Grocery Shopping – You’re Doing It Wrong

As adults, we look back at our schoolhood days and realize that there were so many practical things that our education should have taught us about the world. Rather than being taught about how to formulate a quadratic equation or an obscure battle in history fueled by the male ego, we should’ve also been taught about budgeting, the loan process, and I dont know, maybe how to properly nourish ourselves.

Once upon a time during my personal journey learning about nutrition, I came across an article about how to shop at a grocery store. It threw me off guard for a moment. I mean, you just go in and buy food right? How hard is that? But there is actually a strategy to it. Its been said that you should only utilize the outer aisles of the grocery store because that’s where the freshest food is. Think about it. The foods on the outside are dairy, meat, and produce. Everything that is highly processed lies in the inner aisles. When you think about it, it makes sense.

That information is still mostly true today, but as health and wellness are on the rise in America, there are loads more healthy options in the mix making shopping throughout all aisles more available, but a bit more tedious. Products practically scream at you from the shelves. “Hey you, yeah you! I’M FAT FREE!” “Don’t listen to him, I am ZERO SUGAR! Yeah, you like that, huh?” “Buy me! I’m ALL NATURAL! Who really knows what that means, but its the mystery and assumption that make it all the more fun!While these things may be true about a product, the target audience is the misinformed.

  • Fat Free: You need fat to fuel your body. Eating fat doesn’t make you fat.
  • Zero Sugar: Even though there is no white sugar, there tends to be sugar alternatives and alcohols.
  • All Natural: This itself is a vague and enigmatic term. A CNN article called “What are natural flavors, really?” states that a product may list “blueberry flavoring”, but that doesn’t mean it comes from actual blueberries. It’s most probable origin is a chemical found in a laboratory.

That is just a sampling of how ingredients may read on any given item and with a grocery store having thousands and thousands of products, the process of eating healthier and cleaner is a bit overwhelming.

But alas, not all hope is lost! There are couple key things to keep in mind that will make the experience less daunting.

#1 – FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, YOU NEED TO READ THE INGREDIENTS. I have wrote about this in the past so I wont reiterate much of it, but you can view the full post here. Here is an example: wasabi peas. Yes, it is a processed snack which shouldn’t be a prominent food source in your diet, but I would like to note marketing at its finest. At first glance, they don’t look that bad. Note the disclaimers on the front, their name, and also the coloring of the packaging. It seems like a healthy snack. They’re peas. They’re green, and they’re vegan!

Nowadays, almost everything makes sure that things like “vegan”, “gluten free”, “zero fat”, etc. are front and center. Companies know that these are food concerns for the general public, so they take the thinking out of it for you. They choose words and packaging colors that ALLUDE to health, but you need to read the ingredients.

The ingredients for this item lists: soy bean oil, two types of corn startch, sugar, glucose and artificial colors among other things. In summary, soybean oil is processed with chemicals, bleachers and deodorizers. Corn starch is linked to weight gain, high blood pressure, pregnancy complications, and more. It is also where glucose and fructose come from. The source of sugar is unlisted and it most likely bleached white sugar. For the last ingredient, I present to you this:

Artificial colors are made from petroleum and kids tend to be the most sensitive. They are mostly found in candy and commercial cereals so they are targeted more exclusively. Also, if you grow up eating these sweet treats, you are more likely to continue buying them as an adult. A customer for life. More information can be found here and here.

#2 – Mostly shop the Perimeter. Referring back to the map I posted earlier, sticking to the perimeter of a store is where you’ll find predominantly whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, land and sea meats. Just beware of the processed/cross merchandised items. Also, while things like rice, quinoa, beans, oats, etc. are found in the “land of the forbidden”, by reading the ingredients list, you can easily avoid consuming things that take turn a healthy food not-so-healthy. A side note: buying frozen fruits and veggies are a great alternative if your produce has already rotted by the time you typically get to it.

Below is an off-handed list of things I buy when I’m shopping (I still have to read the ingredients before they go in my cart, they’re sneaky bastards):

  • Ice cream alternative: frozen bananas with cinnamon, flax/chia seeds and honey sprinkled over it
  • Pasta brand: Ancient Harvest or Barilla lentil pasta
  • Snack option: Pita, hummus, and olive/sautéed veggie mix
  • Frozen brussel sprouts or broccoli with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Also peas with grass fed butter and Frank’s hot sauce
  • Mini carrots with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  • Butter – Kate’s butter or any grass-fed butter
  • Eggs – look for FREE RANGE -if you have the brand, choose Nellie’s.
  • Snack option: Vermont Village apple sauce. Mott’s is packed with high fructose corn syrup whereas Vermont Village brand has no additives.

When you eat whole, nutritious foods, you don’t really have to worry about how much you’re eating. There is less stress. Of course, if you overeat and stuff your face every-day-all-day in general, you’ll still gain weight. The cool thing about eating this way it that, as you fuel your body with legitimately healthy things, cravings for crap food fall to the wayside. The chemicals and such in a lot of our food are the culprits of triggering cravings and also, malnourishment.  Processed foods leech the nutrients FROM us instead of giving them TO us which causes us to crave even more of said items. It’s a vicious cycle.

An easy way to eat better is eating the rainbow!

Recently, I have seen more of a change to my body and mood as I have cut out foods that have more than one ingredient to them. I mean, I’ll mix foods together such as rice, beans, veggies, etc, but I’ve stopped getting food from the hot bar at work that is prepared with a paragraph of ingredients. Most importantly for me, I have switched my end-of-the-meal sweet treat to fruit- fresh or dried, it doesn’t matter if the fruit is free of additives.

Shopping healthy doesn’t just involve eating good foods, it also involves the house hold products we use, but we will save this for another time. Just remember products are designed to be the loudest, most colorful, and attention grabbing out there so we buy THEIR PRODUCT. The grocery store is a low-key battle ground- Hunger Games style.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Be mindful when grocery shopping. Be a detective of the ingredients that make up our food and “food”. In a day and age where we have unlimited information at our fingertips, it’s only right that we dig a little deeper to find out what is fueling our bodies and minds.

To read the full article on soybean oil, click here.
To read the full article on cornstarch, click here.

Love and light,
Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only. All images are obtained from Google search engine.**

Supermarket Mystery Fruits #1

Imagine this: You walk into your local grocery store through the chilled aisles of the produce section. There, you find something locked away in a box. You can barely make out what it is through the little plastic window. The images and text on the box allude to the mystery inside, but you still have no idea as to what it could be. Curious, you pick it up. Along the opening of the box, sealed by tape it reads: To open: state my name. Your only clues are this: It has a hard brown shell to guard itself from predators, but once cracked, it reveals a soft, date-like flesh on the inside. You’ll need to peel away the spine to get to it, and beware of the black seeds. Any guesses on what this fruit is?

Hmmm?
Hmmmmmmmmmmmm???

After long deliberation, a word comes to you from unknown origin. You utter the 4 syllables: Ta-ma-rind. Suddenly, the tape binding the box shrivels away and a golden light radiates from inside, shining so brightly it engulfs the whole grocery store. It disappears as quickly as it came, revealing a magical entity – the Goddess of Tamarind- in the boxes place and- okay, I’ll stop there. You’ll just need to try the fruit out for yourself to find out what happens next. 😉

Going on a culinary expedition doesn’t have to be some vast experience that costs you a lot of time and money. You can do that just by picking up an unfamiliar fruit or veggie and learning something about it.

Tamarind is a tropical fruit that originated from Africa, but has spread vastly to Central America, South America, and South Asia. It is typically made into a drink, but you can also eat the fruit by itself. It has a sweet and sour/tangy flavor to it. I personally enjoy them when they are more on the sour side, and the fruit just as is. But please, for the love of humanity, do not eat too many of them at a time. Tamarind is good at stimulating the digestive tract and acts as a laxative. And it works really well. Believe me. 

Tamarind has a variety of ways you can eat it such as:

  • Raw
  • Dried and ground as a spice
  • Made into a drink
  • You can also make it into candies, jams, and sauces

There are so many amazing benefits this guarded fruit has to offer, but please, let this video tell you what they are!

After scouring the internet to find the simplest recipe I possibly could, I present to you how to turn tamarind into a drink according to Food.com.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1lb whole tamarind pulp, pods (tamarind deshelled and deveined)
  • hot water
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 12 cups granulated sugar or 1 1/2 cups honey

DIRECTIONS

  • Cover tamarind pods with hot water.
  • Let stand 1 hour; drain.
  • Rinse and drain.
  • Remove pods, stems and strings from tamarinds.
  • Place pods in 2 quarts of water.
  • Let stand at least 8 hours or overnight; strain, reserving liquid.
  • Press as much tamarind pulp as possible through a sieve.
  • Mix pulp, reserved liquid and the sugar or honey.
  • Heat just until the sugar or honey melts.
  • Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  • Serve over ice.

Going out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to mean pushing yourself to be social, or driving someplace far, or trying something that you really don’t want to do. Sometimes, all it takes is being a little more adventurous during your grocery shopping and using your imagination.

To view the full article on organicfacts.net, click here

Please comment below if you have tried the fruit/drink before or have made tamarind into other simple and yummy kitchen creations!

Love and light,
Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only. All images are obtained from Google search engine.**

The Best Post Workout Drink. EVER.

Working out is cool and all, but did you know what you eat right after and how soon is just as important?

Once upon a Rebecca Louise workout, I learned that AT LEAST 20-30mins after you workout, you need to consume some healthy calories. Once upon a Fitness Blender workout later, Kellie emphasized having a snack ranging from 200-300 calories within that same time frame. I was getting the hint that I this was something i had to learn more about so I decided to do my own research. I came across three articles putting all that science into layman’s terms. Below is the most simple version, but if youd like to delve a little deeper click here or here.

It’s common not to feel like food straight after a workout, but what you heard is correct. It’s best to eating something within 30 minutes to an hour after exercising in order to refuel and allow recovery to take place. Your body loses a lot during a workout (including lots of sweat!) and this small window period straight after allows your muscles to take in protein — amino acids necessary to rebuild muscle tissue — electrolytes like potassium and carbohydrates. They then get stored away for energy and muscle repair. Of course you can wait longer to eat, but your muscles are less likely to take in the nutrients from these foods, which can lead to a decrease in energy and leave you feeling stiff and sore.

Source: PopSugar Fitness

I’m always looking to up my fitness game and that includes eating better and cleaner so if consuming something 20-30 minutes after my workout meant I would get stronger and toner faster, then I was game. There was, however, a problem: I wanted to throw up after I ate anything solid after working out. I typically don’t eat anything solid until a good 3-4 hours after I wake up. Most protein drinks taste AWFUL, to boot, and well, all know how I feel about nutrition bars (see here).

And then there was the second problem: I was finally getting good at the healthy eating part, but if you’re like me, you may have a morning routine and eating breakfast came after my work out, my mediation, getting dressed,walking the dog, etc. and that could take anywhere between 60 to 90 minutes. I tried a number of different things that didn’t work to give my muscles the boost they needed. Then one miraculous day, I found Orgain vegan all-in-one shakes.

I finally, FINALLY found something that tasted good and got the job done. Orgain all-in-one protein shakes come in a terrapack and contain a large assortment of organic fruits and veggies, chia seeds and pea protein. Each of the vegan drinks is gluten/dairy/lactose/soy free, Non-GMO, has 16g of protein and 21 vitamins and minerals, and is 220 calories per drink. You can buy them individually, in a 4 pack or 12 pack.

If I lost you at vegan, have no fear! They have dairy shakes in tons of different flavors and several different protein powders including keto- friendly. They have superfoods, collagen peptides, kids drinks and more.

Another reason why I love this product so much is how it all began. The founder, Andrew Abraham, had cancer as a teen and healed himself through food. Orgain came from a place of love and wanting to help others. Conventional foods just don’t cut it. So many things that are promoted out there are crap and sold as short cuts. A lot of people don’t care about your health, they care about your money and doctors aren’t even taught, at least back in the day, about how nutrition directly effects your health. The 3 minute video below is the moving story of Andrew’s journey and how that led him to quitting is job as a doctor to pursue something for the greater good.

Honestly, it’s not hard to eat healthy if you are in the position to choose what you can eat. You just have to have the courage and will power to forge your own path away from all the marketing. It’s not more expensive to eat better as “they” say it is- the processed food look-a-likes are. All those dairy and meat alternatives end up adding a whole bunch of by-product to make something “look and taste like the real thing”.

It doesn’t mean you still can’t eat the crap food you love on occasion. Just put more of the good, unprocessed stuff into your body and you’ll naturally stop eating lesser foods. You’ll also notice the fog lift from your mind and eyes, feel more present, and excited to be alive. You’ll be able to take control and move towards life, not death. It is possible. Eating healthy is a very tangible thing once you get past all the BS that’s falsely labeled as “healthy”.

To visit Orgain’s website, click here.

Note: Orgain products are available for purchase on the website, Amazon, Whole Foods, and Market Basket.

Love and light,
Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only. All images are obtained from Google search engine.**

I’m Sorry You Guys, I suck.

I’m Sorry You Guys, I suck.

How many times do you hear people say things like that around you? How many times do you say things like that to yourself? How about your friends and family? Maybe you don’t even notice you’re doing it.

Our society has built up an “ideal person” for everything so it’s easy the feel inadequate. There’s an ideal woman, an ideal man, an ideal worker, an ideal partner, the list goes on forever. Who created these standards anyway? No one knows. These ideals actually have nothing to do with you. But how do they get perpetuated? Through us. Through me and through you.

Let me ask you this: Would you ever say to your best friend “omg you’re so bad at this how do you even function? You suck!”? How about “you look so fat in that you should never go outside again!”? I really hope the answer is no. But, I bet at some point in your life you’ve said something like that to yourself.

As much as we might want to be, humans are not cookies. You can’t roll out the dough, use a cutter, and expect all of them to bake the same. Sometimes one is thicker than the other. Sometimes one is darker, smaller, crisper, etc. (Unless you’re an adept Baker. To which I am not so those are what my cookies look like). There are different flavors, added ingredients, different baking times that all effect how we come out. Actually, maybe we’re more like cookies than I thought…

As humans, our brain is hardwired towards negativity. It’s a survival strategy that we’ve integrated from way back when. So, it’s not all our fault. But guess what, you can change that! That’s right, you can rewire your brain to think more positively and it starts with being nicer to yourself.

Don’t apologize for something out of your control! (Obviously unless its condolences) I hear people talk themselves down quite often, especially when they are starting something new- a new job, a new physical activity or a new project. But think about it, how are you supposed to be amazing at something if you have literally never done it before? It’s a learning experience. We’re humans. We learn stuff.

I am so very tired of hearing people talk themselves down. It hurts to think that they are putting that kind of energy out into the world and into themselves. Starting treating yourself kinder and like you’re your own best friend, because guess what, you are. You are with yourself in your head 24/7 so wouldn’t you rather that space be filled with more positive, loving, and encouraging thoughts? Changing your mind to embrace a new thought process is 100% possible. I vouch for it because I have been on the other side of it. That’s why I am such a big advocate for affirmations and meditation.

It’s not a joke to say bad things about yourself or others. Words vibrate at certain frequencies on a range from low to high. I’m sure you’ve heard the terms “good vibes” , “positive vibes”, “bad vibes”, etc. These are actually based on something legitimate. Words can act like a liquid poison seeping into every inch of the body twisting and decaying it. Or, they can act like a like an elixir, one that nurtures and heals the body. Your energy body reacts regardless of if words are spoken aloud or internally. In a paper I once wrote for school, I described this topic a bit further:

Recall the scene in Jurassic Park where its dark and rainy and the children are stuck in the park Jeep. It’s silent. One of the children notices a ripples in a cup of water- there’s a light vibration. Then, the ripples increase as the T-Rex draws nearer, causing fear and panic. Put this on pause for a moment and shift gears. Imagine a friend comes up to you and calls you beautiful. How does it make you feel?  Uplifted? Brings a smile to your face? Now, they call you ugly. How does this make you feel? Shrunken? Does it bring you down?  These words can make you feel different things because words have energy.

Going back to the rippling cup of water, imagine “beautiful” and “ugly” as droplets falling from the Ether into our bodies creating the same ripples the T-Rex’s footsteps did. What follows in the wake of that droplet- how you react- is completely up to you. Thoughts, spoken words, and written words all produce their own vibrations that effect us on a molecular level. 

On a scale ranging from low energy to high energy, negative thoughts or words are on the low side and positive words are on the high side. Think of the word “no”. Feel it. Embrace it. Feel how your energy body reacts. Its vibration is low, short, and has some nasty residue to it. The following words live on the same spectrum: “broke”, “poor”, “sick”, “war”, “murder”, “betrayal,” and “lie”.  Low energy words make us feel sad, depressed, angry, and significantly impact how we view ourselves and the world around us. Now, think of the word “yes”. Its vibration is higher. It has a “going uphill” feel to it, making you just even the smallest bit brighter. High energy words make us feel good and help attract good things. Some examples of these words are “happy”, “healthy”, “positive”, “love”, “beautiful”, “warm”, and “light”. Just by reading words full of high energy, you should be able to feel your body react, even slightly.

I recently started a book called “Quantum Warrior” by John Kehoe that takes all of this a step further. This book mentions six universal laws that govern our thoughts, minds, and consciousness and I would like to share them with you.

Law #1 – Thoughts are Real Forces. Every thought is a force and an energy and is having an effect on your life.

Law #2 Law of Transmission. The mind is a sending and receiving station of thought.

Law #3 Law of Attraction. Thoughts that are emotionalized become magnetized and attract similar and like thoughts.

Law #4 Law of Control. We are forever experience thoughts, but we have the power and the ability to either entertain these thoughts or dismiss them.

Law #5 Law of Insertion. We have the power and the ability to insert any thought of any type into our mind.

Law #6 The inner and outer worlds are connected.

So folks, we do have the power to change the wiring in our minds and kick that negativity bias to the curb. We are in control of how we think and how we react to those thoughts and it all starts with you becoming your own #1. I leave you with some affirmations for self-love to repeat to daily. And also, just give yourself a damn hug!

  • I am mentally and physically strong
  • I am capable at everything I do
  • I am worthy of love
  • There is endless abundance all around me

To check out John Kehoe’s “Quantum Warrior”, click here.
To learn more about “The 6 Laws of The Mind”, click here.

Love and Light,
Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only. All images are obtained from Google search engine.**

Kundalini – The Yoga Style You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

“The subtle thread of the spirit can expand and contract within the body. When it expands, it passes through the brain, heart and body to experience life, and when the same subtle thread of the spirit, is taken inward, it contracts itself into the soul, to experience the bliss from within.”
Roshan Sharma

According to the article “What is Kundalini Yoga?” written on Gaia, one of the top streaming services for spirituality, Lisa Fierer states, “The purpose of Kundalini Yoga is to provide a modality by which people can achieve their maximum creative potential, free themselves from Karma (the lasting effects of past actions) and realize their life purpose.” If Hatha Yoga strengthens major muscles and Yin Yoga strengthens connective tissue,  Kundalini Yoga strengthens the energetic and spiritual body.

Brought to the West by Yogi Bhajan, Kundalini Yoga is meant to stimulate the serpent at the base of our spine, or in laymen’s terms, stir up the energy within us. This energy is said to be our “Shakti”- our life force. By awakening the snake, it removes any stagnant or blocked energy allowing it to move through each of our 7 chakras with ease. Kundalini is a combination of:

  • Bhakti Yoga (the yogic practice of devotion and chanting)
  • Raja Yoga (the practice of mediation/mental and physical control)
  • Shakti Yoga (for the expression of power and energy).

What happens during a Kundalini practice?

You begin by tuning in. You first rub the palms together to stimulate the thousands of nerve endings, balancing the two brain hemispheres. Then, you bring your palms together in prayer position, breathe in, and chant “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo”. This helps you to attune into the divine energy. Some practices may or may not rub the palms together, but the chant is always a must.

After that, there will be a series of poses done sequentially that form a kriya– meaning “completed action”. Yogapedia describes kriya as a “set of practices, mainly breath control techniques and exercises, that are practiced to achieve a specific outcome.” Some examples of these specific outcomes are relieving a heartbreak, becoming radiant, and invoking prosperity. These poses will also incorporate specific mudras to stimulate different areas and functions within the body. To conclude the practice, you will bring yourself into a cross-legged pose and your hands into prayer. With a final breath in, on the exhale you’ll chant a long “Sat” and short “Nam”. I am truth.

Sounds simple, right? Nope. Kundalini Yoga is one of the most physically challenging yoga practices I’ve ever taken. It requires a lot of  muscular strength to hold the poses on average from 3 to 5 minutes. Why do it then? Because it is one of the most rewarding yoga practices there can be. 

Kundalini Yoga has become one of my favorite styles of yoga. Admittingly, I enjoy it a lot more now that my strength has improved and I’m able to actually hold the poses. Don’t let your fitness level deter you though! It helps move through energy blocks fast and the results are almost instantaneous. I have definitely cried in several practices. When I’m down about living as a human, I turn to Kundalini. It has its own way of putting life into perspective.

Kundalini Yoga seems to be a lesser known form of yoga which means there is limited access to it. You can, however, like everything, find it on YouTube. Kimilla Grace and Brett Larkin each have numerous free Kundalini classes. There is a larger library on Gaia, but you need a subscription to view it. Below are two videos, one a beginner practice and the other a more intermediate practice to show you how involved it can get.

I highly recommend Kundalini Yoga to all of my fellow metaphysical, esoteric and occult lovers out there. Having this tool in your arsenal on the path to spiritual and personal growth is a must. It’ll leave you feeling more connected, rejuvenated, and divine.

“Awakening into the God state makes all the perceptual limitations of the mind disappear, just like a bucket of muddy water turns crystal-clear once poured into the ocean.”
Abhijit Naskar

To view Kimilla Grace’s channel, click here
To view Brett Larkin’s channel, click here
To view Lisa Fierer’s full Gaia article, click here

Love and Light,
Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only. All images are obtained from Google search engine.**

Back To Basics

Hi guys! It’s been awhile. Things seemed to have finally calmed down after what felt like a very, very long build up. Between work and preparing for an international vacation, any energy I would normally use to write had been depleted. I can proudly say that I am rejunivinated and have gained a new sense of clarity. I’d like to share something that happened to me on my trip to Japan, an inward moment that has since helped me more definitively in thought and action.

The Prelude

As I lay in my hotel room alone in Tokyo at 3am, I can’t help but question, well, everything. Walking around the streets of Japan, I see everyone with a phone in their hands traversing through a technological wonderland- including me (thanks to the power of roaming). All of this has got me thinking- where do I stand in all of this? Who am I in a sea of people? Who am I when the crowds are gone, when there is no one around me, and it’s just me, myself, and I? What defines me against all others? What makes me me?

The Wake Up Call

This is the first solo trip I’ve taken and it has been amazing thus far. I’ve put myself out there and have been “where the people are” for the majority of my time. But, thanks to the rain and jetlag, for the past 3 hours I have been willingly confined to my hotel room watching numerous Jenna Marbles videos and “The Good Place” episodes. Everything was fine and dandy until I got a YouTube upload notification from Boho Beautiful. The video is called “Terrible Vegans” and their content has brought me to the previous questions and more.

This video momentarily shattered me. I felt like every inch of me was a piece of shrapnel hanging in mid air as time was frozen around me. What are my ethics? What are my morals? Where do I put my foot down in life and speak out against what I believe in? What are my inspirations, my passions, my motivators? This video had also presented an opportunityan opportunity to look at my entirety and learn about myself. I had the chance to look at all the pieces and select only the best to reconstruct a better “me”. But, to even begin to look within to find the answers, I needed to go back to basics.

For the past 4 days since I had arrived, I hadn’t meditated, hadn’t studied Japanese,  and had only done one work yoga video- all things that usually help me keep ahold of my identity. To go beyond this default and even begin to address everything I asked myself, I began here:

Question #1 – What do I believe in?

Belief #1: eating whole, non synthetic foods. I am all for eating veggies and fruits. And things with minimal ingredients.  Some vegan alternatives freak me out with all the things they combine just to make a vegan burger, mac n cheese, etc. Processed food is processed food.

Belief #2: committed to raising my frequency towards positivity, love and light. And offering others a way to do that in a world that perpetuates unhealthy practices for the sake of comradery.

Question #2 – What moves me? (always seek out these things out)

  • Nature
  • Esoteric/Occult/Metaphysical studies
  • Plant based food
  • Writing
  • Physical activities

With this now in mind and 6 days remaining in my trip, I have been given a gift to redefine myself…

Since returning from my trip, I have let my “what moves me” list guide me and so far, the results have been astounding. By realigning with I believe to be my purpose in life, everything just clicked. It has helped me step out of my comfort zone, act more confidently, and take action. This self work goes beyond one post of course, but I feel that answering “what do I believe in?” and “what moves me” are pretty good places to start.

So, my friends, I leave you with this: vacation is a great way to take you out of your element and reevaluate your day-to-day life while you’re on the outside of it. Does it resonate with your morals? Does it ignite your soul? If not, go back to basics.

Love and Light,
Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

Green Vibrance – Amp Up Your Water

I am always looking for little ways to improve my overall nutrition that are easy and affordable. But, smoothies are a hassle and most of the time I don’t want to cook. Then, one day, the clouds parted and through the sunlit opening, a magical little packet called “Green Vibrance” descended from the heavens.

Green Vibrance is a plant based, vegetarian powder you can add to any liquid. And yes, if you are a smoothie person, you can add it to that too! This probiotic packet aims to fulfill the 4 cornerstones of health: nutrition, digestion, immunity, and circulation. Their long list of ingredients (a good long list) includes powders that support the skeleton, liver, and immune system. It also includes probiotics, enzymes, adaptogens, plant based micro-nutrients, grasses, and fiber. According to their website, Green Vibrance contains “approximately 70 ingredients and all of the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and probiotics the body needs to grow healthier and stronger.” They do, however have a small disclaimer. “With our constant improvement of our Green Vibrance formula we detected a tiny quantity of soy and dairy, byproducts of the probiotics in our formula. While only trace amounts, we disclose each ingredient, even trace allergens, because you deserve to know. “

I was ecstatic to have discovered my new found love that doesn’t make your water taste like grass and sewage. Plus, it always makes me happier knowing that I am doing good things for my body and mind. (stay happy y’all!) But why even consume greens in the first place?

Growing up, we were always told to “eat your veggies so you can grow big and strong!”. Though it seemed like torture then, especially when cookies were beckoning you from the cabinet, it was pretty sound advice. According to Choosemyplate.gov, “people who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.” In addition:

  • Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
  • Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain types of cancers.
  • Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Eating vegetables and fruits rich in potassium as part of an overall healthy diet may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.

I’m all for lowered risk of chronic diseases and better bodily maintenance, sign me up!

You can find the packets and the powder at Whole Foods or, of course, on the internet. Personally, buying the big thing of powder is a waste. It would just sit in my kitchen with the million other things I’ve attempted to consume for my health. The individual packet costs $2.39, while a box of 15 costs $32.00. Pair a packet with a 1.5L of water (~$1.39) and it’s cheaper than coffee!  I really do recommend getting a large water bottle to dilute the powder so you can barely taste it. Because at the end of the day if its good for you, but it tastes bad, are you really going to drink it?

This is my favorite water :3

I try to drink it every day I am at job #1, which is about 4 days a week. I have gotten out of the flow of drinking it before and I do notice a difference in my overall energy and mood levels compared to when I’ve been consistently consuming it. I contribute it to both the packet and the water.

Side note: make sure you finish the water in 24 hours. It’s not a good time if it has been sitting there. Trust me. If 1.5L seems daunting, make it into a game.

Side side note: I did find the packets cheaper on this website. A box of packets is $26.79 compared to the market price of $32.00

Love and Light,
Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

Mindvalley: Continued Education for Personal Growth

I’m the type of person who loves learning constantly. I went to school without a career in mind and just studied what I wanted to study. Now that I am out of school and going back isn’t really an option (thank you student loans), finding a way to stimulate my mind beyond books is a must.

Back in December 2018 through sufficient YouTube advertising, I discovered Mindvalley. It’s one of those places that offers free online seminars they like to call “Masterclasses”. I’ve ignored it in the past, but it wasn’t until the “spiritual fitness” class rolled around that I actually took a look at the site. Before I get into the spiritual fitness program, I’ll share with you more about Mindvalley.

Mindvalley was founded in 2002 by Vishen Lakhiani. It is an online institution, but they also meet all over the world. Mindvalley mission is to help people continue learning but cultivating real-life skills, most of them laying within the metaphysical realm. The different classes fall into the categories of productivity, mind & spirit, health, relationships, and careers. I’m aware that there are people who do not believe in such things as manifesting, affirmations and energy work. So if that’s you, consider that your heads up. 🙂

They offer loads of free 60 to 90 minute seminars with very interesting information. Of course towards the end, they will try to sell you the program, but of course, you do not have to enroll. Regardless, you get a pretty good, entertaining seminar. Before the program begins, they email you a link to a printable workbook to take notes during the class.

The spiritual fitness program called “Unlocking Transcendence” with Jeffery Allen is a 2-month meditation program. It is broken down into six 10-day focuses:

  1. Self-Awareness (Location and Time)
  2. Body- Awareness (Physical and Energy)
  3. Mind-Awareness (Inner and Outer)
  4. Spirit-Awareness (Intuition and Connection)
  5. Emotion-Awareness (Feeling and Empathy)
  6. Impact-Awareness (Personal and Global)

Each day there is a 10-20 minute guided meditation. Within the focus, the meditations build upon themselves. Jeffery Allen urges that if you miss a day, don’t worry about it and just continue on with the meditation for that day.

Honestly, I never imagined signing up for a program like this, but I had some pretty powerful experiences. I am glad I enrolled, and now I have the program to always go back to. Having a mind expanding tool like Mindvalley in your arsenal is integral when you feel blasé about life. It gives you something to think about and new avenues to explore. The length and flexibility of the Masterclasses provide a snippet of education for those who like the setting of their own home and not spending a dime!

To visit Mindvalley, click here
To view the Unlocking Transcendence Masterclass, click here
To view current Masterclasses, click here
To visit Mindvalley’s YouTube channel, click here

Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

Don’t Know Where To Start With Your Fitness Journey? Try here.

You really want to get into fitness. You go on Youtube, type in “workout for beginners” and thousands of videos pop up. You scroll through, looking at the thumbnails, the titles. After a few minutes, you finally decide on one. “Uh…I guess this one looks good”. You click on it. After the “skip ad” is clicked, the video starts. The instructor greets you. “WELCOME TO MY BEGINNER FITNESS VIDEO EVERYONE! ARE YOU READY TO DIE?!” “Wait, what?”, you ask yourself. “I CAN’T HEAR YOU! ARE YOU READY TO DIE? :D”. “Y…yes?” “GOOD LET’S GO!” The torture ensues. You’re drenched after only a few minutes in. “GUESS WHATS NEXT?!”, the instructor asks. “What?”, you moan. “30 REPS OF BURPEES!” Nope. You turn that video off. “Eff this fitness crap! I. Am. DONE!”

Has this ever happened to you before? You’re motivated and really, really try to work out, but you just can’t find a good fit? Even if it’s a beginner workout, it still seems to be too much? It has definitely happened to me. I’ve been active my whole life, but it was only about 2-3 years ago when I started doing longer, more challenging workouts. I gradually increased how long I would work out over time. I started, however, with doing just 10 minutes a day.

There is a channel that paved the way for my fitness journey, it is called Blogilates.

Cassey Ho is a super bubbly Pilates instructor. She built her company from the ground up and now has over 4 million subscribers. Her channel appeals to mainstream with its well designed videos, clean graphics and song choices. As she has gained in popularity, Cassey has a lot of collaborations with other fitness instructors. She also has a passion for fashion and has since be able to create her own athletic wear. Cassey’s channel is packed with information about how to eat healthy for cheap, typical fitness struggles, addresses dieting myths, and more. She also shares her own journey and struggles with fitness- very relatable ones at that.

The Blogilates channel has loads of videos to choose from including a bridal boot camp series, apartment-friendly series, and a PIIT series (Pilates intense interval training, Cassey’s own creation). To see a complete list of her videos, click here. Some are complete workouts (includes warm up and cool down), but most do not. Make sure you do a light cardio warm up and some stretches afterward.

What’s good about her videos:
-they’re short
-they’re effective
-they’re a great introduction to building strength to taking on longer workouts.

Cassey really has created a fitness empire. From filming videos in her college dorm to filming in her own studio, Cassey now goes on tour with her program POP Pilates. Through this program, you can become a certified POP Pilates instructor. For more information, click here.

Blogilates was my first fitness channel when I decided I wanted to get serious about working out. Back then, I believe she had the subscribers in the hundred thousands, so it is really awesome to have watched her growth over all these years. I am really happy she had the chance to combine everything she loves doing and make a successful living off of it.

Keep in mind that these are Pilates videos and that is just one of many fitness styles. If this isn’t your cup of tea and you’re still searching for something you like, keep trying different things! There’s yoga, weight training, running, marital arts, kickboxing, CrossFit, and so many other ways to get your body in shape.

P.S She now creates these super adorable and relatable comics.

To visit the Blogilates YouTube channel, click here.
To visit the Blogilates Instagram, click here.
To visit the POP Pilates Instagram, click here

Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

Take A Break – Your Sanity Depends On It.

Some of you may have noticed that I didn’t post anything last week. I work two jobs and just started taking self-defense classes. I really tried to, but with all that, the Easter holiday week, and a local strike that increased our business, I was burnt out. I wanted to run away. I wanted to just lay in bed and sleep forever. Those feelings usually signal that I need a break, time to recharge more than I usually do. But how do you do that when you still have to work, pay bills, and uphold commitments? I’ve discovered the answer is prioritizing.

Take a look at your week. Write it out. Mark down when you work, any necessary things- like picking up children-, and any social things going on. Now, take a look at how much time you can spend on yourself. How much is there? Is there any at all? MAKE TIME. Your health depends on it. Cancel anything and everything you can. Maybe that even means calling out from work for one day, or leaving early. You’d leave if you physically weren’t feeling well, right? Mentally feeling well is just as important.

If you’re the type of person who is recharged by social engagements, by all means, make contact with people you haven’t seen, and go out a little more than usual. If you’re the type of person who is drained by social engagements, cancel whatever isn’t necessary. If you’re dreading doing something or going someplace in this current moment, don’t go. Don’t worry if they’re gonna be mad or if you don’t want to disappoint someone. Your health is on the line and if they are truly your friends, they will know you and understand that you really just need time to yourself.

Also, be extremely kind to yourself, well always, but especially right now. You may already be on the verge of an outburst or a breakdown. If there is something you’ve been wanting to buy or a treat you’ve been craving, go ahead. I always feel like I’m reverting back to a child like-temper when I am overwhelmed with life- being extremely sensitive to everything. So treat yourself as such, and be loving and compassionate. Note that needing/giving yourself a break DOES NOT make you weak. In fact, it helps you become stronger mentally, emotionally, and physically. I’m spanning this post across all three of my categories because it really does affect how you stay happy, healthy and fit.


Stay Happy.
Taking a break from things is a necessity for your mental health! During last week, I found myself becoming short with people and just wanting to cry whenever anybody asked me anything. All I could think about was what I had to do when I got home, but when I got there, I would just put on Arrow and stay in bed. I knew that I hadn’t come up with two posts for last Wednesday. I had ideas, but when it came down to writing them, I had nothing. I was drained. I even started thinking “what if this happens all the time? Why did I start this blog? How am I gonna keep it going?” It snowballed and I started feeling ugly things. But in all actuality, that’s not truly how I feel about Cottontail Living, I love it. I love writing and sharing with you guys. It took a lot to be brave enough to not post anything- I didn’t want to disappoint anyone who reads my blog. I could not, however, ignore the fact that my energy wasn’t there in terms of writing. It was there when I took my self-defense classes.

I learned to go where energy flows and not to make myself do something because of a schedule I set up for myself. I really just wanted to attend my class and hang out with people. So, I suspended my writing and anything else with an approaching deadline and did those very things. And, I had such a great time. I followed where I was already putting my energy to and now I feel restored. Sometimes we set such rigid rules or routines for ourselves that we think they are permanent things in our lives that we HAVE to adhere to. Life is never like that, though. It is constantly fluxing and flowing, and just like that, we should learn to do the same. It’s kind of like the buildings they have where earthquakes are frequent- the structure sort of moves with the motion to minimize damage as opposed to a solid structure that can crumble under too much stress.

Stay Healthy.
Taking a break is also healthy for your body. A common thing with companies nowadays is to cut the workforce and put more responsibility on employees without proper compensation. This physically wears you down depending on how hard of a worker you are. Stress is contributed to so many health ailments such as weight gain, depression, heart disease-just to name a few. It causes such an imbalance to your thought process by putting stress on the mind and it can disrupt your eating habits. If you’re so busy, when you have a moment to eat it’s probably going to be something not so great for you. Stress and overwork can also disrupt your fitness routine. When you’re overwhelmed and work late every night, do you sacrifice sleep or fitness before the morning comes and you have to go back work again? But guess what, you’re only human! You need to establish and uphold boundaries so you don’t become miserable and get to this state in the first place. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you need to push past your limits just to be a good worker.

Stay Fit.
Believe it or not, taking a day, or a couple days not to workout helps you get stronger. You’re allowing your muscles and body to heal by giving them time to recover and grow. If you’re sore or even injured and you push through the pain, you do not help anyone. You especially do not help yourself. If you workout under those conditions, you’re stressing your body out more and causing further injury. Muscles don’t just change while you’re working out, what you do after the workout is just as important- even more so. Eating right, sleeping enough, staying hydrated are all key factors in healthy physical transformation.

Of course I say all of this within reason. Please don’t quit your jobs or not pay your bills or eat all the junk food in the world for a week. I am simply saying that there are moments when energy seems to come to a boiling point and our sanity balances on the precipice of “well” and “not well”. It is more than acceptable and understandable to just stop for a minute, an hour, a day or two days and just breathe.

In the words of Ariana Grande, “just keep breathin’, and breathin’, and breathin’.” Everything is always going to be okay. Life is meant to be enjoyed and experienced. All we can ever do is take it one breath at a time.

-Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**