Friday Morning Iced Coffee Date (1/6)

Hey, hey! How was your first week of 2017? I hope it was wonderful and amazing and everything you wished it to be! 🙂

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for our weekly (iced) coffee date. I have quite the mix of stuff to tell you about this week, everything from what I’m loving lately to some (blah) anxiety stuff that I’m experiencing and, of course, plenty of randomness thrown in because, hey, that’s how I roll. Ok, guys, here we go!

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What I’m loving lately: Our recent trip to the Boston Children’s Museum! I can’t believe we never visited before. What an AWESOME place. Seriously, I want to take Qman there all the time now. He absolutely loved it, especially the construction room on the third floor. The only drawback about our visit: parking. Holy cow, it was expensive. Any tips for affordably parking around there?

Boston Children's Museum

Another family favorite right now: Dance parties before bed. We turn off the light in Quinn’s bedroom, break out his constellation nightlight, Mal plays music on his phone, and we all dance (and run) around the room. Some of us even take off our shirts! It’s ridiculous, and I love every minute of it. You’d think a dance party would be the worst way to get a toddler to wind down at night, but I think Qman likes running/dancing out the last of his energy for the day because he always goes right to sleep.

Speaking of winding down at night… I recently went through a stretch of semi-sleepless nights. I’ve had so much on my mind lately with regard to work, it’s hard for me to shut off my brain come bedtime. Ugh, it’s a constant struggle. I actually slept pretty well a few nights this week, so I’m hoping things are turning around.

I actually receive questions from readers quite a lot about sleep/anxiety issues, so I wanted to share some of my tried-and-true strategies and a couple of the new things that I’m trying to manage my stress levels and help me sleep better at night. If you’re new to CNC, here are a few posts I’ve written on the topic:

Ok, so my no-fail tricks that help me sleep better:

  • The “waterfall metaphor” from 10% Happier (aka “the book that changed my life”) is definitely my go-to and almost always works for me. I basically force myself to shut off my brain. I picture myself behind a waterfall and ONLY focus on the water rushing down in front of me. My mind will occasionally wander off, but I always bring it back to that rushing waterfall. Related: Mal and I have started listening to “Thundering Rainstorm by Joe Baker” (typing that actually made me smile because I ask Alexa to play it every night), which also helps me focus on the waterfall.
  • I wear earplugs at night. I started using them when Mal had a cold and was snoring up a storm, but now I use them every night. It’s almost like they’re a signal to my brain that it’s time to sleep. Wearing them also reminds me of being under water and that quiet calm is so peaceful.

Here are a couple of new things that I’m trying, both of which are related to magnesium deficiency. Anxiety and sleepless nights can often be related to a lack of magnesium, especially if you’re a coffee drinker and exercise, like I do.

  • I use this body lotion just about everyday. You apply it just like regular lotion, and it smells like coconut! 🙂
  • I also started using Natural Calm (after my new massage therapist recommended it). I bought the raspberry-lemon flavor and use it in my water as a way to get some extra magnesium in my diet.

I’ve only used these supplements for a couple of months now and, truthfully, I probably need to be a bit more consistent with them, but I have definitely noticed a difference with my overall anxiety levels. It’s not a huge difference, but I feel more even–keeled during the day, especially when stressful situations pop up. It just seems like I can handle them better lately. Also related: I absolutely believe that hormones affect my anxiety/stress levels, so I’m trying to figure that out, too. Right now, I’m just paying special attention to how I feel at certain times of the month and trying to make some connections.

Also related: I recently listened to a really interesting episode of Balanced Bites. Liz interviewed Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt about their new book, The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook: A DIY Guide to Living Well with Chronic Illness, and, at one point during their conversation, Mickey talked about the connection between nature and the immune system. She actually found a study that showed being in nature, even if you go for a weekend camping trip, your immune system is modulated for the full month after you come back into real life. A full month! After I heard that, I vowed to take Murphy on an epic walk (like we used to do!) at least once a week. We both need it.

Ok, let’s switch directions. That was a lot of serious stuff…

I’m also loving Westworld on HBO. It’s a TV series about a futuristic Western-themed park, which is run by lifelike robots that allows guests to live out their fantasies. Truthfully, when Mal first suggested it to me, I kind of rolled my eyes at him. Robots? Uh, they’re not usually my cup of tea. He actually had already watched the first episode and really thought I would like it, so I gave it a fair chance. Well, I was immediately sucked in, and now I want to watch it all the time. If you’re looking for a new TV series, definitely check out Westworld!

Remember my Oatmeal Minus the Oats recipe? An oldie, but goodie for sure! Well, I finally came up with an awesome microwave version, which simplifies both the prep and clean up. Cleaning the pot was such a PIA! New and improved recipe below!

oatmeal_minus_the_oats_protein_snack

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium banana, mashed inside peel
  • 1/4 cup liquid egg whites
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 scoop (~15g or 1/8 cup) protein powder (I used SFH)
  • 1 tbsp ground flax (I used a flax hemp blend)
  • optional: chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, nut butter, etc.

DIRECTIONS: Combine ingredients in microwave-safe bowl (take banana out of peel) and then nuke for 90 seconds. Remove from microwave, stir, and eat!

Makes 1 serving 

Mal has a Houzz obsession and sent me this link the other day: Your Clutter-Clearing Plan for the New Year. I love that it gives you a month-by-month plan. We’re definitely going to do it this year to get ourselves organized. Just wanted to pass it along in case you wanted to do the same!

Guys, I’m obsessed with these Lemon Hemp Chocolate Clusters. The nice people from Theo Chocolate sent them to me to try and, wow, they are delicious. And, bonus, they’re good for you! They’re made from crispy quinoa, toasted coconut, cocoa flavanols, hemp seeds, lemon essential oil, and 60% dark chocolate. How’s that for an all-star cast?! You definitely want these babies in your life!

IMG_8424

And, finally, just wanted to give a shout-out to my friend Gina’s Post Baby Bod Fitness Plan! I know she’s put a ton of hard work into it, and I am so excited that it’s finally here! There’s even an advanced version! If you’re an expecting mama, or if you just had a baby, be sure to check it out!!

Questions of the Day

How’s life? What’s new? 

How do you deal with stress/anxiety?

What are you loving lately?

46 Comments

  1. I can’t wait until our son is old enough to make the children’s museum worth it! We live just outside of Boston and he is 13 months, hopefully soon we can take him!

    1. I work for a family who has a membership for the children’s museum which is totally worth it especially if you live so close. We go all thr time. There is a room on the second floor called the playspace for kids 3 and under, which from my experience you can spend a whole visit in. It’s clean and they closely monitor to make sure it’s a space for the little kids.

  2. You are not alone with the sleepless nights – I know a handful of people (myself included) for whom this has been an issue over the last few weeks. Something is in the air!

  3. No judgments, but how do you hear if Quinn needs you at night if you’re wearing earplugs? Perhaps Malnis on night toddler watch? Again, I’m not judging, just curious!

    1. Sorry for the double post! I got an error message the first time around! So curious about the earplugs and toddler query. I need some but worry I won’t hear the baby cry! 🙂

      1. @Tina: I sleep with one earplug in. I sleep on my side, so it works. One ear is pressed against the pillow and the other has the earplug. This way I can adequately hear any baby/kid noises over the monitor and anything too weird that I would want to wake me up… works great for me!

  4. Anxiety and work stress is big for me too especially this time of year when I have an increase in clients. I try to do things that help but like you am not consistent. Honestly, I think I just need to be better about setting hours so I’m not working so late at night and all the time!

  5. I’ve been wanting to check out the Boston Children’s Museum for some time now but I’m afraid we’ll go when it’s super busy – any suggestions on the best time to go?
    Also, what kind of ear plugs do you use? My husband snores on occasion so I would use ear plugs but they started hurting my ears and I’d end up taking them out during the night – now I just go to our guest room if the snoring is too much 🙁

    Right now I’m loving TJ’s unsweetened oatmeal packets! I top them with TJ’s frozen blueberries and strawberries and a dash of cinnamon! So tasty!

  6. I’ve dealt with anxiety/depression for…ever? Anyway, I tend to be a stress eater, which is not good! I’ve been working on getting back into a mindfulness practice, which helps. Lately my sleep is a lot better because I’ve been using an app called Calm. There’s a relaxing meditation for sleep that totally zonks me out!

    Ps: we both loved Westworld!

  7. Take the commuter rail to south station (your son will love it) with a portable stroller and just getting to the Children’s Museum is an event. Consider purchasing a membership to the museum. Worked great when our kids were little and didn’t freak out if we only spent an hour or so. Also check with local libraries, many have free passes for Boston museums.

    I enjoy your blog and appreciate your down -to-earth style.

    Have you met Danielle from Finding Silver Pennies? She is another south shore blogger and a great person.

    Best of luck with all your ventures!

  8. Fantastic post! I love it. But can I ask a question? Which is, when I can try to eat this recipe? Point is, “waterfall metaphor” is also excellent. Already I have seen you have included exceptional and variety of topics which is really mesmerizing and helpful.

  9. Do you use a blue light blocking app on your phone and/or computer? I read it about one several months ago on a travel blog as a tip for adjusting to time changes. I swear by it now. I use the Twilight app on my phone (Android, I’m sure iPhone has one) and just installed f.lux on my laptop. I just started a blog and have been on my computer later than usual at night. I was having a hard time falling asleep, but I swear once I started filtering out the blue light on my laptop, it’s made it easier to fall asleep. If I turn the filter off, it singes my eyes and brain!

    Sorry to go on and on about it, ha. My husband makes fun of me because I keep trying to convince him to get the app.

    The museum looks amazing!! I have a 13 month old and, while I know she’d have fun now, I can’t wait until she’s a little older and can really enjoy things like that. <3

  10. I also struggle with anxiety and use earplugs every single night to sleep. They definitely help so much with blocking everything else out and allowing myself to fully relax.

    Try using some lavender essential oil or bodywash. Sometimes I will shower at night and use Dr. Bronner’s in the lavender scent to get even calmer before bed. I know a few companies make a lavender pillow spray too (I think Bath & Body Works might have one). Little rituals like these definitely help!

    My husband and I loved Westworld. It was so imaginative and really well done.

  11. My boyfriend got my hooked on Westworld too. When he was telling me about it I didn’t think I’d like it, but two episodes in and I was hooked. I finished episode 4 yesterday and I’m a little sad that there’s only 6 more to go. I hope they make another season!

  12. I took tai chi in college, and one thing the instructor said to do to clear your mind was to picture a still lake, and every time a thought came up you place it on a lily pad in the lake and watch it float away. Kind of similar to the waterfall! I also struggle with anxiety at night and have night terrors, so I started taking some natural sleep aids at night and it helps SO much, without me feeling drugged or groggy.

  13. Hi Tina – The Hanover Library has free Children’s museum passes! You can get up to 4 people in for free, so it helps lesson the blow of parking. If you wanted to make it even cheaper, take the red line or commuter rail right into South Station and you’ve got virtually a free day! The Hanover library has a ton of other passes too, they are awesome! Good luck. we love the Children’s museum too ( I have 3 little’s myself!) (note to self, ease up on the use of exclamation points…)

  14. I highly recommend the Magnesium Advocacy group on Facebook. It is a WEALTH of knowledge on all things Magnesium. There are *so many* factors that play into Magnesium deficiency, and I’ve been learning it can be quite a balancing act as Magnesium levels are closely affected by other minerals such as Potassium, Calcium and Sodium. It’s also affected by co factors that help in absorption such as B vitamins, Vit C and *Real* Vit A and minimal *real* vitamin D. Given your gut issues, I don’t doubt your imbalanced in more than just magnesium. I know you have a fantastic nutritionist you work with so I’m sure if you looked into the Group some, she could help you along the way as it’s a little overwhelming at first! I say all this as someone who personally, and who personally knows lots of women who have had a host of similar issues and then some all that have stemmed from gut issues and wonky hormones thanks to pregnancies and such. And following an in depth protocol has helped! For me I get restless leg and poor sleeping patterns as well as severe brain fog. Starting to follow the protocol more diligently (rather than taking Multi Vitamin and just Magnesium) has helped greatly just in one week. I hope you can find this info helpful and wish you the best of luck in getting your sleep/anxiety trouble resolved! Thanks for always sharing such struggles with us here on your blog as it really does help us all to be better informed on hour health!

      1. @Tina: So the short answer is: I take the Adrenal Cocktail 1-2x/day (ideally 2). It has 4oz OJ (for Vit C), 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and 1/4 tsp of sea salt. There are different variations (like with lemon water or coconut water), but the idea is to get a certain amount of Vit C, Potassium and Sodium 2x/day as this helps balance out minerals for best Magnesium balancing and absorption. I also take a few different forms of Magnesium a day in different ways: Magnesium Malate that also has some of the cofactors that help in absportion and balancing of lots of things (like B vitamins, though I’m still learning about those as my understanding is some are not digested when taken orally through a pill; Folate-not folic acid; and Vit C), I try and get Mag Cholide through a spray (or that lotion you have is great!) usually once a day but lately i’ve been only doing it every 2 or 3 days, and then Mag Sulfate I think it is, through epsom salt foot baths (or full bath) with cofactors of Boron (through Borax) and Baking Soda. Then I make sure to take a serving of a good CLO each day as well for Vit A and Dessicated Liver through capsules for good iron in small amount and some B vitamins. There are also things to *not* do. Mainly, taking things like most “regular” multi vitamins that have synthetic Vit C and D, Folic Acid, and synthetic Calcium. There’s a great picture I’ll see if I can post on your Facebook page that has all this in list form, because, yeah this was the “short” form but not really, LOL. Like I said, it sounds like a lot and overwhelming, but I’ve been following the Magnesium Group on FB for a few months now and it starts to click the more you read other peoples comments. There’s also such a wide range of people in the group as far as symptoms, medical issues, etc go and LOTS of people over all in the group to learn from, ask questions, and hear about their different experiences. It really has been great to learn more and more about how our bodies work!

        1. Thank you!! A lot of this sounds similar to what I’m doing with Nicole (Whole Health RD). Will definitely check out that group. Thanks, again!!

  15. First off, thanks for being so open — and happy new year by the way. I am finding myself in a stressful phase and it’s killing me (not literally, of course, haha). I am just trying to stay positive and accept the fact that I cannot know everything and eventually, things will fall into place. I focus on the good things, do more yoga, work out, speak to the people that always make me feel good. Actually, I am very thankful for my great boyfriend and family – that’ s what I am loving besides generally life in San Diego. Thanks for mentioning this metaphor of standing behind the waterfall and focus on that. I will try it!

  16. TINA! OMG!!! you’ve probably saved my life with this magnesium info!! i went and did some research and bought a bag of magnesium flakes to add to my lotion (this one if you’re interested, we’ll see how it goes: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00WA50GHU/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) thank you for sharing! we’ll definitely get ourselves over to the park more often as well. we live in portland and forest park is our backyard, literally. no excuses anymore! so what if it’s freezing; with all the new energy i’ll have not being magnesium deficient anymore will be well spent.

    we watched westworld after all the recommendations and loved the concept and the execution, but how do you get past all the rape and violence? even though it’s pretend, it’s pretty brutal. same as game of thrones, though somehow worse. i can’t quite decide why i feel that way. anyway, interested in your thoughts.

    xox,
    laura

  17. Man, I feel you on stress/anxiety. As a “millennial” and trying to find a life with purpose, I feel like I’m a constant ball of stress. Working out definitely helps and keeping my morning routine down. Wake up, work out, iced coffee, quiet time relaxing on my living room floor saying hello to the pets with a candle lit. Sounds silly and hippie-ish, but it sets the tone for a successful day for me. I start every morning M-F this way!

  18. Reading in is the only thing that calms me down at the end of the day. I tend to fight looking at social media, so I’ve moved my phone away from my bed. It helps!

    And I’m glad we’re not the only ones who dance party before bed. My husband plays RIDIC music for my son- literally played Thunderstruck for him the other night and it put him right to sleep!

  19. Natural Calm is where it’s at! It helps with my muscle cramps and anxiety. I have also been struggling with anxiety this winter. I like the nature advice. So true!!! Aromatherapy helps when I’m having a “moment”. I found a stress/anxiety relief ball at our local coop. I’m sure whole foods has something. Good luck!

  20. I really liked Natural Calm! It was a nice bedtime ritual while I took it. I need to incorporate back into my routine for sure! I started a new job working with kids with Autism in October. Some days are awesome and I feel like I’m having a blast, and other days I feel like I have no friggin’ clue what I’m doing. I deal with that stress by making myself get some kind of exercise. I’m fortunate enough to have a long lunch break most days, so I make sure to take my dog for a 20-30 minute walk. And CrossFit always helps!

    A few months ago I put a sign on my bathroom mirror that says “READ THIS” (so I actually read it) and it’s basically some positive things I’ll do during the day. Like saying positive things about myself, my husband, and my dog (no kids yet), give things for at least one thing from the day. It’s helpful to read it when I first wake up, and then review everything on it when I’m brushing my teeth before bed. If my day has been less than stellar, the little sign helps me to remember that life isn’t so bad and I still have plenty of good things going on.

  21. I totally get the anxiety thing! It is a for real struggle! I do not stress but I have anxiety…. Does that even make sense?

  22. Just wanted to say thanks so much for the oatmeal minus the oats recipe! I’ve been eating it every morning since I saw your recipe on instagram. It’s delicious and easy clean up!

  23. Please keep us updated on what your thoughts are regarding the hormones in relation to anxiety. I have been thinking a lot about this lately because I can tell that during certain times of the month (not sure where they are in relation to my cycle) I have less patience and am more anxious than others. I need to start tracking them on a calendar to determine where they fall. Thank you for your amazing posts!

  24. So much good stuff in this post, thanks for sharing! I always forget about Balanced Bites and to listen to the podcast. Downloading now! For the past few years (living on the west coast) I spend WAY more time in nature. I can’t imagine not doing it now!

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