The Benefits of Meditation

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For positive reinforcement I’ve rounded up a comprehensive list of the benefits of meditation. Please share with us if you’ve had personal experience with any of these benefits or experienced any other benefits.

EMOTIONAL

  • Boosts positivity
  • Decreases feelings of loneliness
  • Helps with depression
  • Reduces stress

HEALTH

  • Boosts your immune system
  • Lowers your blood pressure
  • Lowers your oxygen consumption
  • Minimizes pain
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Reduces your cortisol levels

PRODUCTIVITY

  • Boosts your creativity
  • Improves multitasking
  • Improves your memory
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Lengthens your attention span
  • Makes you more attentive

SOCIAL

  • Builds on your compassion for others
  • Helps regulate your emotions
  • Increases social connection
  • Lowers anxiety

The Key Benefits of Yoga

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In case you needed all the reasons why practicing yoga is beneficial to you inside and out, I’ve rounded up a comprehensive list. Please share with us if you’ve had personal experience with any of these benefits!

BODY CHEMISTRY

  • Balances hormones
  • Boosts lymphatic system
  • Boosts Vitamin C
  • Increases red blood cell count
  • Reduces cholesterol
  • Reduces sodium
  • Reduces triglycerides

EMOTIONAL

  • Builds a mind-body connection
  • Improves attention span
  • Improves concentration
  • Improves memory
  • Improves mood
  • Improves self-acceptance
  • Improves self-control
  • Improves social skills
  • Increases positivity
  • Promotes calmness
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Reduces depression
  • Reduces hostility
  • Reduces stress

EXTERNAL

  • Boosts anti-aging
  • Boosts energy
  • Builds core strength
  • Builds endurance
  • Builds strength
  • Improves balance
  • Improves dexterity
  • Improves hand-eye coordination
  • Improves muscle tone
  • Improves posture
  • Improves sexuality
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Increases bodily awareness
  • Lowers the risk of injury
  • Promotes weight loss

INTERNAL

  • Boosts immunity
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Builds cardiovascular endurance
  • Builds pain tolerance
  • Improves depth perception
  • Improves circulation
  • Improves gastrointestinal function
  • Improves organ function and health
  • Improves reaction time
  • Improves respiratory function
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers pulse rate
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Strengthens bones

SYMPTOM REDUCTION OR ALLEVIATION

  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Back pain
  • Cancer
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Constipation
  • Epilepsy
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Menopause
  • Migraines
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Sciatica
  • Scoliosis

Dialing down Caffeine

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Nearly a year ago I wrote this:

Growing up, I remember when fast food was a treat we were bought every other week or so and I remember when I wasn’t allowed to drink any soda with caffeine in it, not to mention energy drinks. If I was allowed soda at all, it had to be something caffeine free.

As I grew up I was given more allowances and I was allowed to start making my own decisions. I was introduced to caffeinated soda and still maintained a healthy distance.

As an adult I’ve started an office job that is relatively stressful, but not painfully so. I started buying caffeinated sodas and eventually graduated to energy drinks to “treat” or “reward” myself during the work day, but it’s become too frequent. I can feel the negative effects of the sugar and caffeine in these drinks on my mind and body, but I still crave them anyway! As we plan on starting a family I think it’s time to find some healthier “treat”  or “reward” options and get back to my healthier habits. As of last Friday, I’ve stopped drinking sodas and energy drinks. It’s definitely rough while my body is figuring out how to cope without all the sugar and caffeine, but it’ll pass!

This didn’t last long, and before I knew it I was up to consuming one sugar filled energy drink or soda every day. I’m not kidding, every day. I knew they were bad for me, I’ve known it for a long time (hence my writing of the post above), but I wouldn’t break the habit; I needed my sweet treat.

The 10 day smoothie cleanse I imposed on myself last month really helped snap me out of those bad habits and carried me through the withdrawal period. I won’t say I will never have an energy drink or soda again, that would be a bald-faced lie, but I feel like I have a better handle on my willpower than I ever did before.

Lesson learned: There is no magic trick to make you stop drinking or eating the things that are bad for you. You need to decide when enough is enough and have the willpower to steer yourself away from that vice. If you need to use a 10 day cleanse to get you started, then use it, but you are the ultimate factor.

What I learned from a 10 Day Smoothie Cleanse

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I am not going to sugarcoat this, smoothie cleanses are rough. I do not say this to discourage you, I believe you’ll need to be prepared and fortify your willpower.

I decided to do this cleanse because I began to feel my appetite and overindulgence spin out of control. I was having a sugar-filled energy drink every day, fast food two to four days a week and a whole box of macaroni and cheese to myself on Sundays for lunch. I needed to do something to pry me away from my bad habits and realign my good habits again; to allow my body to catch up to the fat from the bad choices I’d made and begin chipping it away.

This cleanse will work whether you choose to juice or blend, but I chose a smoothie cleanse because I felt wasteful when I saw all the pulp left in the machine after the juice had been worked out. You also only get a small helping of juice per fruit or vegetable so you’re looking at a much more expensive experience if you choose to juice. These reasons aside, you will get more nutrients faster and probably lose more weight on a juice fast.

My strategy:

I found a list of simplistic green smoothies with water as the only liquid.

Breakfasts: 1 cup water, 2 bananas, 1 cup kale,

Lunches: 1 cup water, 1 orange, 1 cup pineapple, 1 cup spinach

Dinners: 1 cup water, 2 apples, 1 banana, 1/2 cucumber

Of course you are welcome to choose whichever smoothie recipes work best for you and mix them up more than I did. I chose to keep it simple; for simple shopping and simple preparation.

After a few days it became apparent that this was not going to cut it for me. I added green tea to drink in the morning between breakfast and lunch. I also added a hardboiled egg and a small helping of sharp cheddar cheese with my dinner smoothie as I was usually hangry by the time I got home from work.

Don’t deny yourself a small snack if you’re dying of hunger, but moderation is key. Eggs and cheese are a good source of protein, but keep the portions small. Even better, if it’s a fruit or vegetable you would have blended up in a smoothie anyway, then have at it (with NO dipping sauce of any kind).

The results of this fast:

I lost about 10 lbs. on this smoothie fast, but more importantly I gained my willpower back and decided to set  some rules for myself. For 20 days (and more) past the day my fast ended, I decided to limit any energy drinks / sodas to one per week and only specific menu items from “fast food” places I deemed acceptable (Salads from Panera Bread, Veggie burritos Baja Fresh or Chipotle and Gyros from a local Greek cafe, etc.); no Taco Bell, burgers and fries, fish and chips or pizza.