All posts by Shannon Williams

About Shannon Williams

Shannon Williams is a writer, cultural enthusiast, and avid learner who currently lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She’s passionate about life, leads with her heart, and spreads a contagious energy to everyone that crosses her path. Shannon enjoys spending time in nature, living a healthy lifestyle, traveling, reading, and loves having deep conversations. You can connect with her at www.awakenandconnect.com.

The Benefits of a Bilingual Personality

Diversity quiltSince living in Brazil and regularly writing and speaking in Portuguese, I’ve noticed my English speaking and writing personality (the one I’ve had my whole life) isn’t the same as my Portuguese personality (currently in the terrible two stage). I started looking into this more and actually discovered that this is super common for multilingual people.

I’ll share with you my experience having dual personalities and tell you why I think speaking 2 + languages is good for the soul!  Plus, it’s just plain cool to have more than one personality and not be hangin’ out in a psychiatric hospital!

  • You connect with others from the heart

I love using words to connect with others, but it’s nice and refreshing when the connection is based from a place of oneness. When you’re speaking your non-native language people focus more on the energy you give rather than the actual words you use. I think this is cool and it shows that while our minds are amazing tools that allow us to do so many great things (like your ability to read this right now), it’s great to just connect on a heart to heart level. The words, phrase structure, and exact understanding is secondary.

  • You face constant vulnerability, but discover refreshing freedom

Letting go of the need to control that you’re saying what you mean to say (in the way you hope to say it) makes you vulnerable. There is a huge opening for miscommunications (both small and large – and sometimes funny). But at the same time, you gain an exhilarating sense of freedom. My analytical English personality goes out the window. The most important thing to me, in that moment, is having a conversation and connecting with another person. What the person I’m talking to or someone around us thinks about me (based off my word choice, comprehension, or strong American accent) is none of my business.

When you 100% believe that , you easily see that the same principle translates into any language and any person you talk to in your life. That’s freedom baby! This reminds me of a popular affirmation, “The good or bad opinion of others doesn’t affect me”. Speaking another language can help you grasp this idea so much better – and as a result, you’ll be so much happier, at peace, and love yourself unconditionally!

  • You become more direct

I didn’t realize how non-direct I can be in English until Portuguese came into my life. I don’t play word games (not really sure how) or beat around the bush in Portuguese.  I say what I’m thinking and don’t hide behind being appropriate or polite (of course I’m never rude and my body language supports that), and I don’t phrase my words in a sly attempt at achieving the result I secretly hope for (come on, we all can be a little manipulative sometimes). I’ve discovered that I love being direct and it’s translating to my English personality too!

The real you has nothing to do with your job, language skills, where you live, how much money you have in the bank, what type of car you drive (or if you drive), or any other material and ego centered status. Your second language personality helps you see this more clearly. You realize that who you are truly is something beyond what you typically spend you days worrying or thinking about. The real you simply hangs out inside you, waiting for you to connect with its awesomeness.  It doesn’t have any problems, complaints, concerns, or worries. Connecting to the “real” you allows you to experience a more peaceful and rewarding time in the material world – regardless of your circumstances.

  • You have another avenue of self expression

After you realize that your personalities are not the real you (the real you is spirit and is innately connected to everyone and everything in the whole universe), you can choose to use your ability to communicate in more than one language as another avenue of self expression. This allows you to connect with more people, express yourself in different ways according to languages and cultures, and simply learn more about the depth of life.

Do you have multiple language personalities?  Can you relate to my experience? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.  

photo by: OregonDOT

Know Where Your Health Products Come From – The Beauty of Wakaya Island

Fiji Island daytrip on the SeasprayAt Intent we believe very firmly in knowing the source of the food you eat and the products you use in your wellness regimen. It’s almost impossible to avoid GMOs in the United States or to know exactly where your health products are coming from so it’s a relief when a health company is upfront with the process and source of their products.

We’ve talked a lot about the benefits and tips of Wakayan Perfection ginger, but what is so “perfect” about this particular brand of ginger? It’s the island it comes from, and how the ginger is cultivated from the soil.

If you’ve never heard of Wakaya Island, you’re probably not alone – it’s a 2,200 acre privately owned island in Fiji that I’m almost positive your World Geography professor never mentioned (there are 333 islands in Fiji, so you can let your professor slide on that). The island’s exclusivity, seclusion, and eco-friendly focus make it a rising luxury vacation destination and home to a new line of organic health products.

Fiji water founder, David Gilmour, purchased Wakaya in 1973 after he found the island uninhibited and envisioned a unique slice of island paradise that connected nature, luxury, and eco-wellness (is it just me or does this island sound beyond heavenly?). A health buff and entrepreneur, David recognized an opportunity to create a luxurious getaway location and develop a never-before-seen level of natural health and wellness products grown in the rich, untouched Wakaya soil.

After investing in some developmental needs such as paved roads, an airport, and fresh water, David and his wife, Jill, opened the Wakaya Club Resort in 1990 (designed and decorated by Jill). The resort merges luxury, nature, leisure, international cuisine, and seclusion – my idea of the perfect vacation.

In addition to the resort, David recently launched Wakaya Perfection, a line of organic ginger and dilo plant products (a unique Fijan plant and the next new super plant) grown in the virgin (uncontaminated by pesticides and GMOs) soil of Wakaya. Both the organic ginger roots and dilo plants are cultivated by hand (no machinery allowed) and only receive water from natural rainfall (no man-made irrigation system here). This takes organic to a whole new level!

While not all of us will be able to take our next vacation in Wakaya (although that would be pretty awesome – please send me pics if you go!), we can all benefit from the rich soil of the island when using Wakaya Perfection ginger products and dilo cream. Yeah, it’s not a private island getaway, but you’ll get a slice of the Wakaya island paradise while taking care of your health and wellness too!

On-the-go Wellness Tips

Rich boys have many toysWouldn’t wellness living be so much easier if you didn’t have to also deal with running errands, commuting, sticking to deadlines, working, taking care of yourself and your family, and all your other daily responsibilities?  Of course it would be! But let’s be honest, ditching all your responsibilities isn’t going to happen anytime soon. That doesn’t mean there’s no hope for wellness living on a busy schedule though. You just need to implement some simple, on-the-go wellness tips that have your health in mind. Check out my personal favorites:

  • Drink Plenty of H20. I know you’ve heard this a million and one times (now a million and two), but drinking plenty of water is a must for your health and wellness.  There really is no excuse for not drinking water regularly (if you’re reading this you likely don’t lack access to fresh water). Carry a bottle with you in your purse/bag, drink water at work, and order water at restaurants when you eat out (even if you order another drink too). If the taste is holding you back, order water with a side of lime, lemon, or cucumber for some added flavor (fruits are delicious with gas water) or just make yourself drink it anyway (practice some tough love and all).
  • Carry Healthy Snacks. We all know skipping meals lowers our metabolism, increases the amount of food we eat at our next meal, and typically makes us eat the first and easiest thing we can find (enter vending machines, drive-thrus, and convenience store junk food). Plus, if you’re anything like me, hunger also makes you cranky, easily annoyed, and unable to think clearly (hence eating a king size chocolate bar in one sitting seems totally reasonable). This is why it’s essential to keep healthy snacks in your purse/bag, at the office, and in your car. They come in handy when you don’t have time for a real lunch, are running errands all day, or get stuck in traffic. My favorite, on-the-go snacks include raw nuts, fruits (apples, bananas, oranges), tuna packs, almond butter packs, and protein bars (check the labels for nasty ingredients if you don’t make your own).
  • Do Quickie Exercises. Even if you enjoy regular workouts, some days you just don’t have the time or energy to fit one in and that’s totally normal. I recently discovered the QuickieChick and her workouts are perfect for busy, on-the-go lifestyles. All her exercises are only a few minutes long and many of them are designed to do in bed (yes, you read that right!). If that’s not your thing, do simple exercises at your work desk. We all know movement is a major part of wellness, so fit something into your day.
  • Choose Healthy Options at Restaurants. Whether you love eating out or not, there are some days where you just have to do it. While some restaurants offer healthier options than others, always remember to stick to low fat proteins, eat plenty of veggies (ask for them without butter), ditch any sauces (except olive oil with a squeeze of lime), and avoid anything fried (I know it’s obvious, but sometimes the smell of french fries makes them extra tempting). While it can be easy to indulge while eating out, remember how crappy it always makes you feel and order wisely.
  • Use the Power of Your Breath. This is BY FAR the simplest, on-the-go wellness tip that takes less than 5-10 seconds and you can do anywhere! All you have to do is focus on your breath and take one full deep inhale and one full deep exhale. Just like that you are practicing a mini-meditation that will give your mind and body a quick (and much needed) break. Of course, if you have more time, do this for a full minute or two. Becoming aware of your breath (and subsequently connecting to yourself) can become part of your daily routine (every hour, every time you go to the bathroom, or every time you get into your car) or something you do when you’re feeling stressed. This practice will make a world of difference in your life and it’s just too easy to not start doing now – seriously, start now!  

What are some ways you bring health and wellness into your on-the-go lifestyle? Share with the Intent community in the comments below!   

Wellness Living That’s Good for the Planet

Child Tending Broken Baby Seedling free creative commons

We all know the health of our planet takes a daily beating from us. A few of today’s major environmental problems include water contamination, air pollution, soil depletion, overflowing landfills, and global warming – all influenced by conventional industrialized production and our daily routines. While none of us want to give up our modern conveniences, there are ways that you (yes, I’m talking to you!) can decrease the toxins that enter your body, support the wellness of the planet, and entice businesses to do the same – all without quitting your day job.

  • Check Wellness & Beauty Product Labels: Today, chemicals and additives are in practically everything, including common products you put on your body, face, and hair. Unfortunately, many of these products contain petroleum-based ingredients, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and pesticides – all ingredients linked to a host of health problems including skin issues, hormone problems, endocrine disturbances, allergies, liver/kidney damage, and cancer. These nasty chemicals and side effects not only affect you, but they contaminate the fresh water supply and contribute to environmental issues. One easy solution is to start incorporating natural health and beauty products such as shea butter, essential oils, herbs, and beauty supporting foods for your skin and hair into your routine. Also, the next time you plan to buy commercial beauty and wellness products (sunscreens, face creams, lotions, etc), be sure to check the ingredients for harmful chemicals and additives before you buy. If you don’t like what you find, consider switching to products with less or no chemicals or additives.
  • Opt for Organic: I know it’s practically impossible to choose organic food, beauty, and wellness products all the time (hopefully one day it won’t be!). For now, make an effort to buy the organic option as much as possible. You don’t want to expose yourself to the harmful effects of pesticides that include birth defects, nerve damage, hormone changes, headaches, and cancer. Luckily, one of our modern conveniences is the Internet, which is a great place to find organic products (often less expensive than brick and mortar stores) and get them delivered directly to your door. Not only is organic the way to go for your body’s health, it’s better for the environment too. Those same ingredients you and your family should be avoiding, the Earth’s soil and water don’t want either.
  • Choose BPA Free Water Bottles (and other products): Part of wellness living involves drinking plenty of quality water. However, if you’re still using plastic bottles, you could be exposed to a harmful chemical called bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA is in most plastic bottles (including baby bottles) and the harmful toxin leaches into the water when the bottles are exposed to heat from the sun (a common occurrence). Exposure to BPA is linked to endocrine system disruptions, reproductive problems, heart disease, and diabetes. Additionally, plastic bottles are terrible for the environment as they take an average of 450 years to decompose (and some never do). The best way to limit your risk to BPA and decrease waste in our landfills is to use a reusable, BPA free water bottle. Many companies are also eliminating BPA from their packaging and products – choosing these companies’ products is a great way to avoid BPA’s harmful effects.
  • Support Conscious Companies that Focus on Sustainability: It’s vital that you support companies that consider the health of the planet in their business decisions. For example, in addition to understanding the health risks to consumers, a conscious company might choose to produce organic products out of concern for water contamination, destruction of wildlife, and the worldwide increase in soil erosion. We need more companies like these, and not only do you support them when you purchase their products, but you support them by sharing your experiences with others. It’s easy to do – if you love a product or company tell your family, friends, co-workers, and mention it on your social media sites. Word of mouth and personal experience is huge to creating conscious consumers who make purchasing decisions that are not only good for them, but also good for the environment. This leads to more companies creating organic, chemical free products that align with your personal health and environmental values.

These four wellness living tips give you tremendous power to enhance your health, share health with others, and help combat global environmental issues that we all contribute to. You may be one person, but your daily actions and choices do matter and make a difference in the world.

What ways do you practice wellness living that’s good for the planet? Share in the comments below. 

5 Natural Remedies for Your Medicine Cabinet

powdered-ginger

If you consider yourself health conscious, you’re probably fed-up of using pharmaceutical medicines to ease every little ache, pain, or skin issue. In addition to all the chemical ingredients that make up conventional medicines (good luck trying to pronounce the names, let alone spell them), using lab created remedies leave you open to a plethora of unpleasant side effects. The most common, and dare I say “most pleasant” include nausea and vomiting, allergic reactions, drowsiness, and insomnia. It doesn’t end there, some of the strangest drug side effects include (brace yourself) inability to hold bowel movements, amnesia, vision changes, compulsive behavior, and birth defects. Seriously, that’s just not right.

Besides the possible side effects, most chemical-based medications only treat one symptom, so you’re stuck buying a ton of medicines and hoping they react OK together. Then they sit in your medicine cabinet for who knows how long and the next time you think about taking one they’ve already expired (has anyone else frantically researched drug shelf-lives at 2am?). All this adds up to a lot of wasted money, overflowing medicine cabinets full of chemicals, and the increased risk of side effects when you mix medicines together.

The great news (that we often forget about) is that Mother Nature has always had our back when it comes to combating many common health issues. While you might not be able to replace all your pharmaceutical meds right away, there are many easy, affordable, and all natural (really natural, not natural flavoring natural) remedies that can help you clean up your medicine cabinet. And the best part is that most natural remedies treat more than one ailment – so you’re not buying one remedy for every symptom (plus natural remedies often smell good, taste good, and are less expensive than the factory made medicines).

Lucky for us, there are many natural remedies available, but the following are my top 5 picks you need to know about:

1. Ginger

Ginger is a natural remedy powerhouse. This root plant boosts immunity, relieves nausea and motion sickness, has anti-inflammatory properties, increases metabolism which assists weight loss, aids in digestion, improves circulation, increases insulin sensitivity, and opens up the sinus passages. Ginger is available fresh, in powder, and pill form (such as Wakaya Perfection’s Ginger-Eze.) You can make a simple ginger paste to apply directly to your skin, take a daily pill (a homeopathic doctor prescribed this to me years ago to improve my circulation), or try some delicious ginger recipes (ginger tea and cookies perhaps?).

2. Bee Propolis

Propolis is a sticky resin used by bees to keep their hive together and protect it from outside dangers. Because of its function, bee propolis has strong anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in flavonoids. Typically honey has trace amounts of bee propolis, but you can buy pure propolis as a liquid to ingest orally or directly put on your skin to treat minor cuts or sores. If you choose to take it orally (that’s how I always use it), it does have a strong taste so you might want to mix it with quality honey. I don’t travel without bee propolis and I always take it at the first sign of a cold.

3. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is one of my favorite refreshing scents. Of course, it made the list because it’s a powerful sinus and chest decongestant, encourages breathing by opening up airways, and relieves achy and sore muscles. It’s easy to use and available fresh or as an essential oil. You can simply smell the oil, make a homemade vapor rub (minus the petroleum), massage the essential oil into your legs or sore areas, or add it to a hot bath. One of my favorite ways to enjoy eucalyptus is a drinking a fresh eucalyptus martini (I told you natural remedies could taste good too)!

4. Dilo Cream

If you haven’t heard of dilo cream, you’re not alone. Dilo cream is made from the oil of the dilo tree – called the tree of a thousand virtues – which only grows close to ocean water in the Pacific and tropical regions of Africa. Dilo cream is becoming a popular natural skin remedy because its magical ingredient, calophyllic acid, is only found in dilo oil. Calophyllic acid enhances your skin’s own repair system – this means better hydration, firmness, elasticity and less appearance of lines and wrinkles. It also soothes sunburns, rashes, insect bites, and various skin irritations.

5. Garlic

Garlic makes the list because it’s easily available worldwide, full of natural healing properties, and it’s really had my back the last couple of years. Garlic strengthens the immune system, fights colds and infections, treats hypothyroid conditions, combats bad cholesterol, provides a good dosage of B6 to create new cells and ward off mood swings, regulates blood sugar, and keeps mosquitoes away. Garlic is available in pills, powders, and fresh. It’s great to cook with and you can use it directly on your skin.

Have you tried these natural remedies before? What other ones do you swear by? I’d love to have a conversation in the comments below.

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mailing_dilo1To experience the benefits of this amazing plant, stock up on Wakaya Perfection’s 100% organic dilo cream to use in your skin care regime! Visit WakayaPerfection.com to order your dilo cream and explore the pure Wakaya Perfection Organic Ginger, too, with accompanying recipes like the Ginger Lime Creme Brulee or Mushroom-Stuffed Pork Chops!

Use the promo code THRIVE and receive 15% off your next purchase!

A Brazilian Ginger Tea Recipe Bursting with Health Benefits

Ginger

Ginger tea is a staple in Brazil and enjoyed both hot and cold. During the colder months, you’ll likely see ginger tea combined with a generous serving of the national alcohol, cachaça (kah-SHAH-sah), a rum-like spirit made from fermented sugar cane. This alcoholic drink is called quentão or “big heat” – as you can imagine the spice from ginger mixed with the spirit really packs a punch (in a good way). Whether served cold, hot, alcohol-free, or with the extra kick, Brazilians drink ginger tea for the serious health benefits and its refreshing taste.

My mother-in-law is from a rural mountain region in Minas Gerais, Brazil, the state credited for first creating Brazilian ginger tea. Since her family didn’t have spare money to take her (or her six siblings) to regular doctor visits, her family relied heavily on natural medicine to keep everyone healthy. Ginger root was easy to grow in that region and ginger tea became their go-to remedy for most common health problems: cold, flu, allergies, cough, sore throat, twisted or sprained ankles/wrists, headaches, body aches, and digestive problems.

While my mother-in-law’s family didn’t have internet access or case studies to prove ginger’s amazing healing properties then, turns out they were right to use it at the first sign of, well, practically anything. Multiple studies show ginger boosts the immune system, decreases inflammation and body aches, aids in digestion, opens up the sinus passages, decreases nausea, helps relieve gas and constipation, improves circulation, helps burn belly fat, increases insulin sensitivity, and destroys cancer cells. Wow, that’s a lot of health benefits! It’s no surprise Ayurveda medicine considers ginger “the universal medicine”.

After hearing all ginger’s benefits, you have to try my mother-in-law’s ginger tea. It’s super easy to make, delicious, oh so addictive (watch out though if you add the alcohol), and of course – great for your health! Check out the recipe below and please let me know if you have any questions.

Brazilian Ginger Tea Recipe (Makes approximately 2 cups)

Essential Ingredients:

  • Roughly ½ cup of fresh ginger root, skin peeled and roughly chopped, OR 1 Teaspoon of powdered ginger (Wakaya Perfection Ginger is a great option, and it’s super strong so you won’t need to use too much of it)
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons of (preferably brown, but white would work too) organic sugar
    (Ginger tea is traditionally made with fresh sugar cane juice (so yummy), but I make it with organic sugar, which is naturally a slight brown color here in Brazil)
  • Two drops of filtered water (approx ¼ teaspoon, careful not to use too much water here)
  • 2 cups filtered water

Optional Ingredients: 

  • Cinnamon stick (or cinnamon powder to taste)
  • Clove sticks (or clove powder to taste)
  • Freshly squeezed  lime or lemon juice
  • Cachaça (if you want to make quentão)

Directions:

1. Put the 1/4 teaspoon of water and sugar in a small saucepan.  Stir over low to low/medium heat (careful not to have it too hot), until the mixture gets a bubbly, about a minute or so.

2. Add the ginger pieces and stir the mixture for 3-5 minutes cooking the ginger on low/low medium heat (this is an important step – you want the heat high enough that the ginger starts cooking and fermenting in the sugar mixture – this is what gives the tea its spice – but be careful not to burn the pan). This is when the spicy aroma of ginger starts to fill your kitchen! When the ginger pieces have soaked up the sugar mixture and are soft, you’re ready for step 3.

3. Add the 2 cups of water (and any additional spices you want), and bring the mixture to a rolling boil.

4. When it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and cover with a lid for at least 10 minutes (longer if you have time and want the flavors to marinate more).

5. Strain out the ginger chunks and serve hot or cold.

Tips:

  • When buying fresh ginger, look for shiny and smooth pieces.
  • You can easily double/triple/or make a stockpot of this recipe when you are having a get together or to just keep in the fridge (although it’s best to drink within a few days).
  • Play around with this recipe: add more ginger or sugar depending on your tastes (many Brazilians actually prefer more sugar than I use in this recipe), brew with ginger powder, too, for an extra kick!

After you make it a few times, you’ll start to know how you prefer it and tweak things around a little – plus, each batch is never exactly the same! Let me know how it turns out. Enjoy!

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Exchange whole ginger for organic Wakaya Perfection Ginger Powder in this delicious Brazilian tea recipe! Wakaya Perfection Ginger has been featured in the LA Times, New York Times Gift GuideOprah’s favorite things and many more!

To experience the benefits of natural wellness practices, stock up on Wakaya Perfection’s 100% organic Dilo Cream and Ginger powder! Visit WakayaPerfection.com to order your Dilo Cream, Ginger powder, and Ginger-Eze, too, with accompanying recipes like the Ginger Lime Creme Brulee or Mushroom-Stuffed Pork Chops!

Use the promo code THRIVE and receive 15% off your next purchase!

The Secret to Sticking with Anything

Pedra do Bau [Climb]How many times have you started something new (exercise routine, meditation schedule, writing that book, a new project), got pumped and excited about it, and then within a few weeks or months it slowly faded into a faraway memory? It’s normal and happens all the time. Gyms plan that every January 1st memberships will soar due to New Year’s Resolutions and then by March and April it’ll be back to mostly regulars.

It’s not that these people are slackers or don’t care about their body. What’s really going on is their level of commitment isn’t high enough. That’s because any goal, intention, or desire takes time to evolve into something that you care enough about to make the required level of commitment.

So what’s the required level of commitment? The secret to sticking with any goal is having a solid 100% commitment. (I would say 110% to emphasis how big this level of dedication is, but doing that has always been a major pet peeve of mine.)

It’s very important that your commitment isn’t 99.9999999%, but it’s 100%. Why? Because, even with a 99.9999999% commitment, you still have a little opening to rationalize and talk yourself out of the action. This is not because you’re a bad person, it’s because all change involves some discomfort. If given even a slither of space to choose comfort over discomfort, you’re more likely to choose comfort.

That little .0000001% of space allows for talk like this: “I don’t feel like it today”, “I’m so busy with work ”, “there’s just a lot going on right now”, or my personal favorite (because I’ve it used for years) “I’ll just do it tomorrow and get back on track then.”

When you have 100% commitment to something, feeling like doing it has no importance on whether you do it or not. There is no option; it’s in many ways liberating because you make it a non-negotiable. You don’t give yourself the burden of having to choose every day. Then one day it’s become a habit that moved from your non-comfort zone to your comfort zone!

To make a 100% commitment, it’s important to always focus on the WHY of the commitment. Why do you want to commit to having some discomfort for a while? It’s the why that will get you to a place where you can be 100% committed to something. And it often takes a little time (or a lot) for everything to click and your why to become so clear and strong that the required 100% commitment is there.

For example, I’ve practiced meditation on and off for almost 15 years, and while I always ended a session feeling amazing, I couldn’t seem to stick with my commitment to do it daily. It was only when I was ready to eliminate all excuses (and this came after something “clicked” inside and I knew I needed it every day to express my highest self, which became a priority), that I could make the 100% commitment.

Don’t put yourself down if you haven’t been able to have the motivation or commitment to stick with something, but examine the WHYs. From that awareness, you can make 100% commitments to things that align with you and your unique values and path.

In what areas do you want to be more committed and why? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.  

6 Tips for Eating Healthy While Traveling

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Not sleeping in your own bed makes it much easier to get off the healthy eating track. Even a personal trainer and health coach friend told me it’s hard for her to keep her normal eating routine when she visits her Italian dad (for the record his homemade pizza is to die for). I know she’s not the only health professional that goes through this, so it’s time us mere mortals give ourselves a break when we’re on the road.

That being said, you have to be conscious of your food choices so you don’t feel bloated, sick, tired, or worse –feel guilty or regret what you’ve eaten. As my two-week visit in the U.S. ends today, I feel great about my overall eating choices and maintaining my overall health habits. I even had a few hometown classics that hit the spot big-time (Kansas City BBQ, for starters). That’s what it’s all about – eating to fuel yourself, but also enjoying yourself while on vacation.

Healthy eating while traveling wasn’t always this easy for me. I’ve had plenty of trips where I returned feeling like a bloated, unhealthy mess. Now, I’ve developed a system that works for me – and I’m sure you can benefit from it too. Below are my tips for keeping your healthy eating habits in check while still enjoying the local cuisine or some special treats (you’re on vacation after all!).

1.       Start out strong

Before you travel, buy or make healthy snacks like nuts, nut butter sandwiches, protein bars, trail mix, pumpkin seeds, fruit, cut veggies, kale chips, and tuna packs that you can take with you and eat on the go. These are great for road trips and as substitutes for the often unhealthy and overpriced airplane and airport food. Plus, any extras you have you can eat throughout the trip and on the way back home.

2.       Indulge, but make it (oh so) worth it

If you want that authentic pizza, award winning BBQ (yes, it was definitely worth it), decadent cupcake, or exotic cocktail then just do it. Don’t go crazy and do it every day, but trying new things or enjoying a classic favorite is so worth it – and makes for a fun vacation.

3.       Eat a breakfast of champs

Eat a healthy, filling breakfast that includes protein and fiber. While most hotel breakfasts want you to eat the carb, sugar-laden muffins, bagels, and cakes, focus on the healthy choices they do offer (although sometimes scarce). My last hotel had apples, oranges, bananas, eggs, yogurt (watch out for high sugar in these bad boys), and oatmeal with fresh walnuts. If your hotel has a refrigerator or you’re staying with family or friends, you can always stock up on your personal favorites and make your own breakfast.

4.       Be restaurant savvy

You will be eating out – it’s just a fact. Even if you are staying with family or friends, you’re still going to eat out at least a few times. Instead of throwing your hands up and saying who cares I’m out of town (hey, we’ve all done it), choose healthy options. Ignore the tempting smell of fried foods that are often stables of many restaurants and choose grilled foods instead, don’t fill up on the chips and bread (rule #1 of eating out, even at home), always ask for sauces on the side (including salad dressing), and skip dessert (unless it’s one of your “oh so worth it” indulgences). As long as you go in with a game plan to eat healthy and stick with it, you’ll be fine.

5.       Keep movin’ everyday

Whether you’re in business meetings all day, enduring long airline flights, or hours in the car, make a point to get moving every day, even if that only includes some walking and stretching. If you’re at a hotel use their gym or walk around the neighborhood. If you’re staying with friends or your hotel doesn’t have a gym (or a good one), contact a local gym and ask about a free day pass or daily rates. I did this while visiting my sister and to my surprise, the gym gave me 2 free day passes. Not only did I have some fun workouts for free, I was able to try a new and super fun class called Nia. Keeping your body moving will help you feel like yourself and less inclined to overindulge for no reason.

6.       Stock your backpack or purse with snack essentials

Make sure you always keep snacks and water (no sugary drinks) with you throughout the day (that’s what big purses are for ladies). It’s important to have snacks so you don’t feel an urge to stop at a fast food joint when hunger creeps up. If you run out of the snacks you packed from home, stop at a local grocery store. I do this all the time – I buy veggies, fruits, nuts, and gallons of water. I can chug the water at the hotel room morning and night and fill smaller bottles to take throughout the day. Keeping hydrated is so important while traveling and keeps unwanted hunger away too.

Eating healthy while traveling is possible if you make it a priority and are mindful of your choices. Of course, if you want to enjoy something you don’t typically eat at home, go for it – and have no regrets.

What are your favorite travel snacks? I’m always looking for new food to take on the road. Share in the comments below.

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18154748891333272199Are you ready for a healthy Vegas vacation?

The first of their kind in the world, Stay Well Rooms at the MGM Grand in Vegas are furnished with a number of amenities designed to maximize health, wellness, and relaxation. From dawn simulator alarm clocks, to state-of-the-art air and water purification systems, to aromatherapy, Stay Well rooms provide an unprecedented opportunity to have a healthy travel experience — even in Las Vegas. Designed by real-estate pioneer Delos Living, in conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Deepak Chopra, Stay Well will change the way you think about travel and hotel rooms. Learn more or book your reservation here.

photo by: ilya_ktsn

8 Tips to Avoid Getting Sick While Traveling

No273 13 Oct 2009 Sneeze

When travel became a major part of my life about 10 years ago, I’d always get sick either before, during, or after a trip. It was like clockwork; I almost started really believing that catching a cold or feeling like crap at some point was just a normal part of traveling. Can you relate? If so, please keep reading, because it really doesn’t have to be this way (cue some hallelujah music). Turns out, I was being my own worst enemy and doing all the wrong things to keep my body and immune system strong, and you might be too.

Today, after big moves across the United States and the Equator, with lots of travels in between, I can say I’ve learned the hard way (sneezing and sniffling) how to keep myself from getting sick while traveling. Sitting on my sister’s deck this Kansas summer morning, 5,000 miles away from home, I’ve compiled a list of my tried and true ways to keep your body and immune system strong – these tips work whether you’re traveling for a few days or a few weeks.

Bring your good habits with you:

It took you months to consistently eat 4 servings of veggies a day (or mediate, workout, journal, stop binge-drinking, whatever “it” is for you), don’t leave it behind while on vacation. These core habits are part of your lifestyle and they keep your body, mind, and, spirit healthy – all which affect your immunity. Obviously, you have to be flexible in making this work while away from home, but you can so do it. For example, if you’re staying with friends or family and cooking-in, offer to make your favorite veggie dish or buy a veggie tray to snack from throughout the day. Who knows, your good habit might even rub off on others – a win-win all-around.

Don’t overbook yourself right before or after your travel dates (less pre/post vacation stress):

I used to be so bad at this – running around like a crazy woman the day before or planning something important the day after returning from a trip. I know it’s hard with busy schedules, but you have to plan ahead and not book yourself solid at least the day before and the day after a trip (or the day of if you are leaving late at night, you get the point). It will always take you longer than you think to pack, get everything squared away for while you’re gone, and then get back in the groove when you return. Trust me, make this a priority and book pre/post vacation blocks in your calendar and you will reduce your stress levels – keeping your immune system strong.

Take immune boosting herbs and vitamins:  

If you regularly take vitamins, don’t forget them (I’ve regrettably done that more than once). It’s also a good idea to bring an extra supplement specifically to help keep your immunity strong. This could be Vitamin C supplements, Echinacea, or my new personal favorite, bee propolis. All of these give you that extra boost that you will need since you are in new surroundings with different germs and bacteria.

Wash your hands (a lot) and carry hand sanitizer:

We all know to wash our hands after using the bathroom and before eating (if you don’t, you need to make that a new habit), but while on vacation you really should wash your hands more than you think is necessary. Your skin is your first line of defense and your hands specifically are always touching things and then touching your own face, mouth, or eyes. My rule of thumb is this: when I see a sink with soap, I wash my hands. I also always have a travel size bottle of hand-sanitizer. It’s the best while on an airplane and running around doing fun, travel activities.

Plan to take it easy sometimes:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it – you’re on vacation so you want every single minute jam packed. It sounds great in theory but awful in practice. It took me years to finally make this a travel priority but once I planned chill time (aka me time) and stuck with it, my vacations were much more stress free, and guess what, I starting getting sick less often. Coincidence, I think not. If you’re traveling with family that loves to keep things jam packed or kids that need constant entertainment, plan a pool day or even just a “free” day that has nothing pre-scheduled. This gives you time to just go with the flow and that’s always super fun too.

Don’t skimp on your sleep:

This is important before, during, and after the trip. Of course, you might have a late night here or there (you are on vacation after all), but make sure you keep getting a healthy 7-9hours per night. I know it can be difficult to sleep well while away from home, but you can always take some natural sleep supplements with you and try to make your sleeping area as comfortable as possible. For me, that means a quiet, dark room with a glass of water by the bed.

Keep healthy snacks around:

While on vacation, it’s normal to try local foods that aren’t exactly considered healthy (last night my sister enthusiastically made one of her favorite deep fried recipes), and that’s OK. However, if you eat unhealthy your whole trip, you will lose energy and increase your chances of getting sick. The best thing to do is bring some healthy snacks with you and/or buy some when you arrive. I don’t travel without some sort of nut mix and I almost always buy fruits, Greek yogurt (if a fridge is available), and protein bars. This gives my immunity a boost and keeps me less tempted to eat something unhealthy on the go when hunger creeps up.

Drink lots (and lots) of water:

When I’m traveling, I take my already high amount of water drinking per day to another level. You won’t see me get on a plane, leave the hotel, or go out to eat without bringing water. Drinking water is a big must while you travel because it flushes your body of toxins, helps your digestion (which is associated with your immune system) and keeps you hydrated. Keep water with you throughout the day and chug a glass before you head out in the morning and before you go to bed.

Follow these tips, and next time you get back from traveling you won’t have say, “I had a great time, but unfortunately, I got sick”. Instead, you can say how awesome it was and start planning your next vacation!

Do you have any other tips to not getting sick while traveling? I’m always down to learn a new trick – share in the comments below. 

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18154748891333272199Are you ready for a healthy Vegas vacation?

The first of their kind in the world, Stay Well Rooms at the MGM Grand in Vegas are furnished with a number of amenities designed to maximize health, wellness, and relaxation. From dawn simulator alarm clocks, to state-of-the-art air and water purification systems, to aromatherapy, Stay Well rooms provide an unprecedented opportunity to have a healthy travel experience — even in Las Vegas. Designed by real-estate pioneer Delos Living, in conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Deepak Chopra, Stay Well will change the way you think about travel and hotel rooms. Learn more or book your reservation here.

 

photo by: mcfarlandmo

What’s in Your Water?

Glass of Water

We use water every day for cooking, drinking, showering, and cleaning clothes, dishes, and various surfaces – we’d all agree water is vital to life. Our bodies are made of more than 60% water (the brain and heart contain 73%, lungs are about 83%, skin is 64%, and even our bones are 31% water), we’ll simply die without clean water for more than a few days. Yet, often in developed societies we take for granted our easy access to water – just turn the faucet knob – and assume it’s clean and safe.

Before water reaches your sink, surface or ground water supply goes through a series of cleaning and disinfecting processes that separate sentiments and destroy harmful bacteria and parasites. The exact process and disinfecting agents used differ among water treatment facilities, but the principles are the same – remove dangerous material for safe consumption. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect system and usually various levels of contaminants remain and our clean water supply isn’t as clean as many of us think.

Harmful Toxins in Tap Water

  • Chlorine & Chlorine by-Products:  Liquid chlorine is part of the water disinfectant process because it is effective at killing most bacteria and parasites, is relatively cheap, and stays in the water supply to continue destroying bacteria throughout the transportation process. Unfortunately, this also laces our clean water supply with chlorine and its harmful by-products and exposes us whenever we use tap water (both on skin and inside the body).
  • Plastics & Pesticides:  Chemicals residues from plastics and pesticides enter the water supply from agriculture, industry, and households and the cleaning process doesn’t always remove them. Studies show that fish exposed to these toxins experience gender disruptions, and many believe plastic and pesticide residues effect neurological and reproductive functions in humans.   
  • Heavy Metals:  Aluminum, lead, copper, and methane are just some of the heavy metals found in tap water. Water treatment facilities add aluminum to the clean water supply to make it look cleaner. However, research shows aluminum exposure may be a link to Alzheimer’s disease. Lead and copper exposure affects physical and mental development in children and can cause high blood pressure in adults.  
  • Fluoride:  Many cities in the United States put fluoride in their water supply to help prevent cavities. However, very few other countries in the world add fluoride due to its various adverse health effects and moral, ethical, and political concerns.  
  • Pharmaceutical Drugs:  Ever since the late 1990’s pharmaceutical drugs including antibiotics, antidepressants, blood pressure medications, cholesterol medications – just to name a few – are turning up in our clean water supply. This creates serious health concerns because all pharmaceutical drugs come with some adverse side effects and can potentially not mix well with other medicines. Not to mention, you don’t want to randomly be taking pharmaceutical drugs without your knowledge.

Having running water is something no one wants to give up, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept these toxins entering your body. And if you’re like me and water is your favorite drink (one sec as I take a big chug), you really need to protect yourself so you don’t get a build-up of these and other toxins in your system.

Protect Yourself

  1. Find out exactly what contaminants are in your water by getting a copy of your local annual water quality report at EPA.gov.
  2. Invest in a water pitcher filter, faucet filter, or whole house water filtration system. I don’t own my own house yet, but you can bet I will be investing in a whole-house system when I do. Don’t forget your skin absorbs chlorine and other toxins too.
  3. If your local water contains fluoride, take action to get it removed from your water supply. Start a petition in your neighborhood and talk with family and friends about the problems of putting fluoride in our drinking water. Unfortunately, most inexpensive water filters don’t filter fluoride, so you can only get rid of it with a more comprehensive filter.
  4. If you haven’t turned a water faucet on in a day or so, run it for a few extra seconds before using the water. Also run it longer if you notice a funny smell or texture, and when in doubt, contact your public water department.
  5. While I don’t love using bottled waters (when you drink as much water as I do this is both costly and bad for the environment), it’s the best option when you are on the go or at a restaurant.

After all this water talk, go grab yourself a glass and drink up! Keeping yourself hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. I’ll be drinking one with you…cheers!

 * * *

18154748891333272199Are you ready for a healthy Vegas vacation?

The first of their kind in the world, Stay Well Rooms at the MGM Grand in Vegas are furnished with a number of amenities designed to maximize health, wellness, and relaxation. From dawn simulator alarm clocks, to state-of-the-art air and water purification systems, to aromatherapy, Stay Well rooms provide an unprecedented opportunity to have a healthy travel experience — even in Las Vegas. Designed by real-estate pioneer Delos Living, in conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Deepak Chopra, Stay Well will change the way you think about travel and hotel rooms. Learn more or book your reservation here.

 

 

 

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