Woman stretching hands after waking up

Wake Up Without That Puffy Feeling

What does the term “Fat Monday” mean to you? In the New Orleans Mardis Gras, it is known as the Monday before Ash Wednesday marking the tradition of the New Orleans carnival king’s arrival. However, to those of us who devote our weekend to gluttony, Fat Monday has a very different, not so celebratory meaning. Is Saturday your cake and cookie night? Do you spend your Sunday afternoons trolling social media with a melting pint of Haagen Dazs? If so, you are probably all too familiar with Fat Mondays. However, Fat Mondays are ok; it’s when Fat Mondays become Fat Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays when you have to start to worry. When you start feeling sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, there may be some simple mistakes you’re making.

1. You eat a late night dinner heavy on carbs and sugar
While a big dinner and dessert may feel like the perfect ending to a perfect day, it might not mean such a great morning after. Meals right before bed time force your body to concentrate on digesting food instead of getting a good night’s sleep. If you want some quality shut-eye, you’re better off eating a small serving of protein and swapping the mashed potatoes and fries for sweet potatoes. The complex carbohydrates and fiber in sweet potatoes will keep you fuller and reduce sugar cravings.

2. You’re eating too many sweets
If you’re getting a sugar high at night, you can expect a crash in the morning. Dawn Jackson Blatner, registered dietician, says, ” Refined, processed and sugary carbs are empty calories.” They require a lot of energy to digest, but leave you depleted of nutrients, Whole grain toast with almond butter can be a better way to fix the sugar craving while getting some nutritional value.

3. You’re eating lean meats and proteins late at night
Blatner says, “Protein takes the longest of any food group to digest, so too much of it will make your body work too hard and not be relaxed enough to get a good night’s sleep. To avoid this, try to get your protein by eating smaller portions of protein rich meals throughout the course of the day, rather than late at night

woman eating fruits at night from fridge
4. You eat too much fruit
Although fruit contains loads of vitamins, it also contains a lot of natural sugar, which can be harmful if you have diabetes and can also lead to a stomach ache. If you want to get your fruit fix, your best off with a handful of cherries, which contain phytochemicals like melatonin, to enhance sleep. Bananas are another great choice.because they contain muscle relaxants like potassium and magnesium to ensure a better sleep.

5. O.J., Coffee, or “Nightcap”
O.J. and coffee are traditional breakfast beverages and should probably remain that way. If you’re prone to acid reflux, orange juice is not the best pre- slumber choice and neither is coffee. Drinking java anytime after 2 p.m. can be enough to impede sleep and even decaf can contain some caffeine. Although alcohol can help to bring on sleep, the quality of the sleep may not be the good, According to Blatner, “Instead of getting a good night’s sleep, your body has to work to metabolize the alcohol. Chamomile or mint teas are both better nighttime options.” If you want a snack before sleep, try to keep it around 150 calories with a little protein so it doesn’t disrupt the sleep cycle and leaves you feeling energized in the morning.

If you’re a pre-bedtime snacker, we’d love to know how you keep the puffiness away? Drop us a line! We love to hear from you!

Woman doing some exercise

Ideal Amount of Exercise

Humorist Dave Barry once said, “Albert Einstein discovered that a tiny amount of mass is equal to a huge amount of energy which is why you have to exercise for a week to work off the thigh fat from a single Snickers.” Although this may be a bit of comedic hyperbole, looking at the calorie burn exercise time ratio can be quite disheartening. For example, according to an infographic, a 490 calorie Big Mac will take the average women over an hour of weightlifting to burn. Wash it down with a soda and that’s about two hours of cardio. With those kinds of figures, you could spend the next few years in a never ending cycle of eating and exercising. So where do we draw the line? How do we decide how much exercise is enough and how much is too much? Here are some hard and fast guidelines that will help you find out the ideal amount of exercise for your body.

How Much Exercise Do I Need?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should be getting thirty minutes of aerobic exercise 5 days a week. But the American College of Sports Medicine says that if you’re are doing a high intensity workout, you can cut that number down to 75 minutes a week with strength training and stretching 2 -3 days a week.

For Weight Loss
If you are looking to drop pounds, a study in JAMA Oncology found that 300 minutes of physical activity each week was the best way to obtain the greatest loss of weight and body fat. However, if that number seems a little out of reach to you, there may be other ways of achieving weight loss goals. Lisa Cadmus- Bertram, Ph., assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin explains, “… for most people, there is more room to cut calorie intake than to expend very large numbers of additional calories.” In other words, the key to success is burning more calories than you are taking in, so if you cut down on food intake, you may be able to avoid spending half a day at the gym.

To Tone Up
To add additional tone, incorporate resistance and strength training. This will help to build muscle and also increase the basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of calories your body will burn calories when it is resting. Also, try to engage in a variety of exercises to challenge your body in different ways.

For Longer Life
By engaging in the 150 minute minute of activity per week with 2 to 3 days of resistance training, you are not only ensuring a fit body, but you are also working to strengthen the lungs and heart, to avoid inflammation and to prevent insulin resistance from developing.

woman sleeping
For Better Sleep
A study of over 2,600 adults found that those who did their recommended amount of physical activity reported a 65% improvement in quality go sleep, were 68% less likely to have leg cramps at night and were 45% less likely to have difficulty focusing when they were tired as compared with individuals that did not get the recommended amount.

In short, aim for 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week and double that if you want to see weight loss results, but in the end it is most important to balance your exercise with food intake and maintain a schedule that works for you. Let us know how you do it. Eat happy and be healthy!

Smiling woman in winter sweater

How to Boost Your Skin’s Winter Radiance

The winter months can quickly take their toll on your skin, zapping it of its radiance. 

Fortunately, there are several ways in which you can boost this back up, resulting in that vibrant winter glow you have always dreamed about. 

Use a Gentler Cleanser

In the warmer months, your skin’s sebaceous glands naturally produce more oil. However, this slows down in the winter. This, coupled with the fact that the dry air outside, as well as inside from artificial heating, is sucking away your skin’s moisture, means that you need to try to retain as much of your natural oils as possible.

Retaining your natural oils will give your skin the radiant glow you’re looking for.

What does this have to do with your cleanser? 

Well, a cleanser is designed to clear away dirt, makeup and, of course, oil from the skin. A stronger and more potent cleanser will do this to a greater extent, stripping away a large portion of the skin’s natural oils. 

In order to prevent that from happening, you need to switch to a gentler cleanser. 

Which cleansers are more gentle? 

Cream cleansers tend to be the best for the winter months, as they add moisture back into the skin while they cleanse. Cleansing oils can also be useful for dry skin, although those with oily skin may find these too heavy. 

Moisturize Your Skin While It Is Still Damp

Want to give your skin an instant boost of radiance? 

This trick is the way to do it, and it also benefits your skin so much. 

After cleansing your skin, whether this may be in the shower or otherwise, make sure that you do not rub your skin dry. Not only will this irritate and damage your skin, but you also need your skin to retain quite a bit of that extra moisture in order for this to work. 

Gently pat your skin with a soft towel to clear away excessive amounts of water, and then reach for your moisturizer. Apply this to your damp skin, gently massaging it in. 

Now, take a look in the mirror…

You will likely see that your skin has a glow to it that wasn’t there before. 

Why is this? 

It is all down to making the most of the way in which a moisturizer works…

While a moisturizer does deliver a small amount of moisture to the skin, its main role is to form a protective seal over the surface of the skin. This prevents the moisture that is already in and on the skin from evaporating, while stopping any impurities from easily entering into the skin. 

When you apply moisturizer to skin that is already damp, all of those extra water molecules end up trapped beneath the moisturizer’s protective layer. This then means that there is only one place for them to go, and that’s down into your skin.

Young woman applying moisturiser to face

This is why your skin instantly looks so much more radiant after moisturizer has been applied on damp skin. 

What should you be using to moisturize your skin? 

In the winter, you need a thicker, heavier and greasier moisturizer than you do in the summer. 

Plant butters and oils are perfect for this…

Make Use of Plant Butters and Oils

Plant butters and oils are incredibly nourishing for the skin, containing so many vital minerals, antioxidants, fatty acids and more. All of this will help your skin to battle through the harsh days of winter. 

Which plant butters and oils should you be using? 

Here are some of the best plant butters to use on your skin in the winter: 

  • Shea Butter – packed with vitamins A and E, as well as essential fatty acids and antioxidants, shea butter strengthens skin cells while protecting them from environmental damage. It also contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can significantly relieve dryness and itchiness. If you are looking for a way to protect your skin from windburn, shea butter is again worth considering 
  • Cocoa Butter – a great source of vitamin E, which heals and protects the skin, cocoa butter is packed with a number of other vitamins and antioxidants too. It hydrates and re-balances the skin, and has aromatherapy benefits too. Massaging this ingredient into the skin has been proven to improve the immune system and reduce feelings of stress
  • Mango Butter – known for its protective and moisturizing qualities, mango butter supports skin cells, preventing degeneration, while also giving the skin increased flexibility. It is great for treating some of the dry skin issues that often come with winter, from peeling and itching skin to eczema and roughness 

When it comes to the best plant oils to use on your skin in the winter, these are all worth considering: 

  • Camellia Seed Oil – known for being a favorite among Japanese Geisha, camellia seed oil, along with its many antioxidants and nutrients, is easily absorbed by the skin. Unlike many other ingredients, it is able to make its way deep into the skin’s layers, where it then replenishes the skin and prevents moisture from evaporating 
  • Carrot Seed Oil – thanks to its high content of carotol, beta-carotene and vitamins A and E, carrot seed oil is fantastic for rejuvenating the skin and giving it a glow in the winter months. It quickly counters dryness and dehydration, while bring light enough for those with oily skin to use 
  • Cucumber Seed Oil – known for its gentle yet effective properties, cucumber seed oil is packed with phytosterols. These compounds have been proven to be able to restore the skin’s moisture balance, strengthen its protective barrier and improve its elasticity 
  • Jojoba Oil – one of the best oils for those with oily skin to use. Its molecular structure closely resembles that of the skin’s own sebum, tricking the skin into believing that it has produced the oil itself. This triggers it to adjust its own production of oil, slowing this down. This is a great way to deal with oily skin in the winter, instead of using harsh products that strip away too much of your skin’s natural oils

Stay Active

You may not think that the amount of exercise you do has any sort of direct effect on the radiance of your skin, but it really does…

Yes, it can be so tempting to stay wrapped up indoors in the warmth in the winter, but keeping your body active and moving is so important. 

Why? 

Well, to begin with, your blood flow naturally slows down in cold temperatures, due to the way in which the cold constricts your blood vessels. Exercise helps to speed your blood flow back up. This means that your skin cells are able to receive a greater amount of oxygen and other nutrients, enabling them to fully function. 

Since your blood flow is also responsible for carrying waste products away from your skin cells, this increases skin detoxification, which will enhance your skin’s glow.

There is nothing wrong with exercising indoors, and this is definitely better than not exercising at all. However, even if you keep the majority of your workouts indoors, try to spend at least one session a week exercising outdoors. This outdoor time is great for your skin, enabling it to get away from the dry indoor air. 

Two friends jogging in the woods

Plus, embracing the winter will really help you to beat any winter blues and appreciate all of the beauty that the season has to offer.

Make Sure that You Are Regularly Exfoliating 

You will likely notice more roughness and dryness on your skin in the winter months, and this is due to all of its moisture being sucked away into the dryness around you. 

This leaves your skin cells parched and flaky, which is not a good look to have! 

While exfoliation is important throughout the year, it becomes even more so in the winter. Exfoliation will quickly clear away any rough, dull, dry or dead skin cells, enabling the fresher, newer ones beneath to show through. 

Not only that, but exfoliation enables the rest of your skin care products to better penetrate into your skin’s layers, meaning that they are able to work to their full potential. 

How should you be exfoliating? 

Well, you have two main options: 

  • Physical Exfoliation – this makes use of abrasive materials that are physically rubbed across the skin in order to dislodge dirt, dead skin cells and excess oil 
  • Chemical Exfoliation – this makes use of chemicals that dissolve the glue-like substance that keep dead skin cells attached to the skin’s surface, enabling these to then be washed away 

So, which one is best for winter? 

Many would guess physical exfoliation, but that’s where you would be wrong…

The abrasive nature of physical exfoliation ends up causing quite a bit of friction against the skin. This irritates and damages it, and some abrasives can even end up creating micro-tears in the skin. 

On the other hand, chemical exfoliants work in a much gentler way, and there are different ones out there that are suitable for every skin type. 

Alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid, lactic acid and tartaric acid, are great for dry and sensitive skin. However, make sure that you begin gradually, so that your skin has the chance to get accustomed to these new ingredients. 

For those with oily skin, beta hydroxy acids, such as salicylic acid, would be your best choice. This exfoliates deeper within the pores, helping to clear out the blockages that would have otherwise led to breakouts.

How often should you be exfoliating in the winter? 

This depends on your skin type…

Once a week is enough for those with dry or sensitive skin, while those with oily skin may need to increase this. 

Make sure that you aren’t tempted to over-exfoliate either… 

This can severely damage your skin’s protective layer, leaving you with redness, dryness, inflammation, sensitivities and more. 

Adjust Your Diet

Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so it only makes sense that the food you eat will have a direct impact on the health and appearance of your skin.

Your body, as well as your skin, has different nutritional needs in the winter than it does in the summer, and it is important to cater to these. 

Flat lay of healthy food on table

What should you be eating in the winter? 

Try adding more of these foods into your diet: 

  • Oily fish – these are packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as vitamin D, all of which help to protect and nourish the skin during the winter 
  • Avocados – one of the best sources of vitamin E, avocados heal and protect the skin from within 
  • Sweet potatoes and winter squash – high in vitamins A and C, these vegetables help to increase skin cell regeneration and protect the skin from aging 
  • Cocoa – contains specific flavonoids and antioxidants that help to improve skin texture and increase blood flow to the skin, therefore nourishing it with more nutrients and oxygen 
  • Bell peppers – vitamin C not only boosts the immune system, which is why it is often recommended for winter colds, but it also provides potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits to the skin. While citrus fruits are great for obtaining vitamin C, bell peppers actually contain three times the amount of vitamin C as an orange, making this the vegetable to eat more of

Anything you should stay away from? 

Yes. Stay clear of alcohol, sugar and excess salt in the winter, along with any other foods that lead to dehydration. Your body needs to retain all of the moisture it can in the winter, especially if you want your skin to look radiant. 

The winter months can be tough on your skin, but there are plenty of steps that you can take to restore your skin’s natural radiance. From knowing which ingredients to use topically to understanding the best skin care techniques for the colder season, these tips will give your skin a beautifully rosy winter glow. 

Woman sleeping

Sleeping Beauty Syndrome

Imagine going to sleep tonight and waking up on January 2nd. You’ve missed the turkey, the gifts, the outfits, the eating, the drinking, all of it. Perhaps, you are thinking, that would be great! You’ve saved yourself a ton of calories, had an excuse for not seeing in-laws, and still had a ton of gifts to open. But you probably would have liked to have a choice in the matter. For sufferers of Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS) this is often not the case. Often referred to as Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, KLS is a rare neurological disorder, most commonly characterized by long periods of sleep, causing individuals to lose large chunks of their lives and affecting the lives of those around them.

What is KLS?
In addition to excessive sleeping, symptoms of KLS can include a reduced understanding of circumstances and altered behavior on the part of the patient. While adolescents are most likely to be targets for the disorder, it can also strike adults and young children.

When a KLS episode sets in, the patient will experience hypersomnolence, a condition which will cause the patient to become increasingly drowsy and sleep for most of the time, waking only to eat and use the bathroom. These episodes can last days, weeks, or months, and preclude all normal daily activity, such as work and school and make self care impossible. In the time between the episodes, the sufferer may appear to be perfectly healthy with no physical or behavioral problems whatsoever. In total, the condition can last for 10 years or more.

Identification of KLS
Aside from excessive sleep, people with KLS will often seem childlike or “spacey.” He or she can become confused, lethargic, apathetic, and disoriented. The patient may claim that things look out of focus and will become hypersensitive to light and noise. Sometimes, those with the disorder will develop deep cravings for food. Hypersexuality is another reported symptom.

When KLS episodes are in effect, the patient will usually remain bedridden and appear uncommunicative when awake. Although most will not be able to carry out regular activities, not every sufferer is affected by the same symptoms.

It is possible for a person to go for weeks or even years without evidence of the symptoms, but the symptoms can return with out warning, The diagnosed can appear to be in perfect health one day, but there is always an underlying threat that he or she will fall into dysfunction the next. The diagnostic delay for KLS diagnosis is four years, which means it can take up four years for a patient to receive an accurate diagnosis and there is no medical test to definitively confirm the condition. However, if you believe you may be affected, there is a symptom checker developed by the International Classification of Sleep Disorders.

KLS Symptom Checker
A KLS patient would have recurrent episodes of hypersomnia lasting 2-31 days and one or more of the following:

  • Cognitive abnormalities like confusion, unreality and hallucination
  • Odd behavior like aggression or irritability
  • Binge Eating
  • Hypersexuality.

While there is no definitive cure treatment for KLS, modafinil may shorten the episodes, but not the recurrence. Lithium and carbamazapine can be beneficial in treatment of some of the symptoms, but no medication has proven to be a consistently successful.

If you feel that you may be suffering from KLS, it is important to reach out to a professional. If you or a loved one has been affected by this condition, please feel free to start a conversation here. Awareness is critical to problem solving.

Woman massaging painful neck

Tips For Reducing Neck and Shoulder Tension

There are a lot of people out there with shoulder and neck pain, and apparently, a number of them have found a temporary solution. There are online communities dedicated to the joint cracking habit, providing members with a forum in which they can share their most satisfying bone crunching experiences. Although cracking joints has been linked with arthritis in the past, there seems to be no definitive proof of this, and many professionals even condone the practice, crediting it with relieving “tons of tension.” If you have no compunctions about joint cracking, it seems as if you are in good company, but if you are still skeptical about the practice, there are other methods to relieve neck tension and shoulder pain. Here are just a few.

At the Computer
While the computer age has done much for improving almost every part of our lives, it has done very little for our posture. To fix the computer hunch, draw your head back as if someone was grabbing the hair at the center of your head and gently pulling. Then, imagine a helium balloon was attached to the top of your head and as pulling it upward. This head position should work wonders.

Looking Down at Your Device
Tipping your head forward for long periods of time puts a lot of stress on your neck muscles. One way of relieving this is to bend your arm at the elbows and lean the elbow against the center of your ribcage. This should bring the device closer to your face and alleviate some of the strain.

If this is not possible, you can try to use your eye muscles instead of your neck and shoulders. Put the phone in your lap. Look down at your phone while keeping your head straight. Then place the phone on a table slightly to your right or left. Look over at the phone without turning your head. Do these steps repeatedly to get in the habit of using your eyes rather than assuming uncomfortable positions.

When You Work Out
The muscles in your neck connect to the muscles in your trunk, so working the two together is a sensible idea. For example, if you’re doing planks, try and bring your head backwards while keeping your eyes to the floor, stretching your spine up to your head. Training with good posture is key to improving posture in general.

While You Sleep
Even though sleep is a time of general relaxation, it does not always mean that our muscles are relaxed. When you lie down, consider the position of your head in relation to the rest of your body. Think of your spine as your center with your head stacked on top of your body. If you find your head leaning to the side or curling forward and down, try to reposition it so it is in line with your spine.

And if you still “love to crack everything,” that’s fine! These are some helpful ideas for even the most dyed- in – the wool joint crackers. You can let us know about how you get neck and back relief; nothing is too weird!

Woman stretching on the beach

The Connection Between Happiness and Health

Can happiness ever be unhealthy? When R and B artist Pherell Williams felt his song “Happy” needed a visual, he and his team created “24 Hours of Happy,” the world’s first all day music video. The groundbreaking project featured a cast of hundreds of Angelenos dancing to the song round the clock, with Pherell appearing at the top of each hour to lend his support. The New York Times referred to this as “punishment level glee.” Leave it to the Times to add a touch of cynicism to a celebration of bliss. While staying awake for 24 hours may take its toll, it is generally believed that happiness may be a major component in maintaining physical health. Not convinced? Read on!

Why You Should Be Happy
So what’s so great about being happy? A 2012 review of over 200 studies found a correlation between optimism and a lowered risk of heart disease. This is not to say that happiness directly prevents heart attacks, rather that happy people are more likely to maintain good habits, like exercising, eating well, and getting a good night’s sleep. However, some research seems to suggest that there are direct health benefits to a positive mental state. Studies published in the Psychological Bulletin show that optimism may help decrease levels of inflammation and a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that unhappy people 60 and older were more likely to develop disabilities, suggesting that merely being cheerful can lead to an improved physical state.

Genes and Environment
So, when it comes to happiness, is it nature or nurture? Research shows that identical twins have similar levels of happiness and that one twin’s happiness can be used to predicts the current and future happiness of the other with more accuracy than income and achievement. This would offer substantial evidence that genetics play a big role in happiness. However, if you were not lucky enough to hit the genetic jackpot, there are alternatives. Your environment can also have a lot of impact on your mental state.

Ways to Get Happy
Susan Albers, a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic suggest practicing a technique she calls mindfulness, or being present in the moment. Activities like keeping a diary of gratitude or helping others are known to increase happiness and there are also smartphone apps available to help you monitor your moods.

Are you insanely happy or insanely healthy or just insane? If so, or if not, tell us how you manage to be all or none. We love to hear it.

Pomegranate salad on wooden table

Winter Salads That Make A Meal

In 1904, New Castle Pennsylvania resident, Mrs. John E. Cook took third place in a recipe contest for her “Perfection Salad.” The Jello- encased salad contained a suspension of almost anything that was vaguely identifiable as produce, including cabbage, carrots, and olives to name a few and was characterized by its vinegary flavor. The original recipe suggested serving the molded salad sliced and with mayonnaise in cases made of green or red peppers alongside grilled fish or salmon. The dish earned Mrs. Cook a sewing machine and became a favorite of homemaking magazines for decades.  Although the “Perfection Salad” would probably make a great centerpiece for your holiday table, it might be best off left just there, in the center of the table. If you are looking for some winter salads that might actually end up on someone’ s plate, here are a few ideas.

Orange Pomegranate Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
If you want a salad pleasing to the eye as well as the taste buds, this is it. Brimming with the colors of citrus, pomegranate, and spinach, the salad is perfectly complemented by a light dressing with hints of orange zest, rosemary, mustards and shallots.

Shaved Cauliflower Salad with Clementines and Pomegranates
What do you call scared broccoli? Cauliflower! Shaving the cauliflower can be a bit challenging, if you want them sliced as thinly as the recipe suggests, but the results will be with it. Let the cauliflower soak in lemon juice and sea salt beforehand, allowing the tangy taste to work its way in. Add celery, clementines, pomegranate, with tahini and honey for the dressing. Bonus points for this one: it can be made a day ahead of time, just leave off the dressing until you are ready to serve.

Warm Buckwheat Salad with Roasted Kabocha and Caper Berries
Buckwheat is a complete vegetable protein and a great source of amino acids. Also, because, despite its name , it is not a wheat, it is also gluten-free, making it perfect for those with sensitivities to wheat and gluten. Mix up some toasted buckwheat groats or kasha with hearty beans and kabocha squash. Top with pea shoots, raisins, almonds sunflower seeds and caper berries in oil and vinegar. Heat and serve. Yum!

Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad with Hazelnuts and Cranberries
The name almost says it all, but the three slices of thick cut bacon and the Pecorino Romano cheese may be the real selling points for this lovely warm salad. It gets its flavor from maple syrup and its crunch from chopped hazelnuts.

Cranberry, Glazed Walnut, Orange, Avocado and Blue Cheese Salad
Get a mouthful of this mouthful! Hard to say, but easy to prepare, all you need are some dried cranberries, glazed walnuts, mandarin oranges, blue cheese, and avocado. Drizzle with cranberry vinaigrette and prepare for a healthy feast.

Note that all of these recipes can be encased in gelatin. Let us know if any of these made it to your holiday table! We’d love to hear what you thought!

Woman getting aromatherapy

The Anti Aging Benefits of Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a practice which uses plant based oils to treat infections, stress, and tight muscles. Although many believe that aromatherapy applies only to inhaling the oils, massaging the oils into the skin figure strongly into the treatments as well. Here are some of the best anti-aging essential oils.

Jojoba Oil
Not only does jojoba oil contain vitamin E, vitamin B complex, silicon, chromium, copper and zinc, it can also supplement the lack of iodine in your diet. With an 82% content of the mineral, jojoba oil gets a good part of its healing power from iodine. Jojoba oil is probably one of the world’s most hydrating oils and it is noncomedogeic, which means it does not clog pores. Its antioxidant properties can soothe fine lines and wrinkles and slow down the aging process. A study done by the Department of Environment and Life Sciences in Italy proved that jojoba oil speeds the closure of wounds and stimulates collagen syntheses with low toxic effects, while another study in Germany found it improved overall skin condition in 194 participants who applied clay masks with jojoba oil two to three times a week.

Pomegranate Seed Oil
Pomegranates have been noted for their association with anti aging with their oil being the most potent source. The dark red color of pomegranates are caused by biflavonoids which protect skin from sun damage. Pomegranate seed oil has a natural SPF that can be used as a natural sunblock and can be applied directly to your skin.

Frankincense Oil
So much for witchery, this oil even found its way into the Bible! Frankincense is good for balancing uneven skin tone and can help get rid of sunspots and age spots. It is also a powerful astringent, so it can be used for acne blemishes, and to minimize the appearance of enlarged pores and wrinkles. Frankincense can also be used to combat sagging skin on the stomach, jowls or under the eyes and has been shown to be effective on stretch marks and surgery scars.

Lavender Oil
Lavender is one of the best oils for getting skin into a healing state and improving cellular communication. This makes it an excellent essential oil in relieving cuts and burns. Lavender also helps your body to produce three of the most powerful antioxidants: gluthione, catalase and superoxide dismutase to fight radical damage. Mix it with aloe vera or coconut oil to soothe sunburn and promote healing, or mix with frankincense to reduce age spots.

So get on your broomsticks, get out your spells and potions and embrace your inner witch. Let us know about all that you’ve got brewing up for this holiday season and whether these luxurious oils are a part of them!

Woman exercising on stairs

Switching Up Your Cardio Routine

In Dante’s Inferno, the Sixth Terrace of Purgatory is devoted to the gluttonous, or those who have spent their lives overindulging on food, drinks and comforts of the body. As punishment, they are starved in the presence of trees whose fruit they can never reach. Some would argue that a more apt punishment for these gluttons might be endless cardio. Many refer to cardio as the most monotonous form of exercise, comparing treadmills and stationary bikes to hamster wheels, yet few would ever argue its myriad of benefits. The American Heart Association suggests 40 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times weekly to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. So what can you do to switch up your cardio routine to keep things interesting?

Supersets
Supersets are great for combining weightlifting with cardio. Supersets usually consist of two or more exercises done in sequence with no rest in between. You might want to try, for example, a workout of 10 push ups, followed immediately with 10 squats, and then move onto shoulder presses, into bicep curls and ending with 10 trip extensions. You could consider his one set, and complete it three times, with a two to three minute rest in between. Certainly no hamster wheel there!

Cardio Rounds
Sure, you might get bored with the seemingly eternal sets on the elliptical, treadmill, and bike, but how about doing all three for a short amount of time, one after another? Pedal for a minute, run for a minute and use the elliptical for one minute. After five times, you should be anything but bored!

Stairs
Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator to earn some cardio points during the day. If you want an extra challenge, try taking them two at a time.

Take a Class
Sign up for a zumba, kickboxing, or hip-hop dance class. Muay Thai is a martial art from Thailand, similar to kickboxing and you can burn up to 1200 calories per class. Also, exercise in a group setting can raise motivation and improve performance while adding an element of camaraderie.

Do Cardio Between Sets
Try jumping rope or jogging between weight lifting sets or pilates routines to develop lean muscles and get your heart pumping and your blood flowing.

Timed Exercise
Another way to switch things up is by using the clock. Pick an exercise and give yourself 30 seconds to perform as many reps as you possibly can. Have a friend time you for an added incentive. See if you can increase your reps weekly or lengthen the set for some real calorie burn.

Still bored? One would think not. Let us know how you get through your cardio. We always love to hear from you!

Woman with vitamin D capsule

Vitamin D and Lowered Cancer Risk

Cancer cells can seem downright evil. While normal cells act to benefit their host, cancer cells have their own devious plan and that plan is to stay alive and keep dividing. And when cancer cells divide, they mutate and tumors result. Normal cells are designed to commit suicide when they are damaged, but not cancer cells. Cancer cells continue to thrive and, multiply and produce. So what can a body do to fight these demonic cells? It must use every weapon at its disposal. One of the most powerful of these is Vitamin D.

What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D helps the body to use phosphorous to make teeth and bones strong. While certain foods can be sources of Vitamin D, it is more commonly made when skin is exposed to sunshine. If you are looking for vitamin D from food sources, foods such as fish liver oil, eggs , and fatty fish, naturally contain the vitamin, while others, such as cereal, juices and milk, are fortified with vitamin D. It can also be obtained through supplements.

The Vitamin D Cancer Connection
Researchers are studying connections between vitamin D and lowered cancer risk based on early research that showed cancer rates to be lower among people living in the south, where levels of sunlight is high, as opposed to those living in northern areas. Because UV light from the sun is responsible for production of vitamin D, researchers speculated that the difference in vitamin D levels might account for the findings. According to a 2007 study, women experienced a 77 percent reduction in all cancers after being given enough Vitamin D to raise their serum levels to 40 mg/ml.

Breast Cancer and Vitamin D
Breast cancer has sometimes been referred to as “vitamin D deficiency syndrome.’ Dr. Cedric F. Garland of the University of California’s San Diego Moores cancer center is responsible for making the connection between cancer and vitamin D deficiency. If you don’t have enough vitamin D, the structure that makes up you epithelial cells comes apart and the cells begin to circulate and multiply. If this process becomes problematic, cancer can result. If breast cancer is in progress, vitamin D can slow cancer growth and allow your immune system to deal with them in smaller numbers.

Getting Your D
The best way to get vitamin D is through sun exposure. You should expose 40% of your body to the sun for about 20 minutes between 10 am and 2 pm, when the sun is stronger. If you are taking oral supplements, studies suggest adults get 8,000 IUs per day. However, keep in mind that oral vitamin D should be accompanied by vitamin K2 to prevent hardening of the arteries.

Let’s all try and up our defenses against cancer and get all the Vitamin D we can! Just say “no” to cancer and let us know your favorite ways of getting your Vitamin D!