Just over two years ago, I bought a few essential oils to help my daughter with an ear infection that kept returning. We were at the end of our rope with antibiotics for my then four year old and I knew we had to do something to try and prevent infection. It seemed that at the end of every single cold an ear infection followed.
A blogger I had followed for quite some time had started using essential oils at home with her family and I had kind of written it off. I didn't’ really get the whole idea behind them, and I didn’t really believe that they could work. But with my sanity on the line, I bought a few and started using them for her ears.
They did end up helping with the symptoms, which I was really excited about. You know when your kids are in pain, you’ll do just about anything, and in a way, this is what pushed me into essential oils in the first place.
I didn’t move fast with adding new oils to my self care or daily routines. I need to add things gradually instead of just jump right in. Eventually, I realized that I really needed to amp up our immune system to truly stop these dreaded seasonal colds, flues and ear infections. Again, I had heard about Thieves, but didn’t really buy into it. I decided though, to give it a try and just SEE if it really lived up to all it’s been touted to be.
This was my game changer. Thieves Essential Oil literally changed my entire life. I started just using it when there were colds going around (let’s be real -- this is pretty much EVERY. SINGLE. DAY in a preschool room). It seemed to help. My girls started to have reduced symptoms when they would get sick. And they seemed to miss out on a few of the bugs going around.
A few months later when kindergarten started for my oldest daughter, I had read about how important consistency is with these oils, and I started using them daily as part of our morning routine on my kids. Again, I saw life change in a positive way. This drastically reduced the amount of times my girls were sick and drastically reduced the cold and flu symptoms in my kids. This also meant that my husband and I were much healthier this season too. We all know the domino effect of one child bringing home a virus…...eventually the whole family gets it.
This was my first experience with essential oils, and it literally changed SO much with my family’s routines and life. Over the past two years I’ve gradually added on to my routines and found other ways I love to use my oils. I know most people will have really strong opinions either for or against these little bottles of goodness, but I wanted to share with you some of the ways that I use my oils every day to support emotional and physical health.
To support our immune system, I made a roller with 10 drops of Thieves Essential Oil, 10 drops Frankincense Essential Oil and 10 drops Copaiba Essential Oil. In the really intense winter months I might add 1 to 3 drops of Oregano Oil too. I then pump in fractionated coconut oil to the roller and fill it up to the top. I put the cap on and shake it up to mix the oils together.
Every morning we roll this on our feet and spine before we head out the door. And like I said, we’ve had ZERO sick days this year. I give credit to a combination of things, but I really feel like essential oils is the game changer here.
Sometimes I will also diffuse Thieves if I’m feeling like we need some extra support.
My skin has benefited SO much from using a few key essential oils. I don’t go super overboard or make it really complex, but I have added just a few little gems to my skin care routine and seen a lot of the fine lines that had been starting (thanks kids!) to disappear.
I’ve also had luck minimizing those blemishes that pop up every once in a while with the help of essential oils. Skin care is such a personal thing and many of us have VERY different types of skin -- me included! That being said, not every oil or carrier oil (the base you mix the essential oils with) are going to work for every different skin type.
My skin tends to be more sensitive and on the drier side. And because of this I use jojoba oil as a base for my serum. You could also use rosehip oil as a base or even aloe as a base if you wanted.
I think the real trick with using essential oils for skin care is consistency. When I started using them every day, I started to notice a pretty big change in the texture of my skin and the reduction of fine lines.
The other great thing about using essential oils as part of your skin care routine is that you’re cutting out a lot of the toxins, preservatives and chemicals that are in the health and beauty products. It’s the main reason I even started using essential oils for my skin, and the benefits of this skin care routine have been just a huge plus.
Sometimes emotions run super high. This is true of any family, but sometimes even more so with families who have littles. I even need some support sometimes to calm my feelings, stay grounded or give me a boost. There a lot of ways I support my emotions and my stress levels, but essential oils have really helped in positively supporting my other tactics.
I have a few key oils that I use in both diffusers and rollers that help with creating a calming, peaceful feeling. I especially use this before we head of to school for the day to chase away those butterflies.
Valor is like a little bit like the magic unicorn of emotional support oils. We use it in a roller and in the diffuser whenever feelings of insecurity sneak in.
Stress Away is another oil that we use SO often. It smells like vanilla and truly does bring the stress levels down. I love it so much for the end of the night after dinner and you can even use it in a shower or bath to help calm your brain and body.
And of course there’s lavender. Lavender is probably our most used oil around the house. We use it ad bedtime and with laundry...and in a lot of our diffuser blends. My girls absolutely love it and the relaxing effect it has. If you’re not into the flower smell, I love pairing it with Cedarwood to give it a more grounded, earthy smell. It’s like my magic sleep potion.
So often during either journaling, devotions or meditation I love to have a few essential oils going in the diffuser. This really helps my mind stay focused and centered while I delve deep into whatever self-care practice I’m in. I didn’t initially think it would make that much of a difference to my time meditating or doing self-reflection. But I still tried using a grounding blend of essential oils in the diffuser. Now, I just don’t feel like any of these internal reflections are as powerful without using my diffuser.
These blends are my absolute favorite when it comes to creating an environment positive for journaling, meditation or self-reflection:
REDUCING CHEMICAL EXPOSURE
I mentioned it earlier, but reducing the risk of chemical exposure is so important to me and my family. I started learning all about the toxins that are in cleaning products and in products I used in my home after my girls were born.
I was appalled to learn all of the products that I thought were healthy and green actually were not. What was even more disappointing to learn was that these products ended up in the air on surfaces I really never intended it to be on. The thought of my kids getting chemicals from cleaning products in their mouths was enough to make me look into alternatives.
I started using the Think Dirty app religiously when I was buy any product for cleaning, skin or general home product. It’s helped me understand what to look for, what to avoid and what is safe to buy.
The chemicals that are in many of the products we introduce to our homes are toxic to our bodies and our internal systems. Our hormone production is especially affected by the preservatives added to our home products. (You can learn even more about how to keep your home healthy at my page Healthy House on the Block).
The great thing about essential oils is that many of them have disinfecting properties and can be used in cleaners and instead of cleaners. For example, the Thieves Household Concentrated Cleaner has replaced literally every single one of my cleaners. It’s one of the biggest, most positive changes we’ve made in our house. Learn more here.
Using essential oils to get me going in the morning and during the afternoon slump has been another way I never expected to use them. I love diffusing an energizing blend to get my body moving and to refresh my mind. It’s been such a great tool for me instead of using coffee or a snack in the afternoon.
I used to grab a snack or make another cup of coffee in the afternoon while i was working to keep me on task, but ever since I started using a diffuser in my office, the need for these other vices is gone. I feel a lot better about using a diffuser because I was eating or having something to drink when I really didn’t need it.
There are so many energizing blends that promote productivity for when your working or cleaning. I like to experiment with different blends to see what works the best. These diffuser blends are winners in my book
Do you use essential oils? What ways do you use them?
Want to learn more?
With summer around the corner and the end of the school year nearly here, I’ve been thinking a lot about how our schedule and life will change a bit with my kids being home. I love summer vacation and *mostly* love having my girls around during the day. We love planning things to do without having to rush off places. Life just goes a bit slower over the summer and I’m hoping this year is no different.
Taking time to just “be”, explore and experience new things has been what summer is all about for us. If you’re in the same boat as me and your kids will be joining you for summer fun, it can also take a little bit of adjusting.
I know a lot of times my work time and “me time” end up not having any real structure to them and I just squeeze them in whenever I can. This works fine for the most part, but in more recent years I’ve also found that I stay up much later with summer hours and it’s not as easy to get up and get a work out in before the kids get up.
It’s for this reason that I’ve changed the way I get my exercise and workouts in with my kids home. Each age they’ve been has also meant I’ve needed to change it up a bit too. When they both napped or had a rest time during the afternoon, that’s when I would work out if it didn’t happen before they woke up for the day. Now I’m in a season of working out WITH them because they can mostly keep up with what I’d like to do in some way or another.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to keep a summer exercise routine in place and even including your kids in the fun.
KIDS BIKE & MOM RUNS
This is one of our favorites lately. My older daughter loves biking and so this makes it fun for her and peaceful for me. Sometimes they’ll scooter while I run, but the bike has worked really, really well.
If you can find a trail where cars aren’t present this can be a great option because so often the kids are way ahead of me and end up turning around to join me again.
I also love this because it usually makes them feel pretty good that they’re faster than mom while we’re working out together. The more fun the kids have, the more fun a workout is for me. If they’re miserable and complaining, it can be a really draining workout. Try to do this one in the morning so nobody gets too overheated.
JOGGING STROLLER OR BIKE TRAILER
While this option just doesn’t work for me that much anymore, last summer this was THE thing we did at least a few times a week. We biked to a lot of our favorite places instead of drove. If you’ve ever pulled a bike trailer with two kids, you know it’s a GOOD workout. We went places like the library, beach and farmer’s market when we could.
You can also go for a quick run with a jogging stroller or bike trailer that has the option to use it as a stroller. The nice thing is you can usually give your kids a book or even a healthy snack while you run and for the most part, you’ll be uninterrupted while exercising.
Just remember sunscreen and cool clothing if it’s a hot day.
KIDS VIDEOS THAT INCORPORATE MOVEMENT FOR RAINY DAYS
If you hop over to Youtube, you can find SO many videos that incorporate movement for kids. One of our favorite resources for this is called GoNoodle. It’s got some fun songs for kiddos and it also adds in some exercise moves for them.
Sometimes I’ll join in with them and just do the moves with either more intensity or I’ll add some weights to the motions.
You can even find workout videos for kids if you wanted to. Sometimes my girls want to do something “just like mom,” and a workout video geared towards them is just the thing. I’ll just make the workout more intense for me while they do the “kid” version.
If you’re still in that phase of life where you need space away from your kids to get a workout in, here are some ways to carve out that time while they’re still at home:
You may have figured out by now that I am a planner. Generally I function best with a plan that has been written out. For me the reason it works best is that I feel like planning frees up my brain to work on other things within my home and business. Often times if I haven’t written things down, I start to feel my thoughts swirl around the things that have to get done.
The other reason I like to have a plan in place is because I feel like it makes me more efficient with my time. My time is so precious to me, as I’m sure it is to you as well, and I don’t want to spend the little time I have trying to figure out what I should get done first. If I have a plan, even a loose plan, in place, the work usually gets done right away and I can move on to my next task.
I use this philosophy with my home life, business and personal to-dos. And I can assure you while I use this philosophy constantly, I’ve changed the WAY I plan out my days and weeks multiple times even over the last few years. I believe it truly depends on what type of season I’m in and what is feeling best to me at that moment.
I think sometimes just the change of how I’m planning out my week is enough to keep me energized and excited to do it. Even if you’re not a planner, there are ways you can use a little bit of weekly planning to make your week run a bit more smoothly.
I also change how I plan based on what type of season I’m in. Some seasons I’m busier with work or the kids school and so my planning routine changes. I have learned that the best thing to be is flexible and to be gracious with myself. Sometimes I’ve had to take a step back and learn that leaving things on the to do list for another week is okay. It also helps me with future planning and knowing what I can handle and what I can’t handle.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
The first thing to do is realize just how you plan best. You might be the type of person that needs structure and scheduling in everything from day to day tasks to huge projects is beneficial. Or, you might be a person who needs some flexibility with their schedule and the time frame that you have to get things done may change from day to day. And still there are others of you who might really need structure, but have a hard time implementing it.
It’s important to realize HOW you work best. Think about the feeling you get when things are written out or scheduled. Does it overwhelm you, or does it make you feel mentally freed up? That should be a really good indicator of how you can work with your personality and your needs when you plan for the week.
If scheduling everything makes you feel great - do it! If it leaves you with an overwhelmed feeling, then maybe just plan out the “MUSTS”, which I’ll get to later.
LAY IT ALL OUT
Usually on a Sunday night I mentally go through a list of things I want to accomplish during the week. I have it broken down into tasks for work, tasks for my house and home, personal tasks, etc. Notice, I don’t have any actual schedules or appointments on the list. This is strictly tasks I want to accomplish during the week.
Once I have a list of everything I want to do I plug it into my calendar and decide which day things will get done. Some things end up getting done on the same day every week, like chores and cleaning, so there isn’t a whole lot of thought there.
This is a really effective way to get things accomplished when you have a less than regular schedule. You can leave one day completely empty of tasks if it’s a really busy day for you, or you can double up on things you want to get done if it’s a day where you’ll have extra time.
Every week I plan out 7 days worth of meals. I did a whole post on how this can actually save you money and help you eat a more nutritious diet here. I usually don’t plan breakfasts as we have a pretty regular rotation. For the most part it’s planning out dinners for the family.
The one exception to this is planning out school lunches for my first grader. She usually does a mix of school lunch and home lunch and we go through the week of meals every Sunday and she lets me know which days she wants school lunch and home lunch. For the home lunch days I add a task to my calendar for the day before to pack up her lunch for school.
I do the same thing with my meals as I do for my to-dos. I look at my calendar and make sure that I’m not planning a really intensive meal on a day we’ll be gone all night at gymnastics, or a night that we have commitments until dinnertime. If it’s a night we will be home after school, I might plan a meal that takes a little bit more time or effort.
I also look at the weather to see what nights are good grilling weather and what nights we want to do a picnic outside.
Then I plug the meals into my weekly calendar and add any to-dos like meal prepping to that
I had heard about people planning their week of clothing on a Sunday night and I originally thought they were insane. I could not imagine WHY on earth someone would need to do that. But then, I started doing it for my kids just to make school mornings easier. And did it ever!
On Sunday nights we pick outfits for the entire week based on weather, school activities, etc. and lay them all out. Now my kids can get up and get dressed and know what they want to wear before hand so we don’t waste time in the morning. It’s taken the guesswork out of deciding on an outfit and then changing their minds.
Once I started doing it for them, I realized how nice it would be to know what I wanted to wear for the whole week too. I look at my schedule and where I’ll have to be on each day of the week and then plan out my clothes accordingly.
I also find we rotate through our clothes a lot better. There isn’t one shirt that gets worn out because it’s getting worn week after week. Plus it helps me wear some of the clothes in new ways when I’m planning for the entire week.
I find that if I plan out a rounded routine of exercise for the week, it takes the guesswork out of each morning when I get up to exercise. If I already know what I’ll be doing for the week, I can just get up and go instead of try to decide what I should do.
I usually look at the weather and what my schedule is for this too, just like with clothing and meals. It helps me decide if I’m going to run, skip a morning workout and exercise with the kids or do some body weight work inside.
Whatever I end up planning, I just go with it and try to stay pretty much on track. If I have to change things around, I try not to worry or feel stuck to what I’ve planned.
YOUR TOP THREE
Choosing just three things each day means you’re not overwhelming yourself with too many little tasks. It feels horrible to look at your to-do list a mile long at the end of the day and only have a few things checked off. It’s actually counterproductive to have too many things on the list for each day or for the week.
Being realistic and just doing what you know you can do is much more productive in terms of momentum and continuing on.
CATCH UP DAYS
Every week I build in a time period or day where it’s simply a catch up day for the items I didn’t get done throughout the week. Some people will have a catch-up time every day at the end of the day, but for me, I keep it to one day, usually on the weekend.
The important thing about a catch up day is to actually schedule the that time out. Make sure there is a time slot on your calendar that you have scheduled to use for this. Then, make sure you fill in what tasks your catching up on. I find that if I have a blank space on the calendar without a specific task filled in I’m not very productive during that time.
Brendon Burchard has a system where he allows about 40 minutes at the end of each workday for catch up tasks. You could do this too, but since we’re talking about weekly planning, I thought I would share this method of giving yourself one day per week or a portion of one day per week.
TOOLS TO USE
Weekly Goal Planner: My weekly goal planner is a great tool I like to use each week as well. It helps me stay super focused on what I want to accomplish in each area of the week. You can download yours here if you haven’t checked it out already.
To-Doist: This is one of my favorite tools to use for a to-do list. I love that I can add things to each day by voice. For example, I can say (or type) into the app, “Pack Adrienne’s lunch on Tuesday Night” and it will add it to my task list on Tuesday night just because I’ve specified a time.
In To-Doist you can also make different categories to keep yourself really focused and organized. I have one for work, one category for chores and one for personal items. This helps me see exactly what type of task I’m working on.
Daily Print Out: This is my daily printout that I use for each day of the week. You can put it in a three ring binder if you want to keep it more organized, or for me, I just keep it on my desk. You could also print it and put it on your fridge for the day. I have two days per page and then a master planning page.
It makes it easy to put the weekly tasks into a specific day of the week. It also keeps your meals and exercise in one spot too.
GRACE & FLEXIBILITY
We’re all busy and we’re all trying our best to try and make our lives as smooth as possible. If you don’t get everything done one day or one week, give yourself some grace and move on. Let’s remember that these are self-imposed tasks and goals. We can change them at any time. However, if you’re striving towards getting a particular task done, it’s also important to stay on point and move forward as often as you can.
Not being able to get everything done is also a good learning tool to adjust and tweak your future to do lists. If you’re not getting everything done, then you need to ease up on your expectations for yourself.
If you’re finding a lot of time where you don’t know what to do next, then it’s time to get more intentional with your planning and put more on your to do list.
Either way, give yourself a break when it’s not perfect and make a better plan for the next week, not excuses.
If you caught my Facebook Live Video last week, I mentioned that this is a really busy and chaotic season in my life. This time of year, every year, is stuffed full of events and outings that we don’t typically do the rest of the year. The feeling of go-go-go and very little rest can make me feel pretty defeated. While I’m constantly doing things, I’m not really getting ahead on anything. It’s as if my whole life moves forward at lightning speed without my permission while I attempt to cling to time with my family.
Often towards the end of a busy season, my personal care, consistent exercise and even goals I had for my business have fallen to the wayside for the sake of “business”. It leaves me with a really frustrated feeling that I’ve let everything on my schedule rule the way I do my day to day life. It can feel exhausting when I’m in the middle of this conflict between “doing all the things” and keeping my life simple and grounded. How can I keep going at this pace? How can I fit all of these things into 24 hours?!
I’m sure you know that feeling all to well yourself. But as I am faced with this tiring, overwhelmed feeling, I know that what I need is to persist and continue working towards what my goals are.
Sometimes goals take a back seat. Sometimes we have to take a step back and focus on all of the other things going on in our lives. But even when this is the case, the best thing I’ve realized is that I don’t have to hit “pause” on these dreams and goals. Instead, we can move forward, even if it’s a fraction of what you wanted to accomplish, you’re still moving forward.
I’ve had seasons where my clean house took a back seat to everything else going on. But I didn’t neglect it completely. I did what I could with the time I had to clean the bare minimum. The same goes for personal care. At this season of my life, personal care is about 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night. A few years ago it was half of that and in a few years, it may be different again. Even if it’s not what I planned, I can still take care of myself with what I do have.
All of these examples have one thing in common: persistence. Being persistent has two meanings, one being continuing your course of action even though it’s difficult. And the other meaning is a prolonged existence of something. Either of these definitions mean the same thing to me: Doing what it takes and moving forward, even if slowly.
It is SO okay to do things more slowly than you want. My opinion is that sometimes, there are benefits to this. When I pray for God to grant me something on my time table and it doesn’t happen, I get frustrated. It’s a natural human reaction I suppose. But this frustration either makes me work harder, rethink how I’m going about something or it makes me sit back and say, “You’ve got this, God. I trust you.” In that last scenario I may learn to be patient.
But all the while, I keep persisting. I don’t sit back and do nothing. I’m always moving forward, even if at snail’s pace. God persists with us too. He is our “prolonged or continued existence.” He’s always there, constantly listening, constantly guiding.
Examples and scripture about being persistent is all over His Word too. He’s given us such a great tool and such a great opportunity to learn through His Word. Perseverance is what many of Jesus’ disciples had while the spread the Word. They were doing something despite it being difficult. They were moving forward, even if not at their pace.
The definition of perseverance is being persistent in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. Notice it doesn’t mean giving up on success, just that there is a delay in achieving it.
As I’m headed in to my busy season, I’m keeping this arsenal of Bible Verses about perseverance and persistence handy to remind myself that even though I’m chronically “busy” this season, I will still move forward. I will continue to grow, evolve and accomplish my goals even when I’m out of time for the day. I will continue to be persistent as I slowly move forward in this season.
If you were at my house in the morning, you’d see me organizing and sorting supplements into piles for myself and my kids. It looks like a pharmacy on my kitchen counter in the midst of breakfast. And if we go out of town for a few days, you’d better believe I’m packing these little gems and sorting them into containers for each of us.
For me, I try to make sure I’m getting a majority of my nutrition and vitamins from my food. But sometimes, it doesn’t happen to the level I want, or I know I could benefit from a little bit more in a particular area. For me personally, calcium is a big area I miss out on as a lot of my diary is limited. I get calcium from other sources, but a supplement really helps if I go through a period of eating little to no dairy. Supplements are a great way to fill in a few of the missing nutrients that you may not be getting on a regular basis.
Plus as we age, our bodies may need a bit more of different vitamins or minerals. There are also some added lifestyle benefits to many of these as well. Some supplements will aid in your sleep health as well as the health and appearance of your skin.
The important thing to remember is that not all supplements are created equal. There are a lot of vitamins and minerals on the market and some contain more fillers and less of the good stuff. Do your research before you buy, and even consult a nutritionist, naturopath or doctor if you’re having trouble knowing what to look for.
Below are some of the best supplements you can take to enhance an already healthy lifestyle:
Probiotics were added to our daily routine a few years ago after a nasty winter of antibiotics for my then two year old. We needed to rebuild the good bacteria in her gut and we never stopped using them after that.
Probiotics are important for the health of the gut and the immune system in general (Study about Probiotics). They keep the good bacteria flourishing, which prevents the intestines from digestive problems as well.
There have also been links to probiotic supplements and the link between gut health to our mood and mental health. (Probiotics affects on mood and mental health)
While probiotics is widely used for improving the health of our internal digestion, it is also being used more in athletes to promote endurance during training (Probiotics and athletics).
Eating fermented foods and yogurts can help increase your natural intake of probiotics, but you can also find high quality supplements as well.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s are pretty well known around the health world. They’re known to be a great addition to your daily supplements as most of us probably don’t eat enough foods that contain these Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
There are so many benefits to taking these supplements for both your body and brain. In fact many of the benefits have been studied and researched, so the evidence is backed by science.
Look for a high quality Omega-3 Fatty Acid supplement, which can make call the difference.
But if you’re looking to add a bit more to improve sleep or reduce inflammation, finding a high quality supplement can really help.
There are several different types of vitamin B complexes out there. B12 is naturally found in animal products and so many of us don’t get this vitamin enough in our diet. Our bodies also does not produce this vitamin on its own, which is one of the reasons it is supplemented.
Vitamin B12 is great for bone health, especially for women. It may even prevent osteoporosis. (Vitamin B12 for bone health) (Vitamin B12 for Osteoporosis) (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12612156) (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15619681).
It’s also an excellent way to support your hair, skin and nails. (Vitamin B12 for Skin) And let’s be honest, who can’t use that!? Studies have shown, however that if you already eat a well-balanced, nourishing diet, you’re unlikely to see any improvement to your skin, nail strength or hair health when taking Vitamin B12. (Vitamin B12 for Hair & Nails)
Another added benefit is that VitaminB12 is great for a boost of energy in the morning. (Vitamin B12 for Energy) B12 doesn’t necessarily give you prolonged energy, but a burst of energy as it’s ingested. It doesn’t store any energy in your body and is water soluble, so it travels rather quickly. But it may be good to give you a morning boost.
And how about a mood boost? Vitamin B12 plays a very important role in metabolizing and disbursing serotonin throughout your body. Typically, decreased serotonin production is correlated with a depressed mood. By increasing production with the help of B12, it can improve your mood and reduce symptoms of depression. (Vitamin B12 for Depression)
But it’s important to remember that if you are on a strict vegan diet or eat little to no animal products, you may be missing out on this important vitamin. That’s when supplementing is a great idea.
Good old Vitamin D -- it’s nature’s cure for everything, right? As a Minnesotan, we definitely supplement Vitamin D in the winter. While we still get outside in the cold and snowy months, I want to make sure that the lack of sunlight and more time indoors isn’t affecting our bodies.
During cold and flu season is when our bodies need Vitamin D the most in order to support a healthy immune function. A study showed that just supplementing Vitamin D in children for 4 months during the winter reduced their risk of Influenza A by over 40 percent (Vitamin D for Influenza).
That reason alone is enough for me to supplement it for the whole family. But Vitamin D has other benefits as well. It’s also important for healthy bones (when paired with calcium). It can prevent osteoporosis.
Another reason you might want to add Vitamin D to your mix is that it helps regulate emotions and mood and can help with anxiety and depression. (Vitamin D for Anxiety).
Finally, it’s also been shown to reduce the risk of developing certain diseases. Multiple Sclerosis (Vitamin D for Multiple Sclerosis) and heart disease (Vitamin D for Heart Disease) are two in particular.
While a healthy diet is really the most important, it may be worth it to add a few supplements into your routine to fill in the gaps. What supplements do you take?
If you’re family is like mine in spring time we are at a stale spot with our meals. It seems like we’ve exhausted all of our winter meals to no end and yet we aren’t QUITE ready for the fresh food of summer.
This is often the time of year our menu needs a refresh. It’s also the time of year we seem to the busiest. Between school activities, extra work opportunities and family obligations, we seem to be running from place to place with little time to plan out a healthy meal. Not to mention the longer days and nicer weather, which leaves us outside longer with less time to cook.
These circumstances make a perfect excuse to use the InstantPot. If you haven’t used one, they are kind of amazing. Essentially it’s a pressure cooker with many options that make cooking really quick and clean up really simple.
I wanted to share with you a round-up of some of my favorite healthy recipes that use the InstantPot.
1. Instant Pot Healthy Chicken Pot Pie Soup
Shared from Cheryl at 40 Aprons
This one is Paleo and Whole 30 approved! Plus it's gluten free and dairy free. Cheryl at 40 Aprons shares that this soup is comforting and creamy. Great comfort food. It takes just 30 minutes to put together.
3. Instant Pot Mongolian Beef
Shared from Ashley at Healthy Little Peach.
This one can be cooked in just 20 minutes and is also Whole 30 approved and Paleo. If you don't want to use the instant pot, you can also use a crockpot with her variation at the end of the recipe.
3. Instant Pot Balsamic Chicken
Shared from Kelly at Life Made Sweeter
This one is Whole30 Approved, low carb, Keto Friendly and Paleo Friendly. This is a perfect fuss free meal and you can easily swap out the veggies for any other veggies you want. This is just 10 minute prep and 20 minutes in the Instant Pot.
4. Instant Pot Ginger Lime Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Shared from Randa at The Bewitchin Kitchen
This one can be made in the crockpot or in the slow cooker. If you're following the Whole30 plan, this one fits in to those requirements. She even has ideas to add more veggies to spice it up a bit.
5. Instant Pot Pumpkin Oatmeal
Shared by Justine at The Typical Mom
Did you know you could make oatmeal in a snap with the instant pot? Adding pumpkin can add extra fiber and protein to your breakfast. This one is perfect for kiddos in the morning.
6. Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala
Shared from Lindsey at All the Nourishing Things
This is a quick and easy, super flavorful Indian-inspired dish. Serve it with brown rice or cauli-rice. This meal has lots of anti-inflammatory spices and is Whole 30 Approved and keto-friendly.
7. Instant Pot Chicken Burrito Bowls
Shared from Megan at Detoxinista
Who doesn't love a tasty burrito bowl? You can make these with cauliflower rice for a great low-carb option. You can make this in just 30 minutes and it's Whole30 approved. Mix it up by changing veggies for a different twist.
8. Instant Pot Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
Shared from Sandy at Simply Happy Foodie
I love this spring time lemon soup. It's dairy free and low carb. You can make this one in just 20 minutes prep time and 13 minutes cook time. Perfect for a spring time dinner.
9. Instant Pot Egg Bites
Shared from Sarah at Sustainable Cooks
Have you heard of Egg Bites? They're a copycat recipe from Starbucks breakfast menu. They're perfect for a quick morning breakfast and they are Whole30 Approved, paleo and dairy free. YES! Make these during your food prep for the week and you're set on breakfasts.
10. Instant Pot Cashew Chicken
Shared from Bailey at Whole Kitchen Sink
Take out inspired and de-licious. This one is gluten free, paleo friendly and Whole30 Approved. In just 30 minutes you can have a delicious meal served over rice or cauliflower rice.
What are your favorite ways to cook quick and cook healthy?
From a young age I grew up in a house where goal setting was just an everyday occurrence. As an adult, I now realize what a beneficial tool this has been throughout my own life. Almost everything I want to accomplish or anything I want to achieve can be categorized as a goal. And goals are not the same as resolutions or wishes. No, goals should be looked at as something that WILL be attained. The first step to setting and achieving the goals you want is to change that small, yet powerful, mindset.
Looking at goals as something that you will have (and something you’re close to getting) can help push yourself forward. When you talk to yourself like your in the process of achieving these goals, or better yet, that you HAVE achieved these goals, your brain hears this. Our brains can work for us when we’re choosing the right language and positivity. It propels us forward and keeps us on the fast track to achieving our dreams.
There are some other really important things to keep in mind when setting goals. Whether it’s goals for the day, the week or for this next year, you can make sure that you’re hitting your mark every time by following these ideas:
1. Be Specific
2. Answer the "How?"
3. Five Steps or Less
Five Steps or Less: Some dreams are really big and they have to be broken down into a few steps. These really big dreams might be more long term and require several steps. But for a more short term, attainable goal, it’s best to keep it to five steps or less. This makes it easier for our brains to digest and accomplish.
For example, if your goal is to pay off debt it might include a step of starting a budget, another step of reducing spending and yet another step of increasing your income coming in. These are all small steps to break down your end goal. By breaking it down into these small, attainable steps, you not only sort it out for your brain, but you also keep momentum as you knock out “mini goals” on the way to the big one.
It’s like a weight loss goal. If you’re looking to drop a particular amount of weight, each pound you lose is likely to give you another push forward. When you see yourself accomplishing parts of what you set out to do, it feels good! You’re basically validating yourself and the hard work you’re doing.
4. Being Realistic is Key
Don’t make your goals so big they’re out of reach. If your goal is to run a marathon by the end of summer and you’re not a runner at all, you may want to rethink that goal. This isn’t meant to sound harsh or sound negative at all. But we have to be realistic about our bodies, our schedule and our current circumstances. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t set goals that are maybe a LITTLE too big. If a goal is too small, you won’t be pushing yourself to get there. If a goal is too big, you’ll likely be bummed when you don’t hit it and won’t continue setting more goals in this area.
The key is to make that goal JUST the right size. This might take a little planning and thinking on your part, but it’s completely doable. Just analyze your life and where you are currently. Make sure you’re working forward and at the right pace. Reverse engineering a goal is a great way to put in perspective the work involved to get there.
If you’ve already gone through your steps to get to the goal, start by checking in on those. Are they attainable? If the steps need to be tweaked and changed slightly, you can change your end goal based on those. It’s a really good way to double check and make sure you’re expectations are in line with your lifestyle and circumstances.
5. Work it into Your Daily Routine or Schedule
I use a to-do list app every day where I have my steps for my goals listed out. One big dream we have is to pay off our house. That means every day I have a to do list item to check in on our budget app, look at where money is going and check on what’s coming in. It literally takes me five minutes of my morning routine, but I make sure I do it to stay on track.
You can even add a calendar appointment to your phone if you need help remembering it or staying committed. This works especially well if your goal is fitness related. Scheduling that time to work out or that time to meal prep can be key. If it’s on a calendar, you’re more likely to do it.
6. Is Your WHY Big Enough?
This is going to be completely personal to each individual. But, looking at your why is HUGE. Most often I hear people say that their “Why” (or the reason they want to make this goal SO bad) is because of their kids. They want their kids to see a healthy example, or they want to provide for their kids in a particular way. Whatever the reason, just know that understanding why you want something can help you achieve your goals and stick with them.
Often if our “why” is a more surface reason, or a shallow reason, we won’t stick with it. If you’re eating healthier to look more toned for the beach this summer, you might not stick with your habits come September. If you’re wanting to get more organized for tax time, you may not stick with it after that.
When your reasoning for achieving these goals is bigger and a deeper level, you will not only stick with these goals, but you’ll probably make these habits and changes to your life permanent.
You might have to dig deep with this one. Is the reason you want to change your exercise habits to make life less cumbersome? Is it so that you feel more comfortable in your own skin? Is it to break a family cycle and stop it dead in its tracks? Whatever it is really think about it and make sure it’s deep enough that you’ll stick with it for the long haul.
7. Focus on One Goal at a Time
But really planning out one goal at a time is the key. Once you’ve got it planned out and you’ve got those steps as part of your daily habits and routines, you can move on to the next goal and start moving forward. Stagger those goals a bit and make sure you’re not overwhelming yourself or taking on too much at once.
My morning routine is something that ends up setting my whole day in motion, either positively or negatively. Over the years, my routine has changed numerous times, depending on what was going on in my life. When my kids were babies the routine was chaotic at best as every day started off a bit different. But even as my kids have grown and we have a pretty solid routine, it changes from season to season.
What I know about my routine now is that there are a few small things I do just about EVERY SINGLE morning to help me set my day in a positive direction. I find that if I decide to skip these small but positive acts, I have a hard time getting into my groove the rest of the day. Some days it requires a little bit of finagling to get it all in, but I know that if I can squeeze these things in, my day seems to be more on track.
When I set my intention for the day and really ground myself at the very start, it seems like most things throughout the day end up bringing me joy. I attribute this to the fact that I have my long term goals in mind. I also have in the back of my mind any challenge is merely a season and I will grow and learn from it in the end.
Below are some of the habits I’ve formed for my morning routine that help me throughout my entire day.
SKIP SOCIAL MEDIA & EMAIL
One of the best choices I’ve made is to charge my phone in my Master Bathroom and NOT on my nightstand. I have not only slept better, but I’ve also gotten out of the habit of scrolling through social media accounts FIRST thing in the morning.
To be honest, this practice brought me absolutely no joy. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Not only was I starting my day completely not present in my own life, I was beginning my day comparing myself to others’ highlight reels.
As an entrepreneur I use social media for connecting with others quite a bit, but there is a time and place for this, and first thing in the morning wasn’t for me.
I also made it a habit to not even look at my email until after I had my day started. If someone emailed me over night, it could wait until “business hours.” I don’t need to start my day responding to other people, right? I can start my day how I want and by doing what’s best for my and my family.
GET READY FOR THE DAY
I know this might sound like a no-brainer, but when you have kids at home, it makes a HUGE difference in how the day goes. I know for me if I showered, took time to put on at least a little makeup and fix my hair, it made a world of difference in how I felt the rest of the day.
Sometimes I just threw my hair in a bun and other days I had time to dry my hair. It’s all about being flexible with your routine, but at least doing what makes you feel good. In the summer my makeup routine seems to be a lot less than in the winter, but I always take care to nourish my skin with healthy products.
When I take care of myself I feel like I’m ready to take care of the rest of my family. And feeling put together and ready for the day, makes me feel like I’m ready to do anything and go anywhere.
While puting on my makeup and doing my hair doesn’t necessarily give me incredible joy, it does help me feel confident, which helps me the rest of the day.
Every morning I set time aside for me and for God. I make sure I have a quiet space without distractions and I focus my mind on Him. Sometimes my devotion has been reading a chapter of an uplifting book and sometimes it’s been a Bible Study I’m working on with friends. Either way, I make sure that I have time that is fully devoted to Him.
I take this time and pray, asking God to please help me and guide me throughout the day. I ask Him to show me where He wants me this day and I ask him to open my mind and my heart.
I have found that this truly helps me set the intention for the whole day. With this practice I help myself by keeping in mind all day long that He is with me and He has my best interest at heart. It reminds me I don’t need to sweat the small stuff and I can 100% rely on Him throughout my day.
When I start the day by asking Him to guide me, I feel like my mind is more open and more receptive to His voice.
Whether you read a self-help book in the morning, pray or read a devotion, I highly recommend it to set your intention for the day.
WRITE OUT THOSE GOALS
Another thing I do in the morning, is I start my day with essential oils that provide emotional support. I started using oils about two years ago and I honestly cannot imagine my life without them at this point.
I started using them to promote health in our constantly sick home, and over time I’ve continued using them for emotional support. I love the uplifting feeling they provide and I love the support they offer my kids (who have the biggest emotions of all of us).
These oils have really enhanced my devotion time and my journaling time to keep me grounded and present. I use them throughout the day to lift my mood and provide peace and joy at the same time.
One of my favorite blends to diffuse is Abundance while I’m journaling. And sometimes, I need a big pick me up when I go to En-R-Gee with Peppermint. Below are some of my favorite blends for my morning routine:
One of my favorite things to do is find a bargain. It may be a genetic trait handed down, or maybe I just love the satisfaction it gives me to get something for less. Either way, I love being able to save money on just about anything.
And grocery shopping is NO exception. This is why I do most of my shopping at Aldi. I wasn’t always and Aldi shopper, but over the past few years I have come to love it. I turned my nose up at first and didn’t like how small the store was. But one summer while some roads to our main grocery store were closed for road work, I decided to give it another shop.
I’m so glad I did because I honestly have a hard time shopping anywhere else now. I truly love the size of Aldi now because it takes me a lot less time to shop. And I don’t think I could ever go back to a grocery store bill that’s 40% more expensive.
There are still things that I have to grab from a Super Target or grocery store that Aldi just doesn’t carry, but for the most part, everything we buy is from Aldi.
One of the things I love about Aldi is that eating healthy and organic food doesn’t have to be an expensive habit.
HOW TO COMPARE PRICES FROM HOME
MEAL PLAN TO SAVE MONEY
MY ALDI SHOPPING LIST
MAKE AHEAD INSTEAD OF BUYING FROZEN MEALS
TRY FOR ZERO WASTE
What are your best tips for keeping your grocery bill down without sacrificing the quality of your food?
When I first began doing fitness at home with videos, it was a costly habit. The internet wasn’t the valuable resource it is now when it comes to the number of free and inexpensive programs. Because of this, I would order videos from infomercials (hello, The Firm!), borrow them from a friend or get them at the library. And then I would do those videos over and over and over again with almost no variety.
Maybe I’m revealing too much about my age, but I’m SO glad those days are gone! In the past few years I’ve tried a few other workout videos and programs at home and had some really positive results with them.
I’ve always enjoyed working out at home, just because it takes the complexity out of trying to squeeze in some exercise. There’s no driving to the gym, loading up a bag, planning my outfit, etc. And I don’t need to worry about how crowded it will be. Nowadays, it’s a bonus because I can get up early and workout before my kids wake up, or I can even workout for a half hour while they play nearby.
Working out at home is definitely one of the things that has helped me stay active and healthy for the majority of my adult life.
Plus, there are amazing resources available online that you can access for free. And the sheer variety of videos and programs means you won’t get bored, and you’re less likely to hit a plateau from doing the same repetitive workouts over and over.
These are my top picks for free workout videos online:
Yoga with Adriene
Tone it Up
Jessica Smith TV
Get Healthy U
Shauna Kathleen YouTube Channel
Do you have a favorite free resource for working out?
Seeking a balanced life through healthy living and a healthy environment
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