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7 Ways You Can Make 2015 A Life-Changing Year

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This time of year, when overzealous diet and fitness resolutions are beginning to wane, it’s a great time to re-direct our focus to “real solutions” that can have a lasting impact in our lives. For me, this year’s focus is on the increasingly evident body-image crisis, particularly amongst younger generations.

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I recently read some disturbing statistics on this topic via the Huffington Post:

  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls wish they were thinner (source: Collins, 1991)
  • 81% of 10 year old girls are afraid of getting fat (source: Mellin et al, 1991)
  • in a survey of girls approximately 14-18 years :
    • more than 59% were trying to lose weight
    • in the last 30 days prior to survey, over 18% had starved themselves for a day or more to lose weight
    • 11.3% had used diet pills and 8.4% had vomited or taken laxatives to lose weight
    • (source: CDC, 2004)

My immediate thought was of my 5-year old daughter and how hell-bent and determined I am to prevent her from being a part of those statistics (because I sure didn’t manage to avoid it myself, and it wasn’t much fun). My next thought was how everyone – parent or not – can be a part of preventing our future generations from perpetuating these statistics.

By now, we all know there’s a problem with the media – that images are being photo-shopped to portray unrealistic body proportions and impossibly flawless skin – but blaming the media doesn’t help the situation. We can’t control what’s in the media. We also can’t put our children in giant bubbles to prevent them from seeing T.V. or magazine ads, or from ever playing with a Barbie or Disney Princess doll. What we can do though, is look in the mirror and see what behaviours we’re modelling to our children.

Like it or not, our children are watching our every move, all the time – even when we don’t think they’re watching. Just like they learn our language by repeating our words, they also learn other patterns and behaviours, including those of self-love and acceptance (or lack thereof), by mimicking us. Our children’s body image will become a direct reflection of our own.

Now this is not an article aimed at blaming parents for all their children’s problems, but rather a call out to parents – myself included – to take responsibility. By taking responsibility, we have the control to change it – without guilt, shame or blame. We have the opportunity to impact the course of our children’s lives by taking responsibility for what they see, hear, feel and experience at home. We can directly influence how they see the world, and more importantly, themselves.

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By making the shift from blaming media and other outside sources, to taking responsibility for how we show up in our children’s worlds, we can more easily influence how they grow, hopefully into confident human beings who will focus on bigger and better things than the number they see on the scale, or the shape of their butts – perhaps on passions like saving the environment or endangered species, or ending world hunger.

Telling our children that they’re smart, talented, unique and beautiful just as they are, is important – but it’s simply not enough. We have to model it. They won’t just “do as we say” in this case; they will do as we do. So, from as early an age as possible, we need to start acting like the women (and men – because boys and men are just as susceptible to poor body image) we want our daughters (and sons) to grow up to be. It’s time to start breaking the pattern that we see repeating itself generation after generation – and in the process, help ourselves live out more fulfilling lives.

So let’s make 2015 a life-changing year, shall we?

Here are 7 quick “Do’s and Don’ts” on how to start doing this right away.

1) DON’T go to extremes.

This includes any dramatic change to your diet and fitness routines (i.e. eliminating any entire food group, or going from couch to “insanity”-style workouts). New Year’s Resolutions are typically made of these extreme endeavors, which is why most people fail to maintain them.

DO educate yourself and make small, realistic changes to your nutrition and fitness habits each and every week.

Ask yourself: “Can I do this (change) every day – or week – for the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, then make the change smaller until it’s a yes. Remember to also plan or schedule it to ensure it gets done, until it becomes habit. If done consistently, by the end of this year, you will have made 52 positive, permanent changes. Is that not way better than 10 drastic, unsustainable ones that you have to repeat each and every January?

Note: When it comes to nutrition, adding healthy options is usually a much easier and more sustainable change than eliminating “bad” ones. When you start to feel healthier from choosing more nourishing options, the elimination of unsupported foods/habits usually comes naturally (although not an overnight process); but when we resolve to eliminate something altogether, that’s typically when we focus on it and want it more. Drastic is rarely sustainable.

What your children will learn from this:

Being active is a lifestyle (not just something you do a couple of times a year), and fitness is something you can build on over time to achieve better and better results. They’ll also learn that food is nourishing, and interesting, and even fun – not evil. By switching from a diet-mentality to one of nutrition (BIG difference), your children won’t be directly exposed to detrimental habits of deprivation and binge eating. Instead, they’ll learn balance.

Furthermore, if you’re continually adding new healthy foods into your weekly menu, trying new healthy recipes, and involving your kids in the process, they will not only learn the importance of nutrition, but they’ll also learn how to prepare healthy foods and make better food choices for themselves when you’re not around.

 2) DON’T use the F-word. Ever.

“Fat” is a word that NEVER gets used in our home (my daughter probably wouldn’t even know the meaning of it if someone asked her), unless it’s in reference to the healthy fats in my morning smoothie or homemade salad dressing. It’s become such a harmful and hurtful way to describe someone’s physical body – even when you’re talking about your own, and especially in front of your children. No matter how it’s said, even in humour, it’s harmful and can have a lasting effect on your children.

DO talk about feeling healthy and energetic.

Let’s face it, when we go over our healthy weight/size threshold, it usually comes with feelings of sluggishness and discomfort. Yet most complaints are about the excess weight or (f-word). Some people may also have concerns about their children’s weight. As parents, it’s our responsibility to stop complaining, and simply do something about it. Our children will model our behaviour.

What your children will learn from this:

Although they will no-doubt be exposed to this language outside of the home (whether around them or directed at them), what they learn at home will impact how they react and how they let it affect them. If their parents are not judging or giving their body labels, children will be more likely to express kindness, rather than judgement, towards their peers, and themselves – no matter what their size.

3) DON’T spend time nit-picking imperfections in the mirror.

Your children are watching, and will in turn begin to look for blemishes, wrinkles, and other things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

DO nurture your body and skin regularly.

Take care of yourself with good daily hygiene, and include regular pampering. Take a sea salt or lavender bath, cleanse with an occasional mud mask, get a pedicure, or whatever else makes you feel amazing. Make sure to treat yourself to pampering every week – it doesn’t have to cost money. Don’t forget to always remove makeup and moisturize before bed. Your skin will love you for it.

What your children will learn from this:

They’ll learn to take good care of themselves, and to focus on the things that make them feel good, not the things they don’t like. In short, they’ll learn to nurture, not nit-pick.

4) DON’T dress up or wear make-up everyday.

Of course there may be a professional reason for dressing up on weekdays, but whenever you can, step out the door with a “naked” face and comfortable clothes and notice how refreshing it feels – and how much time it saves! Show your children that you don’t “have” to dress up or make up your face every day.

DO dress regularly for play!

Put your hair in a bad ponytail, throw on your crappy jeans or p.j. pants and a t-shirt and get ready to play with your children – go to the park, or beach, or hiking trail, or just stay in your backyard. Be present with them, and pay no attention whatsoever to your hair, makeup, or clothes. Your primary goal is to have fun.

What your children will learn from this:

There’s more to life than looking good. In fact, sometimes you can have more fun when you’re dressed like crap because you don’t mind getting dirty.

Oh, and they’ll learn that mom’s actually pretty cool.

5) DON’T highlight your weaknesses.

Your children are listening! When you talk about the things you suck at, they will talk about the things they suck at, which is obviously counterproductive to lifting their self-esteem. We all suck at some things, even many things. Who cares. We are also amazing at other things. We can’t all be a jack-of-all-trades – and frankly who wants to be, it sounds exhausting – so stop giving attention to those things you don’t do well. If you have trouble with this, engage some supportive partners to stop you in your tracks when you start putting yourself down.

DO focus on your passions and strengths.

What you focus on expands. By making this one simple shift, you could go from being amazing at something, to being simply incredible/Ellen Show-worthy at that thing. Now that’s worth putting some effort into, isn’t it?

What your children will learn from this:

This one’s a no-brainer: they will learn to focus and build on their passions and strengths, and do way less of putting themselves down for the things they don’t do as well.

6) DON’T judge others – either by putting them down OR putting them on a pedestal.

Our children are learning from our every word.

DO point out the best in others, without glorifying them.

The beauty of being a parent and leading our children is that we have the freedom to choose what we draw their attention to – for example, we could point to a magazine and say how sickly thin a model looks (put-down-mode), or how enviously naturally-toned her legs are (pedestal-mode), or we can simply say “I love that gorgeous dress – it really suits her”. It’s all a choice – and by choosing the latter, we’re giving our children that same freedom.

What your children will learn from this:

There are unique and positive traits in everyone; yet no one is “better” than anyone else.

 7) DON’T weigh yourself more than once/week (MAX!).

It’s important to NOT give so much attention to the scale, or weight-loss as a goal in general. It’s definitely not the best measure of health, and can lead to obsessive behaviour (which, you guessed it, your children are watching). For most accurate physical results of your healthy efforts, use a tape measure. I also recommend keeping a daily journal of your overall energy level and mood (happiness) on a scale of 1-10. Because that’s the stuff that really matters.

DO hide your bathroom scale, so it’s not readily accessible to your children – or yourself.

If you absolutely must use it (which I really don’t advocate), bring it out only every 4-6 weeks to check in on your personal progress – and only every year for your children, to record their milestone weight. Or better yet, let the Dr. do that for you.

What your children will learn from this:

Nothing, hopefully. If they don’t see it, they won’t learn the habit and resulting negative impact of daily/hourly scale-gazing.

Could these seemingly small (but rather huge) steps actually lead to a “life-changing” year? I really do believe it. If we can release our addiction to fads, quick fixes and all that is “wrong” with ourselves and the world, and instead turn our attention to laying a positive body-image foundation for our children through our conscious, positive behaviours, we can not only change our own lives, but also have a lasting impact on theirs.

As Gandhi famously said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Whether you’re a parent, auntie/uncle, big sister/brother, babysitter, teacher or anyone else that has an influence on children – make it a positive one, and be the model of how you wish to see the children in your life grow and thrive in the world.

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Awareness

Tips On Overcoming Sleep Problems During Pregnancy

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Getting a Good Night’s Sleep in the Third Trimester is a Challenge

As the body changes, a pregnant woman may suddenly find a handful of reasons she can’t get to sleep at night. Try these tips for an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

A common complaint among pregnant women, particularly those in their third trimester, is the inability to fall (and stay) asleep at night. Many factors are often to blame, making it difficult to know exactly how to address the issue. From growing size to frequent urination, there seems to be no break for a rest. But some very basic techniques can help pregnant women get the sleep they need.

Why Can’t I Sleep?

As the body changes throughout the first and second trimesters, some women may notice changes in their sleeping pattern. Most, however, aren’t too affected until they reach month seven or so. As the body rapidly adapts to the growing baby, some issues may arise:

Frequent urination can be a huge annoyance. As the kidneys do double-duty to filter the increased blood volume (about 40% more than normal), the body produces more urine. At the same time, the baby’s growth has increased pressure on the bladder, making the time between bathroom trips very short. Babies active at night may also increase the number of trips for some mothers.

A rapid heartbeat is needed to pump that extra blood throughout the body, but some women find it difficult to relax in these circumstances.

Shortness of breath, due to pressure on the lungs and the release of certain hormones, can make it a challenge to fall asleep at night. As the fetus grows, the diaphragm will compress more and more, increasing the pressure on the lungs.

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Aches and pains are quite common, since a pregnant woman’s center of balance shifts and places extra pressure on new areas. Leg cramps and lower back pain are a typical night-time complaint since the hormone relaxin is working to stretch out and loosen the ligaments to prepare for delivery. Injuries and strains become more likely later in pregnancy.

Digestive problems, like heartburn and constipation, abound as the process of digestion slows down. Food backs up in the digestive tract, taking longer to break down, and the result is mom’s discomfort.

Get Comfortable

Doctors recommend that pregnant women lay on their side at night to allow proper blood flow throughout the body. For stomach- and back-sleepers this might be difficult, but it’s important. Choosing a comfortable mattress and pillows is a must as they will help make a pregnant woman more comfortable at night. Use pillows under the belly, behind the back, and between the legs. Try experimenting with different pillows (body pillows, wedges, etc.) and different positions.

Get Prepared

When it’s almost time to get to sleep, start preparing the body for bedtime. Take a relaxing bath, have a glass of warm mylk, or a night-time massage. Putting the mind at ease can help make the transition to sleep easier. For some, foods high in carbohydrates, like a snack of bread or crackers, will help with sleep troubles. And to limit bathroom trips, be sure to avoid drinking fluids too close to bedtime!

Get Healthy

The right nutrition and exercise can go a long way, especially during pregnancy. Certain things should be avoided and added to optimize sleep:

Adding calcium to the diet will help to curb those painful leg cramps.

Protein-rich diets can ward off those unpleasant pregnancy nightmares.

Skipping caffeine, or limiting it as much as possible, can have a dramatic effect. Many pregnant women’s bodies cannot break down caffeine, so it remains in the system much longer than usual.

Avoid foods that trigger heartburn.

Get enough fibre to reduce constipation.

Try yoga for relaxation, walks to keep joints limber and moderate activity to help promote sleep. Adding exercise every day might be the key to getting to bed at night.

Paying attention to the body, staying relaxed, and getting the right nutrition is essential to quieting the mind and getting a good night’s sleep during pregnancy. Follow these tips and try to stay positive; only a few more months (or weeks) to go!

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Lifestyle

10 Quick & Nourishing Smoothie Recipes That Taste Great

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Smoothies are a great way to pack a lot of nutrients into a filling, delicious meal any time of the day. In our fast-paced world, they help provide a great way to stay healthy on the go.

  • Reflect On:

    If you find combining sugars and fats bloat you, keep them separate. Sugar that comes from eating whole fruit is not the same as added sugar!

Have you ever compromised on a nourishing and filling breakfast because you are running late for work? Well, it has happened to all of us, especially women with kids.

And the good news is, smoothies! That’s right! Smoothies are nutrient-rich, delicious and can be made within minutes. You can replace it with your coffee on-the-go as it is much more healthy, filling, and tasty.

Here are 10 such smoothies prepared using a variety of fruits, veggies, and other ingredients. Some of the ingredients are rich in antioxidants, some are protein packed, and a few others are the best anti-inflammatory foods. So indulge in a smoothie marathon and try out one of the below smoothies each day; either as a fully-loaded breakfast or as a filling snack.

Breakfast Smoothie

This is a protein-rich breakfast which is clean and detox-friendly. It consists of,

  • 180ml of coconut milk
  • 1tsp cacao 1tsp coconut oil
  • 120 ml coconut water
  • 25 grams of oats
  • half a banana (either fresh or frozen)
  • 1tsp almond butter
  • 3 ice cubes

Blend everything together and you are ready to kick start your day on a super healthy note. It contains protein, fibre and all the essential nutrients required for a wholesome breakfast.

Peanut Butter Banana Apple Smoothie

Another protein packed smoothie that is just delicious! This recipe is as easy as it comes.

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  • Add two tablespoons of peanut butter
  • a banana
  • some sliced apples and
  • a few ice cubes

There you go! Banana will give you instant energy, protein from peanut butter, and loads of vitamins and minerals from apple. Nothing can get better than that!

Watermelon Basil Smoothie

Another simple and quick smoothie with just three ingredients. It is healthy, quick and delicious. This smoothie includes watermelon, basil and coconut water. It is super-hydrating and healthy. Watermelon is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin C, and many other nutrients. It aids conditions such as inflammation, obesity, diabetes and heart diseases. Basil is an amazing source of vitamin K, magnesium, copper, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and omega 3 fatty acids. What more do you need?

Cherry Vanilla Protein Smoothie

Cherries are the best summer fruit ever! Put one cup of cherries along with one cup coconut milk and one scoop of protein powder. It is naturally sweet, creamy and full of deliciousness. This will fulfil your daily dose of protein in a single gulp! Cherries are packed with antioxidants and cancer-preventing elements. Studies show that it also promotes sleep by increasing melatonin levels, relieve arthritis pain, reduce belly fat and is an excellent post-workout snack that can reduce muscle pain.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

 This healthy and tasty smoothie has only three ingredients; Strawberry, banana and non-dairy milk or water. Just throw all the ingredients and then blend! It’s creamy, colourful, healthy and delicious! Strawberries are a rich source of vitamin C, folic acid, and dietary fibre good for skin health and can beat the top moisturizers in terms of the benefits offered. It will help to keep skin healthy and glowing and fights aging, acne, and wrinkles. The banana provides increased energy throughout the day. It can be consumed as a perfect healthy breakfast or as a snack.

Pineapple smoothie

With just two ingredients, it is possible to have a tropical beach experience at home. Don’t know how? This pineapple smoothie is just what everyone needs. Frozen or fresh pineapple and almond milk are the only ingredients in this. It is quick, easy and a perfect after workout drink. This combination can never go wrong. Pineapples improve bone strength, eyesight, delays muscle degeneration and aids in digestion. Having this smoothie first thing in the morning can help with smooth bowel movement.

Banana Blueberry Chocolate Smoothie

Who doesn’t love chocolates? This smoothie can fix the craving for chocolate and in a healthy way. Adding sugar and other sweeteners can ruin the whole purpose of having a healthy smoothie. Cocoa powder is a perfect substitute that can solve this issue. And blueberries offer a myriad of benefits such as regulate cholesterol and heart diseases. It has fibre, potassium, Vitamin C and other essential nutrients.

The ingredients are

  • 1 sliced banana
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • Water or crushed ice can be added.

Mint Chocolate Smoothie

This is a nutrient-packed smoothie with simple and easily available ingredients. Simply put 1 avocado, 1 banana, 1 scoop of green powder, one tablespoon vegan yogurt, two handfuls of spinach, some almond milk, few mint leaves and 1tsp cocoa powder. The greens offer plenty of vitamins and minerals along with the benefits of avocado. Mint acts as a palate cleanser and improves digestion and bowel movements. It also reduces the symptoms of inflammation, depression, asthma, respiratory diseases, promotes oral care, cures nausea and headache and even prevents cancer.

Post-Workout Smoothie

Tired of the same old peanut butter? Try this smoothie recipe with non-dairy milk, almond butter, bananas, one tablespoon of flaxseeds, natural oats, and honey. It is packed with protein, dietary fiber, omega 3 fatty acids and plenty of other nutrients. Needless to say, extremely delicious. Makes up for an excellent post-workout snack that promotes muscle strength, repair of damaged cells and provides energy.

Beetroot Cinnamon Smoothie

The ingredients are,

  • 1 small raw beetroot
  • 1 handful of almonds
  • 1 handful of baby spinach
  • ripe banana
  • ripe avocado
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

This smoothie can be customized by adding more fruits or greens. It is perfect for breakfast or as a snack option. Beetroot is a good source of iron, nitrates, magnesium and other antioxidants. It also improves skin health and glows, lower blood pressure and prevent dementia. This smoothie is an ideal option for a pre-workout meal.

So what are you waiting for? Try out these incredibly easy and healthy smoothies and pamper yourself with a great breakfast that nourishes your soul. It’s time for some self-love!

References

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266886.php
https://bellatory.com/skin/Top-5-Benefits-of-Strawberry-for-Skin
https://www.livescience.com/45487-pineapple-nutrition.html

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So far, the response to this interview has been off the charts as people are calling it the most concise update of what's happening in our world today.

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Consciousness

8 Comics Showing How Much Today’s Childhood Differs From Ours

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The childhood experience today is inevitably affected by--and sometimes even centered on--technology.

  • Reflect On:

    What is technology giving to our children, and what is it taking away? Should we be more proactive about our children's exposure to technology?

When I was a child, there was no shortage of getting told by our parents and other adults about how much better we had things than they did when they were children.  Stories of having to walk for miles to go to school, sleeping in the same bed until they became an adult, having the same food all the time, and having only a few simple toys to last them several years were not uncommon at all. There was a definite sense that as society modernized, things were getting better for children.

And as children we certainly didn’t disagree — hearing our parents’ stories did indeed make us feel that we were better off than they were. We certainly would not be inclined to exchange our childhood for their more rugged, austere version. And yes, to some extent these stories gave us a bit more ‘appreciation’ for what we had, despite not showing enough of it to satisfy our parents.

How About Today?

Today, I’m not sure that familiar line of conversation that has spanned many generations is going on anymore between parents and children. As the father of a 4-year old, the most immediate difference I notice is that we seem to have less time for our children than our parents did, especially if both parents are working full-time, which is just about a requirement these days.

The other major difference is the level of technology children have access to. And in some ways, technology has come in and ‘filled the gap’ where a parent’s attention is absent. Now, undoubtedly, there are some benefits to technology for our children. But when we take time to reflect on it, we might recognize that we have come to a particular stage in the modernization of our society where most of us are not sure that ‘newer, bigger, faster, more convenient’ is necessarily better, especially with regards to the type of childhood that serves as a foundation for a happy and prosperous adult life.

Here are 8 pictures comparing childhoods then and now, where technology has become ubiquitous in the lives of our children. Do you think our children have it better than we did?

Are they having more fun?

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Are they being more creative?

Are they more ambitious?

Are they healthier?

Are they understanding consequences better?

Are they feeling things more deeply?

Are they experiencing more frustration?

Is their sense of wonder being cultivated more?

How Did You Score It?

How you answer these questions might give you some insight into how much you want your children’s early experiences to be influenced by technology. As everyone knows, childhood is the most formative time of a person’s life, which is why, as parents, some of the choices within our control that we make about our children’s exposure to technology might have a significant impact.

Drawings courtesy of Sergey Raskovalov.

Free David Wilcock Screening: Disclosure & The Fall of the Cabal

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