Reading! Bonding! Virtual Book Club!

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When Emily from {Custom Made} Life brought up the idea of a healthy living book club during last Thursday’s #healthylife Twitter chat, I was pretty much on board within seconds. Books! Bonding! Brilliant ideas! (or maybe bears. beets. Battlestar Galactica…?). Apparently I wasn’t the only one who was super excited by the plan, as within days the list had grown from ten possible participants to about fifty. (!!!)

Emily, being the do-er that she is, has crafted a page full of all of the details for the brand new Virtual Book Club, including a (constantly growing) list of the books that we have on the agenda. I’ll be moderating the monthly Twitter chats alongside Emily, as well as helping out with the group in general.

SO!

If you’re into reading awesome things and then chatting about them, we want you involved. Pop over here to see all of the details, including the chat time, the books, and how to sign up. Have some awesome book suggestions and/or want to moderate a chat? We’d like that too.

Questions? Comments? Leave them on this post or get in touch with me or Emily directly. Hurray!

Scrape Your Tongue on National Kissing Day

Did you know that there could be over 500 types of bacteria hanging out in your mouth at any given time? Not really something you'd want someone to notice, especially on National Kissing Day, is it?

Fortunately it can be super easy to maintain fresh breath using this very affordable tool…whether you plan on doing some kissing or not.

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The tongue cleaner has been around for thousands of years, and was (and still is) commonly used in India as part of Ayurvedic practices. They come in a variety of styles, are often made from metal or plastic, and can be as inexpensive as $3 as your local drugstore (I found mine at CVS).

The process is simple: after brushing your teeth, use the tongue cleaner to scrape out the remaining residue and build-up on your tongue (yes, it’s often still hanging out there even if you brushed your tongue with your toothbrush). And adding this quick step into your hygiene routine comes with a number of benefits:

  • Most obviously, it removes bacterial build-up on the tongue. This bacteria is often the cause of bad breath.
  • It improves your sense of taste. Having that build-up on your tongue may prevent your taste buds from fully experiencing the flavors of food.
  • It minimizes cravings. When food residue is constantly on your tongue, it may cause you to have more cravings for that food. Scraping your tongue regularly can help manage those cravings.
  • It increases tongue sensitivity. If there’s constantly a film on your tongue, you’ll lose sensitivity. And that’s important for kissing, yes?

They’re becoming easier to find in stores (like I said, I picked mine up at a local CVS) but you can order them online as well. (disclaimer: that’s an Amazon affiliate link.). And since they’re so affordable, they’re a really cheap and convenient way to freshen up.

So, pop down to your local drugstore and then get back to celebrating!

5 Free Android Apps for Simpler Healthy Living

When we’re constantly trying to juggle our hectic daily lives, we have to do anything we can to make staying healthy a little bit easier. If you have an Android phone, there are approximately eleventy billion apps that can offer a helping hand (and I’m sure that there’s about the same number for iPhones, though I can’t speak from experience).

Here are five that I found especially useful:

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Drinking Water: It’s about as straightforward as it sounds. That said, it’s easy to forget to meet your daily water needs, especially if you’re also drinking coffee, tea, soda, or any other non-water beverage. The Drinking Water app allows you to set the number of glasses you aim to drink daily (hint: aim for about half of your body weight in ounces) and reminds you hourly to get another glass. Also, the default “pouring water” alert sounds a little like someone peeing. So…there’s that.

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WomanLog Calendar: There are tons of similar apps available in the Android Marketplace, but this is the one I’ve been using and I’m partial to it. It tracks your period and expected ovulation days (allowing you to better predict when those will occur in the following months), as well as allows you to record which days you took your birth control pill, which days you had sex, and what your Basal Metabolic Temperature (or Basal Body Temperature) was…All helpful tools for effective pregnancy planning and prevention (particularly if you’re taking a natural approach). There’s also a paid version of this app that has additional bells and whistles.

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Fooducate: There’s a lot of junk in food, but there’s also a lot of junk on food labels. The Fooducate app can help clear up confusion about the products you’re eating. Simply scan the barcode on a package and the product will receive a score to indicate its healthfulness. The app also makes recommendations (for example, after scanning a package of nuts it suggested that I select nuts that didn’t have added oils) and offers interesting nutrition facts (in this case, the fact that almonds are a good source of magnesium and protein). For some products, it indicates if there’s something to be concerned about (like high sugar content) or offers more information on something questionable (like the mysterious “natural flavors” that some foods contain), and suggests alternative products you could select instead.

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Mindfulness Bell: A regular mindfulness practice is something that I often suggest to my coaching clients. It doesn’t have to be anything especially involved—even taking a minute away from the computer to breathe deeply can offer great benefits, like stress relief and mental clarity. But while it sounds like an easy practice to implement, it’s surprisingly difficult to make it a routine. The Mindfulness Bell app rings periodically throughout the day (set at increments of 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or one hour—your choice), reminding you that it’s time for that break. But be sure to actually take that time when the the bell rings—otherwise it’ll just seem like another annoying phone notification.

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My Headache Log: If you suffer from regular headaches or migraines, this app could be a huge help for figuring out a pattern. As someone who has been dealing with migraines for ages, I know what a pain it can be to keep track of headaches regularly enough to actually benefit from the information (I’m pretty sure that I carried around my “migraine notebook” for about two days before letting the practice fall to the wayside). This app allows you to track a number of factors, including symptoms (aura, congestion, pain in left temple, etc.), any medications used, the type of headache (migraine, hormonal, tension, etc.), where you were when the headache began, and more. It also offers charts so you can start looking for headache patterns.

What do you do to making healthy living a little bit simpler?

Image Source: Android Market

28 Day Detox Challenge—Q&A

We’re less than two weeks away from the next round of the 28 Day Detox Challenge, one of my favorite HSW group programs to date, and I’ve been getting emails with a few questions about the program. I wanted to cover a few of the major ones that have come up in hopes that it will help you decide whether it’s a good fit for you!

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I have have major cravings for sugar/caffeine/carbs/etc…Will this program help with that?

If you stay relatively “on-plan” through the Detox Challenge, I think you’ll be amazed by how much your cravings are eased. Sure, you may experience them still in the beginning of each phase, but once you’ve eliminated the food group for a while you may find that the crazy cravings have disappeared too. That’s definitely one of the perks of the program!

I’m not sure I’m comfortable with eliminating all of the food groups you mentioned from my diet right now, but I’m still interested in participating in the program. Will I still benefit?

First of all, you should know that we’re a pretty flexible group. If a particular phase of the challenge doesn’t feel right for you and you decide to opt out, we won’t show up at your house to hassle you. This challenge is always your challenge. I think it’s important to go into the challenge with goals and intentions so that you get what you want out of it. That might mean focusing more on the sugar phase instead of the gluten phase, or it might mean giving more attention to the non-food items that we’ll cover (we call them Primary Foods). Regardless of what approach you take, I do feel the program is varied enough that you’ll benefit even if you don’t have stick exactly to the food guidelines.

I’m a bit of an emotional eater (and/or binge eater). Is this program right for me?

This depends very much on you and how you approach the program. The program is designed to be full of healthy experimentation where you discover which foods and lifestyle choices work for your body (and which don’t) in a supportive group setting. Unfortunately, I understand that the word detox might sometimes indicate that this is another “quick-fix” diet plan. This isn’t the case. For some, the idea of detoxing might aggravate binge eating tendencies—if you feel like that could be you, that this particular program is probably not a perfect fit. You might consider looking at our Individual Program options for some one-on-one support where the program will be totally tailored to your needs and interests.

If you feel like you’re in a place in your life where you can approach the program so that you can experiment with these food groups in a way that promotes healthy, sustainable eating habits (which is what we promote throughout), then you will certainly benefit. Additionally, food is only one of the many aspects that we’ll cover in this program. We’ll touch on a slew of other things, from detoxifying your body care products to using affirmations and positive self-talk. For many, these non-food aspects may be even more beneficial than the food experiments.

I’m not sure I can make the full payment at once. Do I have options?

We understand that some financial situations can make it tricky to make the full program investment at once. Simply send an email to plysaght@gmail.com and we’ll come up with a plan that works for everyone.

Interested in hearing more about the 28 Day Detox Challenge? Take a look here for more details, or have a peek at some of our Client Success Stories so you can see how others felt about the program. Have more questions? Send me an email or leave a note in the comments.

Bring On the Day with a Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

Now that it is so hot here, I’m looking for any excuse to blend up something icy cold. This morning I made Emily’s “Bring On the Day” smoothie, complete with chocolatey superfood goodness, and I highly suggest you do the same. It tastes super indulgent while still being packed with all kinds of healthy ingredients. Take a look!

See the original recipe for specific measurements (mostly I have a hard time following directions, especially when it comes to smoothies…) and ingredient variations…and let us know if you try it out!

(P.S. If you have five minutes, would you mind filling out a quick survey for me? I’m planning events for the fall and could use your insights!)