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    15 Ways to Eat Healthier This Year Without Going on a Diet

    From rotating diet fads to misconceptions about healthy eating to unrealistic body goals (I’m looking at you, thigh gaps and v-cut abs), numerous factors make eating healthier seem complicated, and maybe even impossible. But I’m here to tell you that healthy eating doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be so overwhelming. PSA: there is no miracle diet. There is no one method or magical list of guidelines to automatically get us all to achieve health goals, get more energy, clear up the skin, and lose weight. For one reason, while one way of eating might cure one person, it could be limiting to another. Plus, dieting is never sustainable. Ditch your diets and try these 15 ways to eat healthier this year that you can stick with for your whole life (and not one of them is to restrict an entire food group):
    1. Have leafy greens with two meals a day
    If you make one change to your diet in 2021, consider eating more leafy greens. From spinach to arugula to watercress to romaine, leafy greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Plus, they’re so easy to sneak into meals, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be eating multiple cups of greens a day. Try adding spinach to your smoothie, putting kale in your pasta dish or any sauce, or ordering a side salad when you’re eating out. If all else fails, try these delicious ways to eat more greens. 

    2. Get healthy food delivered 
    Some weeks are just so busy that you don’t have time to plan, prepare, or shop for meals, making healthy eating difficult (Postmates is much more tempting). Blue Apron offers health-conscious options like vegetarian, carb-conscious, 600 calories or less, etc., so not only can you select meals that you’ll look forward to all day, but you’ll be eating meals that help you achieve health goals. Plus, with 23 weekly recipes and the new feature to customize your meals, there is something for everyone, no matter your tastes or diet preferences. 
    New customers: click here to save over $60 on your first 3 boxes!

    Source: @gabbywhiten

    3. Find plant-based alternatives of your favorite foods
    Listen, if you don’t like salads, don’t eat salads! Forcing yourself into bland meals and boring dishes will lead to binges, excessive cravings, and worst of all, an unsatisfying life. Instead of eating foods you don’t like, get creative with healthier versions of your favorite foods. Try adding in more veggies or making simple swaps like opting for cauliflower pizza crust or chickpea pasta. For recipe ideas, check out these healthy alternatives to your favorite comfort foods and plant-based recipes for every craving.

    4. Make mealtimes sacred
    Healthy eating is not just about what you eat, but how. In a world where meals are often on-the-go, and fast food is on every corner, we forget that food is not just about surviving, or even just about enjoying the taste. Mealtime serves as a reminder to pause, slow down, and enjoy. Consider taking a break from work, turning off the TV, putting your phone away, and making each meal an opportunity to relax and be mindful. Whether you enjoy meals with the people you love or use it as an act of meditation to take a break from the busyness of your day, every meal should be about slowing down and enjoyment.

    5. Load up on good-for-you beverages
    You already know to drink water and avoid sugary beverages like soda or sweetened coffee drinks as much as possible, so now it’s time to hack your hydration and include even more good-for-you beverages (in addition to your reusable bottle of water). For example, tea (like green, white, or hibiscus) has lots of health benefits, thanks to health-boosting components like polyphenols. You can also try sipping on green juice or replacing your typical soda with sparkling water, mint, and lemon. Bottom line: in addition to drinking water throughout the day, get creative with nutrient-rich drinks to sip on to increase health benefits and hydration.

    Source: @kayla_seah

    6. Eat fruit with breakfast
    Your mom used to give you orange slices and bananas with your Cheerios when you were a kid, but do you still keep up with your fruit intake? Maybe you’re good at adding veggies to your diet and forget about fruit, maybe you grab a breakfast sandwich from a coffee shop in the a.m., or maybe you’ve heard the myth that fruit isn’t good for you. The truth is that fruits are full of antioxidants, minerals, and fiber. They come from the earth; our bodies are meant to eat them. Whether your breakfast of choice is an omelet, avocado toast, or a bowl of Cheerios (old habits die hard), consider eating some berries or grapefruit on the side. 

    7. Add herbs to every meal
    Another easy way to sneak in fresh produce (are you sensing a theme here?) is adding herbs to every meal. While herbs are typically considered a garnish, they’re actually leafy greens packed with nutrients and a variety of health benefits. Plus, they make everything taste more delicious. Try putting basil leafs on homemade pizzas, adding cilantro to stir-fries and sushi rolls, or chopping parsley into salads. Bonus points for starting your own herb garden at home.

    8. Listen to hunger cues
    So long, intermittent fasting trends and outdated “three meals a day” rules! 2021 is about ditching rules about when we should or shouldn’t eat food (and how much we’re supposed to eat). Instead of forcing yourself to eat three meals a day or five small meals a day (or whatever the latest trend is), simply eat when you’re hungry. Give yourself nourishing meals and focus on feeding your body with enough energy to get through the day, whatever that looks like to you. Likewise, rather than eating a portion that someone else recommends (whether it’s your mom, a restaurant, or the recommendations on the box), eat until you’re satisfied and not overstuffed. Find the amount, time, and method of eating that works best for your body and lifestyle. 

    Source: @laurenireland

    9. Sprinkle seeds on everything
    If you haven’t been utilizing the seed food group, you are seriously missing out. Seeds like chia, flaxseed, and pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses, containing a wide variety of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals like calcium, zinc, and magnesium. I sprinkle ground flaxseed on basically anything (yes, even dishes like pasta and salads), but you can also try adding chia seeds to your smoothie, snacking on roasted pumpkin seeds, and sprinkling sesame seeds on stir-fries. 

    10. Include more water-rich foods in your diet
    Drinking water is so 2020 (but like, also crucially important, so please keep that up); you can eat your water too. Eating foods that are high in water content is the secret to long-term, lasting hydration (and a lit-from-within glow). Call in some backup for your water bottle by loading up on plants like tomatoes, cucumber, romaine lettuce, and berries, which are all high in water. Watermelon is one of the most hydrating foods you can eat (no surprise where it gets its name), with a water content of 92 percent. Water-rich foods will be hydrating your body like good ol’ H2O, but will also add in the extra nutrients that come from fruits and veggies. 

    11. Try one new vegetable every week
    You probably have the same grocery list that you know, love, and revert to every single week when you head to your local Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. While having a go-to list is necessary for us busy girls (and my other lazy girls out there), it doesn’t always set you up for the most inventive meals. This year, challenge yourself to try one different veggie that you’ve never tried before. Maybe you saw a delicious butternut squash recipe and have never cooked butternut squash, maybe you see beets at the grocery store and Google how to prepare them, or maybe you come across a new leafy green at the farmer’s market that you’ve never tried. Trying (or cooking) something new will not only make your meals more exciting, but a bigger variety of foods means a bigger variety of nutrients. Plus, you might like something so much, it ends up on your go-to grocery list. 

    12. Fill the majority of your plate with foods from the earth
    Instead of the 80/20 rule or following a plant-only diet, think about eating “plant-foward.” While that title definitely sounds a little hokey (and excessive), the idea is that you can emphasize and celebrate nutritious foods, but you don’t have to be limited to them. Instead of measuring, tracking, or limiting, simply make sure that the majority of your plate comes from the earth (instead of going through a factory), whether that looks like fruits, vegetables, whole grains (like oats, rice, and quinoa), or nuts and seeds. You’ll load up on the foods that will make you feel good, without restricting yourself from the foods that you enjoy. 

    Source: @loveandlemons

    13. Add more fiber to your diet
    While fiber is not the sexiest macronutrient (protein and healthy fats get all the attention!), it is one of the most important. And yet, only about 5 percent of the country’s population meets daily fiber recommendations. Fiber is the part of foods that the body can’t break down, so it passes through your entire digestive system and helps keep it healthy. But fiber has other benefits than just gut health and regularity (though those would be good enough). You can find fiber in most fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and seeds, but click here for the most common foods that are high in fiber. 

    14. Eat the rainbow
    No, I’m not talking about Skittles. You learned in middle school science class that plants get their colors from antioxidants, so it only makes sense to eat all the colors to provide your body with all the antioxidants, right? Incorporating reds (tomatoes, apples, red pepper), blues (blueberries, blackberries, blue potatoes), oranges (sweet potato, butternut squash, tangerines), greens (leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, zucchini), yellows (spaghetti squash, bananas, corn) and purples (purple cabbage, eggplant, grapes) is the easiest (and prettiest) way to ensure you’re getting an abundance of phytonutrients and the full spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. As an easy hack, try to add at least three different colors to each meal or think about grocery shopping by including each color of the rainbow.

    15. Let yourself enjoy foods you love
    You may think that deprivation helps you avoid “bad” foods, but in reality, deprivation is causing a lack mentality, meaning you’re more likely to binge said food when you do eat it, or more importantly, not truly enjoy your life. This isn’t just a warm and fuzzy body positivity tip; it’s a physical health hack that will help your body feel its best. When we remove “good” and “bad” labels around foods, we can listen to what the body really wants. We start craving the foods that help us live, while mindfully enjoying the foods we never want to live without.

    This post includes a sponsored mention of Blue Apron, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    12 Hacks to Hold Yourself Accountable with Your Resolutions

    It’s that time of year again: we’re putting away Christmas decorations, coming back from holiday break, and setting New Year’s resolutions. But will 2021 be any different than 2020, 2019, or any other resolutions of New Years’ past? If you’ve never even remembered your goals by the end of most years (much less reached them), you’re not alone. According to U.S. News & World Report, 80 percent of resolutions fail (depressing, right?).So what does it take to be in the 20 percent that succeeds? We all say #newyearnewme every January 1st, so how do we make sure that 2021 will really be “our year;” the year where we become happier, achieve our healthiest body, and get that dream career? The answer: change your approach. Here are 12 hacks to keep you accountable and help you be in the 20 percent of resolutions that succeed. Look out, 2022! 

    1. Get in the right mindset
    You probably already have your 2021 resolutions, but do you know why you set those resolutions? The first step to holding yourself accountable is to put meaning behind the goals you set. For example, “going to the gym every day” or “getting a raise” are fine resolutions, but you need to look at the bigger picture goal as well. Why do you want to go to the gym every day? Is it to be stronger, feel more confident, or live longer? What about getting a raise: do you want to be more financially independent or feel valued by your company? If you’re not looking at the “why” goal, the surface-level goal will never feel motivating enough to last until 2022. 
    Bottom line: set your resolutions, but make sure you’re also reminding yourself why you care about achieving them in the first place. Take some time to reflect or journal about why accomplishing this goal is important to you and how it will make a difference in your life. Months from now, when the newness of resolutions wears off, you won’t be thinking, “I have to wake up at 7 a.m. to exercise.” You’ll be thinking, “I want to wake up at 7 a.m. to exercise because it makes me feel so much happier and healthier throughout the day.” 

    2. Set smaller goals that are easy to reach
    Trust me, “losing weight,” “running a marathon,” or “reading 100 books” are far off goals that will leave you disappointed and unmotivated, no matter what. Instead, break down big resolutions into smaller, more specific goals throughout each week. On Sundays, think about what you want to achieve just that week: fit in four workouts, run three miles instead of your usual two, lift 10 extra pounds, or add greens to two meals a day. By the time the week is over, you’ll feel accomplished, proud of yourself, and more motivated to set harder goals for the next week. If week-by-week is not your thing, start in small increments to get to where you want. For example, start with two push-ups a day. Once push-ups feel like a habit, increase a couple more reps or exercises each day until you get to your fitness goal.

    3. Prepare what you need in advance
    If you prefer morning workouts, lay out all your clothes next to your bed, untie your sneakers, and fill up a water bottle. If you work out in the afternoon, change into your workout clothes first thing in the morning so you’ll be ready to go whenever you can fit it in. Having everything ready will not only make it easier to work out, but will put you in the mindset that this workout will happen. Preparation works for nutrition goals, too: meal prep makes it much less likely for you to resort to takeout after a busy workday or snack on unhealthy choices like chips and cookies. Likewise, if you want to have a better morning routine, lay out your clothes, fill up a bottle of water, set out your skincare lineup, and get out the meditation pillow. Bottom line: set yourself up for success to reach your resolutions by preparing in advance. 

    Source: @kateogata

    4. Get a buddy
    Do you have a friend, significant other, roommate, or work wife who also wants to stick to their resolutions? Make them your accountability buddy and motivate each other by exchanging healthy recipes, sending motivational quotes, and checking in to see how the other is feeling or keeping up with their goal. You don’t have to have the same resolutions to motivate each other, but it certainly helps if you plan to hop on a Zoom yoga class with a friend or set up weekly meetings with your work wife to see how your career resolutions are coming along. You’ll be much more motivated feeling like you’re in this together.

    5. Schedule resolutions into your calendar
    When appointments, meetings, or tasks are on your calendar, you know they’re going to get done. And you’ll probably show up on time, be fully prepared, and never skip. Just because a workout, meal prep session, or personal budget check-in are not work meetings does not mean you shouldn’t prioritize them as such. Honor your resolutions like you would any other appointment on your schedule. For example, either sign up for an online workout class in advance (the cancellation fee in itself will be enough to hold you accountable) or put “going on a jog” in your calendar. Not only will scheduling resolutions make it more likely you’ll do them, but you’re also more likely to prioritize them. Treat a workout, check-in, reading session, meditation time, grocery shopping, etc., like you would anything else on your calendar: show up on time, be prepared, and don’t cancel.
    6. Set up your environment for success
    Maybe you are what you eat, but you are where you live too. Surround yourself with motivating images and rearrange your home environment to help you with your resolutions. If mantras are your thing, come up with your own, write it down, and post it on your mirror, computer screen, and fridge. Start a vision board filled with motivating images like a picture of yourself from when you felt healthy and happy, or a magazine cut-out of someone achieving your goal (like crow pose or running a 5k). You can also post healthy recipes or pictures of women you admire. Visually seeing your goals as often as possible will keep you motivated. Beyond vision boards and mantras, make sure your home is setting you up for success. Keep your blender in an accessible spot, display healthier cookbooks on the shelves, leave your yoga mat out, and turn your bedroom into a relaxing oasis if you want to get more sleep this year. 
    7. Journal your progress
    Journaling creates a space for mindfulness, thoughtfulness, and purpose, and can help you achieve all of your goals (powerful stuff, right?). Use a blank notebook for morning pages, record your daily goals in your planner (shoutout to The Everygirl planners at Target!!), or use the Notes app on your phone. Not only will journaling about your resolutions keep you motivated, but knowing you’re tracking your progress will hold you accountable. It’s a lot less tempting to skip the workout or order takeout when you know that you’ll be writing about it later. More importantly, journaling will keep the resolution in the front of your mind, so you’ll prioritize it.

    Source: @devyn.p.miller

    8. Have a plan B
    So you slept through your alarm and missed your morning workout? Or you’re extra hungry and aren’t in the mood for your usual smoothie? Have an easy and flexible backup plan, so that you don’t completely give up when your plan doesn’t work out. Going on a 30-minute walk after dinner or doing a yoga YouTube video before hopping in the shower are great ways to fit in movement and keep you feeling motivated. Likewise, have a few different healthy meal options so that when you’re not in the mood for your typical go-to’s, you don’t opt for fast food takeout. Having a backup for when your plan falls through is crucial to staying on track.
    9. Fit resolutions into your routine
    Your resolutions can be lofty, but they have to fit into your life. For example, if you hate salad, don’t force yourself to eat salads. If you want to get fit but can’t run a mile to save your life, don’t try to run five miles. Instead, find healthy foods you like and exercises that are fun or make you feel good. Learning how to enjoy achieving your goals will help them stick. Experiment with healthy recipes like plant-based versions of your favorite foods, and test out workouts to find one that you’ll not only enjoy, but will look forward to.
    Also, don’t vow to wake up at 6 a.m. for meditation and a workout if your alarm clock typically rings five minutes before you have to be on Slack. Start with a meditation while your coffee brews, some calf raises while brushing your teeth, and going on a walk while you’re on a conference call. There are dozens of ways to fit your resolutions into your likes and routines, and those ways are the key to reaching goals by 2022.

    10. Read, listen to, or watch something positive
    I love Real Housewives as much as the next girl, but let’s be real: bingeing it every night before bed and on my lunch break certainly does not help with motivation (been there, done that). Instead, take a break from your usual Netflix binges to listen to a motivating podcast, read a chapter from a self-improvement book before bed, or (if reality shows really are your cup of tea) stream a show like Queer Eye that will inspire you to be your best self. Filling your time with inspiration and motivation will make you excited to reach your goals. Don’t worry, there will always be time for Real Housewives or The Bachelor, but remember that nutrition isn’t just what you eat; it’s what you read, watch, and listen to as well. 

    Source: @twentysomethingplus

    11. Look for one small victory every day 
    The key to resolution success is not to look at what you have yet to accomplish. Instead, the key is to focus on what you’ve already done. Looking at how far you’ve come (even if it is just baby steps) will boost confidence and motivation to inspire you to keep going. Every single day, look for a victory you made towards your final end goal. It could be doing an extra 10 crunches, having a smoothie for breakfast instead of getting an Egg McMuffin, or going on a walk during your lunch break instead of bingeing Hulu. Taking steps towards your final goal (no matter how small) will feel much more motivating than a distant goal that’s out of reach. Let each small step be its own victory, and get excited for whatever victories you’ll accomplish tomorrow. You’ll reach your end goal in no time–2022 will be so impressed.

    12. Be flexible and trust your gut
    Remember those aforementioned “why” goals? Maybe your resolution is to work out more, but the reason for that is to feel more confident, or perhaps you want a raise, but you want a raise because you want to take a step in your career. The secret to achieving your resolutions (instead of forgetting about them by February) is to focus on the “why goals” and be flexible with resolutions. From now until 2022, there will times when you’re too tired to work out, need to take a mental health day from work, or want to enjoy a glass of wine and an entire Dominos pizza on a Friday night. And those times don’t mean you’re failing at your resolutions; they mean you’re listening to what your body needs.
    Reality check: if you’re not flexible with your resolutions, you’ll never be able to keep them. To hold yourself accountable, stay focused on the overarching goals like feeling more confident, progressing in your career, or treating your body well. It will help you stay motivated to keep your goals, but most importantly, you’ll be listening to your body instead of external expectations. Even resolutions need balance, not perfection.

    How are you holding yourself accountable with your resolutions this year? More

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    8 Habits I’ve Tried for Better Periods (and Which Ones Actually Worked)

    The relationship with my reproductive system has been more like a horror movie than a warm and fuzzy rom-com: full of mystery, a little depressing, and unnecessarily bloody. It sounds like the beginning of a Judy Bloom novel, but my period has never been my friend. Over half of my life has been spent with monthly intense mood swings, severe bloating, and cramping so bad I would have to go home from school. As a preteen and a newly appointed “woman,” I tried doubling up on Advil, spending hours under the heating pad, and eventually was prescribed painkillers by my gyno (i know, right? Yikes!). Enter: 25-year-old Josie. I’m a little more confident, self-assured, and mature (kind of) than the 12-year-old girl who cried thinking about having to go to ballet class on her period. I no longer have to go home from school (I mean, work) during my time of the month, but I’m still so uncomfortable that I spend every minute I’m not in bed, wishing I was (and no amount of Advil or dark chocolate squares will change that). After an endless cycle (pun intended) of pain, PMS, and heavy bleeding, I’m tired of feeling like my body is more my enemy than my friend.
    But also since I was 12 years old, I’ve taken courses and wrote theses on ancient forms of medicine, I attended nutrition school, and I became a certified health coach. I have made diet and lifestyle changes that have made me feel happy, vibrant, and energetic like I never have before. I know way more about my body and believe that any symptoms (yes, even PMS or heavy bleeding) are the body’s way of communicating that something is up, rather than “just the way my body is.” In my 13 years as a menstruating woman (major *cringe* at that terminology), I have tried quite a lot to help ease my period symptoms. Here are eight of the most noteworthy habits and whether or not they actually helped.

    Source: @josie.santi

    1. Eating more nourishing foods
    Traditionally, my period was my personal excuse to eat all of the pasta and gallons of ice cream in sight. I’ve always had intense cravings that I would give in to, but more importantly, I felt so uncomfortable during that week that food became a form of comfort. However, as I learned about the role that food plays in the way the body feels, I started questioning my “eat-hard, bleed-hard” mentality (are the graphic visuals starting to get gross?). Instead, I cut out gluten (something I knew I had a sensitivity to, thanks to tests done by my doctor), loaded up on fruits and veggies, and prioritized iron-rich foods like beans and dark, leafy greens.
    I even started treating myself to a plant-based meal delivery service during my period week so that I was eating extra clean (and so I didn’t have to get off the couch to cook or wash dirty dishes if I didn’t want to). When I started craving something heavier or sweeter on my period, I listened to it instead of suppressing it, knowing my body knows what it needs. But instead of pasta or mac n’ cheese, I made a warming rice dish, and instead of bingeing an entire tub of Ben & Jerry’s, I had a few squares of dark chocolate to satisfy me.
    The results: Changing my diet has been one of the biggest and most drastic changes. While it hasn’t been a miracle cure-all, I feel lighter and happier on my period since eating differently. Most impressively, ever since I started eating for extra nutrients instead of using my time of the month as a free-for-all, my period has gotten slightly shorter and more manageable. 

    Source: @josie.santi

    2. Cycle Syncing
    Cycle syncing is exactly what it sounds like: syncing your lifestyle, exercise, and diet around your cycle. Some people call it an ancient wellness technique, and some call it a bio-hack. The idea of cycle syncing is that your hormones are different during each phase, and therefore, your needs, emotions, and energy levels are too. Think about it: the moon has four phases, the seasons have four phases, and we as women have four phases.
    I tried cycle syncing the 2020 way: by downloading an app. MyFlo helps track your cycle so you can know what to expect, but it also gives you suggestions based on where you’re at in your cycle for everything from foods to eat to how to work to what type of exercise you should do. According to MyFlo and cycle syncing in general, the hormones (and the 28-day cycle they’re on) tell us everything from whether we should go out or stay in, eat raw foods or cooked foods (and what kind), or what kind of sex we’re in the mood for.
    The result: My biggest takeaway from this experience has been feeling more in tune with my body and to stop resisting what my body needs. For example, through past periods, I’ve forced myself to wake up early for my usual a.m. HIIT class, even though I felt exhausted, or I made myself meet up with friends when all I wanted to do was lay in bed and watch Real Housewives reruns. Cycle syncing helped me realize I was not being lazy, and my period wasn’t destroying my health goals. Instead, my body just needed different things at different times. 

    3. Gentle exercise
    Back to that early a.m. HIIT nonsense: I realized the intense exercise that I typically crave makes me feel bad if I try to push through it on my period. I feel incapable, unmotivated, and exhausted. Sure, I was always glad I did it afterward, but I swear it made cramps worse throughout the day, and I just didn’t feel good doing it, as I knew exercise was supposed to feel. So instead? I stopped forcing myself to do anything and instead opted for slow, gentle movement like stretching, yoga flow, or a little pilates if I felt like getting really crazy. 
    The results: Admittedly, it still feels difficult to move my body at all some days, even if it is gently and slowly. I try not to force myself to do anything if I’m not in the mood, but I know that if I do get off the couch and go through a yoga flow or even do a few slow ab exercises, my cramps actually feel better and I immediately get more energy. Opting for gentle exercise was an important lesson that “perfection” isn’t always better. I grew up with the mentality that most of us did where the goal of health was “perfection:” a clean diet, never skipping a workout, and no room for mistakes. Instead, I’ve learned that the goal of health is not perfection; it’s balance. And yes, sometimes balance means five minutes of yoga or stretching that’s basically just laying on the floor. 

    Source: Felicia Lasala for The Eveygirl

    4. Natural supplements
    Various gynecologists and doctors have put me on double doses of Advil, those aforementioned prescription painkillers, or birth control pills (more on that below) to help with period pain, but instead of over-emphasizing ibuprofen or numbing the pain, I’ve learned that nourishing my body as a way to fix the root cause helps me more, rather than patching up the symptoms. I have tried a combination of Chinese herbs, vitamins and minerals, and all-natural mixtures that are said to help menstruation.
    Some of the most noteworthy supplements I’ve tried over the past few years are raspberry leaf tea (recommended by Berrion Berry), to help strengthen the uterus; Love Wellness’ #Mood Pills to help with PMS; and magnesium citrate, which my doctor recommended I take every night, with an extra dose while on my period.
    The result: I feel a huge difference in my pain levels and heaviness when I am consistent with supplements. What I love the most about natural supplements like raspberry leaf tea or magnesium citrate is that they simultaneously nourish the body and provide a multitude of health benefits to help the body heal, rather than covering up symptoms like a painkiller. Don’t get me wrong: my Advil bottle is still with me at all times from days 1-7 of my cycle, but I’m also incorporating plant-based supplements that have helped me need Advil less. 

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    5. Chugging caffeine
    LOL, as if you couldn’t already tell from the overall tone of the article, chugging caffeine was one that did not work very well. But it came with good intentions: my period makes me lethargic and tired, so my go-to response to counteract those symptoms for years was to chug extra coffee just to get through the day. There were even some days where I thought I could not go to work without caffeine because I felt so tired and “out of it” that a coffee-less Josie would have been dead to the world. I also had this idea that coffee was the hero, helping my body feel its best, while my period was the antagonist sabotaging all of my goals.
    The results: While it certainly helped my Starbucks reward points, depending on coffee did not help my period. In fact, I felt even more pain whenever I had too much coffee. What did help? Cutting out caffeine before and during my period. My doctor suggested that caffeine can interfere with hormones, so after trying a few weeks without it, I did notice a major difference in period pain. Now, I get energy from nutritious foods (see #1) that are actually giving my body fuel, and I let my body rest when it needs because guess what: it’s literally releasing an egg and shedding lining–now that deserves some serious R&R. 

    Source: @josie.santi

    6. Seed Cycling
    Seed cycling is a practice of rotating between four different types of seeds (pumpkin, flax, sesame, and sunflower) according to the phases of your menstrual cycle. It’s claimed to balance hormones by regulating the hormone estrogen in the first half of your menstrual cycle and the hormone progesterone in the second half, based on the different seeds’ effects on the body. Many women are deficient in the essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals found in these seeds that can support their periods, but it might also help balance hormones in general. While this is an ancient practice, there is some fascinating science that might back it up. For example, the phytoestrogens (like in flax seeds) have a similar structure to the primary female sex hormone and might have similar effects as estrogen to the body. 
    The results: Full disclosure, I am new to trying this one, so I think I need a little bit more time to figure out if it works or now. Also, I am still on oral birth control (see below), so I don’t technically even have a “cycle” to accurately sync with. I’ll be getting off soon and will dive fully into seed cycling (for the betterment of womanhood, of course), so I’ll report back when I have more ground to do so.
    But what I like so much about this one, even if I can’t feel any effects just yet, is that it reminds me that my “cycle” consists of more than just my period days. The reproductive system is always working, whether you’re bleeding or not, and what you do on the days you’re not on your period can affect the days you are on your period. As always, be your own guinea pig, talk to your doctor, but most importantly, remember that your reproductive health requires your care and attention 24/7.

    7. Oral birth control 
    First, a disclosure: between the NuvaRing, shots, IUDs, the patch, and pills, picking a method of birth control is as confusing as deciding what to get at a breakfast buffet (if I fill up on scrambled eggs and hash browns, will I regret not getting pancakes!?). Whether you opt for hormonal birth control to ease period symptoms or for actual birth control (or both, which is most often the case), the method that’s best for you is extremely personal. What’s right for your best friend, or even your doctor, may not be right for you.
    Whether you prefer hormonal birth control or a hormone-free method, research all your options, identify the root cause of any symptoms, and talk to your doctor about what’s best for you. For me, I have been on oral birth control for almost 10 years. As a teenager, my gynecologist put me on birth control to help ease period pain since nothing else was working.
    The result: What I have personally liked the most about oral birth control is that I know when my period is coming. I’ve worked it around vacations or life events, which has been a #blessing that I didn’t even have to deal with tampons and cramps when I did not want to. But when my period does come, I still have all the same symptoms, plus occasional random breakthrough bleeding. I also feel like it’s putting a patch on the problem instead of identifying the root cause. Bottom line: oral B.C. has helped in some ways but has not in others. I give it a 4/10 for me, but what is so cool about being a woman, and a human in general, is that we all have different bodies, and those bodies react to everything in different ways. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. 

    Source: @josie.santi

    8. Listening to my body (and intuition)
    The biggest change started with a lesson from my therapist (shout out to Dr. Kelly!). She told me that there is pain, and then there is suffering. Pain is the physical experience that you feel, and suffering is the meaning that you put on that pain. Sure, I was feeling intense pain while other friends didn’t feel anything at all, but I was causing myself to suffer by turning my body into the enemy and asking, “why me!?” (boy, am I dramatic). 
    Since then, I’ve gotten older, wiser (kinda), and more in tune with my body. I’ve learned that symptoms are not inconvenient, and cravings are not to be suppressed. The body knows what it needs and knows if something is wrong; we just have to listen to it. I stopped googling, “how do I get rid of cramps?” and started listening to what my body needed more of. I got a stool test to see what was going on in my gut and felt a strong intuition that it related to my period symptoms, so I worked to heal my body and trusted that my reproductive systems would follow suit. 
    The results: When I saw my body as something that always had my best interest in mind and knew that listening to it would help me be healthy, I stopped seeing my body as the enemy and my period as the antagonist. Instead, I started to appreciate what my body was going through (I mean, fostering an environment to grow a freaking human being? That’s pretty badass). I looked at any symptoms or pain as my body’s way of telling me something is not right, whether that means diet, stress, or something else going on internally. The pain has lessened with the help of those aforementioned diet and lifestyle changes, but the biggest change was that I stopped suffering because I listened to my body and trusted my intuition. Is it just me, or is this movie starting to sound a little bit more like a rom-com?

    Please consult a doctor before beginning any treatments. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article. More

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    7 Ways to Boost Skin Glow (Without Changing Your Products)

    Your mom has probably told you 1000+ times that “it’s what’s on the inside that counts.” While she meant that your kindness and intellect matter more than how you look (true, mom!), she was also onto a powerful beauty hack. Everything from dull skin to a breakout can reflect what’s going on internally, whether it’s imbalances in the gut or stress and anxiety. Therefore, you can double up on foundation and drown yourself in a $100 serum, but that won’t matter if you’re not prioritizing both what you put on and in your body—and maybe more importantly, how you treat your body.For the other skincare-obsessed and beauty queens out there, this is good news: there are lots of ways to heal the skin and achieve a radiant glow without spending even more $$$ on mists, masks, and eye creams (that won’t even fit into our overflowing beauty cabinets, am I right ladies??). Because you deserve the secret to achieve flawless skin, here are seven ways to boost glow (and not one of them is buying a pricey lotion):

    1. Take a supplement
    A modern-day beauty routine is not just reserved for the vanity in your bathroom. No, beauty routines are extending into your pantries and refrigerators too. I’m talking about skincare that you can ingest: formulas, pills, and powders that clear skin and boost glow from the inside out. We love Rae Wellness for supplements made with evidence-based, high-quality ingredients at a very affordable price. One of my favorite effective, beauty-boosting products is the Vegan Collagen Capsules, which support your own natural collagen production to renew and restore skin from within. I love it because it’s plant-derived collagen (most collagen brands come from animal products); contains super nutrients like vitamin C, A, B, E, and minerals to support growth; and can easily be taken as a pill with your other vitamins. 
    For more beauty supplements that can easily be added into your regular routine, try the Beauty Drops, which contain biotin to support healthy hair, skin, and nails, and the Hydration Drops, which contain an ingestible form of hyaluronic acid (AKA that trendy moisturizing ingredient in all of your serums and face masks). These drops work on a cellular level to boost radiance and hydrate the skin from the inside-out. Add to a smoothie, coffee, or glass of water for a lit-from-within glow that you don’t have to try too hard (or spend a lot of $$$) to get. You’ve been warned: people will ask you what your secret is. 

    Source: Danielle Moss

    2. Get more sleep
    You already know that getting 7-9 hours of (quality) sleep a night is crucial for the entire body to function properly. But if waking up groggy the next day and an increase in sugar cravings doesn’t motivate you to turn off Netflix at a decent hour, maybe your skin health will. Our bodies need sleep for more reasons than just recharging and having dreams about Timothée Chalamet: a lack of sleep can cause inflammation in the body, which can result in inflammation in the organs–including the skin (AKA the largest organ). If you do get enough rest, you can also experience benefits like fewer wrinkles, less puffy eyes, and yes, a more glowing complexion. It brings a whole new meaning to “beauty sleep,” doesn’t it?

    Source: @simplytandya

    3. Prioritize gut health
    The gut-skin connection is real, people. One study showed how the gut microbiome may be connected to acne and irritations, while other studies have found a correlation between gut problems and skin conditions. Call it a gut feeling (get it?), but I think of skin health as a map to what’s going on with my gut; if I have a breakout, I know something might be going on in the digestive system, whether it was eating too much sugar or that I haven’t been getting enough dietary fiber.
    “The gut is where we make nutrients, metabolize hormones, detoxify enzymes, neutralize pathogens, and make neurotransmitters,” explained Carla Oates, gut health expert and founder of The Beauty Chef. “It’s super important to get your digestive health in check in order to feel well and, of course, experience clear, glowing skin.” Try these ways to improve your gut by the end of the week. 

    4. Eat your fruits and veggies
    Just like processed foods might cause breakouts, and eating sugar might cause premature aging (haven’t you heard of “sugar face?“), certain foods can have the reverse effect on skin health. “Since we are what we eat, it’s no surprise that diet and beauty go hand-in-hand,” said McKenzie Jones, RDN, CLT. “Foods that promote a healthy, balanced lifestyle also promote youthful-looking skin and can help keep you looking radiant from the inside, out.” Try foods like avocados, tomatoes, lemons, sweet potatoes, blueberries, and leafy greens for some amazing superfoods that will boost skin glow. For more foods that can improve your complexion, click here. 

    Source: @ashbegash

    5. Stay hydrated
    When I was 13, I read an interview with Gabrielle Union where she said that her flawless skin (which, let’s be real, is Flawless with a capital “F”) is all thanks to drinking multiple gallons of water a day, and no, I have not forgotten it since. Looks like Gabrielle Union was onto something: water is truly a cure-all for every skincare woe. Drinking water moisturizes the skin on a deep, cellular level (can your night cream do that?). Not to get too science-y on you, but skin cells are made of water (just like every other cell in the body). If the skin is not getting a sufficient amount of water, skin cells cannot function properly. Thank you, Gab, for the major beauty hack. Now go refill your water bottles! Bonus hydration points if you add the Hydration Drops.

    6. Sweat more often
    While it may not help you smell amazing, sweating can help your skin look amazing. That’s right: sitting in a pool of your own sweat (whether it’s from a tough workout class or an infrared sauna) can help clear up your skin and give you a dewy complexion. “When our body temperature rises, our blood vessels dilate,” said Dr. Whitney Bowe, a New York-based dermatologist. “This is called vasodilation, and it increases the flow of blood to our skin. Over the long term, vasodilation has a positive impact on the vasculature that supports our skin, helping to keep our skin looking healthy and youthful.” In other words, your favorite hot yoga class is not only good for your body, but good for your skin. Just make sure to wash your face soon after to avoid breakouts from clogged pores (the act of sweating is beneficial, but dried sweat sitting on your skin for too long is not). 

    Source: @cynthialions

    7. Keep stress levels low
    You already know that chronic stress is bad for you and just isn’t fun, but you can add “boost skin glow” to your list of reasons to take PTO and start a meditation practice. Some studies have found that cortisol (the stress hormone) can lead to clogged pores, while other studies show that stress may negatively affect the skin’s water retention (leading to dryness). Not to mention that stress can also cause anything from rashes to wrinkles. Prioritize stress relief in your life by scheduling more breaks, unplugging more often, and perfecting an unwind routine after work to let go of workday stress. 

    This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Rae Wellness, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    5 Small Changes to Make for a Happier New Year

    New year’s resolutions have never been productive for me. I imagine that many of us —including myself—are finding it difficult to set goals considering what this year has looked like for us globally. This year I found that adding small changes to my routine has helped me not only cope with the rollercoaster of emotions I’ve felt this year, but they’ve also helped me find new interests and even helped me reassess what’s important in both my personal and professional life. Because of my success, I wanted to share a few small tips to help make this new year more balanced and joyful. 
    1. Make sleep a priority 
    A study conducted by the CDC found that one in three Americans regularly don’t get enough sleep. I used to be one of those people until I figured out that sleeping gave my brain time to recuperate from staring at the computer for hours. I once thought that the longer I stayed up and got things checked off my to-do list, the longer I was productive. However, I often found myself having to spend more time on certain tasks because my eyes and mind were too tired. 
    My body’s reaction to my unhealthy sleeping habits makes sense given our bodies repair themselves each night as we get our well-deserved shut-eye. The amount of sleep each of us needs is unique to us within an average of 7-9 hours. I find that being mindful of what time I stop watching Netflix, texting, and lounging helps me make sure I’m in bed by 11 p.m., as that is my personal sweet spot. Experiment with different times to find what works best for you and adjust from there.  

    2. Add a mindful act of self-care to your routine
    A few weeks ago, I asked my therapist if she thought self-care was really helpful. Of course, her answer was yes. As we talked, I questioned how something as simple as a cup of tea could help with mindfulness, and in my case, anxiety. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but what I took away from our conversation was that by taking the time to make a cup of tea or draw a bath, you are saying you deserve a moment reserved for yourself. 
    Even with us being in our homes most of the time due to the pandemic, there’s still a lot to get done, and prioritizing ourselves is still important. We’re even working during a time where the physical boundaries of work for many of us are gone, which means closing our laptops when we’re “off” is even more difficult. Whether it’s meditation, tea, a bath, meditation, a walk, therapy, painting, or whatever you dream up, finding something small to do that gives you even a moment of peace is worth it.  

    3. Find a workout activity you enjoy
    At the start of the new year, it feels inspiring to embark on a new workout journey. However, sometimes we can get lost in physical transformation, and not take the time to figure out what activities we really enjoy that we’ll want to stick with even after the celebratory feelings of the new year have worn off. Exercising in the past has felt like a chore, but I found my thing in quarantine. Seeing my body change has been great, but the energy boost and anti-anxiety benefits I get are why I don’t skip more than a day of working out. 

    4. Get organized
    Organization is something I struggle with, especially when I feel like I have accumulated too much stuff. Decluttering your space isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, decluttering is proven to impact your mood.  No one has time for that considering there’s already enough going on around us that triggers our stress. Investing in organization products is a great place to start, but going through items in your home and donating and tossing unwanted things helps make your room for a clutter-free environment. This includes home goods, clothes, makeup, and whatever else that is making you ask yourself, “Do I ever use this?”

    5. Set boundaries with your phone and social media 
    Setting boundaries with my phone, social media, and technology, in general, is an ongoing struggle—one that I often try to amend with no success. Going cold turkey feels pretty impossible, so I have adopted a subtle, but consistent approach to this one. For starters, I no longer roll over and check my phone the moment I open my eyes. Secondly, I shut down my screen time at 9 p.m. each night.
    Social media can have a positive effect on our lives, but like most things in our lives, overconsumption can bring about negative effects—in this case, sleep disruption, anxiety, and depression. If you’re like me and are looking for ways to have a healthier relationship with social media, Start with silencing notifications, sleep with your phone across the room (or in another room), and avoid social media an hour to 30 minutes before bed. Each of these tips are expert-approved suggestions that can help us find balance with technology. 
    I find myself saying this a lot lately because I know it to be true: small changes can lead to a big impact. Find small things that work for you and your world. More

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    15 Items Wellness Experts Love From Trader Joe’s

    Thanks to cult-classics like Cookie Butter and Candy Cane Joe Joe’s (both of which deserve to be staples in everyone’s kitchen, BTW), Trader Joe’s doesn’t always get the health-food store reputation that it deserves. America’s sweetheart of grocery stores not only offers organic options at much more affordable prices than other stores, but they recreate genius alternatives of some of our favorite foods with cleaner ingredients and plant-based nutrients. There’s a reason Trader Joe’s is a go-to for nutritionists, dietitians, and wellness experts alike. Whether you’re plant-based, vegan, gluten-free, or just looking to make your diet a little bit healthier, here are 15 easy, delicious, and oh-so-nutritious items at TJ’s that wellness experts pull of shelves:
    1. Green Goddess Salad Dressing

    Many salad dressings (especially creamy Green Goddess dressing) contain sneaky processed ingredients, added sugars, and unhealthy creams, so wellness experts love this list of clean ingredients (avocado, fresh herbs, apple cider vinegar, garlic, etc.). Bonus hack: it’s not just for your salads. Try it as a dip or pasta sauce to sneak in some nutrients for little picky eaters (and no shame if “little picky eaters” means you).  
    Try if: you’re over boring salad dressings.

    2. Unsweetened Açai Puree Packets

    While many açai bowls you can get at smoothie shops or restaurants contain added sugar, Trader Joe’s Açai Puree Packets are unsweetened. If “açai” sounds like a different language to you, the superfood has a wide range of health benefits and tastes delicious. Add to smoothies or make your own açai bowl and top with fruit, nut butter, and coconut shreds.
    Try if: you’re a sucker for an Insta-worthy breakfast bowl.

    3. Cauliflower Thins

    Made of cauliflower (over 60 percent), eggs, parmesan cheese, and deactivated yeast, these cauliflower thins are a delicious alternative to bread, tortillas, etc., for anyone who’s avoiding gluten or trying to sneak in more veggies. Spread avocado on top, pile on veggies and hummus, or DIY your favorite sandwich for healthy, delicious, and easy meals.
    Try if: you’ve never been able to say goodbye to sandwiches for lunch. 

    4. Organic Coconut Aminos 

    This healthy alternative to traditional soy sauce is free of gluten and soy, making it the perfect option for people with food sensitivities or allergies. It also has one-third the sodium content of traditional soy sauce, is plant-based (made from coconut), and certified organic, which are all labels that wellness experts cannot get enough of. Order it online here. 
    Try if: you’re a sushi lover who wants to make your takeout order a little healthier.

    5. Riced Cauliflower Stir-Fry

    This cult-favorite stir fry is made with cauliflower instead of rice. The plant-based rice is mixed with chopped veggies and nutritious flavors like tamari, sesame oil, and ginger. Simply reheat the mixture over a skillet, and you’re good to go! Pro tip: add egg, tofu, or chicken if you want a little extra protein.
    Try if: you don’t time/energy/motivation to cook, but still want a delicious, plant-based meal.

    6. Organic Ginger Turmeric Herbal Tea

    With turmeric to reduce inflammation and ginger to aid in digestion, this tea is basically a wellness expert’s dream tea. And it’s certified organic!? You’re going to want to stock up on this tea before all the health nuts sell it out.
    Try if: you want a warming go-to drink that doubles as an extra dose of nutrients.

    7. Veggie Spirals

    Whether you’re craving pasta with tomato sauce, pad thai, or any other noodle variation, the veggie spirals are the perfect way to squeeze in some extra nutrients. These pre-spiraled frozen packages make healthy eating easy; simply heat them up and add to any recipe or top with any sauce for a way healthier version of your favorite noodle dish. You can either use them as a replacement for noodles or add them to the noodles you already love.
    Try if: you live for a good noodle dish. 

    8. Hi-Protein Veggie Burger

    With an impressive 26g of protein, a simple ingredients list, and 40 percent of the daily goal for iron, these plant-based vegan burgers are a dream for meat-free diets. The texture is more like a falafel than a chewy burger, which means you can eat with your favorite burger toppings or put it into salads and wraps to get some extra clean protein into your lunches. Order it online here. 
    Try if: you want to add more protein in your diet.

    9. Organic Tahini

    The only ingredient in this creamy butter alternative is ground sesame seeds. High in fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, and a variety of other nutrients, tahini is officially a staple in health experts’ kitchens. Add it to salad dressings to make them creamier, use it in baked goods recipes to up the nutrition, or drizzle over fruit for a decadent (and healthy!) treat. Order it online here. 
    Try if: you want to hack your baked goods. 

    10. Kale Gnocchi

    Of all the infamous Trader Joe’s gnocchi (cauliflower, sweet potato, chocolate), the Kale Gnocchi has got to take the (very healthy) cake. With a simple ingredients list of potato starch, chickpea flour, sea salt, olive oil, and, of course, kale, it’s the perfect way to sneak in some extra greens.
    Try if: you never remember to eat your greens.

    11. Juice Shots

    You already know that fancy juice shots are a must-have in the fridges of bougie wellness experts and health influencers. The problem for us normal people? Juice shots can be hella expensive (and for literally one sip…?). Luckily, the shots at Trader Joe’s are the cheapest I’ve ever found, while still being certified organic and full of superfoods and nutrients, making them wellness-expert approved. 
    Try if: you’re looking to upgrade your wellness game.

    12. Chocolate Hummus

    I know what you’re thinking: chocolate…hummus? While I fully trust and respect the Trader Joe’s powers that be (AKA whoever names the genius products), I think of this less as a chocolate hummus and more of a chocolate frosting or dip that sneaks in some healthy ingredients. With a base of cooked chickpeas and tahini, dessert just got a lot more nutritious. Use as a frosting for baked goods or as a dip with apple slices when you’re craving something sweet.
    Try if: you have a serious sweet tooth.

    13. Cauliflower Pizza Crust

    Perhaps one of the most beloved Trader Joe’s products of all time, the cauliflower pizza crust revolutionizes drunk food and pizza cravings by replacing greasy crusts and processed flour with nutrient-dense cauliflower and gluten-free cornflour. Try the Margherita variety for the days where “cooking” means sticking something in the oven, or the bare crust to get creative with toppings.
    Try if: you live off of frozen pizzas (AKA everybody RN)

    14. Organic Popcorn with Olive Oil

    The only three ingredients in this delicious snack are popcorn, extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt. Made with organic kernels and olive oil (instead of more processed oils or butters), this is basically as clean as a store-bought popcorn is going to get. Plus, it contains fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Order it online here. 
    Try if: you want a nutrient-dense replacement for potato chips.

    15. Vegan Kale, Cashew, and Basil Pesto

    Because even wellness experts love pesto. Not only is this option dairy-free, but it’s also more nutritious than the traditional version by incorporating kale and cashews in addition to the usual ingredients like basil, lemon juice, and olive oil. Use the decadent sauce on top of bruschetta, with your favorite pasta, or as a dip for veggies.
    Try if: you need a go-to sauce that’s as healthy as it is delicious.

    What are your go-to healthy Trader Joe’s products? More

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    8 Tips for a Successful and Easy Whole30—From Someone Who’s Done It

    Last January, I completed my Everest; the thing I’d been saying I’d do for years, but never actually pulled the trigger on: finishing Whole30. My reason for doing Whole30 was simple: I have an absolutely horrible stomach, and my doctor had been begging me to do an elimination diet for literal years. But it never felt like a perfect time to do it (newsflash: it will never be a perfect time to do it), and then one day, I couldn’t take it anymore and decided it was time to try to figure out my food sensitivities once and for all. 
    Throughout my experience, I had a lot of highs and even more lows, but I did finish the whole 30 days and learned a lot along the way. Thinking of doing Whole30 yourself? Here’s how to survive it while suffering a little less than I did:

    1. Know why you’re doing it
    Despite what you might think, Whole30 is not a weight-loss diet. You don’t count calories or restrict carbs or anything of the sort, and you’re strongly advised to not weigh yourself during the entire process—because it isn’t the point! The point is to take a step back to evaluate how you’re eating, find out what makes you feel good, and nourish your body with real foods for a while. If you’re thinking of doing it for weight loss, it probably isn’t for you.

    2. Give yourself time to prepare before you start
    Want to know how my Whole30 journey began? The day after Christmas of 2019, I decided January was going to be the time I finally did Whole30. I went to the grocery store to get all of the ingredients I needed, and while I was at the grocery store, realized everything I had eaten so far that day was Whole30 compliant. I thought, “Why waste a day?” and decided to start right there with no preparation.
    Any Whole30 veteran will tell you that this should have been a fatal mistake. In my opinion, all of your success is going to ride on whether or not you’re prepared. If I could go back, I would have given myself a full week ahead of my start date for preparation. I could use basically nothing that I had in my fridge (condiments, butter, the works), and making sure you’re stocked with things that are compliant is absolutely key. Research recipes, come up with a meal calendar, and go into it ready to go. I can’t recommend the Whole30 Book enough to help with this.

    3. Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep
    Whether or not you’re usually a meal prepper, preparing your meals before you need them is so, so important. When you inevitably have situations where you’re hungry and ready for a meal, needing to figure out a Whole30 compliant meal is truly hell. If you really don’t like meal prepping, at least have your ingredients cut up and stored in your fridge and know what meals you’re going to be eating a few days out. 

    3. Mentally prepare for how you’re going to feel
    Think you’re going to immediately have clear skin and feel like you can run a marathon? Guess again. 
    A few days into Whole30, I literally felt like I was going to die. I was completely lethargic and could have slept all day, every day—and that’s how you’re supposed to feel. One of my favorite things about The Whole30 book is that it breaks down how you’re going to feel every day, and it’s completely spot-on. You aren’t going to feel good until at least halfway through, and getting to that point is really tough (most people quit around day 10-11 because that’s when you feel the worst).
    You’d think that eating exclusively whole foods would make you feel amazing, but your body is going to withdraw from the things it’s used to (looking at you, sugar), and there’s no getting around the slump you’ll feel those first two weeks. I, of course, didn’t know this before I started, but once I got the book and could track how I was supposed to feel each day, the process got much easier.

    4. Stock up on compliant condiments
    Whole30 has been around for quite some time, which luckily means that many health food companies have gotten on board and created condiments and sauces that are made exclusively with Whole30-compliant ingredients. 
    My personal favorite compliant brand is Primal Kitchen—a year later, I still use mostly their condiments because they taste so good and are an easy, healthier swap. (Pro tip: their chipotle mayo was my favorite thing throughout the entire process!)

    5. Have snacks ready in case of emergency
    Yes, one of the rules of Whole30 is that snacking isn’t allowed, but sometimes, things happen, and you literally just need to get something into your stomach. It is absolutely vital to have things on-hand for when that happens. It’s probably going to be a handful of nuts or an Rx bar (not all Rx bars are compliant—I’d recommend researching which ones are beforehand and ordering yourself a full box of them).

    6. Get a handle on what’s allowed—and what’s not
    Hours and hours of your Whole30 are going to be spent reading nutrition labels. I cannot tell you how much time I spent on Whole30 looking at the labels of everything I picked up and then needing to research specific ingredients to see if they’re allowed. Of course, you aren’t going to memorize an entire list of allowed ingredients (especially since some are so weird and sound forbidden), but getting a handle on the common ones will save you loads of time throughout the journey.

    The 30 Whole Days app is magic for one reason: it has a function where you can scan the barcode on a food container, and it will tell you whether or not it’s allowed. It doesn’t have every food under the sun, but it also has a search bar where you can research a specific ingredient and it will tell you whether or not it’s approved. It is so much easier than constantly turning to your book or going through Google trying to figure out if something is allowed. 

    8. Remember that it’s only 30 days
    Whole30 is tough—really, really tough. I struggled quite a bit through mine and am adamant about never doing it again. But it helped me figure out my food sensitivities, and it’s important to remember that it’s only 30 days of your life—and you can do anything for 30 days. Doing Whole30 once changed my relationship with food and knowledge of what makes my body feel good so much, and even though it was a struggle, it was very much worth it.  More

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    13 Ways to Cleanse Your Life

    Sure, you’ve heard of (and probably dread) spring cleaning, when you change the pillows, flip the mattress, and deep clean your bathroom, but we also stan a cleaning at the end of the year that cleanses more than just the home. Take a cue from nature: the trees are shedding their leaves, so why shouldn’t we? The end of 2020 is the perfect time to let go of physical, mental, and emotional toxins. So what’s the best way to clean up your life during a time where we’re always distracted, on-the-go, stressed, or busy? Try these 13 holistic challenges simultaneously, or tackle one challenge every day to Marie-Kondo your health, wellbeing, and entire life.
    1. Simplify your diet
    When it comes to cleansing nutrition, a juice cleanse doesn’t have to be your go-to. Instead of opting for a totally different diet, simplify your diet. Focus less on frozen meals, processed products, or a plethora of sauces, dressings, and dips, all of which have a multitude of ingredients. Instead, prioritize whole foods that come from the earth, not a factory. Make sure the majority of your grocery cart is from the produce section or full of whole foods like beans, lentils, rice, or quinoa. Make meals more flavorful with whole ingredients like herbs, spices, olive oil, or apple cider vinegar. Yes, you might be opting for processed foods as a way to simplify your life and make meal time easier, but trust me, a few fresh, whole ingredients is way simpler than an ingredients list that you can’t pronounce. 

    Source: @ariellelorre

    2. Refresh your personal finance
    Money is not just something you make and then spend; it’s your life’s energy force. Think about it: money is an exchange of value for the effort and energy we give about 40 hours every single week. Take a look at your bank accounts and credit card statements to reevaluate how you’re spending your life’s energy. Does it really bring you joy to go to drinks with the friend you don’t have fun with or to buy the top you’ll never end up wearing? Managing money based on what does and doesn’t bring you joy will reduce stress that comes with spending money on the vacations, items, and experiences that you truly love.
    If money is a consistent source of stress for you and you feel like you’re always coming from a “lack” energy instead of an abundance energy, try cleansing your spendings. Temporarily cancel recurring charges, increase your savings by five percent, order out less, or designate certain days of the week where you won’t spend any money. With the money you do save, consider investing it in yourself: get the gym membership, purchase that online course, or put more into your savings account for future you. The more money you put into something, the more likely you are to make it a priority. 

    3. Limit stress and clear out negative emotions 
    You’ve probably heard of a juice detox, but what about an emotional detox? Sometimes we need a little extra focus on removing impurities in the mind, too. The goal of an emotional detox is not to totally totally get rid of negative emotions (ups and downs are a part of being human, after all), but rather to clear out emotions that are stagnant and no longer serving us. Try recording negative emotions, coming up with a plan of action when negative emotions come up, or go on a full-on complaint cleanse. Since a big (unavoidable) piece of mental health is stress, prioritize cleansing that too. Limit stress by scheduling breaks and downtime into your calendar, forgive yourself (and others) for making mistakes, and incorporate CBD to limit day-to-day or chronic stress (bonus tip: try any of the products from Equilibria, which is our very favorite for stress relief). 

    Source: @kelclight

    4. Reassess your relationships
    Whether online or in real life, unfollow toxic people that drain your energy instead of lift you up. Make a list of the people you come in contact with most often, including friends, roommates, family, coworkers, etc., and ask how you feel being with each person. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you should only be giving your precious energy and time to people who are deserving. That means people you’re proud to be around, people who bring you joy, and people who make you feel loved. If you find that some unavoidable people don’t fall into this category (like a jealous coworker or a toxic family member), you can still consciously decide to give them less thought and energy, even if they still require your time. 

    5. Designate a tech-free space
    Sadly, technology is a big part of cleansing because it’s a big part of our lives. While tech is often unavoidable (we need to make a living somehow, you know?), try to designate one space in your home that’s tech-free. Try the bedroom, kitchen table, or corner where you keep a yoga mat and meditation pillow to create one space in your home where Netflix, Instagram, and Slack are not allowed. Having this tech-free space will remind you to have some “off” time every day, whether it’s during dinner with your significant other, while meditating and working out, or right before bed.

    Source: @the_stables_

    6. Cleanse your social media
    If it tickles your fancy, take a social media detox and delete all the life-sucking apps (sorry, was that dramatic?) from your phone for a designated period. However, also be mindful of how you can keep your social media habits cleansed, even after the detox is over. Utilize the mute or unfollow button for accounts that don’t inspire you, stop checking your phone first thing in the morning, and turn off all notifications. Yes, I said “all.” When your notifications are on, whether it’s a like on Instagram or an iMessage, you’re no longer in charge of your own life and habits. The phone buzzes or lights up to tell you when it’s time to check your texts or Instagram feed, instead of being able to choose when is best for you to check your phone. 
    7. Donate “excess” clothes
    You knew that organization would come into a life cleanse at some point (or you would if you binged Get Organized with The Home Edit in a day as I did). In my opinion, the closet is the most important space to start with, as it’s often a representation of what we need to let go of. For example, donate or sell clothes that don’t fit. Period. Holding onto items you hope you’ll fit into one day is only stopping you from loving, accepting, and dressing for who you are right now. Also, in the most Mario-Kondo fashion ever, get rid of what doesn’t spark joy. Even your clothing items should bring value to your life: a cozy sweater that keeps you warm, a sparkly necklace that makes you happy, a nice bra that makes you feel sexy, or a dress that reminds you of that shopping trip you took with your mom. If they don’t, time to make room for something that will. 

    Source: @waityouneedthis

    8. Refine decision making 
    We make a lot of decisions every single day, even just within the first few minutes of waking up: whether or not to hit snooze, what to wear (which is approximately 100 different decisions), and when to turn on the coffee pot. The little decisions add up to feel so overwhelming that we become unable to make even the most basic decision. Decision fatigue is real, people! To keep up with healthy habits and improve your overall wellbeing, limit decision making as much as possible and reduce decision fatigue. Meal prep all your lunches, sign up for online workout classes in advance (or put a workout in your calendar), do the dishes right after dinner without the choice to do them later, and try a go-to outfit formula so you don’t have to think about what to wear. 

    9. Get sweaty
    The word “detox” has basically lost its meaning since it has become one of the most over-used buzzwords in the wellness space. However, there’s one sneaky method that can actually help the body get rid of toxins, and guess what: it’s not a juice cleanse. “The primary detox organs are the liver and kidneys, but sometimes they’re not able to get rid of certain toxins,” Jeffrey Morrison, MD, told Well + Good.  “What doesn’t leave gets stored, so the body gets rid of it through a secondary system, which is sweat.”
    That’s right: the embarrassing stuff you try to prevent with antiperspirant and prevents you from going straight to work after a hot yoga class can help your body rid itself of toxins. Add “detoxing” to the long list of reasons to exercise. If you’re not exercising regularly or prefer low-impact workouts that don’t break a sweat, try taking a steam shower or finding a sauna near you. 

    10. Spend time in silence
    When’s the last time you actually sat in silence and did nothing? Yes, I mean without the TV on or Instagram pulled up on your phone. Sitting in silence is one of the most crucial and effective things we can do to declutter the mind. Think of it like plugging your phone in the charger when its battery is running low; when the brain is always on, it never gets a chance to shut off. Cozy up on the couch and stare at the fireplace, spend two minutes taking in every scent, sight, and smell, sit on a park bench and take in the scenery, or try meditation. The more uncomfortable sitting in silence is, the more you probably need it. 

    Source: @aroundthewaygyrl

    11. Reassess your schedule
    That’s right: you can (and should!) detox your schedule too. Try looking through a few days or a week of your planner to get a better understanding of what you’re doing all day, every day. If you don’t schedule and plan out every second of your entire life like I do (how does anyone live without an overly detailed planner!?), consider tracking every activity and task for a couple of days to get a good understanding of how you spend your time. Include everything from work projects to a five-minute Instagram scroll. Once you know exactly how you’re spending your day or week, reassess what’s really worth your time and energy. Find the pockets of time that feel like a waste (looking at you, TikTok scroll), and reassess how you can fill that time differently to make you happier or calmer. 

    12. Get some indoor plants
    You don’t have to have an inherent green thumb to know that plants bring, attract, and give off good energy. It’s believed that they ease stress, purify the air, boost creativity, and help increase productivity. In other words, having a plant in your home or workspace can simultaneously cleanse stress levels, your work quality, and the air. BRB, my apartment is about to become a forest. Don’t have much of a green thumb? Click here for how to keep your indoor plants alive, or check out these houseplants that you won’t kill (promise!). And if you’re really not about that plant-life, some affordable fake plants couldn’t hurt (if nothing else, they’ll look really in your home!).

    13. Detox your sleep 
    I like to say that everything starts in the bedroom. Get your mind out of the gutter–not like that (although that might be true too). I mean that sleep is one of the most crucial elements to our overall wellbeing. Thanks to factors like stress at work, overexposure to light, and Netflix binges (curse you, Love is Blind!), more people than ever are relying on coffee to get through their day (forget about optimizing health). To fully achieve a cleansed life, you need to regularly get 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night. If you’re not waking up refreshed and staying energized throughout the day, your sleep (or lack thereof) might be to blame. Detox your sleep routine by limiting light in the evenings, perfecting your sleep environment, and stick to a sleep schedule. 

    How do you cleanse your life? More