Saturday, August 31, 2013

Helping the Homeless - How To Make Blessings Bags

One day while driving the A train from Manhattan I witnessed a man begging for money. If you've ever used the NY subway system often then you'd know that this is a very common thing to experience. I admit that I was a bit jaded and judgmental, in that, I assumed that this able bodied looking man was simply asking for money to buy drugs or alcohol. I thought to myself, " Why doesn't he quit begging and go get a job like the rest of us." So after his initial plea for money I ducked my head down and proceeded to read my book and didn't give any thought to giving this man any of my money. As I got off the train at my stop I noticed that the beggar had gotten off as well. He walked straight ahead to a woman and child who were both sitting on the subway benches. While adding money to my metro card, I overheard the little girl asking her father if she could have breakfast and witnessed the look of sorrow and dismay while he shook his head and muttered the word no.

There are few things in life that could quickly bring a tear to my eye and that's seeing a hungry child. As someone who goes to church week.y and has had a history of volunteering I always thought of myself as a pretty giving person. This experience showed me that maybe I'm not as giving and compassionate as I thought I was. Yikes. Like I said I was being jaded and judgmental. Anyway, after witnessing this exchange my brother and I gave the family some money, bought them breakfast at McDonald's, and gave them directions to a nearby shelter and the food bank at our church.    
 

If you've come across a homeless individual and felt the need to help but you're not sure exactly what to do then I'm going to show you a simple, quick, and inexpensive way to help. While browsing Tumblr I stumbled across a post which highlighted an easy project. The project shares how to create bags which are called “Blessing Bags” filled which little toiletries and snacks which are then stocked  in our car so that when we do happen to see someone on the streets who is homeless, you can hand them a Blessing Bag. If you’d like to make your own Blessing Bags the first thing you'll need are gallon size Ziplock bags.

Examples of items to go in the bags:
  • Chap stick
  • Packages of tissues or Wet Wipes
  •  Lotion
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Comb and Brush
  • Soaps
  •  Deodorant
  • Bottle of water or juice
  • Trail mix
  • Granola bars
  • Crackers
  • Pack of gum
  • Band aids
  • Mouthwash
  • Coins (could be used to make a phone call, or purchase a food item)
  • A warm pair of socks/ gloves
  • Gift cards
Assemble all the items in the bags, and maybe throw in a note of encouragement or scripture. Along with your note of encouragement or scripture you could add a list of your local resources (like homeless shelters, soup kitchens, etc) Seal the bags and stow in your car or your work bag to hand to a person of need. 

This is a great activity to do with some other family members and even you're church family. These items can all be found at your local dollar stores or Walmart so it doesn't cost much or take much time to make but I can guarantee you that it could make a world of difference for someone in need.

Live long and prosper...




Source:
http://kwavs.blogspot.com/2011/05/blessing-bags-how-to.html

Friday, August 30, 2013

Yummy Strawberry Banana Cream Tarts w/ Low Carb Pie Crust

 Eating healthy can be hard because most of the really tasty meals and treats are full of carbs, sugars, and sodium. I absolutely love recipes like this because they're significantly lower in calories and other undesirable ingredients that negatively affect our health. This is an amazing recipe I stumbled on and have tried and loved. I've provided you with two crust recipes; one is a low carb crust and the other is a raw crust. Here's what you'll need:
Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups almond meal or almond flour
3 tablespoons melted butter
Stevia equal to 3 tablespoons sugar

Preparation:

Heat oven to 350 F. Melt the butter (if the pie pan is microwave safe, melt the butter in it) mix the ingredients up in the pan and pat into place with your fingertips.

Bake for about 10 minutes until the crust is beginning to brown. After 8 minutes, check every minute or so, because once it starts to brown it goes quickly.

Nutritional Information: This batch of crust has 11 grams net carbs plus 17 grams fiber and 30 grams protein.

If you're looking for a raw crust recipe then here it is:

1 Cup raw unsalted walnuts
1 Cup shredded unsweetened coconut
6 pitted medjool dates
dash of salt

Directions:

  • Blend the walnuts, coconut and salt in a food processor until almost fine. Add in dates and combine until everything is sticking together.

  • Fill your muffin cups with the crust, spreading it out evenly by pushing it around with your fingers.
  • Place muffin cups in freezer.
Now here comes to good stuff; the filling

Banana Cream Filling:
1/4 Cup raw unsalted cashews or walnuts
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 banana peeled (fresh or frozen)


Topping:

Fresh sliced strawberries
6 muffin cups

*If you'd prefer a chocolate crust with this recipe, follow this recipe for a raw chocolate crust here.


Directions:

  • Blend the walnuts, coconut and salt in a food processor until almost fine. Add in dates and combine until everything is sticking together.

  • Fill your muffin cups with the crust, spreading it out evenly by pushing it around with your fingers.

  • Place muffin cups in freezer.

  • Blend the filling ingredients together in food processor.

  • Fill your muffin cups with the filling, and place back in freezer.

When ready to serve, remove from freezer and top with some sliced strawberries and you're good to go. If you want to have everything ready to go (already topped with strawberries), you can prepare the tarts and store them in the fridge. They're still really good this way and will hold, I just prefer the texture coming out of the freezer.

Reduce Body Fat Now



Reducing body fat can be a challenging task but there are ways to make this simpler and more effective. I think at some point in our lives we've all wondered how we can lower our body fat, tone our trouble areas and look our best. Is it diet, exercise or a combination of both? As someone who has been overweight to super skinny and every thing in between I've read, researched and used these tips to get to my current healthy weight.
Let's look into some tips and tricks that I've picked up along the way.
 
COMBINE CARDIO & STRENGTH

By combining a cardiovascular routine for 45-60 minutes with weight training you will develop lean muscle and reduce body fat. This will also help to increase your metabolic rate so that you will burn more calories throughout the day and reduce your body fat. When I'm trying to lose serious weight quickly I tend to aim for at least 60 minutes and 90 minutes on my good days.


EAT YOUR GREENS

By consuming a healthy meal plan and eating your vegetables, you boost your immune system and rev up your metabolism. Make your goal to have 5 servings of vegetables a day to be on your way to a leaner, healthier you. A great way to incorporate even more servings of greens into your diet is to juice them or make  green smoothies with mostly vegetables and a few pieces of fruits for natural sweetness. Remember always use more vegetables than fruits for maximum health benefits.


ADD INTERVALS

Integrate interval training into your fitness routine 2-3 days per week to increase your metabolism and reduce body fat. Interval training is high intensity and higher heart rate (in short periods) training. Interval training increases your heart rate for short periods and as a result your metabolism increases for a longer period post-workout. To begin, start with three minutes at an easy pace, then one minute at high intensity. Repeat this pattern for 30 minutes. You can choose to perform interval training with running, biking or any other exercise you choose.  

PUMP SOME IRON

It's impossible to become sculpted and lean, and reduce body fat, through doing cardiovascular exercise alone. So lose the jiggle and add a weighted workout into your fitness regimen to reach your fitness goals. Strength training increases your metabolism so that you will burn calories even when you are at rest. The reason this metabolic increase occurs is because you are increasing muscle which requires more energy, hence burning more calories. Perform a strength training routine 2-3 days per week with 2-3 sets of 12-18 repetitions to reduce body fat and look great. And for the ladies out there who beleive that pumping iron will give you a very hard muscular look I can assure you that it doesn't. The women who have super muscular shapes put in an amazing amount of training, dieting, and weight lifting to create that type of physique. Doing a few reps with light weights will create some lean muscle which provides amazing metabolic benefits and gives you a toned, beautiful, feminine body. 

EAT CLEAN

Consume vegetables, lean meats and fruit daily. In order to reduce body fat, you must make your eating plan healthy. Eliminate high fat foods, fried foods and candy. Choose whole grain and high fiber meals. Drink eight glasses of water daily, and limit or eliminate alcohol. Consume five to six smaller meals a day to increase your metabolism. You will enjoy your new lifestyle of eating healthy because you can eat mini meals all day. Yesss, no more starving.  


AIM TO EXERCISE 5-6 DAYS PER WEEK

By exercising 5 days per week for one hour, you will burn 600-700 calories per day. This all add up to a 1-2 pound weight loss per week. If you combine this with a healthy diet you can lose as much as four pounds per week.

Now that you know some simple ways to reduce body fat safely, effectively and rather quickly, what are you waiting for? How will you use these tips to reduce your body fat?


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kitchen Beauty Secrets

I'll let you in on a little secret: products from your kitchen are much more efficient, healthy, and affordable than most of the potions and lotions sold in stores. Looking for all-natural remedies for soft and clear skin, luxurious and silky hair, and more, then you need go no further than your own kitchen. Let's get started...


Coconut Oil

Don’t spend money on an eye makeup remover ever again. Instead, use coconut oil. Yep, you heard or rather read correctly; it’s natural and won’t irritate even the most sensitive eyes. It’s also safe for contact lens wearers. Warm up a little in the palm of your hand and rub it onto your eyes with a cotton ball to remove every trace of makeup.


                     
Raw Honey

Raw honey is one of the best beauty secrets from your kitchen for radiant and glowing skin. All you need to do is thoroughly cleanse your skin and remove all makeup. Apply a teaspoon or two of raw honey to your face and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Rinse your face off and pat dry. You can follow with your favorite moisturizer if you like. Do this 1-2 times weekly to have glowing results. You can also use honey to make an amazing deep conditioner for your hair. Honey clarifies the hair as well as conditioning so your hair will look shiny and smooth. Honey is a natural lightener so it serves as a natural method to add subtle highlights or slightly lift your hair color overall. For a more intense affect, combine honey with your favorite conditioner, and add a squeeze of lemon juice. If you’re looking to darken your hair, consider using molasses as a substitute.
Olive Oil

Olive oil makes a very healthy deep conditioner for your hair. I like to apply some to wet hair and wrap it in a warm or hot towel. Leave the towel on for about 20 minutes before shampooing and conditioning your hair as normal. Depending on how often you use hot tools on your hair, you should deep condition your hair weekly or every week and a half. FYI: I also use EVOO as a makeup remover.

Apple Cider Vinegar

In order for your hair to style better and look healthier, you should strip it of build-up about every month. The easiest and most natural way to do this is in the shower with apple cider vinegar. Shampoo your hair, then mix ½ cup of apple cider vinegar with ½ cup of water. Pour this mixture over your hair, then rinse and condition as usual.

Avocado

Avocado is a lifesaver for anyone who suffers from dry skin. Because it’s rich in fats and oils, it has strong moisturizing properties. Mash up a fresh avocado and apply it to your skin for 5 minutes. Here are a few other ideas: Strawberries are great for acne-prone skin, and bananas are perfect for sallow skin.

Green Tea

Stayed up a little too late last night? Banish puffy eyes and under eye circles with green tea! Steep two bags in hot water until thoroughly heated. Remove the bags from the water, and squeeze out the excess. Now lay on one each eye for 10 minutes, then rinse your face and apply makeup as usual. Do this weekly to help minimize the appearance of hereditary puffy eyes.
Lemon Juice

Lemons work very well to dry up oily skin or fight acne. You can make a toner out of the juice of one lemon, ½ a cup of water, and ½ a cup of witch hazel. Store it in the fridge for a refreshing pick-me-up halfway through the day. Just apply to your face with a cotton ball and allow to air dry. Lemon juice can also be used to lighten any hyper-pigmentation you have on your skin.

Please do use caution when trying anything new. Make sure all products are not expired or gone bad before using them. And testing out a little area of your skin first is a good idea, in case you have sensitive skin. These products are all natural and very good for your skin, but that doesn't eliminate allergic reactions for those with very sensitive skin. What are your favorite all-natural beauty secrets from the kitchen?

Live long and prosper.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Essential Travel Packing List


Whether you're heading out for some fun in the sun or on a business trip packing too much or not packing well enough can put a huge dumper on your travel experience. As a Caribbean girl who’s now living in the U.S, I’m definitely no stranger to international and cross-country flights and the key airplane travel essentials that can help ensure a smooth trip. Here are some airplane travel essentials you won’t want to be caught without. Let's get started...

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS

This may seem as a no brainier but I've seen people get all the way to the airport and realize that they forgot their passport at home on the table. I always ensure that I have all of my documents placed safely in my purse and not on the table to be picked up on the way out. Save yourself the hassle and just put it in your bag. I.D (check), Passport (check), Tickets (check), Credit/Debit cards (check), Travel Insurance (check)

WATER AND SNACKS

Yes, it’s expensive to purchase a bottle of water at the airport once you've already passed through the security line, but even so, this is by far one of my most important airplane travel essentials. Along with keeping you hydrated both prior to and during your flight, carrying on a water bottle means you won’t be left at the mercy of tiny plastic cups that hardly hold more than a gulp or two. Snacks are another key item you won’t want to forget, since you never know how long an unexpected delay could leave you stuck on the tarmac or whether the oftentimes overpriced meal and snack options sold on board will be to your liking.


A TRAVEL PILLOW

Whether you've booked an overnight flight or just want to avoid arriving at your destination with a sore neck, you definitely can’t go wrong by packing a compact travel pillow. My favorite, Total Pillow, doesn't take up much space and can also be twisted and turned every which way to help support your neck or back. Throw one into your carry-on for sweet dreams even in a tight, cramped seat.


YOUR FAVORITE MOISTURIZER

There’s nothing like a little recycled plane air to dry out your skin and leave it looking and feeling parched upon arrival. For this reason, I never fly without a travel-sized container of my favorite moisturizer, currently Mary Kay’s Time Wise Day Solution, which comes in a 1-oz. bottle and never leaves me feeling greasy. Two other things you’ll always find in my bag? Hand cream and lip balm.


A COZY CARDIGAN

Since airplane temperatures can be incredibly unpredictable, I always dress in layers when I fly. One thing I’m never without? A cozy cotton cardigan that isn't the least bit bulky and can also double as a small blanket.


COZY SOCKS

I always have a pair of socks in my carry on. I'm a tropical girl so I tend to feel cold really easily. I love to wear sandals but some times my feet feels cold in the airplane so I always use cute little fold-able flats or cozy socks to keep my toes warm and comfortable.


A GOOD READ

Just like good music, a good book can be a great escape and form of entertainment. I especially love reading books on my Kindle but you can also download the kindle app. Paperback is my top choice but when I travel I prefer to have my Kindle which has 100's of books at my disposal. Whether on the beach, on a plane, or at night to help me rest, a good book can relax you and help pass the time.


HEADBANDS

If you have really short hair, this might not apply to you, but if your hair is long enough to pull in a ponytail, be sure to bring plenty of hairbands. This one needs no explanation, girls! A hairband is simply essential and you never know when you might need one. Hot weather, bad hair day, or pool time, just bring a hairband; you’ll be glad you did.


EXTRA UNDIES

Extra undies are definitely must-haves on your trip. Don’t try to pack so light you end up shorting yourself out of the most important wardrobe essential of all. I like to bring around 3-4 extra pairs, because you just never know how many wardrobe changes you’ll have, showers you’ll have to take, or you might not be able to wash clothes or not want to wash clothes once you get to your destination.

FEMININE PRODUCTS

This is a must have. Your monthly friend isn't always convenient or on time. In fact, it tends to come at the worst times. Be prepared for the worst. Trust me you'll be better safe than sorry. My very first introduction to Aunt Flo happened while I was in JFK airport while heading back to the Caribbean. Needless to say I always have feminine products at hand every where I go.


HEADPHONES

If you love music as much as I do, then you know without it you'd go mad especially when on a long trip. Many airlines now charge for headphones, as if that isn't bad enough the quality of those headphones are horribly low. Don't be suckered into paying for those sub par airline headphones, pack it in your carry on. Heck, pack two just in case.


MINTS OR GUM

Fresh breath? Yes, please! Dump a pack of gum or mints into your everyday bag so you won't be stuck with bad breath all day long.


DEODORANT

No one likes the stench of body odor. Shove a mini deodorant into your bag in case you're in a rush in the morning and forget to apply deodorant or need to freshen up after a few hours at the gym.

STAIN STICK

Stains are inevitable. Be prepared. Enough said.


PACK OF TISSUES

You never know when you’ll get hit with a bloody or runny nose. Although, you don’t need to shove a full sized tissue box into your purse; a travel sized pack will do.


HAND SANITIZER

Hand sanitizers come in so much handy (especially in those winter months when the flu is going around.). I love the Bath and Body Works Pocket Bac ones. They have the most refreshing scents.


HAND LOTION

Similar to hand sanitizers, Bath and Body Works also makes travel sized hand lotions, which are perfect for your bag. Whip one out when you're waiting on a train or sitting in class; it's an easy way to keep your hands hydrated.


EMERGENCY CASH

I always carry emergency cash on me. My mother always insisted that I carry at least $20 with me since I was in high school. Let's face it; things happen. Having some cash on you is key since some business don't accept credit or debit cards. Keeping a few dollars in case you get towed or you need to call a cab. Emergency cash can be used in so many other ways to get you out of sticky situations -- the possibilities are endless.

BAND-AIDS

Stock up on band-aids. You never know when you'll get an unexpected cut.  As a student and accountant I do a lot of  paperwork and end up with small paper cuts all over my fingers. =( The band-aids definitely come in handy.


A GOOD CONDITIONER

Different places have different air qualities and your hair may dry out if you’re in a place with particularly dry air. Down south tends to be hot and humid while cities up north may also dry out your hair, so bring extra conditioner, even if you don’t use it daily. Buy a little 3oz bottle and fill up on your favorite conditioner. It could at least serve as a multipurpose shaving cream if you don’t use it on your hair.


EXTRA MEDICATION AND TOILETRIES

You hope it won’t happen, but in the event that your checked luggage is lost, you certainly won’t want to be left without the essential medications and toiletries that are vital to your own personal health and comfort. For this reason, I never check any medications and always include travel-sized toiletry items in my carry-on bags. You'll appreciate having chap stick, a hair brush, tooth brush and other toiletries handy.


SUNGLASSES, GLASSES, & CONTACTS

When you're tired, looking tired, or tired of squinting in the sun, sunglasses are an essential you wouldn't want to be without. More importantly if you need your daily prescription glasses or reading glasses you'd be pretty upset if you couldn't read or see a thing without your glasses. If your a contacts person instead, don't forget to pack those bad boys along with your contacts solution and case. 


CAMERA

I don't know about you guys but I love food and I love to take pictures of my food. Whenever I travel I always take my camera because I always want to capture those great moments. Whether your heading cross country to see the family or simply going on a much needed mini vacation it's always great to have a camera to capture it all. Tip: Remember to pack not only your camera but your memory chip and batteries as well. 


ELECTRONICS CHARGERS

Whether it's your phone, computer, or tablet remember to pack the appropriate chargers for your electronics. There's nothing worse than being stuck with a dead phone when you need it, especially when you're on a trip.
  

So, ladies, do you have any (if not all) of these essential items in your handbag? Are you a frequent flyer? What are a few of your own favorite airplane travel essentials?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Do It Yourself Drain Cleaner

It happens to all of us. At some point, the kitchen and/or bathroom drain clogs and water backs up. As if that isn't bad enough sometimes the clog is accompanied by a pungent stench. When this happens most of us will do one of two things; call the plumber or reach for store bought lye-based drain cleaners. Most of these cleaners are toxic and can damage not only our pipes but our lungs as well. As a self proclaimed DIY girl and an apartment dweller I decided to look into cleaner ways to fix and prevent this problem from reoccurring. When little troublesome things like this occur I prefer to deal with it myself instead of calling for the maintenance crew to come take care of it. Call me crazy but I'd rather not have a strange guy walking into my apartment with his dirty shoes bending over to reveal the oh so unpleasant sight of a hairy butt crack. Yuck. Anyway, let's get back to the topic at hand; cleaning the clogged drain. Instead of reaching for that bottle of caustic drain cleaner under the sink, keep your water, drains, and lungs clean by choosing this simple, effective, and inexpensive homemade drain cleaner.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups baking soda

  • 4 cups boiling water

  • 1 cup vinegar 

Directions

  • Remove all water from the sink or tub and pour about 1 cup of baking soda down the drain. Make sure that baking soda makes it down the drain.
  • Next, pour about 2 Cups of boiling water down the drain. The baking soda mixed with boiling water dissolves the sludge and gunk in the pipe, even if you don’t see it happening. Wait a few minutes.
  • Now, pour another cup baking soda down the drain then add 1 cup of white vinegar and plug the drain immediately. If you’re unclogging a double sink, plug both drains. You’ll hear sizzling coming up from the drain and see bubbles foaming up.
  • When the bubbles have died down, add the remaining boiling water down the drain.
  • Repeat this process if necessary. This can be used as a monthly treatment helps prevent future clogs too; simply pour a cup of baking soda down the drains followed by boiling water.
If the Drain Remains Clogged:

If the the drain remains clogged after using the homemade cleaner, you will need to use a small plunger for sinks. The baking soda and vinegar loosens the clogging material, freeing the gunk with the plunger’s pressure. Fill the sink with enough water to seal the plunger around the bottom against the sink. Push down fully and pull up quickly. Repeat if necessary.=)

Why It Works?

Baking soda is a base and when combined with vinegar, an acid, reacts to form carbon dioxide and sodium acetate. In drains, it works to create scrubby bubbles on the drain’s insides. These natural, non-toxic ingredients get flushed further down resulting in a clog-free drain. Baking soda and vinegar are common, inexpensive, non-toxic ingredients which poses no health dangers. They are natural ingredients preferable to the sodium hydroxide, commonly known as lye, found in most drain cleaners. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, sodium hydroxide can burn skin. If swallowed, it can cause chest and abdominal pain, and has the potential to lead to death if it severely damages the lungs, tissue, or causes a loss of pulse or shock.Yikes.

Live long and prosper 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Low Carb Parmesan Tilapia

When you're trying to eat clean but still enjoy some lean meat you're choices are sometimes limited to chicken breast and different types of fish. Tilapia is a great choice that's easy to find, inexpensive, and easy to cook. After a while I get tired of cooking things the same ole way so I love to try new recipes that taste great and are easy to make. In this post I'll be sharing two simple but flavorful recipes that I've used and loved. Both recipes are low carb and quick. Here's what you'll need to make a low carb broiled Parmesan Tilapia.  


Ingredients

  • 4 Tilapia Fillets
  • ¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • ⅛ Cup Butter
  • 1½ Tablespoons Mayo
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • A sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning or Black pepper
    Pepper to taste


Directions


Turn broiler onto high and adjust oven rack to the top.

Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil.


In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and old bay seasoning. Mix well and set aside.


Place tilapia fillets on foil lined pan.

Broil for 3 minutes.

Remove from the oven, flip over and divide the parmesan mixture over the uncooked sides of the tilapia.


Return to the oven and broil an additional 3-4 minutes making sure not to over cook the fish.


EXTRA : I love to add a dash of lemon juice whenever I make any type of fish recipe. It adds amazing flavor but it isn't a necessity. Also feel free to use whatever type of seasoning that you prefer.  Tweak the recipe to your preference.  

If you like your Tilapia to be breaded then this extra recipe may be perfect for you. Here's what you'll need to make Breaded Garlic Parmesan Tilapia:

Ingredients:
  • 4 Tilapia fillets (about 1-1/4 lbs)
  • 1 to 1-1/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Coat a shallow baking pan with nonstick spray or use aluminum foil and arrange the fish in a single layer. 

In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt and pepper.

Brush the fish fillets with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, top with the crumb mixture, and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.

Drizzle the lemon juice over the top and bake until the fish flakes easily and is opaque throughout, 7 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately.


What are your favorite ways to prepare Tilapia?

Bon Appetit

Saturday, August 10, 2013

What's In My Gym Bag




There are some essential items to have in your gym bag for you to have a good workout. More importantly, putting certain staples in your gym bag can prevent common mishaps from happening. For example, if you suddenly realize you need to go out after the gym, only to find yourself without a change of clothes. That’s where the fully-stocked gym bag comes in. I am going to show you a few items that I have in my gym bag that keeps me prepared at all times.

                                     

                                                                      WATER BOTTLE
My name is Crystal and I sweat like a dude when I workout. Yep, I'm not ashamed to admit that. As much as some small part of me would like to be like those girls that look flawless before, during, and after a workout I'm not one of them. The fact is that if you workout vigorously enough you too will work up a sweat. That means that you need to rehydrate due to this loss. It is absolutely essential to bring a water bottle (or two, unless you can fill it up at your gym) to the gym. If you don’t, your workouts might suffer and you may pass out from dehydration. This can all be avoided if you simply pack a water bottle.

                                                 
                                                                                FUEL
Depending on the duration of your workout, you are going to need to replenish your glycogen stores afterwards. This means getting in carbs and protein in a 4:1 ratio. To accomplish this, I pack an extra insulated water bottle filled with protein powder and almond milk, a green smoothie, or my favorite coconut water. Some other portable food options I like include bananas , raw nuts, and of course a dollop of peanut butter. I usually prefer to have my coconut water before my workout, and the protein shake after my workout.
                                                    
                                                                      DEODORANT
Like I said before, you are going to be sweating during your workout. You never know where you're going to need to be after a workout, and quite frankly you don’t want to stink when if you go someplace. It’s common courtesy to apply some when you are in a gym with other people, because nobody likes a smelly gym neighbor. So make sure you don’t get caught without it.

                                                     

                                                                 MUSIC & HEADPHONES
If you have a smart phone then I’m sure that you don’t leave the house without it. Just in case you don't I’d advise you to bring your phone for emergency calls. This past spring, I was running when I started to feel ill, causing me to trip and almost pass out. That’s why it's so important to have a phone with you especially if you run outside. You never know when you are going to need to make a call. Your smart phone will also provide music and if you're a person who needs some distraction to motivate you to work out then you know that music is one of the best ways to distract yourself and put yourself in the zone. Oh, and don't forget to keep a pair of headphones in your bag. It's no good to have the music and no headphones to access your 'beast mode' workout playlist.

                                                    

                                                                        ARM BAND
If you're like me then you like to move your arms freely and stretch not only at the beginning of your workout but during as well. Most cardio equipment has a special spot for your keys, water bottle and mp3 player but if you like to move around I've found that my iPhone falls down if I move too far or my fingers gets caught up in the headphones so I love to use my armbands in the gym and as well as when I'm running outside. This is a great way to keep your iPhone/ music player on your body without it getting tangled up or falling and what's great is that when you're doing your weight training you don't have to worry about someone snatching it up if its sitting on the benches, you don't have to keep holding them or shoving it in your pocket. I always buy arm bands that also has a compartment for my keys.
                                   

                                                                         BRUSHES
So you're workout is over, you've washed you're face and it's time to step out into the streets or the parking lot. I always keep a small brush in my bag because I never know who you'll run into or if an emergency may pop up. I almost always carry a brush in my bag because I never know who I may run into. I don't know about you but I wouldn't want to look like I've just fought a long hard battle with hygiene. I wear head bands to keep my hair out of my face and when I take it out of my hair after my workout I use my brush to get rid of any tangles or fly away.

                                                  
                                                                        HAIRBANDS
When the gym heats up, the last thing you’re going to want is hair sticking to the back of your neck. Packing a headband will make your workout more comfortable, thus causing you to work out longer than you would if you weren't comfortable. Even if your gym has air conditioning, it has the possibility of going out, so you need a backup solution.

                                      
                                                           HEAD BANDS/ HAIR TAMERS
Keep annoying wisps of hair away from your face with a sturdy hair band and/or durable hair ties. It’s important to keep multiples of these must-haves in your gym bag, as they are known to snap or break easily (and without warning). Plus, hair ties are sort of like socks, and they end up disappearing into oblivion just when you need them most.

                                                      
                                                                              TOWELS
Nobody appreciates leftover sweat on the treadmill—and even if you’re courteous enough to wipe a machine down after you've maxed out, it’s better to prevent the issue all together. Pack a small towel in your gym bag that you can use to wipe away excess sweat. You can also use it as a yoga mat substitute if you plan on doing crunches, push ups or anything else that requires you to lay down on a dirty gym floor. At my gym they provide cleansing wipes used specifically for wiping the machines down before and after use plus they provide yoga mats so I use my small towel to wipe away the excess sweat off my body. Either way a towel is a definite must have for your gym bag.
                                     
                                                                    SNEAKERS
Of course, you are going to need a nice pair of gym shoes when you are running on the treadmill or using the elliptical. However, there are a few other gym shoes you should consider bringing instead of your traditional shoes. There are shoes designed specifically for spin classes that you might need. Also, flip flops are needed for gym showers if you take them, so you don’t get athlete's foot. YUCK.  I highly recommend Okabashi wave slides for a comfy post-workout foot treat because they feel great and they work well.

                                                           
                                                                       PADLOCK & KEYS
So you're about to get your workout on but you've still got a bag full of goodies like your wallet and any other miscellaneous items. Most of us use lockers but a locker is no good without a lock. I've seen women going from machine to machine with their huge hand bags in tow simply because they didn't have a lock to secure they're valuables in the locker. If you have problems remembering to carry a padlock to secure your valuables perhaps you can attach the lock to a key chain which is connected to your water bottle. Or simply place it in the inner small pocket of your gym bag.
LIP BALM
Yes, you heard that right. Working out in a cool, air-conditioned gym can leave your lips dry. And after toiling hard to sport a great overall physique, you don't want to smile at that hunk/hottie at the gym with your dry, cracked lips, do you? Tip: Don't deck yourself up with thick lipstick/lip gloss; a simple lip balm will do.                                                                                                                                                                       PAIN KILLER
Cramps, headaches and other aches and pains sometimes pop up and threaten to ruin or stop your workout. I almost always carry a small bottle of painkillers in my every day bag and especially in my gym bag. Better to be safe than sorry right. =)
                                   

Depending upon what you go to the gym for, there may be a few things you should keep in your bag at all times. Going to yoga? Have a yoga mat, extra pair of yoga pants or shorts, and possibly some gripping toe socks in your bag at all times. If you lift weights, a pair of lifting gloves will be helpful in preventing calluses and torn skin. There is also gear for swimming if your gym has a pool. You'll need a swimsuit, flip flops, goggles, towel, and a bag for transporting your wet clothes.

Bonus:

Flip Flops: Never, ever, EVER let your bare feet touch a dirty locker room floor. You risk getting plantar warts and encountering bacteria you didn't even know existed. Whether you want to shower after your workout or just change out of your sneakers, keep flip flops in your bag to help your toes stay safe.

Extra Clothes: As far as items to have in your gym bag go, a change of clothes is a must. Even if you think you aren't going out afterwards, you never know if someone will text you to pick up something. I don’t know about you, but I most certainly don't want to smell when I’m out and about. This includes another pair of shorts or pants, sports bra, shirt, and don’t forget socks. It’s also a good idea to bring a jacket with you, especially if you get cold all the time like I do. Jackets are especially nice for keeping your muscles warmed up after yoga class as well.

Disinfectant tissues/Hand sanitizers: Bacteria thrive in sweat, so it's basic gym courtesy to wipe it off during and after using the gym equipment. But most people don't do it. In such cases, disinfectant tissues can come to your rescue. Also, it's not possible for you to wash hands with soap and water frequently during a workout session. A hand-sanitizer will come in very handy then.

The items discussed should be in your gym bag most if not all of the time. They basically provide help for any situation you may need at the gym, and will prevent some embarrassing gym incidents from occurring. What are your gym bag essentials?

Namaste...











Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why Binge Eating Is Bad For You


As a woman with a history of binge eating, I’d like to share some things that happen when you binge eat that you may not be aware of. Things that I myself was not aware of when I binged. When I moved from the Caribbean to Texas for college my hermit like behavior quickly spiraled into anti- social, self inflicted solitude. I drove myself relentlessly to study. My anti-social tendency plus my obsession with getting a perfect GPA left little time or energy for anything else and soon I found myself feeling sad, frustrated, alone, and miserable. I turned to food to heal my pain. I'd sprint across to my nearest 7 eleven and buy myself a bag of happiness aka Nacho Doritos then zoom over to Sonic for a Sonic Blast drink and burger then I'd scurry home to my apartment hoping that my roomie wouldn't see me with my bags of shame; my bags of food. Lucky for me my roommate was a very social girl and was almost always out and about so I was able to hide it for a while. I'd pull an all nighter and shovel my store bought goodies into my mouth. Sadly most of the time I wasn't even hungry but I was alone and sad and food was my only comfort; my only friend. Instead of gaining the freshman 15 I gained the freshman 30. This massive amount of weight gain made me feel even worse. I wouldn't date or go out and every time I looked in the mirror I'd cry then eat some more. As someone who loves the written word and learning new things I began to read several books and studies in order to learn more about binge eating in the hopes that I'd figure out how to escape the vicious cycle. While on my quest to figure it all out I learned some helpful information about what actually happens to the body when we binge eat. I was shocked to learn just how detrimental binge eating can be. In my head I simply assumed that the only true side effect of binge eating was weight gain but boy was I wrong. I now see my body in a whole different light and as such, I try to care for it and nurture it, not silence my emotions with food, or starve it of what it needs in order to lose a few pounds. Here's a list of a few things that happens when you binge eat. I'm willing to bet that you’ll be just as surprised as I was of just how much harm too many episodes of binge eating can cause.

YOUR INSULIN BECOMES OVERACTIVE

Insulin resistance is a key issue that binge eaters deal with. Insulin resistance is basically when the pancreas has to produce more insulin to bring sugar and fats out of our pancreas after they leave the stomach from what we've eaten. Insulin then carries these into our cells for distribution of nutrients. Over time, binging causes us to be insulin resistant, which means that we no longer distribute nutrients efficiently, yet we’re still secreting tons of insulin due to too much sugar and fat. When the body doesn't need more of these, we store extra insulin as fat cells. This leads to weight gain and type 2 diabetes, along with an increase in desire for foods that raise insulin levels again, such as sugary and fatty foods. Our bodies can no longer sense that we have enough insulin when we binge, and continues to secrete more and more that we don’t need.


IT HURTS YOUR TEETH

Most of us aren’t thinking about harming our teeth as one of the things that happen when you binge eat. Chronic sugar consumption through binges can lead to not only cavities, but also the wearing down of the enamel on your teeth. This may not seem like a big deal, but your enamel protects harmful bacteria from reaching your gums which may enter your blood stream and lead to disease. It also protects the body from many toxins that we can encounter through the mouth. Brushing your teeth alone won’t make up for ruining your enamel over time. Purging after a binge only makes matters worse as well because it not only eats off enamel but it also hurts the esophagus. Whatever you do, don’t start a binge and purge cycle. PLEASE DON'T DO IT AND IF YOU ARE PLEASE STOP. You’re so much more precious than living in this vicious cycle and should seek help immediately if you suffer from either issue. If you ever need someone to talk to I'm always here as well.


IT HARMS YOUR DIGESTIVE TRACT

Over time, our digestive tracts get accustomed to a certain intake of nutrients. When we get the right nutrients in the right amounts, our guts flourish and allow nutrients to pass from the gut lining through the blood stream to help give us energy and nourish our organs. When your digestive tract is overloaded with binge foods, it not only becomes overburdened, but loses its efficiency over time. Many people who are chronic binge eaters suffer IBS, constipation, diarrhea, poor absorption of nutrients, leaky gut, and many other digestive disorders as well. It can take years for the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to get back in balance after a history with binge eating. Your gut is vital to your health, so take care of it and eat appropriate portions of healthier foods instead of starving then binging.I realize that once you've fallen into the binge/purge habit that this isn't easy, but your body will thank you in ways you never imagined. A poor functioning gut is no way to live and can create harmful effects that you’re not even aware about, for years to come.

IT INCREASES YOUR HEART RATE

When you take in more calories than your metabolism needs, you may not only feel sick, but may also feel an increase in your heart rate. This happens when the body isn't producing enough insulin to get sugar out of your cells fast enough, or in timing with how much you’re eating. An increase in insulin can lead to an increase in your blood pressure, which increases your heart rate. I can remember this happening to me, and after a binge, my heart felt like it was flying out of my chest I had eaten so much sugar, carbs and fat. Even binging on healthy sugary, fatty foods like granola bars or nut butters can cause this to happen, because the body is over burdened with excess calories and is trying to compensate so it does nothing but exhaust you and makes you sick.
 

IT CAUSES YOUR SATIETY HORMONES TO LOSE FUNCTION

The satiety hormones that tell you when you’re full and when you’re hungry are known as Ghrelin and Leptin. These hormones are important to a healthy metabolism and are even affected by how much sleep you get. If you’re binging, these hormones eventually stop being as effective as they once were. Over time, they are like sensors, which weaken and eventually being to dissipate so you think you’re hungry when you’re not, or you think you need to eat more when you've had plenty.

GIVES YOU A HEADACHE

Too much sugar and fat during a binge will most definitely lead to a headache, trust me I know this from experience. For starters, the digestive tract sends messages throughout the bloodstream that cause contractions in blood flow, which end up causing the headache you’ll have after a binge. These headaches are your body’s way of telling you that it is not happy and you’re harming it in more ways than one. These headaches are similar to headaches you’ll get during a hangover. Yikes


 

YOUR BRAIN STOP PRODUCING SEROTONIN REGULARLY

After you binge so many times, the neurotransmitters in your brain will stop producing serotonin efficiently and you’ll start to turn to food to give you that “high” feeling again. Dopamine is a hormone, just like serotonin is, that increases when we eat. Many of us confused dopamine with serotonin, since both make you feel good. Dopamine, however, is like a drug. It tells the body we need and crave more to be happy and it is the primary hormone raised from drugs, exercise and even eating chocolate. Dopamine makes us almost elatedly happy, which can be addicting. We've all experienced a runners' high or exercise high I'm sure, or we know what it's like to taste a great piece of chocolate and experience that blissful state of mind. This is your body on dopamine and in small amounts it isn't a bad thing. Yet, when our bodies confused it with serotonin, it becomes a problem. Serotonin provides a happy, but more balanced, calm state. When you binge eat, dopamine becomes dominant, and serotonin is usually low. Eating a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients will help balance out your serotonin and dopamine levels that get out of balance after or during a binge.

If you've ever suffered from binge eating, then you can relate to many of these issues. Remember that as bad as these binge eating effects are, they aren't reversible, so long as you stop. Seek help and don’t wait to start your life without binge eating; start today! Get out, take a walk, eat a balanced meal, take a long relaxing bath and tell yourself that you can do this but most importantly remind yourself of how amazing you are! Free yourself from the imprisonment of binge eating and you’ll get a new, healthy and vibrant body that radiates health.

"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds." - Bob Marley

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Favorite Naturally Flavored Detox Drink - Tummy Tamer

Forget buying expensive detox drinks sold at your local super market this drink is refreshing and packed with amazing, simple, detoxifying, and inexpensive ingredients. Your body and bank account will thank you it. Here's what you'll need:
Ingredients
  • 1 handful mint leaves
  • 1 large organic cucumber
  • 1 organic lemon
  • 1 tbsp ginger(use 1/2 tbsp if it's too strong for you)
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 large pitcher (mason jars can be used as well)
Directions
  • Place mint into pitcher or mason jar filled with water 
  • Gently muddle mint leaf. Do not pulverize the leaves simple bruise the leaves so that the flavors will be released
  • Slice cucumber and lemon and add to pitcher or mason jar
  • Stir contents and store in refrigerator overnight or at least for four hours
  • Enjoy
Note: Consume this concoction within 2 days

Benefits:
                                                 Lemon 
  • It is important to maintain a slightly positive alkaline state in order to fight off illnesses. Although acidic to taste, lemons are one of the most alkaline of foods and help to push our bodies to the required pH alkaline state of around 7.4.
  • Detoxification - Fresh lemon juice added to a large glass of water in the morning is a great liver detoxifier and cleanses the kidneys and the digestive system. It helps the body in the removal of toxins and provides you with a great overall detox.
  • Get rid of parasites - Intestinal parasites thrive on an acidic digestive system so by changing the environment to alkaline naturally kills them off. Lemon juice and apple cider vinegar will help to slough off parasites.
  • Canker Sore Remedy - Antibacterial & AntiViral -  The proven antibacterial and antiviral properties of lemons can accelerate the healing process in the case of cankers. Mix the juice of freshly squeezed lemon into a glass of lukewarm water and rinse your mouth with this solution; do this three times a day.
  • Fever- Lemon juice can treat a person who is suffering from cold, flu or fever. It helps to break fever by increasing perspiration. To ease the symptoms of fever and the chills: add the juice of 1 lemon to a cup of hot water with honey and drink every 2 hours until the fever or chill subsides.
  • Cold and flu - Lemons are rich in vitamin C and flavonoids that work against infections like the flu and colds. At the first indication of a cold, try to give your body as much immune-boosting vitamin C as you can so that the virus is eliminated before it gets a chance to take hold. Drink the freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon in a glass of lukewarm water every 2 hours. If you have a sore throat, add the juice of 1 lemon and 1 teaspoon of sea salt to 1 cup lukewarm water. Gargle three times a day for 1 minute. You can swallow the juice when you have finished gargling thereby benefiting from an immune-boosting vitamin C shot.
  • Nausea, vomiting and travel sickness - Take a glass of lemon juice diluted with some water to help with travel sickness and nausea. Or suck on the lemon wedge for a minute or two, or until the nausea subsides. Throw the used lemon away and rinse your mouth out with water. Lemon contains acid that can corrode tooth enamel, so it is very important to rinse with water after sucking on or eating a lemon.
Cucumbers 
  • Reduce the build up of water in the circulatory system, letting you flush out the excess water instead of leaving inside to build up. Cucumbers contain silica which help your build healthy muscle tissue as well as known for helping clear skin that is prone to acne.
  • Keeps you hydrated. If you are too busy to drink enough water, munch on the cool cucumber, which is 96 percent water. It will cheerfully compensate!
  • Flushes out toxins. All that water in cucumber acts as a virtual broom, sweeping waste products out of your system. With regular use, cucumber is known to dissolve kidney stones.
  • Supplies skin-friendly minerals: magnesium, potassium, silicon. That’s why cucumber-based treatments abound in spas.
  • Cuts cancer. Cut down your risk of several cancers by including cucumber in your diet. Several studies show its cancer-fighting potential.
  • Stabilizes blood pressure. Patients of blood pressure, both high and low, often find that eating cucumber brings relief.
  • Keeps kidneys in shape. Cucumber lowers uric acid levels in your system, keeping the kidneys happy.
  • Good for diabetics. Patients of diabetes can enjoy cucumber while also reaping its health benefits: cucumber contains a hormone needed by the cells of the pancreas for producing insulin.
  • Reduces cholesterol. A compound called sterols in cucumber helps reduce bad cholesterol.
Mint 
  • Can help stop stomach aches, reduce headaches and decrease congestion. It also kills any harmful bacteria, keeping your mouth naturally clean.
  • Soothing the digestive tract and if you are having stomach ache then it can be of great help
  • Drinking herbal mint tea reduces irritated bowel syndromes, cleanses the stomach and also clear up skin disorders such as acne.
  • Mint acts as a cooling sensation to the skin and helps in dealing with skin irritations.
  • Mint helps in eliminating toxins from the body.
  • Crushed mint leaves helps in whitening teeth and combat bad breath.
  • Mint is a very good cleanser for the blood.
Ginger 
  • Aids in circulation, helps clear up sinuses and reduce gas symptoms. Ginger is also an anti-inflammatory, which can help in reducing joint pain and aches.
  • Ginger improves the absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients in the body.
  • Ginger clears the ‘microcirculatory channels’ of the body, including the pesky sinuses
  • Ginger helps reduce flatulence. Enough said =)
  • Tummy moaning and groaning under cramps? Munch on ginger or have a sip of ginger tea
  • Reeling under joint pain? Ginger, with its anti-inflammatory properties—can bring relief. Float some ginger essential oil into your bath to help aching muscles and joints.
  • Stir up some ginger tea to get rid of throat and nose congestion. And when there’s a nip in the air, the warming benefits of this tasty tea are even greater.
All these ingredients have many health benefits (only a few listed above), but essentially all help aid in digestion. This is why I refer to it as my tummy taming water. Drinking this water will not cause you to retain water aka bloating. It will cleanse your body and leave you feeling refreshed.

Live, Long, and Prosper