an in-bottle filtration system that will allow you to refill the bottle from any faucet or other source and be certain that your water will be clean and tasty?
  • Does this water filter make the bottle too heavy to be usable?
  • How easy is it to replace the filter?

 

 

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Now What?!

IMG_4473-1

Okay, I have ADHD…I keep getting off track from my original plans and ideas…Happens all the time…Welcome to my world!!!

Anyway, my original plan in writing this blog was to talk about the changes that I am making in each step of my day to live a more minimalistic, simpler, and healthier lifestyle.

The first topic that I highlighted was Taking the Perfect Shower. Taking the perfect shower or bath is important because that is one of the best ways to prepare for a “good” night’s sleep, get rid of any “bad” moments of the day that you just went through, and help you from being stinky and “ugly.”

The next topic that I highlighted was Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. So many of suffer from insomnia and have bad nighttime habits—such as staying up way past midnight and midnight munching. Yet a good night’s sleep is important because…

From there I moved into the topic of the Raw Foods Diet and why it is important to stop eating processed foods and to start eating healthier in general. That is where I feel like I got sidetracked.

We all get the point. In order to improve our health and get more energy to chase a “resident four year” old, there are certain things that we must do—such as cut processed foods out of our diets and replace sugar with healthier substitutes.

But how do these facts affect our daily lives? Sometimes too much information can be overload. So instead of remaining on my textbook-like journey, I’d like to pause my “What Next” segment on the Raw Foods Diet…or at least not necessarily pause it, but to break this segment into four different “What Next” segments…

  • What’s for Breakfast?
  • What’s for Lunch?
  • What’s for Dinner?
  • I’m Still Hungry!!!

So let’s start with “What’s for Breakfast?”…

Why do we even need to eat breakfast in the first place? Won’t skipping breakfast allow me to hit the snooze button on my alarm clock enough times to get some more rest that I won’t need breakfast at all.

Wrong!

There are so, so, so many reasons that we should all be eating breakfast, but instead of dwelling on these reasons in order to avoid starting to sound too much like a textbook again, let’s look simply at what we should be eating and accept the fact that we should be eating in the first place.

So what should we be eating for breakfast?

This is the second step in my creating a Master Grocery List for my family. The first list of foods that I should keep on hand can be found on my Midnight Snacking post about what to eat before bed in order to help you sleep. 

Now let’s add to this Master Grocery List by focusing on what we should actually be eating for breakfast.

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Cedarwood Essential Oil—The What?!

Cedarwood essential oil is extracted from the wood pieces of a cedar tree, including any recycled and repurposed wood chips.

Cedarwood essential oils can be derived from several types of tree.

Typically, there are four major species of cedarwood used in the production of cedarwood essential oils. These evergreen conifers include…

    • Atlas
    • Himalayan
    • Texas
    • Virginia

The essential oil is created by the process of steam distillation.

As far as aroma, cedarwood has a warm, woodsy aroma that is comforting and reassuring. The oil is often used to add a warm tone to perfumes and oil mixtures.

As far as blending, cedarwood oil blends well with the following oils…

 

  • Benzoin
  • Bergamot
  • Cinnamon
  • Cypress
  • Frankincense
  • Jasmine
  • Juniper
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Neroli
  • Patchouli
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Ravensara
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood
  • Thyme
  • Vetiver

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Essential Essential Oil Essentials

Way back in March, I had decided to choose one essential oil per month and discover just exactly what this particular oil is, what it’s used for, and so forth.

Well, this hasn’t happened…

So my goal in these next few posts is to catch up on these oils so that I can hopefully stick with my original goal of highlighting one essential oil per month.

Having written this blog for a short while, it seems like the “Muffins and Magnolias” mission has become…

—to begin living a healthier lifestyle and develop new habits that will simplify and improve your quality of life every single day.

I really believe that this is important, and that everyone—or at least almost everyone—wants to accomplish and learn about how to do this.

I also believe that developing the habit of using the right essential oils for the right purpose can be an important part of achieving this goal.

We began our venture into the world of essential oils with a list of the best essential oils for helping to cure insomnia. These essential oils are…

  1. Bergamot
  2. Cedarwood
  3. Frankincense
  4. Juniper Berry
  5. Lavender
  6. Marjoram
  7. Roman Chamomile
  8. Sandalwood
  9. Vetiver
  10. Ylang Ylang

This last series of posts about sugar substitutes and processed foods is starting to become to academic and serious…I need to take a short break from this topic myself, especially today while I will be preparing desserts for our 4th of July cookout tomorrow, right?!

So join me as we catch up on these essential oils that should have been included in posts from the last four months–cedarwood, frankincense, juniper berry, and lavender…and don’t feel guilty about eating that entire gallon of Blue Bell all by self tomorrow…I won’t…

 

Getting Healthy, Instruments, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Coconut Sugar

Okay, so now that I’ve started shopping at stores like Sprouts and Whole Foods, I think that I’ve seen every product imaginable made from coconut and learned several really good reasons to keep a good supply of castile soap and coconut oil on hand, so why does it surprise me that the almighty coconut can also be used as a sugar substitute.

Coconut sugar, made by drying out the sugary sap of coconut trees, has been used for centuries in many countries, including Indonesia and Cambodia.

This syrupy liquid has a taste much like brown sugar…and though coconut sugar

may often be more expensive than regular granulated sugar, coconut sugar is a much better option than many other sweeteners currently found on the market.

Coconut juice, which is where a lot of coconut sugar comes from, is full of potassium, electrolytes and nutrients…coconut sugar has many benefits that you will not find in regular table sugar, it may require large amounts to really make a positive affect.

Like plain white sugar, coconut sugar contains vitamins, minerals, trace elements—such as iron, zinc, calcium, potassium—as well as short-chain fatty acids, polyphenols, antioxidants, and phytonutrients—such as polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyanidins—that help reduce blood sugar, inflammation, and cholesterol.

Coconut sugar also contains about twice as much iron and zinc as the same amount of granulated table sugar…as well as 25% DV of potassium per four ounces…(okay, when you sit down to eat 1/2C of coconut sugar at one sitting, please call me…right?!)

Another reason that coconut sugar is better for diabetics than regular table sugar is the fact that it contains inulin, a fiber that helps slow glucose absorption and keep glucose levels in check.

Just like coconut oil and coconut water, coconut sugar is becoming a very popular item at health food stores across America. Coconut sugar is being used to sweeten everything from coffee and tea…to cookies, cakes, and pies.

The American Diabetes Association states that even though coconut sugar is a great alternative sweetener for those with diabetes to use, coconut sugar has the same calories as regular sugar and should be used in moderation.

When shopping for coconut sugar, remember that many products that are available on the shelf combine both regular sugar and coconhttps://www.texanerin.com/perfect-paleo-chocolate-chip-cookies/ut sugar…so remember to take time to check the label before tossing the coconut sugar into your cart. Avoid these brands.

Also take the time to look for organic coconut sugar that is unrefined, vegan, non-GMO.

So  I AM adding coconut sugar to my routine grocery list or tossing it out the window as another “What Not to Eat Now That You’re a Diabetic” item?

As far as the following Chocolate Chip Cookies made from coconut sugar, not sure if they’re really healthy or not…

But they taste great!!!

 

Heading Off to Work, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Be Committed

IMG_4860-1

Be diligent about starting your new habit…Make a point of adding this new habit—whether it be exercising, eating better, or writing or whatever else it may be, for just one day at a time, even if only for a little bit of time.

 

Eventually you’ll find yourself not even thinking about that new, or old, habit…and actually miss doing this on the days when you don’t.

 

 

In my attempt to include writing as part of my daily routine, it was first of all…to state the obvious…important that I actually did write!!!

 

And along my journey this year to adopt writing as a part of my daily routine, I have found the following resources that have hopefully helped me improve my writing skills, think more clearly, and be more organized altogether.

Some of these websites that have helped me along my journey this last year as a writer have included…

1. 750 Words The primary goal of this website is to get writers into the daily habit of writing.every day. This site gives writers the opportunity to write Morning Pages, three pages of writing done every day about anything and everything that pops into mind. ..a concept that originated with the book The Artist’s Way, first published in…

Writing Morning Pages helps clear your mind and gets the ideas flowing for the rest of the day.

According to the website, the standard accepted number of words per page is 250 words…making three pages about 750 words.

This site tracks your word count at all times, lets you know when you’ve passed the 750 mar, awards points based on your writing, allows you to compare your points with the other 300,000-plus members, and gives you an analysis of the feelings, themes, and mindset of your words each day.


2. The Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) was founded in 1967 as a nonprofit organization created to advance the art of writing as essential to a good education, encourage and advocate for new writing programs, and provide publishing opportunities for young writers.

Their website includes an extensive database of literary programs, grants, awards, contests, publication opportunities, and conferences throughout North America.

The AWP Conference and Bookfair is the largest literary conference in North America and features over 2,000 presenters and 550 presentations, readings, lectures, panel discussions, book signings, and receptions. Each year conference attracts more than 12,000 attendee and 800 exhibitors.

The first conference was held in 1973 at the Library of Congress, with help from the National Endowment for the Arts. The next conference will be held in Washington, D.C. from February 8–11, 2017.

The Writer’s Chronicle, a magazine published six times a year, has been an important asset to writers for the last forty years. The magazine features in-depth essays on the craft of writing; a listing of grants, awards, publication opportunities available to writers; a list of upcoming conferences for writers; exclusive interviews with accomplished authors, and news on publishing trends.

Each year AWP sponsors six contests…

  1. AWP Award Series, an annual competition for the publication of excellent new book-length works.
  2. Donald Hall Prize for Poetry is an award of $5,500 and publication.
  3. The Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction
  4. The AWP Prize for Creative Nonfiction
  5. The AWP Prize for the Novels
  6.  The AWP George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature


3.  The Authors’ Nook is a blog written by Ben Schmitt—a blogger, copywriter, and screenwriter—that offers great writing advice with a dose of humour.


4.  Backspace is an online writers organization with over 1,800 members, including several dozen New York Times bestselling authors,cthat seeks to help writers help other writers through discussion forums, an online guest speaker program, question and answer sessions, articles from publishing experts, and actual conferences and events. Backspace was included in Writer’s Digest Magazine’s ‘101 Best Websites for Writers’ list from 2005 to 2012.


5.  The Blog Starter is a website run by Scott Chow that shares his knowledge from twenty years of experience starting blogs and websites. his ambition is to show other people exactly how to start their own successful blogs.


6.  The Crafty Writer offers a free online, self-paced creative writing course that consists of eight sessions…

  • Releasing your Creativity
  • How to write a short story
  • Writing from a point of view (POV)
  • Bringing your writing to life
  • Writing characters
  • Writing dialogue
  • Poetry: how to write poems
  • Markets, competitions and opportunities


7.  Daily Writing Tips delivers a daily article to your inbox or RSS reader…about topics including grammar, spelling, punctuation, usage, and vocabulary..


8.  Grammarly is an online grammar and spelling checker that helps users find and correct writing mistakes.

Grammarly provides expert help and instant feedback on the accuracy, impact, and credibility of text that you copy and paste into their online text editor.
After checking for more than 250 types of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, Grammarly flags these errors, suggests corrections, and explains the reasoning behind each correction.

The Grammarly website also offers…

  • Access to the Grammarly Facebook community and Twitter accounts
  • Grammarly Answers, an online community for writers to ask and answer questions on English writing
  • Grammarly Handbook, an online guide explaining English grammar and style
  • Grammarly Words, an online dictionary-thesaurus hybrid
  • The Grammarly Blog full of fun grammar tips and discussions


9.  inkPageant is a database and search engine for blogs and blog posts related to writing. The site strives to help writers improve their writing skills and reach their goals…by gathering the stories of the experiences of other authors and advice given on their own blogs.

10.  Positive Writer encourages writers to stay positive during those days of writer’s block, self-doubt, rejection, waiting, and disappointment.

This award-winning, highly acclaimed website was created by Bryan Hutchinson—a writer whose work has been published in newspapers, national magazines, books, and on world famous blogs.

Articles can be found on this site that to encourage, inspire, motivate, and advise writers…such as this article,  39 Great Books on Writing.

Heading Off to Work

Now What?!…Figuring Out What IS Your “Now What?!”

(image)

Life is a journey with both valleys and mountains along the way.

Sometimes the top of the mountain seems so high that you simply want to give up altogether.

Sometimes you slip and fall, and may lose your grips.

Sometimes you may not feel like you have the strength and courage to get back up, dust yourself off, and continue on the journey.

 

But life is a always a journey, and only you can determine which direction and what distance you will travel.

 

Like any other journey, the journey of life begins with a single step…

And the first single step on your personal Pilgrim’s Progress is to establish goals…

After all…Those who fail to plan, plan to fail…and no one wants to fail, right?!

 

 

So why should establishing goals be the very first step along the journey…

  • 1. Goals allow you to see those people with common interests and dreams that are also starting along the same path as you, or are a little bit further ahead. Goals assure that everyone in your caravan is pulling in the same direction.
  • 2. Goals establish identity. Established goals allow you to decide how to distinguish yourself from other wolves in the pack and impact your positionwithin the group..
  • 3. Goals make it easier to plan ahead and start working on tasks that actually support your mission.
  • 4. Goals help you understand whether you aresuccessful or not. Having measurable goals allows you to see how far you have traveled already, how much further you have until you reach your destination, and if you are still on course.
  • 5. Goals improve productivity. Youknow what needs to be accomplished both in the present and in the future to reach these goals. You can now direct your actions and efforts toward goal-related activities…instead of unrelated, unimportant, non-strategic activities.
  • 6. Goals enable you to make smarter decisions. Having well-defined goals allows you confront the decisions you encounter along the way  with greater confidence and a greater chance of success. Goals give you a framework within which to work and eliminate uncertainty and actions that won’t contribute to achieving the goals you’ve set.
  • 7. Goals provide motivation. Looking at your endeavor from a broader perspective gives you greater confidence in what lies ahead. Goals that have already been achieved give you a reason to celebrate along the way.
  • 8.  Goals provide cohesion. Each wolf traveling along the same path towards the same destination understands the meaning behind the group’s activities. Having well-defined goals enables the wolves to be consistent and encourages communication and cooperation.
  • 9.  Goals provide direction and set the course. Carefully established goals help you clearly define and understand where you are and where you want to be…and that each activity or task works toward your established goals.
  • 10.  Goals provide focus. Goals enable you to understand how smaller decisions impact larger goals. Goals focus attention on achieving desirable big-picture outcomes and channel brain power toward finding smarter solutions to the “small fire” issues when they come your way.

 

Setting goals is simply SMART…

Many business schools and professionals use the acronym SMART as a guide to set company goals…

—S…Smart
—M…Measurable
—A…Attainable
—R…Realistic
—T…Timely

 

This acronym can be used for goals that we set individually also, so let’s take a closer look.

Specific
…Goals should always be stated in a way that can easily be understood….and should always be written down so that they become something tangible to focus on, evaluate, and refine on a regular basis. As you are establishing your “chosen frozen” goals, ask yourself…

  • What needs to be accomplished?
  • Why is reaching this goal important?
  • How can I spend my time in a way that is consistent with these goals?


Measurable…Goals should be stated in a way that can be easily measured….and shared with your support group, your significant other, or even your own mother. These people can walk along beside you on the journey, provide accountability, and encourage you to keep on going when you really feel like giving up. Ask yourself…

  • Can I track and measure at least one statistic related to this goal?
  • Can I easily evaluate my overall progress by knowing these numbers?
  • Will there be enough information to know if and/or when I should set new goals?


Attainable…”We can only climb the mountains because there’s a valley that makes the mountain a mountain.”

But if the top of the mountain is light years and light years away, then are you really being realistic…

Honestly evaluate where you currently are in order to establish a solid foundation before setting long-term and short-term goals. Ask yourself…

  • Are the goals that you set achievable, yet challenging?
  • Are you starting off with smaller targets and then challenging yourself as you have had more practice and time to get comfortable with the path?
  • Are the goals merely unattainable wishes?


Realistic…Goals must also be realistic and flexible, not carved in stone. Setting goals should not only be a one-time event done only when creating your business plan or settling on your life path. Life happens.

So take some time periodically to re-evaluate your goals, to see exactly how successful you’ve been at achieving them, and to ake any minor changes needed to redirect your efforts. Ask yourself…

  • What is the probability of ever reaching this goal?
  • Do I have the resources needed to actually reach these goals?
  • Are these goals actually goals or simply wishes?


Timely – Goals should be based on a timeline…Long-term goals should be substantially greater than short-term goals and can be charted for even five, ten, or twenty years away. Short-term goals are stepping stones towards achieving these long-term goals and should be attainable in a period of weeks to a year. Ask yourself…

  • Does your goal have a fixed time-frame?
  • When will you start working toward this goal?
  • When will you hope to have reached this goal?
  • How does this deadline influence your daily activities?

 

Another smart way to set goals and figure out “Now What” is to ask yourself the same questions that many of us learned to use back in high school English class when we were writing themes and stories, questions such as…

 

WHO

  • Who benefits the most from me achieving this goal?
  • Who can help me achieve it?
  • Who else believes in me and my ability to reach this goal?
  • Who else is or should be involved?
  • Who will support me?
  • Who won’t support me?

WHAT

  • What did I learn during this last year?
  • What do I need to learn this year?
  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • What excites me about the coming year?
  • What is hindering me from achieving my goals?
  • What is my biggest passion and dream in life?
  • What is my first step?
  • What one wildly bold goal would I like to accomplish that would truly inspire me to get up each morning?
  • What scares me about the coming year?
  • What skills do I you need to acquire and master in order to reach this goal?
  • What tools and resources do I need?
  • What will be my biggest obstacle?
  • What will success look like?

WHEN

  • When can I find the time to do whatever it takes to reach this goal?
  • When will I know that I have reached this goal?
  • When would be a realistic time for me to have reached this goal?

WHERE

  • Where are some places where I can find other people with similar goals?
  • Where do I want to be this time next year?
  • Where will I acquire the necessary knowledge?
  • Where will my goal be accomplished?
  • Where will this take place?

WHY

  • Why am I going to do this in the first place?
  • Why am I willing to invest time, energy, and money in doing this?
  • Why is achieving this goal so important to me?

HOW

  • How can achieving this goal make everything else I am doing better?
  • How will I benefit from reaching this goal?
  • How will I integrate this new goal with with everything else I have going on?
  • How will I market this idea or product?
  • How will I stay focused?
  • How will this be different one year from now?
  • How will this goal be achieved?
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Try One of These Ten…and Let the Sweet Dreams Begin

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

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 acid produced 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.

L-theanine is available by itself as tablets and capsules, or else combined with other sleep-inducing nutrients, such as this Reserveage Nutrition Beauty R&R.

6.  Magnesium…Magnesium is a mineral that many of us have a deficiency in. This mineral improves sleep by decreasing the body’s release of cortisol, working with calcium to help muscles contract and then relax. Natural Vitality Natural Calm Specifics Calmful Sleep.

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.