Love Yourself

Spring represents a time of renewal. The plants around us shed their protective layers of soil and emerge radiantly and colorfully. We get rid of our puffy coats and long pants and show off our toned legs and beautiful smiles. It’s a time to emerge as your best self, filled with warmth, laughter, and cheer.

And because part of being your best self is eating whole, fresh foods that nourish you, a new excitement emerges: the introduction of in-season spring produce! Farmers markets teem with springtime greens: asparagus, snap peas, and spinach emerge in all their jade glory. Citrus fruits, radishes, and other tart yet sweet pieces act as a delicious accent to nearly any meal. The fresh opportunities are endless when spring produce comes into view.

While the natural world undergoes a period of renewal, it’s time that your diet underwent one, too. How will you introduce spring produce into your daily diet this season? Many of spring’s wonders are easily transferrable between soups, salads, sandwiches, and even healthy desserts.

We also acknowledge that with the emergence of warm weather comes the desire to be outside as much as possible – not hanging out in the kitchen cooking. That’s why we’ve put together five recipes that make the most of spring farmers market produce – without more than 15 minutes of prep time involved. All of these options are also packable, making them perfect for on-the-go meals that don’t keep you tied down to your desk, home, or kitchen.

Wrap up one of these recipes this week in a Tupperware, head out the door, and enjoy the spring weather! We know you deserve it.

  1. Blueberry Almond Butter Smoothie from Minimalist Baker
  2. Chickpea Salad Wraps with Avocado Dill Sauce from Love and Lemons
  3. Strawberry Bread from Two Peas and their Pod
  4. Spring Vegetable Flatbread by Bev Cooks
  5. Simple Goat Cheese and Egg Toasts with Peas and Dill from Cookie and Kate

Which recipe did you try this week? We’d love to hear how it went!

You’ve made it to step one: you’ve found a way to fit a few workout sessions into your week, and you’re already feeling like you’re on top of the world. Whether you’re practicing yoga, sweating it out in spin class, jogging a few days a week, or incorporating weight-lifting into your routine, exercise has improved your physical and mental wellbeing and simply makes you feel good.

Perhaps you’ve seen your body change a bit after altering your routine; you may feel stronger, faster, leaner, or mentally clearer. If you want to maximize those benefits, it’s time to add another little something to your healthy day: eating whole, nutritious foods.

Eating the right foods before and after a workout can help you maximize the benefits of your new exercise routine. While many fitness sites will tout the pros of protein powders and supplements (which can be great for you!), we prefer to start with a natural, real foods route. Depending on the type of exercise you’re doing, different meals made of whole grains, protein, or a mix of both can help maximize your exercise gains.

First up: rich carbohydrates. If you’re a runner, eating a meal rich in energy-sustaining carbohydrates (not the fast-acting kind you’ll find in white bread or donuts) is key to sustaining energy throughout your workout. Try oatmeal a few hours before your jog for a fiber-rich meal that sustains your energy throughout your entire run. Nutrient-rich leafy green carbs – like spinach, kale, or arugula – help replenish vitamins and minerals after a tough workout, while a banana can replace the electrolytes and potassium you’ve lost through sweating.

healthy-oatmeal-carbs-protein

Post-workout, protein-rich foods tend to be the way to go. In order to see the muscle gains you’re hoping for, adding protein is necessary to help your muscles repair themselves and build up. Protein is also a key building block to ready your body for the workout ahead. Pop some nuts after your workout to quickly increase your protein intake and aid in muscle replenishment. Protein-rich foods that are also full of omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and lessen muscle soreness. Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein that also contains probiotics, which can help your food digest more effectively.

If you’ve had a particularly rigorous workout, combining whole grain carbohydrates and high protein foods is the perfect way to replenish your muscles, ease soreness, and maximize your strength and endurance gains. Top Greek yogurt with oatmeal-based granola to balance carbs and protein. Bake up some cod with a side of sautéed greens, asparagus, or your other favorite veggie. Add peanut butter to celery and crunch away. Fry a quick egg and place on top of a half english muffin. The options are endless!

All in all, when you incorporate whole foods into your diet, you’re replenishing the nutrients lost during your workout while maximizing the benefits you can enjoy from working your body. It’s truly a win-win!

Whether you’re an avid runner or you’re just getting started in the running game, you’re probably aware that this type of exercise is great for both your physical and mental health. Not only do you need no equipment to fit in a run (except some running shoes, of course), you can also incorporate a run no matter where you are or what season you’re dealing with. Even if it’s snowing, raining, hailing, or just plain cold, the treadmill is always an option.

With spring around the corner up here on the east coast, it’s nearly time for outdoor workouts to come into effect. If you’re anything like us, you can’t wait to feel the wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and the crisp, natural air in your lungs as you survey your favorite running routes.

However, any workout is only as effective as the days on which you change it up. While running your classic daily three miles at the same pace can feel great (and there’s definitely room for this), it’s also important to change your daily workouts to maximize effectiveness. Without incorporating different workouts, it’s difficult to truly improve.

So how can you change up your routine to maximize your workouts while still fitting in a good run?

  1. Work your speed. If you’re typically a one-pace runner, fitting in some speed work is essential to bettering your skills. Working on your speed once a week will make you a faster runner in the long haul, helping you beat your best times, maximize calorie burn, and build leg muscle. To fit in speed work outdoors, choose a marker (say, your neighbor’s house) and sprint a particular distance, then jog the next few houses. You can also head over to your local track and choose sprinting distances that way. The treadmill makes it even easier to fit in speed work by increasing your speed slightly for a set amount of time on the machine.
  2. Go the distance. Push yourself to go a little further each time you run as the best way to build your endurance. The long run is all about keeping a consistent heart rate, so you’ll want to build up your mileage slowly. If you’re a one-mile-and-done runner, add a few minutes of slow jogging at the beginning and end this week. No matter how long you typically run for, aim to add 1-2 minutes of running to your routine each week. This will slowly help you build up your endurance to go the distance.
  3. Work in intervals. High-intensity interval training is a super effective way to get your heart pumping, build muscle, and torch serious calories. This type of workout incorporates intervals of your highest intensity alternating with intervals of rest. To do this outdoors, pick a hill and sprint up it, then slowly jog down (and break at the bottom of you need to). If you’re indoors, time yourself sprinting for 30 seconds at a time (as hard as you can go), or increase the treadmill incline to as high as you can make it without needing to stop, then alternate with a slow jog for 30-seconds.
  4. Prioritize a slow jog. Every body needs recovery time, and the slow jog is perfect for that. While it may feel like you aren’t pushing yourself, this type of run is essential to letting your muscles recover after a week of hard training. The key to keeping this a recovery run is to make sure your heart rate stays low. Recovery runs also give you a chance to check in with your body: how do your muscles feel? Are your feet sore? Are you struggling to get through this run? If so, you may be overtraining or prone for an injury. Use slow jogs to check in and ensure you stay on track with no snafus in sight.

What’s your favorite kind of running workout? How do you make sure you’re constantly improving?

Have a bad day? It happens to the best of us. No matter how much you try to put it into perspective (“there are so many people out there who have it so much worse!”), sometimes you just can’t help feeling down. Perhaps you had a particularly tough commute. Maybe you slept through your alarm and didn’t have time to stop for coffee. Perhaps you got a snide email from a friend. No matter how small the trigger may seem, sometimes you just feel down.

And that’s okay! After all, we’re human.

When you do have a seemingly unbreakable case of the bummers, you may have a few strategies you try to improve your mood. If not, or if you want to try something new, not to fret – we have a few ideas up our sleeves for helping you go from down in the dumps to high in the clouds.

  1. Smile. No matter how down you might feel, think joyful thoughts. What makes you smile on a regular basis? Perhaps its your kids or your significant other, a best friend, or even a character in your favorite television show. No matter who does it, envision that they’re there with you, and try to form a real, actual smile! Studies show that even feigning a smile can boost your mood.
  2. Move. Head to the gym, go for a jog, or even just jump around your living room. It turns out that physical activity isn’t only good for your body, it’s also good for the soul. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, a feel-good chemical that can help quell feelings of sadness or anxiety.
  3. Give to others. Doing something nice for another person – even just holding the door open or paying for someone’s coffee behind you in line – can get you in a better mood. It takes you out of your own head (and therefore your problems) and into a mode of compassion and empathy.
  4. Grab a quick hug. Physical touch with friends, family, or loved ones can decrease stress and improve your overall mood enormously. If your significant other or a close friend is around, try cuddling. If that won’t do, a hug might work. Even cuddling with or petting your dog or cat can help! And if you’re on your own, giving yourself a quick back or neck rub can actually work wonders for your mood.
  5. Get organized. Doesn’t it nearly always feel good when you’ve finished cleaning a room? Embrace that feeling and use your bad mood to compel you to organize. Doing a mindless task like laundry or washing dishes can offer just the distraction you need to relieve sad times. Getting organized will also instill you with a sense of accomplishment and poise, a guaranteed mood booster!
  6. Enjoy the great outdoors. There’s nothing like some wonderful sunshine to brighten even the lowest of spirits. If you’re feeling a bit down, head outside. Vitamin D from the sun can make you feel chipper, as can the beauty of the trees or the popping hue of freshly budding flowers. The wind in your hair and natural surroundings can also make you feel like you’re a part of a bigger, more meaningful world – increasing your sense of purpose, confidence, and happiness.

How do you improve your mood when you’re feeling down? We’d love to hear your best quick strategies!

Take a look at those beautiful meals above. How fresh do they look? How crisp, clean, delicious, and hearty? We’re drooling just looking at them!

All of these recipes are filled with in-season, scrumptious spring produce. This time of year is always exciting: the weather gets a bit warmer, the daylight gets longer, and floral dresses come out of the closet to coincide with the beautiful flowers budding out of the ground. And on top of all that, our fruits and veggies change over!

Winter veggies are scrumptiously hearty – sweet potatoes, squash, Brussels sprouts, blood oranges, and parsnips grace the farmers market and keep us full and warm all year long. Whether you roast them or bake them, winter produce keeps you happy when the weather is cold.

As the weather gets warmer, however, this produce transitions from hearty and heavy to crisp and light. And we love it! Perfect for salads, curries, tacos, and even light soups, spring produce absolutely shines in our recipe palette.

Greens like arugula, kale, and spinach grace our plates with ease and offer a tasty base for all other fruits and veggies. Radishes are crunchy, sour, and sweet. Asparagus, broccoli, peas, and other green veggies offer high levels of nutrition and beauty to your plate. Fruit like strawberries, clementines, pears, and kumquats give us the sweetness we’ve craved all winter long while filling us up with immunity-boosting vitamin C.

With all the healthy benefits and delicious, crisp taste, we couldn’t be more excited for spring produce to come in full bloom. And when it starts to hit the farmers market shelves, be ever ready with the recipes below – which are filled with the stuff!

  1. Spring Cleaning Detox Salad
  2. Spring Pea Risotto
  3. Kale, Clementine, and Feta Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing
  4. Fresh Spring Rolls
  5. Thai Green Curry with Spring Vegetables

What are your favorite ways to use spring produce? Let us know your best recipes in the comments below!

What goals do you have this week to ensure you’re living a healthy lifestyle? Perhaps you want to pencil in a few runs this week. Maybe you indulged a bit too heavily on the sweets last weekend and you want to prioritize fruits and veggies. Possibly you’d like to spend more time with loved ones, laugh more, or get a few extra hours of sleep.

No matter what your priorities are, we all know that treating our bodies well is key to a long, successful, happy life. In that vein, there’s one activity that we’d like you to try on for size this week: strength training.

It’s easy to get into the same fitness routine week in and week out. Your daily run, yoga class, or cycling routine offers solace within a typically hectic life. However, throwing something new in there every once in a while is key to hitting your fitness goals; your body gets used to your routine and therefore doesn’t enjoy the same benefits as it once did from those same exercises. But lifting weights (or your bodyweight) is intensely beneficial in more ways than one.

If you’ve never picked up a barbell before, don’t fret. Any new fitness routine is a tad intimidating before you try it. Starting off with some smaller weights, particularly in your own home, can get you on the right path to success. Dumbbell-free exercises – like push-ups, burpees, and squats – can also do the trick… no equipment required.

So why exactly should you incorporate strength training into your routine?

  1. It helps prevent your body from injury. If you’ve avoided lifting weights because you thought you’d hurt yourself, think again. Strength training can actually lessen your chances of injury, as it adds strength to not only your muscles, but your ligaments, tendons, and bones. As you age, adding strength training to your life can also slow the decline of muscle and bone density. This leads to a lower risk of fractures, torn ligaments, pulled muscles – you name it!
  2. It increases your average metabolic rate, or the rate at which you burn calories during normal daily activities (walking to work, sitting at your desk, grocery shopping, etc.). When you have more muscles in your body, your metabolic rate increases. Lifting weights, therefore, has benefits far beyond the gym itself – that calorie-burning sensation lasts all day!
  3. It offers a better night’s sleep. While incorporating exercise in your day generally helps you sleep longer and deeper, studies show that adding some strength exercises can truly help you get those zzz’s you crave. Some studies even indicate that it can help with sleep apnea and insomnia.
  4. It improves your balance and coordination. It turns out that building muscle can help with more than just strength – it also builds flexibility and balance. Whether you’re chasing your kids around, heading to a barre class, or going shopping, having some additional muscle on your body will keep you coordinated, poised, and able to conquer any and all tasks that lay before you.
  5. It’s beneficial for your brain. Looking to perform more efficiently at work? Hoping to help your teens with their homework? Add some strength training to your day – seriously! Multiple studies have shown that lifting weights is beneficial for your brain and promotes better cognitive function. Blow away your competition at the weight rack – and in an IQ test!

And we haven’t even mentioned: strength training builds muscle, which makes you look stronger, leaner, and more fit overall! It’s a win-win… in so many ways.

The alarm clock starts blaring. It’s 6:45am and the sun is just barely shining through your shades. It’s time to get out of bed, start that hectic morning routine, and get out the door in a short, rapid-paced time frame.

What’s the first thing you do? Perhaps you reach for your phone to do a quick check of email, social media, and your texts and calls. You see an email from your boss, a text from your partner with a list of to-do’s, and a few social notifications. You hop out of bed frazzled and stressed, your mind racing with what you need to do during the day ahead.

Sound familiar? Mornings are hectic for many of us. Between getting ourselves ready and for some, also making sure our kids prepared for the day, it’s easy to get stuck in a pattern of throwing a piece of toast in the toaster, grabbing a quick outfit, and running out the door.

But what if you decided to be intentional with your mornings? Inevitably, how you spend your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day (and week, and month, and year!). If you get out of bed stressed and frazzled, chances are you’ll take that feeling with you throughout your day. With the negative health effects stress can pose (both mentally and physically), perhaps it’s time to rethink your mornings.

How do you start?

  1. Wake up with intention and gratefulness. Grab a notebook and take a few minutes to write down those things you’re grateful for from the day before. While you’re at it, set a few key goals for the day ahead. They don’t need to be “to-do” related, like getting to the gym or pitching a new idea at work; they can focus on being kinder to others, believing in yourself, or having a meaningful conversation with a friend.
  2. Make some headspace. When you wake up, hop out of bed (only to the floor next to it – not even very far!) and make a few minutes for meditation, yoga, or stretching. Feeling at one with your body and mind as the day begins sets you up for stress-free success.
  3. Enjoy a healthy breakfast and some tea. As your mom always said, eating a healthy breakfast is key to kick-starting your metabolism and beginning your day right. There’s truth to that adage! Instead of grabbing a granola bar, take a few minutes to fry up an egg, prepare some chia-infused granola, or put together a nice yogurt-and-fruit bowl. Your body will thank you, and the time it takes to create and eat your meal are great for thinking through step one above.
  4. Listen to music and relish getting ready. If putting on an outfit and your makeup is typically a rushed endeavor for you, try slowing down. Take your time in choosing a stylish outfit that makes you feel great; enjoy the process of putting on lotion, makeup, and hair product. You’ll go into the day feeling confident and energized.
  5. Read the newspaper or a book. How often do you get the time to sit down and read printed books or other texts? In our digital world, chances are not often enough. Take fifteen minutes in the morning to read a book you’ve been meaning to get through or to catch up on the day’s events with your local paper. Setting time away from your phone and taking advantage of the beauty in print is guaranteed to start your day on the right foot.

By starting your day with one or more of these steps, you allow yourself a chance to think deeply and choose how to set the tone for your day, rather than letting outside forces (other people, your phone, etc.) dictate your day ahead. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the new, no-stress you!

Chances are there are one or two things that stress you out during the day. Perhaps it’s your job, maybe its shuffling the kids from swim practice to a soccer game, or possibly you’ve taken on a tad too many hours of consulting or volunteer work. No matter what the situation, stress comes in and out of our lives more frequently than we’d like it to.

Coming home to a messy, stressful home, therefore, probably isn’t on your wish list for the end of a long day. Your home should ideally be far from a stressful spot; it should be your sanctuary, a wonderful place to breathe and reflect.

Not all of us have a perfectly zen home to come back to, but there’s one way you can get closer to that place of refuge: de-clutter. Taking unnecessary stuff out of your home – off counters, out of drawers, away from sight – can clear both your space and mind from clutter. And it turns out it’s pretty easy to start!

  1. Start small. It can feel overwhelming to try and tackle your whole home, removing all that stuff that seems to endlessly accumulate. So be sure to start in one room, on one table, or in one set of drawers. Starting small will help you accomplish one area – giving you all the confidence you need to move throughout your home!
  2. Be critical. As you’re getting rid of all that excess stuff, it can be tempting to keep an item for many reasons: nostalgia, uncertainty about the future, or comfort. It happens to all of us! As you clean out your home, look at items with a critical eye. Do you really need it? If not, recycle, dispose, or donate.
  3. Stop a lifestyle of procrastination. One reason you may accumulate clutter is due to small acts of procrastination; you know you should go through and open your mail, but you haven’t had the few minutes you need. You recognize that your space would be so much clearer if you put your laundry way, but lounging feels so right. Take care of de-cluttering your space as you go through your week; that way it will never have a chance to accumulate! Plus, it will feel less daunting if you tackle small tasks one at a time rather than putting them together into one large cleanup.
  4. Follow the “one in, one out” rule. The next time you go shopping – whether for food, clothing, or other items – follow this rule to a tee. If you buy a new sweater, promise to get rid of one you haven’t worn in a few years. If you’re out shopping for produce, be sure not to buy five apples if you already have four at home (unless you’ll eat them all quickly – then more power to you!). Shopping mindfully and clearing out your stuff in the process will eventually lead to a clutter-free space.
  5. Forget perfection. As you scroll through lifestyle magazines, Pinterest, and Instagram, it can be easy to start comparing your home to the gorgeous idealistic ones shown on these pages. But perfection isn’t realistic – life isn’t perfect! Don’t get down because your house isn’t insistently clutter-free; use that feeling as a way to constantly improve your life, de-cluttering both your space and your mind. Chances are your less-than-perfect living room is a comfortable, relaxing, perfect space for you and your family to laugh and enjoy each other’s company.

How do you clear out clutter in your home? Does a clutter-free home help you de-stress? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Are you resolving to better your eating habits this year? If so, you certainly aren’t alone. The New Year is a perfect time to take stock of what you’ve been digesting over the past year or so, create some concrete goals, and move into 2017 fresh.

We aren’t talking dieting here: perhaps you want to eat more fruits and vegetables (always good!); maybe you want to be more intentional at the dinner table and enjoy every bite; perhaps you want to ingest more protein to build more muscle; or maybe you want to absorb more omega-3’s for healthy skin and hair. Your eating goals should always reflect your individual priorities, and how your body and mind feel after eating certain things.

That being said, there’s one strategy we’ve found that practically guarantees healthier eating: Sunday night meal prep! How many times have you come home from a long workday during the week and felt too tired to cook up a nutritious meal? It happens to the best of us, and when it does, you end up eating salty take-out, a flash-frozen dinner from the freezer, or a mishmash of crackers, cookies, and the cereal that you find in your pantry. Not exactly ideal for healthy living!

When you prepare many of your weeknight meals ahead of time, however, you’re guaranteed to have at least a couple meals during the week ready for when you get home from a busy day. Simply throw your pre-made meal in the microwave or oven, warm it up, and there you have it: instant healthy, delicious dinner. This practice also helps you bring your lunch to work more often, saving money on expensive cafes and take-out mid-day when your stomach starts rumbling.

One way to do put this strategy into action is to make a family dinner on Sunday evenings and cook enough food so that there are leftovers you can eat for lunch at the beginning of the following week. You can also prep by multi-tasking: as you’re cooking a meal on Sunday for dinner, chop double the onions, throw another pot on the stove, and make a whole separate meal for the rest of the week. Store in Tupperware and enjoy come Monday!

How can you start implementing this practice? We’ve put together some fun, nutritious, scrumptious recipes that are easy to make in big batches on Sunday evening. With simple, customizable ingredients and a few spices, these recipes practically guarantee you’ll love each meal of the week, even if they were prepared a few days prior!

Try out a couple this month and let us know how it goes. We look forward to hearing about a healthier, happier you come February.

  1. Sweet Potato Chili from Cookie + Kate
  2. Chickpea Tomato Minestrone from Vegetarian Ventures
  3. Scrambled Egg Muffins from Fannetastic Food
  4. Orzo with Butternut Squash, Spinach, and Blue Cheese from the Kitchn
  5. Roasted Chickpea Taco Salad from Two Peas and their Pod

We hear you: budgets are difficult to stick to – kind of like New Year’s resolutions. Many people start the year with great intentions and a commitment to their goals and end up falling off the bandwagon a few months in. But we know our Earth community, and we know you’re stronger than that! This is the year that you conquer your greatest achievements.

Through our research, we also know a little reason why so many goals don’t get accomplished: they aren’t realistic in the first place. Setting out to lose 30 pounds in a month is intensely difficult and devastating. While we certainly admire this enthusiasm, we’ve also come to recognize that one primary ingredient to setting resolutions and sticking to them is making sure they’re realistic.

Now how can you accomplish his with budgeting? Creating a budget can help you save for your emergency fund, pay off debt, or store away a little extra money for a vacation you’ve been dying to take (and deserve!). Budgeting (the right way) ensures you stick to your goals through and through, as you know exactly where your money is going, how you want to spend it, and what you’re striving for with that pot of gold.

Step one to a successful budget: take the time to fully understand your finances. Download last year’s spending and earnings using an app like Mint or Wally, or simply log into your bank account online and download an Excel document. Take a few hours to understand how much you took home, spent, and saved. Categorize by merchant or category (restaurants, clothing, insurance, mortgage), and dig in deep to really get to know your spending habits.

From there, take your necessary expenses (your home, food, insurance, debt, medical costs, taxes, etc.) and separate them out to start creating your budget. Now comes the important part: add in some wiggle room for surprises. It may seem counterintuitive to add unknown costs to your fixed monthly/yearly budget, but it’s more than necessary. Each month, something is going to come up: your car gets a flat tire. The sole on your favorite boot rips and you need to buy new ones. You leave your rain coat at your daughter’s soccer game. There’s a pair of pants on sale that you’ve been eyeing for months. Things happen; this is the year we plan for them!

Now that your necessities and emergencies are settled, divide up the rest among your other yearly priorities (travel, date nights, etc.). Then compare to last year’s spending and see if the budget you’ve made is realistic. If you spent $5,000 on travel last year, and only have enough room in your current budget for $1,000, perhaps you’ll need to cut another category (lunches out with coworkers, brand name toiletries). Of course, it’s very important to be realistic here: vow to cut out those expenses that you can cut out. For instance, if you need coffee to survive in the morning, don’t vow to never buy a cup on your way to work this year (what if you run out at home? Catastrophe!). Cut out the stuff you truly don’t need, keep the expenditures that help you live your best life (without overindulging, of course), and be realistic about the expectations you set for yourself.

Ensuring realism the entire way through your budget is a recipe for guaranteed success this year. Throughout 2017, take a step back, evaluate your progress, and reassess how far your budget is taking you toward your goals. If something isn’t working, readjust! Try reverse budgeting – take the amount you want to save out of your paycheck as soon as it comes in, then split up the rest among remaining expenses.

Remember – budgeting and sticking to financial goals has to work for you. Challenge yourself this year, but be realistic in your goal-setting. We practically guarantee success!