Nature as your gym: Tips for beginning a jogging routine

by Tiffany in Health & Healing

tips joggingIf you want to get in shape and keep an exercise regime going strong, it is important not to become bored and feel like your fitness routine isn’t motivating yourself enough to push hard to achieve the goals you have set yourself. This is one of the main problems with working out in a gym. Those same four walls every day, the feel of the familiar thud as each step hits the treadmill, and you can probably see someone in much better shape than you a short distance away, making you feel bad for how easy they are making it look.

That’s why it can be so much better to run outside and discover the depths of your local area at the same time. Take advantage of parks, green spaces and nature trails to give your eyes a treat as you put some miles in. When your mind is distracted by what is around you, it is much easier to keep going as you don’t really notice you’re even training that hard if you get absorbed in your surroundings.

If you mix it up each day as well, you won’t get too used to that beautiful park run you did the other week, which keeps it exciting and memorable each time you do it. Find a route planner online that has all of the footpaths and trails you maybe hadn’t spotted before and map out a path to tackle. It is often said that if you know exactly where you will be running, it feels like less of a chore than if you just wander aimlessly as you can be aware of how far you have left to go and how much gas is still in your tank.

If you start to really get into it and feel like you can push yourself even further than you have been, then get outdoors and get as far into nature as is possible. It has even been found that running or jogging in natural surroundings can increase the positive effects of the workout by half, compared to expending the same energy in the gym. As being around trees and grass can actually reduce the levels of stress in your brain, it is the perfect excuse to combine exercise and relaxation in a beautiful space.

One of the best ways to stick to something like this is to rope other people in with you along the way. Get the whole family involved for a fun activity day and explore some local nature sites. If you’re planning on bringing the kids, make sure Mom or Dad bring a backpack with water and some healthy snacks so the little ones don’t run out of energy too soon and start complaining!

This is no bad advice for anyone, though. If you are out for a reasonably long time, make sure you come prepared with some hydration to keep going. Becoming dehydrated can affect performance levels, so make sure you top up when thirsty to carry on for longer.

When getting started or getting back into a routine it is important not to go all out straight away. Impact injuries are common when your body isn’t prepared for such a workout if the muscles haven’t been properly utilized in a while so it is important to listen to what your body has to say.

When considering injury prevention, you can find the best knee sleeves for running at reasonable prices online. If you know that a particular joint is likely to be troublesome, it can be worth the investment to ensure your best laid plans for getting fit aren’t curtailed by an injury that could have been avoided.

Remember though, that everyone has a bad day sometimes and there is no point in beating yourself up over that one day where you missed out on a run due to other arrangements or feeling under the weather. If you allow that disappointment and negativity to creep into your fitness outlook, it can drag you down back to where you started. Instead, figure out your schedule way in advance to limit the amount of times this can happen and remain positive that you will reach your fitness targets eventually.

So if you are feeling bored of the same layout, and the same exact routine in the gym, consider making the most of the world outside your window and see what beautiful things may pass you by as you make for a more enjoyable workout.


Ginger Infused Honey Home Remedy

by Tiffany in Health & Healing

Ginger Infused Honey Home RemedyLocal, raw honey is a powerhouse for natural healing and it can be infused with herbs and other medicinal plants so that you can address specific concerns. When you infuse it with ginger for instance it becomes a great aid for nausea and other intestinal illnesses, such as the flu. A home remedy of ginger infused honey is actually really easy to make, it just takes a bit of time. You must plan ahead and make some before the illness the strikes so that you have some on hand when you need it. It is just part of your natural home apothecary.

Ginger Infused Honey for Nausea & Stomach Flu

2 pieces ginger (thumb size)
1/2 lemon (sliced)
1/4 C chamomile flowers
1/4 C cinnamon bark (chipped)
12 cloves
10 cardamom pods
2 C local raw honey

Fill a pint sized mason jar with your dry ingredients and cover with honey. Allow to steep for six weeks.

After six weeks, warm the jar by soaking in warm water. Once the honey is warm strain the herbs and plant parts out and bottle the honey in a clean mason jar.

Whenever nausea or other intestinal bugs strike, take a teaspoon as needed. Feel better!


Making Herbal Infusions and Decoctions

by Tiffany in Health & Healing

making herbal infusions

There are a variety of ways that we can tap into the ancient practices of using natural remedies to heal and stay healthy. Some of the techniques involved in leveraging herbal remedies include compresses, decoction, ointments, infusions, poultices, syrups, tinctures, and tonics. This article will discuss two in particular and perhaps the easiest ways to use herbal remedies…infusions and decoctions.

Quite simply and infusion is a hot or cold drink made from the leaves and flowers of herbs. A decoction is a hot or cold drink made by boiling the roots, bark, or seeds of herbs. Both methods have a variety of medicinal uses such as the alleviation of common cold symptoms, relief from headaches, and much more. Even if you think you are far from calling yourself any kind of herbalist you can get started with infusions and decoction pretty easily, with a little knowledge of what the different herbs can do for you.

Making Herbal Infusions

Infusions can be made by steeping fresh herbs, the leaves and/or flowers, in hot water. They are so beneficial because they bring out the vitamins, enzymes, and aromatic oils in the herbs. Two popular choices for infusions are peppermint leaves and chamomile flowers. After steeping you strain the herbs out and add some honey to sweeten and make your infusion more palatable. You can store any unused portion in a glass mason jar in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Herbal Nightcap Infusion

1T dried chamomile
1T dried lemon balm
1T dried linden flowers

Infuse in a cup of hot water for 5-10 minutes, strain, and enjoy the sedative effects of these calming herbs.

Making Herbal Decoctions

Decoctions make use of herbs that are a bit tougher to utilize. You boil the roots, twigs, dried berries, bark, or seeds of the herbs and soften the woody parts so that the minerals and alkaloids from within can be accessed. In a decoction you might boil ginger or ginseng root, cinnamon bark, or fennel seeds. You can store any unused portion in a glass mason jar in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Respiratory Rescue Decoction

2-3 sticks of cinnamon (broken into pieces)
1 inch of ginger root (peeled and sliced)
1 T honey

Simmer the cinnamon and ginger in a pint of water for 15 minutes. Strain, add honey, and drink every day when experiencing a cold or other respiratory issues.

Beneficial Herbs for Infusions and Decoctions

  • Nettle
  • Clove
  • Ginseng
  • Feverfew
  • Burdock
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Peppermint
  • Elderflower
  • Comfrey Leaf
  • Marshmallow Root
  • Skullcap


Making Herbal Infusions and Decoctions


Vitamin D – Are You Deficient?

by Tiffany in Health & Healing

Vitamin D – Are You DeficientIt is a question that rarely anyone asks or thinks about and yet vitamin D can play a big part in the way we feel and function daily. You may feel lethargic and that you are running on empty. You might have a constant case of the blues. Work could be tiring you out or maybe you are stressed. The answer might also be something else though. Could you be deficient in vitamin D?

This is a big issue for me personally. When I start to feel down, lethargic, and even depressed I go into my Doctor’s office for blood work. He almost always assumes it is my thyroid acting up again. Usually we find that I have really lows levels of vitamin D and B12.

What Is Vitamin D?

This vitamin is produced in the body as a result of exposure to sunlight. When you get outside and soak up some sun, the sun’s rays are absorbed through the skin where a chemical reaction takes place and vitamin D is formed. That’s why it is referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.”

You can also find this vitamin in foods. One place you here about most often is milk. Most, if not all milk contains added vitamin A and D. Naturally, it is found in fish liver oils, some fish and eggs. Many food producers today are adding this vitamin and others as a way to increase consumption of necessary nutrients. You may read of its inclusion in cereals, juices and whole grains. In general though the best place to source nutrients and vitamins is from naturally occurring sources and not foods that have had synthetic versions added. How well our body absorbs these nutrients can be impacted.

Why do you need vitamin D?

Well, for me personally (and for many others) it is essential to happiness and mental well being. Being vitamin D deficient actually causes me to feel sad and depressed. It is much worse in the winter (think Seasonal Affective Disorder) but anytime my vitamin D levels are low I tend to feel down.

It is essential for strong bones and teeth. Calcium keeps bones strong, it is true, but vitamin D is vital because it enables the body to utilize the calcium it receives through food and supplements. One needs the other to work. As you get older, lack of calcium can lead to osteoporosis and other skeletal problems. It isn’t just a matter of calcium but also vitamin D. In fact if your bones ache and you have chronic fatigue you should be looking into a vitamin D deficiency before you look at  fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.

Symptoms of Deficiency

How do you know if you are Vitamin D deficient? Here are some of the signs that your levels are lower than need be.

* Fatigue – You are always tired even when your work day isn’t so strenuous. If you no energy for life then you need to look closer into why.

* Body aches – Bone pain is a common sign of vitamin D deficiency. Muscle aches can also fall into this category.

* Weight issues – It may be harder to get your weight under control when you lack sufficient amounts of vitamin D in your bloodstream. This may be in no small way due to your lack of energy and motivation.

What Puts You at Risk

* Obesity – Yikes, deficiency can contribute to weight gain and the excess weight can contribute to deficiency. Talk about a double edged sword. Fat cells fremove fat-soluble, hormone-like vitamin D from the bloodstream. Too much fat can result in lower levels of the vitamin in the body.

* Ethnicity – Darker skinned individuals have melanin pigment in their skin, making it harder to absorb the vitamin D. Longer exposure to the sun can fix that.

* Limited sunlight – Living in an area where the sun rarely shines greatly inhibits the intake of vitamin D. Winter times increases the risk.

* Limited diet – Lack of the foods that contain vitamin D in your diet can lower your overall daily intake.

* Digestive issues – Conditions like Crohn’s disease reduces the ability of the intestines to absorb vitamin D.

If you are not sure about your levels or if they are low enough to cause problems, see your doctor and have your blood drawn for testing. Ideally you should test when vitamin D levels should be high (like August) and also when they would normally be a bit lower (like January). Once you know, you can create a plan of attack and feel much better soon.

Depressed black woman sitting against wall on floor looking out window


Power Your Gut In Ten Days

by Tiffany in Health & Healing


The above photos shows what I have been up to of late…reading up on gut health and also doing a ten day probiotic challenge.

The book is fantastic. It really makes what seems like a boring topic, absolutely fascinating. I never thought a book about intestines would be a real page turner but honestly I sat down with it one lazy Sunday morning and didn’t want to put it down. Not only is it with fascinating little factoids and details about the gut it is also references studies that have come to show links between poor gut health and more serious ailments and problems.

At the same time that I was reading this gem I was also doing a ten day probiotic challenge to celebrate the ten year anniversary of Ultimate Flora probiotic from Renew Life. Their product has 50 billion live cultures per capsule and 12 probiotic strains. The capsules help relieve digestive discomfort if you have any and they promote digestive and immune health. The latter benefit was really the one I had been going for. I really believe in taking probiotics, I have just gotten lax about it lately. This ten day challenge was a reboot of sorts for me to get me back on the horse. I feel amazing when my gut is healthy and thriving. I feel lighter, I feel healthier, and I feel “sharper”. That was just in ten days too so it gave me the kick in the pants I needed to stay the course.


Sunday, September 20th, 2015

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