Your Health Matters, Make a Change Today

Your health matters, make a change for the better today. 5 tips for making today healthier than yesterday. www.alexismathews.com

Consider the following questions.

When you look in the mirror how do you feel? What are the first thoughts that honestly and truly run through your mind? What about how you feel on the inside? How is your overall health? Have you ever thought “I wish I had more energy.”, “I wish I had the energy to run after my young children all day.”?

Or perhaps you’ve been told by your doctor that for your health and well being you need to lose some weight.

If your answers to any of the questions above leave you feeling like it is time to make a change in your eating habits, exercise routine, and overall health the time to change is NOW.

Not tomorrow, not next Monday, not the first of the month. Today, right now, immediately. There is no time to waste. You owe it to yourself and your family to change your unhealthy habits today.

Now that you’ve decided to improve your health, what does that mean and how do you begin?

5 steps to take today to reclaim your your health today:

  1. Get rid of all of the processed and junk food in your kitchen. The temptation to fall back into your unhealthy eating habits will be too strong if the unhealthy food is within arms reach. While you are at it, vow to not buy processed foods. There are limitless healthy, real food options to replace the convenience foods you use as a crutch.
  2. Establish an exercise routine that fits easily in your schedule. For some this means getting up an hour early or for others it means not plopping down on the couch after dinner. There is time in your day to exercise I promise, you just have to make it a priority and give up something else that is taking away from your health. Do your little ones still nap during the day? Grab 20-30 minutes while they sleep and do an exercise video. Perhaps you can make exercise a family event, get everyone on their bikes or in the stroller and head out for a walk/jog, now the whole family is improving their healthy not just you. Find an exercise you can tolerate in the beginning, I promise you that you will either learn to love it and crave it or you will stumble upon something else that you enjoy more. The key is to just get out there an move!
  3. Make eating healthy easy. Pre-cook and pre-plan your healthy meals. I always have at least 2-3 types of beans cooked and in our outside refrigerator. I also make sure to have cashew cream, hummus, rice, and couscous (or quinoa) in the refrigerator ready to eat. Pre-cooking staples in our diet takes the hassle and guess work out of preparing healthy meals quickly and easily for my large family.
  4. Set a daily water intake goal. Water is our lifeline. When in a survival situation you can go a lot longer without food than you can without water. Water is the number one way our body flushes toxins from our system. Just like taking a shower, drinking water helps to keep our body clean and healthy. Your daily water intake goal should be 2/3 your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weight 150 pounds, you should aim to drink 100 ounces of filtered water every day.
  5. Give yourself grace. Not everyday is going to be perfect but you shouldn’t allow yourself to continue making unhealthy lifestyle choices simply because it is easier than doing nothing. If you have a piece of candy, don’t eat more than one. If you don’t meet your water intake goal every day, give yourself grace. There is always tomorrow to build upon and grow from the lessons you learned today. Just don’t let yourself repeat the mistakes from today and fall into your old unhealthy lifestyle habits.

You owe it to yourself to make a change in your lifestyle for the better today!

What steps are you going to take today to make yourself and your life a priority?

When Your Health Hits Rock Bottom

Encouragement for when your health hits rock bottom and your are ready to make a change.

Stop for minute and consider your health and well being.

What has brought you to the point you find yourself at in life right now?

Unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle choices are most often a reflection of other challenges in our lives. We turn to comfort food and lazy choices as a crutch for our struggles. It is easier to eat fast food and sit on the couch than it is to face our problems and make positive changes.

Making changes takes energy and motivation, something we all possess when the time is right. You have to be in the right place in life though to realize that your health has to be the number one priority. You matter for not only yourself but your family, your children, and your friends. If you continue down the unhealthy lifestyle road you are currently on you won’t be around for those that matter the most in your life.

The time to change is now.

Yes it is easier to just continue living life as you have, dependent on convenience and processed foods, guzzling soda instead of water, grabbing a sugar filled mid-day pick-me-up because you are so exhausted. I agree whole heartedly a life of convenience is easier than the healthier alternative.

The question you have to ask yourself though is what is most important? Convenience or your health?

If you sit on the edge of the playground because you are too tired to play with your children at the park or you can’t get through the day without a nap, the time to change is NOW.

If you just got word that you have a new health condition, undeniably the time to change is NOW.

If you’ve been battling an auto-immune disease, go in for frequent checks of your thyroid, monitor your blood sugar, have skin issues that just won’t go away, or a whole myriad of other undesirable health conditions the time to change is NOW.

Not tomorrow, not next Monday, not the first of the month, and not when your friend is ready to make the change with you. The time to change is NOW.

Do you get what I’m trying to say here? There is truly no time to lose when it comes to your health. Every bite of unhealthy food, every guzzle of high fructose corn syrup filled drink you consume is a step in the wrong direction when it comes to your health.

No one else can make the change but you. The greasy, sugar filled convenience foods you continue to eat do not affect anyone else but you. Stuffing your face with junk because you are sad or mad or lazy doesn’t make anything in your life better. It certainly isn’t going to make you happy or more energetic. Eating junk will continue to make you feel like junk, both on the inside and the outside.

The old adage is true, you are what you eat!

So where are you today, right now? Are you ready for a change? Are you ready to put yourself and your health first?

Every addict has to hit rock bottom. No you aren’t addicted to illegal drugs but you are an addict just the same. You are addicted to the lifestyle you currently live. The time to make a change in your health is today, the time is NOW.

You can do this, you owe it to yourself first and foremost. You are worth it! Don’t fill your body with junk, you deserve better than that. You only have one body and one life to live. Make the most of each and every day. Don’t drag yourself and your life down by eating fatty sugar filled convenience foods. Build yourself up with nutrient dense fresh foods. Truly, you are worth so much more than the junk food you’ve grown accustomed to eating. 

Keep your portions in control and make healthy food and drink choices. The changes in your mood, appearance, and energy levels will astound you. You might just wonder why you didn’t make the change sooner.

The time to change is NOW!

What is the cause of your health hitting rock bottom? Why are you ready to make a change in your healthy lifestyle journey now? I’d love to hear from you!

Why I Live a Vegan Lifestyle

 

Not all vegans do it for the animals, some of us do it strictly for our health.

When I chose a vegan lifestyle I did not anticipate the number of questions I would get from strangers and new friends regarding my choice in eating habits. I honestly thought it was a simple personal decision. Yet at times I feel like I have a huge V stuck to my forehead. V for Vegan!

Why I choose to live a vegan lifestyle 

If you talk to the majority of vegans they will tell you that they live this lifestyle because of concerns they have for animals. Animal welfare is a huge movement behind the popularity of the vegan diet. However, as usual I do not fall within the majority of this movement. My family and I care for animals and their well being but their welfare has zero, zilch, nada to do with out decision to remove all animal proteins from our daily diet. Plain and simply, I am a vegan for my personal health and well being. As I’ve stated previously, I’ve never been a huge meat eater but certainly never gave it much thought as to what the red meat, lean proteins, dairy, and eggs were doing to my overall health and long-term cancer risk. I also never even considered that animal protein sources, more specifically casein, might be the cause of my overall tiredness.

When was the last time you stopped to truly and honestly consider the foods that you put in your mouth each and every day? Do you give a second thought to how these foods are affecting your body, your mood, overall health, long-term health? Or perhaps you have a chronic disease, maybe an auto-immune disease, did you know that animal proteins can be the cause of your disease?

The research is too vast and extensive to even skim the surface appropriately in this short article. Do the research yourself, don’t just take my word for it. Educate yourself about the effects that animal proteins have on your body. I would suggest starting with the two leading books in the vegan scientific community, The China Study and Whole both by T. Colin Campbell. You truly owe it to yourself and your family to research an plant based diet and the benefits it has on your longterm health. Did you know that the length of our intestines indicates we are best suited for a diet based in plants and protein sources other than from animals? This article provides a great comparative analysis of carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores.

I choose to live a vegan lifestyle for my diabetic husband.

In reading The China Study and Whole, it became very apparent from all of the scientific research Campbell presents that a vegan lifestyle could dramatically benefit my husband who lives with type-1 diabetes. Through Campbell’s research and life experiences he has seen a huge improvement in insulin dependent diabetic patients that live a vegan lifestyle. My husband is very aware of the long-term effects that his diabetes can and most likely will have on his long-term health and well being. With in 24 hours of starting to eat a vegan diet my husband noticed an effect on his insulin needs. Almost immediately he no longer needed as much insulin with each meal. Now months later he is taking 10 times less insulin per day than he was when eating a conventional diet full of animal protein sources. Not only is this a huge boost to his health but it helps our financial bottom line in that we aren’t purchasing insulin as often. It took some time for him to figure out his new insulin needs but he is so stable now that he can go without insulin for a meal if he eats clean.

Additionally, he regularly sees his blood sugar levels decrease overnight rather than increase as is the case with diabetics. This result shows that his pancreas is healing and starting to produce insulin on its own and can keep up with the fast that occurs while my husband sleeps. He feels better and has more energy than when he was 20 years younger. He is a long distance runner and regularly runs seven plus miles with 10+ mile runs once or twice a week.

I choose to live a vegan lifestyle for my health and the health of my family.

Why are you vegan? Or why aren’t your vegan?

Mountain Rose Herbs July Specials

*This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase through these links you are helping to support this blog and my efforts to educate others on a healthy lifestyle. Thank you for your support*

So fresh that smiles are guaranteed
It is no secret, Mountain Rose Herbs is my favorite place to buy organic essential oils, herbs, teas, hydrosols and much more. Their July specials have been announced and there are some great ones this month that I am excited to share with you.

Mountain Rose Herbs July Specials

Ginger Essential Oil 0.5oz $9.28 30% discount

Properties: Analgesic, antibacterial, anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aperitive, aphrodisiac, astringent, carminative, cephalic, cholagogue, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, laxative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic

Blends well with: Bergamot, cedarwood, clove, coriander, eucalyptus, frankincense, geranium, grapefruit, jasmine, juniper, lemon, lime, mandarin, neroli, orange, palmarosa, patchouli, rose, sandalwood, vetiver, ylang ylang

The Doctrine of Signatures is a system that relates the shape of a plant to a system or organ in the human body. Ginger root shows an affinity with the digestive system. This relationship shows the link between ginger root and its usefulness for digestive ailments.

Safety: mause cause skin irritation, possibly photo toxic 

Marjoram, Wild Essential Oil: 0.5oz $15.11 35% discount

Properties: Antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, decongestant, emmenagogue, expectorant, sedative

Blends well with: Basil, chamomile, clary sage, cypress, elemi, eucalyptus, frankincense, lavender, orange, rosewood, tea tree, thyme

Wild marjoram oil is not a variety of marjoram but is actually distilled from a species of wild thyme which grows in Spain.

Safety: avoid while pregnant, may cause skin irritation, not for internal use

Lemon Balm Hyrdosol 3oz $7.01 15% discount

Best known for its calming effects on mental stress and fatigue, this lovely hydrosol is also beneficial for general skin irritations, and makes a soothing addition to room and body sprays. A couple of Tablespoons added to a bath is the perfect way to end the day.
Suitable for cosmetic use.

There are numerous other items on special this month like chia seeds, olive leaf, rooibos green tea, sitting pretty balm, lip balm, and cheesecloth. All on sale at an amazing discount this month. Click the image below and you will be taken directly to all of the Mountain Rose Herb specials for this month.

Mountain Rose Herbs July 2014 Monthly Specials

 

 

Amazing Cashew Cream

Cashew Cream Vegan Gluten Free

It is not an understatement when I say that discovering cashew cream revolutionized my vegan kitchen and opened up a world of tastes and textures in our vegan lifestyle.

What is even more amazing beyond the taste is the simplicity of the recipe and the ease with which cashew cram is made.

I always have a large container of cashew cream made up in my refrigerator ready to enjoy and add to dishes. Our favorite dishes to add cashew cream to are vegan tacos, baked potato slices, cream inspired soups, and so much more. Basically anywhere we want a creamy taste or texture is fair game for a dollop or two of this protein and vitamin packed creamy cashew goodness.

Cashew cream is used to replace cheese, sour cream, and cream in vegan recipes.

The health benefits of cashews include the following:

  • Unsaturated fats; proven to be beneficial to lowering cholesterol and improving heart health
  • Excellent source of copper which is necessary for numerous functions in your body
  • Good source of Vitamins K, B and E
  • Add fiber and protein to your diet
  • Beneficial in controlling blood sugar which is helpful if you are a diabetic or borderline diabetic
  • Contain antioxidants which act as anti-cancer agents

So what are you waiting for? Go grab a pound or more of raw cashews and start your first batch of this amazing, creamy, versatile cashew cream.

Amazing Cashew Cream

2 cups raw cashews
8 cups water

Cover cashews with water overnight in a large bowl. If you are in a hurry use boiling water to soak cashews. If using hot water your soak time is reduced to 2-4 hours versus overnight.

Drain cashews. Place cashews in a high speed blender, I love using my Vita-Mix for this recipe. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of water with cashews in the blender. Blend until smooth and thick like sour cream. Add more water as necessary to facilitate proper blending and cream texture.

While cashew cream is amazing in its original state, there are a few taste modifications you can make depending on your preference. You can add salt, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, curry powder, or garlic to taste.

Please let me know if you try this recipe and how you enjoy it. Also, do you have another favorite way to enjoy cashew cream in your dishes?

Essential Oils 101: Methods of Use

Essential Oils Use

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Essential oils are gaining in popularity and use for a very good reason. Simply put, they work. Their uses and healing properties are nearly limitless and they are a safe non-toxic natural method of healing and cleaning.

In the first post of this series, The Basics I described the elementary aspects of essentials oils. I briefly describe everything from methods of extraction, methods of use and carrier oils.

Now I am going to delve more in depth into the methods of use and the best practices for essential oils. Depending on the need or situation there are quite a few choices you can make for the best method of use.

There are three main methods of use for essential oils. These include room, body and water. I will not describe internal ingestion because that has been shown to not be an effective way of using essential oils for their full healing benefits. Your internal digestive system alters the chemical structure of the oils and thereby changes the effects that the oil has in its original form.

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

Methods of Use:

1. Room: candles, diffusers, light bulbs, humidifiers, radiators, room sprays, water bowls, and wood fires are all methods of diffusing essential oils in a room. It is important to note that when using this method you will need to leave the room shortly after starting the diffusion to reap the greatest benefit of the aromatherapy that the oil has to offer. Much like when you walk into a smoke filled room the smell is strongest when you first enter but the longer you stay in that smokey room the smell is less noticeable. The same holds true for essential oils and their aromatherapy properties.

My personal favorite and I believe most effective way of use essential oils in the room method is with a diffuser. Diffusers do no waste any of the precious and often times slightly expensive oils. Just one drop in the diffuser filled with water is often times all you will need to enjoy the aromatherapy and healing properties of the diffused oil.

My favorite essential oil diffuser is the Now Foods Ultrasonic Oil Diffuser. It is not only inexpensive but it also includes a fun colorful light feature and is easy to clean as well as add water and oils. It is truly the best one on the market for the price.

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 9.02.27 PM

 

2. Body: there are four main methods for using essential oils on your body. These include inhalation, massage, perfume, and tissue/handkerchief.  One could also argue that there is a fifth body method of use which is applied neat on the skin. Not all essential oils are safe applied neat. The two most popular and safe oils neat are lavender and peppermint. I often use lavender on my children just before bed to calm them and prepare them for a restful night of sleep. Peppermint neat on the temples is a great remedy for headaches.

When inhaling essential oils either straight from the bottle or from a small dish it is recommended that you start with the oils low and in front of you. Slowly work the oil up towards your nose in a circular motion. As you get to your nose plug one nostril and inhale deeply to receive the full benefit of this method of use.

Massage is another easy and effective way of enjoying the benefits of essential oils. Simply add a drop or two to your favorite carrier oil and massage on the affected area.

The tissue method is convenient for when you are traveling and without a diffuser or time for a massage. Simply add a drop or two of the oil to a tissue or handkerchief. Then as needed hold the cloth near you nose and inhale deeply. Use as needed.

3. Water: water uses include baths, foot bath, hand bath, sitz bath, shower, sauna, jacuzzi, douche, and bidet. All of these methods are fairly self explanatory but please use caution and follow a reliable recipe when using any of these methods for essential oils in water.

My favorite water method is in the bath. A few drops of lavender with a cap flu of bubble bath and my tired stressed out mommy bones have a few moments of peace and quiet to relax and unwind. The smell of lavender rising on the steam is amazing and incredibly therapeutic.

There simply is not beating the use of essential oils when you are needing or wanting to treat issues at home naturally. All across social media I see countless friends who are popping this pill and that pill to cure this problem and that. I wish I could reach through the screen and hand them the essential oils they need to cure the problem at hand naturally.

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What are your favorite essential oils? And what do you use them most often with?

Weight Loss Doesn’t Start with Exercise

Weight Loss Exercise

Throughout social media sites and groups I have seen far too many women looking for advice on how to fit exercise in their busy schedule because they have a lot of weight to lose.

Honestly, I cringe every time I read one of these posts from a seemingly well meaning and desperate woman. I commend everyone that recognizes they have weight to lose and that it is affecting their energy levels and daily activity. I am also thankful for each and every person who is ready to start taking control of their weight, health, and happiness.

If this is you and you have some weight to lose to feel better, have more energy, and begin to embrace life again then this is for you. Your weight loss, your neighbors weight loss, your best friend’s weight loss down not start with exercise. Exercise is not the be all end all to dropping weight, finding your long lost energy, and fitting in to clothes you haven’t worn in years. Exercise is the icing on top of the cake of eating cleaner and healthier.

Unless you clean up your eating habits, what I call your healthy eating lifestyle you will not lose the weight needed to reclaim your health. If you rely solely on exercise with may be a little bit of “healthy” food thrown in every now and then, your weight will continue to fluctuate. You will not get off of that yo-yo on weight loss until you first commit to making a change in your food choices.

Plain and simply, your diet heavy in animal proteins, sugar, and gluten is not helping your waistline or internal health. I know it isn’t what you want to hear but it is the truth. No, not even the lean protein you had for dinner last night is going to make a difference in your long term health.

Why? Because unless you make concrete changes to eliminate animal proteins and sugar from your diet the weight will come back when you stop exercising. Exercise comes and goes depending on our season of life. Your food choices do not have to change with the weather. Also, if you have thyroid problems you need to seriously consider eliminating gluten from your diet to begin the road of healing that very important gland.

weight loss freedom

When you are ready to make a change in your health for the better, start with your food choices, not exercise. Exercise needs to come after you adjust to your new eating lifestyle. If you are anything like me, my family, or my vegan friends you will begin to drop weight quickly as soon as you begin living a clean and healthy vegan life. I’m busy, I have seven children, homeschool, and am actively growing this blog. Exercise doesn’t always fit in my schedule, frankly it hardly ever does as of recently. However, I am still maintaining the lowest weight I’ve been at in nearly 7 years because of the lifestyle I live. I am not just preaching to you about weight loss and how reducing animal proteins and sugar in your diets is the healthiest way to live, I live, eat, and breathe this lifestyle everyday.

If you want to lose weight, look at the foods you eat and the sugary drinks you consume first. Exercise can come after the changes in your eating habits. You will lose more weight that you expect from simply changing the way you eat.

15 High Speed Blender Recipes

15 High Speed Blender Recipes

*This post contains affiliate links. Your purchases through my affiliate links help support this website and the time and effort it takes me to research and write to bring you helpful and educational posts so that you can live a healthier life. Thank you.*

There are a few small appliances in my kitchen that I consider absolute necessities; my Vita-mix is at the top of that list. I’ve used and abused my precious blender over the past few years and it is still going as strong as the first day I bought it. I use it so often that it really should have a spot of it’s own on my kitchen counter, but alas I have a pet peeve about cluttered counters so it is relegated to a cabinet between uses.

The uses for a high speed blender such as the Vita-mix are nearly limitless. Not only can you quickly whip up a delicious protein shake for breakfast but you can also enjoy an afternoon smoothie treat or a hot and steaming soup for dinner. A high quality, high speed blender can truly be used at every meal and in between for snacks.

The cost may be prohibitive for some at first glance. However, if you stop to consider how long the less expensive blenders last, how quickly the glass blender breaks or the plastic ones crack, what a hassle they are to clean, and how limited they are in their uses when compared to a high speed blender the cost isn’t such a factor anymore. Cut out a few speciality coffees from your neighborhood coffee shop and you will have enough saved for a new high speed blender in no time!

I love my Vita-Mix so much that I will be adding the dry container to my kitchen arsenal very soon. The dry container is great for grinding grains into flour, chopping nuts, or any other drop chopping need you might have in your kitchen. My countertop chopper just isn’t cutting it anymore with my large family and the volume of chopping I need to do to feed my crew healthy whole foods.

I’ve gathered 15 of my favorite recipes from fellow bloggers that can be easily made in your Vita-mix or other high speed blender. You might remember the ginger and turmeric carrot soup from a few weeks ago, it has been a hit since the day it posted.

carrot soup

Soups
Ginger & Tumeric Carrot Soup from Health Matters. Life Matters.

Drinks & Smoothies
Collection of Smoothies from Eat Better Spend Less
Cucumber Mint Smoothie from Mama Likes to Cook
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (sugar and dairy free) from Intoxicated on Life
Easy Cucumber Lemonade from Mama Likes to Cook
Berrylicious Dairy/Sugar Free Coconut Milkshake from Intoxicated on Life
Homemade Organic Apple Juice from Managing Your Blessings
Homemade Strawberry Guava Juice from Managing Your Blessings
Sugar Free Orange Sorbet from Rhonda Sue

Hummus
Hummus without Tahini from Marriage Motherhood and Missions
Classic Homemade Hummus from Intoxicated on Life
Simple Roasted Red Pepper Hummus from Mama Likes to Cook

Spreads & Dressings
Easy Miso Salad Dressing from Mama Likes to Cook
Butter in a Vitamix from Bless Your Heart and Home
Honey Pecan Butter from A Tipical Day

Fun Outdoor Activities and Healthy Snack Summer Bucket List

Summer Bucket List

No matter where you live, summer is the season for outdoor fun in the sun. This is the time of year when precious memories are made during family vacations and backyard get-togethers with friends.

Make the most of this summer by creating a summer bucket list. Bucket lists are a great way to make sure you do and see everything you would like to accomplish this summer. Of course summer fun isn’t complete without healthy and delicious snacks. Here is my summer bucket list of fun outdoor activities and the snacks that I plan to accompany each event.

Today I am guest posting over at Ashley Pichea, please join me there to read my complete list of 20 Fun Outdoor Activities and Healthy Snacks to put on your summer bucket list.

Ginger & Tumeric Carrot Soup

carrot soup

 

I have an over abundance of organic carrots right now because I accidentally ordered 50# from Azure Standard last month. My mouth about dropped when our driver unloaded two 25# bags and they both had my name on it. Surely I thought there had been a mistake in their warehouse, nope the mistake rested squarely on my shoulders.

So after pawning off as many carrots as I could earlier this month and taking one entire 25# bag to my mother-in-laws for her horses I still had a large bag of carrots filling up my spare refrigerator. What ever was I going to do with all of those carrots?

Then it dawned on me! Carrot soup.

I knew it was going to have to be extra special carrot soup in order for my family to enjoy it and maybe even request second helpings. So I set to work one afternoon with my vegetable peeler in hand and got to work.

For a family my size, nine of us in total, I peeled five pounds of those beta carotene packed vitamin sticks. Unfortunately, I also clogged our garbage disposal in the meantime with the peels. My husband wasn’t too thrilled about that one. Note to self, do not put peels down the drain, potato, carrot or otherwise. Thankfully, the end result of my peeling was well received by my husband so he has forgiven me for my careless mistake.

After I finished making the soup and we all sat down for dinner I cautiously awaited the final verdict on this new recipe. I think one of my three year old twins summed it up best when she said “nummy soup Mommy” and my two year old son said “more, Mommy, more”.