Muscle Sculpting

This the first of 3 health and wellness posts I’m collaborating with other writers on. I’ve enjoyed yoga for years and continue to find amazing benefits including flexibility and strength. More recently, I’ve been swimming more. Dave and I signed up for a sprint triathlon that’s actually in a couple weeks so we’ve been forced to swim more, ha, ha! While my swimming endurance is something I can definitely work on, I have liked mixing up my exercise routine and the benefit of using different muscles. Here are a few suggestions for muscle sculpting:

yoga

Most of us know that lots of aerobic exercises are good for heart health and weight loss. You might enjoy walking a lot, and perhaps you even go jogging occasionally. Did you know that combining these exercises with some weight work can help you to sculpt your body shape more easily? Of course, standing around with dumbbells doesn’t sound like fun, so here are some of the best ways to enjoy toning and building up your muscles:

Yoga

All you need for this one is a workout mat and enough space to put it down. You can find lots of really good Yoga poses online, or even join a class to get more from it. Yoga builds strength in most of your muscle groups. It particularly works the core muscle and can help to improve your posture. Did you know that Yoga can be used for relaxation as well as energizing? Best of all, it serves as the perfect warm-up to stretch all those muscles out well. Low impact stuff that’s fun and good for toning!

Kettlebells

This is the exercise that’s taking America by storm right now. Kettlebells are relatively cheap to buy and you only really need one. Start with just a couple of kilos, especially if you’re coming back to exercise. If you’re asking what muscles do kettlebell swings work, then you’re not alone. After all, it’s just one weight with one handle. How effective can it be? The trick is to use kettlebell swings to work your shoulders, back, and hips. If you don’t want bulky legs, this is perfect because it tones rather than adding mass.

Dancing

There are so many different kinds of dancing, but all of them demand a strong core and good posture. This immediately lifts your entire frame. As you’re up on your ball joints a lot, your legs, ankles, and glutes will enjoy a lot of toning. Best of all, the music motivates you to keep going. There are lots of dance exercise classes, but a standard ballroom, jazz, street, or ballet class will work wonders. Plus it’s social and lots of fun!

Swimming

Do you remember those pregnancy exercise in the water classes? Some people love them, others hate them. Now you’re back to basics, and it’s time to get in the water and start swimming! The movements you ‘enjoyed’ before are actually pretty good warm-ups. But it is the breaststroke and front crawl that is going to help you tone up your shoulders, arms, and back.

Laying on the sofa?

Yes, laying on the sofa can help you tone and even build up your leg muscles. This can be ideal for anyone with a weakened back. For squishier couch seat cushions, add a pillow or two under your lower back as you lay on the sofa. Now raise your legs in the air, one at a time. From here you can start to explore the range of movement in your hips that are comfortable. Leg pushes, splits and kicks can help push the excess fluid away from ankles and knees. And you’ll get some great toning if you perform these during your favorite soap opera each night!

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5 Ways to Counter Negative Self Talk

I came across this article and wanted to share it because I think at one time or another we could all use a pick me up! One of the points is one I’ve talked about as a monthly health tipdon’t compare yourself to others. I firmly believe everyone has something unique to contribute to the world.

5 Steps to Counter Negative Self Talk

By Aurora McCausland

There are plenty of outside forces that affect the way we view ourselves. Some can be good, but all too often, those influences make us feel insufficient, insecure, and alienated. Social media, for example, is an ever-present force, and it often turns negative despite our best efforts. It’s too easy to compare yourself to others and the best parts of their lives, since the best parts of their lives are the only parts they bother to post on social media.

The negative messages can get more and more pointed and heated, whether they’re flaming comments on your Youtube video, or constantly-undermining language from your mother-in-law. However, as bad as these voices can be, the worst thing is when your own internal voices start adopting that criticism. Here are some tips to help you identify and counter negative self-talk.

Stop comparing yourself to others

If you find yourself comparing yourself and your life to other people, then you’ll need to remove the avenues where it makes it easy to compare yourself to them. If you find yourself scrolling through Instagram and feeling bad because everyone else seems to have clean homes, then maybe you should stop following those individuals. It may seem harsh, but your mental health is important, and if you still feel bad, you can explain to your friends why you have to take a break from following them.

Seek support

Sometimes, just removing those influences isn’t enough to keep yourself from feeling negative towards yourself. Because sometimes, it’s a deeper problem than just wishing your kitchen was as clean as someone you follow on social media. Being negative can be the root of mental illness, and letting those negative thoughts fester will only make the problem worse. Talking about the issues can help you feel better, as long as it’s done in a safe space. This could be something that you’ll want to talk to a licensed professional about. Certain therapeutic techniques, like dialectical behavior therapy, for example, help you to target problematic habits and behavior so that you can start having a healthier outlook.

Holistic approaches

There are other things you can do to improve your overall mental health. Some people experience a better wellbeing when they engage in activities such as meditation, yoga, and regular chiropractic visits. These practices are great because not only are they beneficial to your body and your overall physical health, but they carry mental health benefits that will change your life. One of the keys to countering your negative self talk is to eradicate the problem at it’s root. The root of these insecurities is a weak mental state, and by exercising your mind and cultivating a positive environment, you’ll find yourself thinking more positive thoughts and enjoying your life more fully.

Writing therapy

If you’re not comfortable attending therapy, a great alternative is to engage in writing therapy. Writing therapy gives you a creative, and healthy, outlet to express yourself and your thoughts. There are great writing prompts and journaling programs that can help you make the most of your writing therapy practices. Many therapists actually recommend writing therapy as part of your regular therapy practices. Sometimes, the best way to understand your thoughts and the way that you feel is to talk through them. This can be through either talking to someone that your trust, or you can write them out.

Writing them out can sometimes be even more beneficial because some people find that they’re more comfortable writing about their innermost thoughts than they are talking about them. Your journal can’t judge you or make you feel uncomfortable by opening up, and that’s one of the most valuable things about writing therapy practices.

Surround yourself with positivity

You are what you manifest. If you’re constantly telling yourself that you’re messy, sloppy, ugly, or unsuccessful, you will become those things. If you tell yourself that you’re tidy, attractive, successful, and kind, then you’ll be those things. Your thoughts become actions, so make sure that you’re thinking good, positive things. It can be hard to just dispel your negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts, sadly it isn’t that simple.

Make sure that you are surrounded by positive people. If there are people in your life that are negative, then maybe consider spending less of your time with them, and seek out friendships and colleagues that are positive and make you feel good about yourself. Fill your home with beautiful things that make you feel peaceful, and listen to music that is uplifting and wholesome. Surrounding yourself with beautiful nature can be another great way to surround yourself with positivity. It’s easier to think wonderful, positive thoughts, when you’re in a beautiful atmosphere that promotes peaceful thoughts and feelings.

You don’t have to live with uncomfortable and negative feelings. There are ways to combat those feelings and start feeling comfortable with yourself and your life again. There are avenues to seek help or find the help yourself, you just have to consciously make an effort to be positive and start loving yourself and your life. 

Summer highlights

This summer went by way too fast! We kicked off the summer with a road trip to Ansley’s baptism in Idaho with a few days in Salt Lake on our way up. We had an awesome staycation in Newport, an anniversary weekend in Seattle and then another road trip to Provo, Utah for Jake’s wedding! We saw the 7 Magic Mountains again, checked out the improved BYU bookstore, looked for Pokemon around campus, had Bam Bams BBQ with the LeSueurs and the Nashes who also happened to be visiting Utah, found some great babysitters for the wedding festivites – which included Bruges waffles, one of my favorite places in Utah!

The kids also took tennis and swim lessons the last half of summer at their future high school (when Tessa was finally potty trained, ha, ha!!!) They are continuing to improve with their swimming and being comfortable in the water. I think they liked tennis?? Maybe a little too early to tell if they’ll play when they’re older but we’ll probably do more lessons next summer!

Health Tip

health tips give a complimentThis month’s health tip is guaranteed to help you feel better and someone else! If you’re feeling down, a great way to feel a little better is to reach out and compliment someone. While you may not see the impact of your compliment, the recipient will remember it. Focusing on others is something that helps me to see outside my own needs and usually gives me a better perspective on any problems I’m having.

*more health tips here

Seattle

Seattle

We recently celebrated our 11th anniversary in Seattle! We celebrated our decade anniversary last year closing on our house in Texas – so much has happened since then!!! This year, my parents were kind enough to come up and watch the kids for a long weekend while Dave and I flew to Seattle. It was nice and sunny, and pretty warm for Seattle (85 degrees), we stayed at the Marqueen Hotel and could see the Space Needle from our hotel window.

Seattle space needle

Seattle marqueen hotel

We had a great time walking around the city, going to a Mariners game and meeting up with friends we know from BYU tailgating (some which live in Seattle now). Safeco field is an awesome venue, it was perfect weather for a game, lots of good food including garlic fries, good atmosphere and company! Plus we could check another stadium off our list.

Seattle

Seattle

We of course, took a tour of the Space Needle and checked out the Museum of Pop Culture.  We also walked around Pike Place Market and saw the gum wall which was kinda cool and kinda gross ha, ha! We also stopped by the Fremont Troll, the Elliott Bay Bookstore and some record shops (for Dave). We ate our weight in food including one of my new favorite donut shops – Top Pot Doughnuts – which has a very delicious apple fritter!Seattle

Seattle

Seattle gum wall

Seattle fremont troll

Seattle

Seattle top pot donuts

While we missed the kids, it was so nice to relax, not be tied down to a schedule, have time to read, not have to cook or clean, walk around and explore a new city and most importantly, just enjoy each other’s company! It was an added treat to be able to sleep through the night since Tessa still hasn’t recovered her sleep schedule from a few months ago.    Seattle    Seattle is a city we would definitely go back to visit! Until next time!

 

Take them out to the ballgame

Brent and Tessa have gone to many sporting events…mostly in the womb however since their bedtime is at 8, ha, ha! Tessa’s sleep schedule changed over the summer (no more naps) and we’ve been able to take them more places like the Nationals at Dodgers game a few weeks ago. I loved going to Padres’ games with my family when I was younger and since we’ve been married we’ve gone to 20 of the 30 MLB ballparks together. This game the kids were more interested in the hot dogs and catching Pokemon but maybe one day hopefully they’ll develop a similar love of baseball!

nationals at dodgers game

nationals at dodgers game

nationals at dodgers game

 nationals at dodgers game

Put a curly W in the books!

The Perfect Day

What would your perfect day look like? Mine would definitely involve family, food and relaxing! Here’s what I would potentially plan:

8 am – wake up! Luckily for me, the kids usually get up around 8 to 8:30, I usually get up a little earlier so I can be ready for the day before they get up. Tessa also hasn’t really slept through the night since our Utah/Idaho trip 3 months ago so I would be thrilled if we all slept until 8!

8:30 – gym!  Dave and I have always enjoyed working out together (cycling, running, indoor soccer, lifting weights, circuit training, etc.) and usually don’t get to anymore besides Saturdays.

Beach – now that we’re close to the ocean again, any perfect day would definitely include playing and relaxing at the beach. I would also love some authentic hole in the wall Mexican restaurant to get take out to eat at the beach 🙂

 perfect day proverb band

perfect day proverb band

2 pm – this has been nap time for the last basically 5 years! Tessa recently stopped napping so now I would use this time for errands, shopping, or maybe a baseball game!

5:30 pm-dinner and dessert – I would probably pick Mexican or Thai food followed by dessert at Salt & Straw or Donut Friend. After driving back we’d go for a nice long walk in our neighborhood with Bruce to enjoy the sunset.

perfect day proverb band

perfect day proverb band salt and straw

8 pm- bedtime for the kids and Dave and I (and Bruce!) watch a movie, Netflix, catch up on our TV shows or read while listening to music.

10 pm- my bedtime! I love my sleep and enjoy being well rested every morning.

These are my favorite beach items and I have my favorite work out clothes on a later post. These photos are some things I would wear on a perfect day, a comfortable outfit for sunny CA.

Pocket T Shirt (old from gap) // Skirt from Target in store //  Sandals (they’re cork and SO comfortable!) // gold bracelets c/o Proverb Band (minimal and perfect, also promoting values I love: love and peace)

perfect day proverb band

perfect day proverb band

perfect day proverb band

7 Tips for Summer Sun Safety

We’ve been enjoying our first summer in Southern California, and especially the days the kids and I spend at the beach! Newport is the closest beach to us and we usually go about once a week for a few hours. I’m excited to share this guest post about sun safety. My favorite tip is the first one, which may seem obvious, but I’m always sure to slather sunscreen on myself and the kids with a combination of both lotion and spray sunscreen.

By Christine H.

It’s summer! And that means it’s time to get outside and enjoy the wonderful weather. However, as you spend time splashing in the public pool, picnicking at the beach, and hiking through the mountains, take precautions to protect yourself and your family from the sun.

Here are 7 suggestions that will keep you sun-smart this summer:

  1. Wear sunscreen… daily! If you simply slather on some sunscreen when you go to the beach, you’re not doing enough to protect yourself from the sun. Sun has a major effect on your skin. In the short term, it can lead to heat rash and sunburn. But it has more severe effects over time, and it’s cumulative, as this article warns. Sun exposure leads to prematurely aging skin – wrinkles, and sunspots, and loss of elasticity. Even more dangerous, sun exposure can lead to skin cancer. Some melanoma will be minor and simply require removal. Others can spread to the rest of your body and become life-threatening. Wear sunscreen every day, not just when you’re planning a big event outside and you’re worried about sunburn. You should have a daily face cream that protects against UV rays.
  2. Cover up. Sunscreen can’t do everything. Sometimes the best technique for protecting yourself from the sun is the old-fashioned one. Wear a hat to protect your eyes and face from direct light and glare. Wear longer sleeves to limit your sun exposure. Also remember to seek out shade and bring umbrellas with you for outdoor events. It might seem counterproductive to cover up more when you’re hot, but it can actually protect you from heat stroke and exhaustion.
  3. Guard your eyes. Wearing a hat helps protect your eyes from UV rays, but you’re better off wearing sunglasses to keep your eyes healthy. Much like your skin, your eyes can age prematurely with exposure to sun. UV rays can lead to a higher chance of cataracts and AMD. Not all sunglasses are created equal, so take a close look at your purchases. Do they say that they protect from UVA and UVB rays? If not, they might be even more harmful than not wearing glasses at all, since they encourage your eyes to keep the pupils dilated, which lets in more harmful UV light.
  4. Take precautions when you go camping and hiking too. If you’re in the woods or up in the mountains, you might not feel as hot and so you won’t think as much about how much sun you’re being exposed to. However, you’ll probably get more sun through the day than you usually do during just an hour or two at the pool. So bring sunscreen with you, and be realistic about the effects that the sun is having on you. Seek shade when possible, and drink lots of water. Sun exposure can also create fatigue in your body, which you’ve probably noticed if you’ve ever slept really well the night after a day spent sunbathing. This might be caused by dehydration, and your body working overtime to regulate chemicals and temperature.
  5. Think outdoor events through. Often, fairs, music festivals, and things like amusement parks can cause a lot of health problems because people aren’t thinking about how much sun and heat they’re getting. The crowds can make things even worse, especially if you’re at a music festival or other event where people are in close quarters. So, as you walk into an event, look around and see where the medical tent is. Plan your time under shade. This link has some great suggestions for being safe at an outdoor event.
  6. Be aware of signs of overexposure. Sometimes, exposure to sun isn’t just about your skin and your eyes. Sun exposure can lead to fainting, or heat stroke. So recognize the symptoms and take care of yourself if you start exhibiting some of these problems:
    1. Dizziness
    2. Faintness
    3. Blackout
    4. Headache
    5. Trouble focusing
    6. Spots in your vision
  7. Hydrate more than you think you have to. You may not feel dehydrated while you’re out and about and being busy. But if you’re spending time in direct sunlight, you will get dehydrated. Make a conscious effort to drink water before, during, and after your time outside.

 

Sun safety is important, but so is making the most of your summer. It’s a great season to meet new people, try new things, and have some fun! This article has some great suggestions for things to do to get the most out of your time, whether it’s in the sun or not. So don’t let the warnings scare you away from doing what you want to this summer. Just be smart!7 summer sun safety tips

My favorite beach products here

My favorite way to stay hydrated here

5 ways to increase your self confidence

No matter who you are, there are always situations where you may wish for a bit more self confidence. I think I was pretty shy as a child and learning to speak to adults and really anyone is something I learned a lot on my mission. While I’m not the most self confident person in the world, I do feel that with practice, I’m able to talk to basically anyone. Here are 5 things that have helped me:

1.Firm handshake – a firm handshake can convey that you are a strong and confident person. You don’t need to use a death grip when shaking someone’s hand but you should also try to avoid the ‘dead fish’ handshake.

2. Good posture – body language says a lot about you and your personality. Standing tall can make you feel and appear more confident even if you are feeling nervous. Pull your shoulders back because you are in charge.

3. Have a quick look to appear ‘put together’  – Doing something small can often help you feel more ‘put together’ with your best face forward and more confident. This doesn’t mean you have to be extra fancy or wear a lot of make up. Often looking your best can help you feel your best. I find that small things like having my nails nice or painted, I feel more ‘put together’. Other small ways to look and feel your best include brushing your hair, adding an accessory like earrings, putting on a lip color, cleaning your shoes from any scuffs, etc.

4. Whiten your teeth – smile with confidence by using a teeth whitener. My favorite is the teeth whitening system from Smile Brilliant (save $25 with code ‘jamtartmd25’). The trays are custom fit to mold to your teeth. It comes with whitening gels to use in the trays followed by a desensitizing gel. To see my previous results, click here.

5. Pretend that everyone likes you – whether it’s meeting new people or giving a presentation or speech, pretend that everyone already likes you and are friends.With this mindset, you can overcome hesitation, fear, or nervousness. Chances are that they like you anyway!

5 ways to increase self confidence

5 ways to increase self confidence

Romper from Carissa Miss, an awesome apparel shop where 100% of the proceeds goes towards the National Footsteps for Fertility grant.