Choosing Wellness

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August is National Wellness Month. What a wonderful opportunity to explore what wellness means. Plus, we can discover ways to create a lifestyle that supports wellness in our lives.

The whole theme for this month long celebration is choosing wellness.

I’ll post several times in August, with information, suggestions and fun activities, all centered around Wellness Month.

Choosing Wellness title meme

What is Wellness?

Wellness is the active process of raising awareness and making choices that support a healthy and fulfilling life. It encompasses more than preventing illness or eating a healthy diet. It’s a process that includes change, growth and a commitment to living the best life possible. Wellness is something to actively pursue, through awareness, goals and daily habits.

Last year, I explored National Wellness Month for the first time, setting five goals for myself, to pursue during August. Read that post HERE.

This year, I’m even more aware of how crucial wellness is to my overall health and wellbeing.

Consider these eight dimensions of wellness.

Emotional Wellness

Understanding feelings and accepting them, without latching onto them, forms the core of emotional wellness.

Other important emotional health aspects include managing stress, remaining in the present moment without dwelling on the past or worrying about the future and adapting to and dealing with challenges and changes in constructive ways.

Tips for maintaining emotional wellness include:

  • self love, self acceptance, self care
  • relaxation techniques
  • meditation
  • shifting negative thoughts to positive ones
  • connecting with others
  • establishing a solid sleep routine
  • creating boundaries
  • mindfulness
  • recognizing that challenges bring growth

Environmental Wellness

Environmental wellness is two fold: caring for and living in harmony with the planet and creating personal environments that support who we are.

Creating an environment in your room, home, yard or workspace that supports who you are and your needs and desires contributes to overall wellness.

And equally important is caring for the earth. It is, after all, home to us and many, many other species. I found that my awareness of my own environment and caring for the planet increased as my own health improved.

Tips for improving environmental wellness include:

  • decluttering spaces
  • creating beautiful, peaceful places to relax and play
  • keeping objects nearby that bring joy and encouragement
  • protecting the earth and all her inhabitants
  • living sustainably
  • interacting with nature
  • raising awareness about practices that are damaging the earth
Choosing Wellness emotional
Choosing Wellness – I created a beautiful space (environmental health) that supports my emotional health

Intellectual Wellness

Intellectual wellness combines nutrition and mental exercises that strengthen the brain with participation in scholastic, cultural and community activities. Additionally, intellectual wellness expands knowledge and skills and boosts creativity and learning, helping us to live a more fulfilling life.

Tips for expanding intellectual wellness include:

  • following curiosity
  • reading, for fun and for information
  • learning a foreign language or a new skill
  • adopting a fresh perspective
  • playing games or working crossword or sudoku puzzles
  • learning to play a musical instrument
  • journaling about creative ideas
  • trying new experiences
  • eating foods that boost brain health

Financial Wellness

Learning to manage money well is a key aspect of financial wellness. Think of creating a budget as putting your finances on a healthy diet. When you take control of your money, it doesn’t control you.

Financial wellness encompasses budgeting, building a savings account, planning for the future…including emergencies, spending within means and healthy borrowing. It’s an important component of wellbeing. Money issues are a leading cause of stress, personally and in relationships, and chronic stress creates disease.

Tips for increasing financial wellness include:

  • creating a workable, doable budget and sticking to it
  • saving for future expenses, including emergencies
  • growing funds through investments
  • spending less than you earn
  • reducing expenses when necessary
  • borrowing responsibly
  • getting out of debt
Choosing Wellness financial
Choosing Wellness – financial wellness

Occupational Wellness

You’ve no doubt heard of the expression, “Do what you love, love what you do.” This quote perfectly captures the foundation of occupational wellness.

Doing work that’s fulfilling, interesting and motivational contributes to overall wellness. Feeling inspired and challenged is important too. Life is enriched through the work we do or it can feel stressed when we don’t enjoy our jobs.

Tips for creating occupational wellness include:

  • finding benefits and positives in current occupation
  • creating connections with co-workers
  • writing out goals and creating action steps to get there
  • working towards the career path you most want
  • increasing skills and knowledge
  • writing out dream job in great detail

Physical Wellness

The most commonly known of the dimensions, physical wellness is about taking care of the body and fueling it with highly nutritious foods. Maintaining a healthy body gives us the energy to do what we want to do and helps manage stress. A body already under attack from disease or illnesses can’t easily handle additional challenges.

Physical wellness involves making excellent choices about nutrition, exercise and body movement, sleep, disease prevention and food or alcohol addictions.

Tips for improving physical wellness include:

  • eating a nutritious diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • exercising and moving the body
  • strengthening muscles
  • paying attention to signals from the body
  • eliminating foods that create allergic reactions in the body
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • staying hydrated
  • creating healthy habits
Choosing Wellness physical
Choosing Wellness – physical wellness

Social Wellness

We need positive connections with others. However, it’s also important to balance social and personal time. Being absolutely who you are, and not who others want or expect you to be, builds healthy social interactions as well.

Destructive relationships are never healthy. Counseling may help with family or spouse relationships. Don’t fear walking away from other relationships that are negative, demeaning or energetically draining.

Tips for maintaining social wellness:

  • engaging with people in your neighborhood, community and city
  • valuing diversity and treating others with respect
  • creating boundaries in relationships
  • having fun
  • developing good communication skills
  • finding your tribe, a supportive group of people who “get” who you are

Spiritual Wellness

Building spiritual wellness involves values, beliefs, meaning and purpose.  Spirituality grounds us, connects us to God, strengthens trust and helps us find purpose and meaning in life. Following a spiritual path brings bigger perspectives on life situations and comforts during challenging times.

Tips for creating spiritual wellness include:

  • praying or meditating
  • practicing yoga
  • spending quiet time alone
  • journaling thoughts and beliefs
  • gathering with like hearted people
  • serving others
  • spending time in nature
Choosing Wellness social
Choosing Wellness – social wellness

Choosing Wellness

It can feel overwhelming to make changes in all eight areas of wellness. Instead, gauge your wellness level first, in each area.

Draw a circle and divide it into eight segments. Label each section of the circle with one of the wellness dimensions: emotional, environmental, intellectual, financial, occupational, physical, social and spiritual. Write a number in each segment, with 1 being a low wellness score and 10 a high level of wellness.

Work on improving the areas with a 7 or less.

Pick one area and start there. Make small, positive changes by setting doable goals. Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to do too much at once. Practice self care during the process and focus on gratitude and growth.

Check in with yourself frequently, to see where your wellness level is. The wellness dimensions are all connected. Improvement in one area often leads to improvement in another. Enjoy the process. Play. It’s your life…not an assignment.

And come back next week, for a month of fun activities to help raise wellness in all areas!

Choosing Wellness chart

 

Wellness Finds from Amazon

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Raw Vegan Diet Benefits

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This summer I celebrated five years plant based! What a difference that switch makes in my health and my life.

I began my healing journey by reading Medical Medium, by Anthony William, and following his 28 Day Cleanse at the back of the book.

For a month, I adhered to a raw vegan diet. Read more about that experience HERE. At the end of the first week, my pain, chronic inflammation and lack of mobility improved so much that I happily continued for the next three weeks. I parked my cane in a corner of the bedroom, where it remains to this day.

At the end of the cleanse, I felt so much better, so much lighter, so much healthier. There was no looking back for me. I adopted a 100% plant based diet. Although I am not fully raw vegan, I eat that way about a third of the time. And several times, during my journey, I’ve returned to a raw vegan diet to give my digestive system a break and boost my energy.

You might want to do the same. Check out the raw vegan diet benefits and tips below.

Raw Vegan Diet Benefits title meme

What is a Raw Vegan Diet?

A vegan diet means no animal products.

Raw vegan takes things a step further.

While eating raw vegan, you focus on fruits, vegetables, nuts, sprouts and seeds, all uncooked.

This diet originated in the mid 19th century, as a way to prevent diseases. Recently, eating raw vegan has gained popularity again, spawning cook books, YouTube channels and restaurant options.

Uncooked fruits and veggies provide the highest levels of nutrition. And eating raw naturally minimizes the amount of processed foods consumed.

Raw Vegan Diet Benefits smoothie
Raw Vegan Diet Benefits – fruit smoothie

Raw Foods

The list for a raw vegan diet is fairly short:

  • fresh fruits or flash frozen fruits not boiled before freezing
  • fresh veggies or flash frozen veggies not boiled before freezing
  • whole, unprocessed foods such as cold pressed oils, seaweed, cocoa powder and pure maple syrup
  • seeds – unroasted
  • nuts – unroasted
  • sprouted grains and beans
  • home made plant milks, made from raw, unroasted nuts

Foods that are not raw:

  • refined, processed or pasteurized foods
  • roasted or processed nuts or seeds
  • plant based milks purchased in stores
  • cooked foods
Raw Vegan Diet Benefits mixed fruit
Raw Vegan Diet Benefits – mixed fruit bowl

Raw Vegan Diet Benefits

Whether eating raw vegan for a couple of days, a week, 28 days or longer, the benefits for the body are many.

  • raw foods contain the highest level of nutrients, in a form most readily digested by the body
  • the vitamins and minerals, and the antiviral, antibacterial and antioxidant compounds cleanse and strengthen every system in the body
  • detoxifies the liver and digestive system
  • gives digestive system a break, as raw foods are processed quickly and easily
  • live enzymes make digestion smoother and more efficient
  • body is able to rebuild itself, on a cellular level
  • stops unhealthy food cravings
  • allows the body to flush out toxins, chemicals, preservatives, sugar and excess fat, which can result in weight loss
  • raises the body’s vibrational energy level
Raw Vegan Diet Benefits spinach soup
Raw Vegan Diet Benefits – blended spinach soup with mushrooms and herbs

Tips for Implementing a Raw Vegan Diet

Are you ready to eat the most healing foods on Earth? Try these tips for a smooth week or month.

  • eating raw vegan is naturally low fat, which allows the liver to recover from a typical American diet
  • limit salt intake, using herbs and a small amount of sea salt for flavor
  • stay hydrated with lots of water, coconut water, fresh juices and herbal teas
  • start the day with a glass of lemon or lime water, followed by celery or cucumber juice
  • drink a fruit smoothie for breakfast that includes bananas, dates, chia seeds and fruit or try a smoothie bowl or a simple bowl of mixed fresh fruits and berries
  • have a mid morning snack of fruit, cucumber slices or celery sticks
  • enjoy a huge salad for lunch with dark leafy greens, chopped veggies or fruits or try a blended spinach soup with fresh spinach, herbs such as dill or basil and mushrooms
  • for a midafternoon snack enjoy sliced apples or pears, grapes, dates or oranges
  • try the spinach soup for dinner, if you opted for a salad for lunch, or try zoodles or coodles (spiralized raw zucchini or cucumber noodles) served with julienne veggies
  • evening snack is the time for a cup of herbal tea and an apple or orange
Raw Vegan Diet Benefits tea time
Raw Vegan Diet Benefits – afternoon tea time – cucumber, tomato and basil “sandwiches” and fruit

My Experience Eating Raw Vegan

Before experiencing the 28 Day Cleanse, I tried eating raw one other time. The recipes that I found in a health magazine were too complicated. I lasted about four days.

When I tried again, using Anthony’s suggestions and meal plan, I had a big why. Having a motivating why is important I think, in completing a raw vegan cleanse. Otherwise, we too easily give up. My why was an upcoming trip to Italy with my daughter and grandson. Dayan was graduating from high school the following year and I wanted to gift him the trip. I knew my high pain level and inflammation would keep me from going, if something didn’t change.

I completed the 28 days. Was it difficult? Not really. I had a headache and low energy for a few days, as my body detoxed. However, as my health improved and my pain, inflammation and immobility decreased, I felt encouraged to keep going.

Anthony offers a sample menu plan and recipes in the newly revised Medical Medium book. Using his info, there are hundreds of possible food combinations you can create, adding variety and flavor. I didn’t get bored with the food.

Was I happy to eat cooked food again? I was. However, I’ve since done another month of raw vegan, a 7 day raw diet and I’ve enjoyed week long juice fasts. The companion book to Medical Medium, Cleanse to Heal, is another excellent resource.

Raw Vegan Diet Benefits coodles and veggies
Raw Vegan Diet Benefits – coodles with veggies

Have You Considered a Raw Vegan Diet?

Have you ever thought about a raw vegan diet? What questions do you have?

Leave them in the comments below and I’ll gladly answer them.

I know several people who only eat a raw vegan diet…and have for many years. They are healthy, vibrant and incredibly fit. Check out Kristina and Jonny Juicer on Instagram.

While I don’t eat this way all the time, I appreciate the benefits enough to start my days raw. During the summer months, when I don’t enjoy cooking as much, I may eat raw vegan for several days or longer.

You have to do what feels most right for your body and your health.

Anthony says,

“You have to think of your body like an old friend in need. Imagine yourself reaching out a helping hand to this friend as she climbs out of a ravine. This is your commitment to use your free will and the power of your intention to give your body the support it’s crying out for.

When we connect to our bodies, truly listen to them, and give them the nourishment they’re yearning for, everything changes. True miracles happen.”

I agree. Everything changed for me. My body has aged backwards, as it finds its optimal level of health and wellbeing. I can walk, without assistance or pain. And that is a miracle to me.

Frozen banana dessert with strawberries.
Frozen banana dessert with strawberries.

 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble

 

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

July is National Blueberry Month. These superfood berries are at their peak of ripeness as summer gets underway.

In honor of the month, I created a new…and super simple…healthy blueberry treat. Using items I keep on hand…that you probably do too…this dessert came together in a few minutes, while supper simmered on the stove.

Try this easy vegan blueberry crumble for your next get together, tea time or for a simple after supper dessert.

Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble title meme

Benefits of Blueberries

I love these delicious berries. And, it turns out, they love me too.

Although domestic blueberries are beneficial as well, it’s the wild blueberry that brings the most health benefits.

They contain extremely high levels of antioxidants, delivering healing to any damaged part of the body. Wild blueberries effectively eradicate heavy metals and other toxins from the body. Plus they are a powerful brain food and amazing at restoring the liver.

Wild blueberries can help prevent any type of cancer and they are so restorative that they are beneficial for any symptom, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. (Info from Life Changing Foods, by Anthony William)

I keep a bag of frozen wild blueberries in the freezer, to add to morning smoothies or vegan treats such as scones.

If you don’t have wild blueberries, use fresh or frozen domesticated blueberries, which are those typically found in the produce or freezer sections of the grocery store.

Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble wild berries
Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble – wild blueberries mixed with gluten free flour

Ingredients for Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble

For this simple treat I used frozen wild blueberries, gluten free flour, vegan butter, coconut sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. These are all ingredients that I keep on hand.

Besides the ingredients, you just need a couple of mixing bowls and an 8X8 baking dish.

Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble baked

Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble

This easy dessert is vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 6 Servings

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen wild or regular blueberries
  • 2 tbsp gluten free flour
  • 1/2 cup plant based butter
  • 2 cups gluten free oats
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • coconut oil for baking dish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub coconut oil in 8x8 baking dish.
  • If using frozen blueberries, measure 4 cups into a colander and let thaw slightly.
  • Melt plant based butter. Combine oats, coconut sugar, butter, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix well.
  • Transfer blueberries into a bowl. Add two tablespoons of gluten free flour and mix gently.
  • Place blueberries into prepared 8x8 baking dish. Top with oat crumble.
  • Bake for 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Makes 6 servings.
Keyword Blueberry Crumble, Vegan

 

Tips for Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble

If using frozen blueberries, wild or regular, allow them to thaw slightly in a colander.

Any gluten free flour is fine. I used a 1:1 gluten free flour, meaning one cup of the gluten free flour equals one cup of regular flour. You may also use almond or oat flour. And if you don’t have a gluten sensitivity, use whatever flour you have on hand.

I also use plant based butter. There are several good brands available, in regular grocery stores or health conscious stores. The coconut sugar is darker than refined sugar and tastes more like brown sugar, but less sweet.

You can add chopped nuts to the crumble topping, if desired.

Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble ready to bake
Easy vegan blueberry crumble ready to bake.
Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble baked
Easy vegan blueberry crumble fresh from the oven.

The Taste Test

As supper finished up, the kitchen filled with the wonderful aroma of baking blueberry crumble. I let it cool for a short time, and then tried it with a cup of hot peppermint tea.

This blueberry crumble is a winner with me! It’s rich with juicy blueberries and I love the slightly crunchy oat topping. The crumble isn’t overly sweet, which is perfect for me. And I can prepare this treat quickly, whenever I want something a bit more than plain fruit.

Are you a fan of blueberries? I hope you’ll enjoy this easy crumble.

And try something from this round up of blueberry recipes. Share your favorite way of enjoying blueberries in the comments below!

Ready to eat blueberry crumble
Yummy blueberry crumble!

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Ten Benefits of Meditation

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Meditation is the practice of quieting the mind and body by focusing on breath as it flows in and out of the body. Focusing on breath, or a visual image held in the mind, helps keep the practitioner anchored in the present moment.

Learning meditation is easy. However, it takes time and patience to learn to still the mind and not allow thoughts to pull attention away. The practice is worth learning, for physical, mental and spiritual health.

Learn a simple meditation below. Then check out ten benefits of meditation.

Ten Benefits of Meditation title meme

How to Meditate

Follow these simple steps, to begin a meditation practice:

  • Sit comfortably in a chair, with both feet flat on the floor. Find a quiet place or play meditation music in the background.
  • Close your eyes and relax your body. Note whether muscles are tense, beginning at your feet and working your way up the body to the top of the head. Intentionally relax any tight or tense muscles.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply, paying attention to your breath as it comes into the body and goes out.
  • When your mind wanders…and it will…gently bring attention back to your breath. You’ll learn to allow thoughts to pass on by, in your mind, without focusing on them. Come back to your breath as many times as necessary, without criticizing yourself.
  • When you feel ready, take several deep breaths and then open your eyes. Slowly move arms and legs and note how you feel.

That’s a basic meditation. After you become accustomed to meditating, you can try moving to different locations or staying in a meditative state longer.

Ten Benefits of Meditation

For many years spiritual communities recognized the benefits meditation. However, recently scientists agree that meditation does in fact contribute to greater health and wellbeing.

Here are ten benefits of meditation.

Reduces Stress

Meditation relaxes the body, creating the opposite of the “fight or flight” response we have to stress. Our breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and metabolism slows, contributing to a deeper sense of peace and relaxation.

Plus meditation helps to clear away the accumulation of information that we are exposed to daily, quieting the mind and allowing tense muscles to unknot.

Provides Emotional Balance

Meditation trains us to notice and observe our emotions, rather than attempting to change them. We learn to let emotions go…just as we do our thoughts. Any feelings or emotions that surface during meditation are acknowledged and then released.

Ten Benefits of Meditation walking
Ten Benefits of Meditation – try a walking meditation, focusing on slow steps

Increases Focus

Researchers at Harvard suggest that our minds are “lost in thought” 47% of the time. And when our thoughts are drifting, they are replaying the past or worrying about the future.

Meditation trains the mind to stay in the present moment, rather than wandering. There’s scientific evidence that meditation actually causes distinct changes in brain function, improving focus and concentration.

Eases Pain

When stressed, the body releases the stress hormone cortisol that contributes to inflammation and increases discomfort in joints and muscles.

Meditation helps the brain release natural pain relievers called endorphins. Tight, tense muscles and tendons relax, easing discomfort. With continued practice, meditation can increase pain tolerance, lower hypertension and deepen respirations. It shifts the focus away from pain, and what the mind focuses on, expands. Focus on pain and it increases. Focus on relaxing the body and breathing and muscles respond by loosening.

Ten Benefits of Meditation corner
Ten Benefits of Meditation – create a meditation corner in your garden or backyard

Soothes Anxiety

Anxiety happens when we experience too much stress. We feel always on edge, and always on alert to danger. Meditation helps us to become aware of the stressors creating anxiety and release them. We also realize that while we may not be able to change situations, we can change how we respond to them.

Meditation allows the mind to acknowledge the anxiety, without focusing on it. We note those feelings and simply allow them to exist without amplifying them with our attention.

Increases Creativity

Meditation opens the mind to new ideas and possibilities. We don’t have to try to be more creative. Creativity comes naturally as the mind and body releases stress and anxiety and regulates emotions.

And because meditation improves focus it’s easier to recognize fresh ideas and develop them. Mindful activities such as coloring or gardening provide meditative experiences that allow creativity to flourish.

Ten Benefits of Meditation gardening
Ten Benefits of Meditation – increased creativity

Reduces Depression

A regular meditation practice helps the brain better manage stress and anxiety. Both of these can trigger depression. Depression contributes to higher risks for heart disease and illnesses. It can also affect daily life and cognitive function, especially memory.

Meditation helps ease depression by altering the way we react to stressors. It trains the brains to focus and to return to that focus when negative thinking or emotions intrude.

Meditation also changes regions of the brain specifically linked to depression. The medial prefrontal cortex…or “me center”…processes information about self. This is where we dwell on the past or worry about the future. And the amygdala is the “fear center”. This is where the fight or flight response is centered. When it’s triggered, the brain releases the stress hormone cortisol.

These two regions of the brain work off of each other, to create depression. Meditation helps to break the connection between these two regions and calm the brain.

Boosts Memory

Ten minutes of meditation a day improves concentration and focus while boosting the ability to keep information active in the mind. This function is known as “working memory”.

Through meditation the brain becomes more efficient, and neural networks become more refined, requiring fewer brain resources.

Ten Benefits of Meditation trail
A quiet, solitary walk through the woods has a meditative effect on the mind and body

Increases Compassion

A recent study suggests that mindfulness meditation helps us overcome the “bystander effect”, increasing compassionate behavior. The bystander effect happens when we witness someone needing help but do nothing to provide assistance.

Two possible explanations exist for increased compassion. Meditation gives people a greater awareness of their surroundings. And it enhances the ability to see perspectives from another person’s viewpoint. It’s also possible that meditation allows us to better process our emotions, freeing up resources to feel more empathy toward others.

Improves Productivity

How does meditation improve productivity? It reduces stress, which disrupts sleep, promotes depression and anxiety, and clouds thinking. Meditation controls the stress hormone cortisol, easing the effects of stress and boosting productivity.

Meditation also enhances creativity, a characteristic that keeps us moving forward on tasks and projects.

And meditation calms the mind, redirects attention and controls impulsive emotions. This increase focus and attention which helps boost productivity as well.

Creating a Meditation Practice

I began meditating about 15 years ago, initially to quiet my racing mind and to help me confront my fears. What I discovered, through a daily meditation practice, is that I also lowered pain by relaxing tight muscles, let go of negative thoughts, opened my creativity and increased my intuitive abilities.

Although I sometimes meditated for an hour or more, ten to 15 minutes is sufficient. I encourage a daily meditation practice for the greatest benefits.

In the beginning, I found it helpful also to meditate in the same place every time. My body and mind learned that when I sat in a particular chair, relaxation followed, allowing me to quickly enter a state of deep peace.

Meditation is a loving act of kindness toward the self. It’s a time free from judgment or criticism. You don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor or hold your hands a certain way. Simply relax the body, close the eyes (to prevent distractions) and focus on breathing. When you feel ready to end the session, do so.

Is meditation a part of your health and wellbeing? Share your thoughts below!

Meditate in nature
Moving water creates a soothing background noise for meditation

 

Meditation Helps from Amazon

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

Summer Picnic Vegan Style

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July is National Picnic Month. Midsummer is the perfect time for family picnics, a spontaneous meal for one outdoors or a romantic basket lunch laid out on a bright checkered cloth.

Since adopting a plant based lifestyle, I realized I’ve not enjoyed many picnics. Typically picnics include traditional fare such as fried chicken, sandwiches, chips, sugary snacks and staples such as potato or macaroni salad.

In honor of the month long celebration and my healthier lifestyle, here are ways to experience a summer picnic vegan style!

Summer Picnic Vegan Style title meme

Origins of the Picnic

The word picnic comes from the French word “piquenique”. The al fresco practice began in France, in the mid-18th century. Early picnics consisted of a loaf of bread, cheese, fruit and wine.

Today we carry along picnics for sporting events, family gatherings or weekend camping trips. Locations for picnics might include a shady, grassy area near a creek, a picnic table beneath a tree or a backyard patch of lawn.

Bring along simple finger foods, fresh fruits and salads, sandwiches and drinks. Enjoy sharing that meal with family and friends or grab a book and eat a beautiful meal on your own, while you read.

The American Bakers’ Association founded National Picnic Month in 1952.

Summer Picnic Vegan Style garden
My picnic spot…my backyard garden. I love how wildly beautiful it looks this time of year!

Summer Picnic Vegan Style

You can purchase ready made foods and pack them in a tote or basket. Bring along a chest filled with ice for foods that need to stay cool.

Last year, Greg and I toted in a simple, mostly purchased picnic lunch, to Tulsa’s Philbrook Gardens. We found a picnic table deep in the gardens and enjoyed a healthy meal.

Or you can make your own dishes and snacks to enjoy.

Try the following foods, for a perfect vegan picnic. Click links for recipes.

Hummus

Made from chickpeas, you can purchase hummus or easily make your own. Try this simple recipe. Serve veggies with hummus. Carrot and celery sticks, cherry tomatoes or slices of zucchini or yellow squash are great choices. Or bring along vegan, gluten free crackers.

Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

This quick and easy sandwich filling replaces tuna or egg salad. Simply mash a can…or two cups cooked…of chickpeas. I use a hand held potato masher. Add several tablespoons of vegan mayo or a small amount of hummus, 1/4 cup each of finely chopped red onions and celery and 1/2 teaspoon each of onion powder and garlic powder. You can also include chopped green peppers or diced pickles and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

Chill for an hour. Use to make sandwiches with gluten free bread. Or eat as a salad without bread.

Summer Picnic Vegan Style chickpea salad
Summer picnic vegan style – chickpea salad

Veggie Wraps

A great alternative to sandwiches, veggies wraps are easy to prepare and eat. Start with a gluten free tortilla, then add whatever veggies you have on hand: shredded carrots, arugula, spinach, kale, shredded red cabbage, julienne green, red, yellow or orange peppers, zucchini or mushrooms. Add veggies to tortilla, drizzle with favorite dressing, then roll tightly. Secure with a toothpick, if necessary.

Try one of these homemade healthy dressings.

Waldorf Salad

Tote along this vegan version of the classic Waldorf salad. A glass container with a tight fitting lid works perfectly. I love the crunch of apples and celery combined with walnuts and juicy grapes. Use vegan mayo as the dressing. Recipe here.

Summer Picnic Vegan Style waldorf
Summer picnic vegan style – vegan Waldorf salad

Potato Salad

It’s easy to create vegan potato salad. Peel, dice and cook 4 – 6 potatoes until tender. Drain. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, 1/4 cup diced yellow onions, 1/4 cup diced celery, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 cup vegan mayo and 2 teaspoons yellow mustard. Chill. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with ground paprika, if desired.

Cowboy Beans

A great alternative to baked beans, prepare a pot of vegan cowboy beans and tote along a small container full for the picnic. Recipe here.

Macaroni Salad

For my picnic, I prepared potato salad and macaroni salad at the same time.

Start with two cups of cooked gluten free macaroni. I used brown rice pasta. Add 1/4 cup diced red or yellow onions, 1/4 cup diced celery, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup vegan mayo and if desired, finely chopped pickles. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with ground paprika, if desired.

Vegan Macaroni Salad
Summer picnic vegan style – vegan macaroni salad

Vegan Desserts

Healthy treats make great accompaniments for your picnic.

These chocolate cookies contain only three ingredients.

Or, if you feel like a different dessert that tastes wonderful and looks gorgeous, try this rustic apple galette.

Fresh berries make a simple, nutritious end to the meal as well.

Rustic Apple Galette
Rustic Apple Galette

Other Vegan Picnic Foods

In addition, include any of the following:

  • cut up vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, radishes or small peppers
  • assortment of nuts and/or seeds
  • energy bites
  • homemade trail mix containing nuts, dried fruit and seeds
  • watermelon slices
  • fruit such as sliced apples, oranges, bananas, grapes or cherries
Summer Picnic Vegan Style
My summer picnic vegan style

My Picnic

I had this post scheduled to write, using recipes from previous posts along with the simple potato and macaroni salads.

Then inspiration struck.

For the month of July, I’m participating in a Yes Month. The purpose is to encourage participants to say YES more than they say NO. Sometimes no is our default response. We say it without thinking. Saying yes encourages us to go beyond comfort zones, stop putting off projects or tasks and accept invitations. Yeses allow for more spontaneity as well.

As I prepared to write this post, I decided to say yes to a summer picnic for myself, and enjoy it in my backyard garden.

What fun to make macaroni salad and chickpea salad for a sandwich and include cowboy beans already prepared in the fridge. I added chilled chunks of watermelon and a bowl of fresh Rainier cherries.

Popping on a wide brimmed hat, I carried my lunch into the garden and enjoyed a picnic for one. It was beautiful, sitting in the corner meditation area where I could see my wildly blooming garden.

Your Picnic

Where will you go this month, for a picnic? And what foods will you pack along, for your outdoor meal?

Share with me your favorite picnic staples!

My Picnic Lunch

 

Picnic finds from Amazon:

 


 

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Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad

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It’s summer! Warm temps, water fun, star filled nights and days of play are here. With that warmer weather and those days of enjoying the outdoors, who wants to spend time in the kitchen?

This easy to prepare salad is perfect for summer days. And Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad is versatile too. Add your favorite toppings or mix things up every time you make it.

Recipe below!

Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad title meme

Keeping It Simple

Feel free to prep ingredients for this salad before serving it for dinner. Or…my favorite when it’s hot and muggy outside…buy ingredients that combine easily and quickly so that lunch or supper is served in minutes.

And it truly doesn’t get much easier than this tasty, satisfying salad.

Start with Greens

Using a large bowl or container, start with a layer of greens. I used about 4 cups of chopped arugula. Mixed greens work well too, an assortment of spinach, kale and arugula. For the best nutritional value, skin iceberg lettuce.

Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad arugula
Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad – arugula

Add Black Beans and Corn

Next add cooked black beans. You can cook these yourself, however for a quick meal, used one can of beans, drained. No need to heat up canned beans. I use organic canned black beans. Pick your favorite brand.

Next add a layer of organic, non GMO corn, frozen or canned. If using frozen corn, cook first. No need to heat up for canned corn.

Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad corn and beans
Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad – non GMO corn and black beans

Add Chopped Red Onions

Chop 1/2 of a small to medium red onion. I use a mini chopper to do this quickly.

Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad red onions
Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad – chopped red onions

Add Chopped Tomatoes

Next add fresh tomatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces. I don’t have ripe tomatoes from my garden yet. I purchased small organic tomatoes and used six of those. Diced tomatoes from a can may be used as well, if fresh tomatoes aren’t available or if you want to sped up the prep time. Drain well first.

Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad - tomatoes
Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad – chopped tomatoes

Add Diced Green Chilies

I purchased a small can of diced green chilies, medium spice level. Dice your own favorite peppers, from green bell peppers to hot jalapenos, or add diced canned mild green chilies, drained. Or omit this layer if you don’t want any heat.

Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad green chilies
Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad – green chilies

Add Vegan “Chicken”

This layer, and the next one, are totally optional. I seldom use vegan “meats” however, for this salad, it seemed perfect. I used Gardein Plant Based Vegan Seven Grain Crispy Chick’n Tenders. While I assembled the layers, I heated these tenders on the stove top. After they crisped up, I allowed them to cool slightly and then sliced up the tenders. Omit this layer if desired.

Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad vegan chick'n
Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad – vegan chick’n

Final Layer Vegan Cheese

For the final layer of my salad, I added shredded vegan cheese. Vegan cheeses have come a looooong way in recent years. Made from plant based milks, such as almond or coconut, these cheeses are flavorful and behave like dairy cheese.

I added a shredded mix of cheddar and mozzarella plant based cheese.

Omit this layer if desired.

Vegan cheese
Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad – vegan cheese

Other Tasty Options

This layered salad is so versatile, making it easy to use what you have on hand. Normally, diced avocados go into any salad I make. I was out of them when I made this one. Feel free to add any of the following to your layered salad:

  • diced zucchini or yellow squash
  • slivered or chopped almonds
  • black or green olives
  • shredded carrots
  • chopped green onions instead of red onions
  • halved cherry tomatoes
  • shredded cabbage
  • avocados or guacamole
  • chickpeas
  • chopped red, yellow or orange sweet peppers
  • any other veggie of choice
  • salsa

The Dressing

For this layered salad, I added sides of non GMO corn tortilla chips, plant based ranch dressing and sugar free barbeque sauce. What a perfect combination…slightly spicy barbeque sauce and creamy cool ranch. That’s why I wanted the vegan chicken as a layer, for the tangy barbeque sauce.

Use a favorite dressing, plant based, or create your own.

Plant based dressing and barbeque sauce
Ready to eat salad with chips, plant based dressing and barbeque sauce
Vegan cheese

Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad

Enjoy this quick and easy layered summer salad.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 4 - 6 cups chopped greens: arugula or mixed
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can non GMO corn, drained may use frozen corn instead...cook first
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 5 - 6 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small can diced green chilies, mild to hot, drained may substitute pepper of choice
  • 1 package Gardein plant based chick'n, cooked and sliced may omit this layer
  • 1 cup shredded vegan cheese, cheddar or mozzarella may omit this layer

Instructions
 

  • Prepare plant based chick'n according to package directions.
  • While cooking plant based chick'n, layer each ingredient above in a large bowl or container, ending with shredded plant based cheese.
  • Serve with non GMO corn tortilla chips, plant based ranch dressing and sugar free barbeque sauce. Or serve with dressing of choice. Serve immediately. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Makes 4 - 6 servings.
  • Other options: add diced avocado, black or green olives, chickpeas or any other veggie of choice.
Keyword Layered Salad, Vegan

Check Out These Additional Salad Recipes

If, like me, you want to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen this summer, check out these eight fresh salads. Loaded with nutrients, they are perfect lunch or supper meals.

Have a happy…and healthy…season! What summer plans do you have?

Ready to Eat
Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad – ready to eat

 

Summer Salad Helps from Amazon:

 


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Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health

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Do you remember, as a child, seeing your first firefly or full moon? And do you recall the sense of wondrous amazement you felt playing in falling snow or feeling an ocean wave lap at your feet?

Wonder, or awe, is defined as a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by experiencing something beautiful, unexpected or unfamiliar. I also love another definition that I saw that describes wonder as an emotion “somewhere between the upper reaches of pleasure and the boundary of fear”.

As adults we experience wonder over the birth of children and grandchildren, beauty in nature and unexpected sights such as a double rainbow arched over the sea. Researchers are discovering that the more we experience that sense of awe and wonder, the happier we feel. And, we are healthier.

I’m here to help you cultivate a sense of wonder for better health.

Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health title meme

Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health

It turns out wonderment has a range of emotional and physical benefits. Experiencing awe and wonder frequently makes us feel happier and contributes to a greater sense of life satisfaction. Those feelings also foster compassion for others and increase our humility as we realize the grandeur of the universe.

Wonder makes us think more expansively, expands our perception of time and may lead to less materialism. It can even help those who cope with post traumatic stress syndrome.

For these benefits and the health boosts listed below, we want wonder to be a daily occurrence. Here are ways to increase those moments of awe and wonder.

Experience New Things

One of my favorite ways to up the wonderment is by trying new experiences. When we experience something new, the “wonder” circuits in the brain are activated. We gain pleasure and a sense of satisfaction. There are BIG new experiences such as climbing a mountain and standing at its peak. However, we can create mini wonder moments by experiencing smaller new experiences.

Try drawing or painting with your non-dominant hand. Or roll out a sleeping bag and star gaze in the middle of the night. Take a walking tour in a new to you city. Or eat a food you’ve never tried before.

Whatever you try, push yourself a bit…or a lot…beyond your comfort zone. My grandson and I traveled to St Louis to attend our first huge Comic Con. It pushed us both to put ourselves out there. And it culminated with meeting and talking to two of the actors, the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, from one of our favorite television shows, Doctor Who.

Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health tardis
Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health – try new experiences

Play

Wonder is a playful quality. So it makes sense that to experience wonder more frequently, play more. Children excel at inventing games and playing spontaneously. We can learn from their example.

Play in the garden sprinkler. Make a blanket fort and color in it. Roast marshmallows over a fire. Count fireflies or stars as they appear. Collect sea shells or rocks. Start a game of tag with strangers on the beach.

Whatever brings out your playful nature and that sense of wonderment, do more of that.

Slow Down and Be Present

When we say that we love experiencing the world through a child’s eyes, what we really mean is that we love their sense of wonder. Children are great observers of the world around them. They pause to study a ladybug crawling up a leaf or marvel at a dandelion in the grass.

As adults we need to slow down, pause, and be present in the moment. We can then observe the world around us too and all of its wonders. Sometimes that means we need to quiet our minds and stop thinking about our to-do list or the work waiting for us.

Savor the moments. Look for the wonders. When we look, we find them.

Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health spider
Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health – slow down and be in the moment

Shift Mindset

How we view the world, and the wonders in it, depends greatly upon mindset.

Those who tend toward negative thoughts will see the world as a fearful place and may miss the wonders in it. Additionally, negative thoughts lead to negative experiences in life. Simply put, it’s all about the energy we dwell in. Expect that life or the world is bad and the brain does its best to prove it by pointing out all that’s wrong.

To experience more awe in life, do a mental check to see what kind of thoughts run through your mind during the day. If most are negative learn to shift those toward the positive. Meditation, yoga, walking in nature, counseling, journaling and self help books are powerful ways to shift mindset.

The more positively we view the world the more open we are to experiencing the abundant wonders there.

Spend Time with Children and Grandchildren

Children are expert wonder finders. Spend time following your toddler around the yard, and experience the wonders of insects, leaves and rocks. Talk to your child about what inspires wonder in them. Create shared experiences such as watching meteors streak across the sky or catching a full lunar eclipse or watching a wonder inspiring documentary on dolphins.

And is anything more wonderous than holding a newborn baby or grandbaby? Be there for those moments.

Snuggling Finley
Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health – Finley Grace

Experience Nature

One of the best places to experience awe and wonder is outdoors, in nature.

How amazing to watch a powerful thunderstorm roll in. What wonder to see the woods awaken in the spring. And there’s magic in the hummingbird as it flits from flower to flower.

Whether you live near the desert, a mountain or the ocean, or have a park nearby in your city, get outside and stay present to see what wonders appear. Enjoy a gorgeous sunrise or end the day with a breathtaking sunset.

I cultivate wonder by planting flowers and herbs in my backyard. That beautiful space is a constant source of magic and wonder for me. You can create wonder with fairy gardens or patio container gardens. Hang art outside or decorate a porch with strings of lights and baskets of plants. Create your own outdoor space and invite wonder in.

Appreciate Art and Music

Art and music inspire wonder as well by filling us with deep appreciation.

Attend art exhibits or travel to see those iconic pieces of art you’ve always read about. When I visited Florence, Italy, and saw Michelangelo’s David statue for the first time, I was overcome with such strong, wonderous emotions.

Attend concerts. Discover new music. Put that favorite song on repeat and let it move you. Two of my grandsons participated in school bands. Attending those concerts and hearing those performances always induced awe as I watched those students come together to create beautiful music.

David Statue
Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health – view amazing art

Ways Wonder Improves Health

Now we know how to experience wonder more frequently. Here are the ways that such experiences improve health.

  • reduces inflammation – this one is the biggie. Chronic inflammation in the body leads to many diseases including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s. Frequently experiencing awe and wonder, which is a high level vibrational emotion, reduces inflammation in the body, which helps to prevent those diseases.
  • lowers stress – higher levels of stress means higher levels of inflammation
  • boosts immunity to help fight off invading illnesses including viruses and allergens
  • lowers blood pressure which helps protect the cardiovascular system
  • improves sleep – primarily because we feel happier and less stressful
  • shifts attitude opening us up to receive more wonder in our lives
  • lowers risk for depression
  • enhances overall sense of wellbeing
  • reduces risk for type 2 diabetes
  • inspires creativity which improves sense wellbeing

Be the “Oh Wow” Person

In my family, I’m the “Oh Wow” person. My kids laugh at me, in a good natured way, because one of my most frequent expressions is “Oh wow!” I say it often because I do see the wonder in so many things.

I not only look for the wonder, I’m open to receiving it so that when something unexpected happens, I see it. And I continually seek out new experiences. Many of those inspire awe and wonder in me as well.

I’ve also discovered that fulfilling dreams creates a sense of wonder. Standing on a bridge over the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy inspired awe. And the first time I visited Thirlestane Castle, in Lauder, Scotland, I had to sit on a bench for a while outside and just look at it. I’d heard about our ancestral castle my whole life. Seeing it, experiencing it through an inside tour, created a range of emotions, including profound wonder.

I hope this post gives you ideas about how you can create more wonderment in your life. And that it motivates you to want to, for the betterment of your health and wellbeing.

Where can you find wonder today?

Thirlestane Castle
Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health – fulfilling a dream by visiting Thirlestane Castle

Items to Help Inspire Wonder

 


 

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Healthy Oceans Healthy Us

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

June 8 is World Oceans Day. The special day draws our awareness to the health of our oceans around the world.

As I read articles I realized how crucial the connection is between our health and the oceans’ health. Healthy oceans, healthy us. Unhealthy oceans, unhealthy us.

While my posts on Journey With Healthy Me typically focus on health and wellness for humankind, I felt compelled to share a different kind of post tonight.

Our futures and the future of our planet depend on the health of our oceans. And how are Earth’s oceans faring? They are in trouble.

Healthy Oceans Healthy Us title meme

The Heart and Lungs of the Planet

No matter where you live, you are connected to the oceans. Even land locked midwesterners, like me, are intricately linked to the seas.

The oceans of Earth are the heart and lungs of the planet. They produce over half of the world’s oxygen and absorb 50 times more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere. Covering 70% of the earth’s surface, oceans transport heat from the equator to the poles, regulating climate and weather patterns.

Oceans are also important in the transportation and trade industry, and in providing jobs, food and ingredients used in medicines.

Plus there are health benefits associated with being near the sea. Swimming in the ocean improves blood circulation, helps with joint pain, improves muscular strength and promotes longevity. The salty seawater contains minerals that help moisturize and heal the skin.

Beyond the physical benefits, being near the ocean lowers stress and anxiety, reduces heart and respiration rates and eases depression.

Healthy Oceans Healthy Us Mediterranean Sea
Healthy Oceans Healthy Us – Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Italy.

Threats to the Oceans

Human activities are threatening the health of the oceans, which in turn threatens our own wellbeing.

More than 80% of marine pollution comes from land based activities. From coral bleaching to a rise in sea level, the whole marine ecosystem is rapidly changing.

Threats to the oceans include:

  • global warming
  • pesticides and agricultural products that end up in coastal waters, depleting oxygen and killing marine life and plants
  • sewage and runoff from factories and industrial plants
  • oil spills
  • overfishing which is depleting fish and sea life
  • pollution
  • plastics that end up in the oceans, disrupting the eco-system and killing marine life
  • invasive species of algae that thrive in waters that have warmed up, disrupting the ecological balance
Beach Pollution
Healthy Oceans Healthy Us – beach pollution

Healing Our Oceans

Remember the four Rs of taking care of the planet and the oceans…Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Refuse.

Here are things we can all do to ensure healthy oceans, healthy us.

Reduce Energy Consumption

By reducing energy use we reduce the effects of climate change on the oceans. Leave the car at home as often as possible. Walk or ride a bike when you can. Switch to LED lightbulbs at home. Take the stairs. Turn off lights when leaving the room. Also turn off appliances, computers and other electrical devices when not in use. Raise the thermostat in summer and lower it in winter. Support clean alternative energy solutions.

Plant a garden or shop farmer’s markets and co-ops. Buy organic produce when possible. Eat a plant based diet.

Make Sustainable Seafood Choices

Fish populations are rapidly depleting due to demand, loss of habitat and unsustainable fishing practices. When dining out or shopping for seafood, reduce the demand on overexploited species by choosing seafood that is sustainable.

Better yet, stop eating seafood.

Eliminate Plastic Products

Plastics that end up in the ocean cause habitat destruction and entangle and kill tens of thousands of marine animals every year.

Help by eliminating plastic water bottles. Carry a reusable metal water container instead. Store leftover food in reusable glass containers. Carry your own cloth shopping bags to stores. And recycle or reuse if you do purchase items in plastic cartons.

Avoid single use plastics such as straws, plasticware, cups, bags and bottles.

Plastic water bottles
Healthy Oceans Healthy Us – stop using plastics

Don’t Purchase Items that Harm Marine Life

Educating ourselves about the products we buy helps protect marine life. Certain products, such as some sunscreens, damage coral reefs and marine populations.

Never flush kitty litter which contains pathogens harmful to marine animals. Don’t purchase coral jewelry, tortoiseshell hair accessories (made from hawksbill turtles) and shark products. Squalene, often found in cosmetics, is derived from sharks.

Create Change Through Choices

Support organizations working to protect oceans and marine life. Volunteer to clean a beach. Sign petitions to promote ocean-friendly legislation and sustainable ocean policies.

Patronize restaurants and grocery stores that offer only sustainable seafood. Do ocean presentations at schools and organizations. And support ocean artists and film makers by watching their documentaries. A couple of good documentaries to watch: Seaspiracy and My Octopus Teacher, both on Netflix.

Purchase products that reduce the impact on the earth and the oceans.

Refuse straws at restaurants. Carry metal straws if you must drink with a straw.

Don’t Attend Dolphin and Marine Life Shows

Many people are becoming increasingly concerned about the practice of keeping marine animals in captivity. Marine animals are ecologically connected to the ocean environment. They do not thrive in confinement. Say no to dolphin and large marine life shows.

Healthy Oceans Healthy Us dolphin
Healthy Oceans Healthy Us – dolphins belong in the sea

Healthy Oceans Healthy Us

I noticed a shift in my awareness, when I began a plant based lifestyle.

First I focused on my own body and my own health. As my health and wellbeing improved I became appreciative of the wonders of the human body and how a healthy body responds.

Then my attention focused outward, on the health and wellbeing of others. This blog is a result of that shift. I want other people to experience their optimal health as well and live a full, vibrant life.

And finally, my awareness expanded to encompass the earth and the health and wellbeing of the planet and all life. I’m mindful of the impact I have on the earth and all its inhabitants. My desire is to take care of myself, help others take care of themselves and for all of us, together, to take care of our home, Planet Earth.

We must pay attention to what’s happening with the world’s oceans. To thrive here in health, our oceans must thrive too.

For World Oceans Day…and every day…we can do our part to ensure a future for the oceans and for ourselves. Won’t you join me?

Appreciating the Mediterranean Sea
Appreciating the Mediterranean Sea.

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Summer Health Tips

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Is it just me…or is this year flying by? By the end of this month, half of the year will be gone. June also brings the beginning of summer with all its delights, wonders and adventures.

For the best season, full of beauty, experiences and fun, check out these summer health tips.

Summer Health Tips title meme

Summer Health Tips

Many people claim summer as their favorite season. School is out. Vacations and road trips get under way. Long warm days make lakes and swimming pools inviting. And adventures of all kinds beckon.

It’s the perfect season for family gatherings, cook outs and celebrations. And there is something so magical about summer evenings. Fireflies, shooting stars, cozy fires crackling in fire pits all contribute to the wonder.

Keep yourself and family members healthy, to make this most of the season, with these simple tips.

Stay Hydrated

The number one challenge with summer is staying hydrated. Most people simply do not drink enough water, causing chronic dehydration. During the warmer months, we are at greater risk of dehydration due to working and playing outdoors and excessive sweating.

The following signs of dehydration are symptoms that indicate the body is not receiving enough water and/or is already chronically dehydrated.

Signs of Dehydration

  • constipation
  • dark urine
  • headaches
  • lightheadedness and dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • muscle cramps
  • rapid heartbeat
  • extreme thirst
  • less frequent urination
  • no tears
  • unsatisfied hunger
  • fatigue
  • low blood pressure
  • skin disorders
  • brain fog
  • irritability
  • kidney stones

There is varying information about how much water we need. However, a good guide is 72 ounces for adult women and 104 ounces for adult men. This is a general guideline. Exercising, working outdoors or warm temperatures may up the requirement for liquids.

To stay hydrated during the summer months, try these tips

  • carry water at all times, in a metal or glass container, and refill throughout the day
  • drink at least one glass of water with every meal
  • increase water amount when exercising or outdoors in hot weather
  • juice fruits and veggies
  • start the day with a lemon or lime water, followed by a glass of freshly prepared celery juice for amazing health benefits (Want to know even more about this miraculous drink? Visit www.celeryjuice.com and pick up Anthony’s book about celery juice HERE.)
  • include two or more cups of herbal teas during the day
  • keep a pitcher of infused water in the fridge, adding herbs, veggies or fruit for flavor
  • eat your water, with high water content foods such as watermelon, berries, pineapple, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Read my full article about foods that help hydrate HERE.

Eat Lightly

During the summer, enjoy the bounty that gardens produce. Visit a farmer’s market if you don’t grow your own veggies and begin your grocery shopping in the fresh fruits and veggies section.

This is the time for simple, easily prepped meals that include raw or lightly cooked veggies and lots of fresh fruit.

Include berries, melons, tomatoes, peppers, okra, fresh herbs, squash and green beans. Try new to you vegetables or fruits too, to broaden your tastes.

Check out this recent POST for eight mouth watering salads that are definitely full of the goodness of summer.

Summer Health Tips hydration
Summer health tips – eat hydrating foods such as watermelon

Get Outdoors During Morning and Evening

Playing, working or exercising outdoors during the summer? Get outside in the mornings or evenings, when temperatures are lower and the sun is less intense.

If you must be out during the afternoon, seek out the shade as much as possible. And remember to carry water with you!

Protect Your Skin and Eyes

No matter what time of day you are outdoors, protect your skin and eyes.

Use at least a SPF 15 or higher sunscreen, applying 30 minutes before going out. Reapply after swimming or excessive sweating. Check out my blogging friend’s post, for the best vegan sunscreens!

Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect the face and sunglasses to shield eyes.

Summer Health Tips hiking
Summer health tips – enjoy the outdoors in the mornings and evenings.

Don’t Get Bugged

I have to admit that what I dislike about summer are pesky insects. As soon as the sun starts to set, mosquitos swarm around me in the garden. And veer off the path while hiking and I’m likely to encounter ticks or worse, chiggers.

Is this true for you?

Avoid insect repellents laden with harsh chemicals. Try using a natural repellent containing lemon or eucalyptus. I’ve had good luck with this DIY Mosquito Repellent. And also with soaking a cotton ball in Witch Hazel and rubbing it over exposed skin.

Around the yard, make sure water doesn’t collect in containers after a rain. That becomes a breeding ground for mosquitos. Keep the grass cut and garden or lawn debris cleared away.

After a hike or walk, check yourself and family members for ticks. Spray shoes, socks and ends of jeans or pants to help prevent chiggers from crawling up legs. Take a shower as soon as you return home and toss clothes…socks and underwear included…in the wash.

Plan an Active Vacation

While on vacation, plan activities such as hiking, walking, swimming, kayaking or canoeing. If you are doing a staycation at home, include gardening, lawncare, evening walks or outside games such as volleyball or badminton.

When visiting cities, explore on foot or via bicycling. Walking tours are a great way to get to know a city. I love walking around a new town, watching people and stopping in interesting shops.

Summer Health Tips kayak
Summer health tips – plan fun activities during vacation, such as kayaking.

Drink Responsibly

Excessive drinking is never good. Combine it with summertime and the results can be disastrous. Alcohol intensifies dehydration. Additionally, too much alcohol impairs judgment, coordination and balance, which can lead to accidents and injuries.

And did you know that 70% of adult and adolescent drownings involve alcohol?

Drink responsibly. Don’t operate a vehicle, including ATV, boats and motorcycles, while drinking. And stay out of the water!

Learn How to Swim

And speaking of playing in the water, make sure family members, especially children, know how to swim.

Many cities offer swimming lessons at community pools or local YMCAs. Swimming pools, lakes and even the ocean are enticing to children and adults. Make sure everyone knows how to swim and is familiar with basic water safety if your vacation includes water activities. It’s good for at least one adult to know CPR as well.

A drowning can happen in as little as two inches of water. Never, ever leave children unattended near water, even the bathtub.

On boats, make sure everyone wears a properly fitting life vest.

Summer Health Tips river fun
Summer health tips – practice water safety and teach children how to swim.

Fire Safety

Whether toasting marshmallows over a campfire, sitting around a fire pit or celebrating 4th of July with fireworks, practice fire safety.

When around a campfire or fire pit, always have water on hand to prevent fire from escaping its boundaries. Never leave a fire unattended. And properly extinguish the fire before leaving the area.

On camping trips carry a first aid kit that includes bandages and ointments in case of a minor burn.

Don’t allow children to handle fireworks without close supervision. Hundreds of people end up in the emergency room around the 4th of July, with injuries related to fireworks. Keep a bucket of water nearby and toss spent fireworks in, to make sure they are fully extinguished. Sparklers can reach a temperature of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Drop them into the bucket too. Stepping on a burned out sparkler on the ground can cause injury. And never try to relight a firework that didn’t completely ignite. Toss it.

Wear Lightweight Clothing

And finally, during the summer months, wear lightweight, light colored, loose fitting clothing. Those garments keep you cooler by helping sweat to evaporate more quickly.

I LOVE the clothes from Toad&Co. They are perfect for summer. And not only do  they offer stylish clothes, Toad&Co is a sustainable, eco-friendly company. I feel good wearing their clothes, and good about their garments.

Summer Health Tips lightweight clothes
Summer health tips – wear loose fitting, lightweight clothes, such as these from Toad&Co

Have a Healthy Summer

Do you love summertime?

As you enjoy the season, may you do so in optimal health and wellness! And may your adventures be many and your joys as abundant as the summer flowers that stretch toward the sun.

Summer Health Tips fire pit

Summer Finds from Amazon:

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

Prevent Skin Cancer

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May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

By raising awareness and sharing facts about the dangers associated with ultraviolet radiation exposure from the sun, the Skin Cancer Foundation hopes to save lives.

Fortunately, when caught early, skin cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer. With knowledge and awareness, we can prevent it.

Check out these skin cancer facts and ways to prevent the disease.

Prevent Skin Cancer title meme

Skin Cancer Facts

Skin cancer is the most common cancer, in the US and the world. Here’s what you need to know.

  • 1 in 5 Americans develop skin cancer by age 70
  • over age 50, more men than women develop melanoma
  • in the US, 9,500+ people receive a skin cancer diagnosis every day
  • 2+ people die of skin cancer every hour
  • 5 or more sunburns during a lifetime doubles the risk for melanoma
  • just 1 blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chances of developing skin cancer later in life
  • early detection of skin cancer results in a 99% survival rate of 5 or more years
  • there are more skin cancer diagnoses yearly than all other cancers combined
  • ultraviolet radiation (UV) is a proven carcinogen and the leading cause of skin cancer
  • UV tanning devices reclassified to Class II moderate to high risk for skin cancer, in 2014
  • indoor tanning devices can emit 10 to 15 times more UV radiation than the sun at peak intensity
  • the more one uses indoor tanning devices, the higher the risk for skin cancer
  • overexposure to the sun causes 90% of skin aging
  • using a SPF 15+ sunscreen results in 24% less skin damage
Prevent Skin Cancer 1 in 5
Prevent skin cancer – 1 in 5 develop skin cancer by age 70

Skin Cancer Prevention

The good news is, skin cancer is preventable. It’s important to know that the sun reaches you even when you think you are avoiding it. UV radiation penetrates cloud cover and glass and bounces off of sand, snow and water. Additionally, sun damage accumulates over the years from simple daily activities such as walking outside, riding in the car, collecting the mail and playing outdoors with the kids.

Practice these tips to protect yourself.

  • seek shade between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm when sun is most intense. Note: during the morning or evening hours, 10 minutes of sunlight is good for our health.
  • don’t get sunburned
  • never use tanning devices such as tanning beds
  • cover skin with loose fitting clothes, a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses
  • use a broad spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 15+ sunscreen daily
  • for extended outdoor activities, use a water resistant SPF 30+ sunscreen
  • apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen over the entire body 30 minutes before going outdoors. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • keep newborn babies out of the sun. Apply sunscreen to babies six months old and older
  • examine skin from head to toe, including the scalp and hairline, once a month
  • see something new, unusual or changing on your skin? Get checked immediately.
Prevent Skin Cancer water
Prevent skin cancer – reapply sunscreen after swimming

Foods That Help Prevent Skin Cancer

There’s growing evidence that highly nutritious foods can help prevent skin cancer. It’s simple, really. Eat as healthily as you can, including foods that are rich in antioxidants.

UV exposure generates unstable free radicals that create inflammation in the body. Those free radicals also damage cells and the skin’s DNA. DNA damage causes changes genetically, resulting in mutations that lead to skin cancer.

Antioxidants fight free radicals, preventing inflammation and cell damage. While supplements are helpful when nutrient rich foods aren’t available, for the best protection against free radicals, eat your nutrition.

Include the following antioxidant nutrients:

Beta Carotene

This nutrient, found in orange fruits and veggies, converts to vitamin A in the body. Not only does beta carotene help prevent skin cancer, it boosts the immune system too.

  • carrots
  • squash
  • sweet potatoes
  • cantaloupe
  • apricots
  • mangoes

Lycopene

This is the red pigment found in certain foods. Studies discovered that people eating foods rich in lycopene experienced 40% less sunburns. It also lowers the risks of other cancers besides skin cancer.

  • tomatoes, including tomato products such as tomato paste or sauce
  • red, orange and yellow peppers
  • watermelon
  • guava
  • papaya
  • apricots
  • pink grapefruit
  • Cara Cara oranges and blood oranges

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s inhibit a chemical called COX-2 that causes skin cancers to grow. They also reduce inflammation.

  • chia seeds
  • Brussels sprouts
  • algal oil – derived from algae
  • hemp seeds
  • walnuts
  • flaxseed

Polyphenols

Drinking green tea helps prevent skin cancer due to its powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties. Polyphenols in green tea repair DNA in sun exposed skin, reducing cell damage.

Selenium

This nutrient lowers the risk of all types of cancers and decreases cancer deaths.

  • Brazil nuts
  • cashews
  • brown rice
  • lentils and legumes
  • grains
  • spinach

Vitamin C

This vitamin helps calm inflammation and contains properties that make it toxic to cancer cells.

  • citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges
  • berries such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries
  • leafy greens
  • broccoli
  • green peppers

Vitamin E

A proven antioxidant, vitamin E helps to prevent damage from free radicals, absorbs energy from UV light and contains potent anti-inflammatory properties. It also improves the skin’s ability to act as a protective barrier.

  • almonds and other nuts
  • sunflower seeds and other seeds
  • spinach

Zinc

Zinc keeps the immune system healthy to effectively fight cancer. It also activates antioxidants in the body and increases the level of proteins involved in DNA repair.

  • legumes
  • hummus
  • chickpeas
  • lentils
  • black beans
Prevent Skin Cancer carrots
Prevent skin cancer – eat highly nutritious foods

Protect Your Skin This Summer

As summer approaches, inviting you to play and explore more outdoors, protect your skin with these simple tips. And stay aware of changes or any unusual spots on the skin.

Don’t become one of the 5 million cases of skin cancer diagnosed this year. Take care of your body and unite against this disease. Together we can save lives!

For more information, visit the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Prevent Skin Cancer sunglasses

 


 

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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.