Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Top 10: Favorite Running Songs


Time for another edition of My Top 10! This is already super fun to do, so I'm hoping I can get into a groove of doing this regularly.

Today, I'm talking about my favorite running music! If you know me at all, you know that music is my life. As in, the only thing I do more than breathing or blinking. There is never a moment where music isn't playing in my head. Which I'm pretty sure is actually a clinical disorder. Music is my profession, my greatest hobby, and is solely responsible for over 90% of the people I know. Thanks, band!

Now that you know that I'm a gigantic weirdo, I want to share a few of the songs that I have on all my running playlists. Most are not your stereotypical upbeat workout song! My standards for recreational music are a little different, and will probably be explained in a future post about my favorite songs in general. For now, get ready for the most bizarre smattering of songs ever. These are not in any particular order.

1. Animals (Martin Garrix)
Pretty normal running song. I mostly like this one for the ridiculously satisfying moment at the beginning when the clock ticks fall in with the beat. Don't mind the music video, it's effed the eff up.


2. Spectre Induction (Mass Effect OST)
This track is from Bioware's first Mass Effect game. In my opinion, the Mass Effect games are the greatest video games ever created. Bioware really knows how to tell a story and make me cry so hard. This particular track occurs during one of the most epic moments in the entire trilogy. I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon to this song.


3. The Blood of Cuchulainn (Boondock Saints theme)
Let's be real: this song is on every mixtape I've ever created. Boondock Saints is an awesome movie and Celtic themes are among my favorites.


4. You Make Me (Avicii)
I like this song for the piano chord-mashing and the wobbly synth going on. Also, it's the perfect tempo to run to.


5. Burning Heart (Survivor)
Although just about every Rocky song ever is on my playlist, this is one of my favorite songs in general. I love 80's music! When I discovered that this song was in GTA 5, I flipped out.


6. Uma Thurman (Fall Out Boy)
I became a semi-fan of Fall Out Boy about 3 weeks ago when I heard their latest album for the first time. Never been crazy about their music, but they really got it right this time! The whole album is incredible, but this one makes me dance.


7. Here's to Life (Streetlight Manifesto)
Warning: ska music. I haven't kept up with the band's music very much, but I've been listening to this album for the past 7 years and still love the songs. They change pace so much, it's like hearing 5 or 6 songs in one.


8. Killin' It (Krewella)
Not a huge fan of dubstep (or as my husband calls it- "transformer music"), but this song is really motivating to me!


9. Fire (Gavin DeGraw)
Not much to say about this song, other than it has a pretty good message and is a great motivational song for younger people. I use this one in Music Therapy a lot.


10. Brooklyn (Youngblood Brass Band)
The version of this song that I linked is the album recording (aka the "pretty" version). The recording that I have is a live version that I couldn't find on YouTube, but it's much "dirtier" and, in my opinion, better. The band was playing in London, and they must have been pretty jacked because it sounded way cooler and the improv was insane. You still get the point. Plus, you can't hate music that features badass trombone playing and sousaphone multiphonics.


That's about it for my favorite running songs! Hopefully you discovered at least one song that you liked! If not... sorry. Enjoy the rest of your Hump Day!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My Top 10: Favorite Essential Oils


This post is the first of a series I am starting called My Top 10. I'd like to start blogging about other things in my life and I think this is a great way to get started. After about 2 minutes of brainstorming, I had a list of about 16-20 post ideas, so this should keep me busy for a while. Hope you enjoy!

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Essential oils are a part of my daily life. My sister-in-law started using them about a year ago and became a distributor for Young Living not long after. Fast forward to now, everybody in my family has a collection of essential oils and diffusers in our households. I just wanted to share a little bit about essential oils, and the ten oils that I absolutely cannot live without!

What are essential oils?
Without going into ridiculous detail, essential oils are created when plants/herbs/etc go through a process of either steam distillation or cold pressing. The end result is a concentrated, potent-as-hell liquid extract- any benefits from the original botanicals are significantly magnified. They are meant to be applied topically, ingested, inhaled, or a combination of the three. Some need to be diluted before applying to the skin and some can be directly applied. The joke about essential oils is almost like "there's an app for that"... there is seriously an oil for anything and everything you need. From PMS to acne to cleaning to anxiety, essential oils can help in many areas of your life.

Why Young Living?
My family and I use Young Living rather than doTerra or other therapeutic-grade brands because Young Living is the only company that controls the entire oil creation process, which they call Seed-to-Seal. Young Living either owns their farms or communicates closely with trusted farms (aka annoys the crap out of other people's farms) to ensure that the highest quality botanicals are being grown. If you really care about where your oils come from, Young Living is the way to go.

And now, my 10 favorite essential oils and how I use them! These are pretty much in order.

NOTE: I am inclined to tell you that I'm not a doctor or expert, and that I'm not trying to cure whatever you've got with my essential oil advocacy. I don't make money off this blog and I'm not a representative of Young Living, but unfortunately, the FDA does censor many blogs about essential oils {example here} {even better one here}. As a precaution, I'm going to try my best to adhere to their strict rules. I can't tell you what specific "ailments" (as in medical diseases) I have (although you already know what's wrong with me if you read my blog at all), and I can't tell you that these oils treat it or cause a significant positive difference. So... this may be kind of vague. Work with me.

10. Endoflex
Some of you may have heard me mention this before. This oil is for general endocrine system and female hormonal support. I've read about lots of women like me that use this oil, and there are great reviews among them. Endoflex is a blend oil with spearmint, sage, geranium, myrtle, nutmeg, and German chamomile. It is a topical oil and already has a base of sesame oil, so no dilution is needed. I put a roller ball on my bottle and rub a drop or two on the inside of my left ankle and back of my neck just before bed. You can do it morning and night, but I always forget when I'm trying to wake up and get out the door!

9. Citrus Fresh
I am in love with the smell of any and all citrus fruits! This blend has orange, tangerine, mandarin, grapefruit, lemon, and spearmint! Citrus Fresh is heavenly to diffuse or inhale, as citrus has an energizing quality. However, my use for this is under my chin. Everyone's face is different, and mine is just naturally prone to having a double chin. Even when I was like 115 lbs... my face is just built that way, and it's okay. I use a roller on my Citrus Fresh bottle and rub a drop or two under my chin before bed- it has made a difference! Also, I've seen this work for other people, so I'm not making this up.

8. Melrose
This oil is a blend with melaleuca, naouli, rosemary, and clove. I mostly use it on acne and my gums. Melrose has an antibacterial quality to it, so I use it for cuts and active acne. It also helps support my lower gums, which are at risk of being unhealthy due to my permanent retainers that trap saliva and gross things like nobody's business. I just rub a little on my gums and it helps keep them from receding and getting gross. Ugh, I'm grossing myself out just typing this.

7. Purification
This is arguably the best oil to diffuse, ever. Purification is a blend of citronella, rosemary, lemongrass, tea tree, and myrtle essential oils. It smells like heaven and literally destroys odors in your home. Purification is like Febreze without the potential VOCs. The citronella in it also makes for a great all-natural insect repellent!

6. Progessence Plus
This is the holy grail of essential oils for hormonal balance/support. Progessence Plus is a blend of so many awesome things that I don't even want to take the time to try to list them all here. I linked this oil and all the others below so you can see for yourself! The big winner in this one is wild yam extract, which contains progesterone. The actual hormone progesterone. Most hormone treatments use synthetics. Wild yam contains bioidentical progesterone. Bioidentical basically means that the hormones in the yam are ridiculously close to progesterone in humans, not something that was created in a lab. Bioidentical hormones are what we want, not synthetic. A big problem in women like me is too much estrogen and not enough progesterone. This oil is not harsh like synthetics, so it may work in a more gentle way. I use a roller on my bottle to put one or two drops on my neck, no more than once a day.

5. Thieves
Probably tied with Lavender, Thieves is the most popular oil. Exclusive to Young Living, this is a blend of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary. Fun fact: Thieves was inspired by a legend about four 15th century French thieves who used a similar blend to keep bad smells away when robbing the dead. It's excellent in hot tea for comfort and respiratory support during colds and allergy season, in a spray bottle with water and other oils for all-purpose surface cleaning, and in a diffuser for respiratory health and dispelling odors. I use mine for all three, but I use the spray bottle most often. I put some thieves and lemon in with some water and use it for all surfaces (including my tile floors) to disinfect, clean, and get rid of nasty smells.

4. Peppermint
So many uses for Peppermint! Ones I've tried: one drop with at least 16 oz of cold water or hot tea for digestion aid, one or two drops on the temples (avoid contact with eyes!!!) or back of the neck to help when you have a mild headache, or in a diffuser for energy, alertness, and sinus support. I don't have a car diffuser, so I just put a few drops on a cotton ball and shove it into my car vent. It helps wake me up and get me focused for test days at school.

3. Frankincense
This is such an amazing oil, but it's kind of stupid expensive. However, it's (in my opinion) the best oil for your face. I have ridiculous acne and ridiculous acne scarring, and frankincense makes such a huge difference in every aspect of my face. It helps with my acne, fades acne scars and blemishes, and smoothens out my complexion. Frankincense has been recorded as a miracle anti-aging tool pretty much as early as the days of Cleopatra, and for good reason. I ran out, but I used to use one or two drops with my moisturizer after washing my face.

2. Lemon
Although lemon is kind of in 2nd place, it's pretty much tied for 1st. I can't get enough of this oil. One drop in at least 16 oz of cold water is enough to hydrate me more efficiently, enhance the flavor of my water, and speed up my metabolism. I also diffuse it when I want a fresh scent in the house and put it in a spray bottle with thieves as an awesome cleaner. However, I mostly use it with my moisturizer at night to help fade acne scars! It's a photosensitive oil though, meaning that if you spend time in direct sun with it on your skin, you could get sunburn really easily. I only use this on my face at night and wipe any remaining oil off with my toner in the morning.

1. Lavender
And #1! Lavender is by far the most popular essential oil out there. I wish I were a little more hipster and had a less cliché favorite oil, but lavender is just the best. You can use it for so many things. I diffuse it almost every single night to help me sleep, and I have some in a spray bottle with water to spray on my sheets at night. Other helpful uses: I put one drop in a new tube of mascara to make my eyelashes healthier, add a few drops to my bath for serious relaxation, and add a drop to my moisturizer for help with acne or skin irritation.

Honorable mention: I just got Grapefruit oil after writing this post, but I have to put it in here! The smell is absolutely amazing, and I like it in my water even more than lemon! (which is saying something!) Grapefruit works very similarly to my lemon oil, and people also use it with their lotion to help smooth out cellulite! Not sure if it works because I just got it, so I'll have to try it out. Grapefruit oil is also supposed to be amazing for weight loss support when ingested, which is why I got it. Although just the smell of it is enough to make me fall in love.

And that's about it! I use other essential oils as well, so if you have questions about oils I've mentioned or others, feel free to ask in the comments! I've also linked all the oils below so you can read more about them. Hope you enjoyed reading my crazy tangents, and have a great week!

Friday, June 5, 2015

May Recap and June Goals

Happy June already! This is the 6th edition of my monthly goals series and I'm pretty much halfway through the year! Setting three specific, measurable (when possible) goals for each month has made a huge difference and I highly recommend trying it out for even just one month!

Let's recap my goals for May!

Just make it through the month: I was not doing awesome last month health-wise. I felt like I was eating out or unhealthy all the time, I sucked at exercising, and I thought I looked like a whale. My appointment with my endo wasn't until May 29th and I just wanted to do the best I could until I could get there. Fortunately, I had a great appointment with her, and she's just a very nice person! She started me on Metformin, which- I know- was my last resort. But I was there. It was last resort time. BUT... it's only my 5th day and I feel like it's already helping so much. There have been a couple not-so-good side effects, but it's only because I'm still figuring out when it's best for me to take it. I can manage my symptoms though, and I'm already losing weight. Still not liking the idea of being medicated though. I call them my pills of shame.

Finish my half marathon before they shove us off the course: We did it! Hurrah!

Come up with an exercise plan for June:  I didn't get a chance to sit down and make a specific plan, but I did a lot of brainstorming about the activities I'd like to do! More on that next.

With that here are my goals for June!

30 minutes of activity, at least 5 days a week: I love the feeling you get right after half training is over, when you realize you don't have to dedicate all your time to running and you can do whatever you want! I still want to run, but not for 45 minutes to an hour at a time. Back when I did the Runner's World Run Streak, I felt like I saw the greatest improvement in myself. Just a little bit of exercise each day makes a huge difference, and I'd rather do a little each day than kill an hour or more in a gym a couple times a week. Plus, there are a ton of awesome free workout videos on YouTube, and a lot of them are about 30 minutes long. I like to search a particular type of workout and save the ones I want to do. It saves a ton of time if you pre-plan and have some good videos lined up. Anyways... I want to start incorporating different types of workouts into my schedule- more yoga, running, bodyweight strength, kettlebell and resistance band, plyometrics, and PiYo. My best friend and I also signed up for a free Zumba class this month, which will be fun! I've done Zumba several times before- it's super fun but I look like an idiot.

REMINDER TO MY FUTURE SELF: Do your workouts in the morning when you get up. Once you do your hair and put your makeup on, it's over.

Watch my calories, at least on week days: Although my Metformin is already doing a wonderful job of keeping my system a bit more normal, I haven't logged my food or calories in a while. My longest streak was like 70 days, so I know I can do it for at least one month. I make sure I hit my other nutrition levels, but mostly I keep an eye on my carbs and my carb-to-protein ratio. I like keeping it at least 1:1, if not more protein than carbs. MyFitnessPal is great because it remembers my foods and my serving sizes, so tracking a regular meal is like 3 clicks and I'm done.

Get that HO! I go through phases of drinking lots of water and almost no water. I used to hate water so bad, and I'm finally at that point where I can appreciate it if it's ice cold. My goal is to get between 70-80 oz of water each day, which I can easily track on my Fitbit app. I keep this cute Starbucks cup with me at all times, and apparently I drink more water when I have a go-to cup I like.

So that's about it! Check out my other goal posts if you'd like- they're linked below!