It's Ok To Need Support (we all need it)

It’s ok to need support (we all need it)

Everyone needs support.  Period.  Even if you think you can do it all yourself.

It doesn’t matter what it is:

 

Housework

Homework

A listening ear

A babysitter

Business help

An accountability partner

A reminder to take care of yourself

Or, help packing all of your belongings into a truck and moving a few states away.

 

You’re gonna need some help. 

As Desmond and I get ready to make our move to the Jersey Shore, I’m reflecting on what support really means, and how just existing around other people is support enough sometimes. 

Having a community to belong to is huge, and Baltimore has been an incredible community for both of us.  It’s something I’ll miss deeply, but am also so grateful for the age we live in and that really that community support never has to end.

(That being said, I’m still booking workshops and lectures in Baltimore, and the work I do with clients is 100% online and by phone, so we can keep doing what we’re doing!)

But really, what I’m getting at is it’s ok to ask for help.

Really, it is.

Many of us were brought up to never depend on anyone else, and that if you want something done right you have to do it yourself.  And yet, so many of us are totally burnt out and overwhelmed.

Outsource whatever you can.  There’s no shame in that.

Maybe you have a few extra bucks to hire a cleaner to come once a week to your house.  Or, maybe you can ask a friend to help you lift some heavy shit.  Or maybe you can hire a personal trainer to help you figure out what movement you should do (and to help you stick to it). Or maybe you can use a free service like 7 Cups of Tea to talk things out when they’re feeling heavy.

No. Shame.

Ask yourself today where you could use some support, and then go out and get it.

Get Some Rest This Holiday Season

Did anyone else just get overwhelmed by their calendar?  Today when I opened my google calendar I realized that almost every weekend has something planned until the end of December.  And don’t get me wrong, it’s all SUPER fun stuff.  A weekend away with friends for our annual Alliterative Thanksgiving, a burlesque show, a girls night, actual thanksgiving, my family’s annual Holiday Hoo-Haa.

Shit is crazy.

Late fall and winter are really a time meant for us to be slowing down.  Our bodies are craving the rest after an active, busy summer and harvest season, and yet November/December is often when we tend to speed up.  Much party planning.  Very gifts.  So decorations.  Wow.

We rarely allow ourselves the rest that we need during this time… usually not until after New Years Shenanigans.  And by then we’re so burnt out, undernourished and frazzled that we’re feeling terrible.

Not a great way to start the new year.

So many of us set new years resolutions that include things like loosing weight, getting fit, getting healthy, and feeling better in our bodies.  And yet, we’re starting at a huge disadvantage because of they way we’ve treated ourselves the previous few months.  We quickly loose sight of those resolutions, and spend the rest of the winter feeling depleted.  This can quickly amplify feelings of seasonal depression for those of us whom it affects.

This year, I challenge you to do something for yourself during the holiday madness.  Take a break!  Use some of those vacation days and actually get some rest.  Take one extra day if you can to just lay around and sleep.  Go to bed early.  Wake up late.  Escape from the parties when you need to.  Give in to the early darkness!!  I know I’m not the only one who contemplates going to bed at 6pm after the whole daylight savings thing.

Make sure your subscribed to my newsletter this fall and winter.  I’ll have some extra goodies coming your way to keep you healthy through the hectic holidays, and you’ll get to be the 1st to know about how to have the best new year ever!

How To Stay Well While Traveling

For those of you who don’t know me and/or follow my twitter or instagram accounts (cough, you should), my creative outlet is burlesque.  It’s been an amazing 6 years of costuming, choreography and crazy dancing, and I can’t get enough of it!

This week, I’m heading out to Seattle for my first time at Burlycon, and I’m so stupid excited.  As me and my fellow showgirls (and boys) navigate being healthy while traveling, I thought I’d share my top 5 travel tips with you.  And check back in with my instagram to see how I’m keeping myself well every day of the con.

Here’s what I’m doing:

Call the hotel ahead of time.  Is there a fridge in your room? Microwave? Some hotels don’t provide these things up front, but will if you ask (sometimes for a fee, which may be worth it depending on how long you are staying).  Are there restaurants that will deliver or are within walking distance? How about grocery stores?  Think easy ways to stock up on good eats once you arrive, especially if you are flying.

Pack whatever food you can. Think snack bars (Kind bars are my fav, try for the options with low sugar), almond butter, apples, maybe a protein powder or green powder.  Be careful with the sugar content on all “healthy” on the go foods.  Some granola bars and trail mixes are full of it…sometimes with 18-20 grams of it! 

Get some movement in.  Lucky for me I’m planning to take a ton of dance classes at Burlycon, but that’s not always the case with travel.  Try to take a break to go for a walk, or check out the hotel gym. 

Don’t overdo it on food you’re not used to.  If you don’t normally eat something, this isn’t the time to go crazy with it.  Having a stomachache on the road blows.  Have a taste and move on.

Immune boosters are your best friends.  Echinacea and Emergen-C are my go-to’s when I’m on the road, especially in the cooler months.  With all the shared spaces of airports, planes, cars, hotels etc it’s often easier to catch whatever’s going around, especially if you are already compromising your immune system with too much sugar (see tip above). 

How do you stay well while traveling? Let me know in the comments below!

4 Tips for a Healthier Halloween

Halloween is probably my second favorite holiday (4th of July is my first, duh )What’s not to love? Horror movie marathons, an excuse (that isn’t a burlesque show) to wear a totally insane costume, parties all weekend, trick-or-treating, and a reason to scare the shit out of the people you love most.

In my hometown, we actually got an extra day of Halloween fun times.  Toms River, New Jersey is home to one of the longest running Halloween parades in the country, so kids trick-or-treat on the 30th, since everyone is at the parade on the 31st.  That means we get mischief night on the 29th, trick-or-treating on the 30th, and parade madness on the 31st.

So fucking amazing.

But let’s be honest, it’s suuuuuper easy to go overboard with the candy, even if you only celebrate one day of Halloween.   The huge influx of sugar (ehem, and booze) can leave you feeling lethargic, exhausted, nauseous or even sick with a cold in the days after the parties (yup, excess sugar can weaken your immune system). 

Don’t get me wrong, I think you should enjoy yourself so here are a few tips to make the holiday a little healthier.

Go easy on the candy.  Pace yourself. Take 5 minutes in between your fun sized snicker bars to let your body register that it’s actually satisfied.

Get some fun movement in. Halloween is actually an awesome holiday for fun movement.  Have kids?  Walk with them through the neighborhood to go trick-or-treating! Don’t have kids? Borrow some from your friends!  Or, head to a spooky corn maze with your buds and make it a point to hide in the stalks and scare each other.  That will get you running, guaranteed.

Pre-Game.  Drink lots of water all day and have a healthy snack before heading out for your fun (whatever kind it may be). If you show up starving to a party you’re gonna go hard on those Kit-Kats.

Non-Food treats.  If you get trick or treaters I know it’s wildly tempting to snack on the candy between kids.  Consider giving out a non-food treat if the leftovers haunt you in your sleep.  Like this adorable lego pumpkin gift bag!

Plus, bonus, you’ll be the star house for kids with food allergies! Check out the Teal Pumpkin Project website for ways to mark your house as allergy friendly, and for more non-food ideas.

Your turn.  What are your Halloween plans this year?  Let me know how you're planning to stay healthy in the comments below!

How to Move from Struggle to Self-Love

From the time I was a kid, I’ve attached myself to the idea of ‘struggle’ and ‘hard work.’  The idea that good things, praise, comfort, happiness etc, could only be achieved through disciplined, intense, structured work.  In my mind, when I wasn’t working (aka struggling), I wasn’t useful or worthy of praise. 

Even though I know this is not true, it’s a narrative that’s hard to stop clinging too.  Society constantly tells us that the only way to “make it” is to be over worked and exhausted.  It’s difficult to break out of the habit of struggle.

Now, I don’t mean to say that we shouldn’t feel our feelings.  Sometimes, shit happens in our lives that really just sucks.  And when that happens, I find it important and necessary to allow ourselves to feel what ever comes up: overwhelm, exhaustion, anxiety etc, in order to have any healing occur.

What I’m referring to in particular is the need to feel that you have to earn love, praise, happiness, rest, or comfort.  That we have to struggle for these things in order to make them happen.  Sometimes, sure, you really do need to work your ass off to get some shit done, and I’m all about that.  But the issue is that at the end of the day, no matter how much work we get done, many of us feel dissatisfied with ourselves, because our to-do lists are ever growing.  And that’s the issue right there.  

You can work hard without struggling emotionally. 

I think many of us get stuck in the feelings of guilt when good things do come our way since maybe we didn’t ‘work hard enough for it.”  That if something’s feels effortless, than I clearly don’t deserve it. 

We gotta knock that shit out.

I am good enough

You are good enough.

And no matter how much or how little you got done today, you deserve a break at the end of the day.

I think the struggle mentality frequently creates a block for me.  I don’t let abundance flow when I’m feeling cramped up, hunched over, and stressed out.

Enter self-care.

Or really, self-love (they are the same thing)

Have you heard of Mirror Work?  It’s a term Louise Hay coined for this awesomely simple yet effective self-love exercise.  For the next week, every time you pass a mirror, look yourself in the eye and say “I love you”  Use your name too.  Not gonna lie, it will probably feel stupid and silly at first.  Or maybe it will feel emotional and difficult to do.  Notice what comes up for you, and allow yourself to really feel what happens.

And even if you don’t mean it at first, it’s sort of a “fake it till you make it” deal.

Give that a try.  You deserve to hear it.  See this week, take some time to notice where else struggle comes up in your life, and then let that shit go <3

4 Ways to Welcome Fall

Oh hey, it’s Fall!

I’m a summer gal through and through.  I relish in it, and frequently day dream about moving to a place where there’s no such thing as spring/fall/winter.  But there’s still something quite lovely about fall. 

Part of me always felt fall is a fresh start.  This was probably drilled into my brain as a kid because of the public school calendar, but I tend to want to clean up my routine and home, stock up on supplies, and hunker down on some projects.  There’s definitely a “geterdone” energy about the start of the new season, and it’s a refreshing change from the “sit back and relax” energy of late summer.

Simultaneously, however, I’m trying to really be mindful to take extra care of myself as the temperatures start to drop.  Winter is a tough time for me, and as I’ve alluded to in past blog posts I struggle with seasonal depression.  The last few years have gotten better with regular self-care including acupuncture, rest, and making a weekend away to a warm place a priority, but it’s still something I have to be super mindful about. 

This year, I’m starting these efforts extra early to really support myself through the cooler months.  Here’s what I’m doing:

Witchy Spirity Rituals  Last week in preparation for equinox, my mama and I cleansed all of our healing crystals with sage and moonlight, and lit some candles and set our intentions for the upcoming year.  It was lovely, and such a nice reminder of getting back to myself.  Looking for some inspiration?  We loved this list of equinox rituals, and these can be done anytime!

Turning Inward I’ve been giving myself a little extra time to journal at the beginning or end of the day.  It’s been hugely helpful in allowing me to process my feelings and to make sense of the jumble of emotions and thoughts in my brain.  On paper, on my computer, whatever is convenient and in front of me works for me!

Check That Nutrition As we shift seasons, it's great to take a moment to check in with your nutrition..  If it's already cooled down where you are, it might be a good idea to start adding in more grounding, warming, cooked foods to your diet.  Raw foods have a cooling effect on the body, and if we have too many when it's cold outside it can make it hard for our immune system to keep up! 

Self-Care Time Take some time to Treat Yo Self!  Long walks in the park? Yup.  Facial? You got it.  Epsom salt Baths? Every damn night.  X files and couch cuddles? You bet.  We all need that extra care some times so that we can re-set, re-charge, and re-focus on what really matters in our lives.

 

Want to really give your fall a jumpstart?  Apply to become a part of the next round of my group health coaching program Frazzled To Fierce!  This 10-week program is designed to help you make simple and sustainable diet and lifestyle shifts so that you can have more energy and less damn stress!

Applications are now open through October 10th, but the 20 available spots are first come, first served!



Guest Post! "The Whole 30 Halfway" by Amy Kocur

I'm so pleased to be able to share my dear friend Amy Kocur's account of her Whole 30 halfway-mark!  Check out her blog The New Minutiae for more great writing about wellness and style, and to read more about her Whole 30 journey.  -Cait

I am halfway done with my first Whole 30 food challenge.The way this has worked for me is I plan my food weekly  and I track my food daily. Weekly planning ranges from actually writing it down on a chart or a loose idea in my mind. I track daily using My Fitness Pal, for over a year and it's the backbone of my fitness transformation. My thoughts on The Whole 30 so far:

  • I feel healthier.
  • I'm skeptical about eating so much meat and eggs.
  • I worry a lot about relying too much on fruit and almond butter.
  • Within my support trio none of us abide the same 'version' of the plan.
  • I feel like I've lost weight and my physique has shifted (I also exercise and have not actually weighed myself - we're supposed to wait until Day 30!)
  • I have cooked more than I ever have in my entire life (honestly, the aspect I'm most proud of)!
  • The beginning was REALLY hard. 

The Whole 30 timeline is an invaluable resource. Having that as a guideline proves that nothing I'm experience is abnormal or something that needs to take me down (or cause me to go off plan). 

The first 11 days I experienced the headaches, exhaustion, and irritability. My body went through a major shift. I am a person who can resort to eating total crap junk food on the regular. Even when I was eating healthy - structured eating helped me lose 55lbs over the last year - that food routine was full of carbs, dairy and permitted sugars. Read: just enough dopamine-inducing food drugs to get by. I have not attempted eating Paleo since it was called Atkins in the late 90s (wink).  Inevitably, when I started, I was really grouchy and bitchy to my boyfriend who said I looked 'zapped' (drained) and grey or gaunt due to a rapid initial drop. Basically, I could tell my body was going through something. But I wanted to see what was on the other side.

Sugar and carbs are drugs and can have the same numbed-out impact of any wake and bake.   

I kept on - acclimating myself to this structure has had surprising positives. Don't tell anyone but I LOVE COOKING. I have cooked more in the last two weeks than I have in my whole life. I cook large batches of blueberry hash or ground beef with red onion, tomato, and balsamic.  I'm also more aware of my sleep hygiene, I see how my body fuels and restores itself. I'm more focused on goals and clear in my pursuits, personally -- The initial fog has truly fallen away to reveal a new, healthy aptitude.  

The nice part about turning the corner after the detox/ sugar hangover is that I barely remember how or why it was so difficult. I casually plan my meals for the week. I cook in bulk to be prepared for work days. I have go-tos when I don't have time to cook.  I am even focusing on how I'd like to refine my last 2 weeks to be more disciplined and get as much out of this as possible.

Once you hit the midway point The Whole 30 (or even just eating clean) is a healthy instance of, "if it feels good, do it."

I have struggled with food my whole life. Only in the last 2 years have I turned toward whole living, in many ways. I utilize support to help me through my struggles. I learn new and holistic ways to care for my body. I feel my feelings and inhabit my skin. I reach out to people who know more about topics I want to learn about. And I take action. The opposite of fear is action and all actions result in progress. So, while I'm glad this is only 30 days (or 20, or 3, or whatever you're ready to do in this moment) the amount of progress it speaks to is infinite. 

I'd love to hear your Whole 30 hooray or horror stories below! Take care. 

x/Amy

 

Getting Real About Sugar

 

Sugar, wtf.

So I’m in the middle of my first Whole 30, which I didn’t think would be terribly difficult for me.  30 days of no grains (I already don’t eat gluten), no dairy (already there), no legumes (eh, I can take them or leave them), and no added sugar – natural or otherwise (small amounts of fruit are ok).  I thought, no problem, I don’t eat THAT much sugar.  I’m generally a pretty healthy eater, right?

I was so wrong.

I AM generally a healthy eater, but what I didn’t realize is just how much hidden sugar there is in the everyday foods I was eating.  I definitely noticed some withdrawal type symptoms, similar to when trying to get off caffeine. I was feeling sort of angry, headachy, tired, and annoyed.  I think it really hit me when I was starving, walking around the grocery store trying to find a quick option for dinner and figured I’d pick up a rotisserie chicken.  Every single one had a form of sugar.  On chicken?  Really?

Everything from pickled peppers, to ketchup, to Emergen-C, to deli meat.  Everything my partner picked up and asked frantically “CAN I HAVE THIS” was a solid no, due to some form of sugar. 

It’s terrifying.  And it’s been a huge eye opener.

Food companies say they add sugar to their products to “enhance taste” but really, they do it to get you hooked.  Sugar lights up the same pleasure centers of our brain that a drug would, and once you have one hit you always want more.  Our bodies are hardwired to crave sugar in particular, because in the days of hunting and gathering, something sweet was a quick form of energy (Keep in mind, fruit was the sweetest thing you could typically find.  Not nearly as much sugar as that gluten-free donut).  It makes it extremely difficult to say no when that food comes up again.  And yet, we’re often told it’s a “lack of will power” that causes us to cave into food cravings.

No, asshole.  It’s you and all your added sugar. 

The other thing that’s been really striking to me is the way that I tend to use sugar, or food in general, in response to my emotions.  I knew I was sort of doing that, but this is the first time I’ve really had to challenge that, instead of giving in.  Generally, my idea of giving into a sweet tooth was a banana with almond butter, or some dark chocolate, but the point is that I’m reaching for those things for comfort, instead of dealing with whatever is going on. It’s been difficult, but I’m grateful for the chance to ask myself “what am I really craving here?”  I really noticed it when I had a few big projects due at the same time and was getting stressed out, and my first thought was “I just need a treat.”

No. I just need to sit down and do my work.  And maybe drink some extra water, write in my journal and take a nap.

To anyone considering a Whole 30, I can say wholeheartedly to give it a go.  Planning and prepping makes it a lot easier (so you don’t end up frantic and starving in the grocery store, like me), and it’s so SO worth it to be forced to take a good hard look at your current diet.  My body is super grateful for the break from sugar, and I’ll be sure to report more from the other side.

How about you?  Do you struggle with sugar cravings? Let me know in the comments below!

Take a Break

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to have an amazing week of vacation with my partner and his family.  We took an incredible cruise (my first one!) to the western Caribbean, and this shore gal got a ton of much needed sea time in. 

I got to check out caves in Jamaica, snorkel with sea turtles in Grand Cayman, hit the beach in Haiti, swim in pools, lay out with drinks, and nap.  I got to nap. Every. Single. Day.

It was extremely refreshing, relaxing, and calming, and I came back more alive and rested than I’ve felt in months.  Want to know why?

3 things.

First, I had a total digital detox.  The thing about being in the middle of the ocean is, your phone becomes just a camera and a clock (and maybe a paperweight).  That’s it.  Unless you want to pay for a pricy wi-fi package, it’s mostly just a brick.  90% of the time I had it tucked in my drawer, and forgot about it (the other 10% was for photo taking, which I didn't even do much of!)  It felt amazing.  Being cut off forced me to break my slight addiction to texting, social media and email.  I even brought a watch specifically so that I wouldn’t need it for the time so often.  It was liberating, and after the 1st day I didn’t even miss it.  I was even reluctant to turn it back on when we got back to the US. 

Second, was some serious quiet time.  One reason I slept like a rock was that we had an exterior room, so the only sound we really heard was the waves (and maybe once or twice, someone in the hallway).  I notice this all the time when I stay at my mom’s house in Jersey, where my bedroom is in the basement…. You don’t realize how loud the city can be outside your window until you leave, and your ears start ringing because it’s so quiet!  It was amazing, and really allowed me to have some good quality time with my journal and my thoughts.

The third and maybe most important thing was I didn’t do any work!  That’s right, this driven Capricorn didn’t take any work with her.  And I literally had to talk myself down from doing that.  Knowing that Internet would be out, in the weeks before my cruise I had thoughts of printing out material to edit by hand, and I was excited to take some time to work on a new group program and write some blog posts and do this long list of things I want to do!  At a certain point, I had to say “girl, chill” and remembered that there will always be time when I get back to do those things.  It’s super healthy to be forced to take a break in that way.  I came back feeling more creative, and ready to take on those tasks than I had been before, and I was actually able to relax and enjoy myself!

Obviously, we can’t always take a cruise when we need a break, but we can still take those 3 things and bring them into our day-to-day lives.  Maybe you can take a Sunday and lock your phone in a drawer, or even just not check email for a day.  Or find a few hours to sit in a park for some quiet time.  Take some structured time where you’ll do NOTHING even a little bit work related.  This includes house work too, none of that!

What will you do to take a break this weekend?  Let me know in the comments below!


Exercise For People Who Hate It

Guys, I know.  For most of us, the health recommendation to “move your body” is a challenging one.  It’s hard to motivate yourself to do anything except veg out on the couch and watch 10 episodes of the X-Files on Netflix (just me?) after a long day at work.  Especially with all the other stuff you have to do…. Laundry, cook dinner, take care of kids/animals.  By the end of it, that loosely scheduled, vague ‘workout’ you had planned went totally out the window. 

I’ve dabbled in exercise most of my life.  As a kid, I played rec soccer and rode horses, but I was never super serious or competitive with either.  I just had fun doing it.  I never really sought out exercise on my own, it was just a pleasant side effect of riding my bike from morning till night with my best friend Meg, playing in the yard with my sisters, and swimming everyday from June till September in the pool.

But then suddenly, you grow up a little and it feels tough to fit movement in.  High school came and my relationship with my body was pretty skewed for a number of reasons.  Any attempts at ‘fitness’ were usually trying to impress someone else, or to make me feel better about myself and my appearance (which never really helped).  I joined the track team at the urging of an old boyfriend, and I stuck with it for the duration of the 4 years for that reason only.  I sort of hated it, because I was never really good at it, which only continued to fuel the self-loathing that was going on in my angsty teenage years.

Also I hate being bad at stuff.  #CapricornProblems

When I think back to the times I enjoyed movement in high school, it was really being on the Colorguard that made that happen.  Don’t be fooled, spinning a flag while jazz running 50 yards down a football field and simultaneously trying not to get knocked over by a tuba is hard work.  And doing that almost everyday year round, between the constant choreography practice and the skill building involved in spinning rifle and saber, I was exhausted by the end of every rehearsal.

Part of what kept me coming back there and actually loving it was that I had a built in community.  A group of people who were all there with me, everyday, doing the same exact thing.  We commiserated when shit got tough and when it felt like our arms might fall off.  We laughed together when we pulled dumb pranks on each other (word to the wise, never fall asleep on the bus... your shoelaces will surely be tied together while you're snoozing).  We celebrated successes together. 

I think this holds true to any sort of fitness regiment.  When you have a community of people around you, supporting you, and going through it with you, it makes it WAY easier to actually show up and do the work.  In this case, we depended on each other to make it all happen, but I’ve found it really helpful to just have a consistent group of people who you know will ask “Where’s Cait?” if you don’t show up.

The other thing that keeps me coming back to various workouts in my life is having a goal.  In colorguard, the goal was not looking like total fools on the football field.  What keeps me coming back to hot yoga is my goal of doing an unassisted headstand.  I recently picked up a Tumbling and Acrobatics class because secretly, I want to be an acrobat.  Having those goals in the back of my mind helps me get my grumbling, cranky self out of bed, into my workout clothes and out the door.  And really, that’s the hardest part.

Speaking of Tumbling Class, another thing that got me back to class was that I paid for it!  I’m all about affordable and free self-care, but for some folks, having the backing of cold hard cash can really get you there.  In this case, it was a short run of classes that were already paid for, so it was easy to know that if I skipped one I was wasting $30. 

The main source of my movement these days is walking the dog, which is really great because it also allows me to multitask!  I usually call my friends or family while I’m on the walk, or will listen to a lecture or a book.  It’s a win-win-win.  I get some movement, Grover dog gets some movement, and I get to catch up with my people. 

I’ll leave you with this.  As much as I whine about working out, I never feel as good as I do after I’m finished.  For real, I’m not just saying that.  There are many times during Hot Vinyasa that I curse myself, curse the hot ass room and curse the teacher for making me do these insane things while I sweat so hard I can barely keep my footing on my mat, but I feel AMAZING after.  I’m always on cloud 9 walking home, albeit pretty smelly.

Tell me friends, how do you motivate yourself to move?


4 Ways to Bounce Back After Summer Holidays

I don’t know about you guys, but I have a hard time not going a little overboard during summer holiday weekends.  4th of July is one of my all time favorite holidays (eating, swimming, drinking, bikinis, fireworks… what else matters really?)  and this year I paired it with an amazing weekend away in western Virginia for my 10-year friendiversary with some of my best pals.  Even though I packed the healthy gluten-free snacks and tried to pace myself, when your friends are making some incredible food/drinks, it’s hard to stick to your optimal health routine.  Which is totally ok from time to time.  More than ok even, I think it’s healthy in itself to say “Fuck it” sometimes.

 The view from Friendiversary!

The view from Friendiversary!

But you know, eventually the weekend ends, and the real world comes crashing down on you in the form of hangovers, nausea, headaches, fatigue and general fogginess.  And it's not just 4th of July.  Sometimes in the summer it feels like there's an event every weekend that includes food and booze!

So in the spirit of getting “back on track,” here’s what I’m doing now to recover:

Drink a crapload of water.  Particularly, water infused with lemon and cucumbers, which aids in hydration and adds extra vitamins and minerals without even trying.  Also it tastes awesome and is great if you don’t particularly like the taste of plain water.

Detox Tea. Give your liver some love after all it’s done for you this past weekend (or you know, your whole life).  I love to keep some detox tea on hand after weekend full of bbq’s and parties, Yogi makes a great blend.

Extra Rest.  It’s the ever persisting feeling of needing a vacation from your vacation, but there’s something to it.  When you break out of your normal routine it’s awesome for your brain, spirit, and body, but can also be extra exhausting.  Cut yourself some slack and make sure you get enough rest during your recovery days.  Need help? Check out my post about getting yo beauty sleep!

Clean up your diet.  During the summer, I let myself indulge a little during the weekends, and try to eat really nutrient dense meals during the week.  It’s my way of keeping some balance.  What should you eat?  Everyone is different, but generally I try to get a good serving of high quality protein (local/free range meat, eggs, nuts, beans, legumes, etc) and a ton of fresh veggies.  It’s summer, so take advantage of all the awesome stuff that’s in season now!  My favorite summer plates are usually 1/3 protein and 2/3 veggies.  Recently, Desmond and I made rosemary chicken, with a heaping portion of roasted zucchini from the farmers market and sautéed garlic kale.  So. Good.

What do you do in the days after a long holiday weekend?  Let me know in the comments below!

 

4 Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice, or Midsummer, is fast approaching in the Northern Hemisphere.  This day, June 21st, marks the longest day of the year before the days begin to shorten again as we head towards winter. 

For me, it’s a little bit of a drag.  I LOVE summer.  I really probably belong somewhere where it’s warm all the time, because winter generally really bums me out.  So for me, when Memorial day comes, a part of me is all “YAY SUMMER POOLS OCEAN HEAT TINY DRESSES YES” and the other part of me is lamenting the fact that since it’s now unofficially summer, it means that it won’t always be summer, and that summer will, in fact, end.

Not a great way to live, huh?  The way I’ve been doing it, I probably am not enjoying summer to the fullest because I’m too worried about it ending!

So this time, I’m trying really hard to take each day as it is, remember to have gratitude for the current moment whether it’s June 1st or Sept 1st, and to just celebrate as much as I can. 

I’m super excited to be heading back home to the shore to spend the solstice with my mom and a few friends, so I wanted to share a few ways to really celebrate the longest day of the year.  Solstice is a time of reconnecting with the earth, and yourself.  This means checking in with your body, mind, spirit and surroundings.

Here are 4 ways to celebrate the sun this day:

Fire Be it a backyard bonfire, your charcoal grill or a candle in your apartment, fire is a great way to center yourself and connect to the universe (whatever that means to you.) Light up a fire and say a quick affirmation (this is one of my favs from Louise Hay)

 

Potluck  Food.  That’s it.

No but really, a potluck with friends/family is an awesome way to really connect with your loved ones, and to re-establish a sense of community.  Make it a picnic in the park, or a BBQ out in the back yard, this is a super easy way to have an awesome gathering.  The plus side? No one person is responsible for all the cooking!

Make Something Maybe it’s a special recipe for that potluck we just talked about.  Or something you’ve been meaning to do in the garden.  Or a craft from your ever growing Pinterest board of things you could just buy but you KNOW you could do it yourself!

 

Even if it looks like this, doing something with your hands is therapeutic, relaxing, and grounding.  Bonus points if your handiwork involves natural materials. 

Check In With Yourself  Take a moment to check in with your body.  Is there something going on that needs to be tended to? Aches and pains that have gone unchecked?  Mental health? Now’s a good time to recommit to your wellness goals (New Years Resolutions anyone?) and make those Dr’s appointments, schedule some exercise, hey, maybe even hire a health coach! 

What are your plans for the longest day of the year?  Share in the comments below!

 

Knowing When To Say "F*** It"

I’ll be honest, I had the hardest time figuring out what I wanted to write this week.

Should I write about the new baby plants that just went into my garden?

Maybe safe sunscreen options?

Summer exercise routines?

New recipes?

But really, what I’ve been thinking about is how I’m feeling a little like a failure when it comes to food.

As a health coach, I frequently give clients advice about foods to add into their diet and foods to limit.

Lately though, I’m feeling like a “Do as I say, and not as I do” coach.

After 6ish months with limited caffeine, coffee is making the rounds in my diet again.

Wine?

You betcha.

Froyo? Chocolate chips? Check and check.

To be fair, these foods were always in my diet, but lately they’ve been showing up more frequently than normal.

My hyper vigilant meal planning has fallen to the wayside the past few weeks, and dinner’s been on a whim depending on what we have in the fridge and how much we want takeout.

So what’s changed?

A few things.

For one, its summer!

And the summer Jersey girl in my wants to throw all my cares to the wind and spend my days on the beach and my nights on the boardwalk, soaking up the sun and the breeze and the salty air.

But possibly more importantly, is the fact that I was feeing the need to be “bad” in a way.

I was feeling like I needed to say “Fuck it” to everything I’m supposed to do, be, feel etc.

I needed to be rebellious, and do the opposite of what people, society, the world was telling me I “should” do.

So, lattes were had, drinks consumed and snacks eaten.

Responsibilities tossed to the side (have you noticed a lapse in blog posts?), and the laundry, cleaning, and dishes were left undone.

And you know what? It felt fucking great.

I truly believe in the need to go crazy sometimes.

It takes different forms for different people.

Maybe it’s deleting a days worth of emails without opening them.

Or a night out dancing till the wee hours of the morning.

And sometimes, it’s day of gluten free/vegan pizza, sweet potato fries, and all 3 Matrix movies back to back #sorrynotsorry.

We need those liberating moments from the monotony of day-to-day life, and I think these “Fuck It” moments are extremely healthy.

The trick here is, that it’s a moment.

Not a week, or a month, or a year or two.

At some point, we need to bounce back to our healthy routine if we want to stay well and feel well long term.

So where a night of box wine with your bestie can be totally healthy for you in an emotional (and therefore, physical and spiritual) way, a week of pounding back Oreo sleeves can be a bit much, and can start to wreak havoc on your physical self (and therefore, your emotional and spiritual self… see what’s happening here?)

What’s important is that we find the ways to let that be a fun time, and not an all the time.

To say “that was great” and then go back to eating our kale salads and drinking our water and riding our bikes to work.

Because ultimately, doing those healthy things allow us to have fun in the first place!

They get us feeling good, so we have the energy to go to that dance party and have stoop cook-outs with our friends.

It’s all about moderation and balance.

So go ahead, blow off your routine for a day, and have fun!

And then, you know, maybe drink some extra water the next day.

5 Tips For Dealing With Seasonal Allergies



I don’t know about you guys, but things are tough on the allergy front here in Baltimore right now.  It seems like everyone I know has itchy eyes, sneezing, sore throat, and brain fog.  Focus seems impossible, and my contacts consistently try to jump out of my eyes by 2pm every day.

So what’s the deal?  Seasonal allergies happen when the mucus membranes of the nasal lining are inflamed by pollen in the air.  Our bodies view the pollen as an invader, and responds accordingly, same as when we have a cold.  Typically this isn’t a huge issue, but pollen levels seem to be on the rise every spring.  Some research indicates that climate change has caused the rise in pollen levels year to year, and the numbers are only going up. 



Not great news, I know.  But there are ways to help ease the suffering through the spring. 

Vitamin C  Getting some extra vitamin C in your diet can actually help with allergy symptoms.  Vitamin C helps stop the formation of histamine, which is the cause of all those gross feelings, where as an anti-histamine (like Benadryl) work by interfering with histamine after it’s produced.  Eat some extra citrus fruits, or try an Emergen-C packet during tough pollen days.

Quercetin  Quercetin is actually a bioflavonoid (the natural pigments found in fruits and veggies) found in onions oddly enough, but it’s a really effective histamine inhibitor.  Best absorbed when taken with some Vitamin C. 

Take Care of your Gut  Gut health has a huge effect on all systems in the body, so when it’s not working right, things get a little crazy.  When the digestive system isn’t at it’s best, a condition called “Leaky Gut” can occur, where the lining of the intestine become porous, allowing bacteria, undigested food and toxins into the blood stream.  The body sees this as a threat, which kicks up inflammation in the body.  More inflammation = more allergy symptoms. 

So what can you do?  Take a good quality probiotic supplement, and eat lots of fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir.  If you suspect you have a food allergy, try an elimination diet for two weeks to see how your body feels. 

Acupuncture  I’m no acupuncturist, but I work with several lovely practitioners and I’ve experienced first hand how acupuncture can help with allergy symptoms.  Can’t afford private practice?  Check out www.pocacoop.com to find your nearest community acupuncture clinic (or if you are in Baltimore, check out Mend Community Acupuncture, where I work and get treated!).  In community acupuncture, you’re treated in a group setting, so you’re able to get way discounted care. 

Neti Pot / Saline Rinse  Nasal irrigation is about as fun as it sounds, but this stuff works.  Get yourself a cute little neti pot, fill it with a saline solution (usually included with the pot) and try not to drown yourself in your bathroom sink.  It takes a few tries to get the angle right, but once you do your sinuses will be feeling sweet relief.  If you 100% can’t get the neti pot thing going, try a saline rinse like Simply Saline.  My grandmother swears by it, and uses it on a daily basis to keep the ick at bay during the winter season. 

Above all, if you’re feeling crappy from the pollen in the air, take it easy on yourself and get some extra rest. 


What are your go-to allergy remedies?  Let me know in the comments below!

You Are Enough.



You Are Enough.
Period.
Just as you are.
Not a damn person can tell you otherwise.

They say we are our own worst critics, and I know that is 100% true.  The things we say to ourselves in our minds are horrific.  Things we would never in a million years say to out loud to another person’s face.  And the scary thing is, sometimes we don’t even notice we’re doing it.

It takes a lot of mindfulness to even realize the hurtful thoughts we have about ourselves.  For years I told myself I was ugly, stupid, and terrible at everything, and I didn’t even notice I was doing it.  For years there were unconscious thoughts about how awful I was just running in the background of my life 24/7.   And as you probably know, it wears you down in a way that feels physical, emotional, and spiritual.

I don’t remember when I started to notice the self-loathing that was happening.  Maybe it was after my sister Molly passed along Louise Hay’s book “You Can Heal Your Life” or when I started learning about the Law of Attraction and the Universe.   But all of a sudden it was clear.  I could hear all those totally fucked up thoughts I was having about myself.   Which is powerful, because once you notice it you can start to do something about it. 

At first I would get mad at myself.  My head would say “Cait, you are the worst at painting.  Why are you even doing this? Seriously, painting?” and my gut response would be to fire back with even more hurtful things, like “OMG, why am I thinking this? What is wrong with me? You are the WORST at positive thinking, GOD!”

Not exactly helpful.

It wasn’t until I came to my negative thought pattern without judgment that I could start to move past it.  Instead of meeting my negativity with more negativity, I started to just respond back with the opposite, positive, statement.  So it looked something like this:

Negative: “Cait, your feet are enormous and nobody loves you.”

Positive: “Cait! Your feet are awesome and can kick the kickball out of the park and move you around and do cool stuff!  And also everyone loves you, you beautiful soul!!! <3 <3 <3”

The positive voice is wildly excited.



Our bodies hear everything our minds say, and negativity can affect us in long and short term ways. Besides anxiety and depression, it can also contribute to us making poor choices in regards to our health and wellness.

In meditation, they often teach you to think of thoughts as clouds just passing by.  In the same way we notice clouds and see them go, we can do the same thing with negative thoughts.  Without judgment, just send them on their way.  More will come, and they can just float on by.

The important idea to come away with here is that dealing with negative self-talk is a practice.  It won’t change overnight.  All you can do is continue to bring your awareness back to positive thinking, and self-love.  


And just remember that you are enough.  Right now.

Slowing Down and Easing Into Spring




It’s spring.  You know what that means?

Now every weekend there will be like 10 events all scheduled at the same time that all sound really cool and I want to go to them all. 

It doesn’t hurt my skin to go outside anymore!  Let’s do all the things!

I think most of us feel this surge of energy when the weather gets warm.  We want to shed off the layers of winter and break free into the sun.  Which is great, and we should do that, but we need to be mindful of how fast we jump into that. 

Every time the weather warms up a little, I see folks outside in shorts, flip-flops and tank tops. 60 degrees feels really warm right now compared to the insane snow and polar vortexes of winter, but that’s a huge shock to our bodies to suddenly have our skin super exposed.  And I'm a Jersey Girl, I love me some flip-flops.  So often people get sick during this transitional time, because we take it too fast.  We get too excited!

There’s a huge benefit to slowing down year round, and especially during seasonal transitions.  Slowing down helps our nervous system relax, helps our brains focus better and helps us feel happier and more content.  Who doesn’t want that?

Easier said than done, I know.

I’m definitely in the camp of do as I say and not as I do when it comes to slowing down and easing into things.  I eat in front of my computer.  I rarely meditate.  I stay up too late working on projects that can wait.  I over schedule myself.

But at the same time, I’ve also resisted the urge to stop wearing my scarf.  I haven’t broken out my bin of warm weather clothes.  I’ve said no to a lot of people, commitments and outings.  And I’ve napped!  Oh, the naps.  So so good.

So as we move forward into the warm weather, I invite you to find ways to slow down and ease into spring in your own life.  Maybe that means you read before bed instead of staring at a screen.  Maybe you take a leisurely walk instead of a hurried drive.  Or maybe it’s just doing the things you have to get done with more focus and intention, instead of simultaneously making a mental list of what else needs to get done.

Take deep breathes, and take care of you!


What are your favorite ways to slow down?  Let me know in the comments below!

Recent Reads







A full week and a half later, I still have some lingering symptoms of my crazy #SpringFlu. 

Saturday was the first day in a week I wasn’t running a fever, and I found out on Thursday after a trip to urgent care that I’m also dealing with an ear infection. 

So. Much. Fun.

I’m finally on the upswing, and operating at about 60% as opposed to the 15% I was at all of last week.  I can now most of my routine scaled down, with lots of naps involved.  I’ve never felt so proud of myself for doing everyday tasks like loading the dishwasher, making the bed, or washing my face.

It’s the little things.

One thing I did get to do this past weekend between snoozes was catch up on some of my favorite blogs, and I thought I'd share some of recent reads I really enjoyed.   




I love this post by Katie over at Wellness Mama about Sprouts and Microgreens.  She give a great run down of what the benefits are, as well as some tips if you're interested in growing your own!




I'm a huge fan of a big grain bowl with an egg or two for breakfast, and this Southwest Quinoa Breakfast Bowl from the Kitchn looks amazing!  This would require a good amount of prep work for a weekday morning, but if you're feeling ambitious you could have all the parts ready to go on a Sunday night.


These Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cardamom Cookies from Gena over at Choosing Raw look delicious, and I can't wait to try them this weekend.




Kris Carr has been doing a great series of makeup roundups on her blog profiling products that are cruelty free, have a low rating on the EWG Skin Deep Database (which means they are low in known harmful chemicals) and actually work well... Kris and her team test them! I've been waiting for the foundation post since she mentioned it a few months ago, and I'm really excited to try some of these out.  



What have you been reading lately?  Let me know in the comments below!



My Go-To Flu Remedies



Oh yes.  It's happened.  

I’ve caught that nasty spring flu that’s been making it’s rounds around the Greater Baltimore/DC Metro area.  Probably brought on by a mixture of my super hectic week last week, hanging out with a sick kid on Monday, and the totally insane ‘world is maybe gonna end soon’ temperature fluctuations we’ve been having.

At first I tried to deny it.  It’s just seasonal allergies, right?  I’ll do my usual allergy remedies (more on that in the coming weeks) and be on my way. 

But boy I was wrong.  After my typically grocery shopping trip I came home and was completely unable to function.  Body aches, chills, sore throat, stuffy nose, headaches… the works.  So I broke out my go-to remedies, and figured now would be a good time to share them with you all.

Elderberry Syrup. Elderberry syrup has been used for generations to prevent and treat the flu.  Elderberries are very high in Vitamin A and C, and have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties.  All great for the flu.  It’s easy to find on Amazon, or you can make your own with this recipe from Wellness Mama

Zand Zinc Lozenges.  We got these at work over the winter and they’ve been awesome for sore throats.  The elderberry ones are a great way to get some of the benefits listed above, and the lemon mint ones are great too.  Zinc is known for regulating immune function, and shortening the duration of the common cold.

Emergen-C.  This one’s a no-brainer, but it’s still one I keep handy for times I’m feeling the ick.  High doses of Vitamin C can help shorten the duration of the cold/flu and speed up recovery.

Oscillococcinum.  I always keep this homeopathic remedyfrom Boiron on hand for times like this to relieve symptoms like body aches, headache, fever, chills and fatigue.  The bonus is it doesn’t have any side effects like drowsiness, though it does work best if you start taking it as soon as symptoms come up.


And of course, obviously, plenty of rest and clear fluids.  If you’re in the “I’m surrounded by the infected” camp, also add in some Echinacea to help keep the sick at bay.

Good luck to the fellow flu-infected.  

What about you? What are your go-to's for the flu?

5 Ways To Recover From A Hectic Week

As I write this, I’m still finding bits of fake blood in my hair.

Friday I had the pleasure of performing in an amazing show from Palace Productions and Buster Britches called ‘Halfway To Halloween’ at the Rock and Roll Hotel in DC.

It was a BLAST, but by the time I got back to Baltimore Friday night I was Wiped. Out.

The kind of wiped out where it takes a good 48 hours to feel somewhat normal again.

Between working my normal hours, attending feminist film screenings, trying to feed myself, practicing for a show, going to yoga so I can actually perform for said show, testing different methods of fake blood application for said show, barely sleeping, dog, taxes, and client sessions, my body said, “NO MORE” and crashed HARD.

I know I’m not alone in this.

Whether it’s your job, extracurriculars, school, or just over-scheduling yourself, many of us will frantically ask “WHY did I do this to myself?!” amongst the many feelings of anxiety and exhaustion.

Because really, we do it to ourselves 90% of the time.

I don’t

have

to necessarily do all the things I do, but you know what? I do.

Because it makes me feel fucking great.

Even during the times of “What the hell is wrong with me for agreeing to all this?”

So now I write to you from Sunday, where after lots of lazing around and Netflix, I present my favorite ways to recover from those oh so crazy weeks we all have.

Sleep

. Duh. Like as much as you want.

During recovery periods adding in extra naps, allowing for early bed times and sleeping in late are all totally cool, and help your body recover.

Also just laying around is a great way to help you feel better.

Liquids.

Water, tea, kombucha and green juices and smoothies are a great way to get back on track.

It’s tempting to turn to caffeine to help perk back up, or a glass of wine to help you relax, but both of those things can actually make the recovery process much longer.

Stick to hydrating liquids like lemon water and broth.

Epson Salt Bath.

This is easily my favorite post-craze ritual.

A hot bath with a cup of Epson salt, a half cup of baking soda, and a few drops of lavender essential oil.

The Epson salt and baking soda are detoxifying, and are a great way get more magnesium in your body (through your skin!).

Magnesium can help you feel more relaxed, and help tired, overused muscles to recover faster.

Deep Breathing Techniques.

Mediation and deep breathing are awesome for getting your body and brain back on track.

I love the

UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center’s guided meditations

to help me feel relaxed and grounded.

They vary from 3 to 19 minutes, which is nice when you’re looking for something quick. 

And finally,

Permission To Be Lazy!

On recovery days I hereby give you permission to order in (try to keep it on the healthy side), watch movies all day, read a book, or listen to your favorite podcasts (I really like HayHouseRadio.com, if you’re into that sort of thing).

And don’t feel bad about it!

That being said, Imma wrap this up and get back to my Bob’s Burger’s marathon.

 

What are your favorite ways to recover after a rough week?

Leave a comment below!

Feminism and Wellness

As some of you may know, I’m currently serving as the Special Events Coordinator for the Feminist Art Project-Baltimore (TFAP-B).  We’re a regional chapter of an international non-profit arts organization which aims to be inclusive; supporting local, self-identified female artists, as well as men, who recognize and promote Baltimore area women in the arts. 

You can read a little more about us in my blog post from last year

We’ve recently launched our first and only fundraiser on Indiegogo so we can continue to provide free artistic and cultural programs for Baltimore communities.  Take a second and check out our little video, it involves reading feminist literature to cats.




As part of our ask video, we all spent some time thinking about why we originally joined TFAP-B, and what keeps each of us donating our time and energy to the group.  What’s our personal story? 

I feel like there are so many reasons really.  I was lucky enough to be raised by a feminist, and I always saw the need for groups like this.  According to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 51% of visual artists today are women, but when 8 major museums were surveyed, only 28% of solo exhibitions spotlighted women.  Though women earn half of the MFAs granted in the US, only a quarter of solo exhibitions in New York galleries feature women.

In the United States, women still earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.



And in terms of wellness, women are often put down as “hysterical” or “crazy” for expressing our emotions and thoughts. We live in a culture that praises women who put other’s needs before their own.  We’re taught that we need to care for everyone else first, and then we get whatever is leftover.  Short term, this leads to burnout, fatigue, and to stress-related disorders.  Long term, this stress can lead to high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, infertility, and it can speed up the aging process.

I talk about self-care all the time.  It’s easily one of my favorite subjects in wellness, partially because it’s essential but so many people (men and women alike) don’t do it.  Putting your own health, wellness, and needs first is viewed as selfish.

I call bullshit.

I think women (and men) need to start putting themselves first.  It’s like the safety presentation on airplanes.  Put your own oxygen mask on before assisting a child (or whoever).  You have care for yourself first, so that you can be fully present to take care of others.  I feel like RuPaul’s quote about self-love could easily be about self care.

Cause if you don’t take care of yourself, how in the hell you gonna take care of someone else?




Today I challenge you to put yourself first.  What is it that you need?  Some extra sleep? A green juice? Time to vent?  A hug?  A glass of wine and a good book?

Do it, and own it.  Don’t be ashamed of what you need to do to take care of YOU.


Can I get an amen?