Every year I set the same resolutions – lose 15 pounds, cut out refined sugar, meditate daily, exercise 5 times a week – resolutions that seem like nostalgic wishes by mid February. This year I set the intent I am living with the intent to feel energetic, creative, joyful, centered and inspired.
And, while I am making a commitment to work out more often and eat more mindfully, I am committing to physical activities that make me feel connected spiritually and full emotionally rather than torturing myself just to shed pounds.
I am discovering a love of yoga (believe it or not, I am not a yogi – read about it here!) through a group class I am doing with other mom friends. Historically, yoga has been a struggle for me as I have felt like I am “bad” at it. But this year I am approaching it differently – inspired, as I often am, by the guiding philosophy of my good friend Tara Stiles.
Tara and I recently hosted a SCLA event in San Francisco and as I watched Tara twist and turn in amazing ways to hip hop music during our event, I noticed the intention to find joy, creativity, and challenge by those in her class. Tara’s approach to yoga made it fun, rich and fulfilling for all those in the class, even if they couldn’t keep up with her!
In an interview I did with Tara last year, she talked about the joy she discovered in yoga: “(As a dancer), everything has to be perfect or you’re not completing the movement. That’s what was so exciting about yoga. You’re going to your own limit and finding the ease in that moment. From a mental, spiritual and emotional aspect it was definitely key. I was like, ‘I have to do this forever!’”
What I am enjoying about my own weekly yoga class is that I can do it at my own pace. And its social! I have as much fun chatting with the other mom friends as I do stretching and breathing. We’ve always been big supporters of yoga here on Intent and encourage all of you to give it a try if you’re looking for a practice that not only works you out but also helps you connect to your body through your mind and spirit.
I’ve also been on a few hikes on the lovely trails here in Santa Monica where I live, not checking my phone for emails, and walking in silence noticing the beauty of nature.
And, this weekend I plan to start running on the beach again – one of the most emotionally healing things I have done in the past. For my 40th birthday, I ran a half marathon and found a love for running because of how it made me feel emotionally. Working out with an activity that makes you feel happy and better about yourself is much healthier than doing something you hate because it’ll trim fat.
Hopefully my strategy of living with intent this year will help me realize some of the changes I am seeking in my life more effortlessly and with lasting impact. And more importantly, because I am having fun, feeling connected and inspired, I am anticipating my physical time, rather than feeling burdened by it. This will keep me motivated to stay on the path to healthier living!
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In that moment realize that your life is actually falling together even though you might not see it. If your life falls apart then you are ready for something bigger. It falls apart because it was too small for who you are becoming. It falls apart because there is something more that is seeking to express itself in and as your life. It falls apart because what you were living is no longer in alignment with who you are. It falls apart because life is letting you know that perhaps you have gotten too comfortable where you’re at and need to grow to the next level.
Life is change. Life is growth. Life is a cycle of Creation-Life-Destruction. Every birth is another form of death. And every death is another form of birth. Often when things fall apart we become afraid, we panic, we resist and fight life. We hold on to what we know, even though it no longer works or serves us. This only keeps you stuck.
Holding on to the old will not bring what is new. Resisting what is new will not transform or change what is old. When life falls apart you can resist or fight, which ultimately only leads to suffering and struggle. So, what do you do when your life as you know it falls apart?
Simply, LET GO!
Perhaps it’s a relationship, job, or a house. Let Go! And Trust.
Trust that what no longer remains in your life is no longer meant to be there. And that the Universe is just making room for what is more in alignment with your highest good. When things fall apart the Universe is trying to make space for something greater. When life as you know it stops working and falls apart this is the moment to let go of your ego, as it can only take you so far. This is the moment to let go of your ego’s attachment of how your life should be, and surrender. In every crisis is an opportunity to let go of what is inauthentic and live with more integrity. In every breakdown is the blessing of a breakthrough. In every challenging situation is the gift to help your soul evolve and become who you were really meant to be. So if your life as you know it is falling apart give thanks and…LET GO!
If you are ready to experience freedom and live your true life purpose then join me on www.boundlessblissbali.com
Whenever you start a new diet or weight loss program there is one important question to ask yourself: why? Don’t stop yourself at the simple answer “Oh, I want to lose a few pounds to fit in those new jeans” or “I don’t want to feel self-conscious in a bathing suit.” Dig deeper. Many people begin the journey to permanent weight loss and overall wellness because they feel that being healthier will make them happier. While being healthier does give you more energy and confidence, you can’t expect it to cure all of your unhappiness. In fact, in Deepak Chopra’s new book “What Are You Hungry For?” he argues that tending to your personal and emotional wellbeing as you begin your weight loss program is absolutely key to making the changes stick.
While no one can claim to be happy constantly, Deepak advocates that being in tune and aware of your body and emotional state allows you to better fill its needs. “It’s an infallible kind of radar,” Deepak says, “Awareness allows you to sort out what you’re doing, how you feel, what you fear, hope and wish for – indeed everything in your life.”
You are living an unaware life when you unconsciously follow habits and rote behavior without question. Do you often let others take charge of your life or feel emotionally trapped by those around you? Isolating yourself and cutting off your connections to close friends and family can be another sign that you are out of tune with your body and need to increase your awareness to make permanent change.
You can help gain awareness by including a yoga practice or meditation in your diet and exercise plan. “Peaceful practices such as yoga or meditation to help build a refreshed sense of self,” explains Sports Club/LA nutritionist Karen Sherwood. “This is the glue that seals in the new lifestyle as the body begins to change physically, resulting in a new stream of motivation.”
Being aware and working to keep a positive attitude will inevitably help keep you motivated as you progress towards your goal, and push you over hurdles or plateaus you reach along the way.
“Making any change is very emotional, so if you are starting this change from a negative, pessimistic place or allow yourself to go to that negative place, you won’t succeed.” Ginger Mallory of Sports Club/LA says. “However, if you vow to remain positive no matter what challenges may come with making this change, you will succeed! Your state of mind going into this will absolutely make or break you.”
But how do you find that awareness and keep that positive attitude? If you feel yourself slipping try these tips from Deepak.
- Remember that you are both loved and loveable
- Appreciate where you are – Even if you are just starting out, recognize the power in making the decision to make a change versus where you were before you took the first step.
- Feel good about who you are – You are more than your shape or waist size. Remember that you are a worthy person and this process is only to make you healthier, not to change you in any way because you’re amazing the way you are.
- Maintain loving and supportive relationships – Support will be key in this process. Stay close to those who inspire you, push you to be better and support you on the days when you can’t get to that place of positivity by yourself. Let them help hold you up.
- Experience a deeper connection with a higher form of love – It doesn’t mean you have to prescribe to any specific religion, but connecting with a force or faith bigger than yourself can help you channel frustrations and negative feelings that arise out of your system. It can help buoy you during this transition and be another force to propel you forward.
This blog is part of our “What Are You Hungry For?” series with Sports Club/LA and to celebrate the release of Deepak Chopra’s latest book. Find out how you can win a copy of your own here and tell us what you are hungry for in the comments below. If you don’t want to wait for the give away you can purchase a copy of Deepak’s book today.
To lose weight you need two major components – weight loss and nutrition, but how do you create a program that lasts? In Deepak Chopra’s latest book “What Are You Hungry For?” he explains that to really make that life change you have to use weight loss and nutrition with the three tenants of purity, energy and balance.
How does that work? In part one of the book Deepak lays out the three tenants and the tips you need to bring them into your life to maintain your new healthy lifestyle.
“Eliminating toxins awakens in the body’s capacity for renewal and returning to a natural balance. Toxins need to be eliminated from the body, mind, and soul,” Deepak says. While there are several toxins that can invade your life, let’s start with food. Here are a few tips to purify your diet.
- Throw out old, stale food.
- Minimized processed foods
- Keep fruits and vegetables as fresh as possible when storing
- Prefer whole grains and natural sweeteners
- Eliminate hydrogenated and trans fats
- Buy organic produce (if affordable)
- Favor deeply green vegetables like spinach and kale, and the rest of the of cabbage family
Juice cleanses have become an all-too popular trend when trying to purify your body of toxins. While cleanses can help you purify your system, you have to be careful not to overdo it or deplete your body of necessary nutrients.
“Short-term cleanses and fasts do not help us have a healthy, detoxified life. Those extreme shifts from very unhealthy to very healthy (for a very short time) only teach us to be extreme. I believe in a longer-term cleanse of at least 6-8 weeks, which is enough time to truly cleanse and discover what your body feels like in a pure state,” says Sports Club/LA nutritionist Ginger Mallory. “After really learning about your body during this time, you can gradually reintroduce some items back into your diet, observe how those items make you feel, and then make an informed decision about whether you’d like to keep these items in your diet or in what proportions.”
You should know that purifying the body takes time, and that it can’t all be done at once. If you approach your life change as a beginning process then it is much more likely to become a permanent state of mind.
As fellow nutritionist Karen Sherwood says, “Taking baby steps and ‘leaning’ into a new way of being is key. This enables us to pave a new foundation and build from there. It must begin with nutrition, and include an active life-style with focus on self-care, rest, and stress management. When all of these wheels are working in harmony, the body and its relationship to food and the outside world begins to make sustainable change.”
Once you have purified your body and life of toxins then you can begin to change why you eat food. Food is the beginning nourishing source for our bodies and if we eat correctly then it energizes the body without making us feel stuffed or lethargic. Deepak prescribes the following tips for crafting a diet that boosts your overall energy.
- Eat less when you are inactive
- Eat only until you are nicely satisfied and no more
- Choose lighter and more easily digested food
- Avoid animal based fats and refined sugar
- Make your food colorful and pleasing to the eye
- Satisfy as many of the senses as possible including taste, smell and texture.
Eating specifics type of food can also increase your energy. “I like a combination of a complex carbohydrate, a lean protein, and a bit of healthy fat at every meal. This assures an even balance of blood sugar, when eating every 3-4 hours or so,” advises Karen Sherwood, “In addition to keeping this balance of macronutrients, consuming what I like to call, “power foods” helps support every system of the body. Specific foods I love for energy include chia seeds, maca powder, whey protein, spirulina, and coconut products. I have all of my active clients and athletes consume these super foods on a daily basis in the form of a smoothie.”
It is great to research and take on all the new tips, but the most important key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is balance. When you take all of your new habits and form them into a routine that fits your life and schedule you can make your body in the way that works best for your needs. To create balance Deepak offers the following pointers.
- Eat when you are in a satisfied state
- Consume a variety of fresh foods
- Make sure you are taking care of the basics like drinking enough water and getting enough sleep
- Eat at regular hours with balanced intervals in-between
- Vary your calorie intake to balance your activity level
Balance is the key factor why fad diets have such varying results for different people – it is the same exact instructions for everyone, no matter what their current lifestyle or schedule is. By using these tips you can use all the wellness tips and research you do to best apply them to your life, and when you have a balanced plan that is custom built for what you want your body to do you are more likely to succeed, not just in losing weight but in achieving total wellness.
This blog is part of our “What Are You Hungry For?” series with Sports Club LA and to celebrate the release of Deepak Chopra’s latest book. Find out how you can win a copy of your own here and tell us what you are hungry for in the comments below. If you don’t want to wait for the give away you can purchase a copy of Deepak’s book today.
Running a specialist center for medical weight loss, each day I see patients who have struggled for a long time with failed attempts at losing weight. And without a doubt, hunger has been their biggest obstacle.
Although calorie restriction is necessary for weight loss, extreme and constant hunger shouldn’t be a side effect. Experiencing this type of hunger means that the body is not functioning optimally, and that you are not eating the nutrient-dense foods needed to get through the day.
Often, other issues like fluctuating blood sugar or hormonal imbalances like poor thyroid function, alongside nutritional deficiencies, are preventing your body from running properly. This can lead to a range of symptoms, including extreme hunger.
If you have struggled with hunger and want to make a new intention to lose weight and improve your health, here are some simple steps to get you on the right track.
1) Ask some key questions
Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself “How do I feel?” Consider how you feel today, this week and longer term. Then ask yourself, “Do I like what I see?”
If the answers to these questions are negative, it’s probably time to consider how you can improve the way you look and feel.
2) Assess the facts
If you want to deal with your hunger and lose weight, it’s important to equip yourself with some essential basic data. First, find out what your body fat percentage is, and where the fat is located – hips and thighs? Abdomen?
Also find out your BMR or basal metabolic rate, which indicates how many calories your body naturally uses each day.
Your doctor can help with these assessments and tell you exactly how much fat you have in your body at present. Tracking body fat is essential to assessing progress in both weight loss and health improvement. Be sure to get a complete assessment – BMI alone is not an accurate measure of health, as it is just a ratio of your weight and height.
3) Consider Appetite
Hunger is a normal physiological response when your body has not been given fuel for a while. But experiencing constant hunger and cravings — even shortly after eating — can be a sign that your body is not functioning optimally. That’s why it’s wise to see your doctor if hunger is a real problem for you.
Control of appetite is essential for effective weight loss but there is good new for those who struggle with it. There are now many FDA-approved medications that were not available even a few years ago which can make a real difference.
I use these medications with my patients in conjunction with a healthy eating plan and physical activity, tailored to the individual’s needs. Remember, consuming nutrient-dense foods is important to how you feel, how your body is functioning and how your appetite is controlled.
4) Diet and eating plan
For weight loss success and weight maintenance, calories must be controlled. However, it is not just a question of reducing the number of calories. Instead, close attention must be paid to the balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat in specific grams. A doctor and dietitian can help you with this.
Ideally, you should have an eating plan customized to your own metabolism and specific needs. This means a plan based on your metabolic rate, body fat percentage, and muscle percentage, which are used to determine the amount of calories, protein and carbohydrates your body needs to run properly. A tailored plan like this will help control hunger and appetite, setting you on the path for success.
Once the plan is set, progress can be tracked on a Body Composition Scale to ensure fat is being lost and muscle is maintained.
5) Physical Activity
Physical activity revs up your metabolism, burns calories and strengthens your muscles, making it essential not only for weight loss, but especially for weight maintenance. This is why I always prescribe my patients key exercises to help them achieve – and maintain – their weight loss goals.
That’s why it’s important to track not just overall weight, but body fat and muscle percentage. Patients who maintain muscle mass throughout the weight loss process have higher success rates in keeping the weight off and staying healthy.
6) Nutritional support
Nutritional support in the form of pharmaceutical grade vitamins and supplements are also key to my patients’ success. These high quality products are more effective than over-the-counter products, which can often be cheap imitators.
I recommend a multivitamin, fish oil and probiotic to all patients, as well as adding tailored formulas depending on individual needs. This is dependent on age, medical and nutritional status, health history and possible allergies.
One of the most popular and most effective supplements I use is the Slim Plex supplement, which contains Green Tea Leaf Extract in addition to other herbs and vitamins.
The most important thing to realize about weight loss maintenance is that you may gain a few pounds back. The key is regular follow-up with your doctor and understanding that this requires lifelong management. Weight loss is not just following a “diet” and going back to old habits once you reach your goal weight.
To keep yourself on track, always keep healthy foods on hand, continue to schedule time for physical activity, be aware of external stressors and try to stay in tune with your body. If you don’t feel well or it seems that your body is not functioning as it used to, consult your doctor!
The key to our patients’ success is the multifaceted approach we take in treating them and helping them achieve their goals. Oftentimes weight control is not just a matter of “calories in versus calories out”. It’s about getting to the bottom of what’s going on in the person’s body, especially when it comes to hunger and appetite.
Dr. Sue G. Decotiis has over 20 years experience helping women with complex weight issues.
This blog is part of our “What Are You Hungry For?” series with Sports Club LA and to celebrate the release of Deepak Chopra’s latest book. Find out how you can win a copy of your own here and tell us what you are hungry for in the comments below. If you don’t want to wait for the give away you can purchase a copy of Deepak’s book today.
What Are You Hungry For? It’s the name of Deepak Chopra’s new book on well-being and permanent weight loss. It’s also the question we’ve been asking members of the Intent Blog and Intent.com communities. Whether you’re craving your favorite dish or snack or something more profound – we want to hear about it! And to celebrate we are teaming up with Sports Club LA to give five lucky members of the Intent community their own copy of the book paired with a Sports Club LA water bottle and guest pass.* Winners will be notified by Dec. 5 that they have won.
There are five different ways to enter, and five separate winners will be chosen. Here’s how to enter!
1. Intent.com: If you don’t have one already, create an account on Intent.com (it’s free and easy!). Once you’ve done that, start posting Intents about what you are hungry for in our Health category, sponsored by SCLA. Please note only the intents placed in the Health category will be considered for the giveaway (but we encourage you to make Intents as often as you like)
2. Intent Blog: Leave a comment on one of our SCLA sponsored “What Are You Hungry For” (this one does not count, but the rest will have the bright orange banner!).
3. Recipe Round-up: Subscribe to our Best of Intent newsletter for details on how to enter our Recipe Round Up! Details will go out in this weekend’s newsletter.
4. Facebook Blog Share: Follow Intent and SCLA on Facebook this one is easy. Share the designated blog post from our Facebook page (we’ll tell you which one!) and we’ll pick at random someone to receive the prize pack!
5. Twitter: Tweet your answer to “What are you hungry for?” using #Hungry and make sure to tag @SportsClub_LA. We will choose a winner at random but make sure you’re following Intent on Twitter as we’ll rewtweet our favorites throughout the giveaway! EX: “I am hungry for my mom’s homemade guacamole #Hungry @SportsClub_LA”
*Sports Club LA is located in San Francisco, Boston, Miami, Washington DC and New York City. Guest passes will only be valid for clubs in these cities. You may still enter through all five ways even if you do not live in one of these five locations and still receive the book and water bottle if you are selected as a winner.
What Are You Hungry For? (Harmony Books, 2013) is also available for purchase on Amazon.com
By Linda Lauren
Meditation is a powerful tool for making the connection with body, mind and spirit. In my practice, I meet a great many people who come to me with the desire for change. Many are in the throes of decisions regarding health, business and/or relationships and most are in distress as to how to handle what is coming their way. My first question to these people used to be “Do you meditate?” but I have come to know that chances are good that they are in distress because they don’t. So, instead, my question becomes: “You don’t meditate, do you?” And when they say “no,” I begin to share with them the light of mindfulness.
We all have that place within us that guides our mind and our body. For me that sacred space is the spirit, and it is the foundation and link for what the body and the mind experience. Separate, they are powerful, but together they are empowering!
It’s important, then, to bring them together to take us to wholeness.
The Body: The power to heal. The body has a plethora of ways to heal itself that we have only scratched the surface of discovering. I have seen meditation, when practiced over time, lower blood pressure to the point where an individual may not need to use pills for that same result. I have also visited healthcare facilities to teach them how to overcome physical pain, and I have experienced their joy at being able to manage that pain after years of discomfort.
The Mind: The power to see. The mind is where we may be holding negative thoughts that affect our emotions, especially if we aren’t seeing or dealing with our issues. Meditation helps us overcome the negative thoughts that hold residence within us. It presents us with clearer thinking so we are able to deal with discord in a more beneficial way. We begin to hear ourselves as well as others, and we come to a different, more positive resolution. We soon find the power to communicate and relate to others so that we see all sides of a situation. If you have ever said to: “I need to hear myself think,” then look no further than that first cleansing breath!
The Spirit: The power to feel. The spirit is the most important aspect and the strongest link of the three because this is where our life force begins. It’s where we feel and sense at the deepest level. If the spirit is suppressed, we become depressed and can undo a lot of the good that we achieve. Morale is everything to overall healing and through the spirit we restore our emotions so the body and mind can benefit. If you’ve ever heard anyone tell you their “spirit is down,” that is a good indication that they pay little or no attention to the one place where our soul connects with the rest of us.
So how do you go about it? Creating anything worthwhile takes time, practice, and patience. Here are some suggestions to help you embrace the power of meditation:
Make an appointment with yourself and set aside the same time each day/night to meditate for at least 10-20 minutes. (Increase your time as you become more comfortable with it.)
Alert those people you live with of your routine. Put your phone on mute and hang a sign on your bedroom door if you have to, as long as you have uninterrupted alone time.
Wear comfortable clothing and focus on your breathing. Be mindful of what feels good and make that your focus. Remember to relax and breathe slowly.
Write your impressions in a journal afterward and plot your progress.
Research meditation and learn as much as you can about it. Feel free to experiment to find what works for you.
So, if you haven’t yet established a meditation routine, there’s no time like the present to start one. Leave any preconceived notions of what you’ve heard about it at the door, and enjoy making a connection with yourself. But, be warned: after a couple of weeks of steady meditating you will become addicted…to feeling good! Enjoy!
Linda Lauren is a fourth-generation psychic medium, Color & Energy Consultant, Author and Reiki Practitioner, who connects with people who come to her for guidance through the color and energy she senses around them. Linda, known as the ‘Travel Psychic™’, also uses that energy to guide her clients with their travel plans.
It serves nothing.
We all have things about ourselves that we want to change, or don’t like so much.
However, beating yourself up in order to change actually has the opposite effect.
Beating yourself up for not being loving enough or compassionate enough like the Dalai Lama.
Beating yourself up for any reason whatsoever serves nothing and is a waste of time.
There is so much pressure and expectation from society to conform, to be a certain way, to behave in a certain manner. It can suffocate your authentic expression.
Sometimes in an effort to improve we end up being very harsh and critical towards ourselves. We impose unrealistic expectations and pressures given by those around us. We bombard ourselves with unkind mental chatter and self talk.
Get all A’s.
Never feel sad or negative.
Don’t make waves.
It becomes easy to be judgmental towards yourself.
Judging yourself as a way to be better will only lead to inner resistance and internal rebellion. It always backfires.
Whatever you judge about yourself you reinforce. Judgment is simply a way to perpetuate the very thing you are judging. It keeps you stuck.
Judging yourself doesn’t change the thing you are judging, it just tends to make it worse.
Anyone can be loving in an ashram. Anyone can be loving to Mother Teresa. But can you be loving to yourself?
There comes a moment when no matter how much healing or therapy you have done, how many books you have read or seminars that you have attended, you must make the bold choice to love yourself no matter what.
Loving yourself is a great act of courage. The simple yet powerful decision to love yourself no matter what is the key to your freedom.
It’s easy to love yourself when you perform, when you do it “right”, when you get all A’s, or when you are your ideal weight.
But can you love yourself even when you screw up, collapse, or fail? This is when it counts. This is the real spiritual practice.
You might find that the more kind and compassionate you are with who you are being and not being now, you actually end up getting to who you want to be much more quickly.
So commit to loving yourself even when you don’t succeed in fully loving yourself.
Can you love yourself even then?
Beating yourself up in order to get yourself to love yourself only creates more self hate.
Self hate never leads to self love. Beating yourself up in order to get yourself to improve more quickly actually slows you down.
We often think that when we heal, and become whole, we will then finally be worthy of loving ourselves. When in fact, it is the very act of loving yourself that will help you heal and feel real self worth.
When you accept yourself exactly as you are and exactly as you are not, you set yourself free.
So today can you be a bit more kind to yourself?
Healing is applying love to all the parts of you that hurt.
So stop beating yourself up and start loving yourself in this moment.
Nothing else needs to happen.
You don’t need to be any different.
You deserve it just because you ARE.
Do you have a favorite or original poem you would like showcased on Wordplay Wednesday? We’d love to share it! Email the poem to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will feature it in the series. Click here to view past Wordplay Wednesdays.
By: Elizabeth Eckhart
It seems today that more and more Americans are concerned with the current state of the environment, and what we can do to help. Everywhere you look, companies are “going green” in an attempt to appeal to the demands of the increasingly educated public. Even electric companies in places like Texas, the oil capital of America, are touting their green energy options, and it’s all beginning to turn the tide: according to the EPA, in 2008 Americans were able to avoid releasing the equivalent of 29 million cars worth of greenhouse gases through eco-conscious living. This translated to a savings of $19 billion for Americans that year.
However, it’s not just our commercial goods we are wanting to be eco-friendly – many of us want to live greener and thus healthier lives defined by mindfulness of our place on the Earth, and making our home as green as possible is an undeniably important part. Our homes should be a haven, not a harm to us, and shouldn’t be reducing the quality of the environment.
So what exactly is a “green” home? Compared to an average American home, green homes are gentler on the environment because they use less energy, water and other natural resources while avoiding waste and negative environmental impact wherever possible. Standard homes consumes about 30 percent of total energy and 65 percent of all electricity generated in the US. By making plumbing, fixtures, landscaping and irrigation systems more efficient, greens homes can use 50 percent less water than standard American homes. Also, constructing a green home generates about 50 to 90 percent less waste than standard homes.
Based on these facts and simple observations, it should come as no surprise to see the rise in the number of eco-friendly homes being built, and for good cause. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that buildings in the U.S. contribute 70 percent of carbon dioxide emissions and residential buildings produce 20 percent of our total CO2 emissions alone. It is clear that our homes and offices play a major role in the environment, so it’s our responsibility to limit the damage we inflict with them.
Also, not only do standard constructed homes negatively affect the environment, but they are affect our wellbeing. Green homes create less indoor air pollutants than standard homes, which can enhance allergies and asthma and may lead to lung cancer.
There are many options for current homeowners to turn their homes into energy efficient ones. One of the most popular programs to help with this process is the Energy Star program, which was launched in 1995. Energy Star certified energy efficient products typically use 20-30 percent less energy than what is required by federal standards. While Energy Star certifications are for what’s in your home, LEED Certification, launched by the United States Green Building Council, is for the building itself. LEED-certified homes aim to reduce their negative impact on the environment by reducing their energy and water use by an average of 20-30 percent as well as maximizing fresh air within the home to reduce exposure to domestic pollutants.
The reality is though, that most Americans simply can’t afford to build a new LEED certified home, or buy new Energy Star certified products. Luckily, there are many steps all of us can take to reduce our impact on the environment that don’t break our bank.
The first step would be to get an energy audit — many electric companies offer these at minimal to no cost, or you can do it yourself. A DIY audit consists of checking for, and sealing, indoor and outdoor air leaks that could be driving up your energy bill by 5-30 percent a year. This is particularly important for older homes, since they are more prone to having drafts.
Next, compare home electricity providers to see which companies offer green products, such as solar panels. Many companies today are utilizing renewable sources from solar, to wind, hydro and geothermal to generate electrical power. If you live in states like New York, Maryland, Texas, and other parts of the South, you can try here to see which companies offer eco-friendly options for household electricity in your area and which would work for you and your household’s electricity needs.
The next step is to check your home’s insulation, which keeps the heat from escaping through the ceiling and walls. The attic is the biggest culprit for heat loss, so look there first if you have one, then consider checking and re-sealing the borders of windows and doors.
Your heating and cooling equipment should be next on your list. Cleaning or replacing filters, inspecting ducts and pipes for leaks, and replacing the unit every 15 years will ensure tip-top energy efficiency and will protect your lungs from breathing in mold and other harmful toxins.
The last, and easiest step is to monitor your use of electronic devices. Aside from using any electronic devices less frequently, make sure to unplug everything that isn’t being used at that moment, and definitely do so if you’ll be out of the house for a few hours or more. Unused, but plugged in, electronic devices are leeches of electricity and cost you hundreds of dollars a year without you being any the wiser – this includes power strips and surge protectors, so be sure to unplug these as well as they will continue to draw power. To get more tips on a do-it-yourself home audit check the U.S. Department of Energy’s website.
Other greener options for the home are to use less water, use fewer paper goods such as paper towels (opt for cloth towels instead and reuse them), get newer appliances that are more energy efficient and whenever possible buy green household cleaners that don’t contain harsh chemicals or toxins.
Not only will doing everything you can to make your home green reduce your impact on the environment, it will also lead to a happier, healthier life. Wellness begins at home, so make sure your house is part of your solution!
Have any other tips for making your house more green? Share in the comments below!
Elizabeth Eckhart is a Chicago born and bred blogger who is passionate about keeping the environment clean. Some of her favorite writing topics include new renewable energy technology and various ways to live a healthy lifestyle.