6 Simple & Easy Ways To Make Your Life [Healthier], part 2

Welcome to part two of my little series on creating a happier and healthier lifestyle for yourself!

[See part one here.]

1.  Eat breakfast.
I will be the first to admit that this meal is easy to skip.  I've been known for habitually not eating anything at the start of my day, but honestly, it was mostly because I was out of ideas on what to eat.
Breakfast doesn't have to be boring though.  Some people settle for a piece of toast with a slab of butter, or a bagel with cream cheese, and call it good.  But hey, get creative.  And a little goes a long way.  Make yourself a delicious omelette with some veggies and all the cheese.  Or a bowl of oatmeal with berries.
This morning, I poured myself a bowl of organic raisin bran (thanks, Trader Joe's), sliced up a banana and a couple strawberries into it, sprinkled some flax and chia seeds over it, and topped it off with coconut milk.  Let me tell you: it was delicious.  And healthy!  It's amazing what some simple additions can do to a meal.
I also made myself a cup of Jasmine green tea, sweetened with honey.
And I may or may not have had breakfast in bed, while enjoying my current read.

2.  Eat healthy snacks
I was talking to a girl I picked up while driving for Lyft and she said how difficult it is for her to find healthy snack options.  I encouraged her to start out small.  Making big drastic changes in your life all at once rarely works for a long-term result.  My advice is to start with fruits and veggies.  These are easy to pack, healthy and delicious.  Add an apple or banana to your lunch bag.  Or if you have time, cut some up into a fruit salad.  Throw in some berries.  Kiwis and mandarin oranges are often forgotten about but have great nutritious value to them.  As far as veggies go, my favorites are carrots and snow peas.  But broccoli is yummy too.  Grab some hummus for dip and you're good to go.

3.  Honey
If there was just one huge food-wise ingredient I would tell you to change in your diet TODAY, it would be this.  A lot of people have difficulty finding a substitute for sugar.  But let me introduce you to honey.  It's your new best friend.
Not only can you get different tasting honey (orange blossom, clover, apple, cherry, blackberry, etc.), but it can go in anything (even dishes that sugar wouldn't work in) and adds so much more flavor than white or brown sugar ever can.
- natural energy source
- helps with relaxation and preparation for sleep
- a weight management alternative
- heals wounds and ulcers
as opposed to sugar, which:
- is a high intake of calories
- has high blood fat levels
- is a risk factor for heart disease
- is bad for your teeth and causes cavities
- is high in fructose and can overload your liver (which also causes break-outs, primarily on your cheeks)
- and causes massive amounts of dopamine to release in your brain, which can cause sugar addictions

4.  Ingredients are key
While shopping for groceries, always look at the ingredients a product has.  And 9 times out of 10, if you can't pronounce a word, it shouldn't be entering your body.  Also, stay way from anything that contains sugar, corn syrup, anything bleached, and doesn't say "no GMO" (Genetically Modified Organisms).  Also, flavors are everything.  Being half-Peruvian, I'm huge into spices and herbs and adding lots of flavorful pops to my dishes.  Young Living essential oils comes in handy for this as their 100% therapeutic grade oils are able to be taken internally.  Some favorites I use are thyme, oregano, peppermint, and lemon.

5.  Make lists
Grocery lists, favorite food lists, meal lists.  These will save your life.  Throughout the day, be thinking of foods you like and jot down any ingredients you would need to make a meal.  And before you go on your weekly shopping outing, look over these lists, consolidate them, budget them, and you're good to go.
A great meal-planning app that I discovered recently is called Mealime.

6.  Simple meal planning
Like I said in the point about snacks: start out small.  Don't overwhelm yourself with planning every meal perfectly and becoming 100% healthy right away.
What I like to do is: from the lists I make (see #5), I then choose which food I am craving.  Say it's ravioli, for example.  Trader Joe's (yes, people, that's where I shop) has some delicious and healthy ravioli options.
Next, think about what you want to eat with the ravioli.  Maybe some red sauce?  Find a yummy sounding one, look at the ingredients and price, then move on to... cheese?  Pre-shredded is always helpful.
I like adding a veggie dish (even if it's just a simple salad) to a plate of ravioli, so figure out what you're craving - maybe just avocados and tomatoes? - and voila!  You have a meal.
Or make a quick rice stir fry, as pictured above.

Regardless of where you are in life, if you can financially "afford" buying healthier options, or don't have a lot of meal prep time, making your life - and body - healthier is one of the keys to being a happy human.  Enjoy food, and learn to look for the delicious-healthy, instead of the quick-and-easy-unhealthy.

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Comment below some of your favorite yummy foods!

6 Simple & Easy Ways To Make Your Life [Happier], part 1

I have often heard people complain about how difficult it is to "be healthy".  And I also see a lot of individuals who aren't happy.  I feel that the two can oftentimes relate because, as a fellow writer stated,

"Improving our mental health is one of the most important investments we can make.  We're happy to spend time toning and shaping our bodies, so why not get our minds in shape, too?"  

We can make conscious efforts to do both, though, and in this two part series, I hope you will find some helpful tips on how to make your mind, your body, your space, and your day just a little better.

1.  Have a good morning routine.
Did you know that every morning you wake up, new baby nerve cells have been born while you were sleeping and they are crazy ready to go in whatever direction you send them?  It's true.  And the way you choose to use them is completely up to you.  Some people wake up and are grumpy and these nerve cells become grumpy and last throughout the day being grumpy little energies that emit through your persona.
Or you can wake up, open your eyes, smile, stretch, leap out of bed with the mentality that today, regardless of what it holds, will be a good day - a great day! - and you will make the most of it.
It's all a matter of perspective.  And the type of perspective you choose to have will impact your brain short-term and long-term.
A simple way to start this is to have a good morning routine.  What makes you feel best in the morning, when you first wake up?  (And no, "hitting my snooze button" or "sleeping more" won't work for me.)  Figure this out on your own and write down your preferred first-thing-in-the-morning action.
Personally, I like to wake up and get out of bed right away.  This prevents me from being lazy and choosing to just lounge in bed and get nothing done.  Once I'm up, I brush my teeth, tame my mane's bed head, and honestly, I will crawl back into bed but I'm too awake now to sleep, so I do one of two things - I either read or write.  Even if it's just for a few minutes.  There's something spectacularly peaceful about recording one's thoughts or reading someone else's just as the sun is starting to ebb through your curtains.  The world is waking up and so are you.

2.  Love your space.
Rearranging your room is one thing, but there's nothing wrong with giving it a little extra love too.  So buy that pretty set of sheets you saw, spend a few bucks on that cozy pillow or blanket, add the tapestry to your Amazon cart, hang lights above your bed, write encouraging notes on your mirrors, buy yourself a bouquet of flowers, rearrange your bookshelf by genres...  There a many ways to make your space YOU.  And don't forget that it's your sanctuary - where you come home to after a long day of work, where you want to relax and enjoy yourself.  Make it your haven.

3.  Surround yourself with positive energy.
And no, I'm not gonna get all weird on you.  I know people get freaked out by the words "energy" and "aura" and "vibes" but it's not all just New Age-y-ness.  There really is a sense of spirituality that comes with these words and it's something to learn about, not fear.
I have educated myself, over the years, to cycle out anything that is bringing negativity to my life - whether it's a person, place, thing or feeling.  Doing this has brought me to a place of identity, self-confidence and positivity because I create and guard my space, my heart, my surroundings.  For example, I don't let just anyone into my room.  I try to keep any arguments, negative emotions I'm feeling, anything that triggers bad memories, books/movies I don't like, etc. out of my space.  If they do end up in there for some reason, I use essential oils and crystals to purify.

4.  Music.
Music is so powerful, and no matter what mood you're in, there is always a genre that will fit your emotions or be the means to change what you're feeling.  I keep music on 24/7.  If it's not playing, I'm singing to myself.  If I'm not singing, I'm humming.  If I'm not humming, I have a song playing in my head.  From the second I get out of bed, till I'm winding down with meditation and reading for the night, I have music going.  This is a way I keep myself focused, and happy.  I have found myself in situations where I start to feel anxious and then I realize - "I don't hear any music", so I'll immediately turn some on or start singing until I can play a song on my phone or computer or in my car.  This may sound like I'm relying a bit too much on it, but I believe music is something God has given us to utilize for many different reasons and next to spending time in His presence and talking to Him, music and writing are my other outlets for sanity.

5.  Keep natural elements around you
This can include essential oils, plants, crystals, a window that gets a lot of sunlight, whatever you decide works best for you and what your soul finds most attractive and invigorating.  I've grown up always having essential oils diffused around the house or wearing diffuser necklaces/bracelets.  I have a diffuser in my room that I turn on at the beginning and ends of my day.  I have an assortment of about thirty different oils that I can use, as well as a big window near my bed that I allow natural light to come through and shine onto myself and my plant babies.  If I can't be outside in nature, I try to bring as much nature to surround me.

6.  Yoga/Meditation
Before you start creating some crazy mental image of yoga poses and are freaked out by even attempting to try it out, remember that stretching and being in touch with your body, mind and heart is so very healthy for you.  Meditation centers your mind, too, after a fitful night's sleep or a long, hectic day.  Start out small and simple.  A couple breathing techniques here, a yoga stretch there.  Don't overwhelm yourself right from the get-go.  Ease into it, watch tutorials, listen to podcasts.  Learn about it and enjoy yourself along the way.

Recommended apps:
- 1 Giant Mind
- Headspace
- Yoga
- Simply Yoga
- Daily Yoga
- Oak

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Comment below ways that you make your day and life healthier, and stay tuned for part 2 of this series!