Yoga for the Soul

I’ve been practicing yoga for almost 10 years and I honestly can’t imagine my life without it. I love how it keeps me toned yet flexible and frankly, it’s FUN! I always feel so at peace after a great yoga session – both physically and mentally and I think to me that is what yoga is all about. So often today we focus so much on our outward appearance when it’s what’s inside that matters most. Yoga recognizes and honors our inner light above all else. I appreciate that it helps keep me fit but that’s never my goal heading onto the mat. I want to focus on my breath, being present and being happy. I feel all of those things and more in my practice and over the years my practice has changed and grown with me.

When I started yoga I’ll admit it was because it was so trendy and a friend dragged me to a class. But I was instantly hooked and started going for myself, not because it was the thing to do. Over the years my practice has been both regular and intermittent, but lately no matter how busy I am, I always make time to practice four (!) times a week because it has such a positive effect on my entire life.

I used to find it a challenge to make it into the studio more than once or twice a week because of my busy schedule. But in this day and age there are tons of videos and apps that allow you to practice at home which is exactly what I do! I try to get to an in-person class once a week, but otherwise I just set up YouTube videos in my living room and do a 30 minute flow when I wake up. I find myself so much happier and engaged in my work after starting the day this way!

I love my daily rituals of yoga in the morning and meditation in the evening for a clear mind. What are your rituals?

I Heart Avocados

My Name is Laura and I am an Avocadolic!

I am addicted! And it’s not to anything bad like alcohol, drugs, or donuts! No, girls, I am addicted to yummy, yummy avocado toast!

I know some of you will roll your eyes to this, but I was all about avocado toast before it was a thing. Heck, I was even all about avocados before it was a thing. During my university days, I would often buy a bag of avocados on sale and eat 3 or 4 of them for dinner with nothing but a sprinkling of salt.

I would also eat avocados for breakfast, particularly with eggs and a couple slices of toast on the side. Overtime, I started smashing the avocado and putting it right on top of the toast. It was heavenly!

Whenever I had friends over for breakfast they would also really love digging into my avocado toast speciality. That was a few years ago, and now, years, later, everyone seems to have learned just how nutritious and delicious avocado toast could be!

I recently read an interesting article (which I think went viral) suggesting that the reason why millenials can’t afford real estate isn’t because of the surging market, but because we are willing to pay (and do pay) $22 for avocado toast! While somewhat offensive to us millenials, there is some truth to this. I have found myself a bit too easy to whip my credit card from time to time, and my friends are the same.

But, when it comes to avocado toast, the reality is that we can enjoy it relatively inexpensive in the comfort of our home. No way it should cost $22! All you need is some nice, wholesome bread (even artisan can be purchased relatively cheaply, one smashed avocado, and a bit of salt for seasoning. If we want to get fancy, get some smoked wild salmon and wedge that between the toast and avocado – it goes beautifully. If done properly you’ll be enjoying avocado toast for the low, low, price of $5 or less.

Okay, so that’s my addiction confession. What are you girls addicted to (that you are willing to write about)? Haha.

Spring Salads

Spring is finally here and I am celebrating with salads every night! I add tons of protein and healthy fats to mine to make them filling enough for a meal. I used to be one of those people who wouldn’t be full after eating a salad, but then I learned what to add to fill me up. Plus I think it was partially just the principle of not eating tons of carbs that was throwing my body off. Now I crave tons of vegetables! Woo! Check out this amazing recipe I found on a great site I visit often for healthy recipes – damndelicious.net!

Caprese Avocado Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless thin-sliced chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 6 ounces ovaline fresh mozzarella
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, chiffonade

Directions:

  1. To make the balsamic reduction, add balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a slight boil and reduce by half, about 6-8 minutes; set aside and let cool.
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat.
  3. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, to taste. Add to skillet and cook, flipping once, until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Let cool before dicing into bite-size pieces.
  4. To assemble the salad, place romaine lettuce in a large bowl; top with chicken, mozzarella, tomatoes, avocado and basil. Pour balsamic reduction on top of the salad and gently toss to combine.
  5. Serve immediately.

My Supplement Regime

Not too long ago I wrote about the success I was having taking a sleeping supplement. Since then a number of my friends (Hi Nancy!) have inquired about my full supplement regime on my path to health. I change my routine here and there depending how I’m feeling but the following vitamins are generally my go-to base each day:

  • 2000 mg Vitamin C
  • Omega 3 Fish Oil
  • 2000 IU Vitamin D3
  • 1 capsule Iron
  • 1 capsule B-Complex
  • 2 capsules Magnesium
  • 1 capsule Multivitamin

When do I take my vitamins?

I generally take all of the vitamins at once with breakfast with the exception of the Vitamin C. For that one, I take 1000 mg in the morning with my other vitamins and 1000 mg in the evening before bed. Most people take magnesium before bed to help with sleep, but for some reason it has the opposite effect on me and gives me insomnia! I suggest trying to take it in the AM and PM and see what works best for you.

Why do I take so many?

Each vitamin supports me in a different way. Ideally we would get all of our nutrients from the foods we eat but there are so many pesticides and soils are so depleted in nutrients that we don’t get everything we need unfortunately. I just try to eat as healthy as I can and add in vitamins to make me feel better. My naturopath recommended a lot of these for me.

Vitamin C is great for supporting the adrenals. If you feel anxious, tired, depressed, on edge, and can’t handle stress you could have adrenal fatigue like me. I’m working to support them with vitamin C, rest, and meditation.

Fish oil is is great for getting your healthy omegas 3s in. Omega 3 is often lacking in our diets and is an essential fatty acid that gives us energy and healthy skin!

Unless you live somewhere sunny year round, you’re probably deficient in vitamin D. I suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and Vitamin D really helps me during the long, grey winters.

Not everyone needs to supplement Iron, it will depend on the results of a blood test. On my recent test my levels were really low (11! My naturopath wants my levels at around 70). She recommended I take an iron supplement daily and she will continue checking my iron levels every few months.

B-Complex is a another great vitamin for energy. I’ve really noticed a difference in my energy levels since I added this vitamin to my regime a couple months ago.

Magnesium was also recommended by my naturopath because of the issues I was having with sleep. When I first started taking it I noticed I would fall asleep faster. Now my sleep is better (I still use OrthoSleep but only maybe once a week now), so I’m not sure if that’s because of the magnesium or other lifestyle changes I’ve made. I may try phasing this one out and see if I notice a difference.

I’ve taken multivitamins all my life and think they are great for making sure we have a little of everything we need. Some of the vitamins I get extra of like Vitamin C, but in a multivitamin the dose is usually so low that I need to take extra anyways.

If you are thinking about trying some new supplements, I encourage you to speak with your doctor or naturopath first. I have found this is what works for me, but keep in mind I am not a doctor. I hope you enjoyed! I think I may expand on this post at a later date in terms of brands I like and how my health is improving with these vitamins. 🙂

Vegetable Soup Recipe

If you saw my last post, you’ve probably figured out I love soup! I wanted to share another staple soup recipe I make almost once a week, my favorite Vegetable Soup! It’s super clean and consists of vegetables only! I fill up on a couple bowls and this and find myself eating leftovers for a couple days too. Test it out and let me know what you think!

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir onion and celery in hot oil until onion is softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir garlic into the onion mixture; cook and stir until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes more.
  3. Pour vegetable broth and tomato sauce into pot. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir carrots and potatoes through the broth. Simmer until carrots are tender, 10 to 15 minutes more.
  5. Drop corn, edamame, okra, and kale into the soup. Continue to simmer until okra is tender, 5 to 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

Eating Healthy Over the Holidays

With Christmas rapidly approaching, there are so many opportunities to snack on unhealthy treats! While I do believe we should allow ourselves to indulge every now and again, I personally find I feel sluggish, tired and upset when I eat unhealthy. Over the years I’ve learned I fair best when I support my body with healthy and nutritious foods and say no to tempting treats or glutinous meals. I wanted to share a staple recipe I like to make often – Lamb Stew. It’s the perfect comfort food for this time of the year and it’s so delicious! And there are always lots of leftovers, meaning I’m not tempted to dine out for lunch or dinner with this tasty meal in the fridge! Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Ingredients
  • 2-lb lamb shoulder, cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or other solid fat
  • 2 medium red onions, each one cut through the base into 8 wedges
  • 4 large cloves garlic, sliced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 3 large stalks celery, cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 long sprigs thyme
  • 3 cups rich bone broth
  • 3 small/medium (1 lb) turnips, cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • 1 medium celeriac, riced thickly to yield 2 cups
  • ¼ packed cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon Maldon sea salt or to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Because lamb is a fatty meat it requires no fat for browning.
  3. Heat a large heavy based lidded casserole (Dutch oven). Add the lamb in small batches and brown the pieces all over, putting aside in a medium sized bowl as you go.
  4. Once the meat is browned and removed, add the tablespoon of fat to the casserole, together with the onion wedges, garlic, celery and carrots and cook, stirring from time to time, on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until slightly singed. If at any point your pan is looking overly brown and parched, a tablespoon of water will help release the sediment, so quickly scrape it up and incorporate into the vegetables before the moisture has evaporated. This adds extra flavour!
  5. Now pour in the broth, throw in the thyme, cover with a lid and place in the oven for 1 hour.
  6. Remove the casserole from the oven and add the turnips. Replace the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes. Take the stew out of the oven again and add the riced celeriac. Put it back into the oven (again, with the lid on) and cook for a final 16-18 minutes or until the celeriac is slightly softened, with just a little bite.
  7. Discard the now leafless thyme stalks, ladle the stew into large bowls and scatter parsley over the top.
  8. Serve with collard greens, sautéed in coconut oil (or other solid fat) and extra slices of garlic if you like.

Letting Go of Unhealthy Self-Criticism

I’ve been thinking about the role of self-criticism in our lives. Self-criticism, or the practice of pointing out your perceived flaws, can be a healthy way to increase self-awareness and grow as an individual. However, self-criticism may also become a barrier to the growth of self-esteem, happiness, and peace of mind.

Studies have shown that excessively self-critical thoughts often have their roots in negative experiences during childhood. In particular, studies have shown that a person’s sense of self is most affected by the relationships between them and their parents during the formative years. When parents give a child plenty of freedom to make their own choices, encourage them to do things for themselves, and allow them to make their own mistakes, children are more likely to develop healthy self-confidence and grow up with a sense of security regarding their choices, rather than self-doubt.

On the other hand, more dictatorial parenting styles, such as those which are more controlling and rigid, may have the result of harming the healthy development of a child’s self-confidence, and may also affect their self-worth and foster negative self-perceptions. When children are treated with less warmth by their parents, or are frequently criticized, they may be more likely to grow up being overly critical of both themselves as well as others.

There is definitely an optimal amount of self-criticism. For example, when self criticism impedes one’s ability to thrive and grow as an individual, the benefits of self-criticism, in terms of growing and becoming a better person, may be overwhelmed by the potential harm to mental well-being. Such excessive self-criticism may contribute to depression, social anxiety, body image issues, or a sense of worthlessness.

This has been an issue for me for a long time, but I am working on it with help of an excellent therapist. In order to resolve my issues, I have been exploring the unrealistic expectations that I put on myself, and have found them to be not my own expectations, but rather those of my parents and other people in my life. As I continue to work through my issues, I realize that these expectations have had a powerful effect on my beliefs and behaviors. I am now working to align my life with my internal beliefs and values, and I’m working with my therapist to achieve greater happiness, compassion, and self respect in my life.

Have you had any issues with self-criticism, and, if so, how have you been working to resolve them? Let me know in the comments below!

My Meditation Practice

With the hectic pace and demands of modern life, meditation is becoming more and more important. For a long time, I perpetually felt overstressed and overworked. That stress and exhaustion made me unhappy, frustrated, and often unable to handle small stresses throughout my day. Instead of being able to brush off something small that bothered me, I would often get very emotional and shed tears.

Worse yet, that stress and exhaustion can negatively affect your health. Incredibly, many of us are often so busy that we feel that there is no time to stop and reflect on our situation and figure out how to make it better! Talk about failing to sharpen the saw!

About a year ago, I read a few books on meditation and took them to heart. I started stopping and taking a few minutes every day to meditate and relax my mind. Part of the reason I felt the need to do this was the insomnia that I had been battling for sometime.

I started with a simple 10 or 15 minute breathing meditation. I would often find an opportunity to do it at work. For example, during my lunch break, I would leave my office building and find a quiet spot somewhere in a park, either on the grass, or on a bench. I would close my eyes, focus on my breathing, and try to let my troubles fade away.

As I did this more and more, I found that I would feel more energized, more alert, and less prone to be upset by things. I started meditating before bed each night as well, and more times during the day. If I felt myself going through a painful episode at work, I would often take a few minutes for a meditation break. All of this did wonders for my stress and tension levels.

Since then, I’ve taken my meditation up another level. I find that playing relaxing music in the background helps facilitate my ability to enter a meditative state. To help promote that, I recently purchased this lovely Tibetan singing bowl. Singing bowls produce beautiful music which invokes deep meditative and peaceful states. The store I bought from from also has a great FAQ section with plenty of information about Tibetan bowls.

Do you meditate, and, if so, what is your meditation practice like? Let me know in the comments below!

Natural Remedy for Insomnia

I’ve been having some trouble getting to sleep at night. It’s been very odd, because I have an active life, get plenty of physical (and mental) exercise during the day, and climb into my bed at night quite tired and ready to recharge. But, despite all of that, I find myself counting endless sheep, and getting progressively more anxious with the dwindling time I have to get a good night’s rest!

I’ve been doing a lot of research on the subject, as well as seeing a naturopath who is working to help resolve my issues. Currently, it appears that the problem may be hormonal. I’ve got various things in the works to rebalance my hormones and address the root of the problem, but, in the meantime I do need some way to manage to get to sleep at night, as waking up tired can propagate the root causes of the hormonal issues.

Luckily, I recently learned about an all-natural product that can help promote good rest. I’ve been using it for some time with great success. The product is called Ortho Sleep by AOR. In essence, it’s a natural solution to promote restful sleep and helps a person fall sleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling refreshed. It works wonders for many people and has even won awards.

It’s also great that the product is gluten-free as well as GMO-free. The product contains a blend of nutrients and compounds which are shown to be effective in combatting insomnia, restoring a proper circadian rhythm and promoting healthy, restful sleep. These include relaxing euro transmitters like melatonin, as well as other compounds which reduce feelings of worry, especially when trying to fall asleep. The formula also includes valerian root, passionflower extract, and lemon balm, all of which possesses relaxing properties.

This product has done wonders for my sleep. If you suffer from insomnia as well, give this a try!