Category / Health

5 Little Things I’m Doing to Improve My (and My Family’s) Health

Between the start of the year (resolution/goals mindset) and the coming of Spring (well, someday! we are due more SNOW this week!), I’ve been more health/goal minded and craving some changes and healthier habits in my (and my family’s) day-to-day routines. I’ve found I have more success implementing smaller changes, a couple at a time, than trying to overhaul, getting overwhelmed (or distracted) and undoing any good I’ve done, altogether.

I’m no expert, and I don’t sell or represent any brands mentioned, but I’m feeling really good about these five little things I’m making the rule instead of the exception in my everyday:

1. packing my lunches
I’ve been trying to be more intentional about including more fruits and veggies and proteins, and not buying my lunches out (which adds up quickly) on workdays. It truly is easier to dedicate a half hour or so on Sunday nights to portion out some lunches for the next three days. I find it easiest to just eat the same thing, times three, and change it up from week to week rather than daily. I quickly realized I was burning through ziploc bags, so I ordered myself one of the Lunchbots tins (mine is the “trio large”) and I LOVE how easy it is to pack, rinse, and re-use from one day to the next. (Also — if you follow the Lunchbots instagram account, it’s full of fresh snack/meal ideas for packing adult and kid lunches, alike!)

2. switching to natural deodorant
Over Christmas, a friend mentioned loving this brand of natural deodorant and I made a mental note. Then, after another friend’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, she mentioned making the switch to a natural deodorant, and I was inspired to do the same. Ursa Major happened to be the first brand I tried and I’ve been VERY pleased. I haven’t had much in the way of “detox symptoms” that some people talk about, but I think it’s also probably easier to make the switch now before the heat season comes. I also just think this particular brand is THAT good and worth the money. I’m kind of  obsessed with it and love the smell and tingly sensation. It feels so fresh and I love knowing everything in it is SAFE. (Also — if your skin is sensitive to baking soda — common in natural deodorants — they also make a “no B.S.” version here.)

3. throwing out our vegetable oil (and peanut oil and canola oil)
A friend of mine is a nutritionist and I’ve been stalking – er, following – all her delicious recipes and posts here. When she mentioned getting vegetable oils out of your life, I was intrigued and googled a bit further. This article is a great read on why to make the switch, if you need further convincing! And this change was SO easy to do. I simply tossed what we had, bought an olive oil spray in place of Pam for nonstick uses, and the mega jar of Coconut Oil home from Costco for anything else that would normally call for oil. I find myself checking labels a bit more for instances of these oils, but I’m not overly crazy about it. Again, it’s about small steps and implementing changes at reasonable rates.

4. experimenting with natural household products 
I’ve admittedly found it a bit “hippie” in the past, but after so many new options on the market and constant new research to support them, I’ve taken a new interest in the products I bring into my home. I recently played around on the Think Dirty app to score some items we’re already using. Some passed with flying colors…and others failed miserably. So I feel like I have a good list of places to start using up and replacing sooner than later. I’ve always been rather intentional about choosing natural products when it comes to Crew, but even in that arena, as we’ve moved away from the “baby phase” it gets easier to slip up. I’ve recently purchased this body wash for his bathtime and love it (we did the lavender scent, but they’re all delicious). We also switched to Trader Joes all natural laundry detergent (loooove the smell). Easy swaps, little changes.

I’ve also been playing more and more with essential oils (I’m not loyal to any one brand, but do your research to make sure you are buying 100% pure, therapeutic grade and no filler stuff). I ditched dryer sheets long ago and now add a few oil drops to my wool dryer balls and incorporating them into rollerballs (I’m using these) and a couple DIY cleaners, linen sprays, and more (in these bottles). I’m still learning and experimenting, but I’m particularly interested in using them for allergy relief as that season approaches.

5. drinking apple cider vinegar 
This is not a new one for me, but I fall out of the habit and am being intentional about reincorporating it. I’ve been trying to cut back on alcohol, so instead of taking a glass of wine to my nightly Netflix wind-down, I pour a big glass of ice water and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. A run-down of the many benefits of incorporating this (easy peasy) habit into water you are already drinking can be found here.

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one little word for 2016.

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For the past two years, I’ve passed on the concept of a resolutions list and simplified things with one little word. (You can read about the One Little Word concept here.) Like everyone else, yes, I’m planning to get back into regular workouts, eat better, continue to improve work/life balance, and visit somewhere new in 2016. But rather than sweat the checklist, it is so much more gratifying to me to let a single idea guide my year rather than get hung up on what exactly I did or did not accomplish.

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After a crazy-busy year of adventure in 2014, followed by last year’s settling in and nurturing a new little family life, I’m ready for a year to not take it all so seriously. Hello, I sleep through the night again after many, many, long months of not. My hubby and I can finally talk about the possibility of a “just us” trip sooner than later. This awesome tiny roommate of ours is SO. MUCH. FUN. and on a daily basis, I just want to gobble him up with kisses and tickles. I’ve made some new friends and am ready to spend more time reconnecting with old ones. I need more one-on-one time with my mom this year – it’s like soul food to get a good long conversation with her and it happened too rarely in the Year of the Newborn.

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I have a year of balancing motherhood, day job, side job, and life in general under my belt, and I’m continuing to prioritize. I’ve let some things go in favor of others that are more important. I’m not going to do it all, and I’m getting better at declining an opportunity here and there. I’m trying to get tuned in to what I care about most so I can spend my energy whole-heartedly and in the right places.

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I’m planning on lots and LOTS of laughter in 2016. Happy tears. Dancing and singing. Silliness. Waking up rested. Slowing down for extra hugs and kisses. Coffee and conversation. Cocktails and conversation. More laughter. Sore face muscles from so much smiling. Maybe even staying up past 10. And when the inevitable tough stuff comes along, finding a way to laugh, yell, “plot twist!” and make the best of it. So much happens in a year, and it’s all really good, joyful stuff.

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Here’s to 2016…

Bliss.

Bring it on.

one little word for 2015.

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This time last year, I ditched the idea of a traditional resolutions list in favor of a single word on which to focus. Page got in on the selection for the first time and we landed on adventure as our guiding mantra for 2014. As the twists and turns of the year unfolded, we focused on rolling with them all, looking for even more of them, and relishing in the way our life together was evolving because of it all.

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Maternity Photos | Key West, Florida

We could not have known how true the concept of “adventure” would ring for us throughout the last twelve months — we had not yet decided to even look at the possibility of moving, and certainly not to build. We had begun to discuss the idea of starting a family, but neither of us dreamed that journey would begin as early as last spring. If you had told me when the ball dropped last year that in several short weeks, I’d be living in a one-bedroom apartment battling morning sickness, I would NOT have believed you. 🙂

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18 weeks & staking foundation | August

And yet I wouldn’t change a moment of the last year — it was one large, blessed adventure from start to (almost) finish, as the fruits of our two biggest adventures remain to arrive in the coming first few weeks of the new year.

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36 weeks and ready for siding | December

As I look back on 2014, there were other adventures that took place that, while somewhat paling in comparison to our two “biggies”, also helped us to grow and change. We took awesome trips, both together and separately with friends, and tried on new roles and responsibilities in our career paths, tried a new dish or two, and with our eyes a bit more open to them this year, discovered just how many adventures we get to partake in together.

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Page and friends skiing in Steamboat | February

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Girls’ weekend in New York City with my bestie | April

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Web designer… turned hand model for a client’s billboard shoot | June

The year of “adventure” certainly went full-throttle, and it took us in directions we couldn’t have imagined, but through so many experiences we wouldn’t trade for anything. It has been a huge leap for both of us in learning to let go a little, realizing we can’t control it all and that not everything happens on our time table. And that is all part of the bliss. 

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The BEST moment…when we learned we were having a SON | July

With that in mind, I think about what I want for myself and my little growing family, as I pick my word for 2015. While I’d sign up for it all again, I’m okay that 2015 is less about “go go go” adventure-seeking, and more about relishing in the ones that are happening now, finding our new normal as a family of three, nourishing our life in our new home, and truly “tending to my garden” so to speak, before striking out in search of the next to-do.

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My one little word for 2015 is nurture. 

Holding many different meanings for me this year, first and foremost is to step into this new role as someone’s mother, and continuing to improve upon being the best wife I can be to my husband. I am anxious to focus on nurturing my body, post-partum. Healing, rebuilding, and nourishing physically will in turn help me mentally, so I can feel more like myself again, and in turn have the energy to nurture others. It’s all a cycle.

I look forward to creating our home, the space in which we nurture our life as a family of three, both in the physical compiling of our finished home, and in creating memories together within its walls.

As always, I’m curious to see what our professional lives have in store for us this year. I am eager to try some new things in the spirit of nurturing my brain and challenging myself with new ideas and how to bring them to life.

In all, the goal is to relish, reflect, and take the best care possible of these blessings that have come our way.

Cheers to you all reading, I wish you a nurturing new year in 2015!

“Be one who nurtures and builds…”
{Marvin J. Ashton}

past the halfway point!

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It’s crazy to think as we approach the 22 week mark, we’ve passed the halfway point until this little person arrives. I can’t believe it’s September already — the summer truly flew by!

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So here we are — approaching fall, excitedly watching our house progress come together, and thinking ahead to the coming four months before this little guy arrives. We are fresh off a mini trip to Columbia (where Page stood up as best man in the wedding of a lifelong friend) and then to Chicago (where Mama and Baby both stocked up on new threads) and we picked up some house stuff for upcoming projects. We are looking forward to a couple of baby classes in the coming weeks and then a trip to Key West for some much-needed R&R from day jobs, side jobs, house stuff, and our tiny apartment. 🙂

IKEA madness

Until then, we are still sorting through the IKEA finds from last week…and dreaming of our house!

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At today’s visit, my doctor said if she had to guess, she thought I would definitely deliver the second week of January – the 14th or 15th if she had to wager. I’m okay with that if it means we’re in our house!

And finally, the monthly stats:

How far along: 22 weeks this Friday (Baby’s the size of a papaya!)

Gender: BOY

Weight gain:   First weight gain at this appointment — +4 pounds, on track to gain 20-23 overall; first belly measurement taken — right on track at 22cm

Maternity clothes: Bought some maternity clothes for my fall stash, but not all of it fits yet; still lots of summer dresses and some maternity leggings and tees

Stretch marks: No – lotioning up daily!

Belly button in or out: in

Sleep: lots of mid-night bathroom breaks, waking up way too early!

Best moment:  first kicks at 18 weeks, Page reading to Baby

Worst moment: boo for rain delaying the house progress this past week — fortunately, things look sunny in the coming days to start FRAMING!

Miss anything: red wine – always!

Movement: FINALLY – one day shy of 19 weeks, I felt some unmistakable “punches” (not so much flutters ha!) way low in my abdomen, and now they’re very consistent — strong babe and based on the timing, he’s a late-nighter!

Cravings: peanut butter sandwiches and ALL THE MILK I can get my hands on

Queasy or sick:  feeling great – only complaint would be heartburn, brought on by just about anything at this point

Looking forward to: our “babymoon” — (originally planned as our seventh anniversary trip, until we found out we were expecting) the end of September

And in related news, Page’s stats, who started a workout program, motivated by our pending arrival 🙂 After my BP was recorded (112/66, pretty typical for me), he asked the nurse to take his at his “starting point”. He’s always high, but wanted me to blog for the record that he started at 150/90. Here’s to his BP numbers dropping as my weight number goes up ha!

cleaner eating chocolate chip cookies

three ingredient cookies | lifeinyellow.com

Okay, so I don’t know if chocolate chips are actually considered “clean eating”, but these cookies are made from no more than THREE ingredients, total, and none of them are eggs, butter, or granulated sugar!

three ingredient cookies | lifeinyellow.com

And did I mention? They’re DELISH! They’re chewy and sweet, and dare I say, almost good for you? The recipe’s so short it fits on a post-it:

three ingredient cookies | lifeinyellow.com

Which is exactly where I jotted it down, after my coworker brought a batch to work a couple weeks ago. Easy peasy!

three ingredient cookies | lifeinyellow.com

Mash your bananas first, so they blend easily with the oats.

three ingredient cookies | lifeinyellow.com

Add the chocolate, and scoop onto a VERY lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake and let them cool for several minutes to firm up … and enjoy!!

for those of us who can’t eat avocado…

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…I have life-changing news! Read on 🙂

I’ve had delicious guacamole just often enough to know how much I LOVE it…and also how much it does NOT love me back.

I never ate avocado growing up. It just wasn’t ever on the menu. Then, I tried guac for the first time. Ah-maz-ing. But I got terribly sick afterwards and didn’t draw a connection. I had it a handful of times after, with the same result. Then, for the longest time, I thought I couldn’t eat sushi because I’d feel awful afterwards…until I put it together and learned that there are tiny bits of ‘cado in the rolls!

So once I figured it out, I sadly gave up on avocado. It’s just not going to happen. I can order my sushi sans the fruit, but it’s guacamole that I continue to lust after at every Mexican restaurant we go to.

Then, this weekend, my friend, Sarah, CHANGED. MY. WORLD. She brought a guacamole with NO avocado — it’s made with broccoli! Broccamole.

Seriously. I died.

Find the recipe here – allergy or not, it’s DELICIOUS, nutritious, and tastes like the real thing!

(image: myrecipes.com)

Easy, Healthy Lunch: Turkey Cranberry Wraps

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It’s been a while since I posted an Easy, Healthy Lunch idea. (You can check out previous ones here and here). But in the spirit of a new year and resolving to cut back on added sugars/simple carbs (I’ll never be free of either but hey I’m trying!) I’ve been checking out some new, portable ideas for weekday lunches to take to the office.

I love the FLAVOR and freshness of this easy wrap recipe. I don’t even use the whole tortilla – once I roll this up and slice it, I toss the ends, so calorie-wise I log it at about 3/4 of a full tortilla.

Turkey Cranberry Wraps

1 spinach tortilla
1 wedge light Laughing Cow swiss
1/8 c. blue cheese crumbles
1/8 c. craisins
1-2 oz. turkey breast
handful of fresh spinach

Spread the Laughing Cow across one side of the tortilla edge to edge and layer all other ingredients. Roll tightly (the cheese will help it stay rolled up) and slice into mini roll-ups, discarding the ends.

(According to LoseIt, these log in at about 410 calories – and are very filling!)

Yum 🙂

 

regrouping for November | an Instagram essay

 

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Downtown, waiting to begin a family’s photography session.

In recent years, I learned of the phrase, “circling the wagons”. If you aren’t familiar, it alludes to regrouping and getting your game plan straight before proceeding. I feel like that is what November will be for me, and I’m looking forward to it. I have had SUCH a fun fall, spending beautiful afternoons outside photographing amazing families, and then twice as much time at home in my office, editing photos, blogging them, going through the motions of forming a business, designing collateral and launching the website, and reading/watching/learning from other photographers every chance I get.

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 Nighttime routine lately: Make tea, park it in front of the computer.

In the meantime, some things like this blog and workouts have fallen by the wayside. I have to remind myself that while I excitedly want to do it all, priorities have to be made and a realistic mindset is of value. 🙂 Not that I feel things are up and running, I feel like I can re-evaluate and enjoy a more relaxed pace as the early fall turns to holiday time.

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Checklist for a six-week photography business marketing course I enrolled in – very excited!

With the requests for family photos inevitably slowing down for winter time, I’m excited to re-focus on working on technique and learning more about how to grow this little business. I began a four-week course earlier this month centered on posing for various ages and group sizes but because things have been so busy, I’ve yet to start the coursework! I’m excited to have some free evenings again to dive into that information as well as the (intense!) marketing course pictured above.

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Waiting to have my head shot taken by a fellow photog friend!

Loosely related to marketing, I had my head shot taken last week for the website – this is me waiting to get started. I included this just because I know how much it annoys my brother when people take selfies. 🙂

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I’m planning to enjoy some more lounge time at home, reading and catching up on some fall TV with Pager. Having more time again means I can cook more at home – something I’ve been missing. And along with meal planning comes the workout refocus. I’m excited to get back to the gym (feeling READY!) and with a mix of elliptical and running, my mini-goal for the month of November is to attack my friend Robyn’s 30-day plank challenge. (Seriously, if you need a dose of inspiration, Robyn has it for you!)

And while it has been slower lately here on the blog, things are always in the works. I’m looking forward to collaborating with a fabulous company for a holiday neighbor gift DIY, working up a Thanksgiving tablescape, and before you know it, decking the halls for Christmas! Thanks to all for continuing to stop by and check in! Happy fall 🙂