Tuesday, September 3, 2013

One Year Later, Love Means THIS Now.

It's been exactly one year since Christopher William Jones and I kneeled down in a remote temple (of unglorious aesthetic), in the lone monk's personal quarters; on the raw cement floor; bug bites squished against the concrete; sweat pouring down our faces; my dress itching like a chipmunk in a haybale. The monk waving his water and incense around our faces as our eyes squinted closed. We listened intently to the chants as we tried to meditate our way into serenity. But the discomfort was almost too overpowering. So we chose surrender, and comfort came as we remembered the purpose of our suffering: To unite in pure, unconditional love, for always, no matter what.

This momentous (aforementioned) day - September 3, 2012 - holds more meaning to me now than it did back then. Our wedding day: Full of metaphors for the calms and storms that became our first year of marriage. The discomfort, at times so unbearable that you wonder how much more you can take; and the surrender, the quiet happiness of knowing you are loved, and that you love him no matter what, in return.

That day, there was bickering as I tried to convince him there was life at the temple; that the mangy street dogs in our way would not stop us. There was patience - oh, so much patience - as he helped me peruse the sweaty shops for a "wedding scarf." There was comradery, as we joked our way through a gag-inducing flea market, picking through rotten fruit to find edible gems for our monk. There was service, as - after a walk in the heat made anguishing by innumerable mosquito bites - Chris returned from out of a laundromat with two cold beers, and news that the folks inside would let me use their bathroom. There was excitement: An adventure across the island to get married! We were truly venturing into the unknown. There was hope, and faith, that there was a temple on the island, let alone a monk to perform the ceremony. There was support, as we kept each other's spirits afloat on a long journey to the edge of the country, at the end of which we weren't exactly sure where we'd end up.

It's obvious our life together has not been, nor will always be, easy. But it is robust; full of adventure; secure with unconditional support; demanding of awareness; illuminated by understanding, fun, fiesty, maddening, passionate, endearing and BLISSFUL.

I hear people say "he pushes me to be the best I can be," and that's never made sense until now. My darling is patient as I work out my quirks, on my way to finding my true self, while we both strive toward a more perfect partnership. He's looked inside as well to heal and to grow, and through these processes, we've become incomprehensibly close. We know each other's secrets, and insecurities; our  best traits and triumphs; our generosities and our inherent needs.

This, all of the aforementioned, is how I define love. I've never had this before, and am unspeakably grateful for it. This man who has come into my life: I love you. And I am thankful to be IN THIS with you. This LOVE. This LIFE. You are pure to me, and - with one year down - I want you to know I'll take a thousand more.

Monday, September 2, 2013

HAPPINESS Was ALWAYS Inside.

It's funny reading my past blogs, and thinking, "How was I so enlightened? I needed that advice just the other day!" It's like I've gone in and out of consciousness for the past year and a half. Sometimes, I'm elated - in love- self-assured. Others, I'm dismal, introspective, humble. I've posted about searching for answers, as well as having the answers. Nothing has been consistent. Except the inconsistency of my higher knowledge - which pops in to offer such good advice, but at such unpredictable times.

I've felt the Nirvana of knowing who I am. But it has come and gone, along with great traumas - of which, I've experienced plenty over the past year and a half - as well as moments of blissful ecstasy. 

I've done a lot of therapy. Meditation. Horse therapy. Mom advice. Counselors. I've delved so deep into my psyche - seeing things I can never audibly describe to anyone - that sometimes, I feel like a ratted twine-ball of analysis, that would more easily be swept away than patiently untangled. But the untangling is paying off. And one strand at a time, I am finding a consistency to my thoughts, my feelings; to who I am.

I quit drinking. I didn't think I had a problem - I don't drink all that often. But I realized that I'm not a one-and-done kind of drinker. I'm a none-or-10 kind of drinker. But...that's because it stresses me out to drink. I drink MORE to drown the worries about how MUCH I'm drinking (is it too much? how about the calories? will I be hungover tomorrow?), or how I'm acting (am I being overly sensitive to the conversation? how will my husband/friend/etc say I've acted tonight?), or how I'll get home.

THE FREEDOM!!!

It's awesome to know a world where I don't have to even worry about whether drinking is an option or not...it's NOT! I don't have to stress about whether or not I'll have to turn down that Sunday afternoon glass of wine...the decision is made! And my husband is equally as excited about his own sobriety, too. It's like, a new world has opened up to us, which has complex levels of fun hidden at every turn. It's not just a numb monotone; the sound of which not even all the fancy dinners and operas and hotels in the world can lift up into exalted harmony.

Getting that stress out of my life, as well as being in a job I LOVE (I'm a morning radio host now),  making time for my husband and family, playing outside, cooking and being organic is putting a tractor beam straight into my soul. I'm ME for the first time in a long time, and as I keep doing exactly what I'm doing, every day, I will solidify that TRUE ME more and more.

Crazy how out of touch we can get with ourselves. Walls upon walls, lies we tell to our innermost self, alter egos and false realities...wow, it's a scary world in there.

So step back. Breathe in. Look deep. It's scary at first, and takes extreme patience and support, but let me assure you that that big mess is just waiting to be cleaned up....only to reveal a shining marble masterpiece underneath. One that is genuinely YOU. And you, the real YOU, my dear, hold all the intuitive intelligence you'll ever need. 


Thursday, July 25, 2013

HALLELUJAH! I Found the PERFECT Natural Deodorant!

My years-long quest for a natural (aluminum- and propylene glycol-free) deodorant has caused heartache, pain, and a two-foot buffer between my husband and I. So I am praising the heavens for my recent discovery of THAI CRYSTAL.

The stuff is cheap ($6, Whole Foods) and has literally one ingredient: Mineral salts. Wet your armpits a bit and rub the salt-lick rock on 'em, and your odor will be neutralized ALL DAY LONG (and it dries instantly). It truly lasts up to its 24-hour promise! Even in triple-digit temps, you'll be B.O.-free! My husband can vouch, and he has a highly discerning nose.

So, everybody, may I present, the straight-up LORD of natural deodorants! Cheers to the odor-free years ahead!
 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Natural Deodorant Reviews

I haven't worn deodorant with aluminum or propylene glycol in it since I found out about their effects nearly two years ago. But I haven't felt 100-percent confident in my "scent" since I switched. I feel like I will find a good one, then after a few weeks (or a few minutes) it stops working, forcing me to switch brands. So, I figured I'd save you the trouble of trying the ones I already have:

Alba Botanica Deodorant Stick - Fail. Fail. Fail. From the beginning, it failed. And I was rooting for it, as the ingredients are IDEAL (baking soda, lichen, tea trea). And it TINGLED when I first put it on. I thought for sure it would work. But after the first

Jason Tea Tree or Lavendar Natural Deodorant - This brand worked GREAT for 3-4 weeks just applying in the morning, but then, one day, I started to smell after a few hours. GRR!

Burt's Bees Natural Deodorant - Offering a somewhat manly, woodsy scent (men would love it), I thought it would be an option powerful enough to withstand a summer day. WRONG. I swear, even the moment it slid on my skin and mixed with my chemistry it FAILED. Husband said I smell WORSE wearing this than just my own body odor. Disappointing!


Coconut Oil - Despite its ability to treat/cur/clean pretty much anything, it does not DEODORIZE under the arms.

**What I have had the most luck with is called "crystal spray" (any brand), which seems to neutralize odors for the long-haul. So if you have suggestions, FIRE AWAY! I need your help!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cosmopolitan? Don't Mind if I Do.

Embarrassed to say, I got hooked for a day.
It's happy hour for me.

It's been happy hour for the past week. I feel a renewed sense of purpose, and I feel like I'm getting back to my true self. Crazy how little things, big things, downright traumatic things - can get you a little sidetracked. But those moments have a place in life, and it's to remind you to ask yourself, am I still pursuing my dreams? Living my purpose?

I feel like I am doing that right now. And, I've gotta admit, I'm feeling a little more L.A. then Green Acres. Yes, I'm still an organic freak, but I do so love the call of the wild, and by that, I mean a life lived BIGGER. No limits.

Doesn't help that today, in the half-hours sandwiching my workout, I got stuck on "Vanderpump Rules," a Hollywood-based reality show where pretty people wait tables while also waiting for their next big break. Cocktails, parties, the occasional Vegas trip, the audition, the photoshoot...it's all so appealing to me. I love L.A. I love the city, the people, the opportunity...sigh. Where was I?

Oh, happy hour.

The bright, city-vibe studio at Salt Lake Power Yoga.
I spent mine today at Salt Lake Power Yoga. And speaking of L.A., it feels VERY much so. There aren't many attractions within the "high rises" (which aren't so high) of downtown, so the fact that this studio is on the third floor, with a panoramic view of mountains and skyline (btw, a refreshing departure from the mirrors), can make one feel very cosmopolitan. Like, "Hm, yes, I just left my fancy job to meet my girlfriends for some yoga. We're getting green tea after, then making plans for sushi and a Passion Pit concert this weekend." The modern digs - complete with a gorgeous locker room - add to this feeling that you're in downtown Somewhere Awesome.

My budding-yogi of a sister, Jessica. She's strong and beautiful.
My little sister, Jessica, invited me there. She's a regular, and it shows. She looks great, and even though I teach yoga sometimes, she was giving me a run for my money! Doesn't surprise me, though. In addition to sharing the same laugh, her and I are also both known to put our whole Hulk into anything that catches our interest. As for the class, remember Bikram? The 100-degree, 90-minute boot camp of yoga? Salt Lake Power Yoga spools a similar line, but the heat only hits 90 - and the humidity feels less - and instead of holding basic poses for long periods of time, you are moving through many poses, quickly, within the hour of class. You definitely sweat, so Bikram-grade gear is good, but I was the only one in booty shorts - a cue that you don't have to prepare for such extreme conditions.

I feel "worked out," but also energized. I felt like going for a run afterward! (But instead, I wandered around Whole Foods, talking to my sister in Oregon, while sipping a kombucha and browsing the fair trade shea butter lotion.)

When I got home, I looked at myself in the mirror. Body was a-glow after being sweated out. My eyes and smile were bright. My spirits are high. My dreams are big. And for the first time in a long time, they feel specific, and tangible.

All of this makes me feel as euphoric as if I'd spent happy hour sipping my favorite (skinny) cocktail.

Cheers to doing what makes you happy.... :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Valentine's Day Plans? Ending to Violence Toward Women.

1 in 3 women experience rape or beatings in their lifetime, according to One Billion Rising, the "biggest mass global movement" in raising awareness about the treatment of women across the globe.

And thanks to a strong, passionate Utahn named Ruth Arevalo, One Billion Rising spread to Utah. Known for its Valentine's Day, world-wide flash mobs, OBR invites people to take a look at the reality of what women face all over the globe. Ruth told me about this cause, and the statistics, and fueled even further by my own experiences, and those of family and friends - not to mention all the anti-feminist legislation swirling around the politisphere - I felt now is the right time to "rise." So Ruth took my story, and wove it together with other Utah voices.

You can read it HERE.

I also felt compelled to join in the flash mob (even now, I can't believe I did a FLASH MOB!). One of my best friends, Stephanie, offered to come with me, and even on Valentine's Day, her sweet fiance Chris sacrificed his candlelight dinner to tag along and support (and film!) our movement. It was a beautiful feeling to be joined together in peaceful protest of violence towards women, and show the world we are creatures of love who demand nothing but that in return. What more touching Valentine's Day message is there than that? :)

Check out the video!

You Hold the Key to Your 'Next Level.'

I did something BIG this week. Over the past 6 days, I brought to fruition a time-intensive, research-laden, I-can't-believe-I-actually-did-it project. This, while working two jobs, being sick for 2 of those days, attending to a slew of baby showers and personal obligations. Well, I knew this was something I had to complete in order to GROW. It was a wish I had taken action on to create, and now that it was here, I just couldn't turn my back on it (as much as my mind chatter told me I wanted to). So I picked up the phone, ignited my email fingers, and squeezed water out of rocks to make time in my schedule. And the result:


That's right. No money. No fame. No recognition (except from my ridiculously supportive husband who too often has to convince me that I already possess all the qualities I need to succeed). I'm just proud I DID IT.

I committed to something. Grew myself. Learned. Endured. Made it happen when I didn't think at first, that it would. Surprised myself. Taught myself this valuable lesson:

 














If you're stuck in a rut, sometimes there's no easy fix. Sometimes the only way out is to get your Carhartts on and work your way out of it. GROW your way out of it.

Learn something new, take on a new project, do something you've only dreamed of doing but have been too scared to try. From writing that first chapter, to taking that online class, to making a PowerPoint for your boss...put that bored brain to use, and trust me, even if you don't get any reward or praise, the inevitable feeling of self-confidence and true pride in yourself is valuable enough to make it worth it.

And don't be surprised if it ushers you into your next phase of being. :)

All Up in the Gym. Again.

This yogi is adding "lunk" to her resume.

Part of my plan to beat the winter blues naturally (watch the KUTV segment I did on that HERE) is getting up and moving. And the only method that really sounds appealing, for some reason, is pushing weights around and tearing up a few treadmill miles at a gym.

This awesome little gym (one of those strip mall ilk) is not five minutes from our house, and it costs me a whopping $7.99 a month. The trainers greet me by name, and the environment is really laidback.

After 30-45 minutes on the treadmill, I use weights and yoga for another 30-40 minutes of strength training. All to my own soundtrack of dubstep, or metal, or new-age drum sounds....after all these yoga classes and boot camps, it's nice to be able to zone out to my own music, while I do my own thing.

Hopefully, I'll be in the kind of shape I was LAST year, in time for bathing suit season (look below in my little green swimsuit....I had the "V")! Because this year we have boat friends...and I'm getting good at wakeboarding...

I do backbends too much, maybe. #lunknow #yogiforever
















In fact, see just how awesome I am at it in this live shot I did over the weekend at the boat show.

Enjoy! ((blows water out of her nose))





Sunday, February 3, 2013

Progressing Yoga Practice.

Yoga is pretty much my life right now. I've practiced every day...or rather, in the evenings, the candlelight flickering in my dark living room...for the past week, and it feels so good. It's so true that with practice, improvement is simply inevitable. I remember before I got really into it, the "crane" position was a figment of my imagination. But just by trying it, and yes, falling on my face sometimes (it really doesn't hurt that bad), I can now do it, and hold it, with a fair amount of ease. And I honestly didn't try practice that hard.

Crane or crow pose (the bottom is super-advanced style)
A lot of this ambition comes from my position with Yoga For People. I've been fortunate to study under its founder, Santosh Maknikar, for the past, i don't know, year or so. Now, I have a practice that not only serves me well, but also allows me to spread my "yoga truth" as community service. I feel strongly that by sharing my practice with others - whether it's through a volunteer class at the Road Home, or a one-on-one with someone in my family (had a blast exchanging moves with my sister yesterday) - the world becomes a better place by feeling yoga's benefits. More on that in this blog.

I'm feeling the benefits, too, and not just for my heart (like this new study suggests). My mind is clearer, it's easier to stay PRESENT, and my priorities are slowly but surely, shifting into focus.

As my practice advances, so have my opportunities to teach. Starting in March, I will teach three times a week at SLC's donation-based yoga center (located within the Krishna Temple). Also, my yoga as community service will grow beyond the Road Home, and include several classes at SLC's City Library. I will keep you updated on the dates and times, because I would love nothing more than to share an hour of love with you!!

Another beautiful thing I've learned about yoga is that you can use certain poses to enhance certain areas in your life. For example, if you are stressed and high-strung, do a sequence of floor or feet-to-the-floor poses to ground you. If you need to boost your motivation, try sky- or forward-reaching poses. And if you feel like you need more focus, hold poses for longer, or try poses that require more attention (like balancing stick). I've tried all of these this week, and am amazed at how by just doing this mind-body association, I now incorporate all of these characteristics!

Being present on your mat can help you be present in real life.
Anyway, I'm so excited about where my yoga path - which started four years ago with a class at 24 Hour Fitness, advancing into months of hardcore Bikram, finally leading me to the Yoga for People board - is taking me, and that in the near future, I will get to walk along this wonderful road with you.

Waheguru! (similar to Namastepraise the divine light within you)

****Also, folks, if you'd like to donate your old yoga mat, or need to borrow one, please contact me right away! :)


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bust Your Breakout.

I had to go to the mall today, which is rare for me - for so many reasons. The glitz and glam allures you to spend needlessly....plus, what do I need that I don't already have? And...so many trends that I'll never be able to keep up with....the list goes on.

But one great reason to visit the mall is to trade in my used beauty product "pots" from the "natural, hand-made cosmetics" store, LUSH. Turn in five, and you get a free face mask. And these face masks are AMAZING. There are 7 or 8 different kinds - all tailored toward different results - and every ingredient is active. I make off with the "BB Seaweed" mask that helps smooth skin, and fight breakouts (I love the thick, muddy texture, and chunks of real seaweed!).

Speaking of fighting breakouts, my skin sucks right now!! And it's my own fault.

This is what must be done.

1. Clean Makeup Brushes
It's annoying to do, but these babies are breeding grounds for bacteria, even if you use all-mineral, all-natural stuff. Here's the solution: Simply "shampoo" the brushes with natural dish soap, and rinse (warm) till water's clear. It might take a few "repeats." Reshape their manes and lay out on a towell overnight to dry.



2. Examine Your Diet
Sugars and grease that we put in our bodies get secreted out through our pores, and bacteria LOVE to feast on this stuff, creating pimples. So defend yourself from within by eating a clean diet full of green veggies and healthy fats, and drinking more water than usual, to flush out toxins.

3. Get a Deep Treatment
Like my seaweed mask, your skin loves a little extra nourishment every once in awhile. A deep treatment might be just what your skin needs to get the gunk out, and re-balance. I know my face felt all sorts of clear and glowy after my own little mud fight! Just make sure that you recognize all the ingredients so as not to reintroduce new toxins, or shock your skin into a reaction.
 




Thursday, January 24, 2013

3 Ways to Achieve Your Dreams.

Over the past few months, if you've been reading regularly, you've likely noticed a blue tone to some of my posts. I've talked a lot about a need to change things in my life, or "be better" at "following through." Being my true self. Living my best life.

All of that - I realize - came from the fact I had big dreams, but felt helpless to achieve them. But then, as is usually the case, something traumatic happened to remind me that life is short, and I have no choice but to believe I can reach every single one of my dreams. (It's like that phrase, "You'll never GET what you don't ASK for.")

So how do you start on the journey following your bliss? Well, you need to accept that it IS a journey, and may take some steps to achieve. Then, visualize and LIVE life as though those dreams are happening NOW (because they always are, even if they're only in the beginning stages!). You'll notice that you'll attract opportunities that fall right in line with your plan.

1. Dream Big
What do you REALLY want in life? What would give you the biggest smile on your face every morning? Whether it's simplifying and de-cluttering, or amassing fame and riches, it can be yours. But you have to BELIEVE it can be yours. How else are you going to make decisions that will lead to it, if you don't believe that's a reality? For example, It's hard to choose the color of the drapes if you won't accept that you'll have the drapes.

2. Create a Vision Board
The best way to lay out your plan is to VISUALIZE it. You'll notice you will naturally prioritize your dreams/goals as you paste them into reality (who knew you'd be drawn to so many relationship-related photos? Or that your "money" cutout didn't even make the cut?).


Source: toneitup.com via Talia on Pinterest

3. Don't Look Back
It's a good idea to start closing doors to the things in your life that don't fit with your new vision. That way, you feel free to pursue, to move FORWARD (and not compelled to slip back into old ruts). For example, if it's a new career in your horizon, leave your current job for a temporary one while you work toward your dream. You won't have all that stale energy holding you down!

Do you need some extra help making that first step? Your only limits are in your head; they're fake! Your vision is REAL!

If you still need some inspiration, drop me a line. I would love to be a part of your journey! :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Memories and Mind-Expansion at Sundance 2013.

The most Hollywood time of year for Utah is January, when Sundance Film Festival takes over Park City.

I have a certain fondness for the fest. Not only have I covered it as press for the past six years, made valuable L.A. contacts (one even led to an audition as the host of ABC's "Wipeout"), and gained my footing executing live broadcasts from buzzing Main Street, but some of Chris and my earliest couple's moments happened secretly under the bright lights of the projector.

This was our first-ever 'couple's camera-phone pic,' taken at the Red Lion.
Though we never posted it on Facebook....
It's framed in our living room.
Last January, Chris and I had been seeing each other, but this was our first big, planned date. And we didn't even hit Park City; we just staycationed it downtown, hoping to stay under the radar (we figured when you work together, that's probably the way to go). The day couldn't have run smoother: We ate hummus at Mazza, had drinks at Desert Edge, scored some movie tickets at Trolley Square, watched Scandinavian-bodybuilder-seeks-Thai-wife drama, "Teddy Bear" at Tower Theater...

After that, we ate at Bourbon House and got a room downtown. In fact, we were having so much fun, we skipped our next two films to talk all lovey-dovey-like in the dim sports bar in the belly of the Red Lion, where we knew we'd avoid bumping into colleagues.

Then, this year - a few Facebook relationship status changes later (single - dating - MARRIED) - we experienced the "Park City" Sundance together, seeing movies and perusing Main St. Of the several movies we saw, two in particular stood out.

"Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer"
Nadia, Masha and Katia are Russian women - two of them, even wives and mothers - who believe women, and culture, should have a bigger voice amid the heavy hand of the Orthodox church and immovable government. They use bright masks and punk music to draw attention to their cause, and when they decided to perform in one of Moscow's most revered cathedrals (see video below), President Putin decided to make an example of them. The girls got locked away, strung along by vague charges, through years of imprisonment and trials. I was inspired by the way the girls didn't let imprisonment break them. They weren't scared of it, because they knew they were moving towards a goal  - a goal of progress in their country. How beautiful to witness that real, human resolve, and also, that the steadfast had faith that their "absurd" little act might influence the way Russia views women, and the sacred art of expression, in the future.



"The Moo Man" 
You've heard about the benefits of raw, organic milk, but what does it take to produce it? This documentary follows dairy farmer Stephen Hook as he cares for his 55 cows on his UK farm. The personal touch he lends to the care of these animals is endearing, even if the male cows are still castrated, and the females are still impregnated over and over again throughout their lifetime, in order to keep them producing milk...until they are spent, then sent to slaughter. However, Hook says when male calves are born - apparently useless animals to a dairy farm - he doesn't shoot them "when they're a day old, like other farms." Instead, he raises them for several years until they become fine, hand-raised meat product. There's one part where, as he's divvying up ribs, rump and roast, Hook is recalling the personality of the steer he has slaughtered. So, while it's sweet to see how Hook cares for his cows, and how he is struggling to stand up to factory farming, it's still a picture of why veganism is the only way to ensure total humane-ness when it comes to animal husbandry.

Press lounge hot chocolate bar. You try to turn down those 'mallows!
And it wasn't just the films that made me feel a greater sense of global connection, but also the eco-conscious environment in Park City this year. Not only was I being good to my body by avoiding alcohol and junk food (ok, I had a small cup of hot chocolate - I was craving marshmallows!), but I also picked up on some great messages about being aware.

Rad T-shirt, Main St. coffee shop

Importance of trees, and TreeUtah 
My sweetie and I lounge-hopping on Main Street.
So though I got a syrupy wink from Mario Lopez (he's going to make some guy a very lucky man someday), and got to prance around on-air at the celeb-studded, farm-to-table restaurant, The Farm at the Canyons, I really just enjoyed getting schooled in world issues with my darling movie-buff sweetheart. In fact, I'm carrying on the mind-expansion by watching Netflix-streaming doc, "The Business of Being Born," which pits hospitals against midwives (the statistics for healthy babies are through the roof with midwives!).

Tell me, what have you watched lately?

Good News in the News.

It's not often clean food and energy make top billing in a newscast, but today is one of those rare days.

A quick news whip for ya:

Utah's TRAX system wants to help you fight pollution.
Free  Transit Pass for Your Clean-Air Pledge
Hours after two Utah cities were named "worse air quality in the country," Utah Transit Authority and SLC's Downtown Alliance drummed up a plan to get folks fighting this inversion through their transport choices. What they're offering: Score a free all-day bus and TRAX pass if you go online HERE and pledge to use it on a "red air" day. The organziations say your commuter choices make a big difference in our air quality.

President Calls for Environmental Change
Granolas who heard President Obama's inauguration speech were likely grinning ear to ear. The Commander in Chief promised a renewed effort to tackle climate change this term, as well as a promise preserve America's forests, water ways and crop lands. He also called on Americans to create more sustainable energy.

Americans Consume Less Corn Syrup
Reports have linked high-fructose corn syrup to obesity and diabetes, planting the seed for a down-fall in consumption. New statistics prove that U.S. consumers are cutting back on products made with HFCS. But it's not just consumers cutting back, but also the manufacturers. Last year's surge in corn prices means HFCS is not the cheapest sweetener anymore, so the fiscal advantage of its use in food has dropped. In fact, the USDA project the amount of corn that will go to creating HFCS will fall to the lowest number since 1997. This could mean that more mainstream food producers who have used HFCS in the past, might move to other modes of sweetener.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Moving Forward.

TODAY,
I START MY JOURNEY
TOWARD THE REST 
OF MY LIFE.

*It's a common sentiment, but today, this carries the utmost meaning for me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Why I Love Jessica Alba.

Jessica Alba with some of her all-natural baby products.
You saw her glowing at the Golden Globes...she's a high-profile celeb who plays superheroes, sexpots and spies. So it comes as some surprise that in real life, Jessica Alba's main role is: Diaper Activist.

Alba is the founder of The Honest Company, an online seller of all-natural baby and home products, which includes a stylish line of plant-based, biodegradable, yet somehow AFFORDABLE, diapers.

Alba said she started the company after reading the whistle-blowing book, "Healthy Child, Healthy World" (also now a parent reference site for natural child health). Alba contacted - and eventually partnered with one of the authors in hopes of bringing solutions to the toxic products and situations described in the book. So, with experienced making her own, simple beauty and home products, Alba and her partners launched a product line of eco- and body-friendly products, which range from diapers to body oil to dishwasher detergent pods.

The Honest Company makes biodegradable, non-toxic diapers.
But it's not just the products that get rave reviews from customers, but also the way in which you can order them. Sign up for an easily cancel-able membership and you can opt to receive a monthly "bundle" of diapers and wipes, or a "family essentials" pack of body, baby and household products.

The company says they give you enough diapers and wipes in that shipment to last the whole month, and you update the age and size of your baby on your profile on the website.

And even though the products are made with what The Honest Company says are "expensive" ingredients, the prices are relatively low because there are no storefronts to create overhead (they do have a headquarters, which the company says is eco-conscious, and hopes to be LEED-certified soon). So a diaper/wipe bundle runs $79.95/month, and the family essentials bundle runs $35.95/month (BabyCenter.com says conventional/non-natural diapers/wipes can cost up to $80/month).

So what's better than getting a good deal on items that are good for the environment? Getting them for free! You can get a sample bundle on their website.

Who knew that Jessica Alba - or diapers, for that matter - would become a part of my green world? :)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

NATURAL UTAH's Launch and 2News Debut!



This blog is growing, thanks to you!!! 
Introducing my new online green guide, "Natural Utah," which you can find at SimpleGreenMe.com!

2News This Morning featured me and the new site today - on its official launch date - in a segment on 

Check it out (and get a taste of the site) HERE!

Please let me know what you think, and what changes would help you enjoy the site better!

Thank you so much for supporting me, and being interested in better your life and environment!

Much love and gratitude.

Amanda

Friday, January 11, 2013

Finally, Natural Shampoo that Works!

Switching to organic shampoo is one of the most important things to do in your beauty routine, simply because many non-natural solutions contain phthalates (which the EWG deems harmful to endocrine and reproductive systems). Your scalp easily absorbs chemicals, too, sucking them through the skin and launching them straight into your bloodstream.

So, I've chosen to use organic shampoo, though with the brands I've tested (this one, and this one), I've had to wash twice in order to get the residue out of layers of my thick hair. It's been frustrating.

I noticed that the brands I've tried all tout "moisturizing," so, in troubleshooting, I decided to search for the opposite: CLARIFYING.

I'm working on a piece about baking soda and vinegar, which will air on 2News This Morning this coming Sunday, and in my research, realized I had hair-cleaning powers right at my fingertips.
So, I grabbed one of the empty beauty bottles my dear sister gave me for Christmas, and filled it with the following solution:
RECIPE:
1 tablespoon baking soda
1-2 cups WARM water (to make soda dissolve)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
**Add a few drops of tea tree essential oil if you're treating dandruff

TO USE:
 Shake it up, pour over wet hair, and massage scalp
Leave in as long as you can, 5-15 minutes
Rinse
After your shower, towel-dry hair and apply a small amount of natural oil ONLY TO ENDS

Once I blowdried my hair, it was INSANE how much lighter my hair was (and no hidden grease/buildup anywhere!). Because it wasn't held down by excess moisturizers, it went so voluminous when I styled it, and looked so shiny and healthy.


I am blown away that the best shampoo was found in my cleaning cabinet! And for just pennies on the ounce.

Take that, Vidal Sassoon! ;)

**Though this mixture is color-safe, I read that you should only "clarify" 1-2 times per week to avoid stripping all the oils from your hair. But I only wash about that many times per week - thanks to dry shampoo!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Easy Ways to Shop Yourself GREEN.

Does "organic" start at the store? Well, unless you grow your own produce and crochet your own sweaters, for most of us, it does. And that's good news, because with a little bit of knowledge, you can make a positive impact on your health, and the environment.

DON'T FORGET YOUR FABRIC  BAGS
Probably the biggest thing you could do is cut down on the amount of non-compostable, pollutant-to-make items known as the plastic shopping bag (did you know Eugene, OR outlawed them all together?). Paper is not as bad, but those still mean dead trees and transport pollution, so just bring your bags. I put mine in my car. I also designate a "produce" bag (it's a slick material that's easy to clean) that I keep sanitized so that I can bypass all the plastic produce bags, and carry them all in one basket.

PACKAGING
Look for items with as little packaging as possible, and as sustainable/recyclable packaging as possible. I noticed that for some reason, things in "brown" packaging are almost always more eco-conscious! And paper is better than plastic, unless it says on the plastic that it was made from post-consumer recycled material. It's also a good try when the packaging says a percentage was made using recycled materials (they're required by law to list the percentage). Even if the package says "eco-friendly" or "Earth Smart," make sure it's not just a marketing gimmick by making sure they have "made from recycled..." or at least "recyclable" (or the recycle symbol) on there somewhere.

LOOK FOR LOCAL
Not only do many stores have entire natural foods sections now (Smith's and Harmon's are two great Utah stores who do that), but they also carry items from local vendors and farmers, especially in the dairy and deli sections. A few local items I've noticed in my neighborhood grocer: chocolate, cheese, burritos from a local Mexican restaurant, eggs, milk, sausage and beer, Buy local when you can, because that means it didn't leave a large footprint when being transported to the store, and more money stays in the local economy. When you support your neighbors, community is made! There's no energy better than that.

BE PICKY WITH PRODUCE
In the produce department, head straight for the organic section, if the store has one. If it does, buy as much as you can here, because not only are these versions pesticide-free and usually picked from socially responsible farms, but they're also non-GMO (genetically modified, which some say may cause cancer and other ailments). By law, an item cannot be marked USDA Organic if it's a GMO. If you can't find or can't afford organic produce, avoid the "dirty dozen," or produce most easily penetrable by pesticides. Instead, go for "the clean 15" that can resist toxins a little better.


Also remember to aim for produce that's in-season, which benefits the earth because it doesn't have to travel long distances to get here, and you, because it's naturally riper, which also eliminates any chance of ripening agents or waxes often imposed on non-seasonal fruit.

BE INGREDIENT-SAVVY
Don't stand for ingredients you can't pronounce: They usually mean "additive" or "preservative."It's smart to get most of your food from the produce section, focusing on a fresh nutrient-packed diet with endless meal options. After that, aim for nuts and seeds...then move on to your - not only organic, but HUMANE/free range eggs/dairy/meat, if you must (I am, however, a huge fan of goat dairy). A good rule, albeit a hard one to follow, is if it's made in a factory, avoid it. If you have to buy that stuff, make sure it's organic, or at least has as few ingredients (or as many ingredients as you recognize) as possible, and that they're whole ingredients (whole grains, proteins, fiber, fruits, vegetables).

Now, how did you get to the store? Walk? Bike? Grouped it in with errands around the same area? GOOD! And did you buy in bulk so you can cut down on trips? GREAT!

See, you are doing SO MUCH to be greener just by shopping, that I say you're ready for your first pair of Tevas. :)

**********WATCH FOR PART TWO OF 'ORGANIC SHOPPING,' WHERE I'LL GIVE YOU GREEN TIPS REGARDING CLOTHING AND CONSUMER ITEMS.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Don't Forget that You Can Be Happy Again!

Today stands out as one of the brightest days I've had for a long time. THIS feeling is what I've been fumbling around for, having dropped it in the dark some months ago.

You know how I talked about what it felt like last year when I finally "got happy?" Like I had plugged into the right track and things started feeling like they weren't fighting me anymore? That they were falling into place? Well, further confirmation that something has been off these past few months, because I feel like I am just now plugging - once again - back into that track that feel so natural, so free-flowing, that you can do nothing BUT "enjoy the journey."

That's happiness. That's content. Accepting, and enjoying, your journey, wholeheartedly. Appreciating the love that is around you, and knowing that you, too, have so much bursting love to give.

Strawberries, squash and 'shrooms, oh, my!
Today, my day started pure. I gave myself enough time in the morning, got ready so I could look my best, rolled into work before dawn, bobbing my head to some good tunes. I felt energetic, and nearly invincible as I said a chipper "hello" to my coworkers, and sat down for a fast-paced, challenging, satisfying load of work. At work, a doctor came on 2News to talk about healthy weightloss, and I decided to engage in conversation. I found out that he believes firmly in a plant-based diet - to which I said, "Have you read the China study?" "That's my bible," he says. It felt good to have confirmation that someone of note shared my passionate views on the health-promoting, disease-preventing practice of "no meat and dairy." Not only did I feel satisfied in the exchange, but the doctor left his "props;" several platters of fresh, raw fruits and veggies. This became my grazing ground today, and fueled my body and spirit with its living energy.

My mind practiced problem solving, my soul had some epiphanies, and my heart was open throughout the day, leading to several more human exchanges that put a smile on my face.

As I was leaving work, about to cross a busy street, I reached to push the "cross" button. I heard the beginnings of a murmur behind me, where an older, plain but cheery-seeming businessman stood, about to say something. "Hi," I say.

"I thought you were going to grab one of those flags," he burst out, relieved to get to say his bidding, and nodding to the oversize orange flags that aid in street-crossing visibility. "I'm glad you pushed the button for the lights, instead."

"Yeah, I always feel a bit funny carrying those things," I laugh. Crosswalk-related banter continued for a few seconds until we'd made it safely to the other side.

"Have a good day," I chimed.

"You, too!" he shouted as he walked away. "And I like your outfit!"

I was a little taken aback that a grown man would compliment my modest garb...but hey, it was a nice gesture, and we both walked away with a smile.

At home, I couldn't stop hugging my man - he just looked and felt so appealing and warm! Love, love, love him. I'll stop now before I make you click away....

When he left, I napped, and ate some Guacachips (tortilla chips with the "guac" built-in) and two Kinder chocolates, which didn't really fall into my healthy eating plan, but they both are actually not very high in calories, and definitely satisfied whatever urge I was feeling. So, I didn't let that discourage me, and I got myself out and on my way to free Monday night yoga at a local running store (Salt Lake Running Company on 700 E. near 2100 S.). This was the store's first class, and as I was driving there, I wondered if the class would even happen - maybe the instructor fell through; too feew people show up; the store decided not to host the class after all... But my mind was put at ease as I saw the mat-toting multitudes heading inside.

In a cozy, warm, comfortably-lit conference/stage room, the mats were adding up. I made my way to the front and Tetris-d my way into the row. The room - full of the running crowd, so both first-time and long-time yogis alike - had such good energy. Everyone seemed open to the instruction, and each other. No one was bugged that they were so close to their neighbor; the gal next to me didn't even blink an eye when my hand made decent contact with her butt on my way down into a swan dive. And the teacher - a triathlete first and foremost - was nonjudgmental and encouraging.

Instructor Tracy gets everyone settled for class.
I had such a good practice tonight, that I caught myself grinning many times throughout. I connected deeply to the inside of my body, to the point of near-tears. Relaxation, stretching, strengthening...ahhh, it all felt so good!

Made my way to Whole Foods after to get me some more of those raw veggies! Picked up an all-organic bunch for kale salads, asian slaw, broccoli and mushroom quinoa and more. Some probiotic-packed coconut water was on sale, so I decided to try that, too! Probiotics are "good" bacteria thought to regulate your digestive system, which sounds like an added bonus to the many benefits of coconut water (instantly hydrating, vitamin- and potassium-packed, etc.). And I threw some dark chocolate in there for a Scooby Snack. Hey, part of the proceeds went to a Tanzanian school project! :)

I had a movie to take back to the 711 Redbox (oh, what a glorious movie-watching-and-healthy-pizza night Chris and I had yesterday!). A lady was taking her time (15 minutes) to select a flick, so I allowed the friendly pooch in front of me to keep me entertained. His owner was a nice guy about my age, very Granola-y. He had been talking to the stoners in front of him before telling me all about how he works the ski industry in the winter, and the adventure industry in the summer. Said he was new to the area, and only lives a few houses down from us. Getting to know neighbors...it kind of makes you feel like the area's a little safer. The stoners in front broke in to offer us some "cheap chronic." I declined; Granola neighbor inquired innocently, but didn't buy. And I just had to laugh. A possible drug deal - when encompassed in comradery - just made the neighborhood feel like a friendlier place.

Here at home: A hot shower, some loves for my kitty and a warm cup of tea are bringing me joy as I write to you. In a few minutes, my good-looking husband will make me smile as I watch him so authoritatively, and creatively, tell a story to me and thousands of other viewers. And minutes after that, he'll be home to end the day right - with love, and in celebration of once again, finding my happiness.





Friday, January 4, 2013

Hulk is Back.

No, that's not me - but I DID do 200 of these. ;)

I need to remember my own motto: Energy creates energy (or, an object in motion stays in motion). Every fiber of my being was telling me to rest last night. I felt sick, tired, and actually a bit depressed. I told myself I just needed sleep, so I took about an hour of shut-eye. When I woke up lethargic, I knew rest wasn't the answer (though I still tried to convince myself it was). So, I texted Chris.

 "Convince me to go to boot camp!"

"Do it, baby. The endorphins will make you feel better."

Well, that's all it took. I can't let him - or myself - down, now! And I'm glad I went; the trainer saw my ambition and made me do double what the other client was doing, which boosted my confidence, and brought out the Lil' Hulk in me. I was even hyped up enough to do extra, picking up the jumprope between sets. I kind of surprised myself, because I have been feeling so weak all month, but I'm strong. I need to remember that.

It didn't hurt to get some reinforcement from the trainer.

"Nice triceps," she said. "I wish mine were defined like that."

"They are! You're a TRAINER!" I laughed, thinking "THESE arms? That have worked out MAYBE twice a week for the past month?" 

"Well, twice a week doing boot camp, for four weeks - that's better than where you were at before!" she said.

True. You know, I've to commend myself for that. For my living room yoga sessions. For going snowshoeing on the weekend. For saying no to a cookie at work. I realize (and this is a lesson I am always relearning) that recognizing your accomplishments, instead of focusing on your perceived shortcomings, is really what will give you the empowerment to build forward momentum.


photo Source: bodybuilding.com via Catherine on Pinterest

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Getting 'Vegucated.'

I laughed. I cried. Well, I mostly cried.

The documentary "Vegucated" (find it on Netflix) is one woman's quest to educate three, diverse, meat-eating New Yorkers on the ways of veganism over a 6-week period.

The three folks mostly obliged because of the weightloss factor (the filmmaker lost 15 pounds in the first 6 weeks of becoming vegan), and they were happy with the results. Turns out, nixing dairy and meat dropped them down 5-15 pounds, dropped their blood pressure, and ticked down their bad cholesterol an average of 18 points each.

But that wasn't the reason these three, steak-chewing lad and lassies rode out the 6 weeks without so much as a cheat day. For them, it was seeing how factory farms and feedlots treat their animals - and that government guidelines allow them to do so.

COWS
Feedlot cattle are castrated without anesthesia in a brutal procedure. Dairy cows, who only produce when they are moms, are routinely artificially inseminated and live as slaves to a lifetime of pregnancy, birth, and engorged udders. Their babies are ripped away from them; females likely raised as dairy cows, and males typically sold off as veal or cattle. If they go the veal route, they'll spend their short life in a tiny cage with little light and air, until they are killed. And the moms? When their fertility runs out - ground beef, here they come. Even "organic" dairy and cattle could have gone through all of this. Not to mention feedlots' affect on the environment: It's crazy the amount of water and transportation it takes to get the grain to feed them, then the transportation it takes to get the cattle to slaughterhouses
**Learn about a local rancher who's going against the grain and aiming to protect the environment through raising pasture-bound, grass-fed cattle (which apparently produce meat higher in Omega 3s and have a third fewer calories than grain-fed).

PORK
Pigs, known to be more intelligent than dogs and highly social, are confined for life in a tiny cage, even as they bulge with meat, or milk for their babies. They're wrangled into groups, then killed one by one by a stun gun, terrifying the other pigs before it's their turn for a bloody death. Immediately, the pigs are hooked and dragged to a pot of scalding hot water. The documentary quotes reports that have witnessed pigs still alive being hooked and dragged...then trying to swim in the skin-peeling water.

EGG-LAYING CHICKENS
There are no laws protecting the treatment of chickens. As chicks, they're dumped on a conveyer belt, where the females get sorted out to a life in an uncomfortable wire cage, and the males, many times, get sorted alive into a grinder and used for feed. Or just discarded - often alive, and left to starve to death. The females who survive the crushing sorting process endure their beaks getting seared nearly totally off - without painkillers, as well as their head comb axed sans-anesthesia. Laying eggs in such uncomfortable cages often produces irritation, infections, and even eggs that get fused to the mother and cause death. The scary thing is, the eggs you buy can be "organic and hormone-free," but that does not mean they have avoided these conditions. Look for eggs that say "free range," but even then, the chickens may have gone through some of these ordeals. I would either have your own egg-laying chicken, or get them from a local farmer you trust.

POULTRY
Most factory poultry go through the same beak and wing cutting - sans-painkillers - as egg-laying chickens, and then get pumped full of hormones. This enlarges their breasts so much that walking is painful, if not impossible, and many die on the coop floor. Transportation of these birds is just as brutal, as they can be slammed and crammed without regulation. And their fate at the slaughterhouse? They're hung upside-down in shackles on a conveyer belt that runs their necks over a blade. But some miss the blade, so they drown in scalding hot water waiting afterward.

FISH
Fishing has become as industrialized as raising livestock. 80% of the world's fish stock is depleted, same with over 90% of the ocean's large predatory animals. Many fishing corporations throw nets that are large, and not only ruin the ecosystem of the ocean floor, but also pick up fish they didn't mean to catch (the film quotes 25% of the fish caught are discarded as waste, or turned into fish food for inland fish farms, signifying that even fish farms exploit the ocean stock). Coral and endangered animals are also victims in the overfishing crisis. Not to mention how painful it is for the fish to change pressures from the bottom of the ocean to the top - it implodes a fishes insides.

So what if you read this, but can't break up with eating animal flesh? At least look for labels HFAC/Certified Humane and Animal Welfare Approved, 
the two most comprehensive advocates for meat when it comes to animal treatment.

But the filmmaker concluded that we really don't need to eat meat at all. We can get all the protein we need from amino acids in plants, nuts and seeds. Just ask the vegan bodybuilder she interviewed, who bulks up with spirulina, an amino acid-packed algae.

And the argument that we've "evolved" to eat meat, so we should, is outdated. A professor in the film said that when humans started moving to colder, harsher terrains where plants weren't available year-round, they started to hunt, and develop appropriate teeth. And those haven't gone away, because evolutionarily, humans want to be prepared to handle as many food options as possible, in the event of climate or food availability.

Not only can we survive with a plant-based diet, but we can be healthier. You saw the three New Yorker's final stats above. In just 6 weeks! I believe the studies that say the more meat and dairy you eat, the higher your risk of heart disease and other quick-killers.

But don't take my word for it. Try plant-based for 6 weeks, and see how you feel! I, for one, am definitely  renewing my pledge to be happy, healthy and HUMANE when it comes to my daily meals.

:)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

HAPPY NEW YOU!

The key to starting 2013 is to accept and detach from 2012.

Accept your accomplishments and failures. Detach from anything causing negativity in your life.

Set actionable - not wishing - goals. I.E. - I am going to go to Bikram 2 times a week vs I'm going to lose 10 pounds by February.

A new year is a chance to LET GO. Accept those lessons you worked so hard to learn, but smile at yourself and feel that confidence boom as you visualize everyone bowing before you in respect  regarding anything you take on this upcoming year.


Love yourself again. This is the year of LOVE. Of following that true heart-prompting. Of not taking s*** from anyone who doesn't see your worth, no matter the cost. This is the year you contribute to the global realness that we must move towards, where no one is taken advantage of, or held down.

I'm ready. I'm not going to sit back and let life fast-forward by. Life is short, why not take every risk I can? Because once we do, we realize it was no risk at all.

Peace. And love. And I truly mean that, from the depths of my heart.

HAPPY NEW YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!