What’s My Secret Weapon For a Good Night’s Sleep?

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Posted by Judy Moon

Magnesium oil. That’s right, magnesium oil.

First of all, I feel that sleep is underrated. I think we don’t really put enough emphasis on getting enough sleep, and the health benefits of good, quality, restful, restorative sleep. Webmd explains nine reasons to sleep more.

I personally don’t have a problem falling asleep, it’s staying asleep that was my problem. There are lots of reasons why this can happen for people.

So I have made going to bed a real ritual.

Herbal tea, no electronic screens after nine, my bedroom is a sleep sanctuary – no TV etc.,  I do my best to go to bed at the same time every night, I turn the lights in my home down in the evening and start sending the message to my brain – “hey, we’re going to sleep soon”, I use some lavender essential oil on my feet and at the suggestion of a health coach, I started using magnesium oil on my feet at night.

Pure magic! I now sleep like a rock.

Dr. Mark Hyman, refers to magnesium as the “relaxation mineral”, and here is a GREAT post about all of it’s benefits.

Ancient Minerals was the brand recommended to me. A drop of DoTerra lavender essential oil rubbed in to the bottom of my feet, 3 sprays of Magnesium Oil on each foot, socks, Bon Nuit!

I will warn you that the Magnesium oil is a little drying, so I make sure I am also treating my feet by exfoliating daily with a pumice and lathering them up with a rich moisturizer. I’d choose something with some rich Shea butter.

Good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite!

Don’t Just Stand There. Let’s Get To It. Strike A Pose. There’s Nothing To It.

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Posted by Judy Moon

Queue the sexy male dancers with their open white shirts flapping in the breeze. I’m not sure if I’ve ever quoted Madonna before, but I love Vogue and couldn’t help myself.

I’ve been on a roll lately having lots of fun with words. Specifically the energy behind words and the effects that the energy of the words has.

As if all of that hasn’t been enough fun, a client recently gave me an article she thought I would like. I have the best clients who love to share things with me, from homemade Vidalia onion jam, foie gras from Paris, to this cool article Power To The People by Jennifer Altmann. The article is about Power Posing and how our bodies can make us feel more powerful, Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist has done research on how “our bodies change our mind, our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.” The article discusses “high power poses” – those that convey strength – think standing like wonder woman with your hands on your hips vs.” low power poses” – closed positions, hunched over, limbs tucked together.

The research shows that standing or sitting a certain way has measurable effects. In as little as just two minutes – holding a Power Pose can increase testosterone levels and decrease cortisol, the stress hormone level. Not only does the body language affect how others perceive you, it affects how you perceive yourself.

Everything is energy, so it just makes sense that not only do words have vibrations that can affect us, but so do the postures and gestures of the body.

So I am totally stoked now to add a Power Pose to my morning ritual. The article and research talks a lot about using the poses in stressful situations, like right before you have to give a talk, or right before a job interview, but I think it would be a super-duper self care ritual to just start your day with some Mirror Work and then, strike a pose… Madonna music optional. Who doesn’t want to reduce their cortisol level? I’m in!

Here’s a link to Amy’s TED talk.

Break out your super hero cape and let’s get our strength and power on!

Saved by the Fermented Veg!

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

Well, it seems winter is leaving us and as much as I love it… I’m really ready for spring! I do my best to keep up with my fresh veggie consumption in the winter, making yummy salads with shredded kale and cabbage, but sometimes I really crave that brightness that new spring veggies provides. So in those last two very long months of February and March, before the

new spinach, radish and pea shoots, I made a few batches of fermented veg.

Super easy and yummy, fermented veggies are crisp, bright and a bit tart, all the right things to perk up a meal and my taste buds. They are also a great source of the good gut bacteria that we could all use a bit more of.

I made them regularly many years ago but fell out of the practice. Plus we have a nice selection of fermented veg makers in the city so the convenience of grabbing a jar off the shelf may have had a little something to do with it (a favorite is Cobblestone Krautery).

But I decided to get back to it myself. There are many websites and books out there to get you started. I went to Cultures for Health, just to refresh my memory.

There are a dizzying array of fabulous products on the site, but also a TON of great recipes to get you started and a good bit of information about cultured veggies and other products and the process of fermentation itself. I started with a variation on this Carrot Kraut recipe and I added red cabbage and leeks just for fun.

Fermented foods have been around for thousands of years and are used in every culture. Fermenting prolongs “shelf” life of foods and also bumps up the good bacteria that are already present in many foods by creating an environment for them to grow and flourish. These good bacteria feed our guts, improve digestion and enhance our overall health.

You can ferment lots of stuff! My husband has been making kombucha, his own red wine and pear cider vinegars as well as a lovely raspberry shrub! Oh and a bit of beer and sourdough bread too… maybe he should be writing this post! Oh yeah, maybe he was part of my fermented veg inspiration too.

A book he loves, and may be the fermentation “bible” for some is, The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz. Talk about fermenting anything! This guy does it all and has written a very thorough and interesting book. Inspiring ferments from all over the world. Have fun!

“Pickled pea shoots” anyone?

Cheers!

Get Your Zzzz’s, Please!

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

I just watched a new documentary about sleep (and you should too!) created by the National Institutes of Health and National Geographic.

Or should I say our insane LACK of sleep here in the United States! Wow! The numbers of folks getting 6 hours of sleep or less each night is staggering and frightening if we consider how many of them drive on our highways daily.

There are tons of facts to absorb in this documentary and I already know how important sleep is to our general health, but this was a real wake up call (oh, sorry for that pun…) to the negative health consequences that come from chronic lack of sleep.

According to the NIH, chronic sleep deprivation is linked to an increased risk of diabetes, unhealthy weight gain, heart conditions, cancer, hormone imbalances (especially those associated with blood sugar) and emotional and mental health instabilities. There is also ongoing research about the connection between Alzheimer’s disease and sleep’s restorative role in brain and overall health. Very interesting!

To paraphrase one of the documentaries many experts, a man associated with highway and traffic safety agencies; “Every aspect of human behavior is impaired and degraded by lack of sleep. Situational awareness, memory, communication, decision making and reaction time have all been shown to drop by 20-50%.” Chronic sleep loss also creates a 40% deficit in the capacity of the brain to make and hold on to new memories.

Again, wow.

I’m not trying to scare you but watching this documentary scared me a little bit. In a good way actually. I’ve started to take my sleep much more seriously. Now I’m not chronically sleep deprived in anyway, but I don’t sleep well on a regular basis. Most of that comes from having a very active and often anxious brain. Or from having a cup of caffeine at 4 in the afternoon, or that extra glass of wine with dinner. Or from staring at my computer screen right before I go to bed. All things I am aware of but have chosen not to take so seriously. Until now!

So I’ve begun to change some of these little things that will make a big difference in my sleep habits:

  • No computer 30 minutes or more before bed
  • No caffeine after noon
  • Less alcohol or none with dinner during the work week
  • Chamomile or other calming herbal tea 30 minutes before bed
  • Light, humorous reading or breathing & meditation in bed before lights out

I’ve noticed a difference! I am getting deeper and almost uninterrupted sleep. Getting more exercise during the week will help as well. One suggestion in the documentary that I haven’t tried yet is waking up at the same time every day regardless of when you go to sleep. This technique is often used for folks with insomnia but can be helpful for all of us to get us back in tune with our natural rhythms. Here’s to a good nights sleep!

Cheers! (with herbal tea!)

Beat The Flu and Keep Away The Vampires!

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Posted by Judy Moon

Since there are still some colds, flus and viruses floating around here in Philadelphia, I thought I would share a recipe that I received from my sweet sister in law who is a hospice nurse. I am not sure of the original source of this recipe, so thank you to whoever came up with it.

My husband Joe was recently down for the count and I pulled this baby out of the recipe file and was not disappointed.

It was quick, simple, smelled divine, made my hubby feel better and I think it may have helped me too! (I somehow managed to dodge the flu!)

It may sound intense, I know – 4 whole onions and 2 heads of garlic- it sounds like a lot but it definitely mellowed as it cooked.

The recipe instructs you to strain it and just use the broth, which I did since Joe just wanted broth, but I tasted it with the onions, etc, before I strained it and it was mighty good. I will be adding this soup to our regular repertoire of go to recipes.

Old Fashioned Garlic and Onion Soup 
For colds, flu, respiratory infections or for prevention especially in winter season
4 large white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 whole heads of garlic, separated and peeled
2 tsp. thyme
4 tbs. olive oil
6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
2 tbs. honey
4 tbs. each fresh basil and parsley
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
sea salt, fresh ground pepper to taste

In a large stockpot sauté the onions, garlic and thyme in olive oil until golden brown. This step sweetens and mellows the intensity of the garlic and onions. (To peel garlic cloves, smash the individual cloves with the flat side of a chef’s knife and slip out of the skins.) Add the vegetable stock, white wine, and bay leaf. Slowly cook for 2 to 3 hours. Strain liquid, and then add honey, fresh basil and parsley, sea salt, fresh ground black pepper and cayenne.

Onions and garlic are both antibacterial in action, as in the herb thyme. Cayenne pepper is recommended if there is a fever present, while basil and parsley are detoxifying herbs.

This is an excellent soup to drink during any type of infection or cold, or to simply enjoy as a first course to a meal.

Enjoy and be well!

Pop the Champagne!

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Posted by Judy Moon

Happy Birthday Wellness Seeds! You are officially one year old! You might be saying to yourself… soooo????

Well, It’s a big deal for me. It took a lot of coaxing from someone very special to me and that California Girl knows who she is!

I am creative in a lot of different ways – in my garden, with cooking, I knit, I even play with colored pencils and a Mandala coloring book, I love crafts, I like to paint, – you get the picture, if there’s glitter or a glue stick involved – count me in!

But writing – that took me out of my comfort zone. It was personal, it was exposing, just to name a few of the million excuses I gave to not start a blog. Probably my biggest excuse/fear was- “Who wants to hear what I have to say? Who cares?”

Well to my surprise – people do care- who knew?!

The other big surprise – drum roll please…

I enjoy writing! Yes, I said it out loud for the whole universe to see.

So my anniversary Wellness Seed for you today is –

Step out of the box, do something new and different, something that makes you a little uncomfortable, It doesn’t have to be big. Change is the essence of our life. 

You might be surprised. It may even turn out to be something that you really enjoy and puts a smile on your face and that is good medicine in my book.

Cheers!

 

Get Outside and Play!

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

This past weekend I spent time with my nephew. He recently turned 13 and he is super fun to hang around with. We have similar senses of humor and ways of being in the world and I always feel refreshed after a visit with him. A few years ago he told me that both my husband and I are kind of like big kids. “Do you mean immature?” I asked. “NO!” he said, “because you both love to play, silly!” Heeheehee.

As I mentioned in my last post I have started a more focused exercise routine to get myself back in shape. Since one of the days of my weekend visit was a workout day I decided to recruit my nephew in the activities as well. He was totally into it! And… he made it way more engaging since we spent a good portion of the routine giggling and teasing each other between gasps for breath and sips of water.

After the real workout we made a “fake workout” video that was, I must say, completely ridiculous and hilarious! My Mom, who was sitting nearby in the yard (another bonus to the workout…OUTSIDE!), was cracking up – always a good sign of quality entertainment.

While I am serious about exercising, making it more playful made it seem more do-able and not just another chore on my list. We forget how important play is in our everyday lives. Focusing on the things we have to get done is important but it can drain our reserves when we don’t get a break from the “work first” mentality. Not only is it fun to play, it stimulates portions of our brain that have to do with creativity, structure, organization, imagination and concentration. Adding in a bit of playfulness may even boost your productivity.

Throw in laughter and WOW! There’s a recipe for great health!

So… get out there and play! With the kids, the dog, your spouse, friends, whoever! Add a game night in every once in a while. Skip down the street for a block or two, swing around each street sign you come upon (or tree), go to the park and SWING! Doesn’t have to be for hours, just a few moments can shift your energy and mood.

Ready…set…GO!!!!!