Wednesday, August 28, 2013

12 Weeks of Wellness: Stretch

The third week of wellness is upon us and this week we'll be focusing on stretching, moving, activity. Of course you'll want to keep up with the good habits you've been developing so don't forget to continue hydrating and getting enough rest.

Exercise is important to a healthy lifestyle for many reasons, regardless of your age, sex, or physical ability.

Mayo Clinic
To accomplish this week's wellness goal you'll need to try a new form of exercise. A few ideas include: yoga, walking during your breaks at work or school, running, lifting weights, swimming, etc. The idea is to try something you maybe have been wanting to try but haven't for whatever reason.

You can check out my Fitness Page for a few ideas if you are unsure about where to start.

This week stretch: try a new form of exercise

Click the week for more information on why these are important to your wellness

Monday, August 26, 2013

Paper or Plastic?

The other day I watched a white plastic bag lazily float through the air as I was waiting at a stop light. It has an odd sort of beauty in the grace with which it moves. The wind catches in little pockets and it inflates, then as the wind shifts it flattens and picks up speed. Bits of it get caught on fence posts, branches and car antennae causing it to cartwheel as it makes its way to whatever destination it is fated to reach. Then I snapped out of my reverie and realized what a terrible crime this bag represents.

It's a mystery to me why people continue to choose plastic bags at the store when they accumulate at home faster than second uses can be developed for them. Not to mention their tendency to blow away, as mentioned, creating litter, or the fact that they hold relatively few items for their size. Whatever the reason, they continue to be used by the general public.

Did you know that according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), close to a trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each years? The United States alone used about one hundred billion of those, which comes out to almost one thousand plastic bags per U.S. household per year. If one household cuts out plastic bags, this could actually make a noticeable dent.

It takes twelve million barrels of oil to produce the plastic bags the U.S. alone uses each years and fewer than 3 percent are recycled. This means they wind up in landfills where they can take hundreds of years to decompose. Or they end up in rivers and oceans where they choke and poison about one hundred thousand whales, birds, and other aquatic life each year, or act as rafts carrying foreign species to new ecosystems.

Going Green - Plastic Island in the Pacific

I once thought paper bags were more environmentally-friendly-ish because they are biodegradable. Nope. Making ten billion paper bags (about the number of grocery bags United Statesians use in a year) requires fourteen million trees to be cut down because they require virgin fibers to hold up to heavy groceries. On top of that, pulp and paper mills are among the worst polluters of air, water and land of any manufacturing industry.

There is a hidden option, it's like the elusive third door that no one tells you about but really has the best prizes if you just take a wild stab and guess it. Reusable cloth bags! By far the best solution to the bag crisis in the US.

Sophie World
The tough part is remembering to bring them with you. Practice makes perfect so keep trying. Here are some techniques you might want to try:
  • Doorknob - Attach at least one, if not more than one, reusable shopping bag to the doorknob you most often leave through. You have to literally touch them in order to get out of the house.
  • Car - Designate a box in your car to store a few reusable bags. Now you only have to remember to get them into the store.
  • Purse - There are many options of reusable bags which are small enough to stick in your purse or pocket. There's no excuse for not using it if you've been carrying it around with you.
  • Make a note - Stick a note anywhere you're likely to see it --on the mirror, on your dashboard, on your forehead-- to remind yourself.
  • All of the above - If you're like me then you've probably accumulated dozens of reusable bags at festivals, fairs and events. I keep my bags anywhere and everywhere.

As an added incentive many places across the US either give to a discount for using your own bags or expect you to pay for the store's plastic or paper bags you use. So if being a Earth-saving superhero isn't enough, maybe money will convince you.

How do you remember your reusable bags when shopping?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

12 Weeks of Wellness: Rest

As we continue on our 12 week program toward physical wellness keep up your good hydration habits but add this next weeks focus to your routine. Today we're talking about rest and why it's important.

Here is an infographic I created with the same information found on the previous "Sleep is Awesome!" infographic. Enjoy your new-found learning about sleep and why it's important!

This week rest: wind down early and stick to a regular sleep schedule this week.

Click the week for more information on why these are important to your wellness

Monday, August 19, 2013

Greening Your Home Part 3: Cleaning Supplies

 An unquestionable certainty of life, much like death and taxes, is that your home will always need cleaning. I can't tell you how many times I've thought to myself, "But I've just cleaned this!" And like so many other things that we use without really thinking conventional cleaners are not very good for the environment. They release volatile organic compounds and other toxic chemical's which remain on surfaces in your home and evaporate into the air.

Read: Part 1 (Big Purchases) and Part 2 (Decorating)

Did you know that the air inside your home, if you use conventional cleaners, is two to five times more polluted than the air outside your home? What's more is that these chemicals are seeping out of our homes -- not that we really wanted to keep them inside -- and polluting ground water and air. Additionally, these chemicals are related to 10% of the toxic exposures, through contact or ingestion, reported to US poison control centers.

If every household in America replaced one bottle of conventional cleaner with an ecofriendly product, that would prevent 11 million pounds of VOCs from entering the environment.

Pinterest is always a great source for homemade cleaners, using various combinations of lemon juice, vinegar, borax etc. for specific household chores (if you do make your own products, NEVER mix with conventional cleaners as this can have fatal results, and be sure to label any leftovers). But if you're an all-purpose cleaner gal like I am, good news: the market for household cleaners that are both effective and earth-friendly is booming!

A few brand of cleaners to check out:

  • Method
  • Seventh Generation
  • Planet
  • Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day
  • is a great place to look for paper products, cleaners, and detergents as well as everything from vacuums to armiores

Use cleaning products that:

  • list their ingredients
  • contain no chlorine, anything that starts with chlor, or ammonia (hydrogine peroxide can be used in lieu of bleach)
  • are certified biodegradable and free of synthetic chemicals
  • come in recyclable packaging
  • for soaps and detergents - no phosphates or anything derived from petroleum
How are you planning to change your cleaning habits for a healthier body and Earth? 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

12 Weeks of Wellness: Hydrate

On Workout Wednesday I usually produce or re-produce a printable workout. But this week, and for the next eleven weeks I'd like to also focus on wellness: Wellness Wednesday. Because that's more important than fitness. So to be come simply well I believe the first step is hydration. Water is a source of life for every species on this planet. Without this miracle molecule none of this beautiful blue planet would exist as it is (there would probably be robot llamas and volcanic acid would be the life juice, in fact according to the theory of infinite universes this probably exists).

Anyway, did you know that water makes up over half of your body weight? Your body uses water in many ways. Water cushions and lubricates joints; nourishes and protects the brain, spinal cord and other tissues; helps regulate the body's temperature; and helps remove waste through perspiration, bowel movements and urination. 

There can be serious problems if you over-hydrate, which is called hyponatremia, or under-hydrate, which leads to dehydration. So check you pee: clear = drink less, dark = drink more.

Additionally, it is not completely true that water is your only source for hydration. Tea, coffee, fruit and vegetable juices, and even sports drinks and sodas can contribute to your daily water needs. However, these substances also add calories and sugars to your systems, which is an added consideration.

Tips for staying hydrated

  • Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. Consider carrying a reusable water bottle and filling it from the tap rather than purchasing bottled water, which is expensive and creates plastic bottle waste.
  • If plain water doesn’t interest you, try adding fruit such as lemon, lime, watermelon, orange or cucumber to your drink.
  • If you’re going to be exercising, make sure you drink water before, during and after your workout.
  • Start and end your day with a glass of water.
  • When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. The sensation of thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water. Drinking water may also contribute to a healthy weight loss plan, as some research suggests drinking water will help you feel full.
  • Drink on a schedule if you have trouble remembering to drink water. For example, drink water when you wake up; at breakfast, lunch and dinner; and when you go to bed. Or drink a small glass of water at the top of each hour.

This week hydrate: sip smart and drink more water! 

Click the week for more information on each of these topics that are important to your wellness.