New Year, New Me: Thoughts About Change

I just finished my last final exam for the semester, which means I can finally start focusing just on this incredible time of year. It’s full of so much tradition yet so much change, and it’s so exciting to get to be a part of.

There’s tradition that comes from whatever type of winter holiday you celebrate with your family, even if it’s just enjoying a new days off of work to hang out an enjoy each others’ company. Yet, there’s change just around the corner at the start of the new year. And that second part, the potential for change, really got me thinking.

Change is intensely exciting, in my opinion. It offers you the world at your fingertips, change means something beautiful is happening completely out of your control, and how wonderful is that? Good things can just happen, we don’t have to force them, and thats what change tends to mean to me.

Of course, a lot of people decide the changes they like to make around the start of a new year involve changes in lifestyle: eating, habits, exercising routines. They’re all fabulous changes, but it’s important to think them through before making any drastic changes to your routine that might have adverse effects on your body. I know some of my friends have decided to start their new lifestyles a little early this year, so I thought it would be fitting to write a bit about things to consider when completely altering your lifestyle to try out being a better version of you!

Beauty Routine Changes

As you try out new glow-up methods this year, make sure to test skincare products in smaller doses (if you can) before making an investment in an entire bottle of, say, brand new foundation. Sephora and Ulta are both usually really good about letting you try a sampler-size of a new product before you buy it. You never know how something might impact your skin, and you don’t want to end up with a lot of something that you just can’t use!

On a similar note, make sure that the changes you make to look better keep your skin and face and hair FEELING better too. Even if you’re changing the products you use, how often you use them, or what time of day you use them, keep the parts of your current routine that make you feel healthy kind of the same.

For instance, if you’re using new St. Ives moisturizers and exfoliators for your face (I highly recommend, by the way), stay consistent in how often you use each relative to your old products. Or, if you’re changing up the type of make up remover you use, make sure it’s still actually removing all the make up on your face.

Workout Routine Changes

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: workout “routines” should never really exist. I’ve discovered through lots of experimenting that truly, the best way to workout your whole body regularly is to constantly change up your routine.

On that note, if in the new year you’re making some BIG changes to your regular week of workouts, I have a few suggestions to make sure you’re taking care of your body and getting to enjoy working out. For one thing, a little bit of burn at the gym is totally normal. A little discomfort in parts of our bodies we don’t regularly use is to be expected, and probably means you’re working out the way you’re supposed to be. However, you have to make sure you don’t cross the line over from discomfort to pain. As soon as you can describe something as “hurting”, it’s time to take a break and maybe try something different.

If this does happen, make sure you pause your workout, stretch a little (Sportneer muscle rollers truly work wonders) and maybe even call it a day. The worst thing you can do for a gym injury is keep working out on that injury.

As a preventative measure against this type of thing, I also recommend taking especially new activities slow, and increasing the pace of your workout gradually. If the new year presents you with one of the first time you’re going to the gym in a while, for example, maybe start with something like jogging or running and work your way over to the weight machines. Or if you’re crazy into the gym and you’re ready to up your squat weight, just make sure you go slowly and in increments, have a spotter, and listen to your body! Again, if it ends up being too hard on your body at that time, take it slow and let yourself rest before trying it out again.

Dietary Routine Changes

Dietary changes are always fun, and often a little less intimidating that workout or beauty routine shifts. It’s a little bit more subtle, but often so much more rewarding! There’s lots of possibilities to make yourself feel and look so much better as you move through the new year.

As you move into new styles of eating, the biggest thing to remember is to ensure that you’re still getting your body all the nutrients it needs. Maybe this year, you’re looking to take down your carb intake. Completely realistic goal, but maybe don’t cut them out all together. This can put your body into a kind of shock-mode, and can lead to drastic mood swings!

Or, if you’re trying to stray away from sweets, still allow yourself to enjoy things that you crave. I’m a big supporter of the idea that cravings are your bodies way of telling you that there’s something you’re missing. Not to say constantly craving triple-chocolate cake means you NEED that cake, but that if you’re craving something a little sweet or a little salty, let yourself indulge every once in a while! These little treats will make your new lifestyle feel manageable and more realistic to maintain over a long period of time.

Lastly, if you’re trying out a total dietary change like vegetarianism or veganism, be absolutely certain that you’re still getting the nutrients and minerals your body previously found in meat or other animal products. Thorne Research has tons of great supplements that can help you stay on track with your new lifestyle while still keeping things like your iron intake at a normal level. Being aware of what your body needs will also help you figure out if this new lifestyle is something realistic for you in the long run.

Ayurveda: More Than A Mouthful

I like to believe I’m full of surprises, and consider myself to kind of be a jack of many trades: I write, I paint, I study art, I study science, I do genetics research, I’m a plant fanatic, the list goes on. I forget sometimes that interacting with people over the internet doesn’t only hide little things like that, that may otherwise come up in little day-to-day conversations, but also things about me that are obvious in my appearance…but maybe not so obvious when I’m just a person writing words online. For instance, some of you might have guessed based on my name, but I’m half Indian.

My dad grew up in New Dehli, and my mom grew up in upstate New York. It’s been cool getting to learn about things from each of them, and it’s amazing to me how seamlessly their ideals about taking care of ones body align sometimes. My mom is a yoga instructor, and my dad grew up in the country of yoga’s origin. It’s crazy cool, and has taught me a lot about ways of living that I might have never otherwise been exposed to.

Today, I want to talk a little about a practice commonly called “yoga’s sister science” : Ayurveda. While yoga is a Vedic science focused on movement and breathing, Ayurveda is a Vedic science focused on lifestyle and eating.

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda emphasizes that the way that a person looks reflects the way they take care of themselves, in a physical, mental, and spiritual sense. This reflection is referred to as one’s dosha, and it can be impacted by the same things that impact the Western world’s idea of health: sleeping patterns, eating patterns, and even the climate/environment a person live in!

When it comes to food and eating practices, Ayurveda encourages focusing on what you eat in correspondence with the seasons. Similar to the way that birds migrate in the winter to escape the cold, it’s important for humans to pay attention to what our natural rhythms are in alignment with seasonal shifts.

For instance, people classically ate foods like watermelon, berries, and cucumbers in the summer when they were in season. These foods also have a high water content, helping keep our bodies hydrated during the dry summer. In winter, on the other hand, humans would eat grains that were harvested in the fall and stored, and these grains would help keep our bodies warm.

How you eat is just as important for practicing Ayurveda as what you eat. It’s important to eat with intention, and to eat what you want because you want to eat it. Rather than eating whatever the latest diet trend tells you you’re allowed to eat, it’s important to eat things that your body can handle, and often even things you’re craving. For instance, often people who experience extreme salt cravings (myself included!) need the extra sodium to keep bodily fluids properly balanced, and to help keep mood swings to a minimum.

Why Should I Care About Ayurveda?

Ayurvedic medicine is actually one of the worlds oldest medical systems. It’s been practiced for over 3,000 years, and relies on natural methods of healing rather than artificial chemicals and drugs. And while I don’t have any qualms with the miracles of modern medicine, I think natural alternatives are always a great option, especially for people looking to treat multiple ailments or symptoms at once.

Ayurveda is based on the idea that there are three main doshas, and each one has different properties and thus target different specific health problems.

For example, the Vata dosha focuses on blood flow, and should be the center of treatment practices gearing towards blood clotting, stroke, or heart issues, as well as things that have to do with heart rate, such as anxiety.

The Pitta dosha has to do with energy and metabolism, and the one to focus on for dietary or digestive track problems. Finally, the Kapha dosha focuses on the strength of the body, and this encompasses many types of strength: immunity, physical might, weight, and even sense of stability. This dosha should be the focus of people concerned with obesity, asthma, cancer, and other autoimmune deficiency disorders.

Treatment practices in Ayurveda involve things like shifting eating habits, massage routines, and variety in forms of exercise.

How Can I Practice Ayurveda?

Practicing Ayurveda mostly involves being mindful of what, why, and how you’re eating. It’s about making sure you have balance in both your diet and your life, and allowing your body to fall into natural rhythms that nature has set for us.

Keeping this balance up is something that can be challenging, but ultimately rewarding. The way I try to do this is by actively keeping my mind, body, and conscious on the same page. I try to constantly improve my body and mind, while keeping my conscious positive to cheer the other two on in their journeys!

It might sound kind of flighty, but I promise it’s a wonderful practice, especially in parallel with meditation and yoga. If it seems a little crazy and out-there right now, I would recommend checking out online guides about practicing Ayurveda regularly (there’s a ton out there too, and they explain the entire concept even more in-depth than I have!) as well as brands like Banyan Botanicals, who’s company practices and ideals are based in Ayurveda itself.

Holidays, Herbs and Health

December is finally here ladies and gents! And we all know what that means – its completely and totally the holiday season. The wait is over- cinnamon everywhere, red and green everything, GLITTER, and lots of joy and love and giving!

Something I love particularly about the holidays – no matter which ones you celebrate – are the interesting flavors that surface during the holidays. A huge variety of spices and herbs get their chance in the spotlight this time of year, and this once-a-year chance shouldn’t stop at the dinner table.

Rockin’ Rosemary

Herbs have a variety of uses, and the best part of about them is that they can be grown easily in your home. Rosemary, for instance, is nearly indestructible as far as plants go. It’s small, woody, and will stay happy as long as you water it at least once every two weeks.

It’s also insanely good for you in a variety of forms. Cooked into foods, it provides you with more than 16% of your recommended daily intake fo vitamin A, which helps keep your skin tight and your eyes keen. It also contains iron and potassium, which helps bring oxygen to your muscles and control blood pressure spikes.

On a related note, rosemary’s ability to help with blood circulation can help aid in hair growth when applied topically. Massaging Gemmotherapy rosemary oil into your hair after washing it can help stimulate your hair follicles, while simultaneously protecting your scalp from potential dryness and infection.

Boppin’ Basil

Basil is another plant that, once you get it growing in your home garden, it just won’t quit! Basil plants can be tricky to transfer into a larger pot and keep happy, but once they become acquainted with their new home, they’ll grow like crazy!

Basil is also a fabulous supplemental herb, taken orally or applied topically. When ingested, basil is an anti-inflammatory agent, contains lots of antioxidants, and is a natural adaptogen. An adaptogen helps our bodies deal with stress, and basil has been shown to have properties that allow our bodies to more readily adapt to the world around us. And, we all know the holidays never lack in the amount of stress they bring, so this is an especially fitting herb for this time of year!

Basil is also super useful for fixing problems like itchy, dry skin. This tends to come up after washing lots of dishes or produce, which is another frequent happening in the kitchen around this time of year. And we all know theres almost no avoiding cuts and burns at least once between holiday meal preparations. Herb Pharm basil essential oil can help ease the pain of all of these too when a few drops are applied to the irritated skin!

Poppin’ Parsley

Finally, parsley is another key player in the world of herbs. Another easily grown plant which will fill a kitchen with a fresh aroma, this herb can be used for so many wonderful things this holiday season.

Nutramedix parsley essential oil can not only help kill microbes that can infect open wounds, it can actually inhibit their growth. That makes it a great alternative to other antibacterial agents that are usually applied with bandages, and it comes with significantly less stinging!

Parsley is also loaded with vitamins C and K, which can help with boosting our immune systems (holiday season tends to align with flu season, sadly!) and promoting blood clotting to help heal wounds. Parsley also contains volatile oil components, which sounds bad but actually helps neutralize carcinogens!