Hiking Snacks

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I got back from a trip to Seattle a few weeks ago, and thought that I would share some snacks that I brought with me to eat while I was hiking in Mount Rainier National Park.

The Bhu Fit bars are a line of organic, gluten free, bars that have almost no sugar. These bars also contain prebiotic fiber (up to 10g), but not enough to cause any GI discomfort.  They are high in fat, and use coconut oil so they do include saturated fat.  They also have have moderate amounts of protein (12-14g).  An activity like hiking requires energy preferably in the form of a combination of protein and fat high in medium chain triglycerides to fuel your muscles, so these bars fit the bill.  They have a few different lines: whey protein, egg protein, and pea protein.  I of course only consume the plant based ones, and the Chocolate Chip Fudge Brownie and Apple Cinnamon Nutmeg varieties are my favorite by far.

The PaleoKrunch Granola Bars are a very complementary snack to the Bhu Fit Bars for physical activity as they are high in complex carbs, but still relatively low in sugar. I ate these on my way down the mountain to help refuel after my hike.  Although not organic, they are grain and GMO free. The packaging is a bit bulky, so not great for throwing in your pocket, but easy to carry in a backpack.  They only contain a handful of ingredients that sound like you could throw it together yourself, but somehow I can’t imagine it would go well for me if I tried. They do contain honey so they are not vegan friendly.  I enjoy the Pumpkin and Tropical Varieties as they are the lowest in sugar (6-7g) and have great flavor.

Here are some pics from the trip:

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Christmas Gift Guide 2015

Christmas Gift Guide

     It’s that time of year again, and I decided to make a Christmas Gift Guide as I have found them to very helpful.  I included a few items that are suitable for both genders and encompass a variety of budgets.

     The first should come as no surprise due to my exuberant love of Zoya! I just love the idea of receiving one of these beautifully curated holiday boxed trios.  Not only is Zoya non-toxic, but it also wears better than any I have ever tried before. With the EWG announcing that yet another nail polish ingredient has been linked to endocrine disruption, Zoya remains a great option as it does not include TPHP. The set sells for $25 which is a wonderful deal for full sized nail polishes.

     The second item is my all time favorite toner, the Devita’s Moroccan Rose Facial Toner. Now, toner may seem to be an odd gift, but for someone with whom you are very close with and has a love for luxurious skincare products, it may be just the perfect gift. It comes beautifully packaged in a box and glass bottle, which makes the price of nearly $23 totally worth it.

     My husband bought me this 5mm Manduka LiveON Matt for my birthday this year and I truly adore it. It is made from 100% recyclable material, and when you are done with it can send it back to be recycled. It retails for $58 but the 3mm one is on sale for only $36!

     The Foreo Luna Mini is my go to skin cleansing devise. I literally threw out my Clarasonic when I received this as a gift from my husband for Christmas last year.  I have only charged it 2 times since I first opened it 11 months ago. You never need any replacement heads, so even with the high price of $139, it is very economical. They have larger more skin type tailored version for $199.

     Another perfect gift for a dear friend with a skincare fetish is Worker B’s Honey Wash.  I originally resisted purchasing this because I thought that because the main ingredients are raw honey and kukui nut oil which I already have, I could just make it myself. And I tried, but when I received a free sample there was no comparison.  It retails for $36.

     Lastly, the GRID Foam Roller is actually not something I can personally recommend as I find it too hard, large, and difficult to use. So why is it on this list?! Because my husband loves it.  Literally every single night this bad boy comes out and my husband is able to get a deep massage that I am not strong enough to do. So if you have a man in your life who likes deep massages, for $65, you might just be able to hit the spot.

Skinny Fat

visceral fat

     I think that most people have heard of fat skinny by now.  But is everyone familiar with what that means?  It refers to people who are thin and perhaps “in shape” but have a lot of visceral fat (internal), which happens to be far more unhealthy than subcutaneous fat (right under the surface of the skin).  Visceral fat is linked to all kinds of health problems from metabolic disease, cardio vascular disease, premature death, etc.  It has more recently been associate with hormonal problems.

     Visceral fat is very interesting in that we need it to survive.  As a matter of fact, if a woman has too little of it she will become infertile (also possible with too much).  It is needed to protect our organs as well.  Men have lower levels than women do and thus there are different goals to aim for percentage wise.  Back to its health implications however, I was reading than some professionals, very controversially, think that it could be considered an organ!  It is a necessary part of the body and more recently has been seen to have functions including storage and release of certain hormones.  Lipid soluble vitamins are also stored in the fat.

     So now you know how important it is, and also how important it is to keep it in a healthy range.  I underwent body fat analysis twice this summer through an electrical measurement which releases a small electrical current into your body and can tell how much fat you have by the speed at which it travels through you.  This method is highly criticized as you can get different readings at different times of the day depending on hydration levels, etc.  It does however actually attempt to measure visceral fat directly which the skin fold measure cannot do.

     It is not nearly as valid of a measure as other devised methods, however they require special equipment and facilities and are not feasible for most of us.  Anyhow, my body fat percentage was through the roof! As a matter of fact it said I was obese!  How could I, 115lb 5’3″ be obese? I practice yoga and run multiple times a week, I have a better diet than anyone else I know how could this be!?  Well it can be and it was. I started watching how much I was eating (because too much of a good thing can be a bad thing) and a month later my percentage had dropped a few points.  Granted I still have a few pounds more of muscle to gain and fat to loose before I get in my target zone <25% but I am getting there.

     I just wanted to write this to share with you the dangers and benefits of body fat and how one can be deceivingly unhealthy beneath their layers of muscle and size 2 pants.  On a side note, I just wanted to say please don’t fret about numbers such as BMI or lbs.  Body fat percentage is more important.  If someone is highly muscular or has large healthy bones that will increase your BMI and lbs.   Below you will find a handy chart from the American Council on Exercise, and here is a link from Harvard for you to read more about the subject.

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Self Massage

self massage     Self massage can be a great asset to many types of individuals.  I started performing self massage on myself nearly a year ago.  At first I performed it quite regularly and now only as needed.  It can be beneficial for a variety of reasons.  The reason why I originally began it was for reproductive health, however it is also excellent for digestive health as well.

     By massaging your abdomen you increase blood circulation in the organs beneath.  There are different resources online for helping someone perform massage on themselves.  I usually just lay on my back and massage in circular motion all around the abdomen, focusing on the areas that contain the uterus and ovaries.

I also perform a femoral artery massage, which basically backs up blood from the femoral artery into the abdominal cavity organs including the uterus and ovaries.  I have successfully used both of these methods to improve menstrual health and normalize the length of the menstrual cycle.

     There are certain guidelines that should be followed, including do not massage if you may be pregnant because it could induce a miscarriage, or during menstruation as it will increase blood flow.  A good schedule to start with is the day after ovulation until menstruation begins if pregnancy is not possible.  Also check with your Doctor before beginning this if you have any cystic disorders as you do not want to cause anything to rupture.

     Femoral and abdominal massage may also be useful for digestive health, as you can also increase blood flow to the digestive organs.  Thus this practice is helpful for both men and women.  When focusing on digestion, you typically work on the same areas because they also contain the lower digestive tract, however in addition also include the upper quadrants to include the stomach,  liver, pancreas, and gallbladder.

     Many resources can be found online to guide you in performing self abdominal massage.  To perform femoral artery massage I found this youtube video to be quite helpful.  If you have any questions or comments on the topic please leave them below.  I highly suggest giving it a try for a few weeks and seeing if you notice any difference. 

 

 

Yoga

yoga     Yoga is something I have recently begun practicing over the past few months.  And by practicing I mean a free class once a week, and then on my own during the week.  I took a beginners yoga class about 3 years ago in college and thoroughly enjoyed it, but was never able to take it again after because it can be expensive.  Finding free classes has been a real life changer.  If you are looking for free classes I have three places that I know of that you may be able to find near you as well.  The first is Lululemon which offers a free yoga class once a week.  Next I utilize Athleta which posts various classes on their online schedule and most of the time yoga is available.  Lastly, and even more unlikely resource is the Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance office which offers a variety of exercise classes and yoga is a frequent one.

     So far I have noticed in a short time I have made quite a bit of progress in a few areas thanks to yoga.  I was previously jogging a few times a week (which I still also do) however I did not notice any of these changes until after I begun practicing yoga.  The two most obvious changes are in muscular development and flexibility.  These both surprised me because I took Tae Kwon Do as a young adult and worked very hard to build muscle and flexibility but was never able to achieve so much in so little time and with only 1 real class a week!  I also thought that my running I was building core muscle but let me tell you yoga will show you how much muscle you have yet to develop, the same goes for flexibility.

     Besides the physical changes I have seen, I have also noticed mental changes too.  I crave yoga.  I know that Saturday mornings are my therapy.  There is something so beautiful about practicing and ancient body art that is quite therapeutic.  The breathing exercises, listening to your body, quiet time and meditation if you are so inclined are wonderful for calming your mind, and bringing your life back into focus.  Also seeing yourself progress physically brings its own sense of accomplishment that none can rival.  There are also many scholarly research sources that demonstrate the benefits of yoga.

     It is shown to be good for anxiety and depression and also for improving the digestion system.  Although I could not find any scholarly articles stating its usefulness for balancing womens hormones, it is traditionally used for this.  In the same way that yoga stimulates the digestive system it is also thought to stimulate the reproductive system as well and encourage core tone, increased blood flow to the reproductive organs, and just the other day I was in quite a rather odd pose and the instructor mentioned that it was supposed to stimulate the thyroid gland.  Overall I highly recommend yoga for men and women of all ages.  Perhaps I will post a photo of myself in the weeks/months to come as I work on perfecting my inversions!  Have any of you anything to share about your experience with yoga?