5 Teas for Healthy Mind and Body

I drink water. Lots and lots of water.

However, around a decade ago, I read that echinacea was good for the immune system. I had been getting a lot of colds and laryngitis, so I added a daily cup of Traditional Medicinals Echinacea Plus tea to my regimen. I noticed a dramatic improvement in my immunity and became a believer. I have continued that practice every day, and I have recommended it to friends and family, who have also found it to be a beneficial addition to their self-care practices. To be fair, results are mixed in scientific trials of echinacea for immunity, but my experience has demonstrated that it makes a difference for me.

Over the years, the tea shelf in my cabinet has become fuller and fuller, as I have learned more about the potential uses of herbs and spices for health. I decided to share some of my current favorites here.

Traditional Medicinals has continued to be my brand of choice. I have no affiliation with that brand, but it is where I started, and years ago, I read about potential contamination risks with some tea brands. Traditional Medicinals got a clean report, and that stuck with me.

In additional to Echinacea Plus, other teas that have helped me with mind and body include:

  • Ginger Aid: Ginger is great for settling the stomach and for reducing inflammation. If I ever have digestion issues, I drink a cup of Ginger Aid, and it helps. I also use this tea to help with body aches or headaches. I have found it to be highly effective for these purposes.
  • Peppermint: Peppermint tea can also help with tummy troubles, in particular with bloating and intestinal discomfort. It is fragrant and soothing.
  • Cup of Sunshine: I have been needing a mood boost lately. My bike is the best boost, but I am working really long hours at the moment and can’t get out on my bike in the middle of a long, challenging day. Cup of Sunshine contains kanna and honeybush. I was familiar with neither when I purchased this tea, but the name gave me hope. It has proven to be a good choice. It’s a subtle lift, not agitating, but I notice that it does help to brighten my mood.
  • Stress Ease: This has also been a recent addition to my cabinet. Containing skullcap, cinnamon bark and licorice root, this does take the edge off anxiety for me. I can feel the butterflies in my stomach settle down with a cup of Stress Ease.

There are other teas I use on a regular basis, including assorted green tea blends. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants and is so good for us that Dr. Michael Greger recommends drinking three cups a day in How Not to Diet.

I hope this short post gives you some easy ways to enhance your well-being with tea. I am neither an expert nor a connoisseur, but Traditional Medicinals tea has helped me, and I wanted to share those benefits with you.

You can connect with me on my JustWind Coaching Facebook page.

You can join the dynamic JustWind Community private Facebook group for a dose of daily inspiration and the current free class Spring into Action Move for Your Mind.

And, in order to be sure you get the latest posts and updates from JustWind Coaching, join my email list here.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.


3 Ways to Strength Train at Home Without Breaking the Bank or Taking up a Whole Room

I had a different post planned for today, but there was a request for this information in my Spring into Action Move for Your Mind 30-Day Kickstart Class. (It’s not too late to join. We just started yesterday. Click here. It’s free.) I decided it was a useful topic for everyone.

Strength training is important for all of us, not just those who want to build massive muscles or to be able to flip a tractor tire. We start losing muscle mass in our 30s, and doing what we can to maintain it is important for quality of life as we age. It can affect our ability to take care of ourselves, to walk up and down stairs and to maintain a healthy weight. Weight-bearing exercise is a crucial component in preserving our bone density—a major factor in healthy longevity.

You can add strength training to your home fitness routine or spice up the strength training you already do without spending a fortune or taking up a lot of space. Here are three great options:

  • Resistance Bands: These are highly portable and take up minimal space. They are suitable for all ages and come in a range of resistance levels, so you can progress as you get stronger and so you can use appropriate resistance for each muscle group. Here is a good basic starter set. This set has loops, which add some versatility. If you want something with handles and the ability to close it in a door for a fixed point, this is a great set. Here is a terrific 20-minute full-body TheraBand™ routine demonstrated by a former Wichita State University volleyball player and student of mine, Jackie Church. Although she is using a version of TheraBand™ with loops, these exercises could be done with a basic band, as well.
  • Kettlebells: Kettlebells are a fun and effective way to add weight to your training program without taking up a lot of space. The set I use is no longer available, but here is a good basic set that is appropriate for beginners, but also allows for progression. Kettlebells are terrific for developing core strength and stability and are a lot more versatile than they may look. Here is a nice article with 22 exercise options. You could get started by choosing 5 or 6 of them.
  • Power Yoga: Body weight can be an effective strength-building tool. My very favorite online yoga teacher is Kassandra Reinhardt. This is her YouTube channel. When I am using yoga specifically for strength, I do one of her Power Yoga practices. I also love her Hatha, Yin and Vinyasa practices. Scroll down on her channel to find Power Yoga, and try out the other styles as well for flexibility, restoration and release.

Strive to include strength training at least twice a week. Be sure to take at least a day off in between unless you are more advanced and breaking your training into separate muscle groups on different days. For someone training for overall fitness and functional strength, the full-body strategies I have linked in this post can be very effective.

If you would like some extra support and motivation, join my FREE Spring into Action Move for Your Mind 30-Day Kickstart Class. You set your own movement goal, and I provide weekly lessons in mind-body synergy, visualizations, journaling exercises and other support, within my JustWind Community.

Follow the JustWind Coaching Facebook page here.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash


Boost Your Brain Health with These 5 Foods

In freshman PE class at Mount Saint Mary High School in 1983, Sister Jean told us that drinking alcohol kills brain cells. That got my attention and stuck with me, undoubtedly influencing my future decisions. Even then, I considered my brain one of my most valuable assets and wanted no part of killing my brain cells! While the acute brain damage caused by consumption of alcohol is more a matter of disruption of communication between neurons, alcohol is a neurotoxin. Just as what we take into our bodies can harm our brains, there are foods we can consume to nurture brain health.

Ever since I was young, I have been interested in fueling my brain for short- and long-term health and optimal function. Between my recent reading of Jim Kwik’s book Limitless and thinking about the fuel our brains consume for the blog post I wrote last week, brain nourishment has been on my mind even more than usual.

I thought it might be beneficial to share some of my favorite foods for nourishing my brain. While not an exhaustive list, here are five great foods to eat for brain health:

  • Berries contain powerful antioxidants that protect the brain from damage and reduce inflammation, which can protect brain function as we age. This is important because of the amount of glucose that our brains use, which produces a lot of free radicals, creating the potential for damage to our cells, including neurons. Eat fresh or frozen blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and cherries in smoothies, with oatmeal or another whole-grain cereal or even as a delicious frozen treat using a Yonanas machine.
  • Avocados, full of monounsaturated fats and lutein, are not only great brain food, but also promote eye health. (And who doesn’t love guacamole?!) In addition to turning them into guacamole, slice raw avocados and enjoy them in salad or on sandwiches or wraps. Mash them on whole-grain toast for avocado toast, plain or with raw veggies and/or fresh herbs.
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables, (kale, spinach, broccoli, chard, arugula, collard, etc.) also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, benefitting both brain and eyes and possibly delaying or warding off age-related cognitive decline. These can be eaten raw or cooked, in smoothies, as salad, toppings for wraps or sandwiches, as side dishes or in this terrific lasagna recipe. (It really is great—one of my go-to recipes for special occasions.)
  • Turmeric has potent anticancer benefits and can reduce inflammation. It has been shown to improve cognitive function in people living with Alzheimer’s. Put ¼ teaspoon in your smoothie or on your cereal every day. Include turmeric in pasta sauces, casseroles, soups and curries.
  • Walnuts are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, magnesium and zinc, all valuable nutrients for brain health. Eat walnuts raw, by themselves or with fresh or dried fruit. Blend them into smoothies. Put them on cereal and in salads.

There are so many great ways to incorporate these foods into your daily diet. You could even make a smoothie containing all of them. (more on smoothies in an upcoming post)

Feed your brain and put it to good use creating the life you want to live and making the difference you want to make. Click the button below to subscribe to my newsletter and receive a link to download my Blossom 2021 Self-Coaching Workbook.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Follow the JustWind Coaching Facebook page here.

If you found value in this post, please share the link with others you think would benefit from the content I produce. I am working hard to grow my platform to improve my chances at securing a traditional publishing deal for my in-progress book and would be grateful to you for helping me extend my reach.


What to Do When Willpower Exhaustion Threatens to Derail Your Good Intentions

Do you often start the day with plans to eat healthfully, exercise and avoid getting trapped in the mental vacuum of screens big or small, only to find all your good intentions have fallen to the wayside by late afternoon? Why is that?

Do you find it easier to stick with the habits and behaviors you want to keep on some days than on others? Why?

One reason may be willpower exhaustion, also called decision fatigue or ego depletion. No matter what we call it, most of us experience it from time to time.

Personally, I most often experience it in the mid-afternoon during a very full workday, where I have had to do a lot of thinking, on other people’s schedules, rather than one of my own choosing. I am especially prone to it when I am feeling overwhelmed by how much I have to do and how many hours I am likely to be doing it.

Our brains are fueled by glucose. When we are at rest physically, our brains are responsible for consuming 60 percent of the glucose used by our entire bodies.

So, thinking hard, without adequate opportunities for rest, burns through a lot of glucose, leaving us feeling physically and mentally worn out.

This makes it harder to make good decisions and harder to stick to our goals and intentions.

We can’t always avoid this situation completely, so how can we minimize its effect on us?

Here are some things that can help:

  1. Expect it. If you know you have a full calendar of intense mental activity for the upcoming day, be prepared. Have healthful, nourishing snacks readily available. This way, you are less likely to grab a candy bar or chips. Fruit with nut butter; hummus and veggies or homemade trail mix, made with mixed raw nuts and/or seeds, dried fruit and a sprinkling of vegan dark chocolate chips (like Enjoy Life brand) are just a few of the options. Make sure it is something you like and make it easy, but also make it nourishing. When willpower exhaustion hits me, I often feel “desperate” for food. Knowing in advance what I pan to eat and having it easily accessible makes it more likely that I fuel my body and brain in a productive way.
  2. Oxygenate your brain and body. Breathing exercises are beneficial for helping to calm our nervous system and fill our bloodstream with fresh, oxygenated blood. There are many good options that can be done quickly most anywhere. Simply take a moment—eyes open or closed—and try this: First, breathe out forcefully through your mouth. Next, inhale through your nose for a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 7. Exhale with a whoosh through your mouth for a count of 8. Complete this cycle four times. This helps you relax by stimulating your parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) nervous system, and it refreshes your brain with oxygen-rich blood.
  3. Get up and move for a few minutes. When we are in the midst of busyness and mentally-draining activities, it can be hard to allow ourselves to take a break. One helpful practice that I have used for a long time is a brief bathroom-break walk. When I get up for a bathroom break, I take a quick walk on a predetermined loop. Since I have been working from home, it is a loop around the interior perimeter of my home, both upstairs and downstairs. It takes less than two minutes, but it gives me a short mental and physical break. As I walk, I do a mental run-through of the 3 Good Things practice, identifying three things that have gone well so far in the day. Then I think of three things to which I am looking forward for the rest of the day.

These three strategies don’t eliminate willpower exhaustion—at least not for me—but they help. When I am buried in busyness, it can be hard to discipline myself to take the breaks to grab a healthful snack, breathe or walk, especially if other people are around, but it feels good to take care of myself with these simple practices. When I use them, I am more likely to keep eating in a way that honors and nourishes my body, and the physical effects of stress feel less intense.

Do you experience willpower exhaustion? What does it look like for you? What helps to alleviate its effects?

In addition to the techniques I mention above, being clear about what we want to achieve and why can also help us stay on track with our intentions, even when willpower exhaustion strikes. Click the button below to subscribe to my newsletter and receive a link to download my Blossom 2021 Self-Coaching Workbook, with powerful questions to help you live the way you want to live and make the difference you are meant to make. Working through the questions can help you identify what’s really important for you and steel your resolve against the insidious repercussions of willpower exhaustion.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

I share free daily content on my JustWind Coaching Facebook business page. Click here and “like” to be sure you see it.

If you found value in this post, please share the link with others you think would benefit from the content I produce. I am working hard to grow my platform to improve my chances at securing a traditional publishing deal for my in-progress book and would be grateful to you for helping me extend my reach.


JustWind Mindset in the Face of COVID-19

Throughout the surreal developments of the last couple weeks, I have doubted that there is anything of value I can provide—through my writing, through my coaching, through my online presence. I have thought, “Why bother?” because I have felt so overwhelmed by the news on COVID-19, by the abrupt transition to working from home (which I would love, under the right circumstances and with time to prepare and organize), the shock of K-12 school closures, the end of track and other spring sport seasons and the uncertainty and fear of the future. I made a significant investment in a business course just days before everything fell apart, but working on my business in any public way seems both insensitive and futile at this time. Still, I have to believe that we will get through this, that, collectively, we will be okay.

More than any other event that I can recall in my lifetime, it seems that we are all in the same boat. Certainly, some of us have more robust resources to cope. But we are all living this previously unimaginable reality that has so suddenly become ours.

Health and compassion are my themes. My goal is to dwell at the intersection of those two themes and to contribute to their growth in the world. So, how can I best do that in this interrupted life?

For my answer, I return to the roots of my blog that evolved to include my coaching practice and the book I am (still, despite this dramatic change of life) writing: the JustWind mindset. For those who are unfamiliar with the story behind the JustWind name, you can read my original blog post here. To give a brief recap, the concept originated in June 2002, on the last night of Biking Across Kansas, a cross-state bike ride that I love and in which I have participated since 1999. Kansas is windy. That is an undisputed fact. Every BAK has wind, but 2002 was particularly windy (even featuring a severe thunderstorm with 95-mph straight winds that shredded tents). The wind had beaten us up all week, and I was starting to get a cold. On the last evening, as I looked for our bags among those that had been unloaded from the luggage truck, I complained grumpily to my friend David about the wind. He shrugged and gently said, “It’s just wind.”

I had a moment of profound insight: I could choose to be miserable (even doing something I loved—cycling), or I could choose to recognize the challenge for what it was and keep turning the pedals to move forward and stay upright. I realized that I could do this, not just on the bike, but in every aspect of life. It was truly an awakening for me and one that has led to a great deal of (long and protracted and always-evolving) growth for me. Essentially, I realized that we have the power to choose our perspectives, and the ones we choose shape our lives.

I decided that sharing this reminder is the primary value that I can add to the coping strategies for managing the disruption created by this pandemic. I am endeavoring to remember to engage the JustWind mindset as I make my way through these strange days. My effort is imperfect. I have had moments of crisis and extreme agitation. I panicked last week when I had to make a rushed 50-mile round trip to my office, when I heard that I may lose access entirely in this incredibly busy advising season that has suddenly transitioned to phone advising. I yelled at Logan later that evening when he kept throwing a plastic tumbler into the stainless-steel sink, noisily and unsuccessfully trying to land it inside another one (a version of the highly irritating bottle-flipping craze of a few years ago). He persisted when I asked him to stop, and I lost it. But, when I can remember, it helps.

We all have to find our own best ways of handling this, and I suspect that the issues are different for introverts and extroverts, but I will share some of my strategies and hope they help. Please share your own in the comments. We can learn from each other.

My husband Kenny reads COVID-19 news out loud what seems like approximately 23 hours a day. While I agree that it is important to stay informed, this wears on me. I am working primarily at home, Logan’s school is closed, and Kenny is on an indefinite hiatus from his work as a bus driver and groundskeeper for the school district. We are all suddenly together in what feels like a very small house for many hours a day. Logan would be on Xbox nonstop if we would let him. Kenny reads the news out loud to me. While I am working at home, while I am studying my business course, while I am writing (He is sleeping now.), he reads. While I am dialing the phone for my next student appointment, while I am tracking appointments, while I am responding to email, he reads.

These are the things I am doing to cope, to escape, to strive to thrive:

  • Empowered movement: For me, this consists of cycling about three evenings a week (Thank you, daylight savings time!) for 15-20 miles and building mileage on the weekend days. I rode 30 miles each day this weekend, despite cold, dreary conditions. A couple mornings a week, I do yoga (Yoga with Kassandra is my favorite.), strength training or Foundation Training. Training my body helps me to feel better physically and mentally and to feel stronger and be more resilient. It prepares me to face more effectively whatever comes my way.
  • Reading: My life is too full (even in this strange new world) to allow time for simply sitting and reading, but using skills I honed years ago as an undergraduate who worked full time and went to school at night, I read while I am getting dressed, washing dishes, folding laundry, brushing my teeth—every spare moment. I read over 60 books a year this way, and they help me stay sane and continue growing and evolving. They help a lot now. I just finished reading Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, by Chip & Dan Heath. It was very good, and I gleaned from it some useful decision-making strategies. After finishing it this morning, I started Deep Listening: A Healing Practice to Calm Your Body, Clear Your Mind and Open Your Heart, by Jillian Pransky. Reading, like cycling, is a tremendous escape for me.
  • Meditation: My morning meditation practice, as well as some moving meditation on the bike, helps me stay grounded and centered. I incorporate breathing exercises and Kundalini yoga, and it starts my day from a place of peace and grace.
  • Plant-powered nourishment: Of course, I eat plants, not animals all the time, but it is even more important to be mindful that the food is nourishing and supporting my mental and physical health at this time. It is easy to want to eat just comfort food in this crazy situation, but I try to keep in mind the bigger picture. As I wrote this yesterday, I had just finished my breakfast smoothie. I included hemp seed, maca, turmeric and magnesium gluconate for extra nutritional support. This morning, I had Kashi and dry oatmeal with frozen berries and cherries, cocoa (full of antioxidants!), walnuts, vegan yogurt, ground flaxseed, maca, turmeric and magnesium gluconate. Breakfast is important, but so is everything we put into our mouths throughout the day.
  • Hope: As I said above, I have to believe that we will get through this. I do believe we will be changed. I hope the changes are for the better. Some of them may not be or may not feel like they are, but we can choose to grow through the changes. So, I am not relinquishing my goals, although I am giving myself some grace and adjusting the pace of my pursuit. I am still writing my book, writing blog posts, working my business course (but holding off on public-facing activities because pushing forward with those seems insensitive) and pursuing certification as a running coach. I am choosing to trust that everything will happen in the right time, in the way that it should.
  • Structure: All too suddenly, our days look different. Even if I have an ultimate goal of being able to work from home, I want it to be in circumstances I choose, not a situation thrust upon me, in my busiest time of semester, with no time to prepare thoughtfully and comfortably. So, I am creating a new structure for myself. I took time yesterday to establish a structure for Logan’s days because this cannot be perpetual spring break. He needs athletic (He has continued to run.), academic and household responsibilities each day. There will still be time for Xbox (although I have to admit that I absolutely hate that thing). Structure helps us to make sense of our days and make use of our time for productive activities.
  • JustWind Mindset: We don’t know how long this will last or how brutal it may get. On my bike, I literally have been blown off the road by the Kansas wind. I have felt many times like I am being pushed backward by headwind or could be knocked over by crosswind. I just keep turning the pedals (and, after some deep breaths, get back on the road after having been blown off). I am remembering all this and trying to apply it to COVID-19. It will change our days, our plans and our ways of life, but we can handle it. We just have to choose the empowered perspective that allows us to believe we can and then take action to do so.

As I said, I would love to see your comments about how you are striving to thrive during this pandemic. Please let us know.

I wish all my readers (and all the world) health, safety, happiness and peace in this scary and uncertain time. Take care of yourselves and take care of each other. Let’s follow the CDC and WHO, as well as local, recommendations, guidelines and orders. Let’s try to stop this thing as soon as we can, take what we learn and move forward powerfully. Blessings to all!

“The moment you accept responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you gain the power to change anything in your life.” –Hal Elrod