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Health, Personal

My New Juicing Lifestyle

Juicing hasn’t been on my radar until recently, but I feel as if it’s already been forever! Lifestyle changes often plunge us into different states of awareness, better enabling us to see the world through new eyes. My journey, as of late, has been one to better my health. I’m in good health by nearly all measure, although I just haven’t been feeling great as of late. I was started to feel sluggish more often than not, and had trouble getting motivated. After very in depth discussions (thanks Anna!) about the benefits of juicing, I felt that I should give it a try.

A Clean, Rejuvenated Energy

For those that have been on detox-type diets before, the shift in energy is similar when beginning juicing. As I’ve been stuffing my favorite fruits and veggies into juicers these past few weeks, my body adjusted quickly it seems, and my energy levels began to improve almost immediately! I’ve never been much of a breakfast person, plagued by upset stomach unable to be explained by my doctors. While this morning sickness never reached the point of ‘nausea,’ it was unpleasant nonetheless.  My go-to approach has simply been to take some very alkaline drinks, such as magnesium, potassium, or calcium as soon as I wake up, and eat breakfast a few hour later. As with anything, I got used to this routine but still felt I could take a better approach.

I began switching juices for my morning ‘powder’ drink about 3 weeks ago, and can say first hand that the benefits of juicing are incredible! I haven’t lost 60 pounds or anything crazy, but my quality of life seems to be improving on a daily basis. I’ve been juicing carrots, spinach, avocado, blueberries, grapefruit, bananas, oranges, and even some Cilantro! I tend to switch things up depending on my mood, but my juices usually look of fair-semblance to a ‘green drink.’ The most notable shift I’ve noticed has been in my post-lunch energy levels—which used to consist of my wanting a nap. During that 2pm-4pm window in which my body so fights against the 8-5 routine, I now have a renewed sense of rejuvenation as if my lunch is no longer a burden to my body!

The Benefits of Juicing: By The Numbers

I can ramble on all day about how great I feel, how much energy I have, or how focused juicing has helped me to become. The fact is, that when trying to tell others of my experience—numbers seem to help. At the risk of being a little to open with my personal info, I’d like to share some of my before and after numbers from the past 3 weeks of juicing. I’m referencing my most recent bloodwork and doctor reports against those of roughly 3 months ago.

Blood Pressure

Before: 174/88

After: 148/75

Cholesterol

Before: 185

After: 155

Weight

Before: Don’t Even Ask

After: -11lbs

As you can see, juicing has had a very traceable impact on my life, and it’s not just a placebo effect! I’ll admit I was a bit nervous to get my most-recent blood work back, feeling that the doctor might burst my bubble of energy. That wasn’t the case, and these numbers have re-energized my dedication to juicing all-over again! I’m a strong believer in balance, and know that even juicing can be done to such excess that it could become unhealthy. So for now I’ll be juicing in the mornings, and between lunch and dinner where I’m usually really bad for snacking. I’m even thinking about getting back into running again with all this new-found energy!

Finding My Juicer

This could be a story itself; consisting of quite an up-and-down journey before I found a juicer I could work, and that actually made a ‘juice’ and not just a ‘smoothie.’ My dear friend Anna, whom first excited me about juicing, had just bought one of the best juicers on the market, leaving her with a very well-conditioned masticating juicer. Masticating juicers, I now know, are a type of slow juicer that allow one to better grind up leafy things and frozen berries. Anna now has what is probably the best masticating juicer, the Super Angel, which is what most health gurus use ( I think ), which means that she had a perfectly good Omega juicer just sitting around. Being the wonderful soul that she is, she loaned me this juicer to try out for myself, and it’s been my savior these past few weeks.

The past few days I have been searching for a new juicer, now that I’m better acquainted with what I’m doing. I’ll save the boring details for those that may not be juicing fanatics just yet (just keep reading!) but basically I’m looking for one that is versatile and will let me grind up nuts and frozen berries as well. Luckily, my good friend Charles shared an article about the best juicers with me, which has been an immensely-useful tool in running down my new health machine!

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infrared sauna
Health

Let’s Talk About the Infrared Sauna in the Room

I’ve long staved myself from buying large purchases online—call it resistance ingrained from my parents’ generational focus—but recently I went on a splurge. Many of you may know about the recent car I bought online from autotrader.com, as it’s come up at a few cocktail tables. Well, I suppose that purchase was the breaking of the dam! I have recently also purchased an infrared sauna for our house—much like the sweat lodges used by Scandinavians for centuries—except this one simply plugs in to the wall! I’m not entirely sure I know what’s come over me, I just read a few infrared sauna reviews, pulled out the wallet, and ordered one up! I’ve been getting used to it for some time now, as it’s a bit different than most traditional sauna therapy experiences. I suppose the best infrared sauna is the one that you are comfortable with, and I must say that mine has gone from decent to incredible in the last weeks. The many infrared sauna benefits one may notice once beginning a regular routine in the hot box are plentiful, and worth mentioning!

The Many Infrared Sauna Benefits

Anyone that knows me knows full-well that I’m a card-carrying vegetarian and have been for almost 20 years now! (I mean, 10—I’m only 22 *wink*) The research shows that eating as I do affords me a much greater risk of many major diseases, but also lowers a bunch of general concerns such as blood pressure and cholesterol. Many of my friends despise hearing about how much I love being a vegetarian, and much to my amusement I never cease to tell them the latest! Well, now there’s a chance for you to go our and lower all those finicky numbers the doctor’s are always hammering on about—and all you have to do is sit on your butt. The catch is, you have to sit on your butt in a wooden box, that happens to be 130 degrees + inside.

By starting an infrared sauna therapy routine, you may be able to lower your blood pressure, resting heart rate, as well as rid yourself of many long-held toxins that can cause any number of chronic health conditions. The crux of the infrared sauna is that it is able to warm your body from the inside out, using near infrared energy (absorbed by the body like sunlight). This type of thermal harmony in our body means that rather than being heated by the air around us, our entire bodies are heated up from a cellular level! It sounds like weird science, but I assure that it works like a charm, and you’ll be sweating inside of 10 minutes. Unlike many cleanses, detoxes, and other fad diets, the health benefits of infrared saunas are deep-reaching enough that toxins stuck in organs can even be released!

Near Infrared Sauna? Far Out!

Near infrared saunas are similar to ‘far’ infrared ones in that they are both considered infrared. However, near-infrared saunas are capable of producing 10 times the amount of energy that far infrared saunas are! This is an important distinction for many to make, as the more energy produced by the heating elements, the more quickly and efficiently your body will slip into a toxin-eliminating machine! Seriously, I feel much clearer and more energetic than I did a month ago, and the infrared sauna is really the only new addition to my routine. If you’re looking to read more about this type of health practice, you can Google ‘heat therapy’, ‘sweat therapy’, and other similar terms. This article, by Dr. Draxe, is also an excellent overview of infrared saunas and their benefits, use, and differences.

I don’t know that everyone wants one of these things sitting around in their house (about the size of a phone booth, but for those of you looking to make a change involving little physical exertion, infrared saunas may be just what you need!

 

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Best Nootropics brain boosters cognitive enhancement
Health

Nootropics and Other Brain Boosting Tips

Any writer knows the struggle—you’ve got a deadline and your well of inspiration is about as dry as the Sahara. Maybe inspriation isn’t your problem, and you just have too many distractions around (life) to be able to really double-down on your deadline-sensitive work. Regardless of the specifics, I think nearly ever writer has found themselves wishing they had more time to get work done, as well as being able to get more work done in the amount of time that they do have. Well, recently I’ve been reading a LOT about a type of supplements called Nootropics, which as a family of chemical compounds able to provide serious brain-boosting benefits for a plethora of needs and desires.

Having trouble focusing? There’s a Nootropic for that. Want to help actively prevent brain damage that can lead to Alzheimer’s or MS? There’s a Nootropic for that too! Nootropics help the brain get what it needs, use what it has better, and make sure that while it’s using all this stuff that it’s not doing damage to itself or other parts of the body. So it would seem; long gone are the days of shaky Adderall and amphetamine highs during crunch times. I’ve been all-too-often left as a pile of battered, sleep-deprived, starved, sickly waste after crunching to meet a deadline after using Adderall to have the gusto to turn to it anymore. Sure, when I was young it was an easy fix; pop an Adderral and make up for 2 months of procrastination in 48 hours. Who cares if you had to sleep for 24 afterwards if it meant having all that other time to do what you wanted.

Nootropics Aren’t New

While they may be new to you and I, Nootropics isn’t exactly a new science—tracing some of the first discoveries back to the early 1970s. Oddly enough,  Russian cosmonauts were taking a compound called Phenibut during the cold-war era space races. These compounds have been studied in clinical trials and show a wide-ranging array of cognitive boosting abilities such as:

  • Increased Focus
  • Sharpened Clarity
  • Mental & Physical Energy
  • Memory Capacity
  • Memory Retention
  • Neuroprotective Action
  • Increased Blood Flow to the Brain
  • Sense of Well Being
  • Tranquilizing Effects Without Causing Sluggishness
  • Anti-Anxiety Action

There exist a long list of synthetic Nootropics which are able to provide very notable cognitive boosts, while there are also a great many natural Nootropics which offer much more long-lasting, subtle effects. These types of herbal remedies and floral extractives have been used in China, India, and other Asian cultures for hundreds of years and represent a collective of very well-trusted compounds. I’ve found these to be great promoters of subtle help in times of stress or anxiety, and also just when I have trouble sleeping.

Find the Best Nootropics for You

Nootropics are a tricky business when it comes to finding the one that is best for you. In all reality there isn’t really any one best Nootropic but, rather, everyone usually finds a ‘stack’ of best nootropics that work in harmony with one another to promote the desired benefits. For example, you might take one supplement that boosts availability of acetylcholine levels, and antagonizes GABA receptor sites within the brain. To help prevent any issues with long-term use you may want to ‘stack’ a cardiovascular protective agent along with some actual GABA—to ensure your stores aren’t lowered. All in all, Nootropics are an exciting  family of chemicals that can help boost your brain power into a whole ‘nother level!

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Off-Topic

Finally Found Some Decent Bedroom Sets for Sale

I’ll apologize in advance for the off-topic nature of this post—I’m just too excited to help myself! My husband and myself have been searching high and low for some new furniture for our home ( you know, from allllll that freelance writer money! )and we had conceded ourselves to the point that shopping online would be a much better way to approach things. However, being as we don’t know anything about actual furniture, we spent quite a bit of time over the past month checking out local shops to get a feel for the lay of the land. I was left with several impressions, and ultimately made a decision regarding style, and brand, and together my husband and I ordered our dream furniture online—which was way cheaper than buying in store.

The Best Furniture Brands

The first thing I learned is that that statement is really subjective, and is answered depending on which brands cost the most in whichever merchant’s shop one happens to be patronizing currently. As with most consumer goods—you get what you pay for—and furniture is no different. However, we broke things down into general price points, focusing on bedroom furniture, and came up with the following criteria for generalizing the furniture brands by quality (assuming more money gets more quality:)

  • Under $1000
  • Under $2000
  • Over $5000

Now, before you go thinking that we bought a solid Rhodesian marble cocktail table—we were shopping for entire bedroom sets for sale, which included several pieces of furniture such as a bed, night stands, dressers, and mirrors. There are some really decent brands under $1000 like Riverside Furniture, Liberty Furniture, and even some Ashley Furniture sets as well. However, we felt these didn’t quite measure up to what we were looking for, so we kept looking.  The under $2000 group showed us some brands like Bassett, Stanley, and even some more modernish stuff from Baxton Studio. I still feel like we could have found something in this category, but just seemed to run out of time. Over $5000 gets you what you’d expect—practically anything. The prices range wildly, going from nicer pieces by Hooker Furniture, Bernhardt, and Kincaid’s solid wood stuff up into the crazy expensive I-just-got-signed kind of furniture sets like Baker, Restoration Hardware, and other private designers.

Ultimately, we found several modern king size bed sets to choose from that were around $3250, give or take, and really met all of our checklist points. I wanted white, but the hubby talked me down to getting something a little more practical, that would still be in style when our kids *gasp* might have it handed down to them. While that may seem like quite a bit of money to most anyone, you should understand that we got a king size bed, dresser, mirror, two nightstands, and drawer chest all for that price.  Sites like Wayfair.com, Overstock.com, AllModern.com, and even Amazon.com are loaded with great furniture that gets sold cheap, shipped free, and doesn’t include a greedy middle man trying to jack up the price on you.

Happy As Can Be

Since this is so utterly off-topic, I’ll keep it short and go ahead an wrap things up in a tidy manner. We got some new furniture, and it’s amazing! We spent a while in local shops, but realized that we could save as much as $1200 in many cases by simply ordering the furniture online. We cozy-ed up to a few brands, and took our adventure online—landing our  perfect match! As with most large purchases like this, we still have to wait for a bit before everything is delivered, but the anticipation will only make things better!

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Health

Organic Foods & Supplements

Our world is full of commercialized products which undergo sometimes dangerous stages of processing before finding their ways to us. Everyone knows to stay clear of plastics, Styrofoam, and other synthetic materials, but some other risks can be a bit harder to understand. Food is one of the least understood areas in which we are constantly being exposed to harmful ingredients. Chemical processing agents, as well as residual pesticides such as RoundUp are present in trace amounts in nearly all processed foods. To avoid these dangers, an important step is to make sure you are buying as much of your food in its organic form as possible.

Organic foods are regulated differently than other foods in the United States, and offer a greater level of consumer protection. Organic foods aren’t allowed to be grown with the use of harmful pesticides, and there can be no GMO ingredients in certified Organic products. While the research to fully account for the potential dangers of GMO foods isn’t widely agreed upon, most people still understand it to be a risk.

Shopping Organic

If you are new to the concept of Organic foods, you may be wondering where to begin. The best place to start is with your refrigerator. Removing unwanted items, as well as non-organic items, can be a great first step. I’ve always found that when making one change it helps to frame in within another change. That way, you fell less likely to negate on your new change. Simply put; it’s easier to start eating organic if you don’t have any other choice. By throwing out your non-organic foods, you are mentally preparing yourself to commit to buying new, organic food!

Organic food costs a bit more, and is usually available in less varieties. Where your local grocery store may have an entire pepper aisle, there may only be two or three peppers that are certified organic. While this can be a pain, it’s always vital to help remember your goal or building a more robust overall health profile. Sometimes you’ll end up having to go from store to store to get all the food items on your lists; while still accepting that some of your produce will have to have non-organic versions.

The vast majority of positive changes that are able to be seen my eating organic are seen over a long period of time. Nutritional deficiencies may begin to disappear, and you may feel like you have a more youthful approach to life.

Allergen Free Foods

Many people that buy organic foods do so after having learned of sensitivities to other non-organic foods. People suffering from food allergies and intolerances often buy organic products simply because they have a heightened awareness of how food effects their body, and have realized the difference that organic foods can make. Organic foods can help avoid the following:

  • Nut Allergies
  • Daily Allergies
  • Wheat/Gluten Allergies

Manufacturers know that those suffering from these types of issues tend to vote with their wallets pretty powerfully, therefore they truly do go to extreme lengths to ensure purity. Pesticides are a plague on the Earth, and should be avoided at all cost. Certified organic has been produced from a growing process that only uses all natural ingredients such as neem oil.

Summary

Organic produce is free of most all the normally used pesticides and GMO ingredients. Shopping for organic products offers the unique opportunity to help purify your nutritional intake, often allowing for a boost in health. These products are slightly more expensive, but well work the extra cost in the long term. You will certainly not regret making a decision to shift towards an organic lifestyle!

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THE JOYS OF FREELANCE WRITING
Personal

The Joys of Freelance Writing

I’ve been asked many times about my choice to pursue a path of freelance writing; I still don’t know how to answer the question. I’ve always felt a love for the expression of thoughts through written words, as the complexities by which they coalesce give rise to much beauty. I’ve certainly faced the decision of resorting to a staff writer position many times, usually influenced by financial circumstances. I have, during brief periods of my life, been forced to work within this mold. I have reached a point now where I feel confident in saying I have the means to never return to the constriction that is corporate sponsorship. I now operate completely as a freelance journalist, and pursue contracts with only those publishers whom I feel share my values.

Expression as a Profession

Many people pass remarks of their undying love of “being creative,” or some other form of self-expression. It’s my experience that most of these comments are fueled by a lack of opportunity, in a somewhat self-medicating context. You might catch an accountant describing his love for creative hobbies, but a professional portrait artist will unlikely feel the need to clarify this. Maybe it’s balance, or lack thereof, but I’ve always felt that your chosen profession often becomes such a integrative part of your life, that it transcends simple descriptions such as “being creative,” or other surface-bound descriptions.

Creative writing is far removed form journalistic literature; the former being an semi-organized daydream, the latter a rigidly-organized survey of topical flow. For those of us working the grind of a journalist’s life, creative writing rarely seems to be an attractive lure after hard day’s work. Similar to a 5 star chef warming up leftovers after spending 12 hours in a kitchen, we writers also feel the need to separate ourselves from our profession to relax.

More idealistically, I find small outlets within my professional work to slip in small accents of creative accounts. These small flares are found in the connective tissue of journalistic accounts; the accent of an article if you will. Simple expressions of these types of tissue may often be seen as simple strings such as “usually,” “similar to,” or “unsurprisingly.” For example; “The conflict in the Middle East has taken a surprising turn towards peace.” This sentence conveys a topical idea, and an inner expression of specificity. the phrase “has taken a surprising turn towards,” is the area in which creative expression can take hold. Depending on my overall tone, mood, etc., this sentence may appear as “has taken a utterly jaw-dropping,” “has vehemently disregarded normal dynamics and shifted towards,” or even “has calmly glided towards.” Each support the expression of peace in the Middle East, but each do so in vastly different tones; sensational, complex, and feel-good. When reporting news, these are the differences by which political opposites can report the same facts, while still pushing their ideological agendas.

A Journey To Balance

The dynamics of freelance journalism are immense; I have opportunity to constantly improve my own approach. Understanding the best way to accurately communicate facts, while effectively packaging them in tone is an art of self discovery. Through this expression of artistic balance, I am able to constantly find an outlet to better my self, my work, and the reach of my words. I love the profession, the art, and feel so very fortunate that I am able to participate in such an exciting period of our history!

While my blog will ultimately be composed of a vast selection of topical writing, random thoughts and quotes, as well as samples of my professional work; the underlying message I hope to convey is that I love my work. I feel the combined presence of the variation in which I express myself will work to effectively paint a larger picture; that even the most rigid of literary expression leaves room for creative improvisation. Thank you to all that have supported me over the years, I hope you find some joy in this site!

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Health

The Dangers of the Supplement Industry

I’ve been writing  great deal lately regarding the nuances, complexities, as well as the corruption of the American health care industry. Most everyone hears the stories played on the nightly news; big CEOs this, corporate greed that, and falsified clinical trials that. These stories convey a generalized sense of doubt and negativity in the minds of viewers, but often do little to help establish concrete specifics by which consumers may benefit. For example, the New York Times published an article last year detailing a study conducted by a Canadian research group—which published their results from an investigation into the purity of common supplements. The results were shocking, yet not all surprising; many major retailers are offering dietary supplements that are mislabeled, or all together containing ingredients other than those listed on the label.

Corruption & Misrepresentation

Health care products in the United States are regulated quite lightly, in that they are viewed by the FDA as food items, rather than prescription medications. Many supplements and products that are prescription in other countries such as Canada or Germany, are listed as dietary supplements—food—within the United States. This offers a tremendous advantage for those consumers treating their health conditions or illnesses through supplements and nutrition, in that they can simply pick up their “medicine” from the local vitamin store, or easily order them online. However, these consumers are usually the type that know the brands they trust, and opt to go with manufacturers they know to have a good track-record of quality. For the rest of us, the majority, we usually assume that the Wal-Mart brand of Vitamin C would typically be just that—Vitamin C.

As discovered by the Canadian research group, this assumption has been found to be completely false. Large manufacturers such as Target, GNC, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart were found to be selling many of these dietary supplements under false labels, often containing unlisted ingredients, or completely different compounds than those listed on the label! For example, Walmart’s Spring Valley brand’s Ginko Biloba was found to contain zero actual Ginko Biloba, and had rice, mustard, wheat, and radish in it instead. Such misleading of consumer trust should be punishable by some heinous degree but, per usual, little more than a flare on social media and an evening of cursing came about.

Target, GNC, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart were found to be selling many of these dietary supplements under false labels

This article firmly illustrated the importance of choosing quality supplements to me, and I thought I would do my best to warn my readers of the potential dangers. I’ve never personally used many supplements, short of some vitamin C for colds, and a multi-vitamin every now and then. I eat healthy for the most part, and view that plus some regular exercise as my most potent ally in my fight to live forever. However, this  entire subject has gotten me thinking about all the other potentially-mislabeled products that could contain dangerous contaminants, or at least products barely qualifying as  placebo. After much research, I’ve decided I would share with you what I feel is the best way to avoid this type of potential pitfall while picking out supplements or other nutrition products.

Pharmaceutical Grade Health Supplements

There is an entire class of supplement manufacturers that go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure purity of product, as well as ability to be used by your body. These are manufacturers like Biotics Research, Pure Encapsulations, Ecological Formulas, and products from Thorne Research. Thorne, in particular, does much more than sell supplements—leading the industry in establishing nutritional benchmarks, developing clinical trials (yes, just like pharmaceutical companies), and applying robust product testing practices. These companies offer supplements considered to be of pharmaceutical grade quality — which are as potent and pure as any prescription medication you would find on the market. Now, just because they are as pure, doesn’t mean they qualify as substitutes; you should ask your doctor before making any changes if you’re on medication. However, if you are taking supplements, I would recommend changing to one of these trusted supplement brands, which will insure you are getting the purest product possible, and aren’t exposing yourself to any unwanted contaminants.

The entire health care industry is a convoluted mess; the dietary supplements industry is no exception. There does exist, however, a shining few manufacturers that can help you ensure you are getting what you pay for. Research has shown that large manufacturers like Wal-Mart and GNC can’t be trusted, and that their products are inferior and little more than marketing campaigns. The companies such as Thorne Research and Biotics Research are a scientists’ supplement manufacturer—using independent research to drive their product development. You health is the most important thing you have guys, and I hope you take this article to heart and be careful out there!

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