8 Things I do first thing in the morning

If you are familiar with The Ahimsa Life you know I am all about keeping Healthy, keeping productive and keeping things fun!

What you may not know is none of this comes natural to me. I can sit with my coffee way too long in the morning, spend much to much time playing with my dogs and reading. Over the years I have developed routines that work to keep me on track and on top of every thing, which is very important if your goal like me, is to be a work at home entrepreneur. Today I thought I would bring you in to my morning routine.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

1. Drink WATER. On my list of first things first in the morning, water is a must.  Water should be the first thing you drink in the morning, then you can drink your much-needed cup of coffee. Water first thing in the morning helps wake your digestive system up and get everything going softly, not in the kick the door open way coffee does. I usually get up and turn the kettle on while I let my little pooches outside. I make a cup of warm lemon water and join them outside. It is one of the my favorite times of the day. Sipping on my warm lemon water watching my puppies run around is the best way to get centered and start my day in a happy way.

1. Start one load of laundry. But have a plan to get it into the dryer, set a timer in your kitchen or make a routine of changing it after your shower, whatever you need to do. Just get it done.

3. Empty the dishwasher. It’s like a clean slate. I start my dishwasher and take out my garbage every night before I go to bed. Every night. When I first started working for myself I was surprised how much of my day I spent doing cleaning around the house. Now I make sure I do these things on schedule to free up more time during the day to create. By emptying the dish washer first thing in the morning you will be able to put anything you dirty all day directly in, bypassing the sink and keeping your home tidy and you on track. For me it’s easy to get distracted by a messy house. Keeping it neat helps me stay in my office working.

4. Take a peak at your planner for the week. knowing what you have going on all week makes it easier to stay on track. I use my planner religiously. Love writing things down and crossing them off my list. Some times by looking over my planner I am able to squeeze a few things that were planned later in the week and group them together, my goal is always to have a free Friday, it does not always work, but if I can I try and get everything done M-Th, leaving my Friday for spending time with my family, a much needed writing day, or getting some of the projects done that I have not been able to knock off my list.

5. Know what you are having for dinner. Meal planning is very important to me. If you follow this blog you know I have an IBD, and food really is the best medicine. Planning ahead is also important to stick to your budget and maintaining a lower stress level at home. When you know what you’re having for dinner in the morning, you can prep the ingredients early in the day and won’t be standing in front of the pantry and fridge while your family is begging for food.

6.Get dressed. This sounds silly, I know.  But remember I work from home, it would be pretty easy to write all day in my pajamas. It’s amazing the difference in what I get done when I am dressed and ready to tackle the day as opposed to the days when the opposite is true. If I am going to the gym or the yoga studio that day I get dressed for that. Just being dressed and ready for the day makes me feel so much  more motivated.

7. Brain dump. I had never heard of a brain dump before a few years ago. One of my friends gave me a planner that had these cute little areas specifically for brain dumps and they have changed my life. Here is how you do it. Take out a piece of paper (or find a space in your planner or that adorable notebook you have been dying to use) and write a list, write everything that you know you need to get done, future events, things that you want to do, every thought that comes to mind, write it down. You don’t have to write it in any kind of order, just write down everything. It’s amazing how much brain capacity we take up just trying to remember everything. Once it’s written down, you can visualize what needs to happen and make your to-do list.

8. After your brain dump, write your to-do list for the day. After you write it down, prioritize those items. What absolutely has to happen? What could be done tomorrow if things happen and toss you off course? I take those items and distribute them on different days in my planner. In my planner I also have an ongoing list of things I can tackle in any free time that I have been able to make happen that week.

And that’s it! What are the things you do first thing in the morning to start your day off right?

Healthy Substitutes for Baking

I LOVE baked goods, but they are not always the healthiest snack or after dinner treat.

These quick swaps will make your baking an option you wont feel guilty about!

Avocado – I LOVE Avocados and I tend to eat at least one each day! Living in Sunny California that’s easy to do, lucky us, we have Avocados Year round!!  Mash some into your baked goods instead of using oil or shortening for healthy non saturated source of fats. Making avocados a healthy baking substitutes.

Beets – are a great way to add sweetness and color to brownies and red velvet cake. I don’t know about you but I love beets and I never seem to have enough recipes to use them in. Make sure they are fresh and shred them finely before adding.

Kabocha Squash – high in beta carotene kabocha squash will add sweetness and much needed moisture to muffins and cakes. To use De-seed and steam, and leave the skin on, its packed with nutrition!

Bonus – kabocha squash is a great substitute for pumpkin in your seasonal pies. I like to incorporate it in WITH my pumpkin for an added nutritional punch.

Pumpkin – pure canned pumpkin (NOT Pumpkin pie filling!) is full of antioxidants, beta carotene and fiber. Added to cakes, cookies and muffins they add moisture, a beautiful flavor and sweetness.

Sweet Potato (or Yams!) – This stuff is great in breads and you can replace most of the sugar and shortening with it! Beta carotene rich, just steam and puree before you add to your favorite bread, cookie, pie and cake recipes.

Zucchini – with TONS of vitamin C Zucchini is great to add moisture to breads, cakes and cookies. Grate is as fine as you can and your family will never even know its there!

What substitutions do you use?

 

 

 

Fitness Trackers, are they worth it?

Fitness Trackers

I have had a Fitbit since 2008. In fact, I have had just about every Fitbit as they have evolved. I love the data, finding out how much restful sleep I have had, and making sure I keep active all day. Its a great way to really know how sedentary you are, and where you can make small changes that will make a big difference in your fitness.

Fitness Trackers-2

Fitbit – I am currently using The Fitbit Charge HR. I upgraded from the Fitbit Charge, which I upgraded from the Fitbit Zip, which I upgraded from the original Fitbit. First and most importantly, ALL of my Fitbit’s are still working with the exception of my Charge.

I don’t know what happened there, the button on the side must have been faulty. But even my original Fitbit is still going strong. I have passed them on to my family members and they are all happy with them. I prefer my Charge HR to the other wearable that clip on, I have lost the clip on kind more then I can count, they just do not stay on me, so strapping it to my wrist is preferable to me. My daughter however dose not like the watch type ones, and is happy using my old zip. Another reason why Fitbit is my favorite tracker is because of the amazing web site they have. You can track all your food, set goals and see all your data in one place. When I was using Basis, I still used the Fitbit site or my fitness pal to track my food. You can set alarms to silently wake you up, it does steps, calories, my heart rate, floors I have climbed and my distance in miles. I basically only take it off when I am in the shower.

Pros- data, easy tracking and pairing, and the web site is the bomb!

Cons- Loosing the clip on kind, and having to wear two watches or take it off if I want to dress up.

Fitness Trackers-5

iwatch – I thought this would retire my Fitbit. I was wrong. I have not been to impressed with the fitness tracker on my iwatch. I spent one entire week wearing both the Fitbit and the iwatch and the steps were completely off, it only logged about half of what Fitbit did. If you are trying to watch your calories in/calories out you need another app for logging your food and steps like my fitness pal or Fitbit. As of today I would not recommend iwatch to use as a fitness tracker, but I will keep my eye out for new updates, and new apps!

Fitness Trackers-4

Spire – This is a different little guy from your run of the mill fitness tracker. Spire is all about managing your stress and staying active. Its a clip on, so right away I wasn’t exited, but, the clip is way better then my Fitbit’s, it just feels more secure, and it has never gone missing. The app walks you through clipping the spire on correctly, and it monitors your stress level and activity all day. What make it different –  as your stress changes the app will walk you through different meditations or relaxation techniques, with the idea, that being active and managing your stress will keep you healthy. I love it, I must say most days I just like comparing my stress levels with my husbands, lol, I do not always do the exercises. What can I say I am working on it. But knowing is half the battle right?

Fitness Trackers-3

Basis – I was sooo excited for my basis. We were on a waiting list when it first came out, so this review is based on the first model. It has since had at least one incarnation, and been purchased by Intel. The data you get from Basis is top notch, I found it the same or better then my Fitbit. BUT, that’s where we go wrong, that’s all you really get, accurate data, when compared to the Fitbit, where all that data is synced to an amazing web site that helps you work towards a goal Basis is lacking. Again I found myself wearing the basis, but logging all my info on Fitbit. So unless Intel changes something, it makes no sense for me to use one tracker and log my data into another one.

Hands down Fitbit works for me the best. I like to have all my data merged with my goals. For those with weight loss goals, you can input all the food you are eating, and it will tell you based on the goals you set how many calories you can eat that day, and how you did working towards that goal all week, month etc. If you are serious about getting healthy, buy a tracker. If you like data and easy use, buy a Fitbit.

♥Pamela

Pump up these Jams – Workout playlists

Workout Playlist

 

Good music makes every thing better! Nothing beats the feeling you get when your favorite song comes on. You get a burst of energy and the feeling like you are on top of the world. I love making new playlists for my workouts, long trips, and time by the pool. When I was still teaching I remember I made a play list for free time and when Ice Ice Baby came on, yes, I still love this song, the whole room started singing and dancing, clearly every one likes it as much as me. Some of my favorite memories are connected to specific songs, I love the thought of the endless hours my best friend Tracy and I used to spend making up dances in middle school.

Whether you are getting ready for a night out, cleaning your house, or jogging around the block a great soundtrack can get you motivated. Here are some of my faves, sure to get you moving!

“Let’s go Crazy” Prince

“Sugar” Maroon 5

“One More Time” Daft Punk

“Rebel Yell” Billy Idol

“American Boy” Estelle Ft. Kanye West

“Sweet Child Of Mine” Guns and Roses

“Baby I’m a Star” Prince

“Let’s Stay Together” Al Green

“4 minutes” Madonna

“Kiss” Prince

“Love on Top” Beyonce

“Brick House” Commodores

“Sexy Back” Justin Timberlake

“Super Freak” Rick James

“Locked out of Heaven” Bruno Mars

Under Pressure Queen and David Bowie

“Naught Girl” Beyonce

And any thing on The Pitch Perfect sound track, especially “Please don’t stop the Music” by the Treblemakers.

I think I could keep this list going forever! What are your favorites to listen to to get your work out going?

 

 

 

 

 

My Peloton Bike has arrived!

theahimsabike

Repost from 2015 when I got my Peloton bike. 2017 update – I still love it! They update constantly and its a great work out!

 

Yes, I love yoga, and try to practice every day. But, I am a sucker for a nice sweaty spin class. I have done classes at my local gym or YMCA, but I don’t really have a studio close by. When ever I travel to a city that has a SoulCycle I book my classes before I even leave for the airport. At $32 per class, plus shoe rental (if you do not own a pair) its pretty expensive! and not convenient at all. Whats a girl to do?

Enter Peloton. I spotted their add on Pintrest and clicked over. I fell in love. A spin class in my own home. I could not get my credit card out of my purse fast enough. But is it worth it? I have had my bike for just under a week, here is what I think…

First off if you have not heard of SoulCycle or Peloton this is the scoop, imagine if you where at church, an amazing church where the entire congregation was totally into the sermon, and that church was in the hottest club, amazing music, fantastic lighting and every one was moving in sync. That church club  also got you into amazing shape and you were dying to become a member and wanted to worship there every day. That’s how a great spin class feels, and SoulCycle/Peloton has mastered it.

Most of these studios are in major cities, so if you live in suburb, or in a city hat was not blessed enough to be chosen you are pretty much out of luck. Peloton has created a spin bike, with a monitor attached where you can watch a library of classes, or the best part, join in live classes at their NYC location. You can stream the live classes as they happen or do a ride any time from their library which includes spin classes and long distance lance Armstrong kind of rides.

 

The only thing the video does not capture is the excitement of the rides, it can be really high energy and lots of fun! Below id some pros and cons.

Pros –

I don’t have to drive forever to find a class. I can join my favorite teachers and classes live, or ride any time of day.

Bike cleats- you clip in, hard to get used to if you have never done it before, but once you have other bikes do not make sense.

Its fun! Whether you want a pop diva themed class or a chill ride, they have it. The music really is amazing and keeps me going!

Endless choices. The computer on the bike came pre loaded with tons classes, and they are releasing more all the time. if you add that with the streaming classes, you can rise a different class every day for over a year.

Your shipping fee includes set up! The bike was delivered via UPS freight and Peloton arranged to have it put together and set up, I literally could start a ride as soon as the delivery guys left.

Cons –

Its expensive the bike is $1995, plus a monthly subscription ($39) for streaming. But for us, its lower then a gym membership, or paying for a spin class 3x per week. And I share with my hubby and my daughter, so per use it makes sense for me.

Cleats – you need to purchase spin shoes. Peloton gave me a 20% discount on any accessories, I took advantage of that, but you can buy them on amazon as well. If you have never bought bike shoes before try them on! Or read the sizing carefully, my normal size was way too tight.

Space – I am lucky enough to have a fitness centric family, so we all were happy to make our loft into a home gym, if you don’t have a designated room you are going to need space for the bike. You have to allow space to stand next to the bike as well, each session ends with stretching, in studios a lot of people leave at this point, don’t do it, its so rewarding after a long ride, and adds only about 5 minutes.

Wait time. It took over a week after I ordered it.  I was told it would be 4 days. To be fair she said 4 day shipping, which to me was after I paid, but to them, the clock didn’t start ticking until the order was “processed” which meant from the day I ordered it to delivery was 13 days including weekend.

So far I am in love, and the bike is getting a lot of use. I will update and give you more details on riding at home, and pics soon!

♥Pamela

Easy ways to burn more calories every day

EASY WAYS TO

If you read my post on Fitness Trackers you know I love my Fitbit. Wearing a fitness tracker really lets you know how much you are NOT moving! I was pretty surprised to find some long periods of complete inactivity. Since then, I have really made an effort to increase how much I move every day. Its amazing how many calories you can burn during the day with out hitting a gym. Here are some simple ways to break up those sustained sitting periods at work and home:

  • Take phone calls standing up. If the phone rings, stand up! You will automatically find your self walking around.
  • Rather than email office colleagues, walk to their desks to communicate with them. On that note, don’t yell for your kids, walk to their rooms, or where ever they are to talk to them.
  • Create a standing workstation. My husband just changed over his work and home offices to this standing desk, it lowers so he can sit at it too, if needed, but its really amazing how many steps he has added not changing any thing about his routine.
  • Wear a pedometer or fitness tracker to encourage taking steps. I check on mine through out the day, reach for at least 10,000 steps.
  • Set a timer on your home computer or phone to alert you to get up every thirty to forty minutes and break up sitting with short bursts of activity, like running to the mailbox.
  • Have a dog? Try and increase you walks by 10 minutes, or take time to toss a ball in the yard, your puppy will love you for it!

Bonus tip – At home, stop multi tasking! Are you setting things on the stairs to bring up the next time you head that way? Stop, bring it up right then and there. I have found I doubled the amount of flights I climb each day just by doing that.

How do you add more activity in your day?

♥Pamela

Kale Chips, Nice and Spicy!

Kale Chips

Every one love Kale chips! They have been a favorite in our house for a while. Normally, my go to recipe is to just add a little Olive Oil and some Himalayan Pink Salt, bake and yum!

Of course I have seen many recipes online. I make sure I save them and swear I will give them a try. But when it comes to making a batch, I always think, if its not broken, don’t fix it and make my old stand by recipe.  That was until now.

A few weeks ago I dragged my hubby to Las Vegas to see Elton John. (He was AH-MAZ-ING!) I seem to be in Vegas all the time work, and since its a quick flight, the hubby goes with a lot. Las Vegas is unbelievably easy to eat Vegan in. We have become pros on the best places at eat and drink in Sin City. This trip we went to the Canyon Ranch Spa in The Palazzo. The spa is the best, and they also have a small restaurant and bar offering some amazing healthy options. We had just stopped by for a quick bite, and chose the Spicy Kale chips to tide us over till dinner. Which is what inspired this recipe.

The Canyon Ranch chips, were dehydrated,  my normal go to chips are baked, but I loved how crunchy they were, with out all the extra oil. They added a chili powder mix of seasonings which gave it a great kick! It came with a ranch dip, which I avoided. Once home I set out to re create these spicy little numbers, and dug out my dehydrator. Here is my home version, I like it spicy, so I added a little extra heat, use less seasoning if you don’t!


 

Nice and Spicy kale Chips

1 bunch Kale ( I prefer curly for chips, all those nooks and crannies really hold on to the seasoning) I have used dinosaur kale before and it turned out well.

2 Tbsp Saint Lucifer seasoning (Thank you Hubby for introducing this to me!)

2 Tbsp  Olive oil ( I love Calivirgin. It is simply my favorite EVOO. It’s local to me, but they have a great Olive oil club you can join even if you live far away)

That’s it!!

I am using a dehydrator for this recipe,- if you don’t have a dehydrator, bake at 400 degrees for 10-20 minutes until crispy, and add a little more oil.  Check on it from time to time since oven temps vary.

1)Rip apart and wash kale very well! Leaving out the hard stalks and veins. Its really important that you take the time to wash thoroughly! I use a fruit and veg wash to make sure I get every thing off and always buy organic.

2) Dry kale, if you want it crispy this is a MUST. I use a salad spinner, if you do not have one just pat between paper towels until dry.

3) In a large bowl add kale, and oil and use hands to mix it through, making sure oil is evenly disbursed.

4) if using a dehydrator, lay out kale on trays evenly, not letting ends touch. you do not  have to leave that much room, they will shrink. I am currently using a round dehydrator, and  I use about 5 trays for 1 bunch.

If you are baking lay out your kale evenly with out touching on a cookie sheet. When baking not letting the sides touch is even more important for crispy chips.

5) Sprinkle with Lucifer seasoning, using more or less based on how hot you like it!

6) Sit back and let your dehydrator do its thing! Although you can eat them any time, and I do, as I check them, I like mine to be as crispy as possible, which equals about 4 hours in the dehydrator.

Enjoy!

♥Pamela

 

Travel beauty tips from a road warrior!

Travel Beauty tips from a road warrior

Not too long ago, I traveled extensively for work, flying to different states a few times a month. Since I worked in the beauty industry I was expected to show up looking just like I walked out of the pages of a fashion magazine, which can be difficult when you are on 5 hour flight from California to New York, or only got 4 hours of sleep on your uncomfortable hotel bed.

I have developed a few great tips over my years of traveling, on how to not look so jet lagged and take care of your self in flight.

Tip #1 – Do not travel in make up. Yes, I know. But its important. Your just going to read your kindle or watch a movie any way, no need to have a full face of make up on. The air in the plane tends to make your skin dry and dehydrated, adding layers of foundation and powders will only make that worse. I pack a little bag of Josie Maran Bear Naked cleansing wipes to make sure I have a clean face on the flight. You can also use them to freshen up mid flight, which is super important on long overseas travel.

Bonus Tip! Use those cleansing wipes to wash down the arm rests and tray prior to use. Believe me it helps get rid of all those germs, so you don’t get sick.

Tip #2- Moisturize! – Makes sense after tip #1 right? I take it to the next level by using my night cream no matter what time of day it is, instead of a daily moisturizer. The air is so dry, you will need the added little extras and thickness of a night cream.

Tip #3 –Buy a water before you get on the plane and ask for another when the beverage service starts. You can not get enough water on the flight, make sure you drink at least 8 oz before you land.

Tip #4 -Speaking of drinking NO alcohol! It dehydrates you, so all the tips above would be for nothing is you ask for that Chardonnay. Remember dehydrated skin = wrinkles.

Tip #5 – After you land break out one of your wipes, or get the hotel asap, what ever you do, wash your face as soon as you can. That plane was full of germs and recirculated air, lets get all of the above off your skin as soon as humanly possible.

Tip #6 – First night at the hotel – I always apply a moisture mask. You can do it as you unpack, or as you are relaxing or prepping for the next day. Trust me this one will make a difference.

Have you developed and great Travel Beauty tips?

P

 

 

Water- if you don’t get a filter, you are going to become a filter

Water if you don't get a fliteryou are going to become a filter

I was doing some reading this week and come crossed this great quote from one of my favorite teachers David Wolfe.

“If you don’t get a filter you are going to become a filter”

He’s talking about water, and it got me thinking about all the water I drink. What is in our water? Do we really need a filter?

Here at The Ahimsa Life water is every thing! The best thing you can do to keep your body healthy is drink enough water.  But whats in the water coming out of our tap?

First thing you need to do is become educated. Visit the National Water database. On this site you can input your zip code and your water company and get the latest test results about the water in your area. I just did mine, and I am glad I am using a filter. My water has over 138 contaminates in it, including radiated soil and Tetrachlorethylene, a common solvent used in dry cleaning, automotive, and metal work! Commonly called “dry cleaning Fluid”, the health effects of drinking water contaminated with Tetrachlorethylene are liver problems and increased cancer risk.

For me, personally that was enough to make me do some thing about the water my family uses. I glanced at some of the others, and saw words like radiation particles, radioactive, and decided I did not even need to look in to the 137 more toxins.

My next question was is the filter I am using good enough? Whats the best way to remove these toxins?

There are six types of filters you can get, pitcher/large-dispenser, faucet mounted, faucet integrated, on-counter, under-sink, and whole house.

With in Those six you have a few types of systems for removing water toxins, the most common are

 

  • Carbon filters (pitcher, tap-mounted or large dispenser) are affordable and can reduce many common water contaminants, like lead and byproducts of treatment processes.
  • Reverse osmosis filters remove contaminants that carbon filters can’t eliminate, like arsenic and perchlorate (rocket fuel), but can be costly.

I suggest you make the choice on which one is right for you by looking at your budget, and reading up on what best removes the toxins you have in your water. The EWG web site also has a list on what filters work best for your specific toxins.

The best filter for toxins in my area is a filter containing GAC (granular activated carbon). With a quick search, I found some on Amazon, they were between $89-$100 for counter top versions that can connect directly to my faucet. Since I do not like to buy plastic water bottles, and drink a ton of water, I think this sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Did you go to the National Water Database and check out the water in your area?

P

Why Arugula should be in your diet

Why Arugula Should be

I don’t know about you, but the produce department in my local grocery is killing it with the options these days!!

My normal routine is to head to the farmers market every weekend, but some times I can’t get there, or have inspiration for some thing else and head to my local chain grocery. These days I have been seeing a world of new and exciting foods on their shelves. I decided to create a series on all this great produce, what it is, why its good for you and how to prepare it. Here is part 1 on Arugula!

Arugula is a leafy green, you will find it near the greens in loose bunches or in those pre done salad bags. My daughters favorite is a Arugula Spinach mix! If you go ounce to ounce Arugula provides more Nitrates then any other veggie source. Nitrates lower blood pressure. When your blood pressure is lower your blood flow in increased, and more oxygen is delivered to your body, energizing all your cells, reducing your muscles need for this good stuff during exercise. In short, it makes it easier for you to get a better work out in!

Arugula is a great source of vitamins A, C and K. As a matter of fact, Arugula is one of the best sources of vitamin K, which leads to better bone and brain health.

Arugula has a great peppery flavor, which has a cooling effect on the body,  and like other  leafy greens, it helps keep your body hydrated, making it the perfect choice for those hot summer picnics and barbecues.

And guess what? Arugula, the modest little veggie that it is, gives all of these amazing benefits to your body, and is almost no calories! 1 cup of Arugula is 6 calories!!! 6 calories! For all that goodness!

How I love to prepare it –

The obvious answer is a salad, and I do prepare it that way a lot. We almost always have Arugula in the house, and if I am running around, or finishing up some writing, I grab a big bowl and load it with any veggies left on hand, and some oil and vinegar or lemon juice and its perfect.

For a quick meal, I toss it with some hot pasta, olive oil, and lemon zest. A little fresh ground pepper and Pink Himalayan salt and perfection! Lately at my house we have been making a lot of cast iron skillet pizzas, and a little arugula mixed with some olive oil and seasonings is amazing on the pizza just after its pulled out of the oven. If your trying to sneak in all that goodness to your children or a picky partner, stir a handful into your marinara sauce, they work together well, and your family will never notice.

P