What Is Gratitude?

Lately, this word gratitude keeps popping up in my mind. I keep thinking about it, wondering what it truly means to be grateful. I keep thinking about how to find gratitude during times of tribulation and adversity. It’s easy for us to find gratitude when our lives are running smoothly, when things feel like they are going in the right direction, when happiness is all that can be felt. But, what about when the times get hard and there’s mountains to climb, peaks to summit, large waves to cross, and storms to endure? It’s during these times that we forget what gratitude is. We tend to move inward during times of hardship, reflecting our fears and our anxiety outward in the form of bad attitudes, crudeness, and stubbornness, accompanied by muscles aches and pains.

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Recently, I have been going through my own trials and tribulations with my health. As if pregnancy doesn’t put enough strain and stress on the body, I came to find I have other serious health issues that are unrelated to being pregnant, yet the pregnancy have progressed my issues. Two weeks ago, I took myself to the hospital complaining of severe pain and swelling in my left leg. My leg was twice the size of my right, and it was turning a far darker shade of purple than what my olive brown skin usually appears to be. The pain was so intense it was difficult for me to walk, it radiated up into my lower back and hips, and at that point was sending me to tears. It was discovered I had a massive, two and half foot long blood clot running just about the entire length of my leg, with smaller clots creating blockages in the surrounding vein systems. The condition is known as deep vein thrombosis, or simply DVT. I was kept in the hospital for six days, unable to walk to the bathroom three feet away from my bed without calling a nurse to help me, unable to sleep through the night without crying in pain, all the while wondering why this was happening to me. I’m young, I’m fit, I’m active. Pregnant or not pregnant, how could this happen?

Once I was discharged, things began looking up. I had a home health nurse coming to visit me three times a week, a physical therapist coming twice a week to help me strengthen my leg, and family that flew in from 3,000 miles away to help cook meals, help around the house, take care of my six-year-old kiddo, and allow me to rest when I needed it. By day seven of being home, tragedy struck again. My mom called 911 while I was keeling over in pain from strong contractions that were coming two minutes apart and gushes of fluid running down my legs, not knowing what was wrong with me, all of us fearful of preterm labor or something worse. After hours of screaming in pain, vomiting, and a team of doctors all scratching their heads wondering what was wrong, it was determined I was not in labor (thankfully), but clearly something else was causing all the chaos. After doses of pain medication that was presumably safe for baby, my body was finally able to relax enough that some tests could be done. But nothing of concern was found. The clot at this point had been dissolving and significantly going down in size, it was clear it had not moved anywhere else in my body, and there was nothing that seemed to be directly causing the pain or the contractions.

After being monitored for 24 hours, and with the contractions under control and certain they were not labor contractions, I was discharged from the grasps of western medicine and brought home where I could manage the pain and the fear with my holistic ways and oils. Again, the word gratitude kept coming to mind. Why am I thinking about gratitude when everything around me is gloomy and filled with dismay? Why is gratitude the first thing that comes to mind when the waves of intense pain strike?

It was then that I started to embrace the resonance of this word and I started thinking about what it is I need to be feeling grateful for right now during my time of pain and hardship. Of course, the first thought was I’m grateful for my family for coming to me and standing by my side in this time of need. But that wasn’t enough. Gratitude continue to come to me and I felt something in the universe was really trying to tell me something. So, I started doing some meditation and deep thinking about it; which inevitably led me to writing about it in this post.

According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary: New Edition, the word gratitude is literally defined by one word, bolded and in all caps: THANKFULNESS. But does that really define gratitude? Isn’t gratitude so much more than just the act of being thankful, feeling thankful? You can be thankful for the clothes on your back when you have no other possessions, but how can you project that gratuity outward when you’re feeling down and in need of things you cannot manifest? I’ve seen so many fall down spiraling holes of depression and sadness because they have blocked themselves from finding gratitude during times of angst and chaos, which is a time when it is needed most. I have been one of these “victims” multiple times in the past. During each dark time, I have never once thought about gratitude; but instead have repeatedly brushed off feeling thankful thinking I was undeserving of being grateful for anything. It is taking this current moment of despair for me to realize that gratefulness can be found at any moment in time, and it is during these times of need especially, where finding gratitude can help you through pain, suffering, and darkness; guiding you to a place where you can find the light. Find a place of peace and calm in the middle of a storm.

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I leave you with these last thoughts of what I feel gratitude means to me, and I hope you can find your own words of gratitude during times of chaos and fatigue, as well as during times of sunshine and happiness.

Gratitude is finding the good amongst the chaos.

Gratitude is being thankful for the things you have without being envious of the things you cannot obtain.

Gratitude is a hug in a moment of despair and fear.

Gratitude is feeling calm when your heart aches.

Gratitude is giving love to those around you who are suffering more than you in that moment.

Gratitude is finding peace when you’re standing in the middle of a storm.

Gratitude is giving to someone you love when you don’t have much to give.

What are some things you’re grateful for?

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings”

~ William Arthur Ward

Buddha

 

 

Food is for Eating, Not for Rotting! 3 Money & Food Saving Tips

We’ve all been there…starring into the fridge looking at leftovers that were cooked days ago, wondering if it’s edible now. Should you try it? Maybe it’s not that old. What day was is actually made? I can’t remember! So, you move on to the next container, asking yourself the same questions, or you pull together some ingredients to cook a new dish.

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I am personally the worst with leftovers! And if you’re anything like me, then you let those leftovers sit in there for days, possibly even weeks, pushing them to the back of the fridge with newer, fresher containers. After all, the saying “out of sight, out of mind” stands true. I have definitely been guilty of throwing away baking dishes and containers that had leftovers in them that were growing their own cities populated by a sea of bacteria (yes, I know what you’re thinking “ew, that’s super gross! How could she?!”; but don’t deny that you have not seen this in your fridge, at least at one point or another).

What is it about leftovers that makes this happen? For me, it has a lot to do with the thought of how much bacteria grows on the food and how long it takes to get there from the time that I cooked the dish. By no means do I feel that I have a phobia of bacteria. Bacteria is everywhere and unavoidable. But when it comes to food, I feel bacteria grows faster, especially when it has been cooked and sitting out for some length of time, like at a buffet. Another part of it is that after day one of being a leftover, I don’t want to keep eating the same thing over, and over again. By day two, my palette craves other flavors that are just not there in that dish that was prepared a few days before.

This doesn’t just happen with leftovers either. You open your refrigerator, gunning for that container of strawberries or that bag of lettuce to make a salad with, both of which you have only purchased a few days ago; all of which are molding, rotting away, and are no longer in any condition to be consumed.

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So, what can be done about this? Is there anything you can do to find a balance between how much you consume versus what you throw away, uneaten? Keep reading to find some tips that I have found that have helped me get over this problem and hopefully you will find something that works for you too!

Tip 1: Don’t Overbuy!

One of the best ways to not stick to your budget when buying food is creating a grocery list of all the things you need for the week. Creating a grocery list is easy; it’s sticking to what you wrote on that list that can be the hard part.

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What has helped me not “over-list” is writing in the essentials first: your bread, milk, eggs, products you and your family use on a daily basis that don’t change that often. Next, look at what special items you may need that week. Right now, it’s summer and although kiddos are not school, they may be going to camp everyday where mom and/or dad are packing their lunch. What do your kiddos like for lunch? Maybe it’s sandwiches that require lunch meat and cheese; add those items to your list to grab in the deli section! Add a pack of juice boxes that have at least 5 containers in them so your kiddo is getting a juice box every day (of course buy more if you have more than one kiddo). Look in your newspaper or grocery store flyer for sales upcoming that week. See something you like that can be used in lunches (i.e. snacks) that’s on sale? Add it to your list!

Next, ask yourself what you need for your lunches if you leave the house during the day to go to work, etc. Are you able to eat sandwiches? Get extra lunch meat when you buy for the kiddos so there’s some in there for you. Maybe make a few salads, so put on the list only what you enjoy to put in your salads, and don’t add any extras!

Then, think about what you and your family are going to eat for dinner throughout the week. This is where meal planning comes into play. Pick out quick, easy, and HEALTHY recipes you can make each night of the week, and add only the ingredients you know you will use for that dish onto your list.

When you get to the store with your list:

  • Get in, get out, and stick to what’s written on that list! One of the hardest parts to get around at grocery stores is their last-minute marketing. Stores strategically place items in various spots that are eye catching to the shopper as they are walking by. Maybe it’s a taco display and they have put everything you need to make tacos right there, easy to grab, some of it is on sale. It looks yummy, you want to buy, but IT’S NOT ON YOUR LIST THIS WEEK! Don’t buy it! If you get home and you’re still thinking about those tacos, add it to your meal plan for next week. Call the store and ask how long they will be running the sale on those ingredients so that you can plan accordingly and not miss the sale.

At the end of the day (and week), you will be proud of yourself to not only sticking to your list, but sticking to your budget. Simply buying only the products you wrote on that list will also leave you feeling ensured that you won’t be throwing anything away at the end of the week because you haven’t overstocked your kitchen.

  • Don’t go to the grocery store hungry. This too is something we have all done and every time it happens you always wind up leaving with way more food than you needed and you’ve burned a much larger hole in your pocket than you intended. What happens to all that extra food you bought? Have you ever noticed that half of it doesn’t ever make into your stomach but winds up in the trash? Or it gets pushed to the back of the pantry, never to see the light of day until your pantry is full and you’re forced to clean it out.

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Of course, there are going to be times where we can’t help but go to the store hungry. Your day may have slipped away and you didn’t have time to eat lunch. Or maybe you’re going to the store right after work and you haven’t eaten since lunch. Solution? Carry grab and go snacks with you so that you can be munching on something on your way to the store. Keep a few snacks in your desk drawers and grab one on the way out the door at the end of the day. Make sure your snacks are healthy though! Don’t go for the convenient chips and candy bars. Stick with protein bars, granola bars, seed packs, or trail mixes; snacks that have nutritional value that will make you feel full and give you sustained energy.

  • Remember, an overstocked kitchen = food in the trash. If you’ve never meal planned or made grocery lists before, getting used to the idea and routine of it could deem itself as challenging. A simple way to get over this is to go grocery shopping once a week. Don’t buy for the next two or three weeks. Sure, this may save you time in the grocery store, but what about all that fresh food that won’t get eaten for two weeks and is now sitting in your fridge rotting away? Simplicity is key!

Tip 2: Wash and Cut Fruits and Veggies When You Buy Them!

I know what you’re thinking: “Ugh, more time prepping…I just want to get home, put it away, and move on with my day!” But, take it from me, this little bit of extra time you put towards prepping your food, will save you thousands of minutes throughout the week. Think about what your week looks like; are you constantly in and out? Always on the go? Or maybe you have kiddos you’re taking from one place to the next. Being able to open your fridge and pull out a veggie pack that is already cut up and ready to be eaten with your favorite hummus or ranch for dipping is so much easier (and takes seconds to prepare at that time), than it is to open the fridge look at all those carrots and celery and think to yourself: “damn, I really want that right now, but I don’t have time to cut it up and get it ready. Oh well, I’ll just grab something one the way”.

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When you go to a restaurant, how do you think all your meals are being prepared and cooked so quickly, that they make it to your table ready to eat, piping hot, in 10-14 minutes? If you have ever worked in a kitchen or served in a restaurant, then you know the secret. For those of you have not, and believe that everyone in that kitchen can speed chop veggies and ingredients in 30 seconds flat, then I’m sorry to say, but you are poorly mistaken. In an industrial kitchen, there is something called “the line”, and on that line, are not just cooks preparing your food, but there are containers sitting over ice full of already cut up veggies and other ingredients that are used for all the meals you see on the menu. Start considering about applying this same method at home.

Here’s how:

  • Dice, slice, and chop away! What are you planning on cooking for dinners this week? Look at each day, each meal, and ask yourself: “what veggies are going into this dish? How do they need to be prepped?” For example, are you making a hearty soup that requires chopped carrots, onions, and celery to be put in it? Start chopping! When you’re done, put each veggie in a separate container so you can keep adding to it as you continue to go through your meals, investigating what all goes into them. When you’re cooking that meal later that day or later in the week, all you need to do is grab that container, use what you need, and half the job of cooking a meal is already done for you!

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Look at your snacks for that week. Are you making veggie stick packs for the kids’ lunches? Slice up those veggies accordingly and put them in Ziploc bags so they are easy to grab and throw in their lunchboxes the night before or the morning of, whenever it is that you’re putting their lunch together. Did you buy some strawberries? Wash and cut them up to your liking, put them in a container and have them ready to go when you want them throughout the week. Did you buy other berries? Take them out of their containers, wash and dry them and put them in glass or Tupperware containers so they too are ready for when you want them.

Once you get into the habit of doing this every time you go grocery shopping, it will become not only second nature, but it will save you time, money, and you won’t be throwing uneaten, rotting food away because you’ve made it easy for yourself to eat!

Tip 3: Portion Out Leftovers!

Got leftovers? Instead of keeping all the leftovers in the dish they were prepared in, or putting all of them in one big container to stick in the fridge, portion them out! Made lasagna for dinner last night and have a quarter of a pan left? Cut the lasagna into appropriate sized squares, put them in their own containers, and grab one to take for lunch the next day. Don’t feel like cooking that night? Heat up one of your already portioned out lasagna pieces!

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If you don’t think you’re going to be using those particular leftovers that week, taking the time to portion them out that night will make it easier for you to freeze for the future. For those days that you don’t feel like cooking but your budget is too tight to go out or order delivery, look in the freezer and heat up what you’ve already sized out. This way, you’re not heating up extra food that you won’t eat, but just enough for you and/or your family.

If you notice you’re now stockpiling leftovers and your refrigerator is getting full with nothing but containers of meals past, then consider this to be an issue of overcooking and not under consuming. For example, if you are a family of 2, but you’re cooking recipes that can feed 4 or 6, then change the amount of ingredients that are going into those dishes so that you making enough for the people who are eating it. Sometimes the thought is: “well if I make this dish the way the recipe says, even though just me and the hubby are eating it, we’ll have leftovers and I won’t have to cook tomorrow”. Yes, this is a fantastic thought in an ideal world, but what if your plans change and you go out to dinner the next night? Or you decide to cook something else because you don’t want to eat the same thing two nights in a row. Now that dish from Monday night is still sitting in the fridge come Wednesday or Thursday night, and are more likely to be forgotten at this point.

If you take anything away from this post, take away simplicity. Think of ways to simplify your life. Think smarter, not harder so you can make your life easier during busy weeks of the year. Adding a little bit of extra time over the weekend will save you hundreds in time, money, and sanity over the week. If you’ve tried some of my tips but they aren’t working for your life, make adjustments so they fit your lifestyle. Maybe your weekend is your work week, that’s okay! Adjust to what fits you.

For more information, to chat with me, or find out more about what I do, please visit my website at Bella Gaia Healthy Living. Be sure to comment below if you see fit to, and don’t forget to like and share this post.

“If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness. Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have is very vital: satisfaction with just enough food, clothing and shelter to protect yourself from the elements.” ~ The Dalai Lama

Buddha

Have Fun in the Sun This Summer: 3 All Natural Ways to Beat the Heat

With summer temperatures in the U.S. climbing, finding ways to keep you and your family cool seems like a difficult venture that not everyone really wants to deal with! Of course staying inside where the air conditioning is blasting (if there is one available to you that is), is always an option. But didn’t you just spend your entire winter inside?

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Summer is the time to go play outside! Whether you’re an adult, a child, or have kiddos, getting outside and being in nature is key to living a healthy lifestyle. Not only does being one with the elements reset your emotional clock, make you feel refreshed, but it energizes the system and is a fantastic way to get yourself and your kids off the screens and using their imagination to play.

But with temperatures hitting the 90’s, especially this week in Colorado, you want to lower all the blinds, lock all the doors, barricade yourself and your family in your house, and blast that AC as high as you can! Guess what? Unlock those locks, open those curtains, and get ready to get outside and take back your summer!

Follow these 3 easy tips to keep you feeling cool and comfortable all summer long, so you can enjoy your outdoor activities without feeling like you’re melting into the pavement.

Tip 1: Use All Natural Sunscreens Over Conventional Sunscreens

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Open up that medicine cabinet and take a look at the back of your sunscreens’ bottle. Locate the ingredients list and start reading what’s in there! Are you able to pronounce all those ingredients? Do you see any of these listed: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, homosalate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, retinal palmitate? If so, chuck those bottles in the trash and keep reading!

Oxybenzone, and just about any chemical that finishes with a “-benzone”, belongs in the benzophenones family are known to be hormone disrupters that affect both humans and animals. Many sunscreens and lotions on the market today claim that they are UVA and UVB ray protectors, with one of their main ingredients being oxybenzone. This simply is not true. Instead of protecting against these types of sun rays, oxybenzone acts as a UV light ABSORBER. Instead of reflecting those harmful rays, it actually absorbs them right into the skin! Not only are UV rays being absorbed, the chemical itself is also quickly absorbed through the skins pores, traveling to vital organs in the body, disrupting hormone levels resulting in birth defects, developmental delays in infants and children, and causes various types of cancer. In addition to this, oxybezone mimics estrogen in the body, lowering sperm count when consumed by males, and has been found to be associated with endometriosis and fertility issues in females.

Further, chemicals like retinal palmitate, which is a form of harmful Vitamin A, is also advertised as being great for your skin, anti-aging, and reflects harmful sun rays. Again, this has been found to be untrue. In contrast, Vitamin A is also a UV light absorber when put on the skin in direct sunlight and is now associated with the acceleration of skin cancer and various birth defects.

In comparison, many all natural sunscreens are made using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, both of which are minerals found in nature (not made in a lab!), and are known to not be harmful to animals or humans. Both are gentle enough to use on sensitive skin, elderly skin, as well as infants and kiddos!

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The difference here is that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are actual UV light REFLECTERS. With conventional sunscreens, sure your skin is not burning, but those harmful rays are still being absorbed into the body by the light absorbing chemicals mentioned above. With all natural sunscreens however, it is safe to say that those rays are being reflected back out into nature instead of being consumed into the bloodstream. Yes, you may need to coat your skin more often, but feel at ease knowing that what your putting on your skin is not harmful to what lies beneath the epidermis, and is therefore saving you from years of health issues and their associated costs.

So what does all this have to do with keeping you cool this summer?

When your skin is being properly protected from the sun when partaking in outdoor activities, your body doesn’t have to work as hard to keep itself cool. Natural sunscreens also allow the pours of your skin to breathe; taking in oxygen molecules which not only fuel the blood which travels to the heart and brain keeping you energized and alert, but allows systems in your body (like your sweat glands), to keep functioning properly. Just like when a dog pants to stay cool when they are getting too hot, humans need to sweat out toxins and excess water from the body in order to keep us cool in heat.

So the next time you are looking to purchase sunscreens, think about how they can not only protect you from the sun, but allows your body to not work twice as hard to keep you cool in 85+ degree weather!

Some brands to stay away from:

  • Banana Boat (for adults and kids)
  • any CVS sunscreens, lotions, or sprays
  • any Neutrogena sun products (even the ones that say they are “natural”)
  • any of the Coppertone Sport or Kids line
  • Equate or Kroger brands for kids and adults

Some all natural brands to start using* :

(*for a full list, please click here)

Tip 2: Make a Peppermint Elixir Spray

Pure peppermint essential oil is known to have many beneficial effects for humans. Its most well-known property is of course soothing and calming upset stomachs. However, did you know peppermint can also be used as a mini air conditioner when applied to the skin? At a molecular level, peppermint is part of the menthol family, which is a known coolant. It is because of this that peppermint works wonders when used as cooler for the body, not only keep you cool in the heat, but has been used for thousands of years to reduce fevers in homeopathic medicine.

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Peppermint’s cooling properties work by activating certain receptors at the skins surface that then trigger natural cooling mechanisms in the body, allowing your body’s internal temperature to be maintained, even when you’re outside in the 90 degree weather!

So how can you make an elixir that you can carry with you anywhere you go this summer? It’s easy and takes less than 30 seconds to make!

In a 1oz. spray bottle (can be glass or plastic), add 10 drops PURE Peppermint Essential Oil, and fill the rest with cold water. Shake bottle when ready to use. Spray on the back of the neck, inside of the wrists, or bottoms of the feet. Use as often as necessary.

Tip 3: Water, Water, Water!

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We all know that consuming water is the most beneficial drinks we can put into our bodies. But when it’s hot in the middle of the summer, increasing your water intake can also increase the success of your body’s internal cooling mechanisms. Put it this way, the more you sweat, the cooler you’ll be!

Personally, I have a terrible time reminding myself to drink water. It’s just not something I crave like I do juices or iced teas. Water is flavorless. There, I said it! I don’t believe that it’s healthy for your body to add those sugary, chemical heavy, flavored water drops like the ever popular MiO Liquid Water Enhancers. And let’s be honest, the taste of those things are kind of gross.

But, in an effort to test this theory that water can keep me cool, even in 90 degrees, I started drinking gallons of the stuff. And let me tell you, it worked! Sure I was racing to the bathroom every 40 minutes or so to release my constantly full bladder, but I didn’t feel overheated. Yes, I was sweating, but I didn’t feel wet with sweat, it was more of a dry sweat.

So from now on, instead of reaching for that sugary drink that will leave you even thirstier than when you started, reach for that refreshing, clean water to keep you cool!

For more information on this, please visit my website Bella Gaia Healthy Living. For questions on anything you have read here, including source information, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

“Water, air, and cleanliness are the chief articles in my pharmacopoeia.” ~ Napoléon I

Buddha

Show Dad Some Love: 4 Tips for a Healthier Man

It’s not ironic that Men’s Health Week falls on the days leading up to Father’s Day. With dad’s special day right around the corner, let’s take a moment to talk about how important men’s health really is and what you can do to stay healthy the all natural way. Not a man? You can still help bring awareness to the important guy in your life by reading and sharing the following.

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According to the CDC, the top three leading causes of male death in the United States is heart disease, cancer, and accidents caused by unintentional injuries; ALL of which are preventable by making easy lifestyle changes and better choices when it comes to diet, fitness, and even the products men use on a daily basis.

It must come as no surprise that men are more willing to take risks than women, making more decisions based on impulse rather than logic. Many studies have been published expanding on this theory, noting that men are more likely to smoke harmful tobacco products, partake in drinking alcohol heavily on a regular basis, make unhealthy diet choices, and put off regular medical visits than their female counterparts, all affecting the body’s systems negatively. Part of these decisions are made entirely due to testosterone levels in the body and other hormonal imbalances. Another part is said to be due to neurological development, in that areas of the brain in a male that are responsible for executive functioning (i.e. complex thinking processes), decision making, and impulse control take longer to mature than they do in women.

So what can be done about making improvements in your health when there are so many biological factors fighting against you? Below are My 4 Tips to a better you, geared towards men and their distinct biological differences.

Tip 1: Don’t fall victim to convenience!

In today’s hustle and bustle of a world, it’s easy to lean towards grab-on-the-go meals. Stopping at a fast food restaurant is high on the list of convenience. Whether it be in the morning to stop for that doughnut and coffee, or on your lunch break when you’re rushed to make it back to work in time so the boss doesn’t start asking what took you so long, fast food makes the cut for poor diet choices.

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Many meals prepared at places like McDonalds, Burger King, etc. are frozen and are quickly heated up so that you, the customer, can get back to your busy day. The problem with this is that it’s not fresh and many of those meals are extremely high in saturated fats, covered in grease, that then turn into excess fat cells that the body does not know how to process. These cells are then carried through the blood stream to areas like the heart, where they build up and causes blockages; which then lead to heart disease, heart attacks, and even strokes. Choosing that quick and easy burger could be the last decision you make, and the last burger you ever get to enjoy.

So how do we avoid convenience?

One of the best ways to not fall into the temptation of fast food joints is to meal prep! No, this concept does not have to be scary. Yes,  prepping your meals for your work week takes a little bit of extra time on a Sunday afternoon or evening. This 20 minutes to an hour will not only keep dollars in your pocket, but in the long run it will add years to your life since you are in control of what you prep, what ingredients go into your meals, and how large or small your portions are.

My boyfriend works a pretty vigorous job Monday through Friday, waking up every morning at 5:30am, putting his body though hard labor 10-12 hours each day. A job like this does not allow for long, restful hour long lunch breaks. You eat on the go and throughout the day during short breaks. In an effort to help him start making healthier choices, he started meal prepping. Once he go into the routine of it every Sunday, it’s now a habit that he refuses to break. Here’s an example of what his meal prepping looks like:

  • For breakfast on the go: he makes about 5-8 breakfast burritos. When you need to get up early for work, and don’t have time to sit down and enjoy a breakfast at home, breakfast burritos are a great grab-and-go meal. They will keep in the refrigerator for the whole week, you can fill them with egg (protein), meat (more protein), cheese (even more protein!), veggies (the benefits of which are too long to explain here), wrapped in a flour or corn tortilla (adding enough carbs to be turned into energy); and they are easy to pop in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute on your way out the door. *prep tip: keep them moderately sized. Try not to make giant burritos, but ones that are easily manageable to eat with one hand and do not overfill the stomach. The large Mission tortilla wraps are a great size for this!

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  • For lunch on the go: stir-fry’s make excellent quick lunch meals that are easy to prep, are a healthy option, and can be cooked in a variety of ways. You can cook them using your favorite meat (chicken, pork, steak) for optimal, clean proteins free of added saturated fats from grease, a large array of veggies, and rice (white or brown). Try to stay away from pre-made sauces to put on your stir-fry. These type of sauces tend to be high in sodium, which absorbs the body’s water content, leaving you feeling sluggish, bloated, and many times will induce headaches and fatigue. These meals can be portioned out in Ziploc Stackable, medium sized containers, put in the freezer Sunday night and popped in the microwave at lunch time throughout the week.

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  • For drink options: stay away from sodas that are high in sugars and carbohydrates. In men especially, daily soda intake can lead to bloating, higher risk of developing Type II Diabetes, excessive weight gain, and kidney stones. Instead of reaching for that soda can, bring with you to work a bottle of water. To make this easy to grab without spending a boat load on bottled water each week, fill up about 3-4 reusable water bottles and put them in the fridge for easy access. As you’re getting ready to leave for the day, grab one, put some ice in it if you choose to, and squeeze some lemon juice in there for flavor. Another way to add flavor is to add fresh cut cucumber, sliced oranges, sliced limes, or berries. Teas are also a great soda alternative, however be sure to stick to unsweetened or all natural teas sweetened with honey.
  • For snacks in-between meals: prep yourself some veggie stick packs in Ziploc bags, or small containers. Bring with you a small container of organic, low sodium ranch dressing, hummus, or peanut butter for dipping. Seed packs, like trail mix or other varieties similar to this, are easy to portion out, are high in protein to keep you going, and you can easily grab them on your way out the door. Don’t have time? Stock your pantry with meal replacement bars like ProBar or Bobo Bars. These are healthy protein bars that won’t overfill you, but will help keep your energy sustained throughout the day. They are also made with organic and non-GMO ingredients, so you know you can trust what goes into them and what you’re in turn putting into your body.

In order to switch things up from week-to-week, try prepping lunches for the season. What do I mean by this? Make yourself hearty salads that have meat in them, cold sandwiches or wraps in the summer, and try hearty soups, pasta meals, or meat with a warming healthy carb like sweet potatoes, in the winter.

Tip 2: When in doubt, take your supplements!

Even when you’re making healthy food choices, our bodies need more nutrients than what is found in cooked foods. Taking daily supplements are a great and easy way to sustain energy, reduce headaches and stress throughout the day, and ensure that your body is running at optimal levels. When your body is properly functioning, you will see a dramatic difference in your energy, focus and concentration, and overall mood.

My favorite supplements that I have found that work great for both men and women, are doTERRA’s Lifelong Vitality Pack. With a 93% absorbency rate, these capsules really do the trick! The pack comes with three bottles of different supplements to be taken twice a day (once in the morning, and once at night). The first is the Micro Plex VMz. What’s so great about these little guys? The capsules are full of “micro-nutrients”, which are whole plant extracts straight from the fruit or vegetable themselves. When we cook vegetables, all lot of the nutrients our body needs from them is cooked out due to chemical changes from the heating process. These capsules pull those vitamins and nutrients right out of the plant so you know you’re still putting into your body what the body really needs. The micro-plex is also full of all the recommended daily vitamins (i.e. all the B’s, Vitamin’s A, C, D, E, folic acid, etc.).

vitality pack

The second bottle in this pack are the XEO-Mega Complex. These are your fatty acids derived from fish, an excellent source of Omega-3’s. Today in America, our diets are mainly made up of a 15:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids. What are Omega-6’s? Those are your saturated fats that lead to blockages in the body. So that’s a 15:1 ratio of bad to good fats! No wonder the body is constantly in a state of imbalance, unrest, and so many of us have digestive issues like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). This X-Omega complex puts the good fats back into your body to help balance out the bad fats.

Lastly, this pack features the Alfa CRS+ for cellular vitality. What does this mean? In terms that are understandable, they simply fight oxidation reactions that occur in the body on a cellular level, providing optimal nutrition, resulting in the achievement of a healthier, stronger, more energized you. Isn’t that what we all want?!

Become a member with doTERRA and get this pack for 25% off retail price. Add it to your monthly Loyalty Rewards Program and save even more! Ask me how!

Tip 3: Get Plenty of Rest & Reduce Stress

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Research as shown that men should get approximately 6-8 hours of sleep per night in order to feel rested the next day and ensure that your body is functioning how it should be. However with demanding work schedules and busy home lives, getting 8 hours of sleep could not only be challenging to achieve but seem impossible. So what can you do to make this idea more of a daily reality?

  • Set your bed time to 10 minutes earlier each night until you’ve reached 7-8 hours of sleep. Doing this consistently resets your body into making the new schedule a routine. So, if you need to wake up at 6:00am, but you usually go to bed around 11pm or midnight, begin setting reminders to get yourself into bed by 10:50 one night, 10:40 the next night, and so-on until you are going to bed between 9:30 or 10pm. Setting small goals like this for yourself will help you see results faster without feeling overwhelmed.
  • Lower your caffeine intake! Cutting down to one to two cups of coffee per day really helps you settle down at the end of the night and prepares your body for sleep time. Giving your body this time to wind down from a long day is one of the healthiest things you can allow yourself to do! If you prefer energy drinks over coffee, limit to only drinking one per day and eventually consider not drinking them at all. The chemicals that are put into these drinks do more harm to the body’s processes than they do good!
  • Reduce stress by practicing mindful meditation for 5-10 minutes each morning and each night. If this is something you are not already in a routine of, don’t let it scare you! Start slow by practicing once each week. After a couple weeks, pick two days to sit. Once this becomes a habit, keep adding a new day every couple of weeks that you make time to sit and meditate before you start your day, until eventually you are doing this every morning and every night, seven days a week!

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  • Feeling stressed throughout the day? Get up and walk! Walking around for about 10 minutes, whether it’s outside, or you cut laps around the office, walking gets your muscles moving, circulating oxygen through them, which gets into the bloodstream and travels throughout the body. This is also a great way to take a quick break when you’re feeling stuck on something, or need a little extra boost of energy. More oxygen in the brain keeps you alert and feeling stable.

Tip 4: Quit smoking and lower alcohol intake.

For those of you that are addicted to your daily dose of nicotine, smoking cigarettes does a lot more damage to the inside of your body than you think. Not only does smoking cause lung disease and cancer, it also slows thinking processes and neurotransmitters in the brain from sending and receiving vital messages that get sent to the rest of your body. Smoking can also leave you feeling sluggish and forces your body to work harder. Quitting smoking may sound scary or hard, but with the right support, help from friends and family, taking the plunge could not only save your life in the long run, but also improve your health.

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The same goes for alcohol. Lowering how much you consume on a daily basis will not only boost your energy, but you’ll start notice a drastic change in the way your body functions. Your mood will be brighter, you’ll inevitably loose weight and minimize bloating, and your mind will think more clearly allowing you to focus on the things that are most important you.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t let yourself try to build an empire in one night! If there is something that you can schedule into your next day, than do-so if your present day was long and strenuous. Make time to spend with family and loved ones, remember to make better food choices, make some time to get a little more rest each night, do what you can to reduce stress, and quit bad habits like drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes.

For more information or to simply chat with me about what you’ve read here today, feel free to drop me a line on here OR visit my website: Bella Gaia Healthy Living.

“Without health, life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering – an image of death” ~ The Buddha

Buddha

 

What Am I Doing Here?

Over the last year, I found myself asking these same three questions: “what am I doing here?”, “how did I get here?”, and “where am I going?”. So for my very first blog post, I have decided to share with the world what it is I am doing here, on the internet, typing away on a blog (something I have never done before), how I got to this point in my life, and where I want all of this to go,  including what I promise to provide my readers from here on out, and how I can help you all find what it is you may be looking for too. So, let’s begin…

What am I doing here?

Something that initially drove me to embark on this great new adventure was my passion of literature and my desire to be a writer. For years, writing has always been my go-to. When I was sad or angry, feeling alone in the world, I always found myself going back to pen and paper. Writing down the words that ran quickly through my mind. Many times those words worked themselves out into poems and short stories; other times they just became scrambled words on the page, making no sense but having all the meaning in the world.

This is what I am doing here. I am manifesting what it is I want to become: a writer, a creator of words, and a sharer of thoughts to heal. I am a being that embodies not just what this universe has in store for me, but one who can strengthen where someone else falls short. Whether that means I write a review for a product you just came out with, or I’m helping someone write down who they are in a dating profile in hopes they can find love (and yes, I have done this before!). And some days I will write just to write, because the words racing around in my mind are just too great to be held in.

How did I get here?

This question always leaves me wondering: where do I begin? So, for purposes of not creating an autobiography in my first blog post, I’ll start at a pivotal moment in my life; a time where I was lost and was in desperate need of guidance, back two years ago, the summer of 2015.

That year I truly was all about self-discovery; what was my purpose on this Earth and how could I bring forth my potential? In short, I was searching to answer the question: who am I really? That was the year I was really getting into learning about traditional Tibetan Buddhism, practicing mindful meditation and of course, yoga. So that May, and with the help of my mom, I signed up for my very first yoga and meditation retreat, to be held at one of the most beautiful locations in the country, high up in the rocky mountains at the Shambhala Mountain Center.

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The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, nestled in the grounds at SMC at Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. (click here for photo credit)

I chose a to partake in an all woman’s retreat program, feeling that the only way I could connect with my true inner self, was to connect with other women. This was a road I was not too familiar with, for all my life finding strong relationships with other ladies has always been difficult for me. The program was for six days and five nights, and I had opted to camp out in a tent on the property. I arrived the night before day one, said goodbye to my mom and four-year-old daughter, and was left there alone, cut off from the world I had known so much about. The morning of day one, I woke up just before sunrise and hiked up to the very top of the tallest mountain that surrounded the property, and I sat there, watching the pristine nature waking up under the morning sun, and I was ready to bring on a new world.

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A picture of me taken by some other hikers, that very first morning before my retreat really began, just after sunrise.

There are truly so many amazing things I can write about this trip, but I will stick to the most important part of it, the part that got me here, writing this page. It was during this adventure that I was finally able to open up and be true to myself. It was then that I realized I am not just a leader, but I am a natural born healer. What I was truly meant to do in this world is to help others heal from their pain, both physical and emotional, the traumas they have gone through, and the experiences they can learn from and let go of to grow into their best beings. This is how Bella Gaia Healthy Living got started.

I let go of fear at this retreat. The fear that was holding me back and keeping me confused and stuck in a world I was not happy in. Once I allowed myself to let go of that fear, I was able to see my true inner light. I was able to see in myself that I really was a “Beautiful Earth Goddess” (Bella Gaia), and I can share my spirit with others to help them get through the trials and tribulations that surround us all.

Where am I going?

Now that I have started my website, Bella Gaia Healthy Living, and I have teamed up with the wonderful women trio of Dynamic Roots, and I have embarked on becoming a doTERRA Wellness Advocate, the sky is my limit and the world is my oyster; there is nothing but mountains from here on out to climb and surpass.

My next big adventure is to accomplish my yoga teacher certification so that I can lead retreats, meditation, and yoga sessions much like the one that inspired me to travel down this path two years ago. After that, it’s off to Chinese medicine school where I plan to dive even deeper into the world of holistic healing and herbs.

My promise to you, my readers, is to provide you with all the information that will help guide you to living a better, healthier life. One that is wholesome and natural, so that when you are faced with your hard times you can come out of it a better person and not stuck in the present, held prisoner by your past. Progression is growth. When you make the choice to subscribe to my website, you will be given the opportunity to learn something new about a healthy lifestyle everyday, information that can be shared with others.

I hope you enjoyed this read and I look forward to sharing with you my adventures moving forward.

“Do not dwell in the past. Do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment.” ~ Siddartha Gautama, the Buddha

Buddha