Waste-less Shopping Goals

I love shopping. However not the shopping you are probably thinking about. I love grocery shopping. I lay the blame for my shopping addiction partially at the door of the Trader Joe’s store that just moved in down the road from me and partially on my love of good food. But my need for dark chocolate peanut butter cups aside I find the whole exercise of planning my meals, getting my shopping list and strolling around the store (ignoring my shopping list) quite relaxing.
As Rachael and I discussed this month’s theme of zero waste and being more environmentally friendly I realized that my approach to shopping is far from earth friendly. I tend to shop last minute or when the urge grabs me and my lack of planning can lead to buying things I don’t need. So in an attempt to avoid the pitfalls of impulse grocery shopping (for some people its shoes for me its random cheeses) I have decided to focus on five specific goals to help me move toward a zero-waste lifestyle when it comes to shopping:

1) ALWAYS bring my reusable bag. I have a few bags I can use instead of paper or plastic at the store, but I always seem to forget them at home. My solution to that is I will keep one in my car and then even if I forget my preferred giant bag I will have it. Additionally, if I get to the store and I don’t have it I can just tell them to forgo the bags and I will load directly in to my car.

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2) Along the same lines as number 1 I have purchased several canvas bags to deal with all my produce and bulk bin buys. They just came yesterday so I am excited to try them out. I just explored a few options on Amazon until I found some from “Organic Cotton Mart” what would work for me.
3) Make a shopping list and stick to it. This for me is about limiting food waste, I often come home with too much and then I end up throwing out food.
4) Try to buy glass containers or easily recyclable ones where possible. There are often choices between plastic and glass-I am going to be more mindful of this and go for what can be recycled.
5) Finally, I am going to try to consolidate my shopping trips so that I am not over buying (see number 3) and am saving gas in the process.
So, these are my goals. I would love to hear any other suggestions that people have for more mindful shopping and if you want to follow along with this month’s challenge let us know how it goes!

A few “during” photos, and journal entries. Week 1 to Week 4.

Remember how I don’t really like “before” and “after” photos? Mostly just calling them before and after. I do think it’s important to monitor your progress not only the scale but by how your clothes fit, and the visual progress you see.

My husband and I took some during photos before we started being more consistent with exercise, and tweaking our diet with less carbs and very limited sugar. And here’s the thing-I wasn’t perfect this month, but I still saw progress. I lost about 6 lbs, my jeans are looser, I feel stronger, and I can tell I am overall slightly leaner. These are not huge, dramatic changes, but they are a start on my ongoing journey. My goals continue to become stronger, and improve cardiac fitness. Also, while the first “during” shots are me when I am not at my fittest, I am grateful for my body then, and now, and I will be 1 year from now. Don’t hate on your body-it’s the only one you have 🙂

Week 1—–>Week 4

(don’t mind the socks and sandals haha. I didn’t know my husband would take a full body shot)

Check out my journal entries below as well. This is the most important part of health to me–how I feel.

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Sharing all this publically isn’t the easiest thing, but I hope it can help someone feel that they can make small changes that add up to improved health. I have definitely been inspired by others, and appreciate when people share their journey.

My Relationship with Fitness (and some tips to get started!)

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What is your relationship with fitness?

Mine has been a bit fickle, off and on, and under-appreciated. That’s not to say I haven’t pursued fitness in my life; I have, and it has helped me through some really important times. I’ve been fascinated by the human body since I was a teenager, and with fitness as an adult. I’ve always wanted to see what my body can do, but sometimes don’t know where to start. I’ve played sports, I’ve weight lifted, I’ve thrown myself into yoga… and I’ve enjoyed all of those things. It’s always a matter of falling back in love with exercising, each time I “take a break”.

It’s also a matter of finding something I love. I don’t love doing push-up after push-up for an hour each day. I don’t love running countless miles on a treadmill (or anywhere else for that matter). Over the years I’ve found what I DO enjoy — HIIT workouts, yoga, weight lifting, hiking, aerobic classes with friends, biking.

That’s by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a theme of what I enjoy in fitness. Things that combine outdoors with fitness being some of my favorites, and also ones that help me feel strong and empowered, such as with weightlifting.

What’s your relationship with your body, and body image?

Yikes, loaded question! This one is mostly a self-reflection question, but I also really like to hear people’s answers. Mine has mostly been positive, but as I really think about it, I’ve definitely had times in my life where I was so critical of it and disliked it. I think that’s not an unusual feeling for women and girls, and that’s so sad! I’m still not perfect at accepting my body 100%, but I have come to an appreciate my body, and what it can do, and even *gasp* think it looks pretty darn good, flaws and all. But this brings me to the point that I can accept my body, and also want to improve it in a healthy way. Accepting your body, and wanting to improve it are not exclusive.

And so, in an effort to become a stronger, healthier, leaner, me, I have some simple goals I want to achieve this month. But first, it’s important to remind myself not to expect that after 30 days I’ll look like Genzebe Dibaba. I’ve been guilty of this. Like, “it’s been 4 days of me working out, why can’t I see a six-pack?!” Patience.

My goals for this month are:

  • Lose about 4 lbs. This is an attainable goal and something that be done in a month. As I gain muscle, I expect to perhaps gain a small amount of weight, and I’m ok with that. But in a month, it’s not likely I’ll put on enough muscle to see an increase. Instead, I expect that I’ll burn some fat and a few lbs to start. As I’ve put on about 10/15 extra pounds this past year, I have something to work with 😉 Losing weight is not my main goal, but I anticipate it might be a nice “side effect”.
  • Feel more energy! To me, this means being able to get up when my alarm goes off, and not “snooze” so much. It means getting through the workday without that 2pm slump. It means being able to go out with my husband on a Friday night and staying out a little past our bedtime without feeling 80 years old. (Just a little bit though, because I’m basically 80 and love my early bedtime).
  • See definition in triceps. Firm up you little things.
  • Assisted pull ups to 50 lbs. (On my way to no assistance, but everything builds upon itself).

A few tips to help you achieve your fitness goals, whatever they may be.

  1. Set your expectations high, but realistic.
  2.  Be kind to yourself. No negative body talk. Celebrate it, thank it for what it can do!
  3. Pick a program if you are just starting out. Having something to follow, and an end to a challenge or program can really help beginners and the more advanced alike. But especially beginners, who could feel lost if they just decide to go for it and “exercise”; that’s pretty broad. Start with a 30-day challenge and build from there! I’ve enjoyed Jillian Michaels 30 day shred, P90X (90 days, not 30), Bikini Beach Body (again, longer challenge, but great), all the Yoga with Adriene 30 day Challenges, and others.
  4. Take a “during” photo before starting a new program. Let me explain. I don’t really like “before and after”, because it sometimes seems that it is saying that “before” is lesser, and that your life or body wasn’t good “before”. When in fact, your body is always in progress. It’s always “during” because we are always living our lives, and having experiences which shape us (physically and mentally). But seeing progress is so very motivating, so photos are important.
  5. I think even more important than photos, is to write a journal entry before (and during) a fitness program. Write how to feel, your energy levels, skin condition, digestion, any flare-up of illnesses, mental health, etc. How you feel is key, and improved health is the goal of exercise. Seeing a change in that area will also be very motivating. It has been for me.
  6. Last but not least, check with your doctor. I know, I know, you’ve heard this and it seems silly, but it’s important to have regular check-ups (nurse here). Do you need to ask your doctor if you can start taking walks and doing yoga if you’ve recently seen her or him for a checkup? No (in my opinion). But if you haven’t been in a while, or want to start a really intense new program, just hop in to make sure everything is running smoothly.

*Phew*, long post, but I wanted to really get into some ideas to help you start a fitness challenge! I’ll be doing my own this month, as I really want to “fall back in love” with working out and getting stronger. Whatever you decide to do, we can do it together and motivate each other. Namaste, and go lift! 😉

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DIY: Honey Turmeric Mask

Let’s get right to it–my skin has had a hard time adjusting from Utah to Massachusettes. The stress of a move, combined with days in a car, and not drinking enough water has played a part as well. I have been trying to help calm my face of breakouts and redness and get it settled down, as I settle down in a new city.

The first thing I wanted to try was turmeric. Turmeric is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, which make it good for acne. It also can help lighten dark spots on skin, including scars. My skin has been oily here, and I am always looking for ways to even my skin tone, so I wanted to give turmeric a try. So far I have really felt it helps sooth my skin, and my breakouts are subsiding. A super easy recipe I used is:

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Continue with masks 1-2 times a week to see best results.

Video of the process below.

Let us know if you try it and enjoy it!

Start with a Small Space

Everyone has those places in their house. Where you think “if I could JUST get this space organized everything in my life would fall in to place”, that one small area that is holding you back from success! 🙂 For me, that area was under my sink. It seemed to mock me with its lack of organization and reminded me of all the goals I had yet to accomplish-for example my desire to rid my house of as many chemicals as I could. A fine goal to be sure but with the number of hazardous materials still under my sink, it should have come with its own safety video.

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In an attempt to rid myself of this impediment to my potential awesomeness and to continue to implement the principles we learned in February about minimalism I decided it needed to be dealt with. I was SO lucky in that Hannah Hearin from Home Refreshment (www.homerefreshment.com) reached out and offered her assistance to put me on the right track for success. Working with her was easy, and just the right amount of kick in the butt accountability I needed. I sent pictures of my problem area (not without a little shame) and she created a plan based on my budget and aesthetics. So simple!

I decided that anything that did not fit in the two containers I bought would just have to go. Side note: Thanks to Hannah I took my first trip to The Container Store-a magical place that I could probably blow an entire paycheck in! I also made some natural all-purpose cleaner to replace what I had discarded (if you want the recipe let me know-I love it!).

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A well-organized space is a beautiful thing to behold, isn’t it?

So now as you can see I am free to win my Oscar, climb Mount Everest, and bring about world peace-I just needed to get to that silly sink first!

Vegan Menu Plan

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Going from paleo last week right in to vegan is an adjustment. But we think it’s important to try different food lifestyles, to get a good idea of what you like and don’t like; what works and doesn’t work for you.

Most people are familiar with the vegan rules of eating-no animal products. No dairy, meat, or eggs, and some vegans avoid honey, silk, products with beeswax, etc.

So there is the list of “no”, but a great list of “yes” too- yes vegetables, yes fruits, yes grains and legumes, beans and herbs, nuts and seeds. So many yummy “yes” foods 🙂

If you want to try it out, check out our week of Vegan Menu plans and shopping list here.

Our Pinterest page has a board with all the recipes we use, divided by week.

We are excited to delve into vegan eating, and hope we can learn some new principles that we adapt into our eating lifestyles. Dive in and join us! Try it out for a week and see what you feel and think.

{Past food weeks include Mediterranean and Paleo.}

Simple Paleo

Of all the different lifestyle “diets” that I have tried Paleo has been one of my favorite. Paleo is short for Paleolithic and is, simply put, the idea of eating in a similar manner to the diet of cavemen based on what would have been available to them.

Do’s of the Paleo Diet:

I think it is best to focus on what you CAN eat first. 🙂

  • Big focus on protein  (beef, chicken, fish, etc.)
  • Fruits and veggies (lean towards 75% veg 25% fruit)
  • Nuts, seeds, good fat (i.e. avocado, coconut)

Don’ts of the Paleo Diet:

  • Dairy
  • Grains
  • Legumes, beans
  • Coffee, alcohol, refined sugars

Now if any of the don’ts seem like deal breakers to you, don’t give up! If you have to have a cup of coffee in the morning to function make a small adjustment and allow yourself the exception. The main idea behind Paleo is finding balance and you can’t do that if you are thinking about the things you CAN’T have all the time.

As before Rachael and I have created a Pinterest board with all the recipes for this week and you can access the shopping list from the same google doc.

I am really excited to dive deeper into this week and be a little more mindful in my eating -let’s see if those cavemen had it figured out. 🙂

P.S. if you are an app person “nomnompaleo” is a great place to get some inspiration!

Putting My Best Face Forward

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with my skin for years. Off and on I’ve had acne, and have gone through the big treatments for it. I’m currently in a good spot for that particular problem, but years of acne have left me with some scarring. My dermatologist said he thinks it mostly all will fade over time, but I got impatient the other day, and went to see an aesthetic dermatologist for some options to quicken the process. Sadly it wasn’t the greatest experience, as the provider looked at my skin for about 7 seconds, and then quickly rattled off $3000 worth of treatments that would take a year or more, and boom, the provider was gone within minutes. The treatments certainly sound like they would help, but they came with side effects, time off of work, and a big price tag. Not to mention, I didn’t really feel like a person in her office. So, I humbly returned to my original dermatologist’s suggestion to be patient and do some simple things at home to help with the redness and minor scarring. I can be patient! (my constant mantra, as I am always working on it ;).

 

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I have recently made a plan to my skin, which if I am dedicated to, should help keep my skin looking and feeling healthy. I have found that consistency is key to see these results (just like with most things in life).

Here is what I’m currently doing to keep my skin looking as good as I can (talk to YOUR dermatologist before starting anything though):

  • Wash face daily–duh. Depending on the season and how my skin is, I swap between oil washing, and an organic facewash from Avalon Organics (you can get them at some grocery stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts, or on Amazon).
  • A topical antibiotic cream i was prescribed (usually every morning, or when I have little breakouts).
  • Retin-A. This I try to do nightly. It should help with light scarring and redness, and fine lines/wrinkles. Those sound like good outcomes; don’t mind if I do. It is not an overnight fix though, and should be continued long term.
  • Mandelic acid peels. I do a light version I get from MUAC. I love it. You do have to make sure to stop topicals like Retin-A a day or two prior. Don’t want to over do it on your sensitive facial skin! For me, mandelic acid keeps things clear, and gives me a fresh glow as it uncovers a new layer of skin. It’s not as harsh as some peels, and there is no downtime. I’m a fan.
  • Once every 2 weeks or so, I do a face mask. I like the masks from Eminence Organics, or sometimes I use a random one I picked up on a trip somewhere. Currently I have a stock of “snail juice” masks from a Korean beauty company, that I picked up in Thailand (random haha).
  • For moisturization, I currently am using Colonial Dames Vitamin E Cream. It is very thick and works well for my super dry Winter skin. The vitamin E in it should also help fade scarring. Sometimes I add a drop of pure lavender oil in it too, which is awesome for healing.
  • Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. And a hat.

 

I have done most of the above interventions for a while, but haven’t been as consistent as I need to be. This month seems like the perfect time to really take the time and effort to care for my skin. After all, it will be with me for life.

 

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Goal Calendar-January

We want to start making a calendar each month to help keep us on track with our goals. There are little goals and challenges sprinkled through the month, as well as space for you to add our (and your!) own. Let us know what you think! Do you use a goal calendar?

Get as a PDF here: TheBalanceProject January Calendar

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7 Ways To Make Yoga A Lifestyle

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I still consider myself a “novice yogi” (that is a total oxymoron). I am by no means an expert, and yoga is something that should be constantly practiced and improved upon. It’s a lifestyle, and one that I want to try to adopt, rather than just “doing yoga”. This month is a refresh and restart on my yoga and goals, to hopefully find a good middle ground, where my yoga practices becomes second nature. This will require a few things on my part, and for anyone looking to bring yoga into their everyday life. Here are 7 ways to make yoga a lifestyle, not just “a thing you do occasionally”.

  1. Make a special place for your practice. This can be as simple as a corner in a bedroom were you roll out your mat, or a dedicated room full of yoga and meditation equipment. Wherever you practice, make sure it a clean, calm, and comfortable. See my little yoga space here, and Kristin’s here.
  2. Find a teacher that you connect with. This can be a small local yoga studio teacher, someone at a large complex, or a youtube guru. Everyone has a different style and speed. Find someone that works with you and your lifestyle, and you are more likely to stick with it.
  3. Integrate meditation into yoga practice. This might not seem like it is everyones cup of tea, but meditation is an important part of wholistic yoga practice. Taking a few extra moments in shavasana, taking a “time out” for 5 minutes in the middle of a busy work day, or reciting a dedicated mantra for 10-15 minutes a day can be the key to bringing yoga inward, and feeding the soul (the soul gets hungry and needs nourishment!).
  4. Try to do yoga every day. I know, this doesn’t seem very balanced to have to do something everyday, but doing yoga for a shorter amount of time every day is better than doing hours of yoga at a time, but not very often (in my opinion). I am a fan of short 15-20 minute yoga practices when I don’t have a lot of extra time, or even just a quick sun salutation flow on a Sunday when I usually would rest from extra activities. Consistency breeds habit.
  5. Find a yoga friend. We all know that having a friend to support you in a goal makes things easier. You don’t have to do yoga together every day, or ever ever, but taking about it and sharing experiences can be enriching.
  6. Keep a journal of the benefits you see from practicing. Writing down how you feel, changes in your body, changes in your mindset, etc will be motivating to keep moving forward. Find a pretty notebook, or just open up a new note in your phone. Either one works!
  7. Take yoga off the mat, and into everyday life. What you do off the mat is just as important, if not more so, than what you do on it. Practicing mindfulness, being kind to yourself and others, forgiving, protecting your body, being happy with what you have, and finding inner strength, are all positive aspects of yoga to practice off the mat.

 

These are just the beginning in a of a myriad of ways to implement yoga into your life. Yoga is very personal, so get on your mat, start, and make it your own.

 

-Rachael