Beachbody on Demand is Here (and it’s awesome)!

I have a super exciting announcement!  Beachbody on Demand is HERE!!

I know many of you have done some of the popular Beachbody workouts like P90X and Insanity.  But I know many of you have been interested but found them to be too expensive.  I completely understand that price is a concern and buying a collection of workout DVDs isn’t something you want to spend your money on, only to not do them.

Beachbody On Demand is the ideal solution!  

Now you can become part of the Team Beachbody Club, the premier way to help you reach your health and fitness goals faster.  As a member of the club, you have access to our online membership community with expert nutrition, fitness and support tools.  And now….you can get 100s of the top workout programs anywhere, anytime you like….all on your mobile device.  All you need is an internet connection and you’ll have an extensive collection of workouts at your fingertips.

Benefits of Team Beachbody Club:

  • Access to Beachbody On Demand, where you can stream hundreds of workouts from the Beachbody digital library.  You can workout from anywhere with an internet connection: home, they gym, outdoors, even on vacation
  • Access to all the step-by-step program guides, workout calendars, and nutrition plans
  • Personalized meal plans that can be customized for your lifestyle and preferences
  • 10% discount on purchases from the Team Beachbody store (even Shakeology!)
  • VIP access to live monthly chats with trainers like Shaun T, Tony Horton, Autumn Calabrese, and Chalene Johnson
  • 3 FREE bonus digital workouts
  • Your own personal Coach for guidance and support
  • New content is added each month, so there will always be fun new workouts to try!

So what workouts are available right now on Beachbody On Demand?  How about these:

  • P90X
  • P90X2
  • P90X3
  • P90X ONE on ONE
  • Insanity
  • Insanity: The Asylum
  • Insanity: The Asylum 2
  • TurboFire
  • Brazil Butt Lift
  • Chalene Extreme
  • Hip Hop Abs
  • 10 Minute Trainer
  • Rev Abs
  • Tai Cheng

That is thousands of dollars worth of workouts for only pennies a day!  And it’s the complete program including the program guides, calendars and nutrition plans!

Check out my video of how it works and what you’ll see:

 

Ready to get started on your health and fitness goals?  You can sign up here to get me as your FREE coach to guide you along the way!

Have you done any of these programs before?  Which one would you like to try?  Tell me in the comments below!

Fueling for the Workout with a Custom Nutrition Plan

Fueling for the workout

I’m pretty good about the foods I eat on a regular basis.  I’ve been eating clean for the past 3 years and have recently begun eating a mostly vegan diet.  I have a certification in nutritional consulting and have read extensively about sports nutrition since, as an athlete, I have different nutritional needs than a less active person.  But I’ve never really sat down and devised a specific nutritional plan for myself.  Overall, I feel like my nutrition is on track but I’m interested in improving my recovery and improving my performance.  So when I was given the opportunity to review a custom sports nutrition plan from Chrissy at Snacking in Sneakers, I was excited to see what she would advise for me based on my current level of activity.

Fueling for the workout

How it works and what is included:

All I had to do to get started was go to the website and order the Custom Sports Nutrition Plan.  I was really surprised at how low the price was – only $25!  I received my plan free to facilitate this review but this is a really good value to get a custom nutrition plan specifically based on my unique needs.  Next I had to complete a short questionnaire that included questions about my age, weight, training goals and training plans.  Just like Chrissy promises, it’s easy peasy!  Within 2 days, I had a very detailed nutrition plan in my inbox.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the plan since I’ve never had a customized plan before, but this was a very detailed plan consisting of 29 pages!  Not only did it include general information about macronutrients and meals, hydration, electrolytes and fueling, I got personalized training nutrition recommendations, pre-exercise recommendations, and recovery recommendation.  And because I eat mostly vegan, I also received additional information to consider as a vegan to make sure all areas of my nutrition were covered, even without meat in my diet.  

My custom nutrition plan estimated that I need 2150-2250 calories each day since I run 40-50 miles per week and do about 3 hours of other training.  Of those calories, I need to aim for about 50-65% healthy carbohydrates, 10-20% protein and 20-30% healthy fats.  The percentage of carbohydrates for me is higher than a non-active person because that is my body’s main source of fuel. 

I was particularly interested in the recommendations for pre-exercise meals.  With marathon training, I often have to split my workouts and do one in the morning and one after work.  I’m fine doing a fast workout in the morning but many times  struggle with evening workouts after a long day at work.  Because I have to get my workout in before eating a full meal for dinner, I found that finding an appropriate pre-workout snack was challenging.  The suggestions in my plan worked perfectly for me so that I had plenty of energy and was able to kill my workouts.  This is definitely information that I will continue to use as I train.  There were even easy to make recipes that were included that perfectly met my needs.  

Another section that I found particularly useful for me was about hydration.  It went beyond the typical “drink xx ounces every xx minutes”.  Detailed instructions along with a worksheet to help calculate my hydration needs was very helpful.  I won’t attempt to explain it here because it sounds complicated but the worksheet makes it easy to just fill in the blanks and determine your particular hydration needs.  Because I live in Texas and it gets so incredibly hot during the summer, this will really help me!

I’ve read a lot about fueling during my runs and particularly during races but I haven’t quite figured out what works best for me yet.  I haven’t raced a really long distance recently so I will be studying these recommendations and trying them out in training runs.  

Overall, I am completely impressed with my custom training plan and think it’s a super great value.  If you’ve ever considered meeting with a nutritionist to find out your specific nutritional needs, I would highly recommend giving this a shot!  Be sure and check out the other great programs on Snacking in Sneakers too!

Have you ever worked with a nutritionist before?  I’d love to hear about your experiences!

Oatmeal Protein Squares

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DoMoreWithProtein #CollectiveBias

About 2 months ago, my husband and I decided to try a mostly plant-based vegetarian diet.  I’ve wanted to eliminate meat from my diet because of the chemicals and hormones that are given to animals to raise them quickly to get to market.  For my husband, his cholesterol was high so we decided to try plant-based foods to eliminate the saturated fat that is found in meat.  We would probably be considered flexitarians rather than vegetarians since we do have meat every now and then, but it’s rare (how frequently we eat it, not how it’s cooked :)).  The problem with eliminating meat is that it’s a great source of protein.  If you don’t know what protein is good for, it helps with weight management, performance and strength, and everyday fitnessthings we can all benefit from!  While it’s true that there are plenty of other sources of protein like beans and legumes, we don’t want to eat beans every day.  So we decided to supplement and make sure that we have plenty of protein in our diet.  

While in Target doing our regular grocery shopping, we visited the health care section near the pharmacy and looked at all of the different protein powder options available.  There are a bunch of them!  I know that protein is what helps build muscle but we are only looking to supplement our already-healthy lifestyle, not consume mega-doses of protein to bulk up.  We decided to try EAS protein powder since it’s a simple and effective way for us to meet our protein needs.  EAS offers a complete line of powders, bars and drinks so there are plenty of options!

EAS store EAS store close

 

When we were considering purchasing EAS protein powder, we decided that we didn’t want to make shakes every day and would prefer to incorporate it into an actual food.  We brainstormed different ways we would be able to add EAS protein powder into our regular diet and came up with a ton of great ideas that would not require us to even change a thing, except to add a scoop of powder.  My husband has been eating oatmeal every morning so we decided that would be super easy to add EAS to his oatmeal.  He already adds a few nuts for some crunch so EAS just adds an extra boost of protein for his and keeps him full until lunchtime.  I decided that I would get a little adventurous and make some oatmeal bars to have a grab and go breakfast.  These would be fabulous with a cup of coffee in the morning or perfect for a healthy afternoon snack or even dessert.  There’s no excuse to not get enough protein in your diet!  And they are super quick and easy to make.  You can make a batch and have the ready to go for the entire week and don’t even have to turn the oven on!

Here’s all you need to do to make these:

Gather ingredients – applesauce, coconut palm sugar, vanilla, instant oats, unsweetened shredded coconut, EAS protein powder, salt, chocolate chips, all natural peanut butter

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In a large skillet on medium heat, add applesauce, sugar and vanilla, stirring until combined.

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Stir in oats, coconut, EAS protein powder and salt.  Cook on low for about 5 minutes, stirring a couple of times.  The mixture will seem really dry but it should be!

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In a small saucepan, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter on low.  Be sure to stir frequently so it doesn’t burn.

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Press 1/2 of the oat mixture into the bottom of a square baking dish.

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Pour most of chocolate/peanut butter mixture on top and spread to cover oats.

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Top with the remaining oat mixture.

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Using the remaining chocolate/peanut butter awesomeness, drizzle over the top. Feel free to get as fancy with it as you’d like!

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Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, cut into squares, and ENJOY!

Oatmeal Protein Squares

Oatmeal Protein Squares

Ingredients

  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups instant oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 scoop vanilla EAS protein powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I use dairy, soy and nut free)
  • 3/4 cup all natural peanut butter

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet on medium heat, add applesauce, sugar and vanilla, stirring until combined.
  2. Stir in oats, coconut, EAS protein powder and salt.
  3. Cook on low for about 5 minutes, stirring a couple of times. The mixture will seem really dry but it should be!
  4. In a small saucepan, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter on low. Be sure to stir frequently so it doesn't burn.
  5. Press 1/2 of the oat mixture into the bottom of a square baking dish.
  6. Pour most of chocolate/peanut butter mixture on top and spread to cover oats.
  7. Top with the remaining oat mixture.
  8. Using the remaining chocolate/peanut butter awesomeness, drizzle over the top. Feel free to get as fancy with it as you'd like!
  9. Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, cut into squares, and ENJOY!
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EAS oatmeal protein squaresHow do YOU do more with your protein?  Tell us about it in the comments below!  Want more recipes with EAS Whey Protein Powder?  Be sure to visit here for more deliciousness!

If you’re looking for the perfect time to try EAS protein powder, it’s now!  Check out these 2 great ways to save at Target:

  • April 26th save 10% off the entire EAS line
  • April 19th – May 23rd get a 5% Cartwheel offer on any EAS item

Ready to start working on your health and nutrition goals?  Take our 30 day challenge – you only need 10 minutes a day to make big changes in your health!  GET STARTED TODAY!

10 Foods to Increase Your Energy

10 Foods (1)

10 Foods (1)Are you one of those people that has boundless energy to keep going all day long?  Yeah, neither am I.  But I also don’t want to get that mid-afternoon slump where I feel the overwhelming urge to take a nap.  So I have compiled a list of 10 foods that will help increase your energy in a non-caffeinated, non-sugary way.  Next time you feel your energy start to lag, try one of these foods.

10 Foods to Increase Your Energy

1.  Dark, leafy greens.  Kale, spinach, Swiss chard and mustard greens are high in nutrients yet low in calories.  They are easy to make into a salad to snack on or add to your favorite smoothie.

2.  Green tea.  Although green tea contains caffeine, you won’t experience the energy spike and drop like with coffee.  Green tea also contains an amino acid that helps promote relaxation.  Read more about the benefits of green tea HERE.

3.  Quinoa.  Quinoa is a powerhouse food in so many ways.  Rich in B vitamins, it helps convert carbohydrates into energy.  Since quinoa is such a versatile food, it’s easy to add to any meal.  Learn more about quinoa HERE.  And try one of my favorite gluten free quinoa recipes – Quinoa Brownies.

4.  Air-popped popcorn.  Whole-grain carbohydrates are a longer lasting source of energy than simple carbs.  Popcorn will keep you satisfied longer – just be sure to not douse it with oil, butter or salt to keep its healthy food status.

5.  Bananas.  Bananas are a great source of both potassium and B vitamins, which provide sustained energy.  They are the perfect grab and go snack and, paired with nuts, can help get you through the afternoon energy slump.

6.  Nuts.  Another food loaded with B vitamins, nuts are a fantastic source of energy.  A lack of B vitamins can lead to fatigue, poor concentration and irritability – so grab a handful of nuts to fight back!

7.  Oatmeal.  Oatmeal is high in fiber and is a complex carbohydrate.  Since it takes so long for your body to digest complex carbohydrates, you’ll experience sustained energy all morning.

8.  Hummus.  A healthy combination of fiber and protein, hummus will boost your energy and stabilize blood sugar.  Check out my favorite hummus recipe HERE.

9.  Coconut.  Coconut is high in potassium, protein and fiber.  With the various forms coconut comes in, you can enjoy it as a drink, as flakes or cook with coconut oil.  Coconut oil has tons of other uses as well – check them out HERE.

10.  Dark chocolate.  Dark chocolate is good for so many different things!  Dark chocolate has been shown to be heart-healthy, which means that more oxygen is delivered throughout your body, boosting your energy level.  But remember, the darker the chocolate, the better it is for you!

Do you experience a mid-morning or mid-afternoon energy slump?  How do you overcome it?  Tell us in the comments below!

 

10 Foods to Lower Cholesterol

10 Foods

10 FoodsIf you’ve watched television at all lately, you’ve probably seen at least one commercial for a cholesterol lowering drug.  The sad truth is that an estimated 11 million plus Americans take statins to help lower their cholesterol, generating somewhere around $35 billion for the drug companies that manufacture these pills.  According to some studies, there are an additional 25 million Americans with high cholesterol.  While it’s easy to take a pill to bring down your cholesterol, there are foods that can help too – without the bothersome side effects often caused by pharmaceuticals.  If you’ve got high cholesterol, consider adding some of these foods to your diet:

10 Foods to Lower Cholesterol

1.  Oatmeal.  Oats have been shown to effectively lower cholesterol in a short period of time.  The effectiveness of oats is due to the beta-glucan that absorbs bad cholesterol and excretes it from the body.

2.  Nuts.  Nuts keep making the list of good foods to have in your diet.  Eating a handful of nuts a day has been shown to lower bad cholesterol by up to 10%.  Almonds, walnuts, and cashews are all great, heart-healthy choices.

3.  Beans.  The fiber content in beans helps slow the absorption of cholesterol and remove it from the body.  Black, pinto, kidney, and red beans are all great sources of fiber and can potentially lower your cholesterol up to 8%.  Try this easy to make heart-healthy Black Bean Soup.

4.  Avocado.  Avocado has been shown to help lower bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol.  While this may not change your overall cholesterol number, your heart will know the difference.  Try my favorite Guacamole recipe for a dose of healthy fat!

5.  Blueberries.  Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants that can help lower cholesterol.  They are great to throw into a smoothie, eat by the handful for a snack, or toss some on your oatmeal in the morning.

6.  Olive oil.  Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which are good for your heart.  You only need about 2 tablespoons per day so it’s easy to switch out with other oils you may use.

7.  Tomatoes.  Researchers believe that the lycopene in tomatoes inhibits the production of bad cholesterol while simultaneously breaking down artery-clogging fat. Enjoying your favorite marina sauce or a handful of cherry tomatoes is a great way to get the heart-healthy benefits.  Try this beautiful Spinach Tomato Salad.

8.  Chocolate.  Another food that has so many great benefits.  The flavonoids contained in dark chocolate help lower cholesterol.  But not just any chocolate will do, look for at least 70% cocoa.

9.  Fish.  Fish contains lots of heart-healthy omega-3s.  Adding fish to your diet a couple of times a week is a great way to get the benefit of these heart-healthy fats.  This Glazed Salmon is one of my favorite recipes.

10.  Garlic.  Adding as little as a half clove of garlic to your diet each day can help lower your bad cholesterol.  Garlic is great paired with other cholesterol-fighting foods like olive oil, tomatoes and fish so add more of it to your favorite recipes.

What is your favorite cholesterol-lowering food?

Phenoh 7.4

phenoh

This shop has been compensated by the advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  #GoAlkaline #FindYourPhenoh

Have you ever heard of Phenoh 7.4 sports drink?  I hadn’t either until I was offered the opportunity to try it.  It’s the world’s first alkaline sports drink.  I’ve got to be honest though….I’m not a huge fan of the well-known sports drinks that you’ll find on the shelves of your local grocery store.  They are loaded with artificial ingredients and tons of sugar.  I eat right, work out regularly and try to avoid those type of ingredients.  It seems counter productive to have a great workout and then replenish it with a bottle of sugar.  I know these drinks contain the electrolytes I need after a tough workout but I don’t want all the other junk so I generally avoid them.

I admittedly don’t know a lot about alkalinity or acidity in the body.  I guess I kind of assumed that our bodies kind of manage the balancing process without any help from us.  But after reading about the science behind Phenoh, I understand it perfectly well and it makes perfect sense that we need to replenish our bodies properly after exertion to obtain the maximum benefit of exercise.  

Here’s the simple illustration that Phenoh uses to explain alkalinity in the body:

  • Think of acid as heat.  When we exercise, we produce heat and we also produce acid.
  • When you produce heat, your body cools off by sweating – you also breathe faster which gets rid of the extra acid.
  • When you become too hot, you suffer from overheating.  When you become too acidic, you suffer from over-acidifying.  Both are dangerous medical conditions.
  • If you think of acid base balance like temperature control then drinking an acidic sports drink while you exercise is like drinking a hot beverage when you are already sweating.  But – drinking an alkaline sport drink like Phenoh balances the acid created by exercise.

Makes perfect sense, right?

As an advocate of all natural ingredients, I was excited to learn that Phenoh only contains 7 ingredients and each has a specific purpose.  You’ve probably heard of these ingredients but here’s what they do for your body:

  • Organic aloe vera – contains essential amino acids and glycoproteins needed for rebuilding muscles during and after exercise.  It also helps boost the immune system, kills viruses, and promotes healthy digestion.
  • Natural mineral buffer system – neutralizes acidic metabolites that are harmful to our health and contribute to fatigue.
  • Organic agave nectar – provides a low glycemic index to promote a slower and stable effect on blood sugar.
  • Potassium – allows for rapid absorption and retention of fluids and maintains proper sodium/potassium balance that helps control blood pressure.
  • Magnesium – allows for ideal absorption of alkalizing minerals like calcium.
  • Ascorbic acid – essential antioxidant for immune support during stress and exercise.

There’s no need for preservatives, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup or any other junk.  As an added bonus, it also low in calories so it won’t sabotage your workout effort by replacing all of the calories you burned.

But I know you want to know about the really important stuff like how it tastes and how well it works.  Like I said, I’m not a fan of syrupy drinks.  They just don’t sit well on my stomach and sometimes make me feel nauseous.  I was pleasantly surprised at how light and refreshing Phenoh is.  It makes sense considering there isn’t a ton of sugar in it.  But it really tastes great and feels like exactly what my body needs after a hard workout.  I would definitely love to make Phenoh my regular sports drink!

phenoh

 

What is your favorite sports drink?  How do you stay hydrated when you workout?  Tell us about it in the comments below!

For tips on staying hydrated, be sure to check out these 7 Tips to Staying Hydrated!

 

10 Foods to Help You Sleep Better

10 Foods to help

10 Foods to helpFor many of us, sleep can be an elusive thing.  Sometimes there’s no reason for it and sometimes it’s hard to shut your mind off and unwind enough to sleep.  If you’re like me, your head hits the pillow and you suddenly remember the ten million other things you need to get done.  But the good news is that certain foods can help you fall asleep faster.  Add some of these foods into your diet and stop tossing and turning!

10 Foods to Help You Sleep Better

1.  Walnuts.  Walnuts are a great source of trytophan, a sleep-inducing agent that produces serotonin and melatonin.  Melatonin can help you fall asleep faster so a handful of nuts in the evening may just help you fall asleep faster.

2.  Cherry juice.  Cherry juice has been shown to boost levels of melatonin and can lessen insomnia.  The antioxidants found in cherry juice can also boost your immune system so there’s extra benefit to drinking it before bed.

3.  Chamomile tea.  Chamomile is another drink that has multiple benefits.  It relaxes nerves and acts as a mild sedative, calming stress and easing you into a more relaxed state, ideal for sleep.

4.  Hummus.  While this might sound like an usual choice to help cure insomnia, chickpeas are another great source of trytophan.  The melatonin produced can help you sleep better.

5.  Almonds.  Notice how often nuts appear on these lists?  Almonds are high in magnesium, which has a calming effect and helps you nod off faster. Just a handful can help you sleep better and give you a dose of heart healthy fats.  

6.  Bananas.  Just like almonds, bananas are a good source of magnesium and potassium which help relax muscles.  If you’ve ever experienced muscle pain during the night, you’ll appreciate what potassium and magnesium do for your sleep.

7.  Pumpkin seeds.  Not to be outdone by walnuts, pumpkin seeds also contain tryptophan.  And since they are loaded with heart-healthy fat, you’ll get that added benefit as well.

8.  Honey.  Just a little taste of honey is all that is needed to signal your brain to start shutting down.  Add a tablespoon to your chamomile tea and you’ll be headed to dream land soon!

9.  Dark chocolate.  Dark chocolate is another one that keeps showing up with some amazing benefits.  A small piece of dark chocolate will activate the seratonin in your brain and help you relax.

10.  Whole grains.  Whole grain foods are a good source of magnesium.  Adding magnesium-rich whole grains to your diet could help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Do you have trouble falling or staying asleep?  Have you found any foods that help you sleep?  Tell us in the comments below!  

10 Foods to Reduce Stress

10 Foods to

10 Foods to (2)Are you a stress eater?  Many of us are and find it can have catastrophic effects on our weight and health.  Certain foods inherently help reduce stress so if you munch on them regularly, you may find that your stress level has been naturally reduced.  If you reach for the cupcakes or ice cream when you get stressed, you’ll want to read this!

10 Foods to Reduce Stress 

  1. Avocado.  Rich and creamy avocados are a great source of vitamins and nutrients that have been shown to naturally boost your mood as well as block certain fats.  Avocados are even great as a dessert food and better for you than that cupcake or ice cream to satisfy that sweets craving.  Try this recipe for Chocolate Avocado Pudding and you’ll be a believer!
  2. Cashews.  Cashews are high in zinc, which has been shown to lower depression and anxiety.  They are high in protein too, helping keep you full longer.  It’s easy to grab a handful when you get stressed and snack on those instead.  They are perfect to eat by themselves, add to a salad or main dish.  One of my favorite ways to enjoy them is as a healthy snack bar like these Cashew Bars.
  3. Chamomile tea.  Drinking chamomile tea, especially before bedtime helps reduce stress and aid in better sleep.  A warm cup of tea is the perfect way to unwind from the day and calm your mind.
  4. Oatmeal.  Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate that releases serotonin in the brain.  Serotonin is known as the feel good chemical in the brain.  Not only will oatmeal make you feel good, it will keep you fuller longer and it’s a quick and easy (and inexpensive) food.  If you don’t like traditional oatmeal as a breakfast food, try these Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Bars – they’ll make you feel good!
  5. Oranges.  Oranges are a great source of vitamin C that helps you feel energetic and the sweetness can help fight off sugar cravings.  Since oranges are such great grab and go snacks, they are perfect to reach for when stress makes you want something sweet.
  6. Garlic.  Garlic is great for warding off illness and boosting our immune system.  Because stress weakens our immunity, eating plenty of garlic in your diet can help keep your immune system strong.
  7. Broccoli.  Broccoli is loaded with folic acid which has been directly linked with stress reduction.  While it’s not an instant treatment for stress, eating plenty of eat regularly can help you lower your stress level.  
  8. Chocolate.  Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants that help lower stress.  Just be sure to make it dark chocolate and don’t overdo it!
  9. Salmon.  Salmon is loaded with omega-3s that help with brain function.  Improved brain function can help you more effectively deal with stress.  This Glazed Salmon is one of my favorites and is quick and easy to make for a weeknight meal.
  10. Water.  Water is good for so many things!  Drinking a cold glass of water and taking a brisk walk for a few minutes is a great way to get those endorphins going and ease your stress.  Need tips for drinking more water?  Try these!

How to you reduce stress in your life?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Have you taken our FREE 30 day fitness and nutrition challenge?  All you need is 10 minutes a day for 30 days to create healthy habits!  JOIN US!

7 Easy Ways to Live Green

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NaturalGoodness #CollectiveBias

 7 Easy Ways to

Did you know that April is Earth Month?  When my girls were growing up, they were both in Girl Scouts so we did a project every year to celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd.  We actually did projects all throughout the year but in April we specifically focused on ways to take better care of our planet and to protect our resources.  Sometimes that meant picking up trash at a local park or planting flowers.  One year we were part of a community event that provided information and resources to help all of our city’s residents lead greener lives.

A few years ago, I began my journey to healthier eating.  I had never realized how much junk was in the foods I was eating and serving my family.  As we cleaned up our diet, I began looking around at some of the other things in our life that were chemical-laden and toxic.  Over time, I learned more and more about the things we use on a daily basis and started to get rid of what I could and find a better solution for my home and family.  Even small changes in one home can have a ripple effect and help protect our Earth.  And the good news is that it’s really easy to implement changes and live a greener life.  It’s better for you AND the Earth!

7 Easy Ways to Live Green

  1. Go paperless.  Did you know that you can cut down on the amount of junk mail you get?  You can register on the National Do Not Mail list and marketers will be required to remove you from their mailing list.  You can also go to the Direct Marketing Association and enter the specific companies that are sending you mail to have your name removed.  As far as your personal mail, you can request that companies you have a relationship with send you mail electronically.  Credit card companies, banks, and utility companies generally offer e-billing options so you no longer have to receive a paper bill.  When you pay those bills, pay them with online banking rather then sending a physical check.  Not only will this save paper, you’ll save money too since the price of a stamp keeps going up.  I personally hate having paper sitting around cluttering up my home so I prefer going paperless.  It’s so much easier to manage things electronically for me.
  2. Change your beauty routine.  I had no idea how many chemicals were in personal care products.  I guess I assumed that if they were safe for us to use they must not be too bad.  The more I began researching, the more shocked I was and began making gradual changes.  I’m not one of those people that is willing to make my own toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo.  I guess it’s easy enough to do but with a busy life, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.  Fortunately, when I was in Walmart the other day, I came across Tom’s of Maine products.  I was intrigued by the idea of no artificial colors, flavors, fragrances or preservatives.  Those aren’t things that I want to put in my body so why would I use a toothpaste that had preservatives in it?  It just didn’t make sense to me.  Even with deodorant, the ingredients are absorbed by your skin so I want to make sure I am using products that are natural.  Now that my family has incorporated Tom’s of Maine toothpaste and deodorant into our daily lives, I’m ready to learn more about what other products are made of too!wm in storetoms main
  3. Eat locally and seasonally. There are so many benefits to eating locally and seasonally!  If you eat locally grown food, by default you will be eating seasonally.  Makes sense, right?  A great way to eat locally is to visit your local farmer’s market to pick up all of your fruits and veggies.  You can even get meat and eggs locally.  As a result, you’ll enjoy foods that are fresher and have less impact on the environment since they haven’t been trucked all over the country.  Local foods are actually safer for you to eat too since they haven’t come into contact with as many contaminants.  We all want to enjoy safer food too without preservatives, contaminants or other nasties!
  4. Ditch the bottled water.  I’ll be the first to admit that I have consumed a lot of bottled water in my lifetime.  I still use it periodically but have switched instead to reusable water bottles.  I keep one on my desk at work to avoid using the styrofoam cups provided.  At home, I also have a reusable water bottle handy.  According to BantheBottle.net, Americans consumed 50 billion water bottles last year but only recycled at a rate of about 23%.  Considering that it takes about 17 million gallons of oil to produce that many bottles, or enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year, plastic water bottles have a huge impact to our environment.  The energy wasted is enough to fuel 190,000 homes.  Reducing the number of water bottles that you drink each year can go a long way in making the world a little greener.  water bottle
  5. Use reusable bags and containers.  Much like plastic water bottles, plastic shopping bags have a significant impact on our world.  It’s estimated that Americans use 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic shopping bags each year.  Sadly, the recycle rate with plastic shopping bags is only about 5%.  This means that the rest end up in landfills or otherwise polluting the earth.  Replacing plastic bags with reusable bags is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to reduce the number of plastic bags.  Several stores even offer a discount to customers that use reusable bags.  Cash back is always a good thing, wouldn’t you agree?  
  6. Conserve water.  Water seems like a very abundant resource but in many places it’s not.  We can all do our part to conserve water.  One way is to use only the water you need.  This means turning the water off while brushing your teeth and setting appliances to the proper water setting.  Make sure that you don’t have any hidden leaks like in faucets, showers, or toilets.  Even a minor leak can waste a significant amount of water over time.  Be sure to water your lawn during cooler times during the day and select climate-appropriate landscaping that won’t require an excessive amount of water to keep alive.  And here’s a big one….if you take long showers, cut a minute or two (or even more) off your shower time.  I know that warm water feels good on a cold day, but water is a precious resource that we can all help conserve!
  7. Try natural cleaners.  Before trying natural cleaners, I was very skeptical about how well they would work.  I grew up using chemical-laden, toxic cleaners.  They even smelled extremely toxic!  We won’t even talk about expensive they are either!  After trying my own natural cleaners, I became a fan.  They are super inexpensive to make and work better than store-bought cleaners.  This recipe for tub and tile cleaner really works on tough shower stains!  Here are a couple of my favorite green cleaner recipes:cleaning suppliesTile and tub cleaner:  Wipe surface with vinegar and follow with baking soda as a scouring agent.   

          All-purpose cleaner:  Whisk together 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon Borax, 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide, 2 cups of hot water and juice of one lemon.  Add to a squirt bottle.

How does your family live green and celebrate Earth Day?  Tell me in the comments below so we can all make the world a little greener!

7 Tips to Staying Hydrated

7 Tips to Staying Hydrated

7 Tips to Staying HydratedWe all know the importance of staying properly hydrated.  But most of us don’t as much water as we should.  How much water you need each day will vary from person to person, based on your activity level and your body’s needs.  Eight glasses of water a day has been the generally accepted standard for many years but your specific needs may be different.  Other suggestions say to drink half of your body weight each day for optimal hydration.  To find the ideal amount of water you need, you’ll want to monitor your intake.  The most effective way to assess your level of hydration is to check your urine.  If you are ideally hydrated, your urine will be light yellow.  If you are dehydrated, your urine will be dark yellow and have a strong odor.  Anywhere in between, and you should adjust your water intake.  Be careful to not over-hydrate though as this can result in serious consequences related to the loss of electrolytes in the body.  This is a rare occurrence though  as most people tend to drink too little water.

Since so many of us need to increase our water consumption, here are 7 tips to help keep you hydrated:

1.  Flavor it up.  Add your favorite flavors to a pitcher of water and let it chill.  Try watermelon chunks, oranges, mint or cucumbers.  This is a great way to dress up your water and make you feel like you’re at the spa sipping on fancy water.

2.  Use reminders.  We’re all connected to our phones these days so take advantage of your technology and use it to stay hydrated.  There are several great apps that will remind you periodically to drink water.  Or you can even set your own reminder so your phone will alert you to drink up.

3.  Infuse it.  If a pitcher of water isn’t practical for you, use a water bottle that lets you infuse the water.  I like the FlavFusion 26 Oz Infuser Water Bottle water bottle.  I just add my favorite ingredients to the insert and each sip of water is perfectly flavored.  It’s easy to change flavors regularly and switch things up.  Oranges, strawberries, and cucumbers are perfect to infuse your water and it’s the perfect way to always have water with you. The flip top makes it easy to drink plenty of water and the handle makes it easily portable.

4.  Use a straw.  Studies have shown that using a straw helps you drink more water.  With a straw, you can drink faster and will likely drink more.

5.  Keep water nearby.  Having a cup or water bottle nearby can serve as a constant visual reminder to drink more water.  Keep plenty of water nearby so it doesn’t take any special effort to grab some water.

6.  Eat it.  Certain foods are great sources of water.  Watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, spinach and even broth-based soups are incredible sources of water.

7.  Ditch the soda and alcohol.  Instead of drinking soda or alcohol, have a glass of water.  You’ll save money and calories with this simple substitution.  Drinking water has been shown to help with weight loss so this is a great way to get you closer to your ideal weight.

 Do you drink enough water each day?  I’d love to hear any tips you have to drink more water in the comments below.

**I received a FlavFusion water bottle to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% my own.**