Best Morning Exercises to Energize Your Day

Photo credit: Pedro Simões CC-BY-2.0 2009

We’ve all had days when we didn’t want to get out of bed. To energize your body for the day ahead, try doing some Pilates or other exercises right in your bed. Perform stretching exercises in your bed before you go down for your morning coffee and breakfast to jump-start your metabolism. A morning workout in your bed can help you have more energy for your regular workout routine later in the day. Your mind and body will ready to take on whatever challenges come your way throughout the day. Throw back the covers and exercise!

After hours of sleeping, your back may feel a bit stiff. Roll your body into a ball to stretch out your spine and work your abs. Sit up in bed and bring your knees to your chest. Hold your knees with your hands, and then curve your back by bending forward over your knees. Roll back on the bed on your back and then roll to the upright position again. Perform this exercise for 10 repetitions.

Strengthen and energize your core muscles by doing some leg lifts next. Stretch out on your bed with your legs extended and your arms relaxed by your side. Point your toes toward the ceiling. Lift your left heel off the bed about 12 inches. Lower your left leg until your heel is approximately 1 inch from the bed. Hold your leg off the bed for about 10 seconds, and then raise your leg back up. Repeat 10 times for each leg.

Bring your knees up to your chest and point your toes. Lift your head and shoulders off the bed, using only your abdominal muscles. Hold this position for about 10 to 15 seconds and then relax. Repeat this exercise 10 times. Stretch your abdominal and back muscles next by bending your knees so that your lower legs are parallel to the bed. Keep your feet and knees together, and your shoulders flat against the bed. Swing both knees to the right side of the bed. Try to keep your shoulders on the bed. Hold for 10 seconds and then swing your legs to the left side. Do 10 repetitions for each side.

Midlife Metabolism Boost

In simple terms, metabolism is the chemical action of transforming nutrients in food into energy.

Metabolism is a complex set of chemical reactions between enzymes in your cells and the food you eat. Your metabolism is responsible for using energy or storing that energy as fat cells for use later.

Unfortunately, many of us tend to store more energy than we use, particularly after age 40, and you may notice that you can’t eat everything you used to eat without gaining weight.

These changes usually occur because of a slowing of the metabolic processes that convert food into energy, and a natural slowing of your metabolism combined with less physical activity than when you were younger.

There are ways you can stimulate your metabolism after age 40 to lose weight and maintain your weight. Be selective about what you eat. You could probably eat cheeseburgers, French fries, and ice cream when you were younger without worrying about gaining 10 pounds.

After age 40, you have to be pickier about what you eat. There are foods you can eat that will help stimulate your metabolism without sacrificing the enjoyment of food. Cut back on the junk food and add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. You can get the carbohydrates and protein your body needs for energy and strong muscles and bones by eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.

Replace highly processed foods, such as white flour and frozen dinners, with fresh, whole foods. Whole foods, or unprocessed foods, make your digestive system work harder to digest and stimulate your metabolism. Your digestion will also improve with the addition of natural fiber and help you feel full so that you eat less.

Balance your diet by taking out foods that make you feel sluggish with foods that energize your body. Replace processed flour, sugars, and other carbohydrates with natural foods that will boost your metabolism. Add green tea and water to replace sugary sodas. Switch potato chips and fatty dips with fresh vegetables and low-fat fresh dips, such as guacamole or low-fat sour cream-based dips. Cut out candy and replace it with sweet, fresh berries and fruits.

Exercise will also help to boost your metabolism. Any form of exercise is good for your body. Start slowly if you have been inactive for a long time and get a complete check-up from your doctor. When you receive the all-clear, start by walking or riding a bike for a few minutes each day. Increase the amount of time you spend exercising by 5 to 10 minutes each week until you can exercise at least 30 minutes each day.

Try some weight lifting or other strength training exercises to increase your muscle mass. Muscle requires more energy than other tissues. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be to provide nutrients to muscle tissue.

Simple changes that include substituting bad foods for healthy foods and exercising will boost your metabolism and keep it working at a peak level throughout your life.


Nutrition for Women Over Age 50

Photo credit: Katie CC-BY-SA-2.0

As women age, their nutritional needs change. Middle-age women may gain weight, especially around the hips and belly. Osteoporosis is a serious concern for women after age 50. Proper nutrition plus weight-bearing exercises can help to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis and fractures. Women are also at risk of losing muscle mass unless they stay active and exercise. Nutrition and exercise also help you to reduce the risk of heart attack, diabetes, and some cancers.

Cut back on your total caloric intake if you start to gain weight. Cutting calories does not mean skimping on nutrition. Replace high-calorie foods with little nutritional value with low-calorie nutrient-rich foods. Instead of a doughnut for breakfast, eat a bowl of hot oatmeal with some fresh blueberries and a cup of low-fat yogurt. Whole grains, fresh fruits, and dairy products provide your body with muscle and bone-building nutrients. Vitamin D and calcium are critical to keeping your bones strong and healthy. Your body can’t absorb calcium without vitamin D. Milk, yogurt and cheese are good sources of both vitamin D and calcium.

Eat more fresh vegetables and get plenty of protein in your diet. Lean meats, poultry, whole grains, and legumes are good sources of protein. Raw vegetables are best, but lightly grilling or steamed vegetables can provide optimal nutrition. Avoid overcooking vegetables to preserve the precious nutrients your body needs. Vegetables and fruits also provide your body with disease and age-fighting antioxidants. Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated. If you think you need a calcium or vitamin supplement, see your doctor.


10 Best Natural Antivirals to Kick Viruses to the Curb

Photo credit: Jonathan Billinger / Ripe Elderberries

Whether we like it or not, viruses are part of life. Every  year, the dreaded flu season creeps around the corner, and people scramble to treat every cough and sniffle before it becomes a full-blown case of the flu. Sometimes they’ll go to the doctor to get prescriptions for antivirals, which can be pricey and carries a risk of severe side effects.

Many people don’t realize that there are a plethora of natural antivirals out there that can safely treat influenza as well as other viruses, and help you feel like your old self again!

Evidence-Based Natural Antivirals and How to Use Them

These natural antivirals have been proven to work effectively against most viruses, including influenza A, B, or C, by stopping the RNA from replicating or giving the immune system a boost so it can destroy the virus.

1. Elderberry

The elderberry is a famous ancient fruit known for its potent antioxidant properties. It was used for many years as a folk medicine for various ailments.

A recent study by a group of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering researchers from the University of Sydney found that the compounds from the elderberries have been proven to stop viruses from entering and replicating in human cells, and can also help strengthen the immune response to the infection.

Researchers found that it was even better at stopping viral propagation in the late stages of the flu cycle after the cells had already been infected with the virus.

The most common elderberry remedy is the syrup. While it may taste like sour tart cherry, it’s quite powerful. The fruit compounds are concentrated into an extract by the syrup making process. You can also make your own syrup if you find some fresh elderberries. Here’s an easy recipe.

If the taste or texture of elderberry syrup doesn’t appeal to you, then you may find that elderberry gummies are a better option. Here’s another delicious recipe. Your family’s taste buds will probably thank you.

2. Ginger

Ginger is a cooking spice that is a powerful remedy that knocks viruses out cold. It’s been a part of Asian, Indian, and Arabic medicine for hundreds of years to help cure several health ailments.

Ginger is very beneficial for fighting flu-like symptoms, especially nausea and vomiting, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Their report shows that the active components of ginger root are pungent phenol compounds and oils like gingerols and shogaols.

The usual dose is 1g-4g per day. You could soak shredded ginger roots in warm water, make tea, or create a yummy ginger shot. Some people add ginger flakes to their meals as well. Since it’s a spicy ingredient, it’s not recommended for children under the age of 2.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a form of Curcumin, another ancient spice from Asia, with antimicrobial agents that fights effectively against different bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses like influenza or even coronavirus. Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory, bronchodilator, and antihistaminic effects may help relieve respiratory complications caused by a coronavirus.

Curcumin is so potent that it has been proven to decrease staph (even MRSA), listeria, E. coli, and H. pylori contamination. Researchers recently found that Curcumin also inhibited the Rift Valley fever replication in cells. In all, Curcumin is pretty amazing.

This ancient remedy is also beneficial for treating inflammation, which will come in handy for an inflamed throat and lungs from all the coughing during flu season.

Some people like to combine turmeric with ginger and honey for a flu bashing latte, tea, or “golden milk.

4. Garlic

Alliin is a crucial component of raw garlic. When it is crushed or chewed, it becomes allicin, which has been proven in labs to be an effective antiviral that kills bacteria and viruses.

Other studies show garlic can reduce the risk of becoming sick in the first place and cuts the duration of the flu or cold. For example, researchers gave a group of volunteers’ garlic supplements and another group placebo for three months. The garlic group had a 63% decreased risk of getting sick, and their illness was also 70% shorter compared to the placebo group.

Tip: If garlic is cooked, then the allicin may be depleted, so it’s best to consume garlic raw when dealing with the flu. If you’re interested in other garlic remedies, check this out.

5. Vitamin C

Did you know that having the flu can deplete your vitamin C levels? The International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine found that increasing Vitamin C intake to fix the loss can be a powerful tool for treating the flu and the common cold.

After all, it’s an essential nutrient that helps stimulate the cellular functions of the immune system. Numerous studies show it can shorten the lifespan of a severe virus.

You can get vitamin C from fresh food such as oranges, or supplements. Keep in mind that overdoing it on vitamin C supplements with ascorbic acid may cause an upset stomach. The liposomal form of vitamin C is easier on the body to absorb, and rarely causes stomach issues.

There have been many cases where an Intravenous Vitamin C (IVC) therapy cured patients battling a severe viral infection. They were given a pH-neutral form of sodium ascorbate three times a day for several days, many noticed an improvement after the first day.

While you’re at it, add some Vitamin D to your diet. People generally become ill in the winter because their vitamin D levels are low from the lack of sun exposure. Better yet, go outside and enjoy some sun if it’s shining in your area!

6. Echinacea

Echinacea is a flowering plant that has been used in medicine for many centuries. It’s commonly found in the U.S.A. and Canada.

Dr. Jen Tan, an immune system expert, explains that there is evidence of Echinacea purpurea reducing cold and flu symptoms. On top of this, other researchers claim that when echinacea is taken at the first sign of any cold or flu, it can speed up the healing process.

He also mentioned that there is research that shows ingesting echinacea boosts the body’s defense system by increasing white blood cells, monocytes, and neutrophils, which fights the infection.

Echinacea is a supplement that you can take in pill form. If you’d rather have tea, you can go down to your local tea shop to buy dried leaves by the pound, or look for pre-made tea bags like this one. Tip: Add raw honey to your tea to make it taste better and help soothe a sore throat.

7. Oregano

Oregano is not only for making delicious spaghetti, but it’s also an herb with strong antiviral properties. Oil of oregano was researched in 2011 and found effective against respiratory viruses.

Another study in 2013 found that oregano oil can reduce painful symptoms from the flu, such as body aches or a sore throat. The antiviral properties come from an active component called carvacrol, which reduces virus infectivity within 15 minutes of exposure and affects the virus RNA.

You can purchase oregano capsule supplements, add it to your food, or use a tincture. Keep in mind that oregano oil is quite powerful, so it’s best to start off small and see how your body reacts.

8. St. John’s Wort

Also known as “Hypericum perforatum,” the St. John’s wort is a flowering plant that grows in the wild. It’s been used for many years to treat depression and other health issues.

St. John’s Wort has been proven to have antiviral effects against influenza, respiratory, and reproductive viruses. It’s also useful when it comes to treating coronaviruses that cause bronchitis. Like the other natural antivirals mentioned in here, the active components in St. John’s Wort affects the virus RNA.

You can take St. John’s Wort as a supplement in pill form or use as a tincture. Since it may interact with some medicines, consult your doctor first.

9. Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is considered a “superfood” compared to regular raw honey, because of where it’s harvested. Bees collect the nectar of the Manuka flowers along the beautiful landscape of New Zealand.

The honey from manuka flowers has been shown to have strong antibacterial and antiviral properties, which you can use to soothe and kill bacteria or viruses that cause a sore throat.

You can also apply it to infected wounds. Researchers found that it’s effective against the drug-resistant staph virus, also known as MRSA. If it can kill the MRSA, then the flu doesn’t stand a chance!

Adding it to your herbal antiviral tea will give it a healing boost. If you prefer, you could eat 1 tsp directly three times a day. If you can’t find manuka honey at your local store, don’t worry! Raw honey is the next best thing and can be extremely helpful too.

10. Homeopathic Remedies

If you’re still feeling yucky and you want some over-the-counter homeopathic remedies to go along with the natural antivirals, you’re in luck! There are several that you can buy at your local store (or order online).


If you’ve ever talked to a crunchy momma, then there’s a good chance you’ve heard about an over-the-counter homeopathic medicine with a funny name that claims to reduce the severity and duration of the flu, especially when it’s paired up with elderberry syrup.

They’ll also tell you that it works best if you take it within 24-28 hours. If you’re on day 3 or 4 and you’re just now reading this, don’t fret. You can still give it a try. It can help you recover from symptoms associated with the flu.

The key ingredient in Oscillococcinum is Anas Barbariae, which comes from duck heart and liver. There have been studies on the effectiveness of Oscillococcinum against the flu virus. For instance, an analysis by the SciELO Public Health journal about the Cochrane Review on Oscillococcinum concludes that:

1) Oscillococcinum reduced the time needed for recovery.

2) the number of days required to return to work was significantly reduced: 0.49 days less compared to the control (average of 4.1 days)

3) Oscillococcinum increased the likelihood of recovery within 48 hours of starting treatment.

Colloidal Silver

This remedy has been used for various purposes for many years. People that live far away from civilization without easy access to doctors have been known to brew their own colloidal silver. Thankfully, it can be bought nowadays at a local store or online.

While its benefits are still widely debated, researchers have claimed that it attaches to proteins on the cell walls of bacteria or viruses, which damages their cell membranes. This allows the silver ions to move inside the cells, where they can mess up the metabolic processes and cause damage to its DNA and RNA, resulting in the cell’s death.


Additional health & wellness resources:



Key Ingredients of a Successful Weight Loss Plan

Most, if not all, individuals want to lose weight at one point or another in their lives. For many, it is done in a haphazard sort of way without much planning, thought, or time to expend.

However, losing weight involves much more than determination or desire. You need to take the time to implement a solid weight loss plan that can set you on a path to long-term positive lifestyle changes. Just as you would make a list for any typical household project, a list in the form of a straight forward, easy-to-follow weight loss plan is imperative, as well.

There are several key ingredients to a successful weight loss plan.

Goal Setting

Of course, common sense would dictate that the first ingredient is to set a goal. However, setting a goal is not as easy as picking a number. You should set realistic goals that will not leave you feeling as though you have failed. In general, you can diminish the concern that you place on those height and weight charts and go according to your healthy weight goal you intend to set.

A healthy weight goal is a good place to start, because it is a place where you will feel a little bit better about yourself, be healthier, and breathe a little easier. You can always continue to keep up with your weight loss goals. Setting smaller goals is better than setting your sights too high and then crashing even harder.

Get Informed

Before you run out and buy the latest exercise equipment, join a gym, and purchase a diet plan, you need to get informed by educating yourself in the field of exercise and nutrition. For some, cardiovascular exercise is what is necessary and for others, weight training might be more suitable. Although, the combination of the two will produce the best results. If you do join a gym, definitely take advantage of their personal trainers. A personal trainer can help you identify your weight-loss goals, find your trouble spots, and help you to personalize a weight-loss plan that is suitable to you and only you. If the gym is not for you, then try a workout video at home to save time, money and exercise when it’s convenient for you.

Get informed on the foods that will facilitate your weight loss efforts, as well as what metabolism-boosting supplements you might want to take, and what fluids are ideal for aiding in your weight-loss endeavor.

Make a Decision

With so many options from juicing to vegetarian eating plans, you need to find something that progresses slowly and then eases you into the next level of weight-loss. Make a decision based on your lifestyle. For example, if you have very limited time, an expansive weight-loss program may not be a good fit for you. Choose exercises and a location where you will feel you are most comfortable. For example, some may prefer to exercise in a gym, while others may prefer the privacy of their own home.

Once you have made choices that fit your lifestyle whether it is cycling, weight training or power walking, you are well on your way to reaching your weight-loss goals.

Your Brain on Food: Whole Food Versus Junk

Many of us have heard of the effects of drugs on the brain. Countless commercials and preventative programs are dedicated to raising awareness on this issue. One neglected topic, however, has been that of what junk food does to the brain. We know of the physical implications, but are there mental ones as well?

Junk Food is Addictive

The reason that one chip can mindlessly turn into the entire bag in a matter of seconds is due to the addictive properties of junk food. Foods such as chips, cookies, and candies are actually master magicians. You may reason, “this one candy bar will surely hold me over until dinner.” You begin to indulge and 30 minutes later, you’ve eaten a candy bar, a bag of chips, and a honeybun.

Since junk food has no nutritional value, you will never truly remain full. Your mind will keep telling your body to eat more in order to fulfill that hunger. In addition, junk food is highly addictive. A breakthrough study conducted by researcher Nicole Avena from the University of Florida found that junk food is indeed addictive.

Through observing the effects of sugar on rats, they found that when sugar was removed from the rat’s regular diet, they began to exhibit withdrawal symptoms. Researchers have since performed additional studies that prove the addictive properties of junk food.

When surveying individuals with a desire for junk food, they noticed that when presented their junk of choice, certain chemicals are released that is similar to that of cocaine addicts being shown cocaine. Their inhibition is low and their ability to make wise decisions is altered.

Junk Food Negatively Impacts Your Cognition

The hippocampus is an important part of the brain that controls memory, information retention, and overall wellness. A study conducted by researchers at the Australian National University polled older people between the 60 and 65 years of age. Their findings were quite astonishing.

The adults who reported eating junk food on a regular basis actually had a smaller hippocampus when compared to the other adults who ate a healthy diet. Their hippocampus was significantly larger. The danger in having small hippocampus results in mental challenges such as anxiety or depression.

Learning may become increasingly difficult as well as retaining information to be recalled later. In some cases, excessive junk food consumption has contributed to early onset dementia.

The results of this research do not apply only to older people. Children and teenagers are also vulnerable to these effects. Children who consume large amounts of junk and processed foods are more likely to experience problems both socially and in the classroom.

Attention Deficit Disorder along with anxiety related symptoms are common. Body awareness is decreased which impacts their ability to make friends and develop normally.

How Whole Foods Impact the Brain

Whole foods are defined as foods in their natural state, free from processed chemicals, fake properties, and bleach. They are whole wheat, grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Anything pre-packaged or altered in color does not fit the bill.

Whole foods are beneficial for healthy brain function. When we eat certain foods such as salmon or blueberries, those nutrients promote healthy brain function.

Probiotics like whole yogurt and kefir, work in conjunction with your digestive system to send anxiety destroying signals to the brain. Berries, kale, sweet potatoes, and even dark chocolate are all examples of “brain food” that assists with cognition and mental well-being.

When you choose to eat “clean” your brain is able to process information in an organized manner. You are able to assess your surroundings to adequately fight anxiety and social hiccups. In all, eating whole foods has an impact not only on your brain, but on your overall health.

There are no clear indications of the benefits of regularly eating junk food. While destroying the brain, it also destroys the body. Choosing to eat whole foods has lasting benefits that will keep you happy and able to retain information.


5 Nutrition Tips That Will Keep You Energized All Day Long

How many of you need at least three cups of coffee to accomplish your daily tasks? Often times, even a restful night’s sleep is met with feelings of grogginess as the day progresses. In 2017 alone, the energy drink business reportedly grossed $2.98 billion dollars.

This does not include the revenue gained from coffee and tea sales. Although the regular consumption of additional energy is thriving, many people still report possessing a lack of energy. This leaves a multitude of individuals unproductive due to extreme fatigue.

When it comes to energy and the body, this relationship can be likened to the gas that moves a car. The process of converting what we eat into energy is no simple production. After our food is digested, it is mixed with acids and enzymes. The sugars or carbohydrates are converted into glucose.

Our body stores this glucose in order to produce energy at a specific time. Glucose heavily relies on instruction from Insulin, which is like the hormone boss of glucose. Energy is created through insulin traveling within the bloodstream and allowing the proper amount of glucose inside.

In essence, the types of food we eat determine how much energy we have! Which is why nutrition is so vital to our energy production and overall health.

If you have been lacking motivation, feeling sluggish, or surviving off of energy drinks, you may have a nutritional deficiency. Changing your diet in conjunction with a proper exercise routine may assist with improved energy. Consider these five simple foods that will increase your energy all day long.

  1. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are good carbohydrates that are jam-packed with energy-producing vitamins such as A and C. Since they are filled with natural flavor, sweet potatoes don’t need much to taste good. This versatile food can be accompanied with a lean protein for an awesome afternoon lunch.

  1. Bananas

Bananas aren’t only known for their high potassium levels. They are actually compiled entirely of glucose- the healthy sugar. Munching on one of these fruits for breakfast will keep you energized throughout the day. In addition, you only need to eat one banana in order to achieve a boost. Mixed in a morning smoothie or served with oatmeal, bananas are sure to give your meal a subtle dash of sweetness.

  1. Salmon

Salmon is a lean protein full of Omega-3 fatty acids which promote a healthy heart. In addition to its countless health benefits, salmon is filled with the B6 vitamin that directly assists with turning food into energy. Test out your culinary skills by combining salmon with whole wheat pasta or combining it with a hearty salad.

  1. Blueberries

Blueberries may be tiny, but they are filled with benefits. Primarily used as an antioxidant, blueberries are also compiled with energy-boosting vitamins.

Another awesome benefit of eating blueberries as a snack is their low-calorie count. In fact, one serving is only 81 calories. Much like bananas, blueberries can be mixed in smoothies or combined with yogurt. This small snack can get you through the mid-day slump.

  1. Almonds

Almonds are also an excellent bite that will keep you full and energized. In order for your body to circulate energy, it survives off of elements like copper and manganese. Almonds are filled with these components, making them an ideal and convenient snack. Their slight saltiness and mega crunch can be a great alternative to chips.

In addition to healthy eating, maintaining a constant exercise routine has been proven to increase energy levels in the body. Nutritionist Samantha Heller, MS, RD says,

“Contrary to popular belief, exercising doesn’t make you tired — it literally creates energy in your body. Your body rises up to meet the challenge for more energy by becoming stronger.”

If increased energy is your goal, start your day by engaging your body in at least a 10-15-minute walk or brisk run. This will encourage your body to awaken, thus building your stamina for future routines. As always, consult with your healthcare physician in order to collaborate on the best regimen for your body.

To remain energized and combat feelings of constant lethargy, dedication is imperative. You must become mindful of the items you eat as well as the activities you engage in. By doing so, your mind and body will become naturally energized!


4 Ways You Can Avoid Emotional Eating During the Holidays

The holiday season is here and it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed with all the arrangements, the traveling, the inviting and the visiting of friends and families, the seasonal shopping for gifts and for food, the cleaning, the preparations and decorations, and then of course, the eating!

There’s the eating to celebrate, the eating to share sustenance with loved ones; there’s the eating for enjoyment and pleasure and there’s the eating to stuff down and avoid the unpleasant feelings of stress and anxiety that come inevitably as part of the package of fun festivities.

Sure, there’ll be laughter and enjoyment, good times and togetherness, but all this excitement can bring with it some uncomfortable feelings like apprehension, nervousness, and even uncertainty.

Not to mention all the stress that comes from all the extra chores that come with the holidays, like gift shopping in crowded malls, and planning cooking and cleaning in preparation for parties, dinners and relatives coming into town.

It’s at times like these when it’s more tempting than ever to turn to food as a source of comfort. It’s so easy when food is all around you and everywhere you look. It’s hard not to pick at the left overs or take a second piece of pie.

So what can you do to reduce that holiday stress so you don’t turn to the cookie jar or finish off that wonderful bucket of gourmet ice cream, or take that last slice of cheesecake?

  1. The first thing you can do is take a moment to breathe. Really stop everything, and just before your hand reaches the door of the refrigerator, focus instead on the cool air as it passes through your nostrils and feel your lower belly fill as you use your diaphragm to breathe in. Hold the breath in for a second and then focus on the air as you breathe it out through the nostrils, warmer now, and feel your belly cave inwards as the air goes out. Focus on this process for ten complete breaths and you will feel much calmer, your anxiety will have subsided and your cravings will have diminished in intensity.


  1. Make sure you get your daily dose of fresh air and exercise, even if it is just a walk around the block. Being at a family gathering can get very warm and stuffy and all those people breathing out carbon dioxide and using up the available oxygen can make for an atmosphere that can build up feelings of stress and cause irritability. Getting outside can help clear the head and calm the mind. It takes you away from the source of food and gets you participating in some healthy exercise.


  1. When you do eat, eat mindfully. That is, instead of zoning out and just stuffing yourself silly until you reach for the antacids and feel the waistband tightening mercilessly, eat with awareness. See the food, smell the food, and really savor the food. Focus on the food as you take a bite, the sweet or savory tastes, the unique textures, and the different colors. Enjoy the very experience of eating for pleasure. That way, you will slow your eating down, you won’t rush, you won’t eat quite so much, you won’t feel guilty about it, and you’ll taste each and every morsel. You’ll feel full sooner and you won’t be as inclined to reach for more.


  1. Be grateful. Be grateful for all the goodness you are receiving: the company of friends, the warmth, and good cheer, the wonderful food. Experts have found that being grateful increases your feelings of contentment and this in turn reduces your stress and lowers the temptation to eat for self-comfort. Finding other ways than eating to soothe yourself is healthier and more

Reduce Holiday Stress with Meditation and Yoga

One of the best ways to reduce holiday stress is yoga. Not only is yoga beneficial for increasing feelings of calm and well-being, but also boosts energy levels, eases muscle tension, and soothes the nervous system through breathing exercises (Prāṇāyāma). Meditation is a discipline within yoga, and the ultimate goal for the practice of each is to achieve peace of mind. Enjoy a calmer, healthier holiday season by incorporating meditation and yoga into your daily routine.

Meditation to Reduce Holiday Stress

If holiday stress has you anxious, tense and worried, meditation can help. Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace. The good thing about meditation is that anyone can practice it, and it’s simple and inexpensive. There is no need for special equipment, and you can practice it anywhere – while on a walk, riding a bus, waiting in a doctor’s office, during a business meeting.

There is no “right” way to meditate, but there are different things that can be done and you can choose what works for you. Here are some ways you can practice meditation:

  • Breathe deeply.Focus all your attention on your breathing. Concentrate on feeling and listening as you inhale and exhale through your nostrils. Breathe deeply and slowly. When your attention wanders, gently return your focus to your breathing.
  • Walk and meditate.Slow your walking pace so that you can focus on each movement of your legs or feet. Don’t think about a destination. Concentrate on your legs and feet, repeating action words in your mind such as “lifting,” “moving” and “placing” as you lift each foot, move your leg forward and place your foot on the ground.
  • Read and reflect.Read a poem or sacred text and quietly reflect on the meaning.

Yoga to Keep the Stress Away

Yoga is the process of reversing the outward flow of energy so that the mind becomes the center of perception. It is a spiritual practice that extends to the physical and, with practice, helps you keep your body and spirit energized with the ‘right’ kind of energy. The kind of energy that comes from a sense of well-being.

There are meditation techniques designed for breath control, physical poses and positions designed for body healing and balance, and deeper meditation and breathing study designed for spiritual growth.

Here is a pose you can do right now to relax and reduce stress called Three Part Breath (Dirga Pranayama–DEER-gah prah-nah-YAH-mah):

This is a simple breathing exercise that brings your awareness to the present moment and calms your mind.

  1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position on the floor, in a chair, or on a bed.
  2. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your rib cage.
  3. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, but naturally.
  4. Focus your awareness on the breath as it moves in and out of your body.
  5. Feel the lift of your belly and the expansion of your ribs on your inhalations. Notice the slight compression of your ribs and the drop of your belly as you exhale.
  6. Bring your bottom hand to your chest, just below your collarbone. Breathe all the way into this area and allow your chest to rise slightly; then exhale and let it go.
  7. As you inhale, feel your belly lift, ribs expand, and chest lift. On your exhalations, notice how your chest drops, ribs contract, and belly lowers.
  8. Release your arms and focus your mind on your breath for 5-10 minutes, inhaling and exhaling fully.


5 Very Simple Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes to Reduce Stress and Workload

Photo credit: Jon Parise from San Francisco, US [CC BY-SA 2.0]

It’s that time again! Almost another year has passed and the holiday season is just around the corner. This is by far one of the most naturally stressful times for us all. There is so much going on around us, all the time, it seems like at this time of year, every year, people go just a little bit crazy.

Well, I want you to know that you are not alone, help is at hand. I’m going to share with you a few very simple recipes that will help you to better organize your Thanksgiving desserts.

Use these recipes this Thanksgiving and you will find that you have plenty of time to organize everything else. You may even find that you have a little extra time on your hands where you can sit back, take a load off, and relax.

After all, the holidays are supposed to be about fun and relaxation, so let us do everything we can to ease the stress this Thanksgiving.

Tip 1 – Yummy Baked Apples


  • 6 Sweet, firm apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • ¾ cup of white sugar
  • 1/3 cup of rum or ½ cup maple syrup
  • 2 pints of vanilla ice-cream


Step 1 – Mix the apple wedges with the lemon juice, butter, and sugar (leaving two tablespoons of sugar for later). Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Step 2 – Bake the apples at 356 degrees Fahrenheit, until soft. Sprinkle remaining sugar over and continue baking until the sugar melts.

Step 3 – Gently heat the rum or maple syrup in a saucepan.

Step 4 – Serve the apples with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream and pour the heated sauce on top. Yum!

Tip 2 – Chocolicious Bread Pudding


  • 4 cups of whole milk
  • 4 medium sized eggs
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 8 tablespoons of butter or margarine
  • 12 ounces of milk-chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 loaf of white-bread, trimmed to remove the crusts
  • 1 pint of thickened cream, whipped until you can safely hold the bowl over your head upside down (the kids will love to test this one!)


Step 1 – Whisk the milk, eggs and sugar in a saucepan, then add the butter and chocolate chips over a low heat. Keep stirring until the butter and chocolate have both melted. Add vanilla and remove from heat.

Step 2 – Lightly coat a 13×9 inch baking tray with a thin layer of oil. Arrange the bread slices in 3 layers. Pour the heated sauce mixture over the top.

Step 3 – Cover with plastic wrap and place a second baking tray on top to weight it down. Leave to sit for 1 hour. Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 4 – Remove top baking tray and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream.

Tip 3 – Pumpkin Rice Pudding (made two days in advance)


  • 2 cups short grain rice
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ a vanilla bean split down the middle
  • 1 teaspoon of grated orange zest
  • ¼ cup of orange juice, (fresh is best)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup of canned pumpkin
  • ¼ cup of dark brown sugar


Step 1 – Combine the rice, milk, sugar, vanilla bean, orange zest, orange juice, and salt in a large saucepan. Heat over a medium heat until thoroughly mixed, stirring often. Once mixed, reduce to a low heat and continue to cook until the rice is soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat.

Step 2 – Remove the vanilla bean from the mix. Add in the pumpkin. Allow to cool.

Step 3 – Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When re-warming to serve, add 1 and ½ cups of milk and stir in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Serve warm, with a sprinkle of dark sugar.

Tip 4 – Super Quick Chocolate Pudding


  • 8 Triangles of Swiss milk-chocolate nougat bar
  • 1 ½ cups of thawed cool-whip whipped topping


Step 1 – Microwave chocolate in a microwaveable bowl on high for 1 minute. Allow to cool for 1 minute.

Step 2 – Add whipped topping, stirring with a whisk to allow to air.

Step 3 – Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes. Serve, enjoy. Yum!

Tip 5 – Lemon Pudding (made one day in advance)


  • 4 lemons
  • 2 ¼ cups of white sugar
  • 3 ½ cups of thickened cream
  • A pinch of salt


Step 1 – Peel the zest from the lemons and cut into thin 1 inch strips. Place them in a saucepan with enough water to cover them, bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and return zest to saucepan.

Step 2 – Add to saucepan 1 and ¼ cups of the sugar and 1 and ¼ cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat until syrup has reduced by 1/3. After this, remove the zest pieces with a fork or slotted spoon and add them into a bowl of the remaining sugar.

Step 3 – Add 3 cups of the cream to the lemon syrup in the saucepan and simmer until reduced by 1/3.

Step 4 – Half and juice the lemons and add the juice and salt to the saucepan and allow to cool slightly. Once slightly cooled, pour the mixture into pudding glasses or small bowls and chill in the refrigerator overnight until set. Serve with a dollop of the remaining cream and garnish with the zest pieces.

Final Thoughts

Five very simple recipes that will help you to better manage dessert this Thanksgiving. Remember, the holidays are a time for fun, family, and relaxation, so take a load off, and make it simple. Let the kids and the rest of the family get involved too.

You never know, they may enjoy helping so much that there’s nothing left for you to do! Well, we can at least dream can’t we?

So go have some fun, and Happy Thanksgiving!