A Very Merry Microbiome

This post is really just as much about educating anyone who’s interested in their microbiome as it is a reminder to me to pay attention to mine. Around finals, deadlines, in addition to the holidays coming up, I know I tend to let simple things like keeping up with my microbiome slide, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

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What Is a Microbiome?

To get this started, I need to break down this sort of medical-world-buzz-word: microbiome. Specifically, a microbiome refers to a tiny ecosystem, consisting of microscopic organisms like bacteria.

In most of the ways you hear it used nowadays, a humans microbiome is the population of good and bad bacteria that live in our gastrointestinal tracts.

The coolest thing about microbiomes is that they are crazy different in every single person on the planet. Just like your fingerprints, your microbiome is unique to you, which is why it’s important to be aware if it and take care of it.

And when I say taking care of it, I mean things like acknowledging when you feel like there’s a problem and addressing it, as well as always taking preventative measures to ensure that you’re avoiding as many microbiome related problems that you can.

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How Do I Manage My Microbiome?

Managing your microbiome, for the most part, means incorporating probiotics into your diet as much as you can. It also means avoiding or limiting things that can deter your microbiome from flourishing.

Things like frequent antibiotic use can be really harmful to your microbiome, because while antibiotics target the bad bacteria that make you sick, they also target your good bacteria in your gut. Drinking alcohol very often or in large quantities can be bad for your gut too.

Things like not getting enough exercise or sleep can be bad for your overall health, and so of course these two things can also be bad for your microbiome health.

As far as making sure your microbiome is merry, I recommend either taking supplemental probiotics (Douglas Labs makes a good one!), taking probiotics shots (GoodBelly is a neat one to check out), or incorporating Greek yogurt into your diet on a daily basis (this one is my favorite, mostly because Chobani yogurt is absolutely delicious).

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What Can Microbiome Awareness Help Me With?

Your microbiome actually plays a super key role in the way that your body digests food and uptakes nutrients. And, let’s be honest, we all love eating. So if you’re going to love eating, you’ve got to love your microbiome too.

The composition of your microbiome can impact a wide variety of health components in your body. Things like acne are related to the state of your microbiome. Ties have been seen to your microbiome composition relative to the types of food you eat and colorectal cancers. There are many more examples, but basically your microbiome is very important for keeping you from getting sick.

It also is a huge part of the reason we can digest our food. Our microbiomes are full of bacteria that do jobs that our body doesn’t know how to, like breaking down fibers that our bodies can’t and using those as energy. They also make a variety of vitamins and minerals that our bodies require to function, but again, cannot produce on their own.

Holiday Reminders: Acceptance and Making Time for YOU

Around this time of year, most people are lucky enough to find themselves surrounded by family and friends and lots of people they care about, and maybe even some people they haven’t seen in a while.

It’s a very merry time of year. And while seeing friends and family after a long year (or a long first semester for my fellow students!) can be magical, it can also be exhausting. And, depending on the personalities that are present for your family gatherings, it can be taxing in a way not a lot of other social events can be.

So, with all this in mind and getting ready for a another slew of holidays post-Thanksgiving and all the wonderful gatherings that come with, this is a reminder about accepting others and making time for yourself this holiday season.

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Acceptance is Key

For starters, in order to keep yourself happy (and in some cases, sane) during this crazy time of year, it’s important to accept the people around you for who they are.

I know I see my nuclear family (including both of my strong-willed sisters) as well as my extended family after a while of not seeing any of them right around now. It’s good to know what topics are best to discuss around, say, your entire extended family, and what topics to avoid. Keeping things on the lighter side tend to be my go-to, and this mostly includes asking people questions about themselves. No one ever has qualms talking about themselves!

Additionally, it’s good to try and provide support for the people around you as they navigate a big time of year surrounded by lots of people. My sisters, for example, could be fighting all day but you take them out for Cold Stone Ice Cream, they’re usually back to being friends again.

It’s also good to know how to get yourself back into a happy mental state at big family gatherings. One of my close friends uses cow puns to relax herself as she’s surrounded by her boyfriends family.

Accept other people and accept yourself, and remember that you’re all going through the holidays together on purpose. You’ve come together to celebrate one another and very special time of year, not to fight and get impatient with one another.

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Making Time for You

Of course, we all also know that sometimes you’ve simply had enough of all the holiday stuff. You just need a minute (or maybe an hour or two) to yourself, to re-group and come back to celebrating more yourself and better than ever.

And as much as it may feel selfish to take this time for yourself when there are family and friends all around you, believe me, it isn’t. Taking time for you is just as much about making you feel better as it is about improving your outlook so that you can treat others better.

If you need a relatively quick or easy or inexpensive way to make time for yourself, I recommend LUSH bath bombs as a way to unwind, or even enjoying your favorite type of tea or coffee (Starbucks Espresso Roast never fails to wake me up a little and boost my mood!) by yourself, just to enjoy some quiet!

No matter how you choose to get through this holiday season, try to remember that it’s about celebration. Let your expectations of yourself, situations, and other people fall away and this holiday season will be nothing short of merry and bright.

Peppermint to Keep You Positively Peppy!

Tis’ the season for lots of festive flavors, and one of my personal favorites is peppermint. Peppermint has a way of waking you and up and calming you down all at once, unlike any other flavor I can think of.

It’s effects are made stronger listening to Michael Buble’s Christmas album, or at least I think so (no science to back this one, just my honest and true opinion).

Anyway! What IS backed by science is how wonderful peppermint is for you at any time of the year.

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Energy Boosting

Peppermint gum is my key to staying awake in early-morning classes. The minute I run out of coffee, I pop a stick of gum to keep my breath fresh and my brain awake through the rest of an 8am lecture. I always thought that my little gum routine in the morning just kept me awake because it gave me something to do other than sit and try not to nod-off.

Turns out, peppermint has been studied for this amazing power to keep you mind and body alert, and it does this by opening up your lungs and helping your body take in more oxygen. Taking in more oxygen means there is more available to your muscles, and this increased circulation helps keep you awake.

This was all discovered from a study done in athletes, and consequently I also advise using peppermint as a little pre-workout energy boost in the mornings or evenings if you tend to experience a little drag before your workouts, but you want to avoid caffeine or sugar rushes.

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Digestion-Aiding

Peppermint is also fabulous at helping your digestive system do it’s job, for pretty similar reasons that it’s so good at keep you awake!

Just like it relaxes the muscles around your lungs so you can breathe better, it relaxes the muscles in your digestive tract. This keeps the muscles from contracting suddenly, which can result in seemly-random abdominal pain.

Many people who use peppermint for digestive help consume it in the form of peppermint tea, which is delicious AND a wonderful substitute for more sugar-packed peppermint holiday drinks.

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Weight-Loosing

Along the same lines, peppermint can help reduce bloating and actually help with weight-loss!

This makes sense, since peppermint helps your body digest your food more efficiently. But even more than that, peppermint is a natural appetite-suppressant, so it helps keep you from over-eating when your body doesn’t need the extra calories.

It can also help alleviate gas-buildup along your digestive tract which leads to bloating, as well as relieve constipation.

Peppermint has also been found to help you sleep better, which helps you make better food choices when you are awake and keeps you from over-eating throughout the day in an attempt to keep yourself awake.

The craziest part of this (to me, at least) is that you don’t even have to ingest peppermint for this to work for you! Simply diffusing peppermint essential oils in your home, or even taking peppermint oil capsules (especially if you don’t like the flavor of mint) can help you reap the benefits of peppermint as an addition to your weight-loss regiment.

Your Health and the Holidays

Something I’ve noticed since starting graduate school is that I’ve gotten to know more people who are very conscientious about taking care of their bodies.

This has been totally wonderful, because many of my friends in undergrad were notorious for bad eating habits, binge eating and drinking, and then trying to fix all the issues they’ve created by pushing too hard at the gym inconsistently or starving themselves for a few days.

However, the way people are aware of their bodies is completely different depending on their upbringing and their relationship with food. This has become more and more apparent as we’ve gotten closer to the holiday season.

There are more people I know than I first realized who do things like count calories, limit their carbs, or avoid sweets. And while these are fine habits and ones that I myself am guilty of, they should not stop you from enjoying the holidays. Here are some ways to get yourself into a mindset that will let you enjoy your holiday meals without any guilt bringing you down!

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Carbs Make You Happy- I’m Serious

I hope everyone reading this has heard this before- carbs make people happy. And if you haven’t, I’m here to tell you it’s absolutely true and backed by science!

You know that feeling you get after you’ve been hungry for a little while and then you finally get to eat something, and it’s like that thing is the single greatest thing you’ve tasted? That reaction gets triggered due to serotonin receptors in your brain activating, this is the signal that lets our brains know we’re happy. Carbs make that happen for you all the time, so even if you’re not starving, carbs tend to taste like the best thing you’ve ever tasted!

Carbs also tend to make people feel bloated or tired, so I totally understand avoiding them. Especially for people who have serious reactions to high numbers of carbs, it’s good to eat them in moderation or to avoid them completely. But if you’re someone who loves a goof slice of bread with butter, or cake, or lots and lots of pasta, don’t let a fear of carbs stop you from enjoying this holiday season.

Plus, if you’re already thinking about your carb intake, you’re probably watching it in your day-to-day life anyway. One time a year of letting yourself just enjoy your food won’t kill your overall plan for yourself and your eating habits.

Lastly, I have to say, I know I have a lot of family to deal with around the holidays. I love them, but I DO mean that I have to deal with them. And if carbs will bring your mood up the way they bring up mine, and you’ve maybe got some family to deal with this holiday season, carbs might just be your way through!

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Have a Slice of Pie- For Sure- But Maybe Not Six Slices…

This is the greatest time of year for desserts. There’s cookies and cakes and pies and I seriously want to eat all of it.

And the best part is: I can. You can. You can eat all of it.

But maybe not all at once, and maybe just a half a cookie and half a slice of pie is good for an evening.

Portion control is so important and many people neglect to think about it. It’s not just about what you eat, it’s about how you eat, and this includes how much.

Being aware of how much of things you’re eating will allow you to better enjoy all the delicious flavors of the season without having to worry about the amount of food you’ve eaten. Calories don’t have to be your enemy either. If you’re eating high-calorie foods but in smaller portions, you’re not doing you body any type of dis-service.

I’m a big encourager of desserts and treats and foods with big flavors. Just smaller portions.

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Think About Your Food- Don’t Be Critical, Just Embrace It!

Finally, I want to remind everyone that the holidays are a time of celebrating. You get to celebrate your friends, family, and yourself. So it’s also important to embrace this time of year and everything it means, and don’t let yourself get too caught up in thinking about what you’re eating or how long it’ll take you to “work it off”.

If you’re focused on what you’re eating and how good it is and how much you’re enjoying it, it will always be worth it. You will feel good at the end of holiday meals rather than guilty.

Be in the moment enough to embrace the people around you, the food you’re eating, and the moments you’re sharing. Remember to laugh and love and be as absolutely merry as you can be!

Pretty and Plants

It’s no secret that I love plants. Houseplants, garden plants, exotic plants, you name it, I’m probably interested. 

Plants are very easy to love, in my opinion. They are easy to take care of; they are relatively low maintenance, and they are very good for you in more than one way.

Before I get into the literal health and beauty benefits plants have to offer, I have to say that they are also wonderful for mood boosting. I have a handful (or, like, 30) plants in my room and while some people have compared it to a jungle (and I honestly can’t blame them), but I’ve also been told it’s a very calming space. And there’s not a whole lot more to my room other than my plants. I attribute most of my good-room-vibes to them; so if you’re looking for ways to just make yourself happier in your space, consider getting a plant or two.

Okay my little plant-mom advice is over! Back to health and beauty, here are some ways for plants to help you stay happy, healthy, and completely flawless!

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Glowing Skin Via Plants

So, to start, plants can actually help keep your skin happy and bouncy and completely hydrated. They can do this because they produce chlorophyll, the compound that allows them to make food via photosynthesis, AND the compound that makes so many plants green.

Chlorophyll has been found to work wonders on skin, both when ingested through Chlorophyll Water and used topically through a variety of creams and serums that contain chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll is deeply hydrating, which is why chlorophyll water is such a big hit generally AND in the beauty community.

It also reduces free radical damage, and it works to help rebuild collagen that keeps skin looking fresh, tight and radiant, and a topical application still gives you all the benefits of ingesting it if the flavor or the color just isn’t your thing!

And if you’re not into the artificial feel of buying a substance plants already produce naturally, the old-school option is breaking a leaf off of a houseplant you take care of (so you know there’s no funky insecticides or fungicides on the surface of the leaves) and rubbing some of the “leaf juice” on your face. The liquid that comes out of the leaf is likely to simply contain water, glucose, and chlorophyll, and does the job of exposing your cells to chlorophyll just fine!

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Stunning Hair Via Plants

Plants can also work wonders for your scalp and overall hair health. This, again is due to their awesome topical hydrating powers!

One particularly good plant for your hair health is aloe vera, which is efficient because not only is this plant very easy to take care of, it can even grow in your bathroom, making it super easy to apply just before you hop in the shower.

I think the most fun and clean way to apply aloe vera to your hair is by making a homemade mask out of it and a couple other things like coconut oil and lavender essential oil. You can use any essential oil, and by the end of the treatment you will have plant-based silky smooth, fragrant hair! 

Naturally Nice Nails

Last weekend, a friend from my program and I decided we wanted to treat ourselves and get our nails done. I was so excited, getting my nails done is one of those things that instantly relaxes me because it doesn’t allow me to check my phone, answer emails, or be anywhere else except present.

Sadly, the place we went to (which had a lot of good reviews!) wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be online. A lot of my cuticle beds wound up hurting and bleeding because of how harsh the manicure was, in addition to throwing alcohol and nail polish on a fresh wound. It wasn’t quite the experience I was hoping for, so I’m excited to get back to a normal nail-care routine for week!

It’s super easy to take care of your nails at home and feel like an absolute queen (and believe me, what I’m recommending won’t lead to painful cuticles!). Here are a few things that I’ve found work for keeping your nails looking neat, tidy, and super strong!

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Natural Nails

I have a lot of friends who say they’re “not into nails”, and I totally get that! Some people hate the smell of nail polish or nail polish remover, or just the way it’s cold on your fingertips when you use it, or how bright so many available colors are.

I totally respect that! And actually, most would argue it’s better for your nails to be left nice and natural looking by avoiding harsh chemicals in nail polish.

To keep them looking neat, it’s good to trim them once a week-ish. This varies a lot from person to person, but definitely keeping them in check and clear of dirt is a must.

You can also buff your nails to make them look shiny rather than using harsh polishes. This still achieves a glamorous look without all the crazy colors you see on display at drugstores.

It’s also important to take care of your cuticles. This can be done by taking a little time once every two weeks or so and soaking them in warm water, and maybe applying a little cuticle oil to them to keep them soft and clean. If you want a fabulously scented cuticle oil, I would recommend Flowery!

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Repairing Damage

If you’ve been through a few rounds of gel or dip treatments and you’re wanting to get back to natural nails, there are lots of ways to care for your nails as they get back to a healthy equilibrium!

Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of ways to keep your nails looking and feeling healthy throughout any kind of treatment (dip, gel, acrylic, stick-ons, you name it!), but I know my friends who have gone to the salon to get these done for so long end up feeling self-conscious when their nails aren’t done for fear of them being unhealthy! I’m hoping to get rid of those concerns here.

I cannot stress enough using cuticle oils and creams again here. It’s super important that your cuticles be strong to keep your nails strong, so this is step one for making sure your natural nails are killin’ the game! For a really soothing cream , try Kiehl’s cuticle cream.

It also can help to soak your nails in an olive oil bath for about ten minutes everyday. This helps your nails naturally rebuild themselves while inexpensively moisturizing your hands, it’s a win-win really!

Lastly, using supplements to strengthen your nails from the inside-out can be a huge help. Taking biotin or keratin supplements are two really good ways to help your nails come back strong and hard rather than flaky and soft.

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Natural Beauty

If you’re anything like me, I always like having my nails painted. It makes me feel like I’m put together and I’ve got things around me under control!

Based on this fact, it’s important to pay attention to the nail polish you’re using to protect your nails, especially if they are always painted. I like to pay close attention to the brand of nail polish I use so that I know there’s not too many harsh chemicals in it (Zoya does a fantastic job of letting you know exactly what you’re putting on your nails!), but also how long the polish lasts as I go about my week.

While it seems like a vain ting to care about how long your nail polish will hold up, it matters because the longer it lasts, the less you expose your nails to polish remover. Polish remover tends to be the harsher thing for your nails and skin relative to polish. So paying attention to how long your nail polish looks fabulous can help you maintain healthy nails with less overall effort!

Kombucha: Things to Know

Kombucha is something I go through frequent phases with. I’ll be totally in love with it for a few weeks, and then I’ll stop drinking it for a couple months, and the cycle continues. It has one of those weird I-can’t-tell-if-I-love-it-or-hate-it tastes, at least in my opinion. And I think that in-between feeling comes from the fact that the flavor I would describe kombucha having is: healthy.

No joke, this drink tastes like health to me. It’s a little sweet and a little earthy, definitely something to try if you never have before an my description has intrigued you even a little!

And some of my friends love and swear by it, and other people can’t stand it.

It’s a very polarized drink, I’d say.

A lot of people don’t really understand what it is, though, and it’s hard to pick a side on a topic that you don’t know a lot about. So if you’re curious at all about kombucha, here are the things to know about this amazing and weird beverage.

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What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is essentially fermented tea. The basic ingredients for kombucha include water, sugar, yeast and bacteria. The yeast and bacteria are mixed together and added to the water, and once the sugar is added as a food source for these little organisms, it’s allowed to ferment. This fermentation process is where many of the supposed health benefits from this tea come from, and is also what gives it it’s defined flavor.

It’s said to have originated from China, although the exact origins are unknown. It traveled along the Silk Road and became popular in Europe before eventually spreading around the globe.

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Where Can I Find Kombucha?

Kombucha is a popular enough beverage now that you can find it in most grocery stores, anywhere where you would find pre-made salads or smoothies tends to be where the kombucha lives. A lot of the types sold in stores come in fun flavors, my personal favorite being cranberry! If you’re looking for a good brand of kombucha thats easy to find in most grocery stores, keep you eye out for Wonder Drink Kombucha as well as GT’s Living Foods.

There’s also always the option of brewing it at home! It’s a relatively straightforward process and that way you know exactly what is going into your kombucha.

If you find that the taste of kombucha is not your favorite but you still want all those fabulous health benefits, you can find kombucha extract (Get KomBucha is a great brand for this) or raw kombucha supplements (like Garden of Life).

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What Do We Know About Health-Benefits of Kombucha?

So, what do we really know about kombucha? A little. We know it can be good and it can be bad, and it all depends on how it was brewed.

Not following careful brewing processes can lead to things from containers leaching into the tea, which can lead to toxic substances in your kombucha, which is never good.

However, as long as you’re careful about brewing and buy your kombucha and ingredients from reliable sources, it’s easy to enjoy some of the good things about this zesty beverage.

For starters, your microbiome will love you for drinking kombucha. There’s a ton of probiotics and antioxidants in this drink, overall really great for keeping your whole digestive and immune systems functioning at their best.

It also produces a lot of acids which can help do things like kill bad bacteria and detox your liver, so this is a great beverage to enjoy both around cold season and after a night out!

Managing Microplastics and the Ban on Beads

Using natural health and beauty products doesn’t stop at the individual that uses them. Being aware of what you buy and what you expose your body to has external implications as well, like how much waste you produce and what the composition of that waste looks like.

One of the biggest environmental issues that has come up in the last ten years related directly to the way that we take care of our bodies and the environment is microbeads and micro plastics. There was a lot of hype about this for a few minutes, and like anything big and new that comes out, there were a lot of extreme opinions: some people swore off micro plastics, or plastics generally, or producing any kind of avoidable waste. Alternatively, some people heard about all this and immediately disregarded it as hokey science that couldn’t possibly make as big a difference as people were saying it could.

This is a pretty typical response to scientific news, so I’m not surprised, but I do want people to know that while I’m not saying you have to stop producing any waste at all, it is important to avoid these microbeads and micro plastics from getting into the environment.

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What Are Microplastics?

Microplastics are little pieces of plastic that often end up in natural water systems. They are 1-5 mm in diameter or length, and while that doesn’t seem very big, these can have huge implications.

It’s actually their small size that gives them the capacity to be such a big problem. They’re hard to see, and they go in a lot of products that go down sinks and shower drains, and into our water systems.

This is still an active area of research, but so far things are not looking great. Microplastics are showing up in rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and washing up on beaches.

These can come from things like larger plastics breaking down slowly over time, but the ones I want to focus on are the ones that are intentionally made that small: microbeads. This type of microplastic can be found in things like exfoliating soaps, gels, toothpaste, and other cleaning-type products.

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Where Would I See Microplastics?

Microplastics are real small, which makes them really hard to see and sometimes basically invisible to the naked eye. So, it’s important to know where these things show up.

Tinned foods end to be packaged with BPA, which accounts for most of the microplastics that actually enter our bodies.

Fish and seafood are another area you might not expect to find microplastics, but since most of the ones that get washed down the drain end up in the oceans, this one ends up being less than surprising.

More in relation to beauty and self-care, there are a lot of microbeads that can show up in things like face wash, body wash, and facial exfoliators.

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What Do I Do About Microplastics?

The biggest thing you can do to help with microplastics and microbeads is just know where they are and avoid them. If you see ingredients on self-care products that you don’t recognize, look them up and make sure they’re not anything you wouldn’t want going into the water supply.

If you find that you already own things with microbeads, fear not! It’s easy to filter these microbeads out using a coffee filter and warm water. This makes it easy to throw the beads out and safely putting the rest of the product down the drain.

There are also some wonderful alternatives to microbeads available in exfoliators as well, such as salt and sugar scrubs (I’m newly obsessed with Brooklyn Botany, if you’re looking for a good brand to try out!)

Health and Beauty and Grieving

Over the past week, I’ve experienced a big loss in my family. My mom’s dad, my grandpa, passed away last Tuesday due to a very sudden and unexpected heart attack.

Luckily, the professor I work for is understanding and was kind enough to let me know that if I needed time off to travel or try to see my family, I was welcome to take it. However, this wasn’t really an option, being that most of that side of my family lives so far away and getting their would be too expensive, even if I took an extended amount of time off.

As I went through (and am going through) the grieving process independently at school, I’ve realized it’s easier to maintain my work life while I’m grieving than it is to maintain my personal life. It’s easy to go class and work and just do what I always do, or what I have to do. It’s easy because I have obligations to other people to fulfill, and that distracts me. But when it comes to my personal life, I’m only responsible for myself.

This has forced me to ask myself: what is my baseline? What basic level of maintaining my routine can I do, even while I’m going through something tragic, that keeps me functioning enough to do things like going to school and work?

So, this is what I believe is the best baseline. It might be different for other people, it might vary a lot. But this is what I’ve found works, in case you’re going through a tough time too or if you’re just starting to want to invest energy into yourself in a way that I try to encourage in this blog. This is the baseline.

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Eating

Eating is hard when you’re sad, it’s like there’s constantly a knot in your stomach. So trying to eat healthy is tricky when you’re dealing with a big sad lump in your stomach day-in and day-out. And when you can’t find a ton of motivation to cook for yourself.

So, I ate out a lot the first few days. I did still try to keep it on the healthier side of things, I avoided total comfort foods or emotional eating, but I was more forgiving with myself when I would eat things that are generally out-of-character for me. Some quick easy out-options I found that were easier to eat when I was sad were things like Chipotle, Subway, and anywhere that sells smoothies or acid bowls. Really anything basic with some freshness to it was what I looked for.

Sometimes I would get hungry in waves, so I also tried my best to have lots of snacks around the house that were healthy options. Macintosh apples, KIND granola, and chocolate chips are some of my favorite. I also went through a few days where the only snack I wanted were peanut butter pretzels, H. K. Anderson‘s are my personal favorite.

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Sleeping

As far as trying to get enough sleep through this challenging time, I found that focusing on my routine before bed really helped me get the most out of my nights (even the hard ones).

I also found that making myself feel very enveloped in my blankets on my bed helped in getting myself to fall asleep faster at night. Similar to the way that people swaddle babies, kind of swaddling myself seemed to help me in the same way it helps babies: it made me feel safe and warm and less alone. It helps babies sleep better too, and it definitely helped me feel better.

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Moving

This is one that will vary a lot depending on what type of lifestyle you live generally. I like to workout every day, and weirdly I couldn’t stop working out entirely even when I was very sad. I needed the movement and again the routine to keep my mind occupied at least a little so I wasn’t just sad.

I will admit, however, that I took it down a little. Instead of going hard everyday, I had one or two days I just couldn’t make it, and thats okay too. Going too hard when you work out, especially if your body and mind are going through things separately is not always the best idea. You can overexert yourself and end up in a worse way than when you started.

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Beautifying

In my beauty routine, it quickly became more about care than about anything else. While I couldn’t find much motivation to put on eyeliner or mascara, I tried to make sure I was still using my mineral foundation (bareMinerals all the way!) to keep my skin feeling soft and from getting oily throughout the day.

I also tried to keep up with using my face wash and toner at night, and this little product was enough to keep my skin happy for a few days. So while a full face of makeup might not be your cup of tea while you’re dealing with some kind of grief, it’s important to keep your skin feeling good so YOU can feel good in your body.

Pick Your Protein: A Short Guide

I love a really good smoothie. And, because I am a naturally lazy person, I really love with a good smoothie can replace me having to cook a real meal for myself.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a regular thing for me and I really do try to cook (food is way too good not to cook!), but for when things get hectic and crazy and there just isn’t enough hours in the day, smoothies are the best fall-back, especially when you look at the alternatives. You can not eat (this is a bad option, all around), you can pick up something quick (and probably a little greasy) or something healthy and fast (but probably beyond pricy!).

Smoothies are the best option and I will stand by that.

But to make a smoothie worthy of a meal-replacement, it’s gotta have more than calcium and carbs and calories: it has t have protein. And there are so many different types of protein out there, it’s hard to know which one to choose!

But fear not! I’ve compiled a relatively small guide of some of the most popular types of protein, hopefully making it easier to decide which one is the right one for you!

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Plant- Based Proteins

For starters, there are plant-based proteins. These include things like pea and rice proteins, as well as mixes of a variety of plant proteins. A lot of these types of protein powders and mixes are also vegan-friendly, which is a big plus for this category for sure!

Rice and pea proteins mixed after often been described as a “potent protein” combination. Brown rice protein is very easy for our bodies to digest, and contains lots of complex carbohydrates and fiber. Pea protein includes arginine, which is a very important amino acid when it comes to building up muscle mass. It’s also easy to digest, and both of these protein types are dairy-free (again, good for all our vegan friends!). Metagenics makes a fabulous mix of these two powerful proteins in proportions to optimize your protein uptake!

Hemp is another great option for protein powder that is totally protein-based. It is another great source of fiber, and is considered a “complete protein”, which means it contains 9 very important amino acids our bodies take up from food! It is also a source of unsaturated fatty acids, which is something many Western diets tend to lack but can help fight things like heart disease and cancer. However, this does increase the calorie count for this type of protein powder, generally.

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Whey Protein

Whey and casein are two milk-based proteins that tend to form two little camps: some people swear by one, other people swear by the other.

Whey is common, so it’s easy to find in grocery stores. It also helps a lot with weight loss while allowing our bodies to maintain lean muscle mass, which makes us look toned and tough without looking like master-muscle-people! You can also find it in a lot of different flavors, like vanilla, chocolate, and even strawberry, and you can put it in just about anything and you’ll barely notice it’s there.

However, whey can be difficult for people to digest. Especially if you are sensitive to milk, this type of protein might not be the one for you. Plus, some studies have found that whey protein can increase incidences of acne and breakouts. So, depending on the type of skin you have and the skincare routines you have in place, you might want to stick to plant-based proteins.

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Casein Protein

Casein protein is also isolated from milk. It tends to be digested by our bodies slowly, while whey can be digested relatively quickly. It also contains various micronutrients, such as calcium, though the exact amounts will vary by brand.

I’m a personal fan of casein protein because it can help your cells synthesize protein, which is good for when you haven’t taken a minute to stop and eat food in a little while. It makes this protein really good for meal-substituting without making your body feel the effects of pseudo-skipping a meal.

This protein powder also contains larger amounts of leucine relative to other types of protein, which is the key ingredient to getting muscle growth started!

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Soy Protein

Yes, soy protein is plant-based, however this one is so well-known I felt like it deserved its own whole little area!

The good news is, this type of protein has very few calories and not a lot of cholesterol associated with it! It’s also very concentrated protein, which is good for increasing your overall intake but this can also decrease your absorption of other types of vitamins and minerals.

It also contains branched amino acids, which are important for building muscle mass. However, soy is also a pretty well-known culprit of inhibiting thyroid functioning. Your thyroid is what control your metabolism, and the less it works, the slower your metabolism.

My personal recommendation with soy is moderation. It has significant good and bad aspects, so just like anything else, I would use it sporadically along with alternatives to give your body a break every once in a while.