Five Ways to Have a Better Day

With my recent travel mishap, I’ve been thinking about moods and emotions and the power we have over them. I must say, I have the ability to become gruuuuumpy.  Nine times out of ten it’s because I’m hungry or tired and once I realized this correlation, I was amazed at how easily I could control my mood for the better.  It’s like once I recognized the problem, I was able to address the effects of it even if I couldn’t immediately solve it. Admittedly, some days I have no idea what the problem is. I wake up and wish I were still sleeping. It could be attributed to something in my work life or maybe my student loan bill is due or maybe my personal relationships are troubling me, but whatever it is, an easy solution isn’t always present and I just want to lie under the covers for a few more hours.  Ultimately that makes me feel even worse.  Ignoring the day is no way to go about creating a happy life. It’s important to check in with yourself, acknowledge your pitfalls, but ultimately to shake them off, get out of bed, and get on with your day.  Easier said than done, right? I hoping these five ways to have a better day will have you up and at ‘em before you remember what’s troubling you.

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Take a moment and a mantra – Take a few deep breaths. I’m talking deep, belly breathing, breaths. Choose a mantra for the day and remember to talk to yourself like you would someone you love. If your bestie was having a rough day, what would you say to him or her? Decide on a few wise words or a mini goal for instance: I am compassionate, I will use my actions to help others feel loved today, or whatever you think you need to hear and repeat that three times. I try to think of whatever I’m dreading for the day, maybe it’s completing a project or a deadline, and gear my mantra towards that goal: I’m creative and productive. My work is valuable and appreciated. Whatever you need to hear, say it to yourself, don’t wait for someone else to acknowledge your struggle or congratulate your triumphs.

Call an amigo – Even though I’m not really a phone person, talking to a friend or family member helps immensely.  Sometimes we all fall into a funk and we need a familiar voice to pick us up a little bit. It’s okay to reach out when you’re feeling stuck, chances are the person on the other end of the line has been there or is dealing with something else at that very moment.  You could be doing them more good than you know.

Spend five minutes enjoying nature – It is proven that a few minutes outside will improve your mood. Don’t wait until lunchtime to sneak a moment in the sunshine, go outside right now.  Spend five minutes taking in your surroundings.  Listen for birds, insects and frogs.  Notice the trees that you see.  Can you name any of them? Acknowledge the growth and decay all around you and appreciate both. Enjoy the absolute absurdity that is life on earth.

Drink Michael’s Secret Stuff – Drink a big glass of water, tea, coffee, kombucha, fruit juice, whatever is your favorite go to beverage, gulp it up.  Offer your body a bit of hydration to kick start your day. Water has the amazing ability to improve your mentality and energy levels.  If you’re fueled up, you’ll certainly function better so start with a big glass of h2o. Oh and if you didn’t get the Space Jam reference you need to reevaluate your life and re-watch the movie 😉

Work up a sweat – Get the blood flowing. Even if you start your morning with one sun salutation, your body will thank you. Stretching and sweating releases endorphins, which in turn improve your mood. When we’re feeling bummed, the last thing we want to do is go to the gym, but you don’t even have to take it that far. Simply lie down and do thirty crunches or hold a plank for thirty seconds.  After that try twenty lunges or squats, there is no way you’ll regret slipping in a few seconds of exercise and who knows, it may turn into an hour of sweating and stretching.

If that’s not enough, here’s a valid excuse to watch cat videos, which will definitely cheer you up!

Image by the loveliest lady
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Easing Into Yoga : A Relaxing Morning Stretch Series

Want more yoga and exercise? Become a woods warrior, try this lower body workout, then end the day with bedtime stretches that relieve lower back pain. Check out my 200hour yoga teacher training experience and read about the school I attended here.

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If you’re reading this at posting time, good morning! Start your day off right with a relaxing series of stretches that are perfect for the morning time.  This routine starts in child’s pose, moves to all fours then up into downward facing dog, but don’t stress, you’ll be back down on the mat in no time.  Start each day by adding length to your spine, stretching out those hips and quads, and opening your chest and shoulders, you’ll be happy you did and it will take less than fifteen minutes.  This whole routine is meant to be a casual flow so once you’re familiar with the poses, move in and out of positions with fluidity.

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Invigorating Essential Oil Solution for Instant Sinus Pressure Relief

This is just one in a series of essential oil posts.  Check out the rest here.
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This! This little concoction has made my days in Colorado a little bit better.  I suffer from chronic sinus pain and pressure.  When I travel to locations that are particularly dry like Colorado, my sinuses swell and create intense pressure in my entire face.  I mixed up this invigorating essential oil solution for instant sinus pressure relief.  On a daily basis, it basically feels like my head weighs fifty pounds and whichever way I move it I feel the pressure shift and it causes pain and irritation.  You know that feeling when your ears pop when you travel up or down in altitude? How about the feeling when you know your ears need to pop, but they won’t?  Like your entire head is full of something? That’s what it feels like too.  It’s kind of a bummer and it puts me in a bit of a fog.  I become irritated easier and instead of enjoying moments of calm, I’m focused on the nagging pain.

Dealing with sinus pressure is really a way of life for me.  Sinus pain interrupts my favorite activities like yoga and hiking so I’m always seeking relief.  At home, I sleep with a humidifier running.  I’m always downing liquids in hopes that I’ll hydrate my system.  Anywhere there is steam, you’ll find me standing over it.  I’m constantly putting wet washcloths in the microwave and then laying them over my face in hopes of a few minutes relief.  Sometimes I even resort to Aleve or some other pain medication.  If it’s really bad, I’ll stand under a scalding hot shower until the water runs cold.  Even with access to a steam room here in Colorado, I was looking for a quick solution that would be easy and safe for multiple uses throughout the day.  I looked in a few homeopathic guides and this invigorating essential oil solution is the best remedy I’ve found for instant sinus pressure relief.output_VKzxSs

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Summer Face Oil

We’re exploring the many uses for essential oils for both our home and body. You can see our archive of essential oil posts here. liveseasoned_summer2015_faceoil8-1024x768 copy

Oh my skincare routine has changed throughout the years, and I only wish that I was as gentle on my skin in high school as I am now. Back then I thought my skin was too oily and would never have dreamed of actually applying oil to my face to moisturize and nourish it, instead, I would be drawn to any cleanser that promised to dry out my face. In reality, I’m guessing that all of those harsh, drying products likely irritated my skin, stripped it of its natural oils, and caused it to over produce oil in order to try to hydrate my face and reverse the damage I was doing. Jump ahead ten years, and I slowly came around to the amazingly beneficial characteristics of plant oils for the skin. Jump ahead another couple of years, and I’m now adding some essential oils to my basic routine.

I like to shy away from the camera when it comes to our posts, but if any post calls for a headshot, it’s this one! So I’m putting my face in focus for this post, and hopefully it will stand as a record that I can refer back to when looking at how my skin responds to a few years of essential oil use. I should also mention that I really believe that healthy skin starts from the inside. So while I’ve found these skin oil potions to be effective, I also make it a point to drink plenty of water and eat a well-balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables.

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How To Use It: Coconut Oil

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Hey all you nutty kids! Katie and I have a bunch of products that make their way into our daily lives in some form or another and one of those is coconut oil.  We thought it might be helpful to explain how we use coconut oil in case you’re at a bit of a loss.  Personally coconut oil is used so often in my house that I have a jar in my kitchen, bathroom and car!  I can’t get enough of the stuff and while I like other oils too like argon and olive, coconut is so cheap and versatile that I find myself using larger quantities of it than the others.

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DIY Pore Strips

Kate and I are always concocting potions. You may remember Kate’s DIY dry shampoo, deodorant or her rosemary body scrub.  Today we’re teaching you how to make homemade pore strips so call your girl friends and schedule a sleepover, because you’ll make more than enough for one nose!

Have you ever tried Biore pore strips? They’re the amazing!  I mean, it is creepy how much I love seeing tiny stems of dirt, oil and blackheads, but it is also awesome knowing that the gunk is no longer in my pores.  Even though I love the instant gratification of pore strips, I do have a few complaints.  For starters, they are expensive.  I don’t have a big budget for bath and beauty products so spending at least $6 ($1 for each strip) on a box of pore strips is an extremely rare occurrence.  I also feel like I only have a 75% success rate with the store-bought strips.  Sometimes they work SO well and other times they don’t adhere to the side creases of my nose, which is where I have the most black heads. When a friend told me about DIY pore strips, I decided to try them out for myself and share the results with you guys and gals.

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SUP – Stand Up Paddle-boarding

Have you tried stand up paddle-boarding (SUP) or know anyone who owns a board?  I’ve noticed more and more stand up paddleboards popping up in magazines over the past few years, usually mentioned by a fit celebrity or cited as a workout.  I had no idea there was a magazine specifically dedicated to SUP and it wasn’t until last year that I saw one with my own two eyes.  I was eating dinner at a restaurant in Seattle and out on the calm water a couple was watching the sunset from their SUP.  I was so envious!  If you’ve ever watched the sunset over the water you know what an amazing view it is, now imagine being on the water while it’s setting. Breathtaking.  Apparently I’m not the only newbie to SUP.  According to the 2013 Outdoor Participation Report, “Stand up paddling had the highest number of new participants in the past year. More than half of stand up paddling participants tried the sport for the first time in 2012.”

Even though I had a lot of interest in SUP, I didn’t get the chance to try it for myself until this past weekend.  My local outdoors store, Townsend Bertram & CO, hosted an event along with BIC (yep, the same people that run the pen game have a big hand in water board sporting equipment) to introduce SUP to those of us who have never tried it.  There’s a large number of lakes and rivers in NC, not to mention the Outer Banks area, so what better place to entice people to get into SUP? At least that’s what I thought when I signed up for the free event.

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K and I headed to the lake on full hoagie-bellies (that’s sub-bellies to you [katie here: haha, Calder and I argue about this all of the time, thanks for the data!])  excited to try something new.  Once we checked-in we were assigned a number.  The friendly folks at Townsend Bertram & CO would periodically call out numbers, which was the cue to step on down to the waterside.  First the paddle was adjusted for height.  You raise your arm straight up into the air, but let your wrist hang limp.  The top of the paddle handle should just touch your palm.  Then the instructors picked a board depending on our height, weight and intended use.  There are different boards for racing, yoga, surfing and just plain paddling around.  K and I both tried standard boards the first time out.  He was on a 10’6” while I was on a 10’4”.  I wasn’t that nervous about the whole thing, but I think K thought it was going to be harder than it was.  I only saw one person out of 70 fall the entire day!  You simply wade out into the water, hoist yourself onto the board and then kneel in the center of it.  After you feel comfortable kneeling and paddling you can stand up and off you go.  K liked it so much that he went out a second time on a slim racing board.

Before I tried SUP I was excited about the idea, but thought it was a bit redundant since I already owned a kayak. Once I was on the board, I fell in love! It’s much different from kayaking and maybe it seems selfish, but I want one of these too.  Unlike kayaking, you’re much higher than the surface of the water so you’re able to see farther.  As a photographer, I really like that about SUP. I also like that you can easily see where you’re going.  Instead of just paddling blindly through the water, the more detailed view allows you to anticipate different currents, depths and passages.  I also love that SUP works your core and more of your upper body than the kayak.  I tire very easily in my kayak because I have a relatively weak chest and shoulders, but my core is solid, which made SUP less challenging and more enjoyable for me.  You can also hop off your SUP when waters get rough and choppy as opposed to flipping over in a kayak, which scares a lot of folks.

I love that SUP doubles as a surfboard and for that matter triples as a floating yoga mat!  You know the Seasoned sisters love yoga and if you don’t, we tried to tell you here and here.  At the event on Sunday I also ran into Allison from LYFSUP. In short, LYFSUP is dedicated to building the SUP community around Jordan Lake and in Chapel Hill, NC and beyond, and they are dedicated to protecting water & natural resources, donating a percentage of their profits to the cause.  Allison has an impressive background in surfing and SUP so it’s no wonder she’s committed to bringing it to the area.  LYFSUP offers  SUP yoga classes, which is what I had the chance to see on Sunday at the lake.  Allison and her stepdaughter Haley went out on the water and demonstrated a mini yoga flow for me!  It looked so relaxing and at the same time more challenging and complex than yoga on solid ground.  After watching the ladies practice side plank, chair, down dog and sun salutations out on the lake, I started calculating a budget to see how quickly I could buy a board!  My family has a home in Virginia, just a few yards from the water, so I could already envision switching my daily yoga practice to SUP yoga.  Imagine how tranquil and relaxing it must be to practice while gently floating along *sigh*.  In the meantime I’ll take a couple of Allison’s SUP yoga classes and hopefully by next year a board will be mine.

I do think the boards are a little bit pricey, but that may be because I’m used to buying boats and equipment with more to it.  Since SUP is a newer concept to me, I think I’m having a hard time justifying such an expensive purchase on just a board (even though I know it’s so much more than that!).  Like I said, it really is a SUP, surf board and yoga mat all in one.  The boards I used on Sunday were top-of-the-line, but I did find some for as low as $600 and even $400, but I can’t attest to the quality.  The ones I saw Allison of LYFSUP using were even more impressive and perfect for practicing yoga so I’m excited to get the opportunity to try one out for myself during her class (the board and anchor rental is only $5 extra).  After perusing the internet and seeing so.many.options. I think it would be a good idea to rent several different kinds and really get a feel for the type of board that’s right for you.  In my family, we often split recreational purchases like this, making it extra important to research the boards to find one board that can fit everyone in the family.

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If you are new to SUP like myself, you should do a quick google search and see if any sporting good stores, outlets or parks in your area rent out boards.  I was surprised to find out that there are several rental venues in my area and near the Outer Banks too.  It’s a great way to explore, and who doesn’t love a new adventure?

I feel like I’ve become mildly obsessed with SUP in a matter of a few days.  I promise this post isn’t sponsored by anyone (although I wish it was, helllllo free SUP).  I tend to bounce around from one expensive hobby (backpacking to rock climbing and always photography) to the next so I’m really trying to reign myself in on this one.  I can already see myself buying a board during end-of-the-summer clearance sales.  So be it.  All the better to photograph the sunset with, am I right? [katie again : you have me convinced!]

If any of you are in my area, Chapel Hill, NC, let’s take a SUP yoga class together!  I’m doing it either way so why not join me?  Back to daydreaming about SUP in tropical locations for me…

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Monday Inspiration Vol. 3

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Just a simple yet important reminder for the week ahead of you.  Isn’t it lovely when someone pays you a compliment, tells you you’re doing great or encourages you in some way?  Why shouldn’t you provide your own encouragement as well?  Only you know why you’re headed in the direction you are and that is enough to know it is correct and good.  Maybe you are unsure of your path and that’s ok too!  Just keep moving and encouraging yourself every step of the way, sooner or later you’ll realize everything you did was for a reason and a good one at that.  Remember to encourage others as well.  Tell family, friends and even strangers, words that will boost their spirits and empower them to live a happier and healthier life today and every day.

We’re encouraging you to focus on self-love this week. Christian Nestell Bovee said it best, “our first and last love is self love.” So why not start today?  Realize when you’re being too hard on yourself and simply let it go, exhale and tell yourself something encouraging.  Something you’d say to your sister, partner or coworker to make them feel a bit better about their efforts.  Simply realizing when I’m battering myself has helped me have a more positive mindset in many faucets of my life, everything from self-employment to traveling to eating.  Hear your worries and woes as if they’re coming from a loved one and respond accordingly.  I promise you it will feel great.  Happy Monday!

If you’re in the mood for more Monday Inspiration look here and here.
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Five Minute Abdominal Cycle

Maintaining a strong core is not just important for bikinis and belly shirts, it’s about protecting and strengthening your posture throughout all your actions.  Your core enhances your balance and stability and acts as the central link between your upper and lower body.  A strong and flexible core means a more stabilized upper and lower body and virtually an overall stronger body.  This abdominal flow targets upper, lower and side abdominal muscles while minimizing potential strain on one’s neck.

Start on your hands and knees with a neutral spine, slowly inhale into cow and exhale into cat.  Repeat five times while focusing on the breath and continue through the workout. Each movement should be done with proper form and purpose.  Remember to keep your breath even, deep and slow.  If you cannot maintain deep breathing and proper form, you’re not doing yourself any favors.  Most of these exercises have variations, feel free to utilize them!  Don’t overdue it, you want to strengthen not strain your abdominals.

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Smoothie Round Up

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I’m a smoothie fanatic.  Growing up I’d make milkshakes almost every night of the week, but as I got older my tastes changed and I’ve moved on from ice cream and milk to fruit and juice.  Lucky for me there’s about a million more options in the smoothie department.  A big smoothie is a great substitute from breakfast or lunch.  I especially like to drink them at the start of a big road trip that way I’m not tempted to stop for fast food or right before work as I’m running out the door.

You don’t need to follow a strict recipe for smoothies so feel free to sub in or out any of the ingredients listed.  Today we’ll make three smoothies from seven ingredients (oats are optional).  As long as you have frozen fruit and juice, you’re good to go.  I also like to add greek yogurt and any little extras I have lying around like oatmeal, chia seeds, maca powder or hemp hearts.  Plug in your blender, grab a jar and a straw and let’s blend.

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Green Goddess

  • ¼ c yogurt
  • ½ c orange juice
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 big handfuls of spinach
  • 6 ice cubes

I drank a Green Goddess every day for a month last summer and I felt light and airy like a little fairy (hehe).  It’s cheap, easy and healthy.   If I’m away from home and there’s a blender where I’m staying I always pick up these four ingredients.  It’s a great way to save money on the road while staying healthy and energized. If you think this sounds like a weird combination, you’re in for a tasty surprise.  You can barely taste the spinach; it’s actually a tangy and sweet smoothie.

Be sure to clean your spinach well since it’s part of the dirty dozen (one of the most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables) or buy pre-washed or organic spinach. I named it the Green Goddess because among the many benefits of spinach, it’s has a high vitamin A and C content.  Vitamin A is key for sebum production to keep hair moisturized; it’s also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair.  Vitamin C is imperative for the building and maintenance of collagen which provides structure to skin and hair, therefore this smoothie will keep you looking like a goddess.

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Berry Blend

  • ¼ c yogurt
  • ½ c cherry juice
  • ¼ c milk or water
  • ½ c frozen mangoes
  • 5 big strawberries

Strawberries and cherry juice blend together to make the perfect mix of sweet and tart in this smoothie.  I used 100% Cherry Juice from Trader Joe’s.  It’s deliciously strong, which is why I also added some milk, but feel free to sub in water (or coconut water), a non-dairy milk or another juice if you’re vegan.  If you go the water route, don’t worry the taste won’t suffer.  Cherry juice is a good source of antioxidants, it helps regulate blood sugar, and is a proven aid in exercise recovery.  It’s also a great source of melatonin, which regulates your body’s internal clock.  Strawberries also pack a punch.  They’re heart healthy, full of vitamins and good for your teeth.  Strawberries are a great source of polyphenols, a compound that inhibits the breakdown of starches in mouth, while also fighting the bacteria that contributes to gum disease and tooth decay. Pretty sweet, right?

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Sunrise Smoothie

  • ¼ c yogurt
  • 1 c orange juice
  • ½ c frozen mangoes
  • 1 frozen banana
  • big spoonful oatmeal (optional)

The Sunrise Smoothie is a mild fruity blend to start your day off on the right foot.  It will wake you up, help you get energized and give you a whole host of benefits without you even knowing it.  Orange juice is a great source of Vitamin C, which aids in collagen production and helps control free radicals that cause early aging.  OJ also lowers bad cholesterol, reduces inflammation and balances blood pressure.  Bananas are the most widely consumed fruit and for good reason.  There are too many benefits to mention here, but for starters, bananas help one overcome depression, reduce PMS symptoms and protect against muscle cramps.  Here’s an interesting study conducted by Oklahoma State University concerning new health benefits of mangoes, which include aiding in blood sugar regulation and reducing body fat.  Top it off with a scoop of oatmeal to add texture, fiber and protein and sip away.

I hope you enjoyed these simple smoothie recipes.  Smoothies are a cheap, easy and quick meal substitute if you’re constantly rushing around or just don’t have the energy to cook something up.  Stay healthy friends!

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