health

Keys to a Better Life: Get Some Exercise!

The editor of a local magazine reached out to me recently, to ask if I would share in an upcoming issue how I find balance in my life or stay centered. It was pretty easy for me to identify the major components of what I think keeps me from going entirely off the rails, but in the weeks since that article was submitted, I’ve really been thinking more about the nitty gritty of what’s important to me in the effort to live a better life. Have I achieved success in all these areas? Hell, no! I’m just a regular person with the same struggles as everyone else. But I think if you don’t strive for “better”, then you’re destined to be worse off in some way. So, I’m calling this the first of how many ever I can think of blog posts about what I’m striving for. If you can identify with any or all of these as the weeks go on, I’d love to hear from you!

I’m starting with exercise, because movement is at the root of what makes me feel better in general. Even on the days when I really don’t wanna. In fact, especially on those days. Do you need to join a gym? No. Do you need to run races? No. Do you need any special equipment? Again, no. All you need to do is start. Somewhere. From wherever you are. Just move.

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If exercise is new to you, start slow. Don’t have access to weights? Grab a couple cans of beans off your pantry shelf for tricep extensions, lateral raises, bicep curls, or raise them overhead. Use your washer, dryer, or kitchen countertop for balance and do some modified pushups, lunges, squats or leg raises out to the side. Park a little further from the store. Take the steps. You get the idea.

Or maybe you’re already exercising, but you’ve fallen into a rut where the same old thing just seems old. I have to keep changing things up to stay consistent. Personally I’ve done that with a fitness app that I really enjoy, and I like it because it encompasses a variety of activities with different coaches. I use it on my own for outdoor running/walking/yoga and when I go to the gym for strength training, treadmill or elliptical. What I know is that I have to move every day. Have to—for mental health as well as physical. It might be yoga, a meditative walk by myself or a walk with the dogs; or it might be an all-out sweat fest with a rowing session and a cycle class, or a run. But I’m moving purposefully every day for at least 30 minutes.

One day maybe I’ll share more of the “why” behind my commitment to moving every day. No need for me to try and get into the physical and mental benefits of exercise—I’m no doctor, and your doctor has probably told you why it’s important. I just want to tell you that it makes my life better every day, in so many ways.

So what are your exercise habits? Victories? Or hurdles? Maybe I can learn new tips from you, maybe you can learn from some of my struggles. I’d love to hear from you! Let’s keep moving together!

Let's Talk About Our Armpits!

Probably one of the biggest adjustments for me, in trying to live with fewer toxins, is something very personal—what I apply to my armpits every day. Natural cleaning and laundry products? No big deal. Beeswax paper to cut down on plastic dependency? A little training time, but again—doable. The quest for an effective, natural deodorant has proven to be a more elusive issue. As of this writing, I still haven’t settled on “the one”, so I’ll be glad to hear from anyone who has a great recommendation that I might not have already tried. Why is this so hard? 

Basically, when you decide to use a natural deodorant instead of a big-brand antiperspirant, you’re undergoing a form of detox.  Your body has grown accustomed to artificial results (reduced wetness and smell) produced by using artificial ingredients. But using potential toxins day after day in one of the most sensitive areas of our bodies can potentially lead to some pretty scary health problems. Removing those ingredients, on the other hand, might lead to some other side effects that we find a little undesirable. Truth is, though, with a little time and patience those side effects will subside. What can you expect to happen? 

Sweat

When you switch to a natural deodorant, you might find that you initially perspire more than usual. Why? Because the chemicals in conventional products might have your system out of balance. I know, it doesn’t help that culturally we (especially women) are encouraged to cover up normal biological processes, but contrary to that, we are absolutely supposed to sweat. Once your system’s balance is restored, you might actually find yourself less sweaty than before.

Smell

What if I stink? Well, just like the chemicals in conventional antiperspirants mask our sweat, they also mask the smell. If you have gotten used to the scent of artificial, synthetic fragrances, then you might feel a little stinky during the transition. I am definitely not down with being super stinky, but I can attest that this resolved pretty quickly for me. No matter what, you should always avoid deodorants that have “fragrance” on the label – this is usually a code word for lots of chemicals. 

Irritation

I have not experienced irritation from any of the natural deodorants I have tried, but I know it can happen. Many natural deodorants contain baking soda, which can cause underarms to become red, itchy, and bumpy, kind of like a razor burn. Irritation could also happen if you are using too much of a product or applying it right after shaving while your skin is most sensitive. 

If you’re considering making the switch from conventional drugstore antiperspirant to natural deodorant, I say go for it, because I truly believe it’s healthier for you. If you haven’t because you’re afraid you’re going to be a hot stinky mess, I promise in reality the detox isn’t that bad and only lasts for a week or two at most. I’m including here a list of ingredients you should look for on whatever product you’re using or considering, and I urge you to think carefully about your choices as they could seriously affect your health.

Let me hear from you if you have a product recommendation. And here’s to your happy, healthy, non-stinky armpits! 

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