I Messed Up, Y’all

Screen shot
My activity tracker for last week

You see it there, folks.  My daily goal to hit 30 minutes of activity a day tanked last week.  There’s no excuse.  The weather was decent, I made it to yoga two days, and I wasn’t that sick.  (My teen brought a cold virus home from a rafting trip and, well, sharing is caring.)

If I were dieting with a goal of nothing but weight loss, I’d have gotten discouraged. I was feeling soft around the middle, slack, and unhealthy. When you’re dieting and exercising just to lose weight, it’s so easy to think, “I’m a failure” when you fall out of your fitness routine. Were this my mindset, I’d have shrugged in resignation and taken the attitude of just quitting, because I’d already fallen so far off the wagon.

I’m not dieting to lose weight, though, so this is where having the goal of cultivating a healthy lifestyle comes in and makes a significant difference. I had already planned to go through a toning/training circuit Sunday afternoon. Sunday morning while chatting with my friend and aerobics instructor, she encouraged me on all the weight I’d lost. That little bit gave me the extra boost I needed to get back on track.

Just because I got off track last week doesn’t mean I have to stay off track this week. That goes for all of our goals, though, doesn’t it? Whether we’re working toward work goals, fitness goals, relationship goals, or home goals, the truth is, we’re not going to succeed every week. Mess happens, life happens. We cannot, however, take that one week of failure over against many weeks of rousing success and allow that one to undo all the rest of our hard work.

I jumped on that attitude. Training/toning Sunday, rest Monday, 2.5 mile walk and yoga on Tuesday, more toning yesterday, and today a walk on the beach. I feel better and more successful already.

What goal are you striving toward that you could use a little (or a lot) of encouragement on? I invite you to drop it in the comments below.

Embrace Your Mantra

Last night was my yoga night.  My younger daughter had asked me to skip yoga Tuesday night since we were celebrating her birthday, so I was really in need of last night’s stretching and strengthening.  The yoga master invited us to think of a mantra, not something I’d come across in practice before.  While the suggested mantras were self-affirming – “I am strong,”  “I am powerful,” and so forth – I found myself thanking God for making me strong.  Eventually, as the practice wore on, I thanked God that I am “wonderfully made.”

It doesn’t sound like I’m owning the hard work I’ve been doing on my body or affirming myself for who I am.  But I know myself.  If I were to say, “I’m so strong,” a part of my mind would ask, “But why aren’t you stronger?”  If I gave myself strokes for my increasing flexibility, inevitably I’d also come down hard on myself in that practice where my body is stiff and my mind is struggling to center itself in my flow.

I don’t often talk about my faith in my business content.  Not all my customers share my faith, and I don’t want to put walls up between them and me.  Last night was significant, though.  As I was in pigeon pose, I thanked God for making me strong and for making me so wonderfully.  You see, if God made me to be strong and knit me together wonderfully, then I must be put together pretty awesomely.  That means I can take satisfaction and find contentment in how I am, even with that patellar ligament that could be looser and that pose I don’t quite have the flexibility to pull off.  It means I can give myself the very necessary grace to carry that little roll around my middle and to still be working towards the stretching and flexibility I desire to have.

Yoga pigeon pose
Pigeon pose

So, my mantra for last night’s practice was, “Thank you, God, for making me wonderfully.”  That acknowledges that I am, in fact, put together well, that God made me to bend, stretch, and flex as I need to for yoga.  But it also liberates me from any potential negative or ungracious self-talk.  If God made me, then I must be made pretty well.  However, I need to honor my createdness by taking care of the creation.  I do this by following my healthy coastal lifestyle.

Then
yesterday afternoon…  Yet another powerful reminder of how
well we’re made and how much we really need to take care of our
bodies.  On the recommendation of a friend, I watched this
documentary on Netflix that shows exactly what sort of damage obesity
does to the human body.  I’m not going to go into all the
details, but let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty (or for the weak of
stomach).  All the organs in the human body are crafted to fit
together in blocks, like they’re part of a 3D puzzle.  Obesity
severely compromises how they rest in the body and how those
individual organs perform.  We think of obesity simply as being
fat and possibly we recognize that it can lead to type 2 diabetes and
stroke.  It can also lead to severe organ failure, any one of
which is fatal.

Then
how cool was it to hear the verse in Psalms during one of
yesterday’s readings that reminds us, “I am fearfully and
wonderfully made” (some versions say, “complexly”). 
That tells me I need to pay significant attention to that verse, to
sit with it for a bit, to remember that I am marvelously made, but
that I also must respect my body by taking care of it. 

Time for your part.  Why not set a mantra for the week?  Make it affirming; you certainly deserve it.  Care to share?  Drop yours in the comments below.

Double Your Happiness with Manic Mint Soap

Owning a bottle of spearmint essential had long been a dream of mine.  When I could afford it, either I didn’t think about it or my suppliers didn’t have it.  When I couldn’t justify the expense…  Well, there ya go.  Finally, last month things aligned so that I could barely justify it when it was time to restock lavender oil, so I went ahead and splurged.

The bottles of oil came and… Ohhhhhhh!!!  One whiff of the spearmint oil and I was blasted away in a zippedy-doo-dah moment of euphoria.  The scent was pure, crisp mint that brings to mind amazing chewing gum and carried memories of my grandma’s out-of-control mint bed that wasted little time racing from its spot near their pool in the back up to the driveway.  Suffice it to say, I was blissed out!

I’d been yearning for this spearmint oil for one simple reason:  To make a spearmint-peppermint swirled soap.  But how to design it?  Then my Facebook memories reminded me of this stunning black and white mantra swirl I’d done ages ago and I thought, Why not?  It’d been years since I’d done that particular design last, and it wasn’t particularly hard to do.

This is that swirl coming to be.


Sure, this soap is fabulous from the top side, but what about the slices?  Unfortunately, you have to wait to see that as the soap is still a bit soft to unmould.  The best places to check it out are my Facebook page and my Instagram feed; I’ll be showing off the slices around Friday of this week.  It’s just two days away!

I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes view of a swirl coming together.  These beauties will be ready to add some zippedy to your doo-dah in less than 4 weeks.  Be sure we’re landing in your inbox because email subscribers get first dibs on all new products.  I just received a new fragrance today to try, so that’ll be one of my next soaps to show off to you.

How To Enjoy Our Beaches Properly

*Note: For the sake of this article, “beach camp site” refers to a person’s or group’s spot on the beach. This might be towels and a beach bag, or it may be a 10×10 canopy, wet bar, lounge chairs, DJ, and separate play area for the kiddies.

Part of my brand is all about enjoying our gorgeous North Carolina beaches, and they are here for all people to enjoy, both tourists and locals.  As the girls and I were spending a day at the beach today, I thought of how our beaches’ visitors, both local and touring, could make beach-going better for everyone.

A 30- second beach break

(1) Do not play music loudly on the beach.  The beach has the best sounds:  Crashing waves, cawing seagulls, and happily squealing children.  Many of us go to the beach specifically to enjoy these sounds.  Your loud music drowns those sounds out.  You don’t actually have the right to play your music loudly enough to be disruptive to others.  Sure, listen to your music; that’s what earbuds are for.  Otherwise, if you wish to look at water while you blast music and get drunk, please do us a favor and do this in your bathtub or backyard pool.  There was a group with a serious “let’s party” speaker on the beach today.  I ended up moving our beach camp far down the beach until I couldn’t hear their music anymore.  Never have I wanted to scatter bread crumbs around someone as much as I wanted to today.  This brings me to my next point.

(2) Do not feed the seagulls (aka, beach rats).  You may be thinking, Awww, how cute to see little Billy offering his fries to the seagulls!  It’s so cool watching them flying around!  It may be like you’re in a fun summer movie, but it’s not so fun for those of us around you.  Do you know that stuff goes into seagulls, and stuff also comes out of them?  Those in the 20-foot radius around you really don’t wish to get pooped on while you’re feeding the birds.

(3) Only smoke in designated smoking areas.  Have you smelled the beach lately?  It smells of wet salty air, ozone, and a glorious blend that can only be half a dozen different sunscreens.  You may enjoy the pungent aroma of your nasty smelling imported cigarettes or cigars, but the rest of us?  Not so much.  And while we’re at it, please keep your butts off our beaches – your cigarette butts, that is.

(4) Do not litter.  Do you love ocean life?  Maybe you are big on ocean life because you’re a die-hard conservationist.  That’s great!  My younger daughter is, too.  Maybe, you want to protect ocean life because – let’s face it – shrimp and fish make for good eatin’.  Litter on the beaches eventually makes its way to the ocean where it harms and kills ocean life.  No butts, no bottles, no cans, no plastic bags.  Every beach access has trash cans available, and some also have recycling cans, too.

This simply comes down to, love our beaches and be considerate of others at the same time.  There are a lot of little beach etiquette rules; I grew up with them, and they’re pretty common-sense things.  Things like, don’t shake your towel out where the sand will blow on other people.  Don’t run by people, kicking sand up on them.  Watch out when you’re boogie boarding so as not to run into people in the shallows (sometimes unavoidable).

We want everyone to enjoy our fabulous beaches.  It would really suck if someone came to one of our beaches, had a horrible time because of inconsiderate beach-goers, and forever after vacationed in Virginia, South Carolina, or Florida.  It’s real, folks.  People judge beaches by the type of people that plant themselves on them.  My parents will never again vacation at this one particular beach because of people that were there one time.  I myself avoid a certain beach for a similar reason (that, and the beach is narrow and crowded).

What makes or breaks a beach experience for you?  Drop your comments below.

Setting Intentions

If you’ve been following me on social media and through my blog and newsletter, you know I’ve recently started doing yoga.  I go to a class once a week and do some exercises on my own throughout the week.  At the beginning of each class, Beth, our instructor, tells us to “set your intention for this time.”  My intention is rarely the same week to week.  This week, I may want to stretch out.  The next week I might be focusing on building strength.  Two weeks ago, mindfulness may have been my goal.  Those are really three very different foci, and it’s pretty impossible to set an intention for more than one at a time.  Sure, I can do the flow with mindfulness as my goal and still build strength and stretch out, but I can only concentrate on one intention at a time.

Yoga poses
Doing yoga has helped me learn how to set intentions for each day.

The same happens in business.  My intention for my business is to serve my customers the best I can.  Another day, my intention might be more growth-oriented.  These don’t happen in isolation from each other or any other focus I might have for my business on any given day.

I am using the lesson from yoga to impact my business.  Each day, I’m going to start out by stating an intention for that business day.  Today’s intention was transitional.  Transitional days see me moving from the last major task to the next one.  I finished clearing out the remnants of the lip balm order I sent last week and prepared to restock some soap.  This transitional day was also a day of preparation:  When my new printer crosses the threshold tomorrow, I will be ready with stacks of labels to print off.

By stating an intention for my days, I am doing more than setting a goal.  I am declaring what I will achieve that day.  Doing this today has energized my day.  I have felt super-charged to make things happen, but only if they work towards my intention.  Wrapping soaps that need to be wrapped is not part of today’s intention, so they will only get done after everything else is complete.  They are, however, a huge part of tomorrow’s intention.

Do you set intentions or goals for each day?  I encourage you to set an intention for each day, and let me know how that changes how you’re able to do life or work in the comments below.

Sneak Peek – Pouring & Cutting Outer Banks Beer Soap

This week, I’m going to let video rule the post.  A couple of weeks ago, I made and poured a batch of Outer Banks Beer Soap.  I didn’t record the making of this soap, because no one wants to watch saturated fats melt (5 minutes of boredom) or my mixing the soap (30-60 seconds of noisy boredom).  Here I’m showing the pouring of this soap followed by the slicing of it.

So, what do you think of this little sneak peek?  I don’t do them often, but every now and then, it’s fun showing off how we make the magic that we do.

Strong is the New Skinny

I shot this quick video last night when I got home from Dance2Fit. This is real, y’all – sweaty, no makeup, hair pushed back in one of my daughter’s soccer headwraps to keep the sweat from dripping into my face.

I’d gotten home after a 75-minute workout, during which time I’d downed about 20 ounces of water.  I wasn’t perfect; I missed steps and kicked right when everyone else was kicking left.  Two things happened last night, though, that really fired off some pride and humility in me.  First, the instructor praised how low my squat was – right after praising this other lady who was also killing the held squat.  The cool part is, I admire and respect that other lady’s fitness level and how she does the class.  She’s been doing Dance2Fit for years and really has the routines down.  The humbling part came after a grueling 3-4 minute arm workout.  I was walking around my spot and stretching out my arms when I happened to notice a new lady to the class was copying my stretches.  Just like I watch the lady I admire, this lady was watching me.  You can bet I was a lot more attentive to how I moved after that!

Genetics and a life of not making the best choices both ensure that I’ll never be skinny – not without some really dangerous behaviors or extensive and expensive surgery.  And that’s OK.  I’m getting stronger with every workout, be it high-impact aerobics, weight-lifting, cardio, or yoga.

For ages, society has equated skinny with healthy, and in some cases, that is certainly true.  However, skinny isn’t the only shape healthy takes.  While far from skinny, I’m in the best health of my life, not just judging by strength, but also by the numbers – blood pressure, cholesterol, resting heart rate, and glucose.  I celebrate my healthiness and my strength, even while I continue to slim down my silhouette.

How are you building strength, whatever stage in life you’re finding yourself?  Drop your response in the comments below so we can celebrate and encourage you.

How Die-ts Spell Death for the Healthy Coastal Lifestyle

Dieting is anathema to healthy living. I’ve seen it too many times to count. Back in the 80s when NutriSystem was new and hot, someone I know jumped on it; she was a “chunky” size 10. (Funny what was “chunky” by today’s standards.) She followed the diet faithfully, lost a bunch of weight, and looked GOOD. As soon as she met her goal, she got off the diet and started eating as she wanted (a large bag of Doritos in a day, for example), and all those pounds came back and brought friends. They settled in and never left, and now this person has a number of weight-related health problems. Both our dads have done low-carb – Atkins and South Beach – and we’ve watched the pounds drop while they followed the diets and the pounds come back as they started eating carbs again. Even I’ve done that in my life – reduced calories to lose weight, only to gain them back and more once I met my goal. That life isn’t for me.

This yo-yo dieting isn’t healthy at all. It puts tremendous strain on every part of the body. It slows down the body’s metabolism, actually making it harder to lose weight, especially around the gut and internal organs. Yo-yo dieting also leads to increased cortisol levels, which makes us gain weight. It can further lead to Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol, both of which can lead to life-threatening cardiovascular events. In short, yo-yo dieting can kill you.

I don’t diet. I hate diets. I think they’re intrinsically flawed and doomed to failure for reasons we’ve all experienced. You deprive yourself of something (in behavioral psych terms, that’s called punishment), and when the “punishment” is over (e.g., you’ve met the weight loss goal), we enjoy the forbidden foods again and all those pounds come back with reinforcements. I saw similar behavior with my younger daughter last week.  She abused the boundaries we’d placed on her tablet use during the school year – a day after getting it back from a previous punishment. She’d lost her Fire through the end of the school year, and we gave it back to her when she returned from a mission retreat. For two straight days last week, all I saw was the top of her head while she played games or watched videos on it. Her punishment was over, and she glutted on the thing we’d taken away. As a result, I began placing limits on her use, turning it into a reward.

I like food. I like the tastes, the textures, and the experience of food. When I want the food, I eat the food. It doesn’t matter what it is. I am tending to skew to a higher protein percentage for muscle repair from working out. However, I’ll eat a cookie or a serving of ice cream or a serving of popcorn. I try to reduce my carb intake throughout the day, giving my body more time to burn them, but I don’t beat myself up if that doesn’t happen. For me, it’s about moderation and grace. Could I eat a quart of ice cream? Sure. Do I? Not in a sitting. I eat that ice cream a 1/2 cup at a time over weeks, if not months. (That’s moderation.) Some days, I eat more calories than I burn. I don’t give up; I just get back on track the next day, and maybe exercise a bit more throughout the week to keep myself on track overall. (That’s grace.) I’m not a failure because last Tuesday I blew my calorie count out of the water at our anniversary dinner.

My breakfasts tend to be carb-heavy, my lunches more protein- and fruit/vegetable-heavy, and our dinners feature lean protein, vegetables, and, when possible, carbs from veggies (jicama, carrots, peas, etc.) more than from grains, rice, etc. However, when someone else in the house plans and cooks dinner, I gratefully go with what they fix and don’t demand a special meal (there are quite a few social reasons behind that that I won’t get into here). To their credit, they run their menus by me ahead of time so I can eat accordingly throughout the day. I only snack on days when I’ll be eating a late dinner because of workouts and/or soccer practice, and it’s something high-protein, like cheese, a glass of milk, peanuts, a protein bar, or a snack serving of Kind Dark Chocolate granola clusters (low glycemic index, good protein – and that stuff is AWESOME!!! in vanilla Greek yogurt).

I drink a LOT of water. Lately I’ve been averaging 9 cups a day. I have 2-3 alcoholic drinks a year, no more than 2 sodas a year, and maybe 5 glasses of sweet tea a year. Juice is rare, milk is less a drink and more a calcium and protein source, and my one mug of coffee a day is the source of my personality.  I can’t stand artificial sweeteners and avoid them at all costs. It’s pure cane sugar or I go without, and since I don’t want to take in tons of sugar, I’ll opt for “without.” Besides, water is cheap; I got into that when I was in Div school and broke but we still wanted to go out occasionally without spending $2 on a glass of tea that costs the restaurant about $.08. (Plus, water keeps our urinary tracts functioning at their best, doesn’t destroy tooth enamel, and keeps the rest of our organs functioning at their peaks.)

The result of all this? Mentally, I know I’m not depriving myself, so I don’t feel like I’m being punished for being overweight, which is basically what weight-loss diets do; they’re punishment. Eating is necessary, but how and what I eat becomes a choice with consequences. If I eat too many carbs in a day, I really don’t feel good in my body. If I want a little sweet bite after dinner and eat 3 Kisses, then I have the pleasure of the chocolate and the “yay, me!” of knowing I’ve exercised will-power. I’ve lost about half the weight I want by combining eating well with a variety of exercises. It hasn’t been fast, but it’s been steady, and I’d rather be healthy for life than just lighter for a few months.

And even better?  I’ve met my final health goal.  Last week, I was able to wear my favorite black velvet choker to our anniversary dinner.  Check it out!

Picture of Peter and me
My honey and me

And I’m still so excited about those shoulders! Woot!

Have you started living the healthy coastal lifestyle, yet? You don’t have to live at the beach to make the magic happen. And remember, the slow walker is doing far better than the couch potato. What steps have you taken to improve your health? Tell us in the comments below. 

 

Mindfulness Flow

In this video, I share with you tips for living life more mindfully to reduce stress, lose weight, and increase creativity.  Whether you think of mindfulness as a habit or a discipline, practice truly does make perfect.  You’re not going to get it completely right the first time, and that’s OK.  Give yourself the grace to mess up and to embrace the fresh opportunity to start over with the next day.  Start with one minute and go from there.  Remember, we’re flowing like water.

If you have questions about the effects of our emotions on our bodies’ chemicals and what that has to do with health, feel free to ask them in the comments.

Did you try it?  How was it?  I still have to work to bring my mind back to the now or to keep it from straying to the then.  How do you feel after practicing this mindfulness exercise for a few minutes?  Please let me know in the comments below.

DIY Stress-Relieving Bath Treats

When things get stressful, we all need a bit of time to chill out and relax.  When you can’t escape town or get away to a spa, it’s nice to have options for relaxing at home.  I’m sharing with you three simple formulations for easy bath treats you can whip up yourself in just a few minutes.  Check out the video, then scroll down for the ratios.

Fizzy Bath Salts

1 T. corn starch

2T. baking soda

2 T. citric acid

3 drops essential oil

Mix all together, stirring to get out clumps.  Pour into bath.

 

Bath Salts

2 T. epsom salts

2 T. coarse sea salt

3 drops essential oil

Mix all together.

 

Chamomile Oatmeal Tub Tea

2 T. dried chamomile blossoms

2 T. colloidal oatmeal (or regular oatmeal)

Mix together and place in a cloth bag or empty tea bag.  Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.  Place filled bag into pot.  Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 20 minutes.  Dump into bath water, being careful to adjust water temperature to allow for the temperature of the tea.  Discard contents of bag (if using cloth) after bath.

Which one of these sounds the best to you?  Comment below to let me know which treat you made and how you liked it.