Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fact: Healthy Lifestyles Conquer Anxiety & Depression.

Fact: You CAN be happier.
Fact: You CAN get healthy, have boundless energy & conquer your biggest demons.

I want you to get EXCITED about living a healthier lifestyle. 

BUT: What do I mean by a healthy lifestyle?

There is no "one size fits all" healthy lifestyle. Some people thrive on high fruit & veggie diets while others do well eating big bowls of oatmeal. Some people love running on treadmills to burn calories and release endorphins while others are just happy walking in the sunshine. It's all about finding what fits YOUR lifestyle. It is completely trial and error. I take different aspects from my readings and experiences and apply them to my life. If they work, AWESOME! If they don't, that's okay. I've grown from trying new things and I will move on to try something that works for me!

I want you to get excited about discovering a new exercise, a new recipe or a new blog. I absolutely love Instagram for this reason. I search hashtags for things that I'm interested in, different types of diets and exercises. If I find something that interests me, I'll write it down so I remember to try it! I love broadening my horizons. It gives me something to be passionate and excited about! There is no wrong way to go about starting a healthy lifestyle. It is all about baby steps. The more you try, the more knowledge you will gain. The more you fail, the closer you are to success, happiness & good health.

One thing that really helped me conquer my depression was making sure that I make every day different. Trying new things everyday excites me and makes it impossible to be depressed. It shows me that there is so much in this world, so many beautiful things that I need to experience and try! There's no time to be depressed when I have new healthy recipes and new yoga poses to try!

Although everyone thrives on a different healthy lifestyle, there are some guidelines that I feel are imperative to creating a healthy body & a healthy balance in your life!  :

  • Set goals for yourself and the goal should not be weight-loss. If your body is healthy & you are treating it right, the weight will be a side effect of that. The weight WILL come off if it needs to. The goal is a healthy & happy body that runs effortlessly!
  • Don't let a new lifestyle limit your social endeavors. If your friends are getting take-out from a place where you can't get anything healthy, bring your own food, eat before, eat after or take part with them. If it's once and a while, it isn't going to hurt you.
  • Forgive yourself for any missteps. It's not easy changing a lifestyle and you will slip into your old ways every once and a while. That's OKAY. As long as you know that your healthy lifestyle is what brings you happiness, you will always go back to it, so there is no worries or beating yourself up over it.
  • Drink a lot of water.
  • Move. I don't care if it's jumping jacks or running a marathon, get up and go do something! You'll feel so much better afterwards.
  • Never starve yourself. It's not healthy. Period. It's not good for your body & it will NOT make you happy. Skipping meals is not okay and is not a part of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Share your journey with yourself or the world. Take notes on everything. It will help you see how far you've come and it'll help you realize what works for you and what doesn't. If you're comfortable, start a blog or post on Instagram. You will inspire others and find a network of people who are just like you, trying to be healthier & happier!
    • If you have a blog or Instagram of your journey, comment on this post or send me an e-mail (you can message me from the form on the side of this blog! ---> ) I would love to cheer you on and learn from you! 
Until next time,

Kayla xo

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Breakfast Green Smoothie Recipe.

I've spent years perfecting the most stress-free, no-fuss morning routine. I'll write about this in another post, but morning routines are crucial for anyone looking to combat anxiety at the start of their day. There's nothing like a hectic morning to make our nerves go haywire and set ourselves up for disaster.

Just like I've perfected my morning routine, I've also perfected my breakfast green smoothie. I have also included some substitutions to fit anyone's dietary, taste or budgetary needs. This creamy smoothie will not only wake you up, but it will satiate you for a few hours while you get your day started.

Kayla's Green Breakfast Smoothie
** : See bottom of recipe for substitutions

                                                    2 huge handfuls of organic spinach **
                                                    2 frozen bananas
                                                    1/2 a jar of organic vegetable baby food of your choice**
                                                    1 tbs ground flax seed **
                                                    1 tsp. hemp hearts **
                                                    1/2 cup dairy-free milk **
                                                    A few ice cubes
                                                    Water until desired consistency **
                                                    1 tsp. chia seeds ** (Add these at the end just to combine)

Instead of spinach feel free to use kale, swiss chard, dandelion greens or any greens that you have on hand. My favorites are spinach and kale because of how smoothly they blend. I would not recommend lettuce as it tends to froth up creating a lot of bubbles and mess.

The baby food is definitely a curve ball here! The creamy consistency actually adds a lot to the texture of the smoothie. I look at it as getting nutrition from vegetables like peas, carrots and sweet potatoes that I wouldn't normally get in the morning. My favorite is carrots! You can leave this out if you're leery. But just give it a shot! If you're unsure about the mushy veggies, you can one blended with fruit to start out!

Ground Flax is also something that I buy in bulk. It's easily accessible at stores like BJ's or Costco. Ground Flax or flax seeds in general contain many antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients. This is a tough one to leave out, but if you have to do it, I would recommend maybe adding another banana because the ground flax adds such a nice thick consistency to the smoothie.

Hemp Hearts are a product that I've been experimenting with for about a month now. I add them to the smoothie to add a little bit of a healthy fat. Healthy fats not only satiate you, but they help regulate the cells in your body and lubricate your system. Hemp hearts have a nutty flavor that's honestly barely detectable in this smoothie due to the little amount (1 tsp.) I use. Instead of using these, you can add another healthy fat like 1/4 of an avocado, 1/2 tsp. of coconut oil or 1tsp. of raw unsalted almond butter.

Dairy-free milk is what really adds the creaminess to the smoothie that water just can't do! My favorites are almond milk and coconut milk. But I've lately been experimenting with cashew milk, which is quite creamy and delicious. The unsweetened vanilla version of all these milks adds a really great taste to the smoothie. I personally don't use soy milk, but if that's what you enjoy, then go for it!

Chia seeds are a nutritional powerhouse. I buy organic chia seeds in bulk from my local health food store for about $9/lb. Chia seeds are chock full of antioxidants, fiber and essential Omega-3 fatty acids. I really don't think that they have a particular taste to them. Just kind of a "nutty" feeling. If you do not have access to these, you can add 1 tsp. of flax seed, increase ground flax to 2 tbs. or just leave it out all together. But you will be missing out on this nutritional powerhouse!

Instead of water, try brewing some green tea, let it chill in the fridge, and then use that for your liquid! It will add some powerful benefits plus a beautiful taste (if you like the taste of green tea that is!)

Also note that I used 2 bananas because based on how I space out my meals and my size and activity level, that's what works for me. You may have to increase or decrease the number of frozen bananas in order to meet your caloric needs. (I will happily do a future post on how I freeze my bananas in bulk!)

Sometimes I have the exact same smoothie for lunch plus any superfood or protein powders to make for more of a filling meal. My favorites include, Vega all in 1 nutritional shake, Vegan Shakeology, Maqui Powder, Maca Powder, Super Greens, Beyond Organic or Warrior! (I've obviously tried a lot!) Right now my current addiction is Tropical Strawberry Vegan Shakeology.

Try this smoothie and let me know what you think. Hashtag #wakeuplaughingblog on Instagram so I can see your creations and any variations that you have made!

Wishing you light, love & happiness today & every day!


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How Lemon/Ginger Water Changed My Life.

Who knew that something so simple could have such a profound effect on my life?

Almost two months ago I stumbled upon an article about how a woman drank lemon water every morning for a year, before eating or drinking anything else. Her results after a year were extraordinary. She experienced extreme health benefits by only changing a tiny portion of her morning routine. I immediately add this simple remedy to my repertoire.

At this point, I've been drinking 1 liter of warm water with the juice of one lemon and a knob of grated ginger every morning for 6 weeks. I added the ginger because I had heard of the benefits of ginger on digestion and overall health, but I could never manage to work it into my daily life. I found it too overbearing for smoothies and I was not one to sit there gnawing on a knob of it, so it never made it's way to into being a regular of mine. However, it is perfect when finely grated into warm lemon water.

I felt the effects of the ginger after the first half of the drink on the first day. My normal morning queasy stomach disappeared. I often struggled with an acidic stomach in the morning, making it impossible to have breakfast or even follow a normal routine without having to sit down from feeling ill. The ginger completely remedied that for me immediately. I no longer have a sour stomach in the morning and I do not experience bloat at any point in the day like I did previously.

As this drink was the only thing that I changed in my diet, I can speak to the benefits that I have seen from this morning cocktail. My digestion has improved immensely. As I said, no bloating, no uncomfortableness after eating paired with an overall feeling of calmness from zero tummy troubles. And for me, zero tummy troubles meant greatly reduced anxiety, as the mornings have always been my highest anxiety time. To me, that benefit has been immeasurable. 

I've also experienced improved skin, brighter eyes and more energy in the morning. I feel so hydrated in the morning and my cravings during the day are almost nonexistent. I am able to stick to my no-salt added diet like never before.

The key is getting the 1 liter in before any food or caffeinated beverage in order to hydrate your body and fill your cells up with H2O. There are many benefits just to being hydrated. So even if you do not add lemon or ginger to your water in the morning, at least down a ton of water and you will feel so much better to take on the day ahead.

Many of you may have never even bought ginger before! I personally buy it at a local farmer's market for $2 for 2 pounds and I buy the lemons for $2 for 12, making each 1 liter drink $0.33. Easy for anyone even on a strict budget like myself!

Sometimes I even add a dash of Apple Cider Vinegar (post will be coming on that shortly), if I'm feeling adventurous for more digestive and health benefits. Also if you are dealing with inflammation, add a sprinkle of turmeric for an even more healthful cocktail.

I urge everyone to try this as the benefits have been so noticeable, I couldn't not share this simple and easy way to get your day started! Some last minute tips that I have are,  it seems to be easier to drink it with a straw (and less harmful on tooth enamel). Also take your mason jar with you and keep filling it up with lemon water throughout your day for ultimate hydration!

If you try this, let me know by posting a picture on Instagram & hashtagging #wakeuplaughingblog

Wishing everyone light & love today & every day!


Monday, May 18, 2015

10 Ways to More Relaxing Mornings

For years, the thought including relaxing and morning in the same sentence sounded ridiculous.

I am the epitome of "not a morning person". I could press snooze ten times and still take thirty minutes to form a somewhat coherent sentence.

Last year I decided to change that, opting for earlier bedtimes and less chaos. There is nothing more stressful than starting your day sprinting out the door without time for even a simple breakfast.

Your morning should be as stress free as possible. Use your mornings to mentally prepare yourself for the day ahead. Whether it be your day off, a busy day at school or a harrowing day ahead at the workplace, make your mornings your oasis.

Today I will be introducing you to Mathematic Mondays where every Monday I introduce something that you can subtract, followed by something that you can add to your life. Whether it be a type of food, a habit, an exercise or in this case, a part of your morning routine.

Little changes over time make a huge difference without it feeling like a harsh or sudden invasion to your lifestyle. All you need is a little arithmetic and luckily, I've got you covered.

Without further ado, here are 10 ways to simplify your mornings to bring peace & wellbeing.

1. Instead of pressing snooze, start waking up 5 minutes earlier every day.

Giving yourself enough time in the morning is crucial. For me, the ideal amount of time that I need in the morning is an hour, but for you that might mean an hour & a half, two hours. Or maybe just a half hour is all you need. There is such a peace in the early morning hours that I was missing out by waking up 10 minutes before I had to go somewhere. By only increasing the time by 5 minutes earlier per day, you are not shocking your system and thus providing less disruption to your circadian rhythm. 

2. Instead of coffee, try a caffeinated tea.

Especially if you are prone to anxiety, coffee can be a toxic habit. For me personally, I drank coffee for years because I was scared of the "caffeine headaches" that come from stopping it. I didn't realize that it was coffee that was causing my acidic stomach, acid reflux and overall jittery anxiety (especially on the train in the mornings). Once I stopped drinking coffee (cold turkey!) and went to tea, I am so much more peaceful in the mornings. I don't have any of the symptoms listed above, and I even didn't have any caffeine headaches since I replaced coffee with 1-2 cups of black tea.

3. Instead of rushing around, try sitting down & meditating for 5 minutes.

Meditation can mean a multitude of things. Maybe you just want to sit down and focus on taking deep breaths. Maybe you need to set a timer on your phone and force yourself to be still for 5 minutes. Perhaps you want to say a mantra to yourself or set your intentions for the day. I personally love sitting outside with my dogs in the backyard for 5 minutes. Combining my love of nature with the love of my fur babies makes for a very peaceful morning.

4. Instead of vigorous exercise in the morning, try some yoga, pilates or stretches.

For some, this may not be practical as the mornings are the only time to get in some vigorous exercise. Others might be saying, "Exercise!? I'm lucky if I walk a tenth of a mile in the morning!". Whichever group you happen to be in, we could all benefit from at least a few minutes of stretching in the morning, opening up those muscles and preparing them for the day ahead. If you usually exercise in the morning, try replacing one of your workouts a week with yoga or pilates and see how you feel. For those who hate movement in the morning (I feel you), try doing some floor stretches, neck rolls and some gentle twists to help open everything up.

5. Instead of leaving everything till the morning, try prepping the night before.

I feel like this is something that Mom's always say. But it's true. The less you need to hurry to get done in the morning, the better. This not only includes laying out your outfit, but if you plan on working out that day, get your gym bag ready too. Pack your lunch and your snacks, fill your tea kettle up the night before, have your vitamins in sight, find your keys & wallet, charge your cell phone, find your headphones and make sure your shoes match. Even the tiniest things can make a huge difference. This can give you more time in the morning to peacefully reflect, and that can only happen when you aren't fretting that a million things need to get done.

6. Instead of juice, drink a water cocktail.

If there is one thing to change in the morning, let it be this. I cannot even begin to tell you the benefits that I have seen in my body since I started drinking warm water with lemon and grated ginger in the morning. I try to drink 1 liter of water before I drink or eat anything else. You would be surprised how easy this is to do! Our bodies get dehydrated, especially in the summer after going 8+ hours without water in the night. Your cells need the H20 & the replenishment! 

7. Instead of eating a dense breakfast, try filling up on fruit.

This is also an easy one to enact. Instead of your morning cereal, try filling up on some sweet fruit in the morning. This is not only great for your digestion, but it gives your body the sugar that it needs. Fresh, ripe fruit paired with a cup of warm tea will replace the energy of a cup of coffee any day. Fruit is easily digested on an empty stomach in the morning. Fruit is also absolutely packed with nutrients that your body needs to thrive. If you're feeling adventurous, try having some spinach leaves with some fruit in the morning for a real energy kick! My favorite morning fruits are melons, mangos, oranges or berries.

8. Instead of keeping your thoughts in your head, write them down.

Especially if you are particularly worried about something in the day ahead or if you just had a bad dream and can't seem to kick that morning funk you're in. Journaling is a great way to quickly get your thoughts down in the morning so that you can move on from them. You don't even have to write in complete sentences! By just getting it down on paper, I find that I'll either find that my worries are ridiculous, or I will realize that I need to put more thought into something during the day if I wake up so worried about it in the morning. It's a great tool to use to declutter the mind at any point during the day!

9. Instead of bolting out the door, try allotting time to do your hair/makeup.

This may sound superficial to some, but for me it is part of my self-confidence. Sometimes there is nothing I'd rather do less than do something nice with my hair and put on a little makeup. But I know that when I do, I feel better during the day. When I don't, I almost always regret it. I like to put my best face forward in any situation that I'm in and I don't always feel my best when I throw my hair up in a messy bun. When I take time to take care of myself, whether it be just putting on a moisturizer and sweeping my hair up into a cute clip, I feel better about myself and that helps me take on my day with confidence.

10. Instead of listening to music, try listening to a podcast or news radio.

I know for a lot of people, music is extremely therapeutic to them, and if that's the case, then listen to it! But for me, I find that my brain wakes up faster and is less anxious when I listen to a podcast or the news. This forces me to think about something productive, rather than my racing thoughts. It also makes for good conversation pieces if you feel socially anxious or can't come up with things to say in social situations. I can't tell you the amount of interesting stuff I have heard on NPR that I can bring into conversations months later. My favorite podcasts are, This American Life, the Dr. Axe Show, Tranquility du Jour, Serial, Food for Thought & the Chalene Show…just to name a few!

So there they are, 10 ways to relax-a-fy your morning by just adding and subtracting a few simple elements.

Tell me about your morning routines, what works for you and what doesn't? What is your favorite part about your mornings? Or, do you just hate mornings all together?! I'd love to know! Shoot me an e-mail, leave it in the comments or hashtag #wakeuplaughingblog on Instagram to show me your mornings!

Wishing you peace & happiness today & every day!


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Brief Anxiety Talk

I've had the content of this blog post spinning around in my head for days, but then the second I sit down to write, my mind goes blank.

Maybe it's nerves. Maybe it's the anxiety that I'm supposed to be writing about.

Those who know me well are not surprised to hear that I have always, for as long as I can remember, had anxiety.

I'm not sure if people who are only acquaintances of mine know that I have anxiety. It's not like I broadcast it to the world or say it to everyone I meet. But I've found that those that also have anxiety can also recognize it in others. So I wouldn't be surprised if I unknowingly wear my worries on my sleeve.

I honestly don't even know where to begin because that's how long this goes back. I have always worried about EVERYTHING. And by everything, I mean everything. Have you ever gone through a million scenarios in your head about how you think a situation will go? And literally none of those apocalyptic situations happened? But you felt the need to spend 2 days before a situation thinking about how drastically wrong everything could go?

I've been that way for as long as I can remember.

Without going into too much detail (alas the title of this post contains the word "brief") these worried thoughts soon turned into full blown panic attacks, which for a brief period of my life turned into agoraphobia, which also carried diagnoses of depression, generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. It was 6 years ago that I could feel the life that I felt that I was "supposed to have" was slipping through my fingers. And it did. That fantasy life disappeared and I was left with a broken version of myself that I thought would be broken forever. But it wasn't.

I would say that I've spent the past 6 years picking up the pieces, but that wouldn't be true. When you're getting the help that you need, treating your body correctly and having the courage to stand up to anxiety, the pieces of your life just kind of fall into place. True, I was doing the work and working hard, but I was never actively seeking out a fantasy like I was before. I was simply living my life day by day. Waking up every day making the CHOICE to get out of bed (which I wouldn't have done 6 years ago) and making the choice to be happy. Every. Single. Day.

Does that mean that I didn't spend my days worrying? No. Not at all. I did. But slowly I started to train myself to think more positively and soon the negative thoughts, while still there, were background noise. When you let the light of positivity shine through, it stays there. Just like love conquers hate, the smallest bit of light can shine through any darkness.

So, why am I telling you this? Well there are many reasons. There is the selfish reason that sometimes it just feels better to get everything out. And then there's the reason that my goal in life is to help other people that suffer from anxiety and depression that is often subsequently caused by that anxiety.

I was able to completely transform my life through whole food nutrition, daily exercise, creativity and mindfulness. Us "anxious people" have a lot of pent up energy and we are SMART people who are able to think of a million different (albeit often negative) situations for any given problem. So let's use that creativity, thoughtfulness and energy towards something positive.

This blog will contain snippets of the lifestyle that I have built for the sole purpose of conquering my anxiety every day. Hopefully these snippets will help you too, whether you're battling anxiety or not.

With all this said, there are two thoughts that I want to leave you with :

Firstly, although my life is drastically different than it was 6 years ago, I still have anxiety. It is not something that I have cured myself of. But it is something that I have accepted to deal with. Are some days better than others? Absolutely. But having anxiety has made me a much more compassionate and understanding person. It has given me creativity and determination. There are so many positives that have come out of having anxiety that I can't help but think of it as a double edged sword. I'm not here to tell you that it's all sunshine and rainbows. Because it isn't. But the days do get easier and there is light and positivity everywhere. You just have to be looking for it.

Lastly, but most importantly, mental illness is not something to be ashamed of. You should never be ashamed to get help and you should never be ashamed to tell others how you feel. This is my first time publicly posting something about my mental illnesses on my social media accounts. Am I nervous? Yes. But, if I can help ONE person realize that they too can kick anxiety's ass every day without shame, then for me, it's worth it. You will be shocked when you decide to tell others about your anxiety/depression/bipolar disorder/whatever it is, how many people can relate to you and how many people will be so compassionate, caring and helpful.

My wish for you is that you will live without shame and that you will openly conquer your fears. Do something today that scares you. Even if that something, is simply getting out of bed.

Until next time,