Combatting the Cold

IMG_6344

Oi. This week. What a week. What a crazy past couple of weeks actually. A lot is happening, has happened, will happen. Hoping to get a bit of a respite this weekend. Going to get my favorite pho tomorrow with a friend, headed out to Trader Joe’s (my happy place! That and Whole Foods) today, holing up with my books and research and other things that make me happy today.

On another note, it’s been COLD here! Like in the 20’s kind of cold. While that’s literally freezing, here it’s kind of catastrophic. No pun intended.

IMG_6487

He’s okay with the cold though. Like me, he’s perfectly content to stay indoors (where he lives anyway…) and snuggle up under a fuzzy blanket. I’ve been lucky to have some truly amazing foods lately. So many. So much deliciousness. It’s definitely helped with the chilly week we’ve had down in these parts.

IMG_6426

Gluten free tempeh rueben with a side salad at brunch last weekend. That purple kraut is homemade at the restaurant and wow is it ever amazing.

IMG_6498

Lots of salads lately! This one was piled high with tons of veggies and black beans. Side of extra tomatoes.

IMG_6350

Something similar with brown rice and raw broccoli!

IMG_6421

The fuzzy jewelry thief.

IMG_6428

Roasted, lightly salted peanuts and a banana. One of my favorite snacks.

IMG_6549

So are apples.

IMG_6575

Ok this. THIS! This needed to happen last night. By Thursday evening I’m usually exhausted and often cooking just isn’t going to happen. I went to one of my absolute favorite restaurants, Soul Vegetarian, and got an amazing mass of vegan and gluten free soul food. Their mac is AMAZING! BBQ tofu, cornbread, raw kale salad, and a slice of GF pizza. The little mac box i’ll eat today with the pizza as I only made it through a couple of bites with my big to go box last night. With a couple of episodes of Criminal Minds it was the perfect end to a long 11 hour day. IMG_6534

Earlier this week, we finished off a pint of Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss. One of my absolute favorite products and hands down my favorite ice cream. This one was cappuccino, which is SO SOOOO good. So is Mint Galactica.

With the absolutely chock-full-to-bursting week I’ve had I think that a little gratitude list is in order. (Check out this one also, she posts them nearly every week and they always make me smile.)

What else am I loving this week?

those long, white cat whiskers on that fuzzy demon child of mine; being surrounded by stacks of beautiful and interesting books; upping my French press game a LOT with some amazing coffee gifted to me by a friend; going to that pho place tomorrow; happy cilantro sitting in a jar of water on my kitchen counter; long happy workouts that make me feel amazing during and after; supportive friends and family who let me rant about life’s challenges.

Have a good weekend!

5 things waking before the sun has given me

IMG_5919Over my winter break I had about a week and a half all to myself around town. I LOVED IT. I’m going to make a point of having that time each and every break if possible. During that time, I reset my internal clock and started waking up early every single day. I’ve never been a “morning person.” I’ve never loved to wake up early, and eating breakfast has always been a struggle because I’m just not hungry right after I wake up. I”m still not a “morning person.” I’m not bright and chipper and happy to see the sun rise, I’m quiet and meditative and if there’s someone else around you can bet I’ll probably be grumpy for the first hour or so after waking.

But recently I’ve started waking up early and just meeting these challenges head on instead of sleeping in to avoid them. This is after a year of sleeping in as much and as late as I wanted because of a flexible job and late nights out. I was glad for those absent mornings — at the time they were welcome, indulgent parts of my life. Now I’m so grateful to have mornings back again. My sleep schedule during last semester was sporadic to say the least. On weekends I’d stay up late or go to bed a bit later than normal and sleep in until whenever I could, on weekdays I’d get up as late as I needed to on any given day depending on where I needed to be when.

IMG_5975

Now I’m getting up at either 6 or 7 every day of the week. And I love this. I go to bed when I’m tired whether that’s at 9 or 11, and wake up at the same time every morning. I very quickly started loving this practice. The days seemed longer and I felt that I got a lot more done during them. I’ve always tended to be a night owl and still get my best work done later in the day or in the evenings, so the mornings have become my time to do things around my apartment, blog, read others’ blogs, make smoothies, work out, pack my food for the day. Going into changing my sleep schedule I knew these things were coming. But there were several things I didn’t expect to happen that I’m seriously loving about my long, languid mornings.

In no particular order:

1. Waking up before the sun is out has given me the opportunity to watch the light both indoors and out change as the sun rises. I love that.

2. My metabolism has gone through the roof. So I’m not crediting waking up early with my metabolic boost 100% but I can’t go without recognizing the correlation. Sleeping in caused me to skip meals, or put off eating until I’d been awake for several hours. Within an hour or two of waking up and drinking my morning coffee, my stomach is growling and I’ve got to feed it something. All day I need to eat every 2-3 hours to sustain my active body. This is a serious shift from the past couple of years when busyness often caused (or allowed me in some cases) to go without eating for several hours or skip meals. No more! I have to eat and eat often and well.

3. The gift of time. As I already mentioned, I feel like my days are so much longer now. Especially when I have 7-12 hour days on campus, it’s nice to feel that I have some time to myself free of obligations and responsibilities. I don’t feel as pressed for time as I once did and now have room to do things I love every day instead of just on the weekends.

4. Early exercise. I’ve always taken the “do what you can when you can” approach to working out especially during busy times of school/work/papers etc. I’ve found that my body feels great when I exercise earlier rather than later in the day. I don’t feel as restless or ancy when I have to sit for long periods of time, and my love for my exercise routines is just reaffirmed when it’s got less to do with needing to work out for stress relief and more to do with doing it because I love it.

5. Thoughtfulness. Early mornings are truly beautiful times. I love having the time and opportunity to be truly thoughtful about what I’m doing, set some intentions for the day, enjoy my cup of coffee (I swear it tastes better when the light is paler.) pack my bag, burn a stick or two of incense, and enjoy the lovey eyes the cat gives me because he’s glad I’m no longer sleeping and can give him attention.

~

I didn’t expect to find these things in my mornings, but now that I have them I truly love them. They feel like every day indulgences that clear my head and allow me to prepare for the day ahead whether that’s 3 hours of seminar and 4-6 hours of work, or grocery shopping and food prep for the week. Having my mornings has been a huge part of feeling that I’ve achieved true and lasting health, and it’s certainly something I hope to continue through out 2015 as I continue to find that place of wellness and well-being.

What’s on Your Face?! : Florida Skin Care 101 (Sans Make up Edition)

IMG_5615

I know it’s been a WHILE since I did a “What’s on Your Face?!” post. And I do love them. They’re great for this time of year, when you’re still having enough cold weather to warrant a thick hand salve yet a couple warm days are starting to pop up here and there and you’re beginning to think about what you’re doing to do with your skin come Spring and Summer.

Moving to Florida has drastically changed my skin care routine. While it’s currently 34 degrees (F) outside at the moment, today it’ll creep up into the mid 60’s and be lovely and clear. Unlike last year, dry skin on my face (p.s. that carrot exfoliating cleanser is the JAM) hasn’t been an issue. Because the warm (humid, sticky, breathable cess pool) weather lingered for so long here (well into the end of October) I found myself scrambling to find a cleanser that would help me deal with sweat well into “Fall.” And then I finally found it. Walk through the body section at Target a beautiful black block with a red wrapper caught my eye:

IMG_5607

YES! I’d just read an article about skin care featuring LUSH’s Coalface bar and was considering ordering one. Then this beauty caught my eye. Yes to Tomatoes charcoal bar is less expensive, it’s lasted FOREVER, and it smells pretty great too. I keep it in a little porcelain dish in my bath goods cupboard and pull it out each time I need to wash my face.

To removed make up, I usually take off my eye make up and lipstick (if I’m wearing it) with a washcloth and warm water first, then I wash with this and use the washcloth to exfoliate. I keep the Yes to Carrots Daily Cream Facial Cleanser in my shower and use it regularly there, though I’ll often bring the coal bar along depending on my skin’s needs on any given day. I’ve been using tomatoes since middle school to help clear acne. My mom used to give me the stem end to rub on my face whenever I was having a break out–they’re acidic without being overly drying or harsh on human skin. Plus the coal (check out the Autostraddle article for more on that) makes for a great oil-reducing bar that I’m using year round.

I use the Yes to Grapefruit Even Tone Skin Moisturizer any time after washing my face, especially before applying make up (which also has a sunscreen in it too, because Florida). This stuff is amazing and fairly light. Grapefruit is thought to help with evening skin tone and helps with overall skin health and protection from the sun. It’s the perfect compliment to the cleansing quality of the soap.

IMG_5613

Which happens to be my favorite color by the way, and it matches all of my outfits. What’s not to love?

My next venture into the skin care section is in search of a face mask! There’s no LUSH here, and yes I feel very, very deprived. My efforts to procure my favorite LUSH mask have been in vain and they don’t sell them online as they have to be kept in the fridge. Stay tuned for my thoughts on finding one of those!

Note: This is not a sponsored post. I simply adore the Yes To… line and hope it might inform others about natural, cruelty-free skin care products. (They also have a few new items that look amazing!) Enjoy! 

Forced Rest Days: A Battle Within

IMG_5438

For my New Year’s day post this year (ugh! A month ago! YIKES!) I shared how personal my work outs are to me in my reflective post, On Losing (Re)gaining my Health. The feelings I have about working out go beyond exercising to get fit or maintain fitness. It’s my stress release, my meditation, my yoga, my nirvana, my solace and my solitude. I’ve found that lifting weights is what truly gives me this sense of physical and emotional peace brought together by mindful repetition and thoughtful variation. I like how similar and different a weight lifting session can be from the others I’ve done or will do that week. It’s my time to reflect, my time to process and plan, when I synthesize what’s on tap for the week or day ahead, and ruminate on the events of the past couple days or hours.

These feelings have always been present in my work outs, but there was a time when I worked out for different reasons. Like a lot of people, I lifted weights and did cardio to look a certain way and to change the way that specific parts of my body looked and felt to me. Over the past year or two, I’ve shifted toward exercise that makes me FEEL good. While I do want the benefits of health and having a strong body I’ve taken a more hollistic approach to wellness than a number is on a scale or the size on the tag in my jeans.

That change was one that was hard to come by, especially with the media perpetuating all sorts of work outs to get thin, cut, or have a flat tummy and toned arms. First of all, that’s not my body type: I’m a slightly-taller -than-average-smallish-framed-slightly-curvy-lady . Secondly, I don’t believe that’s a sustainable or healthful way to engage an exercise regimen. It’s more of a “quick fix” approach rather than one that facilitates lasting health, wellness, and growth.

IMG_6122

A huge part of making this mental shift in how I work out had to do with the rest day. The ever important weekly 24-48 hours of NO WORKING OUT! Ugh. I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle with the recovery day. As you likely already know, our bodies need a day or two off each week to recuperate and recover from what we put them through in our day to day lives, to (re)build the muscles we’re using in our exercise and to ease the strains of daily life. This is especially true if you lift weights or exercise 5-6 days per week. You need a day or two off in there. This is essential if you want to have a sustainable exercise plan and if you want to truly reap the benefits of your workouts. (More on that here.) But, ugh. To be honest I have a hard time taking a rest day when exercise is such a relief from long days of reading, writing, class, and work. To me, they’re a necessary evil —  one that I’ve had to battle with internally to accept and practice each week without fail as part of my overall exercise routine.

For several years, I’ve struggled with taking this time to rest my body after a weekly dose of working out. Since my work outs are such a big part of my stress management and emotional well being, it’s hard for me to go without them, but essential nonetheless. I’ve had to teach myself to relish a day or two of rest per week, even if that means keeping my mind busy in other ways. I’ve found that days when I’m busiest and have the most to do between work and class are my easiest days to take a step back from my lifting and cardio routines. Having a packed day and jumping from activity to activity keeps me busy and by the time I get home in the evenings, I’m mentally exhausted and ready for a quiet relaxing evening on the couch with a cup of tea or glass of wine, the cat and a few shows on Netflix. On the other hand, maybe I’ll spend an entire day doing this and vegging out on the couch, with some article reading or research thrown in.

True rest in contrast to true work. I’ve come to realize that just as my weight lifting and cardio sessions are acts of self care, the rest day is too. It’s part of the whole package of wellness that I do for myself regularly, for health through stress management and pure joy and through the physical act of movement. I’m trying to love that rest day now, even though it’s incredibly hard to. I’ve come to terms with it because while I’m resting my body, my mind is able to focus on different things and taking up those weights or climbing onto the eliptical feels even better the next time I do it.