What is motivation and how do you stay motivated?

I feel like it’s important to start with basics, what is motivation anyways? 

motivation

Motivation is the reason behind most of our behaviors. From getting up to get a glass of water to making a commitment to losing weight. Both have motivations behind them. Getting a glass of water is motivated by fulfilling thrust, when losing weight can be motivated by a variety of reasons from feeling healthier to looking a certain way and is a longer multistep process. 

It is easier to sustain motivation for a one small task, but when it comes to long term larger goals it definitely can be very hard. 

There are different types of motivation and causes for it. They are biological, emotional, social, cognitive, value and other types of behaviors. The reasons behind actions are varied depending on what you need them to be. They, however, come down to two main groups- extrinsic and intrinsic motivations. 

Extrinsic motivation comes from outside the individual, its money driven, recognition and praise are large factors in this motivation.

Intrinsic motivation on the other hand comes from within the person. They are not powered by outside sources, rather pure desire to solve something for the satisfaction of simply solving something. 

Human motivation is one of the topics that is continuously researched and is a subject that is getting more and more data gathered. Theories of motivation have been created to understand reasons for motivation better, they are:

Drive theory- this theory follows the idea of maintaining homeostasis. Keeping the body’s needs fulfilled, especially when it comes to needs like hunger and thrust. 

Incentive theory- this theory suggests that motivations that are caused by the outside incentives, such as praise or monetary reward or any form of the outside benefit that you can get for doing certain things. 

Humanistic theory (Maslow's theory of needs)- this theory talks about basic human needs, like getting food and shelter, as well as being safe and having companionship and community. Everything else is secondary and should be fulfilled once these few main needs are taken care of.  

We all know all that, maybe not in the full depth of theories of motivation, but all of it does make sense logically. In theory, motivation is easy and generally not complicated. Staying motivated is the hard part of it all. 

So how do we do that? How do we continuously stay motivated, especially for goals that take a long time to achieve? It’s not an easy task. There wouldn’t be hundreds of books and so many research papers if it was easy. 

However, even though it’s a hard task, there are so many small actionable steps that not only are easy on their own, but are actionable right now. 

In this post, I want to focus on those long term goals and the motivation to achieve them. And if you can hear whispers around you softly saying “habits…  habits… habits” you are on the right track. 

And don’t get me wrong, motivation is still a crucial part of it all. Without motivation the desire to achieve something would not exist, so we desperately need it to fuel the fire inside us that tells us to win the contest, lose weight, become a new Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Steve Jobs or Bill Gates however, didn’t achieve what they did on pure motivation, not even  close. They worked. Hard and long. I can throw another example of Serena Williams, since we are here for wellness and health, she didn’t become one of the top 10 tennis players in the world on pure motivation either. No one ever does. Which brings me to the rule of 10,000 hours. 

 

What is the rule of 10,000 hours? 

motivation postIn “Outliers”, a book by Malcolm Gladwell, he presents a rule of ten thousand hours. The idea is that it takes about 10,000 hours to achieve complete mastery of the matter. It doesn’t matter if it’s playing piano or guitar, starting the best computer company or becoming a pro athlete. It’s the same rule- you put in this time, and you harvest your rewards. Is there something that makes people who achieve these heights different or special? Yes and no. I’m going to lie if I said that the outside world has no part in it. If I were to put it into a formula, it would be something like:

10% motivation + 10%  socioeconomic status + 10% environment + 10% dedication +10% consistency + 10% community +10% right time, right place +10% getting an opportunity+10% putting in the work day in and day out+10% having a mentor

You get the idea though, getting to be great at something is not a straight line, it’s steps back and forth mixed with some shuffling on the same spot and after years of diligent practice things will come. Here’s another caveat, though, you still need to chase them. Just putting in work and waiting for an opportunity to fall on  you from the sky is not going to cut it. Sometimes situations like this happen, but they are not to be expected. Becoming great is hard and there are many people who are but don’t have recognition that they deserve. 

Now, that we have covered some important points, let’s get into tangible steps. That’s what we all here are for anyways! 

 

How does one stay motivated?

Step 1: Figure out your why! Really think about it, why do you want to achieve what you want? 

Let’s use the weight loss goal example to dissect it. Your ‘why’ can be looking a certain way or doing it for your partner (it’s never a good idea btw) or doing it so you just feel healthier and more toned. 

Every single of these ‘whys’ has a different amount of fuel power behind it. 

Looking a certain way, for instance, is capped by the moment you achieve your goal. You got there, you achieved the look, what’s next? If you were dieting yourself to death, chances are you’ll bounce back where you were fairly quickly. But say, you did it right, small calorie deficit with a workout program, you need to have a goal to follow once you get there, because without the next steps that goal you just achieved will not last if you stop doing the steps you were.

Doing it for a partner or someone in your life - that’s not really going to last! While they can encourage you on this journey, you really have to do it for you and that you believe this could have a positive impact on your life. 

Losing weight to feel healthier and more toned would probably be the most sustainable one long term. The weight loss aspect is here, but the goal is not just the look, it's the feeling. That feeling can be in the form of lifting heavier weight and feeling stronger, sleeping better, managing stress better, developing a good healthy relationship with food. And if it’s 5 pounds more than what was planned, guess what, you’ll probably be more ok with it rather than chasing a certain look.

Once you figure out your Why, write it down and put it somewhere where you can see it. It’s one thing to have it in your head at all times, but looking at it has a powerful effect. 

Step 2:  Make your steps small and easy to accomplish. 

If you wake up one day and decide that in a week you will run a marathon, when you can barely run 5k right now, chances are it’s not going to go that well. Most of us have these grand goals, and that’s a good thing. Thinking that this big goal can be achieved overnight or in one big step is just not realistic. While I want to encourage you to make and follow your dreams and goals, I also want to tell you that you need a plan. Your plan needs to be divided into phases, then those phases need to be divided into stages and each of those should have a list of actions you can do every day. Let’s look at our example of running a marathon or 42K without running experience. 

Big Goal: Run a Maraphon. 

Phases: Phase 1- Run a 5K. 

                Phase 2-Run a 10K

                Phase 3-Run a 20K

                Phase 4-Find a marathon, register and keep training before it. 

Phase 1 Stages: Go on a run every day for 30 minutes. Then make it 40, 50, 60 when you can. Track time of every run. Track your mile time progress. 

You get the idea. I specifically decided not to put time frames on it because some people might be able to get there in a few months, others might need a year. All of it depends on how much you want to do it and how quickly you want to achieve it, and the only person who can decide that is YOU. 

Step 3: Visualize your results. 

A lot of people use visualization as a tool and there are a few ways of how to make it work for you. 

One way that can be helpful is implementing a moment of visualization into your morning routine. It is similar to meditation, but instead of clearing your mind, you focus on the end result you want to see. It only takes a couple of minutes to do but doing it daily will keep you on track and turn that technique into a habit that you do. Once you achieve the goal you have you can replace your visualization practice with the next goal. Another common form of visualization is making a mood board. You can combine images that inspire you and bring your mind to the goal at hand. If you choose to do this, you should put your board somewhere where you can always see it. Since we live in a technology generation, it doesn’t have to be a physical board either, you can create a mood board on your computer or phone and put it as a screensaver. 

Step 4: Create a community of like-minded people.

This one is truly key.  How does the saying go? Rome was not built in a day. And definitely not by one person. So why should you be on your journey alone? Regardless of what the motivation is- weight loss, playing an instrument, starting a business, you need people to support you and be with you on this journey together.  Some sources even say to have people around you who either already where you want to be or ahead. I don’t disagree with it, but I think that also adding people who are where you are can help too. You can push each other and confide in your struggles on this specific stage of the journey. 

How to find a community? Like we find anything and everything these days… You google it. Check Instagram and Facebook, look for in person meet ups, whenever that becomes a thing again. There are groups and communities for everything. If older men who love my little pony have their space on the internet, you will find your people. (No shade for bronies, you do you boo) 

Step 5: Schedule your activity and turn it into a habit.

If simply thinking about needing to do something doesn’t do it for you (like it doesn’t for so many people, myself included) schedule it in your planner. Make a point of putting it in your calendar. Something about having it written down or even coming up on your phone that can change the mentality about doing something. No one, and I mean it, literally no single person wakes up motivated every day. That’s just not possible, but the difference is that once you do an activity consistently, for a period of time, it’s not about motivation anymore, but about having a habit to rely on. For a pure motivation to turn it into a habit will require time, consistency and powering over yourself and just doing it. 

Step 6: Practice more.

The more you do something, the better you become. Like with our running example, you first need to run a 5K to run a 15K to then run 25K. But once you’ve been running for a few months, it won’t feel nearly as painful as it did in the beginning. You’ll be better at it. 

It’s very hard to jump from 0 to a 100, but practicing day in and day out, doing the work, scheduling it, still showing up when you don’t want to, all of this will make you better and closer to your goal!

Step 7: Community yet once again.

I want to reinstate yet again, how important the community aspect really is. It’s one thing to have support from your family and friends, and completely different to be surrounded by people who are with you walking the walk. 

 

To really bring it all together, shit is hard. Life is hard. Being motivated all the time is hard. Nothing is impossible, and nothing happens overnight. Your favorite YouTuber probably spent years building the community before they became famous, your favorite athlete trains for 7 hours per day, so they are able to compete. If you're reading this thinking, “well, I know this one company that just blew up overnight.” My question to you would be- do you know how much time they spent planning it? Designing their products and services? Figuring out marketing strategy before they even launched? No one but them knows, but I’m fairly confident it wasn’t a couple of hours on a Wednesday afternoon. 

You have a goal? You are motivated to do it? Jump in then! Ride that motivation wave and build the habits you need to do it in the long run. 

And if you don’t believe me, I will leave you with some quotes by smart people of the past:

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together. - Vincent Van Gogh

Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out. - Robert Collier

Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs. - Henry Ford

Step by step. I can't think of any other way of accomplishing anything. - Michael Jordan

Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones tend to take care of themselves. - Dale Carnegie

Sources:

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-motivation-2795378

https://www.verywellmind.com/theories-of-motivation-2795720

https://positivepsychology.com/what-is-motivation/

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-motivation-2795378

https://www.bustle.com/articles/172824-11-ways-to-stay-motivated-focused-to-achieve-your-goals

https://jamesclear.com/motivation

https://nickwignall.com/stay-motivated/

https://hbr.org/2018/11/how-to-keep-working-when-youre-just-not-feeling-it

https://au.reachout.com/articles/tips-for-getting-and-staying-motivated

https://www.inc.com/lolly-daskal/19-simple-ways-to-stay-motivated-that-actually-work.html

 

By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio


Exciting New Tool to Help You Master Your Health

A while back we were thinking about creating something that can serve people in a good way and be an affordable tool for health, fitness and nutrition. 

A year and a half later, after many hours and a ton of research, we finally made it to the finish line!

We wrote an ebook, called Master Your Health

There’s so much misinformation regarding fitness and nutrition, and our goal was to make something that is based on science, is affordable, easy to digest and filled with helpful information. 

Master Your Health is the name of the book, and you can buy it by clicking on the image. There is no monthly subscription or any recurring payments. It’s a one time purchase of $24.99, and it’s yours forever.

About the authors: 

Amanda Rocchio. Amanda struggled with an eating disorder in high school, but was able to make full recovery. After realizing that starving yourself is not the way to be healthy, nor is it sustainable, she decided to make it her life’s purpose to help others on their health journey and provide helpful and easy tips on healthy lifestyle that don’t break the bank. 

Chris Rocchio. Chris spent his 20s managing a band and living a party lifestyle. It wasn’t until his 30s that he realized that the way he was feeling wasn’t something that felt good nor what he wanted long term. He made a commitment to himself and his health and gave his all to researching everything about living healthy and sharing that with people. 

What’s in the book:

This 90 page ebook is filled with so much useful and practical information that you can start implementing in your life from day one. 

You get:

-mindset and goal setting worksheets that you can print out and write on to keep yourself on track when achieving your goals. 

-nutritional principles that will help you make sustainable, long term changes to your eating habits.

-workout programs that are good for everyone no matter the fitness level, from complete beginners who never worked out to people who have been working out for years.

-fitness foundations and principles on building a program that will give you results and will be enjoyable to do. 

- 30 recipes that don’t take a lot of time, can be perfect for meal prep and are filled with nutrients and vitamins. 

 

Sneak Previews from the Master Your Health Ebook:

Q&A:

Can it be helpful for someone over 50?

Absolutely positively yes. This book is for all adult ages and fitness levels, from people who never held a dumbbell in their life to someone who’s been lifting for years. 

How much is it?

The book is $24.99 as a one time purchase. 

How quickly do I get access to the book?

Immediately. Once you complete the purchase, it will take you to the book that you can then save on your computer.  You will also receive an email with the copy within a few minutes after purchase. 

Do I need gym access for the workouts?

No you don’t. Most of the exercises have both home versions and the gym one, so you can do the workouts from anywhere with minimal equipment. 

Can the nutrition and the food recommendations be useful for someone not living in the US? 

Absolutely! With a few brand name exceptions specific to the US, 99.9% of the recommendations are applicable for any country in the world. 

Where can I buy it? 

You can buy Master your Health by clicking this link.

 

Reviews: 

"Ur book saved my life...in three months I've lost 10kg"

"I love that they share realistic tips that are easy to incorporate into everyday life and all kinds of helpful tools like checklists, healthy foods, example workouts, tutorials, and delicious recipes that I can actually make!"

"...it has changed my healthy eating game drastically!!"

“I just purchased mine, and I’m super excited”

So, what are you waiting for?

Get on your health journey today!


How to Build a Balanced Lunch with Recipes & Ideas

While I try not to play favorites, lunch is one of my favorite meals of the day. It’s a great opportunity to load up on protein and other nutrients that will sustain you throughout the second half of the day, and there are endless options no matter what you’re craving. There really are so many ways to create a healthy and filling lunch combination! I know that it can be easy to get ‘stuck’ eating the same meals that you typically make and it’s also important to switch it up from time to time. That’s why I wanted to share some different ways to put together a balanced lunch along with some of my favorite recipes that you’ll love and can whip up without investing too much time in case you’re looking for some inspiration! ⁠⁠⁠

 

What are some key aspects to a balanced lunch?

Some of the most important factors to any balanced lunch include high quality sources of protein, vegetables, healthy carbs and fat. And as always, have fun with it by incorporating foods and spices you love! Here are a few examples of the basics when building a filling and nutritious lunch:

Here’s what’s in the Egg Combo:⁠⁠⁠

-Romaine lettuce⁠⁠

-Hard boiled eggs⁠⁠

-Shredded carrots⁠⁠

-Red onion ⁠⁠⁠

-Tomato⁠⁠

-Bleu cheese⁠⁠⁠

+ Seasoning⁠⁠ & dressing of choice⁠⁠

⁠⁠⁠⁠

Here’s what’s in the Salmon Combo:⁠⁠⁠⁠

-Brown rice⁠⁠

-Baked wild-caught salmon ⁠⁠⁠

-Edamame⁠⁠

-Roasted sweet potato⁠⁠

-Sautéed mushroom⁠⁠

-Sesame seeds⁠⁠

+oil & seasoning⁠⁠⁠

⁠⁠⁠⁠

Here’s what’s in the Chicken Combo:⁠⁠⁠

-Spinach⁠⁠

-Grilled chicken⁠⁠⁠

-Roasted cauliflower ⁠⁠⁠

-Cucumber⁠⁠

-Cooked beets⁠⁠

-Feta⁠⁠

+oil & seasoning ⁠⁠⁠

⁠⁠⁠⁠

Here’s what’s in the Shrimp Combo: ⁠⁠⁠

-Quinoa⁠⁠

-Shrimp⁠⁠

-Roasted asparagus⁠⁠

-Bell pepper⁠⁠

-Corn⁠⁠

-Avocado ⁠⁠⁠

+seasoning ⁠⁠⁠

⁠⁠⁠⁠

What to do:⁠⁠⁠⁠

1- Prepare your base, protein of choice, vegetables, and healthy fat. ⁠⁠⁠

2- Place it all on a plate and enjoy! ⁠⁠⁠

 

 

What about lunches on-the-go?

So now that we’ve established the most important aspects of building a blanched lunch, let’s look at some other delicious combinations that are perfect for when putting together lunch boxes on-the-go. Bento boxes are great for when eating lunch out and about. Not only are they cute AF, but bento boxes are a great way to pack delicious and healthy meals ahead of time that will keep you on track with your goals. Here are a few of my favorite lunch box combinations:

What’s in the Classic: 

-2 veggie egg cups

-Celery with peanut butter

-Blueberries & blackberries

⁠⠀

What you’ll need for the Italian:

-Prosciutto

-Grape tomatoes & mozzarella balls

-Mixed greens salad

⁠⠀

What you’ll need for the Southwest:⁠

-Seasoned ground beef and cauliflower rice

Sautéed in olive oil

-Guacamole

-Bell pepper slices

⁠⠀

What you’ll need for the Greek:⁠

-Seasoned chicken thigh

-Quinoa salad

-Kalamata and green olives

⁠⠀

What you’ll need for the Protein Packed:

-2 hard boiled eggs

-Edamame and raw almonds

-Apple slices with almond butter

⁠⠀

What you’ll need for the Smoked Salmon:

-Smoked salmon

-High fiber crackers

-Cucumber, carrots & hummus

 

Some of my favorite at-home lunch recipes

While bento boxes can be the perfect solution if you have a busy schedule during the day, there are plenty of quick, easy and flavor-packed lunches you can make at home if that’s more your jam. From poke bowls to wraps, I got you covered with these 6 lunch ideas:

 

Protein-Packed Poke Bowl

Let’s be real! Poke bowls are straight up delicious, aesthetically pleasing, and come loaded with nutrients. I know it may seem intimidating at first, but poke bowls are actually pretty easy to make and can be prepared with almost any combination of colorful whole-food ingredients. Just make sure to check with your fishmonger that you’re getting sushi-grade fish and that it’s safe to eat raw.⁠⠀

Here’s what you’ll need for the poke bowl:⁠

4oz ahi tuna

1 cup brown rice⁠

¼ cup edamame

¼ cup carrots

¼ cup cucumber

¼ cup red cabbage

¼ cup avocado

⁠⠀

Optional sauces/toppings:⁠

Coconut aminos or soy sauce

Sesame seeds⁠

Tahini sauce⁠

Olive oil if you want to sauté the purple cabbage⁠

⁠⠀

Here’s what to do: ⁠⠀

1- Cook the brown rice according to package instructions.

2- Chop up all of the vegetables and tuna.

3- Sauté the purple cabbage in olive oil for a few minutes if your prefer it cooked.

3- Add the cooked brown rice to a bowl.⁠

4- Top with the rest of the ingredients.⁠

5- Add your fav sauce.⁠

6- Enjoy!⁠

 

5 Ingredient Lunch Recipe using Pantry Items Only 

While making lunch with fresh produce or animal protein is always a good choice, I thought I’d include a super easy recipe that you can make with ingredients in your pantry! This recipe is great as a side dish too if you want to add extra protein or veggies to the mix.⁠

Here’s what you need:

(Makes about 6 servings, a little over a cup each)⁠

1 can black beans

1 can corn⁠

1 cup dry quinoa⁠

1/4-1/2 cup salsa⁠

3 tbsp olive oil⁠

Sea salt (optional)⁠

 

What to do:⁠

1- Cook the quinoa according to the package.⁠

2- Drain and rinse the can of corn & black beans.⁠

3- Combine the quinoa, corn, blacks & olive oil in a bowl.⁠

4- Add sea salt or desired seasoning.⁠

5- Store in fridge & add salsa when ready to eat.⁠

 

Pre-made lunch with the help of Daily Harvest:

Sometimes you just want to save on time and energy when it comes to thinking up and making lunch. That’s why Daily Harvest pre-made meals can be so helpful! The best part is, you only have to prep a protein source of choice and optional fun veggie to make it a well-rounded meal. 

What you need:

1 Daily Harvest Bowl

1 protein of choice, like eggs or chicken

Option to add an extra veggie but definitely not necessary

 

What to do:

1 - Add ingredients of daily harvest to a pan. Cook for 4-6 minutes (adding 1-2 tbsp water if necessary).

2 - While that’s cooking, cook your protein in a separate pan.

3 - Once ready, add to a plate and enjoy!

 

Shrimp Tacos for 2 (or meal prepped for another day)

I always like incorporating different types of seafood when I can and I thought what better way than with this easy shrimp, avocado taco combination. The best part is, it makes 4 tacos so you can share with a friend or save extras for later. This was also my first time trying Siete Foods almond flour tortillas and I have to say they are a winner! If you’re looking for gluten-free, grain tortillas definitely give them a try. Full recipe below:

What you need:

(makes 4 tacos)

1 large avocado

4 almond flour tortillas

1/4 cup red onion, chopped

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into pieces

2 tbsp cilantro

6-8oz shrimp

2 tsp olive oil

Seasoning mix of choice

 

What to do:

1 - Add olive oil to a hot pan

2 - Add the shrimp and seasoning mix in. Cook for about 4-5 minutes (until shrimp is totally pink and opaque).

3 - Remove tails and set aside.

4 - Mash the avocado with a fork and evenly distribute between tortillas

5 - Add the shrimp, onion & tomatoes

6 - Top with cilantro and enjoy!

 

Wraps 6 Ways

Wraps make a great lunch and can be a great way to pack in nutrients from whole foods while enjoying a tasty and filling meal. Plus, they can be customized to fit your preferences! One important thing to note when choosing your tortilla is that many traditional tortillas have little-to-no nutrients intact due to the way the grain is processed and bleached. A better choice would be something like the Ezekiel sprouted tortilla or almond flour tortilla like Siete’s or even whole wheat wrap that has more beneficial nutrients intact and is minimally processed.

What you need for the Southwest:⁠

Tortilla⁠

Seasoned steak⁠

Mashed avocado

¼ cup corn

¼ cup black beans

¼ cup shredded cheese

Handful of cherry tomatoes

What you need for the Veggie Wrap:⁠

Tortilla

2-3 slices Beefsteak tomato

Arugula

¼ cup red onion⁠

5-6 cucumber slices

¼ cup shredded carrot

¼ cup hummus

What you need for the Italian Wrap:⁠

Tortilla

¼ cup pesto

3-4 pieces prosciutto

Artichoke hearts

Roasted red pepper

Basil

4-5 mozzarella balls

What you need for the Classic:⁠

Tortilla

Organic turkey slices

Gouda

¼ cup avocado

¼ cup white onion⁠

2-3 slices beefsteak tomato

Butter lettuce⁠

Sauce like mustard⁠

What you need for the Thai Peanut:⁠

Tortilla

Seasoned chicken

¼ cup purple cabbage

¼ cup shredded carrot

¼ cup peanuts

Red bell pepper

Spinach⁠

Cilantro to taste

Sauce like coconut aminos⁠

What you need for the Breakfast Wrap:⁠

Tortilla

2 eggs

Cherry tomatoes

Spinach

Mushrooms⁠

¼ cup roasted sweet potato⁠

1 tbsp feta

What to do:

1- Prepare roasted sweet potato if making the breakfast wrap and saute the spinach, mushrooms & tomatoes if making the breakfast wrap.

2- If using hummus, pesto or mashed avocado, spread it on the tortilla.

3- Add the other ingredients to your heart’s desire.

4- Dig in!

 

As always I hope these are helpful! Let me know which combo is your favorite in the comments!

Xx,

Amanda


acne post

Natural Ways to Heal & Prevent Acne

If you clicked on this post, chances are you might be struggling with acne. As hopeless as it might feel from time to time, we live in the world that’s filled with different treatments, procedures and things of this nature. So, let’s get into it with answering a few of the common questions that you might have:

Question and Answer Overview

woman embarrassed over acne

-Is my acne going to stay with me forever?

-Chances are if you don’t do anything about it, it probably won’t. I’m sure, if you are reading this and clicked on this post in general you do have a desire to do something to treat it. Research shows that in the forty’s acne tends to go away, for some women it also goes away with menopause. If it still seems like a long time, treatments are there and they usually take a month or so to really start working, so patience is key.

-Does my diet affect my skin?

- It can, yes. Hormonal balance should be taken into consideration, but a diet filled with heavily processed food and foods high in sugar can have an impact. Skin is so different from person to person and what might cause flare ups for one might go completely unnoticed for another. The best piece of advice is to test it out. If you feel like you get more breakouts after certain foods try removing them from your diet for a while and see if the breakouts persist. This one is a long haul but once you find foods that cause your skin to break out it’ll feel so great! 

-Is there a best way to prevent acne?

-Yes and no. Similar to the diet, it's very individual from person to person. Not touching your face can be an easy first step not to spread bacteria that causes acne to grow. If you do have skin problems, it’s key to be aware of what products you use not only for your face, but also for your hair. Using oil-based products for hair can be a factor that does affect your skin. If you do get occasional breakouts, it might also not be the worst idea to be using acne fighting skin care can be something you might need to do even when you don’t have breakouts to keep the skin at bay.

-How do I treat acne?

There’s a large spectrum of treatments from topical over the counter solutions to steroid shots. Depending on the state of your skin and the severity of acne it might be a good idea to consult with a dermatologist and see what recommendations they make.

There are lots of over the counter options that do have lower dosage of active ingredients that can be a good starting point. Retinoids for example, can be a good option since they not only help with acne but also help prevent and minimize wrinkles and lines on the face. 

Now that we got some things out of the way, let’s dive deeper into where acne usually comes from.

 

Main causes for the adult acne:

woman stressed working

Hormones

Hormones have a huge effect on acne, especially in women. Estrogen and progesterone are hormones associated with acne. Birth control plays a huge part with both starting and being on birth control as well as coming off if it. It can help with acne but also be a causing factor of making it worse. Acne in women also can flare up around the menstrual cycle.  

Stress

Stress literally affects everything in the body, acne is no exception. Stress causes androgens to be produced in larger amounts, that stimulate oil glands production and contribute to acne.

Diet

Chocolate and sugary foods might not necessarily cause acne, however poor diet that is high in processed foods can cause inflammation, which in return can cause acne to come out and play.

Skin and Hair products

Skincare is not all made with the same standard. Lots of skincare brands use products that can clog your pores and cause oil production. When looking to buy skin products it’s important to read the ingredients and make sure that they are oil free, non-acnegenic as well as non-comedogenic.

Family history

Genetics do play a part in acne. If your close family member has or had acne in the past there’s a chance you are more genetically 

Medications

Some medications can cause acne as a side effect. Medications containing steroids, hormonal birth control and testosterone. 

Not all hope is lost though. There are many ways to treat acne both from inside as well as topically. If you are wondering what options are out there and what could be a better fit for you this part is the one to pay attention to! The treatments range from natural remedies to lifestyle adjustments and topical or oral medications both over the counter and prescriptions. 

 

What do I use to treat acne?

Young woman with clay mask at home, closeup

Natural remedies: 

Apple cider vinegar

This one is interesting. It is known to help in balancing skin’s pH balance and reduce the oiliness of the skin. Apple cider vinegar, however, is very strong and can cause burns on the skin, so diluting it down with water is the safest way to use it. It is also important to know that for sensitive skin you might have to add more water to the mixture and just be careful with is as it can cause burns

1-4 ratio is recommended 1 part acv to 4 parts water, apply with a cotton ball, let it sit for 15-20 seconds and wash it off after. The recommendation is to do it 1-2 times a day. In my personal opinion I’d say the best way is to try it, see how you react and adjust it from there. Maybe it’s once a day for you, maybe it’s once every two or three days. Listen to your body and if you get redness and skin burn, this option is not for you. 

Iced skin roller

While using an iced skin roller won’t prevent acne from coming, doing it regularly will help reduce inflammation and keep your acne in check. You can add this practice on a weekly or daily basis, even if you are not struggling with acne, it’s a nice anti-inflammatory massage that feels great and doesn’t cause any damage to the skin.

It is important to remember to disinfect the roller before using it as well as after so as to kill the bacteria. 

Turmeric

Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory agent and there are a variety of ways in which it can be used to treat acne. Turmeric contains curcuminoids with the active ingredient being curcumin that has disease and cancer fighting properties.

There are multiple ways to incorporate turmeric into your acne treatment routine.

-drinking turmeric tea. Turmeric tea is available in most grocery stores. You can also make your own using the raw turmeric and boil it with some water. The tea can aid digestive processes which benefits the microbiome and in return helps with acne from inside out.

-making a turmeric mask. There are plenty of different recipes for masks with turmeric that you can try. The key thing to remember is that turmeric is yellow and can stain clothes, so that’s something to be careful about.

-add turmeric root to your food or drinks. Raw turmeric is available in the majority of grocery stores and there are many recipes that incorporate it. It adds the flavor and helps with acne. Win-win.

There are more ways to use turmeric but most importantly just incorporating it into your regular protocol can be a helpful and powerful tool.

Zinc (topical or as a supplement)

Zinc is one of the essential nutrients and is a key player in cell growth and hormone production as well as metabolism and immunity support. There’s been research showing that people who have acne have lower amounts of zinc in their system than people who don’t have acne.

You can take zinc orally as a supplement or you can use topical creams that have zinc in them. When taking orally it is very important to take it with food, for it might cause nausea. Daily recommended dose is within 45 mg, which is more than enough for general health as well as acne curing properties. 

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil is a natural oil that’s anti-inflammatory as well as antibacterial. This is important because we need to not only kill current acne but also the bacteria that causes it. Tea Tree oil has been compared to benzoyl peroxide, a common medication against acne.

Tea Tree Oil can be found in a plethora of products, like creams and gels, and of course they come in essential oil form, that should be diluted with water before using it on your face.

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba Oil is a great tool in helping skin repair, wound healing and clearing acne lesions. It is anti-inflammatory and it helps to reduce redness and swelling of your acne. Study shows that after using jojoba oil mask 2-3 times a week for 6 weeks 54% skin improvement has been reported.

You can add jojoba oil to a cream or a gel or just add a few drops to the cotton ball and use over active acne sores. 

Aloe Vera

You might know that aloe has the anti-inflammatory properties and helps with sunburn, but it also has been known to reduce acne breakouts and even prevent them from happening. The way to use it is to clean your face first and then apply 10% aloe gel or cream over acne spots.

Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel is a pretty popular solution. It’s full of tannins that have anti-inflammatory properties. Even though research on acne treatment is small, witch hazel has been known to help with dandruff, eczema, burns, bruises and bites.

You can either make your own mixture with a tablespoon of witch hazel bark and 1 cup of water that you will brew and then store for use or you can get the commercially prepared one, but it is important to make sure that it contains tannins.

Green Tea

Green tea is great when it comes to calming down your skin. It’s full of antioxidants and is known to help get the buildup waste out of the acne sores. It reduces inflammation and helps reduce sebum production.

You can either drink it or use the extract topically on your skin. There has been a study proving that using polyphenol green tea extract topically for 8 weeks brought acne down 80-90%.

Exfoliate

Exfoliating can be an important missing piece of your day-to-day routine. What it does is it gets rid of old dead skin cells and lets new ones to form. There are many products that can be used to exfoliate, there are chemical exfoliants as well as natural scrubs. The best way to match with a scrub is to find one that is created for your skin type.

 

Lifestyle Changes:

Low glycemic load diet

Food has an effect on your skin and even though it might not be the main factor it is still a contributing factor to the issue.

Glycemic index measures how quickly the food raises blood sugar levels. High glycemic index foods cause a rise in insulin that promotes sebum production and leads to acne.

Foods that have high GI are: white bread, sodas, cakes, baked goods, candies.

Foods with low GI: fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, whole grains.

Cut down dairy

Dairy is known to have hormones such as IGF-1 which is connected to acne. Even though the relationship between dairy and acne still needs more research it has been found that for a lot of people removing dairy has been life changing.

The way to test if dairy affects your skin is to remove it for a couple weeks and see if there are changes happening in your skin. Unfortunately most things from this list have to be trial and error but it is always worth testing it out and hopefully it becomes your new solution.

Not touching your face

This one seems generally easy, but it’s a hard one and an important one. Not touching your face can prevent the spread of bacteria, so try not to touch your face. Mk. I believe in you.

Finding skincare that works for you

It’s not only the skincare products that need to be carefully chosen to work with your skin, but also hair products. Focusing on things that don’t have parabens in them is important, as well as looking for products that are oil free and natural.

Drinking enough water

Staying hydrated can help with not just the hydration on the inside, but hydrating the skin from inside out. When your skin is dry it’s more prone to outbreaks. The amount of water that you should be drinking is linked to your physical activity as well as height and weight, someone who weights 110 pounds will need less water than someone who’s 170 pounds.

 Reducing stress

The hormones that are being released when you are stressed out can increase inflammation and make your acne worse. Stress also can affect bacteria in your gut that can lead to inflammation as well.

Focusing on getting more sleep, working out regularly, meditating and using variety of relaxation techniques can help keep those hormones in check and in return control the inflammation that causes acne.

 

Topical over the counter solutions:

Salicylic Acid

This one is one of the most popular ingredients to use for acne. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) and is an exfoliant. It’s oil soluble, which helps to unclog the pores and get deeper into the skin than chemical exfoliants.

A lot of stores carry products with Salicylic Acid, from CVS to Sephora. There are exfoliants, cleansers, tonics and serums. If this ingredient works for you can easily create a full skin care with products containing it.

Pros: 

-Salicylic Acid exfoliates skin, decreases inflammation and kills microbes that cause acne so it is three in one product that will take care of your acne all around. 

-If you have oily skin, it is known to help reduce skin oil and balance the skin. 

-It is safe to use for all skin types, if you use it in the lower dosages. 

Cons:

-Salicylic Acid can cause allergic reactions in individuals who are sensitive to ingredients in the cream such as salicylic acid aspirin. 

-Can cause moderate chemical burns when using a high dosage of Salicylic Acid. Over the counter products should not have more than 2% for the ones that you leave on your face and 3% for the ones you rinse off. Higher dosage are prescription only and can be higher. 

-If you already have dry skin using salicylic acid may cause it to overly exfoliate and cause discomfort. 

 

Benzoyl Peroxide

It is an antibacterial ingredient and helps to kill C. acnes bacteria which is one of the cane species. If you have sensitive skin creams containing benzoyl peroxide can dry it out but it has been known and proven to have great results. Anything more than 25 will not necessarily make a difference. High concentration is harsher on the skin but not necessarily harder on the bacteria.

Pros:

-Benzoyl Peroxide kills bacteria that causes acne. 

-Benzoyl Peroxide is anti-inflammatory and can help reduce the amount of oxygen in the skin which in return helps reduce acne. 

-It is known that lower concentrations of Benzoyl Peroxide can be more effective than high ones. 

Cons:

-Using too much Benzoyl Peroxide can dehydrate skin and make it dry and itchy.

-Benzoyl Peroxide can thin the pores which can minimize the ability of the skin to protect itself from the sun. Using sunscreen can prevent that. 

Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic acid tend to be the most popular and easily available ones, however there are a few other medications that are available in lower doses for over the counter purchase: 

Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Polyhydroxy Acids (PHAs), Retinoids, Adapalene, Sulfur, Azelaic Acid are some other options to look at. For medical grade acne care it is best however to consult with a dermatologist.

 

Other solutions:

If you feel like the topical solutions won’t quite cut it for you, again, going to a dermatologist for help is your best bet. They are the ones who can fully diagnose the severity of your acne and prescribe heavy duty things like: 

Oral Medications, Cortisone Injections or even Antibiotics.

All this information might seem overwhelming, and it is. The world is full of treatments and preventative care for acne.

To really bring it all together, like with most medical related things, it is best to talk to a specialist if it is a big concern for you and work out the course of action that is specific and is designed for You!

If you have breakouts here and there and that’s not something that’s deeply affecting your day to day life, maybe start with holistic options or over-the-counter solutions and go from there. 

My belief is no matter how big or small talking to the specialist is a safe route and potentially the best long-term plan.

 

By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio


House Updates: How We Upgraded Our Home Decor

Chris & Amanda in the kitchen

It's time for some life updates! If you didn't know, Chris and I recently moved from Los Angeles City to about an hour outside in Orange County. We decided to rent a house before deciding where we want to finally buy. We've been loving the more suburban, greener life out in OC instead of dealing with all the traffic & craziness of LA. Although don't get me wrong, Los Angeles were some of the best times of my life!

Anyways, my dear friend Alex aka @simply_sanford helped me update a lot of my home decor and find key furniture pieces I needed. While nutrition and fitness are definitely my forte, I was pretty much at a loss on where to start with decorating a house! Having a virtual interior designer by my side was truly a blessing. I highly recommend Simply Sandford Co. and can’t say enough about her ability to piece together a room no matter your budget. Left to my own devices it probably would’ve been a mismatched disaster ;) or maybe rainbow puke colors? Who knows, and thank goodness we'll never find out. 

welcome

Without further ado, let's get started on the details...

The Entrance Way

Alex helped build the entrance way around this Living Spaces entry piece. Her top recommendations:

  • Add a lighter color hook rack to the left of the piece
  • Add a black mirror above the entrance piece to make the room appear more spacious
  • Swap out current baskets for lighter color baskets to tie in the lighter hook rack and to add more color to the entrance room

The new decorative element we added were either from Home Goods or Target. She additionally gave the recommendation of adding taller decorative pieces in the future to the entrance way table.

The Dining Room

In the dining room, we made some simple updates.

Here overall recommendations:

  • Swap out the aqua curtains from some plain white ones
  • Add in artwork with a light wood frame

Honestly, I was lucky this dining table, benches and matching silver lamp was a gift from my parents. I really love the elegant style and that the large table provides plenty of room for guests!

The Music Zone

music room

To be honest, I'm not quite sure what to call this zone of the house BUT I absolutely love their piece of furniture Alex recommended from Urban Outfitters. It's a great excuse to expand your record collection and a nice addition to my home decor.

Some details of this area include:

Alex's other tip was to add some taller decorate pieces to this shelf. I'm working on that plus expanding our record collection.

The Outdoor Area

home decor - outdoor area

This was a fun area since we were pretty much starting from scratch. The photo on the left were camping chairs we had on hand and the table I picked out with Alex. It was great to see the outdoor area finally come together.

The details:

Per Alex's recommendation, I also got some cute plants to put in the center. Look at me, I'll be a pro at home decor in no time ;)

The Kitchen

Not really many home decor updates here other than these cute barstools I got from Target! I love how the black part ties into the kitchen and the wood tops tie into the theme of the rest of the house. Of course that was all @simply_sanford's recommendations.

The Living Room

home decor - the living room

The living room room was a fun space to update once we found the right TV console. We built the room around the grey couch I got custom made from HD Buttercup. With supply chain issues from the pandemic, I will say the shipping delays and trying to find a TV / media console in stock was rather challenging. Luckily, we found one in the end and tied it together with a light wood tray.

The details:

The Bedroom

home decor - bedroom

The bedroom changes were definitely life-changing! I will say Alex was the first person to teach me how to properly make a bed (LOL). Although I'm sure my parents probably attempted to teach me in the past, I was just most likely not listening. We all know how that goes... Anyhow, Alex and I built the room around the Mid Century Modern bed frame and nightstand Chris has previously purchased from Living Spaces. Unfortunately, they discontinued the bedroom furniture Chris bought but if you search 'Mid Century Modern Walnut Bed Frame' you can find similar options like this one from West Elm or other cheaper options too.

Here are some of the details we added:

home decor - bedroom

Alex also somehow found this dark wood dresser from Wayfair that pretty much perfectly matched the bedroom set Chris had and we got some light wood floating shelves from target to add in a decorative elements to the bedroom.

My Office

home decor - the office

I have a fun white and gold theme going in my office and loved this white ladder bookcase Alex recommended as stylish & simple home decor piece.

The details:

Those are the main areas of the house we really focused on! I honestly can't say enough about Alex working around pieces you already have. I would definitely check out her blog, simplysanfordco.com and Instagram, @simply_sanford for tons of interior design tips and budget friendly finds!

I definitely have a few more decorative elements to incorporate here and there but I'm so happy with how far our place has come. Here's to a home that makes you happy and comfortable.

Lots of love,

Amanda aka MeowMeix


Ways to Help Reduce Everyday Stress

We are surrounded by stress. The speed of life and technology in large part are responsible for a decent amount of that stress. Before, when you left work you left all the communication at work, now emails follow you home in the evening and you wake up to more work. 

You hear about meditation and yoga everywhere as ways to help reduce stress. And you might be thinking, but how… How am I supposed to take care of work, family, kids, and still have time to dedicate to meditation. That usually goes to the background. 

So if you clicked on this post, you’re probably wondering how you can reduce your everyday stress, so let’s just cut to the chase. Here are a list of 10 tools to use: 

 

1. Guided Imagining Visualization

Guided Imagining has been used for a long time in different indigenous cultures as well as Hinduism and as a part of Chinese medicine. It wasn’t until the 1960s that it was introduced by Joseph Wolpe. It has grown in it’s popularity since then and multiple doctors incorporated it into their practice. 

How do you do it? This method is taught by a professional and usually is a practice that takes 10 minutes a day and the course lasts from four to eight weeks. The goal of GI is to use images from your mind to help find ways to create symbolic associations with certain feelings. Essentially it’s accessing memories or images in your mind and linking them with a state of relaxation. 

It has been proven to help with depression, successfully reduce stress and aid as an anxiety treatment. It also has been known to help with pain management and even as cancer therapy. GI has been researched and proven to be beneficial through the decades. 

 

2. EFT

EF,T also known as Tapping has been introduced in the 90’s by Gary Craig. This method combines cognitive as well as somatic elements. 

How do you do it? EFT or Emotional freedom technique works by tapping on nine acupoints while saying affirmations or short phrases with important meaning while tapping. Based on the research, imaginal exposure when paired with acupressure can help reduce midbrain hyperarousal and reduces stress and anxiety as well as helps work through and reduce traumatic memories. 

EFT can help reduce pain perception, help with the way certain phobias affect anxiety and depression and even PTSD. 

 

3. Prioritize Sleep

Sometimes even taking a nap is helpful but it’s not something that can be easily done when needed. It is important however to prioritize sleep and a stable sleep schedule. We make kids have a bedtime, yet when we grow up we don’t think of it as nearly as important to be on a schedule. 

How do you do it? Well, we all know how to sleep. But there are a couple tricks that can make sleep better: 

-Turn off technology at least 30 minutes, ideally 60-90 minutes before going to bed. 

-Wear some blue light blockers if you have to use the computer late. 

-Create an evening routine that’s relaxing on it’s own and is focused on winding down.

-Read some fiction to escape this world and go somewhere different and stress free.

-Have the window open before going to bed to keep the room cool- cool air aids in better sleep quality.

Better sleep quality will aid in stress reduction just by normalizing the cortisol production cycle. Also, to provide a simple example of how much of a difference it makes, have you ever been so busy during the week and then had a proper night’s sleep on a weekend and felt truly revived… Imagine that, but every night. 

 

4. Transcendental Meditation

This meditation technique was first introduced to the west by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a scholar of the ancient Vedic tradition of India.

What is it and how does one do it? The Transcendental Meditation is a 20 minute meditation that you do two times a day with your eyes closed while saying a mantra. This matra is different to every person and is dedicated to promote a natural shift of awareness to the peaceful state while being awake. TM is taught by a certified teacher and it is taught in the form of a 7 step course. Through this meditation you can reach a state of transcendental consciousness, which is not quite an awake state nor sleeping. 

This technique can help improve brain function as well as attention. Studies have shown that this technique improves stress resilience in people who practice it. TM can also help in anxiety reduction, overall depression and stress management as well as better recovery from stress.

5. Journaling

You probably have heard this one before, and you might even roll your eyes right about now, but please, let me tell you. It’s not that different from therapy, but you can do it for free in the comfort of your own home. Sometimes just writing out your feelings and thoughts can help release them from the body onto the paper and that alone is so beneficial. 

Journaling can help reduce stress and manage the negative thoughts that are causing it. It can improve cognitive functioning and even immune system response! Who doesn’t want that? 

And if you’re thinking that you’re not much of a journaling person, I get it, there have been products developed specifically for you, like a 5 minute journal. Take 5 minutes out of your day to write down things that you’re grateful for and that bring you joy in your life and that can go a long way. Morning pages is another cool practice of free form writing 3 pages every morning as a stream of consciousness. That will take more time, that’s for sure, but I’m just providing you options and ideas and you can go for whatever works best for you, dear reader!

 

6. Healing Dance

You heard it right, dance as a way to de-stress. We know that exercise is a good form of de-stressing. You can dance in the morning when you wake up or when you’re taking a break from work in the middle of the day or at any time you’re feeling stressed out and you just need to switch the wavelengths. 

How do you do it? Turn on some of your favorite music, (if you have roommates or family members who you don’t want to witness your dancing, close the door) and just dance. Jump around, shake your arms and hands to shake off all the negative energy. It might feel silly in the beginning, but I promise you, even one song, 3 minutes of just dancing by yourself will make you feel so much better. 

It has been documented that music has soothing powers but combined with movement it helps release endorphins and make you feel calmer, happier and overall less stressed out. 

 

7. Diaphragmatic Breathing

Technically speaking, diaphragmatic breathing is the proper way to breathe, but breathing with our chest is just an easier and quicker way so we adapted to doing that. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just different. 

Diaphragmatic breathing is breathing deep through the stomach and it has been known to have so many positive effects. It helps you relax during the practice, brings down levels of stress and helps with sleep and digestion. It even has been proven to be beneficial for people with PTSD.

Practice this simple exercise to improve your diaphragmatic breathing:

  1. Find a comfortable position either lying on your back or sitting. If you're sitting down, make sure that you keep your back straight, have both feet on the floor, and release the tension in your shoulders by letting them drop.
  2. Close your eyes. Alternatively, you can keep your eyes open (and eventually you likely will) but closing your eyes helps you to focus on the mechanics of breathing rather than outside stimuli.
  3. Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
  4. Take a few breaths as you normally would. Does your belly rise and fall with every breath in (inhalation) and every breath out (exhalation)? If you can answer "yes," that's good. This is the natural way of breathing. If your belly stays still but your chest rises and falls with every breath, practice breathing by only allowing your belly to rise and fall when you breathe in and out.
  5. Continue to take deep breaths, concentrating on only moving your belly. As you take a breath in through your nose, imagine a balloon being blown up in your stomach. When you exhale, breathe out through your mouth as if you are blowing out through a straw.
  6. Continue as long as you would like.

 

8. Exercise

I think the only reason I didn’t put this one first is to keep things interesting. We all know that movement is crucial in aiding stress reduction. The benefits are vast and can be truly life changing. 

How do you do it? Exercise doesn’t have to be this huge overwhelming thing. If you’re already stressed out and you need to lower it, don’t overthink or overwhelm yourself! Go for something as simple as walking around the neighborhood, or going for a quick little jog. Consistency here is key. 

Exercise can help with cortisol control, and cortisol is a stress hormone. It helps release endorphins, improves sleep, helps with self confidence and can improve your metabolism. Find an activity that speaks to you the most and stick to it for a couple weeks, you’ll be amazed on how much can change in just a short amount of time. 

 

9. Prioritize yourself and say no more often

I want to clarify this one from the beginning. I’m not saying stop going out with people and being active. What I am saying is when you are asked to go do something, and you don’t feel like it, vocalize it. If you really want to be extra courteous, explain that your personal space needs extra peace right now and you need to listen to your gut and your body and do what’s best for you. It can be scary, but true friends will understand and people who find it convenient to be friendly with you might fall into the background and that can be good for your inner peace by itself. 

How to do it? “Hey Sarah, do you want to go out tomorrow night?” “Hey Megan, I’d love to, but i’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately and I think it’d be good for me to just sit this one out.”

The characters in this situation are subjects of my imagination and if that gave you a little laugh, I feel like my job has been done. 

 

10. Shower or bath

Don’t you get all your best ideas in the shower too? This one however is slightly more about baths and it goes back in time pretty far back. The bathing culture or bath houses back in Ancient Rome, Japan, Korea, Turkey, Russia and so many other countries. People would get together and go to a bath house to relax in hot water and talk to friends. 

Your skin can release endorphins in response to warm water, the same way it does in response to the sun. Have you ever got into a bath or a hot tub and just went “aaaaahhhh” that soothing moment that happens the moment you get into the water. Warm baths can improve breathing, help with blood flow in the body, and have therapeutic effects. 

I think for this one the ‘how to’ would be: fill up the tub with hot water, add some epsom salt, bubbles or a bath bomb of your choosing, get in and “aaaaahhh” and enjoy. 

 

Sources:

https://www.hsj.gr/medicine/stress-management-techniques-evidencebased-procedures-that-reduce-stress-and-promote-health.php?aid=3429

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3894304/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/16-ways-relieve-stress-anxiety#1.-Exercise

https://www.heal407.com/2019/01/11/movement-as-medicine-how-dance-can-help-with-stress/

https://www.fredastaire.com/blog/dance-away-your-stress/#:~:text=Dancing%20causes%20your%20body%20to,which%20in%20turn%20reduces%20stress.

https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-reduce-stress-by-deep-breathing-2797585

 

By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editors: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio & Katie McKenzie


Improving vision in the world overloaded with technology

Do you spend the whole day in front of the computer? How many times do you check your phone per day? Do you wind down watching a show or a movie or playing video games? It’s not an attack on you, it’s the new reality that we’ve been living in for the past decade and so much so in the past year.

A recent study has shown that people check their phone upwards of 96 times per day! That’s more than 60% up from 2015. Technology did change quite a bit since then but the addiction to our phones also grew so much. 

Back in 2013 an average American would spend 9 hours in front of a computer, cell phone and tv screen.  See the comparison below with data from last year and the year before comparing the times spent with technology. 

TIME SPENT PER DEVICE –

PRE-LOCKDOWN

Daily:

Phone: 4 hrs 33 mins

Laptop: 4 hrs 54 mins

TV: 4 hrs 30 mins

Gaming device: 3 hrs 12 mins

TOTAL: 17 hrs 9 min

TIME SPENT PER DEVICE –

DURING LOCKDOWN 

Daily 

Phone: 5 hrs 2 mins

Laptop: 5 hrs 10 mins

TV: 5 hrs 9 mins

Gaming device: 3hrs 45 mins

TOTAL: 19 hrs 6 mins

And even though that seems like quite a bit of time and is not applicable to every person, we can agree on the fact that most of us definitely increased the technology usage for sure. And if you are feeling called out in this, I’m not sorry, because that’s the truth. Being stuck at home can do it. Last year was one for history books. 

Another important thing to keep in mind is the amount of time kids spent in front of the computer last year. With the pandemic and taking classes from home the screen usage by the young ones went up significantly.  

Let’s look at some myths about eyesight remedies first:

Myth #1: Eating a lot of carrots will improve your vision. While carrots are full of vitamin A that is known to aid vision and eating carrots is generally good for you, solely relying on them to solve all your problems is not a good strategy. Eating a balanced diet that’s full of nutrients is what’s truly good for you.

Eating a ton of carrots on its own can also make you sick and turn your skin yellow, so practice moderation when it comes to your carrot consumption.

Myth #2: Wearing glasses can make your eyesight worse. If you happen to be one of the lucky ones to wear corrective eyewear, know that it doesn’t make your vision worse or better, it simply provides a way to see things around you better. 

Myth #3: Eye massage or eye relaxation techniques decrease the need for glasses. Using hot or cold compresses or doing eye exercises can help in the moment and relieve eye strain that you’re feeling in the moment. It does not however fix your vision and the need for corrective eyewear. While you should use relaxation techniques when you’re feeling the eye strain it will not be a solution to long term eyesight problems that you have.

         Now, that we got through the myths, let’s get into the juice of this post and talk about the things that you can actually do.

There are a lot of ways to improve and maintain vision while using technology as much we do. 

10 Ways to keep your vision healthy:

  1. Eat your veggies. We talked about how eating carrots can improve your vision. Well, that's not wrong, but carrots are not the only vegetables you should be consuming. 

Vitamins A, C, and E are known to help in prevention of macular degeneration- a condition that causes vision loss in the macula. Zinc also is known to have vision improving qualities. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in the retina that are also found in food and can protect and strengthen macula. 

So, if you’re wondering what you should be eating, here’s a list of foods full of nutrients that are needed to protect and improve vision. And yes, carrots are on the list. 

Nutrients to improve vision can be found in these Foods:
Lutein, zeaxanthin Broccoli, brussels sprouts, collard greens, corn, eggs, kale, nectarines, oranges, papayas, romaine lettuce, spinach, squash
Omega-3 fatty acids Flaxseed, flaxseed oil, halibut, salmon, sardines, tuna, walnuts
Vitamin A Apricots, cantaloupe (raw), carrots, mangos, red peppers (raw), ricotta cheese (part-skim), spinach, sweet potatoes
Vitamin C Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, red peppers (raw), strawberries
Vitamin E Almonds, broccoli, peanut butter, spinach, sunflower seeds, wheat germ
Zinc Chickpeas, oysters, pork chops, red meat, yogurt

 

  1. Exercise. If you haven’t read any of the other blog posts you should, because exercise tends to be that miracle remedy to everything. Healthy diet and exercise can keep your blood sugar in check, as well as Diabetes, specifically type 2 diabetes. Type 2 is a diabetes that is also associated more with obesity and can cause damage to the blood vessels in the eyes.
  1. Sleep. It shouldn’t be a surprise that having a regular sleep schedule can improve so many things. When you are not sleeping enough and running yourself on low sleepy eyes get strained more and can feel dry and dusty. Having a regular sleep schedule not only can help with those but can also generally improve eyesight.
  1. Wear your glasses. Protecting your eyes is crucial, whether it is sunglasses or blue light glasses, that I really should’ve been wearing while writing this post.  Sunlight as well as blue light can be harmful to the eyes and investing in a pair of quality glasses is a good idea.
  1. Take screen breaks. We all heard that taking a minute to look around the room or getting away from your desk for a minute is beneficial for the eyes, but really, how often do you actually follow through with this rule. And no, taking a break from your computer screen to look at your phone is not a break. Yeah, you know what I am talking about. I’m not immune from that either. Sometimes work just flows, and then you look at the clock and it’s 5 hours later. The 20-20-20 rule is what’s recommended by optometrists around the world.

Take a break and look:

20 feet away

every 20 minutes

for 20 seconds.

This very simple rule can help prevent eye strain from computer screens and relieve fatigue, headaches, neck tension, and decreased vision.

  1. Get your eye exam. Having a regular yearly eye exam can help catch and prevent any potential issues. Adding an eye exam in your yearly doctor checkups can potentially save you lots of issues in the long run.
  1. Quit smoking, if you are. Smoking can increase the risk of a range of physical conditions, like optic nerve damage, cataracts and macular degeneration, that we talked about in the first point.
  1. Wash your face. Making sure that the hygiene surrounding your eyes is on point is very important. That applies to making sure your glasses are wiped clean and are not smudgy (your eye will unconsciously focus on the smudges and that can be stressful to the eye), cleaning your contact lenses if you wear those, and washing your face so there’s no make-up in the proximity of the eye.
  1. Manage chronic conditions. A lot of health conditions can play a part in your eyesight, such as high blood pressure and multiple sclerosis to name a couple. These conditions can create chronic inflammation and can affect your body in a number of ways, that include affecting your vision.  

This is when a healthy diet and lifestyle comes into play, along with the medications that your condition requires. I truly cannot stress enough how important those are.

  1. Know your family history. This doesn’t seem as an important one, but it is. A lot of eye conditions are hereditary, this includes glaucoma, retinal degeneration, macular degeneration and optic atrophy. Your family having those conditions does not equate to you developing them, but it definitely puts you in the risk group to develop them. The best way to go about those is by having a regular eye exam and taking the needed precautions.  

The truth is, implementing a healthy lifestyle with a nourishing diet, good sleep regiment and a workout routine (going on regular walks totally counts!) may not seem like a determining factor in eye health, but it is. This doesn’t cost you any extra money and doesn’t require you to buy anything new, like getting vision supplements, although those don’t hurt either.

If you are experiencing any issues with your eyesight the best thing to do would be going to an optometrist and getting that checked out. 

Sources:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-hea%20lthy/top-foods-to-help-protect-your-vision

https://www.nvisioncenters.com/improve-eyesight/

https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-improve-eyesight#vitamins-and-minerals

By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio


red wine cheersing

To drink or not to drink? Here's what you need to know about Alcohol

To drink or not to drink? That is the question. 

What is alcohol anyways? Alcohol is created when yeast ferments sugars in a variety of foods. Wine is made from sugar in grapes, vodka from sugar in potatoes and so on. The active ingredient in the ethanol.

The fact that alcohol affects your body is no secret. The whole ‘getting drunk’ thing is a clear indication of that. But what exactly happens in your body when you consume alcohol? Have you ever actually looked into it? I definitely haven’t until now. 

Let’s learn together! Basically your entire body takes a toll so we will start with the brain and make our way through the internal organs and to bones and nerves. I’m not joking when I say your entire body is affected. 

Brain. Alcohol can interfere with a lot of things in your brain. It can change your mood and behavior as well as make it harder to make thought through decisions. Your speech can begin to slur, alcohol can also cause you to have a blackout, you know, when you just have a blank for a night out and even hallucinations. 

Heart. When you drink a lot over a period of time, or even on a single occasion, it can lead to stroke, high blood pressure, arrhythmia and cardiomyopathy. 

Liver. Liver is your “filter”. When the liver functions well it detoxifies chemicals, filters the blood coming from the digestive tract. The issues that can arise with regular alcohol consumption are fibrosis, cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis and steatosis.  

Pancreas. Alcohol can cause the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can cause pancreatitis. It can affect the digestion flow and cause inflammation and swelling of blood vessels. 

Immune System.  After the few previous categories, the weekend immune system from consuming too much alcohol wouldn’t be remotely surprising. When your immune system is weak though, there’s a higher chance of contracting illness. There’s also a higher chance of getting pneumonia and tuberculosis compared to people who don’t drink much. Even one night out with heavy drinking can make your body more susceptible to infections for 24 hours after. 

Cancer Risk. Last but not least, research shows that people who drink more have a stronger chance of developing certain cancers. Cancers that have been found to be associated with drinking are: head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer.

This post is not to scare you by any means, but make you aware and provide information. Like donuts or cake alcohol is not inherently bad or good. It is a substance and you should be educated about what you’re putting in your body.

Nonetheless moderation and balance is truly key in anything and alcohol is no exception to the rule. When it comes to drinking it’s also not the worst idea to know your genetics and predisposition to addiction. If you are a generally healthy individual a drink here or there won’t do much harm.

Creating a system that works for you can also help with balance. For example:

If you’re drinking on Friday night, maybe take Saturday off.
If you drink on a regular basis throughout the month, doing a sober month can be where you find balance.

You get the idea. Balance it out.

You also must’ve clicked on the link to see the ways to have alcohol while following a healthier lifestyle. I think it is time to talk about it. 

I feel like one of the common assumptions about people who follow a healthy lifestyle, work out and eat healthy is that they don’t drink alcohol. While it might be true for some people, and that’s the way they choose to do it, it’s not by any means a rule or a general assumption. I am also here to tell you that the two can live in balance together and not ruin your gains. 

Most and foremost I want to remind you that alcohol is its own macronutrient, just like protein carbs and fats.  Alcohol has 7 calories per gram and those calories can easily creep up on you if you’re having a fun night out. A shot of vodka is only 97 calorie, but 4, 5, 6 shots and it’s already a meal worth of calories. Your diet can be also potentially lower in sugar, so if you want to keep your drinking in tune with that, maybe go for liquor and not beer, champagne or wine (some of them but not all)  that can be higher in sugar. 

If you like visual aids, as much as I do, this image can help you get a easy and digestible visual for different alcohols and their calorie amounts. Let’s get into the logistics of it all and learn what makes one type of alcohol different from another. 

types of alcohol

The goal here is to now break down different types of alcohol and help you find your beverage of choice that won’t interfere with your goals.    

Beer. Beer is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages to be created going back all the way to 10,000 B.C. and was discovered by Mesopotamian culture and was later picked up in Egypt. Beer has been known to have the highest amount of carbohydrates, compared to other drinks. “Beer belly” is not a myth and drinking lots of beer can definitely make you gain some weight. 

In vino veritas.  “In wine there is truth”. And I do feel like the effects of wine have this communication enhanced and bonding experience. However, each person experiences different alcohols differently. Wine is full of antioxidants and polyphenols. Usually red wine would have more of those than white. Wine also tends to be higher in sugar than other drinks. Wine is known to have health benefits but those benefits are only applicable when you have a glass or two, not so much if you go for a whole bottle. 

Dark Liquor. Whiskey, bourbon, scotch and other darker liquors would be included in this category. Darker liquors usually have a higher amount of toxins. That means that your liver will have to work harder to process it and if you drink a lot chances are there might be a case of a hangover in the morning.  

Clear Liquor.  That will be vodka, tequila, gin and other clear drinks. These drinks will be digested easier than the dark ones and they also have lowest calories and sugar and is one of the easier ones for your body to metabolize. That is if you drink it straight and don’t add a sugary mixer. Duh. 

So we now know the effects alcohol can have on your body, you may have decided to switch to a different drink after reading about different alcohols or reinforced your decision to stay with your current drink of choice. Next question is…

How can you make it healthier? 

There are so many mixers on the market. A lot of them are full of sugar that you probably would want to avoid in large amounts.  So how can you make it better? 

Using club soda or sparkling water for a mixer won’t get you properly hydrated, so you should still drink water parallel to that, but as a mixer it’s a great, clean and 0 calorie benevage to add. Berries can provide natural flavors and will make it taste delicious with low calories and natural sugars and vitamins. 

healthier alcoholic beverage

Some other mixers that can be good:
-Kombucha
-Natural Juices (orange, cranberry, lime or lemon)
-Ginger Ale
-Flavored bubble water like LaCroix
-Extra ice to add some water
-Coconut Water

And for the flavor enhancements:
-Berries
-Fruit
-Veggies(cucumbers go well with vodka drinks)
-Matcha powder
-herbs for toppings.

If you decide to make a cocktail out of some of the ingredients above, let me know how it goes. And don’t forget to drink responsibly and safely. 

 

via GIPHY

By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio


egg yolk

4 Ways to Upgrade Breakfast

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of breakfast? Combinations like sugary cereal + milk, orange juice + bagel + cream cheese, donuts or blueberry muffins are some of the classic American staples that top the list. But what if I told you many of these morning choices are going to send your blood sugar for a wild roller coaster ride leading to an energy crash later and provide you with minimal nutrients compared to other options out there!

breakfast vs. breakfast

That’s why I’m here to send you in the right direction when it comes to the food you start your day with! Breakfast aka ‘break your fast’ should be a nutritious yet still delicious experience. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t go for some of the less nutritious choices in moderation. It just means that more often than not you should try to follow many of these guiding principles below!

Also, there is good news here! There are brands out there like Purely Elizabeth that make upgrades to some of these classic breakfast foods so you can still have your pancakes and leave feeling satisfied and full with a much more nutritious and higher protein experience! Essentially, you can have your cake and eat it too ;).

purely elizabeth pancakes

Breakfast Upgrade #1 - When it doubt, add a protein rich food

Protein is a very satiating macronutrient and important component of your breakfast meal. Things like adding in a high quality protein powder, going for eggs or adding in other protein rich foods can start to make your breakfast meal a much better choice. You’d be surprised to find out that actually starting your day with grass-fed steak & eggs is actually an extremely nutrient dense way to kickstart your day. I also love that Purely Elizabeth also has a high-protein pancake option too!

Breakfast Upgrade #2 - Don’t skimp on the fiber

Fiber is also another important addition to your breakfast meal that will help to regulate blood sugar and provide you with gut health benefits. There’s a reason why swapping oranges for orange juice is a great choice! The fiber from the whole fruit will help to slow down the absorption of the sugar so you don’t get this huge insulin spike than crash later. Additionally, it’s much harder to eat a lot of oranges but so easy to guzzle down 12 ounces of sugary orange juice. Fruit juices are also often stripped of many of the beneficial nutrients from pasteurization. Whether with veggies or whole fruit or nuts or another fiber-rich food, your body will thank you later when you start your day with fiber.

Breakfast Upgrade #3 - Add some healthy fats

Whether your goal is fat loss, muscle gain or just maintenance, dietary fats are an important part of a balanced healthy diet. Starting your day off with nutritious versions of fats is a great way to provide your brain and body with healthy fuel. Did you know your brain needs fat? Brain matter is composed of about 60% fat (when drained of water). Whether you’re going for a handful of nuts or incorporating Purely Elizabeth pancakes stacked with coconut & almond flour, there are plenty of nutrient-dense options out there for you!

4 - Skip sugary drinks and sub in lower-sugar options

Whether we’re talking about sugar-bomb frappuccinos, jamba juice sugary smoothies or fruit juices, all of these drinks have one common theme: a high amount of sugar, little-to-no fiber and extra calories all of which can hurt your health and your waistline in the long-run if you’re consuming them every day. If you view these drinks closer to dessert or treat options, then you’re on the right path.

For a more nutritious way to start your day, make sure you’re drinking tons of mineralized water and feel free to add in low-sugar drinks like tea, lightly-sweetened coffee or low-sugar protein shakes.

Now I know skipping things like french toast or pancakes might not sound like fun so I teamed up with Purely Elizabeth to highlight this nutrient dense alternative to commercial pancakes. Because I want you to live a healthy lifestyle but also have some fun doing it!

pancakes vs. pancakes


10 Benefits of Ashwagandha

If you’re keeping an eye on the new healthy things out there you probably heard about Ashwagandha. I don’t expect you to know what it is, I just hope that that word fell onto your radar at some point in the last year or so.
If you’re sitting here all like- Ashwa who? Do not worry, I’m gonna tell you what it is and most importantly why it should be added to your shopping list due to all of the amazing benefits that it has.
Ashwa-what?

Withania somnifera more commonly known as Ashwagandha is a herb that can be found in the Indian system of medicine. It can be used in a tonic to increase longevity and it has inti-stress agents.
Ashwagandha is commonly available as a churna, a fine sieved powder that can be mixed with water, ghee (clarified butter) or honey. It enhances the function of the brain and nervous system and has been shown to improve memory. It can help to improve the function of the reproductive system promoting a healthy sexual and reproductive balance. Being a powerful adaptogen, it enhances the body's resilience to stress. Ashwagandha improves the body's defense against disease by improving the cell-mediated immunity. It also possesses potent antioxidant properties that help protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals.

There are so many benefits to Ashwagandha - it’s amazing!

It is a medicine herb.
It has been used in medicine practices for a long time. It’s one of the most popular herbs used for relieving stress as well as increasing energy and helping with concentration.
Helps to lowers blood sugar
There has been some evidence that Ashwagandha increases insulin secretion and can also improve insulin sensitivity in the muscle cells. There also have been studies that suggest that Ashwagandha can help lower the blood sugar in both healthy people as well as people with diabetes.
Possesses anticancer effects
Even though most of the studies suggesting that have come from animal trials, there's a compound in ashwagandha called withaferin that helps induce apoptosis, which in its place helps kill the cancer cells. Withaferin also promotes the formation of reactive oxygen species inside cancer cells and disrupts their function. Throughout the animal studies it’s been shown to help treat multiple types of cancer such as breast, lung, brain and ovarian cancers.
There’s still no research on humans, however the current research on animals is promising.
Reduction in cortisol levels
Cortisone is a stress hormone and if the levels of this hormone are high it can have multiple negative effects on your health. There are multiple studies that show that Ahwagandha can help reduce the cortisol levels. There’s one study that shows up to 30% reduction in cortisol levels for chronically stressed adults.
Reduction of stress and anxiety
The stress and anxiety reduction is probably the most benefit that people notice from Ashwagandha. There has been a lot of human studies and the results have been very indicative of the benefits.
In one study that lasted 60 days with 64 people who were chronically stressed, those in the group taking Ashwagandha supplements saw a 69% decrease in anxiety as well as insomnia, compared to 11% decrease in the placebo group. Another 6 week study had 88% reduction in anxiety in the ashwagandha group versus 50% reduction in the placebo group.
Point here is that it’s worth trying it out if you are constantly stressed and looking for a way to lower your stress and anxiety levels.
Reduction of symptoms of depression
Even though there hasn’t been too much research done on the matter on depression, there are a few studies that suggest that Ashwagandha can help relieve the symptoms of depression. In the 60 day study with 64 participants, ones in the group taking 600mg concentrated ashwagandha extract showed a 79% reduction in the depression when the placebo group had an increase of 10%.
Could help increase muscle mass and strength
Even though the research on this one is still new, studies have shown that taking ashwagandha can benefit body composition.
One study showed gain in strength after taking 750–1,250 mg of pulverized ashwagandha and another study showed gain in strength and muscle mass as well as decrease of body fat amounts. These studies have been performed on men.
Reduces inflammation
Based, yet again, on animal studies, decrease in inflammation has been found. In human studies however activity of natural killer cells has been detected. Those cells promote general well being and help fight off infections. There also have been reductions in some markers of inflammation that are connected to heart disease.
In the controlled study, the group that took 250mg of ashwagandha per day had a 36% decrease in CPR (inflammation marker C-reactive protein) compared to 6% decrease in the placebo group.
Could help lower cholesterol and triglycerides
There’s some research that suggests Ashwagandha has cholesterol and triglycerides lowering abilities. Studies on animals have reported very good results with the reduction of up to 53% and 45% of cholesterol and triglycerides respectively. Human studies, though haven’t shown that drastic decrease, still came with a 17% decrease in cholesterol levels and 11% decrease in triglycerides based on the 60 day study.
May improve brain function
While most studies have been conducted on animals there are a few human studies that show the improvements in memory and attention due to regular supplementation of Ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha promotes antioxidant activity in the body that fights free radicals. In the two studies participants took 500 mg and 300 mg twice a day and both groups reported improvement in the reaction time as well as task performance, memory and attention span.


The point is, there really aren’t many scenarios where the Ashwagandha usage is not recommended (ex.-for pregnant women) and it’s generally good for you, so there really isn’t anything stopping you from giving it a go. The benefits speak for themselves and if you don’t like it after a month or two, don’t take it. If you’re not sure if you should be taking it please consult with your doctor to be completely sure as I am not a medical professional and the advice in this post is based on the research that’s been conducted.

By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio


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