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Go Jump!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I know many of us can remember as a kid jumping rope or as some would call it skipping rope. It was one of my favorite things to do on a summer afternoon. I didn’t realize it as a child, but jumping rope was one of the best exercises for shedding calories, building muscles, and getting a good cardio workout. As an adult, while I enjoy the benefits of jumping rope, I can also get in touch with my inner child.

Skipping rope is a simple, high-intensity workout that burns calories fast. You can burn over 1,000 calories in one hour of jumping. So this exercise is great for weight loss. For my Snickers candy bar lovers, 15-20 minutes will easily burn off those calories. (Snickers are my favorite!)

Jump ropes are a simple piece of equipment you can take anywhere to get your workout in. It’s easy to work into a busy schedule. A minimum of five minutes a day can improve physical fitness. Ten minutes of nonstop jumping can provide the same benefits as the following:

30 minutes of jogging

2 sets of tennis singles

720 yards of swimming

Jump ropes are very affordable. It’s about the least expensive workout. There about 3 main types of ropes. Depending on what you want, will determine the price you’ll pay. Many retailers categorize their ropes as speed ropes, beaded ropes, and weighted ropes. Speed ropes are the most common and optimal for beginners. They are lightweight and easy to use for practicing basic skills. Beaded ropes are typically used for rhythmic jumping and competitions. Beads cover the nylon rope but the beads are relatively light so they do not make the rope feel heavy. As the beads hit the ground, it creates a sharp noise. Weighted ropes are designed to intensify your workouts. These ropes are used by advanced jumpers looking to do heavy-duty cardio.

Jumping rope works all major muscle groups. Target body areas are:

Core – maintaining good posture while jumping challenges your core

Arms – the constant rope swinging works muscles in your hands, wrists, and elbows

Legs – excellent way to build strong leg muscles

Glutes – with every jump you’re using your glutes

Back – back muscles are engaged to help keep a stable posture while jumping

Because jumping rope is a high-impact workout, it can put stress on the back, hips, knees, ankles, and feet. Sad to admit that jumping rope is not for everyone. If you have any pain or arthritis in these areas, avoid this exercise. Also, if you suffer from heart disease or have family history of heart disease, please use caution. Seek your doctor’s advice before starting a jump rope routine, especially, if haven’t been active lately or have any medical problems.

In many sports training programs, coaches incorporate jumping rope as a warm-up or conditioning tool to improve overall athletic performance. For example, jumping rope is one of the staples for a boxer’s workout routine. Boxing coaches use this exercise because it’s great for balance, coordination, and foot speed. Jumping rope improves spatial awareness, reflexes, bone density, and endurance. Continuous jumping requires the body and mind to make neural muscular adjustments to imbalances created with each jump.

This simple exercise can do wonders for the body. Some of the top health benefits of jumping rope consist of a strong heart, lower cholesterol, low blood pressure, weight control, and stress relief. You can jump your way to a healthier lifestyle.

Jumping up and down increases your blood flow and that makes for a nice, strong heart. By lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol, you can reduce your risk of heart disease and prevent heart attacks and strokes. A well-exercised heart muscle can pump blood effortlessly to all parts of the body. A stable blood flow allows arterial walls to relax. As you’re jumping, HDL (good) cholesterol increases and LDL (bad) cholesterol decreases.

You’ll be able to decrease fat cells which will promote weight loss. Jumping rope is a sure easy way to keep your waistline in check.

Like any other type of exercise, jumping rope can relieve stress by boosting the production of endorphins. The release of these brain chemicals makes you feel good. All you need is a minimum of 5 minutes to ease your anxiety.

Quick Tips

  • Wear comfortable shoes like trainers or aerobics shoes
  • Avoid jumping on hard, concrete surfaces
  • Just like running, your form matters. Maintain proper form.
  • Do a light walk before and cool down with a stretch when you’re done
  • Turn the rope with your wrist, don’t use your shoulders
  • Start with short jump times and increase the duration gradually
  • Jump rope 3-4 times a week

Once you get the hang of skipping rope, you’ll discover many different ways to jump rope. You might become adventurous and learn a trick or two to keep it entertaining. In the beginning, don’t worry about not jumping for long durations at a time, jump in increments and just have fun with it.

Go jump!

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Oh, Sweet Liquid Honey

Reading Time: 3 minutes

What is there not to like about honey? There is not one thing I can think of. Honey is such a wonderful creation. This sweet liquid is used for food, medicine, and much more. The advantages of honey have been valued for ages.

Honey, an all-natural sweetener, starts as flower nectar. The nectar is collected by bees and then transformed into simple sugars stored inside the honeycomb. Honey is created by the constant fanning of the bees’ wings. In addition to creating this golden goodness, bees buzz around all day long pollinating 1/3 of the world’s food supply. Bees are some of the busiest little creatures.

Bees make so much more honey than their colony needs. For that, we can be grateful because we can enjoy the wonderful taste of honey. Beekeepers remove the excess honey and store it. The beekeepers collect the honeycomb frames and scrape off the wax caps. Once all the caps have been removed, the honeycomb frames are placed in an extractor that spins the frames forcing honey out of the honeycombs. After the honey has been completely extracted, it is strained to remove any remaining wax and other particles.

In the U.S. alone, there are over 300 unique types of honey available. Honey’s color, flavor, and aroma vary based on the nectar that was collected by the bees. Their shades range from nearly colorless to dark brown. Typically, the taste of light-colored honey is milder, and the flavor of dark-colored honey is stronger.

Not containing any fat, fiber, or protein, one tablespoon of honey (21 grams) contains 64 calories and 17 grams of sugar. Although honey is real low in vitamins and minerals, the trade-off is that it has many antioxidants. Antioxidants play a significant role in boosting overall health by preventing or slowing down cell damage caused by free radicals.

I want to start with my favorite use for honey. And that is using honey as a natural cough suppressant. When I have a coughing spell or my throat feels a little scratchy, honey is the first thing I reach for. A spoonful of honey usually does the job for me. Studies have discovered that honey worked better than cough medications at reducing cough symptoms.

Anyone else likes to enjoy a good cup of hot tea with a drop of honey? Honey is a delicious, healthy alternative to sugar. There’s no need to reach for sugar when you have honey nearby. Drizzling honey in your tea enhances the taste of your favorite tea. As a general rule, the tea shouldn’t be piping hot but pretty warm as you add 1 teaspoon of honey. If the water is too hot, it can kill the phytochemicals.

OTHER FASCINATING USES OF HONEY

  1. Strengthens immunity
  2. Promotes the growth of good bacteria in the intestine
  3. Alkalizes the body’s pH
  4. Prevents low white blood count
  5. Reduces ulcers
  6. Helps with anxiety
  7. Helps clear your sinuses
  8. Make honey and cinnamon paste to apply on an aching tooth
  9. Add honey to bathwater, if your area has hard water
  10. Reduces cholesterol. Just mix 2 tablespoons of honey and 3 tablespoons of cinnamon in 16oz tea.
  11. Helps with leg cramps. Take 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of honey before bed.
  12. Used for scalp problems
  13. Counters pollen allergies
  14. Flushes parasites from liver and colon
  15. When consumed with warm water, honey helps in digesting the fat stored in your body
  16. Used for dry skin because of its nourishing properties
  17. Increases brain power by boosting memory and concentration

Steer clear of the lower grade honey brands. Many of the low-quality honey may be mixed with syrup. I prefer to stick to raw organic honey. The nutrients and enzymes of manufactured honey tend to be diminished during their processes.

Doctors recommend taking honey in the morning on an empty stomach. This gives you an energy boost and increases metabolism. Need a good night’s sleep, take a spoonful of honey before bedtime. Its calming effects really relaxes the mind and body.

Quick tips for including honey in your diet

  • Stir honey in your favorite tea
  • Drizzle honey on pancakes
  • Mix honey in with your oatmeal
  • Spread honey over toast
  • Add honey to your dressing for added sweetness

Similar to anything else we digest, enjoy honey in moderation. Although it’s far better than sugar, too much honey may have an adverse effect due to its high sugar and calorie content. The American Heart Association advises the daily added sugar limit of no more than 24 grams for women and 36 grams for men.

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For Supple Skin Use Glycerin Soap

Reading Time: 3 minutes

During the bathing process, our skin’s natural oils are often stripped. Either from using hot water or harsh products, your skin can become very dry. If you’re looking for gorgeous, supple skin all year long, then, incorporate glycerin soap into your skin care. Glycerin, one of the best nourishing agents in the world, is extremely effective in promoting skin health. Studies have shown how glycerin can affect your skin in a number of positive ways.

Glycerin is a sugar alcohol extracted from fats and oils of animal, plant, or petroleum (non-organic). Through the hydrolysis process, glycerin is produced by splitting the fats and oils. This chemical bond break down yields a colorless, odorless, syrupy liquid consistency….glycerin.

Glycerin is also a natural by-product of the soap-making process. Many soap manufacturers remove the glycerin to be used in cosmetics, foods, and pharmaceutical products.

Since mid-1900 century, glycerin has been used to create soap. Known as an all-natural and environment friendly product, the awesome benefits of glycerin soap includes moisturizing qualities, skin protection, diminishes acne symptoms, combats premature aging, and soothes inflammatory skin conditions.

What I like most about glycerin soap is that it’s gentle enough to be used everyday for skin care. Glycerin helps lock in the skin’s natural moisture to prevent over drying. Acting as an humectant, glycerin absorbs water and draws moisture to your skin. Thus, leaving your skin feeling moist for hours after use. Using glycerin soap over a period of time, one should notice their skin softening.

Your skin plays a vital role in protecting your body by keeping fluids in and keeping harmful bacteria and viruses out. The list of toxic ingredients found in many beauty products just keeps growing. The skin absorbs these toxic chemicals which seeps into the bloodstream causing health and hormonal impact. That’s why choosing safe skin care products that promote healthy skin is so important. A healthy skin is a protected skin. As glycerin lubricates the skin, it builds a barrier to protect the skin.

Glycerin soap is safe for all skin types. It’s non-greasy so anyone with oily or combination skin can use it. It helps with acne prone skin. Glycerin soap gives your skin added hydration in order to reduce the body’s need to create oils. Some acne treatments tend to draw out the skin’s oil when, in fact, all the skin needs is extra hydration. Someone suffering from a severe case of acne should consult their physician.

As skin ages, the skin’s epidermal (topmost) layer begins to lose elasticity. But no worries. Glycerin to the rescue. Glycerin thickens skin and restores elasticity to help correct aging skin. When skin is properly hydrated, wrinkles and stretch marks can be circumvented. Glycerin soap could be considered an anti-aging product because it gives your skin a youthful, healthy glow.

Glycerin with its delicate touch soothes skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and other inflammatory skin conditions. I know, firsthand, having had a mild case of eczema as a child, dry skin is NO fun. With using doctor prescribed treatments, it eventually went away. But I’m for certain, if my mother was aware of glycerin soap, oh, we would’ve used it. I digress. The natural pH level of our skin falls between 4-6 (Acidic). Glycerin soap has a low pH level which mimics the skin’s natural level and won’t remove the natural oils. On the pH level chart, 7 is neutral; 8 and above is alkaline. Soaps with higher alkaline levels tend to cause more skin irritations.

If you experience any adverse reaction to glycerin soap, stop using immediately. Pure glycerin soap may not cause allergic reactions but added ingredients may do so. Read labels to see if fragrances or essential oils have been added.

As you know, pure ingredients comes at a cost. Synthetic soaps are cheaper to make, therefore, they can be sold at a low price. Expect to pay on the higher end of prices for pure glycerin soap. You can save money making it yourself, but brewing up your own batch of glycerin soap can be a bit time consuming.

Glycerin soap is versatile because it can be used as a face wash, body wash, or shampoo. But I have to let you in on a little secret…. if you’re looking for bubbles and a great lather, this is NOT the soap for you. lol But if you want something that won’t disrupt your skin’s integrity, glycerin soap is the perfect soap for you.

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2020 Said “Take A Seat”

Reading Time: 4 minutes

As 2019 was coming to an end, I had nothing but high hopes for 2020. I was expecting signs that 2020 was going to jumpstart a great decade for me. Take more trips, make lovely memories, and experience breath-taking adventures. I had anticipations for buying a new house, purchasing a new vehicle, and taking my side hustle to the next level. And I would fill in all the other little details as the year went on.

To my surprise, I was in complete utter shock to discover 2020 clearly had other “plans.” I did none of the things that I was gearing up to do. After the first quarter, it was apparent that 2020 said, “Take a seat.” Like many people across the globe, my life veered off course from moderately to severely. With the pandemic, mass unemployment, quarantine, travel bans, racism, and yes, murder hornets, 2020 plainly said, “Take a seat… sit back and be still (literally).” LOL

Undoubtedly, 2020 wanted to teach me a few things, and it wasn’t being subtle about the lessons. Sadly, life events happen to teach something, push you to grow, or inspire you to do things differently. For me, 2020 was all of the above. I became more enlightened about myself, relationships, values, passions, life, and society.

Accepting and embracing that 2020 said, “Take a seat,” allowed me the opportunity to become more in tune with myself. Learning that it was really okay to be me unapologetically was so liberating. It’s so exhausting trying to be who others think you should be. Also, I really enjoyed working on myself in the area of self-care. I no longer let guilt settle in when making myself a priority. I threw away the notion that caring for myself makes me selfish. I’m done. (smiling)

I worked on deepening my connections with family and friends. What that meant for me was to carve out time for those that really matter in life. I made more phone calls, sent unexpected cards in the mail, and worked on truly being present. Time is practically at the top of the list for the most valuable commodity. All the money in the world couldn’t buy another minute. Don’t waste time on people that don’t add value. And it’s so important to nurture those close relationships and prune away the ones that are draining.

It became evident that it was time for me to take investing in myself more seriously. I made a conscious effort to devote my extra free time wisely, explore new financial investments, and invest in my health.

I’ve never done this before. When the pandemic hit, I religiously wrote in my monthly planner to account for my extra free time. I wanted to know how my free time was being utilized. (This has helped me out tremendously that I decided to continue tracking my extra free time for 2021.)

I already do have an IRA account, but I felt a nudge to do more investing. With a little research, I chose another money management company that will enable me to start investing in other various stocks and dividends. My mindset about money shifted when I heard a quote, “Don’t work for money; make it work for you.” (-Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad) I have so much to learn about stocks and dividends. But that’s okay. Every little step is worth it as I work towards my goal of building wealth. The money you invest today can save you tomorrow.

Because of the pandemic, I wanted to know as much as I could about protecting my immune system. I would peruse articles on health, vitamins, supplements, eating lifestyles, and exercise. I wanted to give myself the best fighting chance against this virus. I understand that having a healthy immune system is crucial to punching back when COVID-19 knocks you down. When the great lockdown was implemented, I quickly ran out to the pharmacy store to stock my health cabinet. What can I say? I’m a preparer. I can’t help it.

Here are other things that I squared up with myself in 2020 as I sat in my emotions and sat in my spirit.

  • Slow down. I don’t have to be productive around the clock.
  • Revamp… don’t be afraid to start over.
  • Prepare to go another way. For me, I don’t expect going back to “normal”. Instead, I’m looking forward to my “new normal.”
  • Set goals with small specific steps.
  • Recognizing fear is a reaction, and courage is a decision.
  • Control my anxieties before anxiety controls me. Regularly, I check in with my emotions.
  • Don’t skimp on showing love to others because everyone we come in contact with is fighting their own battles.
  • Some situations can’t be avoided, so I must brace myself. (yes, embrace the disruption)
  • Stay focus on my purpose in times of chaos.
  • Turn up the resilience. I can’t lay down and give up. I have to punch back!
  • Stop letting the idea of perfection hold me back. Do it anyways and improve upon it as time goes on.
  • I must first put my mask on before helping someone else get their mask on.

Last but certainly not least, I decided to stop running from a passion of my mine that I hid for decades. That is my love for writing. For many years, I would pick it up and put it down and bury it. Over the summer, the thought came to start a blog (again). I started a blog many moons ago, and I put it down. This time, I will hold myself more accountable and be consistent to see where it takes me. I genuinely have a newfound love for writing. Writing is exhilarating.

2020 has left a lasting impression that caused a sizable shift in my life. I confronted old patterns, excuses, and behavioral habits. I addressed how I was tired of doing more and getting more. I realized that it’s no longer about doing more or getting more, but life is about being more. I have a new` thirst for living on purpose with clarity, impact, and significance.

Change doesn’t always feel good. Many times, it doesn’t even look pretty. Let’s admit it. Change is downright MESSY. But God will allow disruption so that we can be freed from our comfort zone. In essence, so that we can change. Once out of the comfort zone, you’ll begin to see other avenues of untapped potential.

I cherish the many, many still quiet moments of 2020 that allowed me the freedom to reset, refocus, and replenish. I will forever hold dear the soul-stirring takeaways.

Thank you 2020!

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Sometimes Rejection is Direction

Reading Time: 3 minutes

As toddlers, we can recall how the sting of rejection made us feel when we heard the word “no”. And now as adults, not much has changed, no one is ever thrilled when told “no”. Rejection immediately opens the floodgates of emotions. Suddenly, there’s an overflow of negative thoughts pouring into your mind. And because thoughts become feelings, the negative thoughts become feelings of disappointment, frustration, depression, and abandonment. And let’s not forget, rejection feels like it’s truly the end of the world. However, there’s a silver lining to rejection. Sometimes rejection is direction.

It’s so easy to take a “no” personally. Instantly, you begin to wonder, “What’s wrong with me?” The rejector may have valid reasons for not choosing you. With your bruised ego, take it as a learning opportunity. Putting yourself out there and getting rejected is just part of the game. No one receives a “yes” all the time. Your confidence does take a hit, but be a good sport and accept that you’re not everyone’s cup of tea. Repeat after me…. Sometimes rejection is direction.

In retrospect, majority of my rejections were meant to point me in the direction of the path I was to take all along. Even with egg on my face, I had to acknowledge that a “no” was for the best. I didn’t accept this until I was much older but rejection is actually a favor in a disguise. It’s a favor because it increases your chances of finding something better tailored for you. Don’t allow a “no” to tempt you into giving up. Eventually, you’ll find that someone or something that better aligns with your values.

Here are a few tips on how to take rejection gracefully:

Acknowledge your emotions. Don’t ignore your feelings. Face the uncomfortable emotions head on. Allow time to process what you’re feeling.

Use affirming positive self-talk. Drown out the inner critic with repeating positive statements to boost your self-esteem. This helps keep you mentally strong.

Refuse to let rejection define you. One person’s opinion doesn’t determine your self-worth. Keep rejection in proper prospective.

Learn from rejection. Turn the experience into an opportunity for personal growth. Look at rejection as the “teacher” and not as the “bad guy”.

Stay busy after the rejection. Keep your mind and body busy with house chores, exercise, and other leisure activities. (Oh, and shopping. A little shopping always perks me up.) These activities will help lift your spirits post rejection. Research shows physical activity that gets your heart rate up allows your body to release feel-good endorphins.

Let it out to a friend. You can release pint up emotions to a close friend or family member. As you vent, you can see with more clarity for understanding what happened. Another person may be able to share advice for moving forward.

So whether you’ve been excluded from a social event, passed up for a promotion, or stood up by a date, dust yourself off and go at it for another round. It make take a few tries before something works out. And that’s quite alright. Occasional closed doors make celebrations that much sweeter for when the right door opens.

Listed below are just a few inspiring individuals that didn’t allow rejection to keep them from sweet success.

JK Rowling – over 10 major publishers rejected the Harry Potter manuscript. After finally sealing a deal, the Harry Potter series has gone on to earn over $400 million in book sales.

Lucille Ball – starred in many second-tier films at the start of her career. She became a household name when she received her big break on the sitcom “I Love Lucy”.

Sidney Portier – bombed his first audition for the American Negro Theatre. After working on his craft, he became a huge successful Hollywood star.

Colonel Harland Sanders – his chicken recipe was rejected over 1,000 times before a restaurant owner went into a business agreement with him to sell his chicken. At the age of 62, he began franchising his chicken business, Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Sir James Dyson – In developing his vacuum, he created over 5,000 prototypes that failed. The 5,127th prototyped worked and the Dyson brand became the best-selling bagless vacuum in the USA at that time.

Rejection is not the final destination. Therefore, rejection doesn’t make a goal unattainable. It might just take you longer to get there but keep taking the necessary steps to achieve the goal. Don’t let rejection stop you. Just pivot. Say it with me, “Sometimes rejection is direction”. Let rejection become fuel for you. You know who are and what you’re capable of so keep going after your goal.

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Let God Be God

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I ultimately believe that God is in control of everything that happens. Even when I face tragedy or when bad things happen, God is overseeing the situation. He is sovereign. When I did a Google search on the word “sovereign”, I found these words in its definition: supreme, unlimited, unrestricted, and infinite. Simply put…. God is in control.

It’s been well over a year since the passing of my mother. In my opinion, there’s nothing like the loss of a loved one, especially when it’s your immediate family. My mother, my first friend, had closed her eyes to this world. That was a day the world stood still for me. At a loss for what to say or what to do, I just felt so alone. The burning question was how am I going to get through this?

In the following weeks and months, I became filled with so much disappointment. I replayed the question, “God, are you sure it was her time?” over and over in my head. I was for certain she had another 10 years on her earthly clock. But that was not the will of the Lord. Because her passing was untimely to me, I was completely blindsided. My mother didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, no drugs, enjoyed walking, and no diseases but God saw fit in his infinite wisdom to call her unto eternal rest. Talking about being baffled! I thought God had made a mistake.

My mind constantly ran back to the beautiful memories of my sweet mother. And I wanted to stay in those flashbacks as long as possible. If it was possible to pack up from the present to live in the past, I would it instantly. Because I could no longer spend time with her anymore, reliving the happy, fun times brought much peace. I longed for God to turn back the hands of time to ease my yearning to be in her presence again. Knowing perfectly well, I couldn’t live in the past, I often wondered when I would get off this emotional rollercoaster.

After some time had passed, I finally exited my emotional rollercoaster. I can not pinpoint the exact date on the calendar but I can recall feeling an overwhelming peace from within. One day, in a moment of stillness, these words came to me, “Let God be God”. I had to simply trust that God knew exactly what He was doing. From that day forward, the weight of heavy mourning was lifted. Now, I could hold my head up and rejoice because I had chosen to accept God was in control. And that my mother’s passing was not a surprise to Him. It was her time to receive eternal rest in the Lord.

There are mysteries of God that mankind will never fully understand on this side of Heaven. (Death being one of them.) Some people dislike the fact that God can do what He wants, when He wants, and how He wants. God is sovereign; therefore, He is not answerable to anyone. If I declared God was in control before any calamity, undoubtedly, He’s in control during and after the trouble because the situation doesn’t change His position of being in control.

As believers, our faith will be tested. The more we know of His’ Word which explains His character, the more confidence we will have in His’ ability of being in control. Then we can stand firm and not allow trouble to change what we know about God. We can’t only believe God is God when everything is well. But let God be God over every facet of our lives… in the good times and the bad times. God does whatever He pleases. (Period)

Ponder these few declarations the Bible makes about God.

  • Psalm 115:3 Our God is in the heavens; he does all he pleases.
  • Isaiah 45:6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and that there is none else.
  • Psalm 103:19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
  • Job 12:10 In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.
  • Revelations 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

From time to time, we’re going to struggle with letting God be God. That’s why it’s so crucial to read God’s word to be reminded of who He is. In wanting God’s will to be done, we can’t turnaround and then supervise how His’ will should be done. Relax. Let God be God.

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Apples Are Incredibly Good For You

Reading Time: 3 minutes

What’s your typical “go-to” fruit? Mine is the juicy, scrumptious apple. In fact, I could go for one right now. On a whole-fruit basis, apples are the 2nd most consumed fruit in America. I bet you want to know what’s in 1st place. Bananas! I’m just as surprised as you are. They’re both similar in dietary fibers so I’m going to cut the banana some slack here. After apples, bananas are my 2nd choice of fruit. Regardless of whatever your favorite fruit is, just make sure you’re receiving the daily recommended servings of about 2 cups.

Apples are packed with so many incredible nutrients. These nutrients can be found both in the skin and the inner flesh. So, please…..whatever you do, don’t peel the apple beforehand. When you throw away the apple peel, you’re getting rid of all those wonderful nutrients the body needs. Okay, I digress. I know someone people just can’t eat the skin. And that is perfectly fine. (no judgment here)

One apple can provide up to 5 grams of fiber. Fiber slows down digestion so you feel full. This fiber rich food will have you feeling full after eating just one apple. If you’re looking to achieve your ideal weight real soon, add apples to your game plan. Eat a few apple slices before a meal and you will feel fuller. As a result of feeling full, you will consume fewer calories. (Yay) Also, an apple’s fiber can help with diarrhea, constipation, and control symptoms of acid reflux. This nutritional powerhouse fruit provides plentiful anti-inflammatory compounds that lowers the risk of heart disease. Do you need to lower your cholesterol? With frequent apple consumption, you’ll be on track to lowering your cholesterol.

Each time you eat an apple, you’re receiving a healthy dose of vitamin C to boost your immune system. This natural antioxidant raises the body’s resistance against free radicals. Too many free radicals can lead to cell damage by feeding on the strong healthy cells. Vitamin C rich foods protects healthy cells and lowers your risk of illness. Vitamin C is vital to collagen development and supports bone and muscle health. It’s been said if you want to receive the most vitamin C from an apple, it’s best to eat one straight from the apple tree. After an apple has been picked, the vitamin C level will begin to drop over time.

Some other vitamins in apples are B-complex vitamins (for strong nervous system) and vitamin K (make proteins).

Potassium is the main mineral in apples. Potassium plays the role of keeping a normal heartbeat and muscles functioning properly. It’s the kidney’s job to regulate potassium. Too much or too little potassium can cause heart issues.

Other minerals that can be found in apples are calcium (for bone strength) and phosphorus (filters waste).

Both the apple’s skin and the inner flesh contain polyphenols which is an organic compound that has antioxidant effects. Many believe polyphenols improve digestion, helps weight management, enhance brain function, and promote healthy blood sugar levels. Some research has shown polyphenols can aid prevention in various chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancers, and neurodegenerative diseases.

The prebiotics found in apples feed good gut bacteria. A prebiotic is a type of fiber that passes through the GI tract undigested. When the prebiotics hit the large intestine, it stimulates the growth of good bacteria. And healthy gut bacteria is essential to digestion and weight control.

Is there anything apples can’t do? (lol) It’s a little hard to find something negative to say about this longtime beloved fruit. Apples are cholesterol free, fat free, and sodium free. My personal goal is to consume at least 3 or 4 apples on a weekly basis.

Apples come in a variety of shapes, colors, and flavors. Apple connoisseurs like to divulge in talks about “crisp” versus “crunchy” or “bold” versus “hint of tartness”.

Here’s a list of apple varieties you may find in your local supermarket.

Fuji (place of origin: Japan) / flavor – crunchy & sweet

Gala (place of origin: New Zealand) / flavor – crisp & aromatically sweet *my favorite apple*

Gold Delicious (place of origin: West Virginia, USA) / flavor – crunchy & sweet

Granny Smith (place of origin: Australia) / flavor – crunchy & tart

Honey Crisp (place of origin: Minnesota, USA) / flavor – crisp & sweet

McIntosh (place of origin: Ontario, Canada) / flavor – crisp & sweet

Pink Lady (place of origin: Australia) / flavor – crisp & tart

Red Delicious (place of origin: Iowa, USA) / flavor – crunchy & mildly sweet

Rome (place of origin: Ohio, USA) / flavor – crunchy & mildly sweet

(Given the unusual diversity of apple varieties, I did not provide an exhausted list. )

On your next grocery store visit, don’t forget to add apples to the list. Eating an apple a day will lower your risk from many body ailments.

Fun Fact: Currently, China is ranked as the #1 apple-producing country. United States of America comes in 2nd place.

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Cycling Does the Body Good

Reading Time: 4 minutes

It’s important to stay physically active to be fit and healthy. Having a routine exercise is key to preventing diseases or managing an existing health condition. Exercising regularly can help protect against obesity, heart disease, mental illness, arthritis, and other health issues. There are plenty of exercises to assist with maintaining physical fitness. One of my favorite exercises is cycling because it’s so effortless and enjoyable. Cycling does the body good by getting you into shape both physically and mentally.

A little bit of riding each day can make a huge difference in your life. With daily exercise, you can increase your energy and curtail fatigue. It’s recommended that a person should cycle thirty to forty-five minutes each day. And for longer sessions, you can ride a bike for more than one hour for two or three times weekly. Always consult with your physician when considering long periods of exercising. For those that are extremely busy, all you really need is a minimal of ten minutes a day to begin reaping the benefits of cycling.

On average, a person can burn between 450 to 750 calories per hour cycling. To calculate how many calories burned, you must consider your weight, bike speed, and the duration. The more you weigh will require more energy to cycle. Similarly, the faster you peddle the more energy is needed to cycle. And for duration, the more time spent cycling the more calories you’ll burn.

In addition to weight, speed, and duration, the incline of cycling downhill, flat, or uphill will impact your calorie burn. Cycling uphill is a lot harder than cycling downhill or a flat route. As you cycle uphill, your body is working harder against gravity. Because of the harder workout, you don’t need to ride as long a period of time cycling uphill as opposed to a flat route.

Here’s an example of how many calories burned on a one mile bike ride: A person weighing 150 lbs traveling approximately 20 mph would burn about 50 calories per mile. For my math enthusiast out there, the calories burned formula is: METs x 3.5 x body weight in kilograms / 200 = calories burned per minute. “MET” is a measurement of energy cost of a physical activity for a period of time. A leisure bike ride at 5 mph has a MET of 3.5. The formula would work as follows for a person weighing 125 lbs (56.69 kilograms): 3.5 x 3.5 x 56.69 / 200 = 3.47 calories per minute.

If you’re looking to use cycling as a form of exercise to trim down and tone up, know the further you ride, the more calories you will burn. Weight loss is achieved by decreasing calories eaten and increasing calories burned. Diving right into a long bike ride without building up the endurance means there’s a greater level of physical exertion. So word of caution: gradually increase your time on each bike ride to avoid the risk of hurting yourself. With the combination of a regular cycling workout along with a low calorie eating lifestyle, you’ll surely begin to see the pounds shed.

Cyclists are notorious for having gorgeous legs. With that said, don’t be fooled into thinking cycling is just a lower body workout. Yes, cycling does target body areas such as the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. And cycling maintains the mobility of ankle, knee, and hip joints which helps reduce inflammation. The upper body can definitely be incorporated in this workout. Core muscles in the back and abdominal region will be strengthened. As you keep your body upright, the core muscles are supporting your spine. And the shoulders and neck areas will become stronger as you use the handlebars to steer the bike.

Here’s a glimpse of what your muscles are doing while cycling:

Glutes – keeps pelvis stable on the bike and allowing for rotation of the hips.

Core muscles – stabilizes the body to keep you balanced.

Hamstrings – gives the knees ability to bend. The knees are semi-flexed so that the hamstrings can cause force through the joint to help pump the pedals.

Biceps / triceps – supports the body when standing up or leaning forward while pedaling. These muscles are also engaged when changing direction; for example, when turning a corner.

Calves – works in conjunction with the hamstrings and quads to keep legs pedaling. Helps keep the foot firm on the pedal.

Quadriceps – helps straightens the leg to give force needed to push the pedals down.

Surprisingly, riding a bike puts less stress on the back, hips, knees, and ankles than walking. Because cycling is a low impact workout, it’s able to elevate the heart rate without putting too much stress on the joints.

Cycling is an great cardio workout. It lowers high blood pressure, regulate blood sugar, and can prevent heart attacks. Cardio exercises helps increase good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol.

While our physical body is being whipped into shape, improvements are happening with our brain health. You may experience improved cognitive functions. A study has found that during exercise, cyclists’ blood flow in the brain rose about 28%. In general, exercise has been repeatedly linked to brain health. With aging, your brain begins to shrink. Research has shown that reduction in brain volume could be responsible for age-related concerns like poor memory, short attention span, and muscle function deterioration. Enjoying a bike ride a few times a week, may help keep some brain health issues at bay.

Happy riding!

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Rain Is Essential In Order To Grow

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Have you ever seen a flower in the field grow without rain? Water is necessary for the flower’s growth. No rain, no flowers. We, too, are like a flower because the rain (problems) we experience in our lives is essential in order for us to grow. The role rain plays in one’s life is to mold and shape us; and foster growth.

Mourning the loss of a loved one………. rain

Facing a job loss…………………………….. rain

Ending of a relationship…………………… rain

Experiencing homelessness……………… rain

A health crisis………………………………… rain

The mere fact you are breathing is a guarantee that you will endure struggles and heartache in life. One of the biggest unrealistic notion people have about life is hoping for smooth sailing. Just as rain is essential for things of the earth to grow, humans need a little rain (problems) to experience growth. Personal growth affects your emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual health. Throughout our life span, we are constantly needing improvement in one or more of these areas. You cannot grow unless you are challenged.

When it comes to a rainy day, you can place people into two categories. It’s real simple. They’re people who absolutely love the rain or those who dread the rain. Most of my life, I’ve never been one who absolutely love the rain. As a child, I do recall playing in the rain but the older I became, my perspective of the rain changed. I considered rain a nuisance. Who loves rain on their parade? Raise your hand.

You can easily point out the ones that love the rain. Because the second they get a chance, they’re going out to dance in the rain; splashing through the puddles, savoring every moment. This type of person doesn’t let the rain hinder them one bit. I envision these individuals snuggling up against their challenges and struggles of life. A true rain lover doesn’t get unhinged about the weather. They don’t run away from the obstacle but in fact, sees it as an opportunity. Well, I haven’t arrived, yet. I still have many more miles to go before I automatically look at a problem as an opportunity. (LOL)

Those who dread the rain see hardships and adversity as misfortune instead of opportunities. In some cases, they even allow just a sprinkle of rain to alter their mood and affect their productivity. You have to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones when faced with a challenge. Not all rain comes to bring pain in your life. A stressful situation may be a sign that it’s time to grow. Some of our greatest accomplishments are birthed out of problems.

Since there’s no escaping the rainstorms of life, start viewing problems as experiences that come to make you tenacious and wiser. Adversity doesn’t have to be viewed only in a negative light. But it can be a wake up call for creativity or a call for change.

In the midst of your challenge, pay close attention to your mindset. Is most of your time spent fighting the obstacle or resisting it? (yes) Then, try shifting your mindset from fighting and resisting to embracing the problem. A shift in the mindset equals a shift in the meaning of the problem. As you tackle the problem, ask the question: what is the opportunity being presented here? Keep your gaze upon the opportunity and you’ll begin to feel some excitement. That excitement will overshadow the stress as you undertake the challenge.

As you endure life’s rainfalls, things to consider in order to grow:

Accept responsibility for your part of the problem

Assess the situation before you react

Pick the best solution to the problem

Be cognizant of problematic patterns

Have realistic expectations

Believe in yourself to handle the matter efficiently

Keep moving forward; it’s okay to take baby steps in solving problems

Commit to not avoiding the problem

Consider who you want to grow into as you go through the problem

Don’t shove your emotions to the side; process them

Lastly, do not QUIT!

Behind the rain clouds, the sun is still shining. The rain will subside. Challenges come and go. Nothing lasts forever. Allow the opposition to forge you into become better. Don’t curse the problem because it’s painful, instead open the door and welcome the opportunity for growth.

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Managing Your Anxiety

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For certain, there’s going to be anxiety in life……. so suck it up buttercup. Just accept it. No one is exempt from anxiety. How you manage your anxiety will be the deciding factor on how efficient you will be able to navigate throughout life. Anxiety mismanaged will make you miserable, literally.

Simply put, anxiety is having feelings of fear and worry about an upcoming event and/or the overwhelming sense of the possibility of something bad happening. That means it hasn’t happened. Shrink your anxiety level by shifting your focus to what truly matters which is the present. Evaluate your head space. Make every effort to keep your mind in the right here, right now.

Practice daily taking inventory of your feelings and emotions. Know the signs of anxiety. For some people, when terrorized by racing thoughts, they may experience trembling, rapid breath, increased heart rate, sweating, stomach aches, feeling agitated, tense muscles, or nighttime restlessness. When you become aware of these physical responses to anxiety, pose this question: How are you really?

There are numerous ways to manage anxiety. Learn to be in control of your emotional responses to difficult situations in our high-stress society. Below are some practical tips to help alleviate anxiety.

The quickest way to reduce your anxiety level is to simply just breathe. Take long, deep breaths. Inhale slowly through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. By doing so, this disrupts the fight-or-flight response. As you breathe deeply, a message is sent to the brain to calm down and for the body to relax.

Closing your eyes to picture yourself calm can help combat stressful situations. Guided imagery is using your imagination to put your mind and/or body in a more relaxed state. Visualize that it’s a beautiful day and you can feel the sun’s warmth while enjoying the pleasant smelling flowers. The goal is to clear your mind from thoughts that are stressing you. Your brain has the ability to adjust so train it to become more resilient as you face life’s challenges.

Go for a walk and get some fresh air. Stepping outside can calm you down. Changing your scenery can have a positive impact on your mental state. Time spent outside can reduce your anxiety levels. It’s a quick escape to physically remove yourself from an anxiety filled atmosphere. As you experience the change of scenery, allow yourself to regroup.

There’s nothing like cranking up the music of your favorite artist to bring you into a mental state of calmness and happiness. Music can facilitate relaxation by calming the nervous system. It’s been proven by Neuroscience that music can reduce anxiety. Some genres of music can effect the body’s physiological systems by slowing the heart beat, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing stress hormones levels.

Journaling your thoughts and feelings can aid in reinstating a balanced perspective. For example, writing things down that you’re grateful for will redirect your focus from negative thoughts to positive ones. As you journal, you may begin to gain valuable self-knowledge while releasing certain emotions. What’s great about a journal is that you can always refer back to it for reminders of appreciation and signs of personal growth. Writing things down can help keep your mind uncluttered. When you have a sense of feeling organized and balanced in your thoughts, you can’t help but to decrease your anxiety level. Avoid filling up your journal with only negativity. What will help with this is to end the journaling session with gratitude and solutions to problems.

Aromatherapy has been used for ages to manipulate the state of mind. Aromatherapy (also known as essential oil therapy) is a holistic healing treatment that utilizes natural plant extracts to encourage health and well-being of body, mind, and spirit. Inhaling certain essential oils can have the same affect on the brain as anti-anxiety drugs just without the awful pesky side effects. For anxiety, it’s recommended to use essential oils such as lavender, rose, ylang-ylang, chamomile, jasmine, basil, sage, and orange. You can add a few drops to your lotion and apply to the skin. Putting some drops in the bath or shower is relaxing. Sprinkling a few drops on the pillow at nighttime or adding an essential oil to a diffuser can help de-stress. I enjoy using my diffuser on a regular basis.

Is anxiety keeping you up at night? A weighted blanket could be the answer to getting a good night sleep. Some studies have shown positive results in those who have used weighted blankets to assist with settling down for bedtime. These blankets are filled with materials and beads to give it weight. The concept behind this type of therapy is to stimulate deep pressure touch to reduce stress and anxiety. Using a weighted blanket is often compared to swaddling an infant. As the infant is neatly tucked and wrapped, the blanket has a calming effect and helps the baby sleep better. While the weighted blanket will have you feeling refreshed in the morning, some blankets may come with a pretty price tag. Expect to pay about $100.00 for a nice quality weighed blanket. And please consult your doctor before trying a weighted blanket if you have circulation or respiratory disorders.

We just can’t get away from exercising. It’s needed for our physical well-being and for our mental health, as well. Having an exercise routine may make some individuals less prone to anxiety. From my personal experience, after my workouts, I find myself in a much better head space. Researchers recommend exercise to thwart anxiety because it stimulates feel-good chemicals in the brain.

As the world continues to speed up, it’s crucial for humanity to set aside time to slow down and manage their anxiety. Because anxiety can mentally immobilize a person. So be equipped to take the edge off to reduce stress so that you may thrive in peace and good mental health. And above all, please seek professional help if your symptoms of anxiety are severe in which your emotions and thoughts are interfering with your daily life.

“You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you.” – Dan Millman

The Wonderful Benefits of Essential Oils

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Anyone else in love with essential oils like I am? My first encounter with essential oils was about seven years ago. I was working in the spa at a local salon. During training, I learned that there were some basic key elements in setting the mood in the spa for the clients. We would make sure there was soft oasis music playing with very dim lighting along with an essential oil diffuser turned on. And as the clients relaxed during their spa service, they would be introduced to essential oils and had the option to have their most favorite scents implemented in the spa service to reap the wonderful benefits.

Week after week working in the spa, the massage therapists would break down what are essential oils, their uses and health benefits. I was so intrigued and overwhelmed at the newfound world of these special aromas. The more they talked about essential oils, the more I wanted to know. I couldn’t believe there were over 100 essential oils, each with its own distinct fragrance. The most popular essential oils are Peppermint, Lavender, Sandalwood, Bergamot, Rose, Chamomile, Ylang Ylang, Tea Tree, Jasmin, and Lemon. These amazing oils can help you physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Essential oils are concentrated, highly potent natural chemical compounds found inside various plants. These natural chemical compounds can be extracted from the plant’s roots, seeds, petals, bark, etc. Each essential oil varies in its natural makeup. As a result, their smells and benefits are very unique.

Ancient civilizations around the world have used these concentrated plant-based oils for aromatherapy, beauty treatments, healthcare, food preparation, and religious ceremonies. The modern-day world uses essential oils for so much more. To name a few, they’re used in household cleaning, boosting immunity, weight management, increasing your energy, to purify the air, and to make you sleepy.

I was glad when I found out that I didn’t have to become an expert in essential oils to begin using them. All you need to know is the fundamentals of how to use them safely. Essential oils can enter the body by way of inhaling, ingesting, or applying to the skin. I encourage you to do your own research prior to using them to avoid any issues. Since essential oils are super duper concentrated, a little bit goes a long way. It’s recommended to dilute them with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, almond oil or olive oil. Some essential oils are so powerful that they’re not even safe to use directly on the skin. Please do a patch test on the inside of your elbow before using a new essential oil. Dilute it with a carrier oil and place the sample size on your skin. If no reaction develops within 24 hours, it’s safe to say that you can use the essential oil. (Warning notice: no irritation from the patch test is not an indication that an allergy won’t develop after further use.)

The versatility of some essential oils are mind-blowing. I love the versatility factor. To ease into the world of essential oils, you don’t have to go out buy a boat load of products. One oil in itself can be used for a variety of tasks or benefits. This keeps you from buying so many at once. Well… if you happen to fall in love with all 100+ essential oils, buy them all. Whatever floats your boat. (LOL)

Over the years, I have consistently used the following essential oils: Lavender, Lemon, Bergamot, Tangerine, Peppermint, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, and Ylang Ylang.

Listed below are their wonderful benefits.

LAVENDER – Yes, I did put Lavender first because it’s my absolute favorite scent. It promotes restful sleep, ease anxious feelings, relieves itchiness (eczema), and reduces sunburns. For example, you can combine a few drops with your moisturizer to soothe the skin and random skin irritations.

LEMON – In the citrus family, this essential oil is generally safe for topical use. It improves skin, aids the digestion system, relieves nausea, soothes the throat, boosts oral health and used in cleaning products. While at work, if you become sluggish after lunch, just put a few drops of Lemon in your diffuser to enjoy the energizing aroma.

BERGAMOT – This calming aroma produces a grounding aura. Its ideal to help with feeling sad or down, rejuvenates the skin, and provides soothing comfort to the body. Diffuse Bergamot when stress levels are high.

TANGERINE – This citrus uplifting scent has a refreshing aroma. When ingested, Tangerine oil promotes a healthy immune and respiratory system and supports a healthy metabolism. Shhh….Here’s a little secret: oils within the citrus family can be used in any recipe calling for citrus fruits ingredients.

PEPPERMINT – It can unblock sinuses, help reduce indigestion, provide allergy and migraine relief, relieves muscle and joint pain, and increase energy level. You can use a drop of Peppermint in water for an invigorating mouth rinse.

SANDALWOOD – This oil has a sweet woody aroma. Sandalwood has soothing benefits and it promotes healthy, smooth complexion. To balance emotions, just simply raise the bottle to your nose and inhale.

PATCHOULI – A member of the mint family, Patchouli has an earthy scent. It has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. This essential oil can be used topically for reducing blemishes, skin imperfections, and wrinkles. Very popular in the perfume industry, it can be found in air fresheners and laundry detergent.

EUCALYPTUS – Known for its cleansing and purifying properties, this exhilarating scent promotes clear airways, reduce tension and may be applied to skin for revitalizing benefits. Eucalyptus can be used for cleansing surfaces and found in mouth rinses to refresh your breath.

TEA TREE – This soothing essential oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Tea Tree promotes skin healing, serves as a bug repellant, and purifies the air. If you want to unwind in the evening, give yourself a scalp massage using a few drops of this soothing oil.

YLANG YLANG – Having a calming effect, Ylang Ylang can produce a grounding environment. Its widely used in aromatherapy and perfumes. Because of its nourishing and protective properties, Ylang Ylang is quite often used in skin and hair products. Place a few drops on your wrists for a sweet floral scent.

If you ever held a bottle of essential oil under your nose, you know just how powerful it can be. When inhaling the scent, the molecules within the essential oils travel directly to the brain which send messages to other parts of the body. It’s sensational. And for those of you who don’t have a clue, it’s definitely worth a shot in exploring what are essential oils. You just might get hooked!