Have a cup of tea, breathe deep and fall asleep

What better way to celebrate relaxation week (which I’m not actually participating in) than sleeping?

Psh. None.

(A good question is: “Where in the world did you read about this?” The answer: “I have no idea.” I found this bit of information buried in a stack of handwritten notes from forever ago. I’m not sure if this is weird… but I used to be SO into Ayurveda. I would be, but I’m not at all patient enough to practice. If you know where the following information goes, let me know, and I’ll post it. Right now, it’s just some good information about sleeping.)

Husband works eight-hour night shifts, five days a week. It’s like the “nine-to-five” only flipped upside down. Because he works nights, he sleeps during the day –obviously. We live in a purely residential neighborhood with schools and people and parks all around us, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Husband doesn’t sleep very well.

Ayurveda has sleep remedies for people like my husband –reverse insomniacs –and for poor sleepers and regular insomniacs. Each of these remedies is connected to a dosha within the principle.

If you wake up at 2 a.m. and have trouble getting back to sleep, vata is to blame for your sleep imbalance. Before going to bed, rub your head and feet with sesame oil or take a bath infused with fennel, orange and tulsi oils. You can also drink tea made from brahmi –an Ayurvedic herbal tea known as a nerve tonic. Or try hot almond milk, which is actually pretty tasty by the way, with any or all of these: chopped dates, coconut flakes, cardamom, ginger or honey.

Also, try a cooling Chandra Bhenda (Moon Breath) for five minutes. Breathe in through the left nostril and out through the right, closing the opposite nostril between each inhale and exhale. Follow this with 30 seconds of Bhastrika (Bellows Breath) by taking full, deep, loud breaths in and out through the nose, using your full lung capacity.

If you awake again, get up and drink chamomile tea –an almost universal remedy.

Pitta, the second dosha, insomnia is based on you having trouble getting to sleep or you wake up before 2 a.m. and cannot sleep again. Before bed, have a cup of brahmi tea or drink warm almond milk again. Put a few drops of sandalwood, marjoram or benzoin resin oil into your bath. You can also massage warm ghee –clarified butter –onto your head and feet. Then, do five minutes of Ujjayi Breath (close the root of the throat and breathe audibly through the nose). Follow with two minutes of meditation.

Kapha-based insomnia is rare. Make yourself a cup of tea: Mix a teaspoon of brahmi with honey and drink. Give yourself a head and foot massage with olive oil, olive and mustard oil or sesame oil, or mustard oil alone. Try putting a blend of marjoram, frankincense, rose and ylang-ylang essential oils into a hot bath. Practice two full minutes of Bellows Breath followed by one minute of meditation.

While I haven’t really tried any of these methods –mostly because I hate taking baths, refuse to spend money on essential oils and have no idea where to find brahmi tea in my area –I know deep breathing and meditation can calm the mind and induce a state of serenity (like Corpse Pose at the end of your yoga practice) and that warm almond milk tastes good, but I wasn’t trying to go to sleep when I drank that.

If you believe that any of these Ayurvedic sleep aids will heal your horrible sleep habits, give them a try. Nothing is poisonous (to my knowledge).

Sleep well friends!

Time for relaxation (because the stress is getting to me)

I’m super stressed. Ha! What’s new?

I need a pick me up to put me down (on a couch with a cup of soup and hot cocoa where I belong). Oh, I dream…

This week I want to talk about relaxation. While I can breathe my way out of a headache, I have not mastered the art of meditating my stress away. I envy people with this sort of concentration.

But stress can be relieved! I know it. I’ve seen it happen. Ayurveda is only one way.

Indian head massage supports the nervous system by alleviating stress; stimulates the lymphatic system, which encourages the elimination of toxins; helps break down muscular knots; relieves chronic neck and shoulder stiffness; increases oxygen uptake in tissues; and improves circulation.

It sure does a lot of stress relieving!

Head massage can also be used to stimulate hair growth, improve concentration and relieve migraine pain.

Begin by choosing an oil: sesame, mustard, almond, coconut and olive oils are common.

Massage the oil into your head by starting first at the sides and working toward the top. Work your way front to back. Gently massage the whole head with thumbs and fingers. Then, grasp fistfuls of hair at the roots and tug from side to side –keep fits close to the scalp. Squeeze at the temples with the heels of the hands and make slow circles. Look down slightly and massage the back the neck by squeezing and rolling the muscles. Begin at the top of the neck and work you way down, first with one hand, and then the other.

Place the thumb of your left hand under the left occipital area and the thumb of your right hand under the right occipital area at the base of your head. Relax tight muscles by using a rubbing motion to cause friction.

Place left hand on right shoulder near your neck. Using medium pressure, gently squeeze the shoulder muscle that starts at the base of your neck. Work your way out along your shoulder to your arm, and then to your elbow. Go back to the base of your neck and do this twice more. Repeat on the other side.

Finally, rub lightly with your hands all over the head; extend these movements to your face. If possible, allow a few minutes to relax (a lot of blood is moving).

Another fantastic treat for your scalp and hair is a coconut head massage. Try coating your head with flower-infused coconut oil. Lubricating your locks is an essential part of Ayurvedic care and is said to promote sleep and memory.

Massage the oil into the scalp, and then comb through to saturate all hair. Wrap head and hair in an old towel for 20 minutes. Then shampoo; it may take two rinses to get all of the oil out.

Make the Oil: Mix 1/2 cup coconut oil, 2 tablespoons rose water, 1/2 cup mixed-fresh rose, hibiscus, marigold or jasmine petals. Heat oil in saucepan, add rose water and petals; boil for three minutes, remove from heat and let flowers steep in oil for one day. Strain through a coffee filter into an airtight container before use.

While the thought of giving myself a massage sounds daunting, I’m sure I can find someone to pay to do it for me… or just ask Husband. If the TV’s off, he does a very good job. :)

Relax with me, friends; we need it.

It’s my birthday! (and some results)

Yes. It is, in fact, my birthday. I am officially 23.

And I had to get up early, teach this morning and study this afternoon (lots of research). Then, I have to go back to school early tonight to study even more and take a quiz and sit through a three-hour class in which I will be paying attention.

On my birthday…

I has a sad.

What would I rather be doing instead? Oh, lots of thing… Cake might be involved. I miss cake… NO CAKE, SHAE! Sorry!

Husband said he bought me a present -even though I told him not to buy me a present because we’re broke -but I am super excited about it. (I haven’t snooped or anything!) He said he didn’t spend a whole lot of money on it so that’s at least a plus. Maybe he’ll clean the kitchen, too… Hum? That’s free!

I suppose I should tell you the reason I am posting about my birthday instead of something substantial -because there is an actual reason other than me being 23 and how popular that makes me on Facebook. By the way… I’m super popular today.

A looooong time ago, I set out a few goals for myself and revealed to you some very personal information… like my weight.

And my measurements were:

  1. Chest: 35″
  2. Under Bust: 30″
  3. Natural Waist: 29.5″
  4. Low Waist (along the pooch as I say): 35″
  5. Hips: 40″ (and they will be forever… I don’t see this number going down… ever)
  6. Left/Right Bicep: 12″ each
  7. Left/Right Thigh-Quad: 22.7″ each (B00.)
  8. Left/Right Calf: 14.5″ each (these will get bigger)
  9. Weight: 140 (ish)

What are my measurement goals? I don’t actually know about the numbers, but I want more muscles in my arms and abs, less jiggle in my thighs and less visible cellulite on my butt. Whatever number those are -that’s what I want.

That’s what I was. And, while I didn’t measure everything -mostly because I don’t want to know, here are my current measurements.

  1. Pooch: 1″ lost; currently 34″
  2. Hips: TOTALLY though I lost an inch; still 40″
  3. Biceps: Gained 0.5″ per arm
  4. Weight: 137 (ish)

Did I meet my goals? Well, I wanted to jiggle less – I don’t jiggle less. My butt? Haven’t checked in a while… Nevermind. It’s still pretty bad. I guess I also wanted to have a regular gym schedule – I have that!

So how far have I really come? Let me tell you how I feel.

I have more energy even when I’m exhausted. I drink less coffee, eat less sugar and sodium, drink less alcoholic beverages and munch more fresh and homemade foods.

I feel better about myself. I’m wearing clothes I would usually feel uncomfortable in, like dress pants and blouses and heels. I put make up on more often and do my hair again (when I have time and patience).

When people compliment me, I let them -especially if that person happens to be Husband. I don’t put myself down (unless I’m really bloated, but that’s just because I like sharing that with everyone). (By the way – I’m bloated.)

I don’t hate my body.

It’s weird. After being mad about the way I look for so long, changing that perception is really difficult.

I still get mad at my hair. I still hate lipstick and nail polish and plucking my eyebrows. I still bite my nails ’til they bleed. Don’t worry! I haven’t changed much! But I don’t hate the whole mock-up, the whole Shae. I guess she’s growing on me.

…took long enough, huh?

Happy Measurement’s Day! (I just grew one year!)

Eating chocolate and cherries on a Sunday evening

Advice from chocolate

My Dove Dark Chocolate wrapper told me I am exactly where I need to be.

Dove Chocolate, you are correct. I am laying on the couch, cuddled under my blankets, eating chocolate and dried cherries watching Comedy Central in all of my happiness. I also have a pomegranate cocktail, a German Shepherd and a cat.

I’m set!

Chocolate is awesome.

 

Eating chocolate and cherries on a Sunday evening
Delicious!

 

 

Pajama jeans… omg… AWESOME.

I have a qualm with this creation.

$39.95?

Really?

Otherwise, this is the most amazing thing ever created. I want some. Someone send them to me (because I cannot rightfully spend money on these things).

Want some? Go here.

Journal Series Entry #3: Belly fat

A note before we begin: Since I’m grumpy, which you will see below (lots of snarkiness… bad Shae!), I’ve decided to NOT blog about my workout unless it goes better because I don’t want to be Debbie Downer for weeks. However, I still want to provide you with some sort of information… Journal Entry. Sounded like a good idea to me. Also, I couldn’t find the magazine article. You think it’d be easy because it mentions “meno-pot,” but no, it’s not. Enjoy.

Journal Stories: Secrets of a bored girl

Entry #3

Belly Fat

I love muffins but not my muffin top… Stupid food names for things I hate about myself.

According to WomensHealthMagazine, as women age, the belly becomes the place fat decides to settle, instead of convenient, attractive places like our breasts or hips. Experts call it a “meno-pot,” or that’s just what the article called it and made me laugh… until I realized that someday I’d be old. Crap.

After we’re 40, ladies, it’s all downhill. Don’t tell the men! The men will be afraid! But, why? Why should age really change our fat content?

Because of hormones (wonky), metabolism (broken), muscle mass (shrunken), fat cells (live forever), stress (CORTISOL), sleep(-deprived), medication and depression. The last two didn’t need snarky commentary. And belly fat doesn’t just go away (it’s a great big jerk) with diet and exercise unless you do it very, very right.

Most of the articles related to belly fat are concerned with visceral fat –the stuff that clings to your organs and kills you –instead of the fat that makes us absolutely hate the word “muffin.”

However, I have a theory. If you keep telling us that our outside fat isn’t as unhealthy as our inside fat, we’ll just stop dealing with the outside fat and ignore the fact that we’re dying. So… Let’s stop being non-superficial, shall we? (Sorry, I’m grumpy.)

Anyway, how do you know if too much visceral fat is clinging to your organs? Do they feel well insulated? (Haha, just kidding.) The only way to find out is via a CT scan or an MRI, but each is expensive and we’re not trying to find cancer.

Instead, measure your waist-to-hip ratio by dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement. If the quotient (take that Algebra), is greater than 0.8, you’re over the healthy limit (like drinking!). The same is true if your waist is greater than 35 inches in circumference. (Geometry and I don’t get along.)

(Side note: Lipo cannot remove visceral fat. You cannot suck it out. You also cannot “tuck” it. I still do not know how a tummy-tuck works…)

I know I have to eat healthy to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. But is there a food specifically designed to get rid of belly fat (my nastiest problem)?

According to an article from Livestrong.com, a healthy diet with fat-burning food, not just low-fat food, is necessary to shrink belly fat and keep it off. No more potato chips, I assume…

Oatmeal and beans are high in fiber (and super tasty), which can help shrink belly fat by making you feel full quicker than low-fiber foods. They also require longer digestion times to keep you satisfied. Soluble fibers can also help remove toxins from the body. Whole grains and seeds, insoluble fibers, can alleviate hormone imbalance by binding excess estrogen from excretion (that means poo, and yes, I think it’s funny).

Protein requires more calories for digestion than fruits and vegetables so it also helps to make you fuller quicker and longer. (Although I’ve seen Husband blow through a huge steak like it was nothing.) Eggs are a great source of protein (and cholesterol, but don’t freak out) and also contain B12 – a vitamin essential for fat cell break down. Beans are also good for providing protein, but refried beans are high in fat and baked beans are full of sugar.

Foods like papaya (yum) and pineapple (double yum) are full of enzymes that can help break down proteins for better digestion. Foods that contain enzymes (raw fruits and vegetables) give the liver and pancreas the opportunity to excrete more toxins and turn stored belly fat into fuel for the body. (I am so loading up on pineapple later.)

Healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil and avocados, can actually boost your metabolism and target belly fat for energy. (Awesome! Now, how can they get French fries to do that?) Olive oil also keeps cholesterol levels regulated. Almonds, which are not only high in monounsaturated fats, also have protein for a synergistic fat-burning effect. (Cures your hunger AND helps you lose weight? Almond milk all the way!)

But you can’t just stuff your face full of beans, nuts and raw fruit. You have to eat them right via five small meals every day.

Eating five small meals throughout the day will help you lose weight because having a satisfied tummy all day long with maintain stable insulin levels. (Crash and burn? Yeah, those things.) The constant flow of insulin sets in motion key changes in your body to help you lose weight and have more energy.

By eating five small meals a day you will store less fat, have more energy all day, have a faster metabolism and a better mood, and less stress. This is called the 5-Factor Diet, which I did not know what a real thing until I Googled it. I love Google. Here is an article that gives pros and cons.

WomensHealthMagazine said an ideal fat-burning meal plan includes 30 percent protein, 40 percent carbohydrates (not French fries) and 30 percent fat. In 2009, a study noted that dieters who stuck to these ratios lost 22 percent more belly fat after four months, and 38 percent more after a year, than those who followed a low-fat diet.

WHM agrees that foods containing water, fiber and protein (salads, vegetables, fresh or dried fruits, and whole-grain breads and pastas) expand your stomach to make you feel fuller faster and longer.

They also mentioned some noise about green tea… it is ridiculously good for you. In 2009, a study of women who drank five cups of something with green tea in (combined with exercise) lost more belly fat than those who didn’t.

I have seen this in action: We had a foreign exchange student from South Korea living with us (my mother and I) when I was a junior in college (I think) who drank a powdered version of the drink and was skinny as a rail. Yes, she was also in high school; and yes, she also ate weird food, but she also ate American food and didn’t gain any weight! But you have to drink it chunky and constantly for it to work, I think.

Anyway, WHM also said that the monounsaturated fats in oils and avocados were WAY good for belly fat burning.

Unfortunately, WHM also wants us to exercise. Boo. They say:

Get off the couch. (I like the couch.) Thirty minutes max of cardio daily = necessary. :(

Up the ante. (What?) Try interval workouts. (Oh.) Powerful bursts of high-intensity exercise  use more fat as fuel AND may suppress the hunger hormone gherlin (which I was surgically removed from my body).

Join the resistance. (Cute, right?) Resistance training builds muscle, and more muscle means a faster metabolism. Wewt! Pump that iron! Or those bands or your own body weight… or whatever… doesn’t matter.

Cut to the core. (Like an apple, kids, like an apple. Wow. I am grumpy.) Target the deeper layers of muscle along your ab wall by doing Pilates, yoga and mat exercise. I’ve also heard that structured dance (ballet… probably, that’s it…) does the same thing, but I don’t know for sure. I was a ballerina when I was nine. (This really means that, yes, you do still have to do crunches, but should also throw in a few push ups. Yay.

Remember these FUN FAT FACTS!

  • The best overall meal plan is one that offers a balanced diet.
  • Eating three healthy snacks a day helps burn calories and fat.
  • Foods high in fiber and water fill you up so that you eat less.
  • Lifting weights builds muscle and speeds up your metabolism.
  • The antioxidants in green tea may accelerate the loss of belly fat.
  • Daily exercise fights inflammation as well as fat.

(These newsletters continuously add to my weight loss Bible. I am a sad monkey.)

Wow. Long post is long. Tomorrow, I will be less grumpy and not as whiny! Promise! (And my fingers are only crossed just in case I break it.)

My 2011 New Year’s Resolutions!

It’s that time of the year!

You know… the time when we assess everything about ourselves that we hate and make a promise to change, which is depressing and unfair. However, we often need to make those changes and commitments.

For example, I am really lazy. I’m not lazy when it comes to work or school or teaching. I’m lazy when it comes to taking care of myself, which has been explained before here.

This laziness is murder on my self-esteem and my confidence, but it pumps up my happiness. I like wearing yoga pants (all the time) and pulling my hair up in a bun (everyday) and not wearing makeup (ever). Unfortunately, I hate feeling comfy and I hate my hair in a bun and I hate my uneven skin tone without makeup. I am an enigma.

Dilemma? Oh, yeah. (Does it make sense? No. And it doesn’t need to, boys.)

For 2011, my resolutions are not to lose weight, to exercise more or to eventually run a 5K, which I could never do anyway. Instead, my resolution is to be less lazy with my life.

Yes, I want to workout more. Yes, I want to eat healthy. Yes, I want my jiggle to go away when I brush my teeth. But those resolutions are not all I want for next year. I want to cook more (and better – so it tastes good). I want to grocery shop like a freakin’ pro and start saving money.  I want to sleep more than five hours a night. I want to walk the dog more.

While none of those are actual resolutions (maybe, kinda), they all involve me being WAY less lazy than I am.

However, if your resolution is to lose weight, check out this article by Livestrong.com, this article by Women’sHealthMag.com or this one by Ladies’ Home Journal.

I just want to have a desire to do all the things I need and I want to do. Less lazy. Yep. (Although, if I lose a little weight on the way… GO ME!)