Toothpaste Tabs

I have been working on reducing waste in my home, and one of the things that stood out to me was toothpaste. It hadn’t crossed my mind before that toothpaste tubes are extremely difficult to recycle, so, according to Well and Good, over a billion of them end up in landfills in the US! I decided that I could do something about this, so I opted to try out some toothpaste tabs.

The tabs I chose are called Unpaste, and I picked them over other tabs because they are completely zero-waste. The packaging they came in is compostable unlike other brands that use plastic packaging. My order came with a two-month supply and I got to trying them out!

Starting off was definitely weird. It goes against all instincts to chew the toothpaste and not swallow it. And then it’s different because it isn’t a paste, so there isn’t as much thickness to it, if you understand what I mean. The brushing ends up being a lot more watery, which was a new challenge because it was harder to keep in my mouth. Both of those difficulties were rather amusing to me though!

But I’ve gotten used to those changes, and my breath feels good and mouth feels clean after brushing! I haven’t been to the dentist since trying these out so I can’t report on my teeth health yet. But to me it seems these tabs are doing the job and reducing waste!

So let’s talk price. These tabs cost $14 for a two month supply at two brushings a day. That means these tabs are pricey in comparison to a regular toothpaste tube. So if you’re looking into toothpaste alternatives, know that the options can be high in price! You can find them a little cheaper through Lush, but they come in plastic packaging. Gotta weigh all the options! And, of course, the next thing to look at is the toothbrush.

Maybe next I’ll look into making my own toothpaste? Have you done that? If so, let me know!

30 Days with Ayurveda: Update

Ok, so I said that I would be incorporating some Ayurvedic techniques into my daily life. Let’s talk about how it went!

The Morning Routine

  • Waking up at sunrise wasn’t bad! When I completed my morning routine I felt I had so much more time to get things done in the day. I even started setting my alarm a bit earlier in the last couple of weeks.
  • Meditating immediately after waking up has been part of my routine for a while now, so this was easy to incorporate.
  • I usually practiced 15-30 minutes of yoga asana following meditation. It felt really great to start getting gentle movements in at the start of the day.
  • Following that I used my tongue scraper. I feel like my tongue was still rather white after using it, but I also am now eager to use it every morning! I guess some part of me feels cleaner when I use it before I brush my teeth!
  • And then after all of that, I’d drink herbal tea and relax.

I really enjoyed this morning routine. Having a schedule like this to follow gave me a sense of organization and made me ready to take on whatever else was on my agenda that day. I listened to my body though, and if I had stayed up too late the night before I’d let myself sleep in.

Now for food!

  • No processed foods went pretty well, except that it was my birthday, and there was cake. A lot of it. Other than that, I did a great job of buying real foods and preparing all of my own meals!
  • Avoiding the microwave was an adventure! Instead of microwaving my cup of tea every morning, I put water in a pot on the stove. Instead of reheating meals in the microwave, I’d have to figure out how long in the oven was enough time to warm it up. It was annoying at first, and a little more time-consuming, but worth it.
  • Balancing the 6 tastes… well, that was difficult for me to keep up. I did a really good job of it in the first couple of weeks when I planned out all my meals! But then it fell to the wayside. I still tried to keep to the Vatta suppressing foods, but I didn’t always eat the variety I should have been. I also made sure I cooked all of my food! Nothing was raw, and I think that went over well with my digestive system.
  • No snacking was something I didn’t follow very strictly. I definitely didn’t eat snacks after dinner, but I did not necessarily follow this during the day.

The Nighttime Routine

  • Oil massage! I think this will be staying as part of my routine for sure. I get keratosis pilaris on my legs in the dry months and have been using a special lotion to help fight that. Part of Ayurveda is to not put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat. So I gave up the lotion during this time and just did the oil massage. I didn’t see improvement in my skin, but it didn’t get worse, and I was using the oil less often than I was the lotion. So that’s a win, I think! And when I skipped the oil massage one time and went many days without it, the keratosis pilaris worsened. So I think if I start using the oil more often, that will be beneficial.
  • I love alternate-nostril breathing, so incorporating this before sleeping was lovely. I have been struggling to fall asleep recently, and I think this really calmed me down and made my mind less distracted, allowing me to fall asleep easier.
  • I thought going to bed by 10pm was going to be hard, but I got in the swing of it quickly! And I loved it. It was  a bit weird when I was out with friends at 8pm and thinking, wow, it’s so late… But it was a good change for my body.

So overall, I did well with the morning and nighttime routines, but not with the food. I took a lot on here, so I’m not upset with that. I don’t think I had changes in my energy, which is disappointing. I’ll have to keep figuring out how to help that! But I loved having the routines, I began sleeping better, and I felt like I was taking care of myself. I really enjoyed cooking and trying new meals, too!

Have you been practicing any Ayurvedic techniques? What’s your favorite?

Vegan Vitamins – Complement Plus

I feel like we focus a lot on things like protein and Vitamin C but forget about all of the other nutrients we should be getting every day. And that goes for everyone, not just vegans!

But as a vegan, I specifically was interested in Complement Plus. Because it’s aimed at the veggie group! I found out about this because I subscribe to No Meat Athlete, and I knew the creators have my best interest in mind. More than that, they have the world’s best interest in mind. These people are trustworthy. From including only what’s important, to making sure to ethically source the ingredients, I knew I was investing in the right supplement.

You can read all about Complement Plus, their ingredients, and such here, so let’s talk about the results I’m seeing.

The biggest one? MY NAILS. I have NEVER had strong nails. My ring fingers would grow like crazy but my pointer fingers would be nonexistent. But look at them now!

This is super long for me. It’s incredible. And no matter how good or bad my diet has been, my nails have stayed the same. And I know it’s only because of Complement Plus. Honestly, it’s a dream come true haha

It makes me happy knowing I’m getting those hard to find nutrients in my diet and that no animals were harmed because of it. Yeah, it’s sometimes hard to remember to take three a day, but I’ve gotten into the habit. And I know if I have any issues the customer support is wonderful.

So if you’re looking for an ethical supplement without any unnecessary ingredients, definitely go check out Complement Plus.

30 Days with Ayurveda

I’ve been interested in Ayurveda since I learned about it in yoga teacher training. What is Ayurveda, you ask? It’s the sister science to yoga that focuses on how you go about your day in order to maintain a balanced, healthy life.

I had been looking for reviews on how following an Ayurvedic lifestyle has impacted people, but there wasn’t much more than people eating an Ayurvedic diet for a short time, and I’m interested in taking on more than that. So I thought, I’ll do it myself and post about it here to hold myself accountable! I’m looking to see how including some aspects of Ayurveda in my day will affect my energy and skin, if I avoid sickness, and if I feel better in general.

Now a big part of doing this correctly means I need to know my leading dosha. The three doshas are elemental energies that, when adjusted specifically to your needs, result in your complete balance. It’s best to have a real Ayurveda practitioner evaluate this for you, but they are pretty expensive (and I don’t have any serious issues I’m trying to resolve), so I’ve taken quizzes to figure out whether I’m primarily Vata, Pitta, or Kapha. It’s just like a personality quiz!

The problem is that my results usually score the three pretty close together, and it changes depending on the quiz. So I’m going to take a more seasonal approach to how I’ll follow Ayurveda, and then make adjustments if I notice that it seems like one of the three doshas is out of balance.

It’s all about practice! Trial and error until I figure out what works for me!

So here’s my plan for the next 30 days:

  • Morning Routine
    • wake up at sunrise
    • meditate
    • practice asana
    • scrape tongue and brush teeth
    • drink warm water with lemon or herbal tea
  • Food
    • cook my meals, eating seasonally
    • avoid the microwave
    • balance the 6 tastes in meals (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, astringent)
    • no snacking, wait 4 hours between meals
  • Nighttime Routine
    • oil massage 3 times a week
    • alternate nostril breathing before bed
    • in bed by 10pm

I’m going to do my best to stick to these! I’m most interested to see if waking up earlier will help my energy levels (I’m a notoriously long sleeper), and I think the most difficult will be figuring out how to include all six tastes in the foods I make. It seems I lean heavily on sweet tasting foods, so it will be an adventure to get in the rest! I’d also be more afraid of waking up at sunrise, but since it’s winter the sun rises pretty late. I’m easing into waking up early this way so that eventually I will (hopefully) be loving waking up before 6am!

Anyway, wish me luck and I’ll report back!

Holidays and Body Positivity

One of the first things I noticed when I went back to Missouri for the holidays was how often people would comment negatively about their own body, men and women alike. It usually happened in a joking manner, but it still shocked me. I guess my household in NYC doesn’t usually talk like that. And the holidays are a time to really share love, which includes love for yourself, so I wasn’t about to stand for all of the negative self-talk.

I understand; it’s hard! It’s hard to be around people and not compare yourself to them. So we’ve gotta start somewhere. And with New Year’s resolutions around the corner, maybe you’ve got all of these new healthy habits that you’re trying to put in place.

But I suggest you start with love. Go find a mirror right now, look yourself in the eyes, and say out loud “You are beautiful. I am beautiful.”

You can come up with your own affirmations, but start telling yourself some positive things! Soon you’ll start to believe it, and that’s even better than hearing it.

Happy New Year! I hope your holidays have been filled with joy and that you spent lots of time with your favorite people. Now go spread some positivity to yourself and others 🙂

A Day of Simple Vegan Meals

My mom often asks me about what I actually eat, so this post is for you, Mom! It’s also for you, reader, if you’re looking to become vegan or are looking for some super simple vegan recipes. These also happen to be grain-free and can easily be made nut-free!

Ok, so, I’m pretty lazy when it comes to cooking. I mean, sometimes I like to really take the time to whip up something fancier, but for the most part I like everything easy and with only a few ingredients. So here’s an example of meals I’d eat in a day.

Breakfast: Berry Smoothie

  • 7-8 frozen strawberries
  • 1 Cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1-2 handfuls of spinach
  • 2 spoonfuls of peanut butter
  • 1 Tb chia seeds
  • 1 Tb flax seeds
  • 1.5 cups water

Throw everything in a blender and enjoy!

Calories: ~563

Lunch: Burrito Bowl

  • 1 cup of black beans
  • Salsa
  • 1/4 bell pepper
  • Seasoning: paprika, chili powder, onion powder, garlic, pepper
  • Lettuce shreds
  • 1/2 avocado

Throw everything except for the lettuce and avocado into a bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and add mashed avocado and lettuce. If you have the time and want to saute the veggies in a pan that’s even better! And you always have the option to include a meat alternative for more deliciousness.

Calories: ~370

Dinner: Tofu and Veggie Plate

  • 1/2 pack of firm or extra firm tofu
  • About 5 white mushrooms
  • A few stalks of asparagus
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • Spices/Seasoning– onion powder, garlic, red bell pepper flakes
  • Olive oil

Start by cooking the tofu in a pan coated in olive oil. Sprinkle the spices on top. When browned on one side, flip over. Then add the mushrooms and chopped asparagus. When the tofu is browned and the mushrooms have cooked down, throw the spinach on top. Let the spinach wilt, and then remove from the heat. Eat up!

Calories: ~218

Feel free to adjust the ingredients and portion sizes to your liking! And then let me know which meal is your favorite.

The First Time I Cried in Meditation

Crying during meditation is completely normal. While we often think of meditation as a way to “control our emotions”, that’s not exactly the case. Meditating can bring up emotions and memories, and sometimes they are painful. But the point is to continue sitting with that and go deeper. I haven’t had too much experience with these kinds of emotional meditations, but here’s the first time I cried.

Something had happened that hurt me emotionally. I kept that pain bottled up because I don’t exactly have any privacy living in New York City: between roommates, the train, and the streets, there’s nowhere to be alone. So I kept it inside and didn’t cry it out.

But a couple of days after, I found myself alone in my apartment and I started my meditation with only a timer and ambient noise. And usually meditation allows me to calm my feelings, but this time it brought back the memory of that hurt that I hadn’t released. And I felt all that pain while I was sitting and went deeper into because I wanted to.

And then I cried.

And it was so nice. I let out that suffering that I didn’t even realize I was still holding on to. And I was so grateful for those tears and the time to cry! The other great/weird thing is that I don’t even remember what this event was that caused me to want to cry so badly. It happened very recently, but it seems that I’ve fully let go of whatever it was. I hope that continues to happen!

Have you experienced anything like this in your meditations? Leave a comment!

After Halloween

Happy Halloween! I hope that you’re having a festive time and enjoying time with friends and family! This is a quick post with some post-Halloween acts that you may want to partake in.

#1 Donate Candy

Did you buy too much candy? Or did you receive more than you want? Donate some! There are families out there with kids who would like to go trick-or-treating, too.  Look into local charities, schools, and churches to find a place accepting donations!

#2 Donate Costumes

Why are we holding on to costumes we know we aren’t going to wear again? Again, look locally for charities accepting costumes or find a costume specific organization like http://www.weendream.org/

#3 Compost that Pumpkin

Have you ever thought about how you – and millions of others – just throw your jack-o-lanterns away in the trash? Compost that baby instead! See if your city picks up pumpkins with yard waste, compost it yourself in your yard, or see if you have a local organization that is collecting pumpkins for compost.

So there’s a few tips! Have a great time celebrating and also help out some people and the earth, too!

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The Meditation Apps I’ve Used

I’ve downloaded quite a few meditation apps, but let’s talk about the two I’ve used the most: Simple Habit and Insight Timer. Both are free to download!

I started off with Simple Habit because I liked the On-The-Go function, where the app gives you a guided meditation for wherever you are in your day. I also really enjoyed their streak counter. It kept me encouraged to have a streak because it gave me cute little badges.

They also have nice customer service! I emailed them once because the app said that I lost my streak, but I had meditated every day on it. The streak was a huge motivator for me at that time, so I reached out via email and they restored the count! It felt silly, but it was important to me and helped me keep going. So I’m very grateful to them because who knows? Maybe I would have become discouraged and never made it to that 100th day.

But eventually I felt limited by Simple Habit’s free content. Maybe there are more meditations now, but somewhere along the line I switched to Insight Timer. I love Insight Timer because of the vast library of meditations that is constantly growing because instructors are uploading new ones all the time. The search function is great because you can search by how you’re feeling, the meditation style, or whatever key word you want.

And as I continued to practice, I started using the guided meditations less, and the timer more. I love the timer because of the bell options, the ambient sounds, and that I can end the meditation whenever I want and it will still log the minutes. The bells are great because the audio level is adjustable so they can softly announce the start and end to the meditations. You know that nothing is worse than getting to a comfy state of mind and then being jarred out of it by a loud noise! The customizability of this solves that.

Those are the two I’ve used the most! If you’re looking to try a new meditation app, try out of these.

And if you have used Simple Habit or Insight Timer, recommend your favorite meditation or teacher in the comments!

How I Got Into Meditation

Meditation has been gaining popularity here in the US for a few years now, but that doesn’t mean we’re all on board and regularly meditating. So you might be wondering what made me commit to meditation? Do I use any apps? And how long do I sit for?

I became interested in meditation while I was in Los Angeles. I’m not sure when I really learned about it, or what made me download a couple of apps, but I decided that I would try to incorporate it into my life . . . sometimes.

I started off using the free portions of apps on my phone, but got bored with them pretty quickly. I didn’t want to keep doing a body scan for every mood I was in, or the progressing lessons ended unless I bought a subscription. I didn’t like either of those things, so I stopped using them, and stopped meditating.

Fast forward a year or two, and I was in New York. I had started a new job, and that job was completely overwhelming. Things weren’t getting better after a couple of months; in fact, they got worse. My stress at work, along with issues I was having with relationships outside of work, caused me to slip into a depression. I had never been so stressed and anxious, nor cried so much than I did during that time. And I knew I had to do something about it.

So I started doing everything I could to combat the low. And one of those things was meditation.

I downloaded a couple of new apps this time: Simple Habit and Insight Timer. You can read more about my experience with the two of those in my next post!

I started off with 10 minute meditations. I would do one right when I woke up, and sometimes another before I went to bed. And slowly, I began to extend the minutes I was sitting in meditation.

For a few months, I only did guided meditations. And then I decided that I actually wanted to explore meditations with only music, ambient noise, or silence.  And that’s where I prefer to be today!

Now, did meditation completely heal me from my depression? No. But I was often so grateful for it. Sometimes I would wake up and be instantly anxious about the day ahead of me, but I’d sit and meditate for a few minutes and that turmoil inside would disappear. This was also very helpful with anger and frustration. Or if I was especially stressed at work I’d steal a few minutes in the bathroom with my headphones and breathe.

Meditation became part of my daily routine during that time and has stayed part of it. I’ve grown through it and learned more about it through yoga training. I’ve learned that sometimes I like to sit for 45 minutes, and others I’m good with 15 and that’s ok. I’ve experienced wonderful highs, and I’ve experienced times where nothing in me seemed to change.

I assume it is transforming me in ways I don’t recognize, too. And I plan on continuing the practice! I look forward to it and am excited to learn more about the different styles that will bring me deeper into my practice.

If you haven’t already, go try it out! Even just 5 minutes!