Essential oils have been used for centuries and along with other natural healing methods were the main tools used in medical care until we learned how to create and synthesize drugs and other medications.
I’ve been an advocate for essential oils for many years, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million more times, but peppermint, lavender and tea tree oil especially have saved my life (and sanity) on more than one occasion from the horrible pain of migraines, cramping, abdominal upset, bug bites, and much more.
Did you know our sense of smell is connected to our limbic system? The limbic system is the part of the brain responsible of memory, breathing, blood circulation and the regulation of hormones. I’m sure you can think of scents that instantly transport you to a different time and place in your memory – that is you limbic system at work! So while it may not make sense to you as to “how” essential oils can work, hopefully that example can help convince you that they do tap into that part of the brain, and if a scent can bring back powerful memories, that it can have a therapeutic effect in other ways as well.
As with anything, it can be easy to get carried away when it comes to essential oils and trying to incorporate them into your day to day life. So today I want to share with you three easy ways you can start to enjoy the benefits of essential oils.
To begin, you will need to get your hands on a few essential oils, or essential oil blends. I have a collection of oils that I’ve build over the years, but have only just recently entered the world of pre-mixed blends. You can of course create your own blends based on your personal needs and tastes, but when starting out it is more cost effective to purchase a few pre-mixed blends, especially if you find some you really enjoy. Personally, my favourite is this Energy blend from Organic Aromas which is a blend of Spearmint, Peppermint, Melissa, Tangerine and Rosewood, and their Purity blend is my second favourite. It combines Lemongrass, Tea Tree, White Camphor, Rosemary, Lavender and Citronella.
The energy blend provides natural glandular support, helps reduce fatigue and anxiety, helps to stimulate the mind and boost energy and may aid in headache relief, while the purity blend helps to cleanse odours, helps to repel insects and vermin, aids in reducing tension and promotes well being, and has anti-viral, anti-microbial and anti-fungal qualities.
Obviously I’m a bit partial to my “big three” (peppermint, lavender and tea tree) but when it comes to starting your own essential oils collection you need to find some scents that you like and will be useful in your life. Sweet Orange is a great starting oil if you like citrus scents. It is the scent preferred by most children (making it a great option for homes with kids) and has been shown to help them overcome fear and reduce anxiety. It is a bright happy scent which is great for helping ease depression and helping us feel a little bit more cheery.
Above all, it’s important to choose a scent or blend that you enjoy, if you pick on based solely on what it is suppose to do for you, but you dislike the scent – you are not going to use it!
Once you’ve chosen your oil, or oil blend(s), it’s time to talk about how to use them!
Epsom Salts Bath
A nice aromatherapy epsom salt bath (complete with coconut water) is definitely enjoyable after running a half marathon!
Adding epsom salts infused with your favourite essential oil is a wonderful way to relax and enjoy the benefits of the essential oil after a tiresome day. While running a warm bath, take 1 cup of unscented epsom salts and add 4-6 drops of your favourite essential oil, or essential oil blend in a small bowl and mix. Sprinkle the salts into the bath while the water is still running and then run your hand through the water to help the salts to dissolve. Relax in the tub for 20-30 minutes to allow the epsom salts to work their magic, while massaging any oil droplets you see floating in your bath water into your skin.
Getting a professional massage is wonderful, but lots of times it is hard to find the time – or finances – to do so. Adding aromatherapy to an at-home foot massage, back massage, or even to tired achy muscles can give you that spa feel right at home, and you can do it any time day or night! Ever notice that many foot lotions and creams are peppermint scented? That’s not an accident! Peppermint provides such wonderful cooling and pain relieving effect that it is a natural choice for our feet and legs. There are lots of different massage oils and massage bars available, so when looking to purchase one, look for one that is made using essential oils and pure ingredients you can pronounce. I enjoy using massage bars from LUSH (especially the WICCY Magic Muscles for muscle aches and pains), but most health food and natural living stores will carry a nice selection of massage oils and bars.
Bonus points if you can find someone willing to give you a back massage using the massage oil or bar! 😉
Essential Oil Diffusers
An essential oil diffuser like this one from Organic Aromas (which is the most effective diffuser of pure Essential Oils on the market) diffuses your chosen essential oil or essential oil blend into the air, allowing you to reap the benefits of aromatherapy easily while adding to your home or office decor! This diffuser silently nebulizes using the Bernoullis Principle, consumes very little energy, and is equipped with a control allowing you to determine how much oil is diffused into your space.
I chose this model because it is sleek and simple, and I thought it would best fit in with our home decor and I like the soft glow it gives off while it’s running.
This diffuser uses pure essential oil, no water or heat so it doesn’t heat up or create a humidifier like atmosphere when in use while still easily giving off an amazing scent.
If you would like to purchase your own diffuser from Organic Aromas you can use the coupon code: SHAREME to get 15% off your purchase!
I hope this post has helped convince you that adding aromatherapy into your life doesn’t have to be difficult or intimidating and I hope you’ll give it a try!
Disclosure: I was provided with product from Organic Aromas in exchange for my honest review, and that is what this is. I truly believe in aromatherapy and think if you haven’t yet, you should try it yourself!
I have been saving the books I’ve read so far this month for another round-up at the end of June, but wanted to write a separate post for Marissa Vicario’s new book “Your Holistically Hot Transformation” for a couple reasons.
Number one – if you have the Kindle app, right now until Wednesday, June 15th, 2016 you can pick the title up for FREE (click here for Amazon.ca and click here for Amazon.com) and because Marissa was kind enough to offer one of her books (hardcopy – not via Kindle) to one of my readers so keep reading to the end to enter to win!
In reading through Marissa’s book, so much of what she suggests and recommends is completely in line with what I believe and recommend when coaching people so I felt an instant connection with both her and her book. There is so much information out there with today that it’s easy to get swamped in information and be left without any idea of what to do or where to start when it comes to making healthy life changes.
Change doesn’t have to start with some huge flourishing move, a small change in the right direction is not only more manageable, but more sustainable long term anyway. Through her book Marissa tells you how she transformed her life, and how you can begin to change yours too.
And you might be surprised at how easy it really is.
Challenging – but easy.
Probably my favourite thing about Marissa’s approach is that she believes as I do – that every person’s body reacts differently to different foods and because of that there is no one eating style that will work for every person. Period. There are things that will work for everybody like choosing water over processed drinks, and eating fewer processed foods and more natural ones, but overall each person must be their own detective to figure out what particular foods work best for them.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the small “Put It Into Action” steps she sprinkles throughout the book. These are ideas and tasks you can start right away to start to make positive changes without turning your entire life upside down.
Marissa also explains other alkaline versus acidic foods, super foods, shares recipes, information and lists on stocking a healthy kitchen and more making this a well rounded easy read for beginning (or continuing) on your healthy living journey.
As I mentioned above, Marissa has been kind enough to offer one of my readers a hardcopy of her new book. I find “real” books are easier to use when trying to go back and reference them, so even if you’ve taken advantage of the free Kindle promotion, you are still welcome to enter this giveaway!
To enter: Leave a comment below telling me what is one change you’ve made in the past year that has lead to you living a healthier, more holistically hot life! A winner will be chosen on Monday, June 20th.
Update: Winner has been chosen!
For me, the answer would definitely be taking more time to relax and trying to work smarter not harder. Stress is so bad for your health and learning to take better control of my work load has really helped me to stress less (usually, but not always 😉 ).
For a bonus entry tweet the following (then leave a separate comment with your twitter handle and telling me you tweeted):
Good luck, and enjoy!
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I was provided with a free copy of Marissa’s e-book (which you can get too by following the links above before June 15th), and wanted to share it with you as well as give you the chance to win a copy!
The past week and a half have been a bit of a doozy, but not in a good way. In case you missed my post on Instagram, just over a week ago we suddenly lost my sidekick and furry best friend of 12 years Ollie.
We are heartbroken, and I spent 3 days doing nothing but crying. I’m starting to get back into my routine and am able to keep the crying down to one or two outbursts/day, but that coupled with some other bad news/situations we’ve had over the last week has really sent me into quite a sad place. So it was really wonderful timing when I received the very first subscription box from Caring Crate last Tuesday.
Caring Crate is a new subscription box created for those dealing with mental health issues, chronic illnesses – or anyone who needs a little extra self care. Because I’ve been feeling pretty low, just seeing this box arrive at my door made me feel a little bit better. Once I opened it I definitely perked up even more!
The first item I pulled out was this Potting Shed Creations Garden-in-a-Bag for growing lavender. I’ve been wanting to grow my own lavender for quite some time so I was really excited to see this! I’ve since had a chance to plant my lavender seeds so I’ll let you how that goes once it starts sprouting – fingers crossed I don’t kill it!
The next item was this lemon and lavender body balm from Fable Naturals. The lemon lavender scent is AMAZING and I’m very much looking forward to using this! I love body balms like this so I was pretty happy about receiving this item too!
The third item was this Scratch and Grain Muffin Mix which is really neat. The ingredients are all individually packaged making it different from your average mix, and I am very much looking forward to making these one day soon!
Next up was this Spa Day tea (not pictured is the After Dinner Mint tea I later found when I was emptying the box) from Pluck Teas. Pluck Teas only uses ingredients from organic and sustainably-managed gardens to make their custom-blended small batch teas. As a tea fiend you know I’m going to be drinking these!
And finally, I received the Mindful Mandala Cards. These and the lavender are tied for my favourite items in the box.
Inside the bag were a stack of original mandala cards, complete with a proverb printed on the back of each card. These cards are printed on heavy card stock so they won’t bend and tear with use. And the kit also comes with a small tube of coloured pencils with a built in pencil sharpener allowing you to take the whole kit to colour on the go.
In the summer we like to go to the Drive-In, but when we go, we have to go an hour or so before the movies start in order to get a decent parking spot. That leaves a fair amount of time to kill and these small cards make for the perfect project to work on while waiting for the movies to start. And their simple designs make them more fun than some of my more intricate colouring books. Sometimes simple is better, and in times of high stress I think that is especially true.
Also included with the box is a card listing all of the boxes contents telling you a bit more about each of the products, something I always appreciate, especially if there is an item you aren’t entirely familiar with an item.
As I mentioned above this was the very first Caring Crate box, and as someone who has been a subscriber of many different subscription boxes in the past I can honestly say this have been on of my favourite. I will use everything I received (which is not something I can say about many boxes I’ve received in the past…) and it really did make my day – and week – a bit cheerier.
Unfortunately, we are moving into the summer months which are a slow time for fitness instructors so I’m not going to be able to keep up with this subscription for the next couple months, but I really hope that once I get back to a full schedule in the fall that I will be able to because not only did I love getting it, but it’s a new Canadian company and I love to support Canadian companies I love when I can.
If you are interested in learning more about Caring Crate and how you can get a subscription for yourself or someone you love at Caring-Crate.com. You can also follow them on social media on Instagram @caringcrate, Twitter @caring_crate, Facebook.com/caringcate, and on Pinterest @caringcrate.
Disclosure: I received my Caring Crate free of charge but what you have read above is my honest review of the product.
June is well underway, and we’re finally seeing some nice hot summery days here in Nova Scotia. The first of which were back at the start of May when I was road tripping to Moncton. During the trip I wore a sundress and shorts and realized just how sad my skin was looking. Number one, I’m so pale I nearly glow in the dark at the best of times, and secondly my skin was so so dry and scaly I looked part reptilian! Clearly some summer skin prep was in order before shorts and sundresses became a mainstay in my wardrobe!
I’ve written numerous times in the past about my dry, itchy skin. I’ve read numerous times that there is a correlation between fibromyalgia and itchy skin, but I don’t really know if that is my issue, or if I just plainly have chronic dry skin. This past winter I had been using a shea butter on my legs because it is thick and moisturizing. While I really enjoy shea butter, but I do find it takes quite a long time to absorb, and since I normally moisturize just before going to bed I fear some of my moisturizer was treating my sheets more than it was treating my legs.
Fortunately for me, just prior to my trip I had received a trio of products from Intega Skin Sciences’ Ureadin line to try out on my dry, itchy skin to help me get my skin summer ready and looking it’s best!
The three products I received were:
Podos: A hydrating gel moisturizer for your feet that repairs and hydrates dry and cracked feet, with the first results noticeable in as few as three days! It uses ingredients like shea butter to help improve roughness. It also exfoliates with lactic acid and provides intense hydration for 24 hours without leaving a greasy texture on your feet.
Ultra10 Lotion: This is their maximum strength, intense hydration lotion which repairs and hydrates very dry and flaky skin. It helps to relieve itching and irritation, provides intense hydration and protects the skin’s moisture barrier and can be used to aid in the reduction of scaling, roughness, redness and cracking.
Lotion Spray: A spray lotion suitable for all skin types, which absorbs instantly keeping your skin smooth and moisturized all day long. This is a light lotion with the HydroISDIN system, hydrating and protecting your skin while providing an antioxidant effect (learn more about the HydroISDIN system on their website)
Because my skin was so parched, I started out by diving into the Ultra10 Lotion. While at first glance you’d expect any lotion with a name like “Ultra10” to be really thick, this isn’t. You know how some lotions are so thick it seems like they take forever to absorb? This isn’t like that at all. When you pump it into your hand you can tell that it’s different from your run of the mill drugstore body lotion. It feels more like an oil lotion if that makes sense. It absorbs really quickly and while you certainly can feel you’ve applied lotion, it doesn’t leave a lotion-y film on your legs. Have you ever put lotion on, then scratched your leg and ended up with a bunch of the lotion under your fingernail? No? Just me? Well it’s annoying, and Ultra10 does not do that.
I immediately felt a difference on my skin, and after only a couple days the scaliness went away and I was left with my still super-glow-in-the-dark-white skin, but at least it once again looked like human skin and not that of a lizard!
Once I’d crossed the initial hurdle of dryness, I started using the Ultra10 just at night, and using the Lotion Spray in the mornings/after my bath or shower. Because it is lighter and absorbs even more quickly, it is great for when you are in a hurry, and I absolutely love lotion spray like this because you can turn them upside down and any direction you need to apply them. So super handy. This is my go-to for post bath/shower because I find thicker lotions have a more difficult time absorbing into my skin when it has just been exposed to water, and this absorbs quickly.
I wish I were able to get a decent before and after shot for you, but because a lot of the difference is in how my skin feels, and less in how it looks, it’s hard to capture that in a photo. In person the skin on my legs especially is so much more hydrated in appearance, and feels so much better (no more constant itch), but you’ll just have to take my word for that.
The Podos might be my favourite of the three products. As I mentioned above, it’s a hydrating gel oil and comes in this tube with a tiny little applicator. Basically you apply it to your feet and rub it in, then apply a bit more to the extra dry, tough or cracked areas. I have a pretty thick callus on the side of my big toes from all the lateral movement I do teaching classes and dancing. When the Podos arrived, I stopped using any other foot creams, lotions, scrubs, (including my pumice stone) to see how this would compare.
A few days after I started using it I noticed one night in the tub the side of my toe (where the callus is) looked a little odd, I rubbed my finger on it and a piece of the callus FELL RIGHT OFF. What!? I checked the other side, and was able to easily remove another piece just by rubbing my thumb once or twice along the side of my foot. Since then, that happened yet again. And while I certainly still have a callus on both of my big toes, they are each a lot smaller than they once were. I knew that Podos was suppose to boost exfoliation, but I wasn’t expecting that kind of results! The thing with calluses is, while in my case they are necessary, they can also be painful, so removing even part of them has made my feet so much more comfortable. And that is something I’ve found difficult to accomplish with all my other potions and lotions.
I did get before an afters of my feet, so below I’m showing you the side of my toe(s) before, an after, and a second after which was taken immediately after I’d applied Podos. I don’t like it when you can clearly tell in an after photo that the person has just put moisturizer on because I don’t feel it paints a “real” picture of the condition of the skin, so I decided to show your my feet both ways.
I apologize that the lighting is clearly different between the before and after shots. I took them in the same place with the same camera settings to try and create the same lighting, but obviously the afters were taken on a sunnier day. But hopefully you can still tell that my feet are clearly looking a lot better in the afters!
What you may not know about me is I am really not a fan of looking at feet. Like I refused to wear sandals for a good 10+ years because I hated looking at feet. And I still don’t want anyone to touch me with their feet, ick. Anyway, because of that I really try to keep my feet in the best condition I can – all considered. Knowing that, and knowing that I have exclusively used the Podos for over a month now, it should tell you that I really like this product and am happy with how it has been helping my feet! Over the past month I’ve moved from sneakers to sandals in day-to-day wear, and I’m so pleased that the Podos helped me get my feet sandal ready!
They are still preparing to launch their online shop, but in the meantime you are able to contact them regarding purchases directly through their website (http://integaskin.com/isdin/ )
If you are having problems with dry, itchy skin, or dry cracked feet and want to feel comfortable and confident in your skin all summer long, I hope you’ll check out Ureadin and the whole line of products from Intega. I’m certainly going to be sticking to these products all summer long!
Disclosure: I am part of the Intega Influencer Campaign and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.
This isn’t something I often do mostly because I tend to read a lot of “fluff” and YA books that I don’t feel are really appropriate to share here, but this month I’ve found myself reading a lot of health and wellness books and thought I’d share those with you.
I am a book nerd for sure, so I love checking out cookbooks, fitness and lifestyle books so that’s what you’ll be seeing in this round up post!
First up is 200 Best Smoothie Bowl Recipes by Alison Lewis.
I’ve seen lots of smoothie bowls on the web 😉 but had never really had one myself prior to getting this book. I didn’t understand why you’d want to eat a smoothie out of a bowl instead of drinking it…but now I get it. Smoothie bowls are make to be a thicker consistency so that it’s easier to eat it like a soup rather than drink it. Plus when you make a smoothie bowl you get to add all these fun toppings and make it look pretty!
(my topping game still needs a little work)
As a very frequent smoothie drinker, now understanding the hows and whys behind smoothie bowls has opened up a whole new side of smoothie making! I even find myself looking for toppings when I’m grocery shopping to decorate them. Alison’s book is a great how-to guide on not only smoothie bowls, but smoothies in general. With delicious recipes like Bananas Foster, Upside-Down Apple Pie, Chilled Tiramisu, Peach Paradise and so many more my summer smoothies are going to be amazing!
The second book I read this month was Juice Guru by Steve and Julie Prussack. I’ve been juicing off and on for years, but it’s always fun to check out a book like this to help reinforce why juicing can be so great. Juice Guru is packed full of recipes/juice combos and really walks you through why juicing can do for you, how to choose a juicer and all of the specifics. Generally speaking I find myself going for smoothies more often than juice, and that is a lot to due with how annoying the juicer is to clean. But when I’m having an IBS flair or a general upset stomach, I find juices a much easier way to ensure I’m getting some nutrition without upsetting my system. It just so happened that this book arrived when I was in the middle of an IBS flair up so it definitely came in handy and helped to keep me feeling nourished while on a pretty bland diet of toast. :/ If juicing is something that you are interested in, but have no idea where to start Juice Guru would be that place. It seems crazy that you can start to transform your life by adding one juice a day, but not only is that true, and this book gives you a 21-day plan that kick start you on your way to healthier you!
Changing gears a bit here, the next book was Cure Back Pain 80 Personalized East Exercises by Jean-Francois Harvey, BSc, DO. I know, it doesn’t sound like a very light read does it? But as someone with scoliosis, and who teaches fitness for a living, making sure I know a lot about the spine, how it should and shouldn’t move, what is safe and what isn’t is very important to me. And knowing what is safe for one person, doesn’t mean you know what is safe for another. Understanding different spinal problems and knowing when it is okay for me to give someone a few stretches or exercises to resolve an issue, versus knowing when to refer them to someone else is even more important. Cure Back Pain offers a complete range of tools to help make our backs feel good, regardless of what shape we are in. Jean-Francois draws from pilates, yoga and physical therapy and based on the principles of osteopathy, biomechanics and kinesiology to bring a holistic approach to good posture and a healthy back.
Of the books I read this is my favourite. It hits so close to home and what I do on a daily basis it’s hard for me not to love a reference book like this. I don’t know anyone who couldn’t benefit from the information in this book. Even if your back/spine/posture is perfect, the more you know and understand about this critical body part, the better off you’ll be in the long run. From basic exercises, flexibility, mobility, breathing, posture, strengthening, balance, and full routines this book has it all.
The last book is one I finished just last night. On The Verge: Wake Up, Show Up, and Shine by Cara Bradley is a book about learning to be “on the verge” in those moments when you are not quite in the past, and not quite in the future. It’s about learning to be more – not do more. Cara is a mental strength coach and author who has over 35 years experience teaching fitness and yoga. She wrote On The Verge to teach readers how to have more energy, enthusiasm, clarity, and confidence on a daily basis by learning to shift beyond their busy minds.
I related to this book so much. I definitely suffer from a busy mind, and easily find my fingers taking me places on my phone and on the computer I don’t need to be. I have a hard time turning my mind off at night so that I can sleep, and it’s easy for me to get caught up in “busy” <– whether it’s true or not. I am trying to get better at all of the above, but it’s a work in progress.
After taking us through the principles of living On The Verge, Cara goes one step further and sets readers up with verge practices to help us calm our busy minds and tune into our natural state. I found this title to be an easy – but empowering read, and really enjoyed going through all of the principles and practices. Some of them were things I was already familiar with and do from other trainings, but there were some new ones in there as well that I’ve already started to play around with incorporating in my day to day life.
There is really so much I could say about this book, I found myself nodding my head and agreeing with so much she said throughout the book. I could go on and on, but I want you to go pick up a copy for yourself. Just in the few days since I first picked it up, I already see so many small ways I am learning to live On The Verge. And I like it!
As I mentioned above I just finished On The Verge last night, and it inspired me to get back to my meditation practise. Something I’ve let slip terribly over the past few months. If you are like me and suffer from a very busy mind, you should check out this book (you can also find Cara on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily doses of inspiration!
You can find all of the titles above by clicking the links below:
- 200 Best Smoothie Bowl Recipes: Amazon.ca and Amazon.com
- Juice Guru: Amazon.ca and Amazon.com
- Cure Back Pain: Amazon.ca and Amazon.com
- One The Verge: Amazon.ca and Amazon.com
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, thank you for helping to support this site. The titles above were given to me free of charge, however these are honest reviews – I do not review books I don’t enjoy.