Category Archives: Mind•Body•Soul

Warm and Cozy Winter Nights

Looking for a fun way to get through these cold nights? Never fear! Our new intern, Lilith, shared a few of her favorite winter night activities with us. Check them out below!

  • Make some tea or hot cocoa and then bring out the board games! A board game night is a good way to hang out with a large or small group of friends and include everyone in something. My friends and I love this activity! Over the summer, we collected some of our favorite board and card games; now at least once a week we like to get together and get a little competitive. I know it might seem lame at first, but it can lead to fantastic memories and is an easy way to spend a night with friends that doesn’t have to include trekking out into the cold weather. Some of our favorites to play are Clue, Ultimate Werewolf, and Cards Against Humanity.  SIDE NOTE: Get a little adventurous and see if there’s a Dungeons and Dragons group in your area!
  • This one is classic! Binge watch Game of Thrones or put on Moana, either way just make sure you grab your closet friends. Start the movie, order a pizza, pop some popcorn, and curl up on the nearest couch for a lazy night. Too basic? Try out a new baking recipe to have a treat while you watch your favorite movies! You’ll need something sweet to balance out the pizza and popcorn anyway!
  • With the cold weather drying out my skin, I think this is a very beneficial and fun way to spend a winter night! Try your local drug store for some premade face masks. Or if you want to get more creative, make your own for a little DIY action. Want more? Try doing nail art! Any drug store will have plenty of nail polish and nail tools. Get adventurous! Combine all this with a sappy romance movie or put on some good music and you have yourself a winter night well spent. Perfect for hanging out with friends or a relaxing night in by yourself!!

P.S. We hear that wintry weather may be returning next week, Bella girls! So stock up now, and be prepared for a fun, safe time indoors with family and friends.

 

Written by Lilith Turman

Earth Girl Wellness: Convenience Food

Yes, I am putting it out into public knowledge that Earth Girl sometimes has to rely on the convenience of foods that come in a package. This is typically an extremely hectic and stressful time of the year. I spend more time in the car than I would like, and I often arrive home well after 8pm. I refuse to allow a crazy schedule side track my healthy eating, so I am always on the lookout for foods that I can eat straight from the package. Recent years have seen food manufacturers trying their hand at optimal health in a box. So here it goes: these are the three foods that you just might see Earth Girl munching on at the soccer field, in her car, or when she finally arrives home!

My first favorite is a frozen product, the Luvo Bowl. The Luvo Bowl has over 15 different variations. Recipes such as So Cal Kale & Bean, Orange Mango Chicken, Roasted Vegetable Lasagna, and Roasted Cauliflower Mac & Cheese entice the tastebuds! Luvo’s promise is to provide plenty of fruits and veggies, whole grains and responsibly sourced proteins, while limiting sodium and added sugars. My personal favorite, the Quinoa & Veggie Enchilada Verde bowl, packs in 10 grams of protein, 37 grams of whole grains and a full cup of vegetables! At 290 calories per bowl, Earth Girl is left feeling full, and accomplished. After all, I just ate the easiest one cup of veggies of my day!

Number two on my list of foods in a box comes from Tessemae’s. Tessemae’s Salad Kits are USDA Organic! Four different varieties including Sesame Ginger Greens, Power Kale Caesar, Spinach Bacon Ranch, and Sweet Kale Crunch all pack in the nutrition with ingredients such as chickpeas, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds. The kits contain around 400-450 calories and virtually no added sugars. These kits do have a little more sodium than Earth Girl would like, but compared to other packaged meals, the comparison makes Tessemae’s look like a “sodium-less” saint. The range of vitamins and minerals included in each package makes these salads a top performer in the nutrition world.

Finally, a super and quick snack or side to any meal are Good Foods Chickpea and Quinoa Salad packs. Leading the charge with a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan alternative to most convenience foods, Good Foods knows how to combine a great protein source with a variety of vegetables including carrots, green and red peppers. Earth Girl has been known to throw these packs on a bed of lettuce for added satiety. This manufacturer has perfected the art of combining a yummy combination of herbs so that the sodium and sugar content can remain low. At only 190 calories you can load up on 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 21 grams of whole carbohydrates.

Earth Girl recognizes that we all have moments, days, weeks or months of “survival” mode and we need to learn what healthy options are out in the vast jungle of heavily marketed convenience foods. Let me do a little of the dirty work for you! (Okay, it wasn’t so dirty—just really yummy!) I have compared hundreds of products and found the above top three to be in my grocery cart, my refrigerator or freezer, and in my cooler on a daily basis! Here’s to another meal “on the go” so you can be the best at what you do!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher of Earth Girl Wellness.

A Book That Takes Its Time

Mindfulness is “the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences happening in the present moment.” In a world filled with so much hustle and bustle, a world where we believe in cramming as much as possible into our schedules, it seems almost impossible to be mindful. Time is precious, and we seem to want to plan it down to the very last second. But with all our busy schedules, is there any time left to enjoy life in the present moment? Can we truly be mindful?

Irene Smit and Astrid Van der Hulst, two authors who have taken notice of this problem, have sat down and created a book to do something about it. Beginning their career as editors at Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, they are now the cofounders and creative directors of Flow magazine, a popular international publication filled with paper goodies and beautiful illustrations that celebrate creativity, imperfection, and positivity. Smit and Van der Hulst, have invented a Flow book that adds a little more stillness, downtime, and thought to your life. An unhurried adventure in creative mindfulness, A Book That Takes Its Time inspires you to do just that…take your time. Smit and Van der Hulst’s new book is all about taking time to breathe, time to learn, time to create, time to reflect, time to let go, and time to be kind. With each page encouraging you to linger and engage with each topic, this book is truly one where you will take your time. Filled with postcards, stickers, decorative papers, and hands-on activities like crafts, prompts, and journals, your work will result in cherished keepsakes.

A Book That Takes Its Time is the epitome of slowing down and living life in the now. In hopes that their book will lessen your worries and help you feel more at peace, Smit and Van der Hulst encourage you to find satisfaction through mindfulness. The only request that Smit and Van der Hulst have for their readers is that they take their time flipping through the pages and enjoying all this creative piece of mindfulness has to offer.

 

Written by Taylor Ward

The Magic of Getting Lost

As a senior in college, I find the question “what are your plans for after graduation?” completely agonizing. Although a little hectic with senior seminar, work, trying to decode my math homework, and trying to make it to the gym at least once this week, my day is going along just fine. Then, someone dares to ask about what I plan to do with my life after college. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you know exactly what you want to do. If you’re like me, and most other college students, you have absolutely no idea.

So, naturally, I email my advisor immediately to make an appointment on how my life is going nowhere because I can’t seem to figure out what to do with it. As usual, he calms me down and tells me that I’m exactly where I need to be and that it’s completely natural for a college student to have absolutely no idea where they want to take their diploma. As he always says, “Look at me, I came in as a music major and now I’m an English Professor.” However, this time I came to my advisor’s office for my monthly freak out, he had something else to give me; The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman.

As someone who is very organized, a master of To Do Lists, and needs to have a plan for almost everything in her life, this book was perfect for me. The Good Girls Guide to Getting Lost is a coming-of-age memoir about the amazing journey Friedman embarks on when she, a college grad, surprises herself and everyone around her by purchasing a ticket to Ireland. Never having been to Ireland, the good girl who had always done what she was supposed to now finds herself in a strange new country, making friends with a free-spirited Australian who loves nothing more than a good adventure. While abroad, Rachel travels from Ireland, to Australia, and to South America where she discovers her love for travel; all the while finding her true self.

Not only was this book warmhearted, hilarious, and honest, but it offered an amazing insight into what it’s like to travel abroad. This book is a fantastic read and highly recommended for anyone who feels like taking a trip and getting lost for a little bit. Even though my advisor had assured me many times before that it’s perfectly fine to be a little lost right now, I never truly accepted that until I read Rachel Friedman’s memoir. The Good Girls Guide to Getting Lost taught me that it’s okay to be unsure of yourself sometimes. It’s okay to be lost. Rachel shows us that in momentarily escaping some of life’s hardest decisions and living for the moment, getting lost allows us to find ourselves.

 

Written by Taylor Ward

 

“Perfection”

What is perfection? According to Dictionary.com, perfect is defined as “conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type.” However, when it comes to wellness, I am not certain there is an exact definition of an ideal type. What makes one individual healthy and happy may not necessarily work for someone else. Even the guidelines set out by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) regarding nutritional intake and the exercise standards promoted by the ACSM (American Academy of Sports Medicine) are just that: guidelines. Both organizations take large volumes of data from hundreds of thousands of people and create standards that fit the majority of the US population regarding what might constitute optimal health. These standards can’t possibly consider each individual’s unique genetic makeup and personal preferences for a fulfilling life.

So why do we strive for perfection when perfection is at best a guess of what might work for some people? Why do we pressure ourselves into comparing what we feel others are doing that seems to be superior, and quite obviously in our minds, the best way to pursue optimal health? Earth Girl recommends we reframe our thinking when we consider our daily habits and how they impact our wellness.

Instead of berating ourselves because we had a piece of cake at a friend’s birthday party and subsequently deciding we have no self control so we might as well give up on living a healthy lifestyle (because in a perfect world we wouldn’t eat any cake), let’s refocus. Birthday parties are fun and a small celebratory piece of delicious chocolate cake might be what we seek as perfection that day. We celebrated, we ate cake, we enjoyed and then we moved on to a healthy option for dinner later that night.

Instead of relinquishing a regular exercise routine because we missed one run to enjoy an evening out with our family (and in a perfect world we would not skip a run), let’s refocus. Time spent with family can also be active and, certainly, quality time with loved ones has amazing health benefits. Enjoy the spontaneity of the situation and clock your three miles the next day.

We often think that unless we pursue everything to its “perfect” ending, we might as well not pursue it at all. Such a sad way to live the adventure called life! Let’s strive to be perfectly imperfect. Or perhaps, imperfectly perfect. Decide what is best for the situation and use the opportunity to grow and enjoy life!

Earth Girl thinks perfection is what we make it. It looks different for everyone so stay on the adventure that makes you perfectly you!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher of Earth Girl Wellness

What does gluten-free really mean?

Gluten-free is currently one of the major health trends. Every decade or so, we have a new trend with thousands of new products. Some trends have greatly backfired on us such as the “fat-free trend” and the “eat only meat” trend when we found out, after several years of research into the health of individuals following them, that they weren’t so healthy after all. I am not necessarily claiming that gluten-free diets will meet the same ill demise as other trends, but consider this: Gluten-free meal plans can have health benefits, especially to those with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivities. Even individuals with no significant health risks arising from the consumption of gluten can eat gluten-free and maintain a healthy lifestyle. But buyer beware!

I often hear of individuals going on a gluten-free diet so that they can lose weight and “be healthier.” Great! I applaud any efforts to engage in a healthier lifestyle. However, often times, a gluten-free diet is filled with highly processed, low fiber, empty calorie foods. It’s not healthy at all! Gluten-free pancakes, gluten-free cookies, gluten-free toaster pastries certainly fit the bill for a gluten-free diet! But are they healthy? Not so much. Nor are gluten-free pizzas full of preservatives, gluten-free pasta dishes with no veggies or gluten-free sandwiches full of highly processed cheese, mayonnaise and other “unmentionables.” Also consider that many of these processed, gluten-free items are pretty darn expensive! You end up throwing money away on food that has “no life” and certainly isn’t healthy!

So what’s a gluten-free health nut to do? Look at other whole food options that are naturally gluten-free. There are so many healthy, inexpensive options available that no one should feel confined by a gluten-free diet. All fruits and veggies are gluten-free, so indulge in plenty of those! Beans also gluten-free. Grains such as quinoa, rice, buckwheat (in spite of its name) and amaranth are all excellent sources of fiber filled carbohydrates. Nuts and seeds? Gluten-free! A wonderfully healthy and delicious gluten-free plate would include a preferred vegetable (or two!), a healthy dose of protein such as organic chicken breast, and a side of rice or quinoa.

Earth Girl recommends you break free from the highly marketed, gluten-free products lining the grocery store shelves. Focus instead on lovingly grown, naturally gluten-free products that you can find every weekend at most any farmer’s market!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher

Tour Roanoke Outdoor Adventure!

Tour Roanoke was the first group to host food and beverage tours in the Roanoke Valley. Of course, our city is rich with history to explore, and that includes the surrounding mountains and rivers. One of the more spirited ways to learn about and fall in love with southwest Virginia is by taking to the water and the trails, so Tour Roanoke decided to try something new. This year, they offer Kayak the James and Craft Beer Trips with Twin River Outfitters. Each trip includes a six mile paddle on the river to one of three local breweries. This section of the James River includes Class I & II rapids.

“All of our tours–food, beer, wine–it’s all about showcasing local Roanoke. So it was not a difficult leap from that to local recreation. The James River is an appealing location because it’s 60 miles of uninhibited river there. It is one of the longest navigable rivers on the east coast,” says Larry Landolt, founder of Tour Roanoke.

The series of three Sunday trips began last month, but they will host another on July 23. They plan for this month’s adventure to include Great Valley Farm Brewery. Located in Natural Bridge, the brewery is not only a place to appreciate local craft beer, but also offers a remarkable view.

“It’s a really cool brewery. It’s on a nice hill overlooking the mountains. You can sit on the patio and drink a beer and look down to see Safari Park,” explains Larry.

Those participating in tours this summer will be picked up at Target (located near Valley View Mall) or the downtown Visitors Center, and transported to Buchanan, where their trip will begin at Twin River Outfitters. The oldest and most experienced outfitter operating on the Upper James River, they have safely conducted paddle trips since 1978. Sign up fees include equipment and instruction provided by Twin River Outfitters, and one pint or flight from the brewery on the trip.

Southwest Virginia is quickly becoming an outdoor recreation destination, and it’s not hard to understand why. With breweries popping up all over the area, the two leisure activities easily go hand in hand. For Larry and so many others, it is an unforgettable experience to escape and unwind. So, why not also take the opportunity to enjoy it with old friends and make a few new ones on the journey?

Or, as Larry says, “Let’s go do something really fun, drink beer, and talk about it.”

Can’t make it to one of the dates online? No worries! Tour Roanoke is also open to hosting private tours for up to 14 people. It’s the perfect adventure for wedding parties, birthdays, company functions, and more!

Visit www.roanokefoodtours.com for more information on how to schedule your trip, or one of their many tour options in Roanoke.

The 10,000 Steps Goal

Fitness trackers abound these days along with pages of advice encouraging us to walk 10,000 steps. We faithfully don our wristbands and watches hoping to achieve the magical distance of five miles per day. But have you ever stopped to think about why we need those steps? Are 10,000 steps necessary or is it an arbitrary number conjured up to make us obsessive compulsive about walking the last 103 steps needed to reach 10,000 before getting into bed?

Let’s go back a few decades, to say, the 1970’s. If you were alive (and if you weren’t, use your imagination), think of all the things you did throughout the day that involved taking steps. To open the garage door, you had to get out of your car, walk to the garage door, open it, walk back to your car, pull in, then walk back and close the garage door before entering your house. Hmm…maybe 50 steps involved? In order to change the channel on the television (which only had 4 channels to begin with), you had to walk to the TV, change the channel, then walk back to the couch. Another 20 steps. To fill a prescription, you had to get out of your car, walk into the pharmacy, wait for the prescription to be filled (during which time you probably walked around the store because they didn’t have convenient chairs to sit in while you waited), get your prescription, and walk back to your car. Log another 150 steps, at least. We were naturally walking roughly five miles just to accomplish the tasks needed for daily living.

Now, welcome to the 21st century. We use the drive thru at coffee shops for our daily cup of joe. We use riding lawn mowers to cut our grass. We use an elevator to take us up two flights of stairs! These “activities” require no steps. We simply do not have to walk like we used to. We have to schedule time and add “taking steps” to our daily agenda.

Five miles, or 10,000 steps, is a sweet spot for health. When comparing the population at large, individuals that average 10,000 steps per day tend to be healthier than individuals that walk less. You can, however, stop short of berating yourself if you are a few steps shy of your daily goal. Some days your sneakers will pound the pavement with more than 10,000 steps. Some days your shoes will have a little less wear. Look at the bigger picture and see how your steps average out for a week. Remember, life does allow a day or two of leisure on occasion.

Earth Girl’s recommendation is to keep your fitness trackers on, your shoes tied, and your ambition ready to tackle every step of your day!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher