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.**

Nutrition Bars

Nutrition bars are supposed to be a great way to get good nutrients on the fly. They give you protein, fiber, and vitamins. “Keeps you fuller longer! 5grams of sugar! 18 grams of protein!” While that may be true, they also give you a lot of crap. Bars can be highly processed and contain a lot of fillers and nonsense to bind them together. Have you ever actually read the ingredients of say, a cliff bar or a quest bar? shudders

When I was in college, I used to eat a lot of nutrition bars- KIND bars in particular since it seemed healthier of the options. I just listened to the front label and never read the ingredients. So, I’d grab about 3 of them and call it a day. I’d always have bad indigestion and get bloated afterwards and couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t until I brought this problem to a friend. She told me that they aren’t real food. I was baffled. “But they were marketed as that…and there are real ingredients in it…,” I said. My friend repeated herself. “It’s not real food”. It wasn’t until a few years later that I actually understood what she meant. It wasn’t a whole food- limitedly processed, free from crap, genuinely nutritious food. It was like the veil had been lifted from my eyes.

The Issue

I want to break this down for you. I obtained an ingredients list from an article on Self.com titled “The FDA Says KIND Bars Are Healthy Again“. It reads “the ingredients in KIND bars vary depending on the flavor, but an almond and coconut bar contains almonds, coconut, honey, glucose syrup, rice flour, soy lecithin, chicory root fiber, sugar, and sea salt—a relatively short list that leaves the bar with 190 calories, 12 grams of fat, and 12 grams of sugar.”

Yes, its a relatively short list. Yes, it doesn’t have many calories. BUT ITS PACKED WITH SUGAR! And not natural sugar. Honey, glucose syrup, and sugar. 3 of the 9 ingredients are sugar! Also, do you know anything about glucose syrup, soy lecithin, and chicory root fiber without looking it up? Neither do I.

Bars are advertised like they are some God-sent gift to humanity, but they really aren’t. As you can tell, I have a personal gripe with them.

The Solution

You’re better off getting a piece of fruit or unroasted, unsalted nuts. Other on the go snack ideas are grass-fed cheese sticks, grass-fed drinkable yogurt. Olive snack packs (only the Kalamata are free of crap). Popcorn (Boom Chicka Pop or Skinny Pop).

If you need bars in your life, I do recommend these two brands. They have all good stuff and actually taste pretty good:

LÄRABAR – they have only 6 ingredients in them and come in a variety of flavors. Dates make up the majority of these bars, however.

Perfect Bars – who doesn’t like peanut butter! (unless you’re allergic 😦 ) These bars are mixed with 20+ superfoods. I’d stick to the regular, peanut butter one. Just please, don’t try the brownie one. It’s a lie.

As with everything, make sure you read the ingredients on the back, and if you don’t know what something is, neither does your body. But if you eat unprocessed foods like fruits, veggies, rice. Etc, that becomes a non-issue!

Ze ❤

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

Mango Butter – Your New BFF

What is that, you ask? My latest obsession and your new cosmetic best friend.

Mango butter comes from the de-shelled kernel of the mango tree. It is a semi-solid butter and turns to liquid around 84°f. BUT it is malleable enough that it warms up in your hands. It’s super hydrating and not greasy, like coconut oil. Mango butter is packed with vitamins A and E, essential fatty acids, and natural antioxidants. All of these fancy things help prevent sun damage, wrinkles, pimples, and also helps to heal dry, damaged skin. The best part is it only has one ingredient: mango butter. None of that filler that is found in pretty much any body care product! I recommend reading this article on The Best Organic Skin Care for more information.

I use it as a face moisturizer AND a body lotion. Being prone to extremely dry skin, this has been the only thing I’ve discovered that nourishes it. Once I started using mango butter as a face moisturizer, my face got the hydration it needed and I had fewer pimples- since apparently dryness was the cause of them in the first place. Many articles on the topic mention that it is easily absorbed. I have found this to be true for the most part- definitely as a body lotion- but make sure you use a thinner layer if you’re using it as a face moisturizer.

There are tons of DIY recipes you can find to amp mango butter up as a hair mask or moisturizer. But honestly, it can be too much work. It works just fine as is. 😉

If you’re interested in trying this versatile product, I recommend these:

Remember, in any product, whether it be food, cleaning, or cosmetic, its important to know where it is coming from (i.e small business or big corporation) and how the products are sourced (ethically or unethically). It should be good for you and the environment!

-Ze ❤

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

Simple n’ Clean Cheap Eats – Plantains

“Simple n’ Clean Cheap Eats” is a series I am starting to share how you can eat well, simply, cleanly, and, cheaply.

I would like to start off by stating I do not care for cooking. I do not make meals that involve an oven, only a stove top. I am primarily vegetation (I’ll have meat if I’m craving it), but I’m totally content with eating loads of frozen veggies, fruits, and eggs. This all stems from me making quality things as simple as possible in my life. Not everyone is like this, I understand that. This post may be a good snack idea, rather than a meal, like I would make it.

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with plantains. At my local grocery store, they are only 66 cents per plantain. Plantains are a starchier, not-as-sweet banana that you cook. They are green when they are unripe, which is best for frying and yellow with black when they are ripe, which is best for boiling and grilling. To prepare them, all you can do is boil them for 11 minutes, let them cool and, then, voila! You’ve got some foods. A friend of mine suggested serving them with a bit of sour cream. If you add that, the plantains ends up tasting more like mashed potatoes.

Health benefits of plantains obtained from tonsoffacts.com:

-Plantains contain high levels of vitamin C, (helps to keep your immune system stimulated and producing white blood cells)
-Plantains contain high levels of dietary fiber, (helps to optimize digestion and improves the nutrient uptake efficiency and balancing the bacterial levels in the gut)
– Plantains are packed with magnesium, (increases release of tryptophan and serotonin in the body, which can help people relax and sleep)
-Plantains are high in iron, (essential for the production of red blood cells)
-Plantains are packed with vitamin A, (improves eye health)

Here is how I prepare plantains:

1. Rinse off the plantain and dry
2. Cut into slices with the skin on and put them into a pot with already boiling water
3. Set the timer to 13 minutes
4. After 13 minutes, set plantains on a plate to cool and set a timer for 3 minutes
5. Once cooled, cut off skin and enjoy

Cost of Simple n’ Clean Cheap Eat:

2 plantains – $1.32
Green Valley Organic sour cream – $3.99
Total cost: $5.31+taxes

I plan to do more of these posts as a series to give people, like me, who would rather not spend time cooking, easy-to-make and nutritious things to eat. Let me know what you think and please feel free to share any positive suggestions or comments with me!

-Ze ❤

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

Nutrition label hacks.

I would like to share a little bit of my journey toward health and wellness with you. I wasn’t really overweight growing up, because I was active. Regardless, I perceived that I was enormous because of societal standards, and not being happy with your appearance was the “normal” way to think. After the age of 13, I quit my 10-year dancing career. I thought that since I was entering high school, I was going to have all these friends and not have time for anything, but my social life. Long story short, I missed it very much and that’s how I started exercising. It was the easiest thing to bring into my life since I don’t like sitting still. Nutrition, however, was a whole other ballgame.

When I was younger, I did not eat well at all. I had cake and soda for breakfast and pretty much only consumed processed foods. It took a long time to get to where I am now- having a healthy relationship with food. I’ve come across articles that have stated the “recommended daily value” of vitamins and such is bogus, the “2000-calories-a-day” is a sham, and let’s not forget the “Oh, you thought this food was good for you? GUESS AGAIN!”. It’s no wonder how if you’re new to the world of eating better and leading a better life, you can get lost along the way. Everything seems so contradictory.

My goal here is to make people’s lives simpler and offer more palatable ways to incorporate wellness from a person who doesn’t like to go out that much or spend a lot of money. The nutrition knowledge I have is an accumulation of trial-and-error, sifting through loads of articles, things taught to me by YouTube fitness instructors, and more of the like. I’ve compiled a list of things that come to mind on a daily basis when picking out food.

1. Aim to eat foods with FIVE Ingredients or less.
2. Ingredients are listed from the most prominent ingredient first to the least.
3. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, neither does your body. (This one really resonates with me. It just makes so much sense!)
4. If food is processed, aim for less than 5 grams of sugar. If it’s a piece of fruit, don’t worry about it.
5. Sugar comes in a crap ton of different names: fructose, sucralose, maltose, just to name a few. Click here for a more comprehensive list.
6. Beware of serving sizes. Nutrition labels like to trick consumers by making it look like the information for the entire bag/package when it is really just for a portion.

These mostly apply to processed foods. Everything that comes in a package- even frozen veggies- has a nutrition label, but if you buy plain old frozen peas or frozen broccoli, it’s not much of a concern.

Everything that I share on Cottontail Living is what has work best for me, and I hope that, in the end, some of it may work well for you, too. If you would like to know more, please feel free to email me at ze.cottontailliving@yahoo.com or DM me on Instagram @cottontail_living

-Ze ❤

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