2021 Vegetable Garden!

I may have given up on taking care of my health back in 2013-2014, but I never gave up on gardening. It started as a way to save money. If I eat ____ every day, I’ll save money if I grow it! Now that I’m older, wiser and plant based, it has turned into much more! Gardening has been one of my favorite activities, it is very therapeutic and I can get some much needed sun in. I can really connect with my food because I know exactly where its coming from, what kind of creatures come in contact with it, and what is and isn’t being sprayed on it. You’re creating a little plant life to fuel your own. The great thing about plants is that they reproduce themselves (sometimes with the help of external pollinators like bees, bugs, animals and wind) in the form of seeds or parts that can be grown (example: green onion). It is a magical experience, not to mention the flavor! You may never buy a tomato from a grocery store again after eating one you’ve grown. I personally don’t, I will wait all winter to eat tomatoes.

I always look forward to starting my annual garden, its what takes me “out of hibernation”.

February 21st, I planted kale, spinach, zucchini (I’m very early), bell pepper, tomato and cucumber!

February 27, 2021.

5 Ways to Make Food Tracking Easier

I’ve talked about the importance of why tracking food intake is important. The least I can do is share some tips that make it easier. Trust me, its not as easy as it sounds, it takes some practice. Before diving in, here is a list of food tracking essentials:

  • Food scale: This is the most important tool because estimation will hinder the desired results. Here is a basic scale.
  • Food tracking app: I like Cronometer because it breaks down many micronutrients in addition to macronutrients. I am currently using MyFitnessPal because its the app that can sync to the fitness app that I have set up through my personal trainer. Keep in mind that when picking a food tracking app, if its not popular, it may be harder to share your diary with the people or apps you want to see it.
  • Measuring tools: Measuring cups, spoons, scoops, etc. These will help with your accuracy.
  • Food storage: Storage containers are great for people who like to meal/ingredient prep.

Now that we have covered the tools, lets get into the tips!

  • Weigh food as you go. Tracking my food intake was a pain until I realized I was making it too much work. I would weigh my food, chop it and prepare it. Now, I weigh as I chop, and at the same time. I will chop, weigh my food, chop my next food, tare the scale and weigh it. Instead of separating the two actions, I do it all at once.
  • Prepare your own food! If you are cooking for yourself, you will know exactly what is going into your food! You can control the contents. When you go to a restaurant and log the meal you ate, there may be additional ingredients not accounted for and you may think you’re eating a 600 calorie meal, when in reality, its closer to 900 calories. A high-calorie meal is not bad, but making your own food lets you be more accurate and accountable when it comes to your lifestyle goals.

  • Write down the measurements of your most common dishes. I used to measure my breakfasts every day, and I was eating the same thing. This tip works if you use the same amount of ingredients every time you make it. A dish that you can cook with your eyes closed. Write down the weight of each ingredient so you can quickly type it in, or most food tracking apps will let you create meals and recipes. You will plug in your ingredients and measurements once, and you can add the whole meal with one tap! I have a weekly meal planner featuring a recipe card template that is perfect for keeping track of your favorite meals!
  • Do not let “counting calories” keep you from having fun and living life! I know I just said that ordering a meal from a restaurant might not be the best idea for losing weight. You know what? One meal, or a whole day of derailing from your preferred eating style will not suddenly “undo” all of your work. You can either edit the menu item to better fit your lifestyle/macros, OR log the meal as best as you can and enjoy it! It is impossible to eat “perfect” all the time, it is our reaction to it and preceding steps that make a difference. Enjoying the meal with your family, feeding your soul, eating something you actually enjoy is more important than “oh my goodness, I ate ___, I’ll never be healthy! I’ll never see my goals! I cheated, I might as well eat like this for the rest of the day/week!” Eating healthy is important, but please put mental health first. Your journey to a healthy lifestyle should be a fun and pleasant experience!
    • This step is important because you might need more calories than you think! My personal trainer had me log my calories, the first week I did not change anything. I would eat 900-1200 calories (I am 4’9″) a day. I was eating a lot, but I was getting headaches and I looked bloated. The next week, my PT instructed me to go for 1500 calories and gave me specific macros to follow. At first, I was skeptical, shouldn’t I eat less to lose weight? After eating 1500 calories a day, my headaches went away, I can fit into clothes a little better and I have more energy than before! Keeping track of food intake is all about finding a way of eating that works best for you and your health goals. It is also a good idea to see what’s going inside so you can make changes accordingly.
  • Get to know your favorite (Insert macro) food! What do you mean get to know my food? I’m very familiar with it! How well do you know it? When counting macros, it takes a little more creativity to hit goals than a lifestyle that includes eating animals. Animal-inclusive diets have very distinct macro categories. Plant-based foods will have more than one macronutrient. This is important because it may be hard to hit a specific macro goal without the other two being disproportionate. Beans are typically considered a protein source, but they contain more carbs than protein. I used to think that peanuts were a protein source until I learned that they have more fat than protein. Seitan is a great source of protein, it’s very low in fat and carbs.
Like what you see? Click on the picture to purchase my printable décor!

Do you track your food intake? What are your food-related health goals?

6.5 Things I Wish I Knew About the Gym!

Do you struggle with gym anxiety or not sure what to do when you’re there? I used to be terrified of going to the gym. I knew nothing about equipment or how to structure workouts (which I’m still new to). I was worried about what the gym rats would think about a fresh, clueless member, especially during the new year. I hired a personal trainer in December so I could learn all of these things and not be so lost. I wanted to be ready to be released into the wild by the time my contract was over. Here are some things I have learned so far about the gym. These are things I wish I knew years ago, I may have walked into a gym much sooner.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com
  • Are people watching me? What will they think? In my experience, people will see and acknowledge you, but no one is staring at you. They don’t care, they just want to work out and go home. People at the gym typically mind their own business, and are sometimes willing to help when asked. There may be communication in situations where you and someone else need the same piece of equipment, just be polite like you would in any other situation; they will be polite back.
  • Weight machines are your friend. I used to be intimidated by the weight machines. I had no idea how to use them, and what if I had bad form while using them? I was told by a personal trainer to not worry about form, because a machine is supposed to assist you with proper form (as long as the settings are proportionate for your height).
  • Plan accordingly. If you have a strength and cardio regimen, you may want to look into the cardio classes at your local gym and plan do to them both in one trip. I have a spin class that I go to three times a week, and I will do my strength training before the class. Its easier for me to go to the gym three times than four or five. I like cardio after strength because you use up glycogen (fuel) stored in the muscles while strength training; after glycogen is used up, your body will burn fat as energy when you do the cardio. So, when you put these two together, you’re getting more bang for your buck.
    • Getting to the gym on time and early enough to get my full workout in required some changes. It’s not simply “Go to gym, workout, go home,” there’s a couple more steps. The night before my gym session, I will pack my necessities. The contents of my bag depend on what I’m doing at the gym the next day. I will always pack two 32oz water bottles, a protein shake or BCAAs, earbuds, a pack of LastTissues (perfect for the stationary bike), and a sweat towel. If I am going to yoga or doing cardio that’s not cycling, I will bring my big gym bag that can hold a yoga mat and a spare pair of shoes. Speaking of shoes, you’re going to want to use different shoes for different activities. For strength training, or exercises that your feet need to feel grounded, go for shoes with a more flat sole. Think of skate shoes. For cardio, you will need a shoe that has arch support and some type of shock absorption. I use running shoes because that’s the only other cardio I do. For something like Zumba, there are special shoes for it with an anatomy that can withstand the dance-like moves. You make lateral movements (side to side), pivot on the ball of your foot, etc. Please look into the equipment needed before starting a workout to avoid injury!
    • After my bag is packed and everything is ready to go, I will go to bed early so I make it there on time in the morning. When I have a 1/2 hour workout planned, I try to get there an hour before cycle class starts. I take into account the time it takes to get there, warm up, complete each set, time between sets, cleaning off equipment when I’m done and be there early for class so I can adjust my bike to my preferred settings. It is always a good idea to show up early to a cardio class, especially if its your first time. You can get to know the instructor, the equipment being used, and get a quick rundown of what you’ll be doing.
  • Check out the classes they offer, if any! Fitness classes are great because they are a welcoming and supportive environment. They are a fun way to get a great workout in, the instructor may have a bangin’ playlist and a variety of challenging sequences! They also go by faster than doing cardio by yourself. 50 minutes in cycle class does not feel like a long time compared to 30 minutes on a treadmill by yourself.
Not only do you need to look into shoes for Zumba, but there are also special cycling shoes. They attach to the pedal of a spin bike! They’re not mandatory, but they’re pretty cool.Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com
  • Your strength workout does not to be a complicated one hour event. I used to think that I had to perform 32 exercises that worked exactly 47 muscles all the way to failure for two hours to get a good strength building workout. A workout doesn’t have to take forever, and you can do anything from eight to ten exercises with 10-12 reps per workout. An effective workout is one that helps you get to your goal, and it doesn’t take that much to build muscle when you’re brand new to the game. When I started to workout “properly,” I felt a bit of culture shock because I was used to doing 30 reps of something per set. When I work out now, I feel like it goes by fast and like I’m not doing much, but I will feel just as sore as when I would overdo it. I have noticed that I’m getting stronger, and I’m doing less reps than before! If you want a little extra in your workout, you can always do the move slowly and increase the amount of time muscles spend under tension. “Pulsing” is also an option.
  • Your split does not have to be complicated. Your split is how you split up your exercises for the week. I used to guess, I would plan out 4-5 days to workout and made a YouTube playlist for that day. I collected so many videos and I was so overwhelmed. I would get sore, rest for two days and get confused on which workout to do next. If I did an arm and ab workout two days ago, should I do the full body scheduled for today, or the leg workout I had planned right after? I would get decision fatigue and fall off the wagon. Now, I typically do a push day, pull day, and body weight day. You can keep it this simple without much guesswork because of push and pull. Each muscle has one job, to flex and move your bone in the direction you need it to. Your “pushing” and “pulling” muscles are usually opposing on the same ligament (biceps pull, triceps push). This method has been effective for me so far.
  • If possible, get a personal trainer. They are very helpful for not only learning how to use the equipment, but some may offer nutrition advice. When working out by myself at home, I never pushed myself as hard as my trainer has, which is why I never saw results on my own. They can also act as a “gym buddy” if you’re scared to go to the gym alone, its make a great training wheel for others who are scared to go. A personal trainer will have the tools to help you expedite your results. If you can’t get a personal trainer, YouTube has a lot of videos showing how to use equipment and example workouts. Some gyms will have employees who are qualified to show you how to use equipment too!

If you are still intimidated by going to the gym, keep in mind that it is filled with likeminded individuals who most likely have similar goals. They, too, have faced their worries and doubts about going for the first or second time. Remember to have fun with it! I hope these little tidbits help you feel more prepared for the gym, whether its your first, second, fifth, tenth or hundredth time. [The exercise tips will be the depth of my fitness “advice,” I am not a professional, I am not qualified to assist with working out.]

Photo by Leon Ardho on Pexels.com

What is your experience with gyms? Are you just starting out, pretty experienced? Is there anything that is holding you back after reading this? Let me know!

Reducing Waste Room-By-Room #1: Kitchen

When you buy foods in bulk, there is no trash to take home with your item! Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Room #1, the kitchen. I have always had the philosophy of starting a mission/assignment/journey with the hardest tasks first. This one has been the most daunting for me, I feel like the majority of waste comes into, and is produced in the kitchen. Whether it be plastic produce bags, plastic shopping bags, plastic bags that produce is sold in (like grapes), stickers, those little twisty ties for the produce bags or around greens, and food waste. Don’t forget about packaging for snacks, non dairy milks, and other necessary staples. I do not have a recycling program where I live, so it’s very difficult to avoid packaging. I find other ways that I can cut back on waste in the kitchen. I hope to find a store where I can buy food “in bulk” in the future. Bulk means to buy food in larger quantities without a package. How? 1. Bring your own container to the store; jar, tupperware, bag. 2. Weigh your container either at home or at the store. This allows the cashier to tare the scale so you only pay for the weight of your food, not the container. 3. Bulk foods will usually be displayed in bins that you can scoop from.

1. Don’t let it come into the house in the first place.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I think I will start off each room this way. It just feels right. Please keep in mind that sometimes keeping waste from entering your home may include carrying more items on you (reusable bags, cups, cutlery, handkerchiefs, pads/cups, tupperware), it is a hard pill to swallow at first, but each time you bring one thing at a time, you’re still replacing what would have been destined for a landfill. I will bring reusable shopping and produce bags to the store. I love ChicoBags! They can fold into themselves into a little ball with a carabiner for easy travel. You can pop them in your car/purse/backpack and be ready to carry groceries, or anything you would need additional storage for! I will take a traditional reusable shopping bag and put several ChicoBags into it so I don’t need a lot of real estate to carry many bags. I try to find produce that does not have a sticker on it, the cashiers have a list of produce codes so the stickers are obsolete. Unfortunately, they are placed on the food while still at the facility it came from. I try not to buy too much food. If there’s excess, it will go bad and be thrown out. If your local grocery store has a bulk foods section, check it out. Sometimes they have nuts, grains, or pasta. If you can’t avoid packaging for necessary staples, try to recycle or upcycle it. Upcycle means to reuse an item in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.

2. Try to avoid single use items.

Two silicone bags.
(re)zip bags

This would include plasticware, paper plates, plastic cups, saran wrap, parchment paper, muffin cups, coffee filters, K-cups, baggies, single use food storage (like tupperware, but disposable). If you don’t have access to reusable versions of these items, don’t stress yourself out over using them. If you do have a reusable swap, get into the habit of implementing them into your daily routine. Washing dishes is pretty lame, but so are plastics that don’t degrade and leech out the materials they’re made from. I really like Stasher and (re)zip bags. I also use Rubbermaid containers to store food in, I don’t like the idea of using plastic, but I do not need to purchase more because of what I already have. A good swap for clingwrap is to either put it in a container with a lid, or using wax paper wraps. They’re similar to saran wrap, but you can clean them and use them over and over! Another way to stay away from single use items in the kitchen would be to buy coffee in a metal can or in bulk, instead of K-cups. Then, you could either use a French press, which does not require a filter, or a coffee maker and a reusable filter. Yes, there are reusable coffee filters! They are so common now that they are made in different sizes and for different models of coffee makers. If you only have a Keurig-type coffee maker, some models will come with a plastic “K-cup” that you can scoop your own grounds into. You can still have the convenience of making one cup at a time without the waste! For paper towels, you can use “unpaper” towels. Kitchen towels/rags are perfect if they’re absorbent. Instead of using foil or parchment paper for baking, you can swap to a silicone baking sheet. They’re non-stick, so they are very handy for cooking. There are silicone muffin cups that you can bake in!

3. Avoid food waste.

Juicing kale stems after taking off the leaves. I will just keep the stems in the fridge until I juice them.

Try not to buy too much food. If you do, you could freeze it until you’re ready to use it, depending on what it is. If you plan out your meals and ingredients, you will be more likely to avoid wasting food. One source of waste created by food is scraps. You can take veggie scraps and boil them, strain it and you’ll have broth! You can also take the scraps from juicing and the aforementioned broth and make it into almost anything! When I’m juicing, I like to separate the veggie pulp from the fruit pulp so I can save them for savory or sweet recipes, respectively. If you can’t avoid throwing out a food or food scrap, you can always compost it! One specific example of using the same food multiple times is kale. I take the leaves off to eat, and I will save the stems to juice. I then take the pulp from the kale stems and freeze it for future recipes, like broth. I not only try to avoid throwing away (or composting when I can get a few more uses out of) food, but I also try to stretch the dollars I used to buy that food item. With my kale example above, you can use a food more than once, and use all the parts of the plant you’re eating. In addition to using it before going bad, you can learn new ways to store food properly. You can put wilted greens in water to perk them back up, put a ripe avocado in the fridge to “pause” the ripening process for a day or two, or freeze bananas if you love having them on hand, but don’t eat them often.

4. Upcycle!

I have mentioned ways to upcycle scraps in #3, but I have a couple more up my sleeve. If you have vinegar and eat citrus, you can soak the peels in the vinegar to make a citrus-scented all-purpose cleaner. You can also make your own apple cider vinegar from apple scraps! You can use ACV for many things like cooking, dressings, scalp rinse, all-purpose cleaner, and many more!

If you can’t avoid packaging, you can either compost, recycle (which includes mailing into TerraCycle, more information in my intro post!), or upcycle them. The goal is to reduce waste, so any action taken in that direction is a win.

Have you tried any of these swaps? What about the swaps from the introductory post? Let me know which is your favorite!

Room-By-Room Guide DISCLAIMER

I’d like to kick off the start of the guide with a disclaimer.

  • You do not have to incorporate these swaps into your life, I am just putting some ideas out in the open for anyone who is curious about reducing their impact.
  • Everyone has a different situation, so find the swaps that fit with your life, budget, and ability.
  • Budget: I am sharing links to many items, and the initial cost may seem steep at first. Let’s say we pay $4 for 500 cotton swabs, and one reusable one costs $10. The reusable swab is supposed to replace the single-use ones and will start paying for itself after several hundred uses. On the bright side, you may never have to buy reusable swabs again!
  • A lot of items I will link will be from Earth Hero. I am not affiliated, I just really like their products and the way they package orders. They use paper and don’t use too many packing materials.
  • A lot of swaps will require you to carry more items on your person, try to get into the habit of having some of these items on hand: Reusable water bottle, coffee cups, tissues, cutlery (if the place you plan on eating at does not have silverware or you’re getting takeout), feminine hygiene products. I really like my jansport “half pint” backpack, its big enough to fit these items and still have room for my phone, wallet, keys, chico bags, etc. If I don’t need to bring many items with me, I can fit my 32 oz water bottle in it.
  • I am not perfect. I am nowhere near “zero” waste, nor am I strict with the swaps I use. A lot of these swaps are ideas that I have either tried, implemented, or have looked into and plan on implementing in the future.
  • I may miss a lot of swaps and behavior changes. This guide is based on my experience (which will definitely differ from yours). There may be very basic ones I don’t have, and some might be very advanced.
  • Everyone’s lifestyle and journey are different.
  • This is all about sharing simple ways that people can make a change in their lifestyle to improve the health of the planet and themselves (by using non-toxic reusable versions of toxic single use items eg. tampons).

The lifestyle change should be fun and come from a place of love.

With this out of the way, let’s get started! I’ll see you in room #1!

Coming Soon! Room-By-Room Guide to Reducing Waste! [An Introduction]

Hi Friends! I know the main focus of my blog is health/fitness, but I am also very passionate about Mother Earth. She is my only home and the source of my entire existence. It is my duty to keep her as clean as I can within my means. I feel like “Ahimsa” can be extended to the Earth, as she is alive through housing many diverse living, breathing ecosystems. Besides, if you were to pass a house down to your child, you wouldn’t leave it filthy and in need of repair.

I’m making this little guide because there are many, many, ways to reduce your waste, and it takes a lot of these practices together to get to “zero” waste. This guide will break down habits room-by-room (take a drink of water every time I say “room-by-room,” you’ll thank me when you’re hydrated) to make reducing environmental impact more feasible. When I think of “zero waste,” I think of the people who can put a year’s worth of trash into a jar. I read “Zero Waste Home” and felt overwhelmed with so much information at once! Which is why I say “reducing waste,” I am nowhere near “zero,” but I make progress each day with the decisions I make. So, I will be making a beginner-friendly guide with tips, resources, DIY’s and people/books that inspire me! This guide will be for people who have never heard of reducing environmental impact, those who have heard of it and are interested, and people who have started their journey and need a little inspiration.

The upcoming guide will break down the waste produced by a household room by room. I will have a separate post for each room/category that goes a little deeper into the swaps or behavior changes related to reducing waste in that space. I will keep rolling out my standard health/fitness content as well!

I would like to kick off this guide with the “whole house,” rather than one room. Before we enter the first room of the guide, we will start with ways to prevent waste from coming into the home in the first place. Waste enters our home whether we are conscious of it or not. One of the first steps for preventing waste from coming into your home is to unsubscribe from magazines and various subscriptions. Some of these services may offer a digital version of their product. You can also go “paperless” for most bills and statements. Instead of a physical bill being mailed to you, you would get it in an email. A lot of people receive physical junk mail that we do not sign up for. One way to start the process of eliminating incoming junk is to write “Return to sender” on an unopened piece of mail. Here is a list of websites that will help you either sign up for a “no mail” list, or opting out of offers:

Another great resource that can apply to the “whole house” is TerraCycle. You can sign up for specific recycling programs and mail in your packaging/item once you are done using it. This is a great option for people like me, who have no recycling programs near them. This program is a good transition step into reducing waste. It may be difficult to get rid of all junk mail because our information is always being sold. If you keep receiving junk mail after taking these steps; contact the company directly as each piece of mail comes in.

The next step is to prevent the trash that we bring into our homes. You can refuse to eat out, or take a reusable storage container to prevent bringing home a single-use storage container. Refuse a straw entirely, or bring your own! Silicone straws are very easy to deal with because they don’t break and can fold up to store. You can also be fancy and go for a collapsible metal straw. I’ve had a bad habit of biting straws, so I like the silicone straws a little more. You can bring your own mugs for coffee/tea. This would also include declining “gifts”; goodie bags, pamphlets, snacks in single use packaging, trinkets, etc. People are pretty empathetic when you let them know you’re not trying to bring into your home things you don’t need. Lastly, do not bring home impulse purchases. Its typically the things we don’t think about buying that we end up getting rid of. We see something that looks good on a hanger, we buy it, we take it home and hate it, or we keep it for a few months and that piece goes “out of style.” Moving forward, try to think about the things we are bringing into our home.

Once waste stops entering your home, it makes it easier to tackle what’s already inside the home. It is also one less thing to worry about.

Some things you can do while waiting for this series to be published:

  • Read “The Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard. You can buy it as an e-book or audiobook.
  • You can read “Zero Waste Home,” by Bea Johnson. It is a really handy guide.
  • You can check out the following YouTubers, they really inspire me: Gittemary Johansen, Madeleine Olivia, Shelbizleee, and Sustainably Vegan
  • Make some swaps, starting with the ones in this post and my mini Head to Toe Guide if you missed it!

This is not a definitive guide to get someone to Zero Waste, but to get you started and to make small changes that will add up over time. There may be a lot of swaps that are missing from this guide, I will be updating it in the future if need be.

Mini Head-to-Toe Guide on Reducing Waste!

In addition to being on a “health journey,” “fitness adventure,” “weight loss endeavor,” whatever we want to call it, I’m also on a mission to reduce the amount of waste I produce. I would like to start a series of small ways I have been able to (and would like to) reduce my waste production. I’m planning on splitting the series up by “rooms;” kitchen, bathroom, laundry, etc. Today, I want to go over a brief head-to-toe beginners guide that is practical and easy to adopt. I don’t have “low impact” substitutes for everything yet. These are very basic changes that you can make if you’re interested in learning how to reduce your environmental impact.

Head:

  • Shampoo: Shampoo bars are pretty great! They usually come in cardboard packaging and last a long time. I have thick, coarse and dense hair and shampoo bars can still lather enough to reach my scalp. I like HiBar and Bestowed Essentials shampoo bars! HiBar also carries conditioner bars!
  • Makeup Removal: Buy (or make) reusable cotton rounds. Put some oil on them and gently massage makeup off.

  • Cotton Swabs: You can try a LastSwab! They have a standard ear-itching swab and a “beauty” swab. The standard swab is textured so you can clear away debris, and the beauty swab has a pointed end so you can make precise corrections or applications.
  • Oral Hygiene: I use a bamboo toothbrush, which is compostable at the end of its life. A WaterPik is another great choice. It uses water to floss instead of the plastic string typically used. You can also use a tongue scraper or bamboo tongue brush. There are lots of sustainable toothpaste alternatives on the market. There is tooth powder, tooth tablets, tooth paste in glass jars, and tooth paste in recyclable packaging.

Torso:

  • Clothes: One of the more sustainable ways to buy clothes is second hand. Sometimes thrift shops have really cool finds! You can also buy secondhand directly from the previous owner. There are many online “thrifting” sites, like Mercari and Poshmark.
  • Stomach(???): Eating and drinking also have an impact. Buy a reusable water bottle and fill it in public water fountains or an at home water filtration system. There are many ways to use food scraps so they don’t end up in the trash. Some examples include juicing them, boiling them and making a broth with them, blending them up and making crackers with them, and you can even compost them! You can also reduce your impact by choosing less animal products, as they have a more profound impact on the environment than common staples.
  • Excretory parts: A lot of people choose to buy bamboo toilet paper because bamboo grows quickly and does not take much water to grow. A better solution (I’m biased because I have one) is a bidet. They will make you cut back on toilet paper use, and if you use a rag/family cloth, you can use even less.
  • Feminine Hygiene: Reusable cotton pads and period cups are great alternatives to single use period products. I personally love Charlie Banana reusable pads. They’re very soft and absorbent. Period underwear is good for lighter flows.

Legs:

  • The only thing I can think of for legs is working out. You can rent or borrow equipment, or join a gym. You will have access to equipment and weights without creating demand for them by buying them.

This was just a basic rundown of baby steps I’ve taken so far. If you would like tutorials on how to make your own cotton rounds or family cloth, let me know! I will start on my room-by-room guide soon!

Are you into reducing your environmental impact? What alternatives have you tried? Let me know!

People Who Track Daily Food Intake Have a Better Chance of Losing Weight

If I could pick one eating habit to consistently stick with, it would be tracking food intake. No, not counting calories. When someone tracks their intake, they are looking at the bigger picture. Macronutrients, micronutrients, fiber, water, where the calories come from (not how many). When you start a fitness journey, one of the first steps is to log everything you eat. Portions have increased over the years, so what we think is one serving, might be two or three servings. “If you’re not counting calories, why does it matter? Wouldn’t it be a good thing to eat two or three servings of fruits or vegetables at once?” If you have specific body composition goals, you need to take the “calories in vs. calories out” equation into consideration, but what I have in mind is volume of food. This is what I have learned about myself while trying to “deal with” over eating.

“Eat more, lose weight!” They said. Cool, I’ll make my meals from mostly calorie-dilute foods. For me, eating large volumes of food with not enough calories led me to eat more food because I can’t trick my body into thinking I’m eating more nutrients than I’m giving it. Even though more servings of healthy foods can be a good thing, make sure you are feeding yourself vitamins, minerals, fiber, and not just water. After failing my attempt at learning how to eat calorie-dilute foods, I started tracking what I ate on a normal day. By serving size and weight, I was eating way too much. I was eating twice or three times the serving size of everything. I practiced portion control while tracking what I was eating – I hit my daily nutrient goals with less food. I’m not saying you need to eat less, I’m saying you need to look at what nutrients you’re putting in because you might not be lacking the vitamins that you *think* you are. For me, one example was Vitamin C. I took a vitamin C supplement daily until I learned, through tracking my food intake, that bell pepper has the daily amount of vitamin C! When you see what’s going in, you can adjust your food intake to the almost perfect amount your body needs to do what you need it to. Tracking what you eat can help you lose weight because you can see how much food it really takes to feel full. It helps you be more mindful about what goes in your body.

I have a printable weekly planner template that is perfect for getting started with tracking food. I have been using it for several weeks and it has helped me immensely! It has a weekly agenda to write down foods, a grocery shopping page that breaks down different food groups. It does have items like “meat” and “dairy,” I just write in my fake meats and dairy alternatives. It even comes with a recipe template, so you can have a reference for an awesome dish you made! The best part? You can print out as many copies of each page as you want!

Have you tried tracking food intake? Let me know!

Defining Health

I throw around the word “health” often. It’s in my title and the foundation of my content. What does it mean, though? There are many different facets of health; physical, mental, spiritual, financial, etc. It is very different for everyone. I won’t go too much into mental and spiritual health. With that being said, mental health is one of the higher priority items and is very individualized. If your mental health is not where it should be, or you suffer from a condition or illness, please seek professional help and treatment. Once mental health is in line, the other types of health will be more achievable. Nothing is impossible, but we must fill our own cup. Filling our cup without taking care of mental health is kind of like filling our “strainer.”

Now, when I’m talking about “health,” I’m mostly referring to physical and financial. These aspects of health are easier to cut and paste into your daily routine. One of the most important topics in physical health is sleep. Your body needs sleep to get all of the “behind the scenes” work done. Muscle repair, digestion, memory building, and many other processes occur during sleep. Professionals will recommend 7-8 hours of sleep. Getting the same amount of sleep every night is a great starting point. Physical health means to eat foods you love to nourish yourself with in the quantities you like it in. Using food for self-love (not emotional eating.) Using food to power through your workouts and work days. Physical health is also being able to move your body to the best of its ability and working on improving. Its not being able to run x miles, or lift x pounds for y reps. Its putting effort into yourself to enhance your abilities. Its believing in yourself and your future. Beginner-level nutrition and fitness are much healthier than continuing negative thought and behavior patterns and doing nothing about them.

Health is putting yourself first. Performing every action as an act of self-love. That’s what I think of when I think of health. Its fertilizing and growing your potential to be able to give yourself the best quality of life. Obviously it gets much more complex when you think about mental, spiritual and financial health, but its easier to break them down and master bits and pieces of them at a time.

What about you? What comes to mind when you think about health? Do you measure health based on statistics or more abstract ideas?

Spicy Asian BBQ Sauce Recipe!

This BBQ sauce is tangy and spicy, with hints of sesame and garlic. Its 3 basic sauces mixed into one. Its perfect for cauliflower wings or fake chicken.

Ingredients

  1. Your favorite Teriyaki sauce (Use island style to make sauce sweeter.)
  2. Your favorite BBQ sauce (Kinders has a lot of BBQ sauces that are good for this recipe.)
  3. Frank’s Original Redhot (or any vinegary hot sauce.)
  4. Fresh or granulated garlic (optional.)

Directions

In a large bowl, pour about 1 part of each sauce. You can add more or less of any sauce. I like to make it 1 part teriyaki and BBQ with 1½- 2 parts Frank’s to give it a little heat. Add garlic and any desired seasonings.