We had some amazing 80 degree weather last weekend. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it to the beach, but now I'm already in summer mode. The most essential summer accessory? Sunglasses! And while I'm a fan of the Wayfarer, I'd rather have some standout shades. Even jeans and a t-shirt get an instant fashion update with these unique sunglasses.
Check out this great article from The Daily Mind.
Okay so we know that waking up and doing things in the morning is the best way to achieve our goals in life. We can exercise, study, work, meditate, etc. much better than other times in the day. However, most of us feel pretty crap in the morning.
So what can we do about it? How can we wake up ready for work?
Ways to wake up feeling fresh in the morning
Here are some things you can do in the short term and the long term so that you will wake up fresh and energetic in the morning. I’ve divided them up into three sections; (1) the night before and (2) during the night and (3) the morning.
The Night Before
1. Avoid coffee, red wine and chocolate the night before
To wake up fresh you need to get a good sleep and one of the best ways to ruin a good sleep is to upset your gut. You really need to keep it happy during the night.
Coffee, red wine and chocolate have been scientifically shown to disturb your sleep more than any other food. They upset your intestines in such a way that you will wake up constantly or have a very light sleep that doesn’t re charge you at all. Try not to have these things after lunch time.
2. Go to bed happy with your partner
One of the best ways to get a terrible sleep is to go to bed before you solve a problem with your partner. In my relationship I never let the sun set on an argument, even if I have to compromise a little bit on my own ego.
Before you go to bed make sure your partner is happy (as much as you can) and make sure that you are happy with them. It is also one of the best things you can do for your relationship, let alone your sleep.
3. Meditate, pray and calm down before going to bed
Every night before I go to bed I do about 30 minutes to an hour of meditation. This is amazing as it allows you to throw out all the days worries and forget about the worries of tomorrow. The future cannot be changed while you are asleep and the past is gone so there is no point losing sleep over it! Let it go.
Meditate or pray or do whatever you do. Simply sitting there and watching your breath is a great way to prepare yourself for a nice deep sleep. Check outthis post if you want to learn to do a quick little stress relieving meditation.
4. Don’t eat dinner right before bed
A lot of people run home after work, cook up some dinner and then eat it and go to bed. This is a bad idea. The process of digestion takes a while and you do not want to be laying down right after you ate a big meal. Try and leave a few hours in between your bedtime and your dinner and see how you feel the next day.
5. Organize your room according to Feng Shui principles
I know a lot of you probably think that Feng Shui is a load of bull but just give me a second to convince you that it actually has some “western logic” behind it.
For those of you who don’t know Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese art of setting up your home in a way that balances the energies and vibes by putting furniture in certain “hot spots”.
The bedroom is particularly important and I have found that since I arranged my room according to Feng Shui principles I have had a much more “rested” sleep. In particular the placement of your bed is important. Feng Shui tells us that you should sleep where you can see the door but not be in he direct path of the door opening. This helps us sleep with a sense of security. I can see the practical reason for this. You can get some more bedroom Feng Shui tips here.
6. Go to the toilet
Even if you do not need to go to the toilet before bed you should still have a go and squeeze out whatever you can. The reason for this is that the kidneys will continue to work during the night and by the morning your bladder will be nice and full. If your bladder fills up early you might feel the need to go during the night and this cuts out valuable time from your sleep.
You might think that sleeping is about the total time spent asleep but this is incorrect. It is important to stay asleep without breaking it because it takes some hours to get into the “zone” where you are truly at rest. A toilet break interrupts this zone.
During the Night
7. Not too hot, not too cold
Another sleep related tip: your sleep is greatly affected by the how hot or cold you are during the night. It is important to get a good balance as this keep your energies calm and stops them from spiking.
Try and find a balance between clothes and bed covers. For example, I like to sleep without any clothes but with a heavy blanket. This keeps my temperature pretty consistent.
8. Keep the window open
One of the best things you can do for your health in general and your sleep in specific is to keep your window slightly open during the night. This has two benefits.
Firstly, the gap in the window will allow poisonous carbon dioxide to float away. The reason the human body breathes out is because carbon dioxide is poisonous. And during the night you take a heck of a lot of breaths and your room fills up with this gas. Let it out the window.
The second reason is that you need to allow new oxygen to float in. This might also help you regulate the temperature of the room.
9. Keep your sleep consistent
People think that you MUST have eight hours sleep to get enough.
It is more important to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time everyday. Not everyone needs eight hours. In fact, if I get eight hours sleep I usually feel tired and groggy for the entire day. Six to seven hours is about right for me.
Start by setting your bedtime at the same time each night. Forget what is on the television and just go to bed at say 11pm each night. After a while start setting your alarm for the same time each day; even on weekends. If you don’t start waking up fresher and happier each morning I will write you a personal apology.
10. Cut out noise, it’s actually killing you!
I recently read in New Scientist Magazine that your life is actually being shortened by noise during the night. Yep, that’s right… that screaming police car or roaring traffic is actually killing you! The magazine said that the noise has an effect on your heart and waking up many times during the night puts your body under a lot of stress.
Try and keep your room quiet by wearing some earplugs. You can get earplugs that only cancel out certain sounds so that you can still hear your alarm or a baby monitor on your bedside table.
11. Drink a glass of water
A cool glass of water on an empty stomach actually has a lot of health benefits as well as serving to wake you up. The water will kick start your metabolism and as such you will wake up faster and feel more alert.
When you are groggy in the morning and nice run in the fresh air can wake you up fast. However, the interesting thing is that when you exercise in the morning you will actually have more energy the NEXT day. The more you exercise the more energy you will have as you become fitter and healthier.
If you need some tips to get up and exercise early check out this post on early morning exercise hacks.
13. Don’t drink coffee… everyday
Science is now showing that our body becomes accustomed to the caffeine in our coffee and we have less of a reaction to it. This means that your daily cup of coffee is waking you up less and less every day that you drink it.
A better idea is to save the morning coffee for when you are really tired and need a little bit of help. Perhaps if you had to stay out late or get up extra early and you have disturbed your regular sleeping habit. This is the time to have a cup of coffee.
14. Breathe deeply
The first thing you should do in the morning is take some deep breaths into your stomach and concentrate on waking up. Imagine breathing in a bright white light that makes your body feel happy and light.
15. Have something to be excited about
If you get up and go to a job you hate to work with a boss that drives you crazy you are not going to really enjoy waking up. However, if you have something you enjoy to go to you will be more likely to wake up happy knowing you have a bit of joy coming your way.
If you can’t leave your terrible boss then you should make time in the morning to do some sport or activity that makes you happy. Start your day with something happy and fun as opposed to starting it with work.
16. Get up straight away
When I was in the Himalayas a buddhist master told me that one of the best things you can do to wake up early and feel alert and fresh is to get up straight away. As soon as your alarm goes off you should get up without snoozing it over and over again.
He said to me half jokingly: “You have to get up before your self cherishing does”.
17. Be grateful for not dying
The Buddha said that every time you go to bed you should consider that you won’t wake up. That way, when you wake up you will be especially grateful for the day you have ahead of you. Instead of seeing the day as a burden that you have to “get through” you will see it as an opportunity to do something meaningful and beneficial.
Why? Because you could die tonight.
When applied correctly this realization will bring you tremendous energy.
Conclusion on waking up freshly
Each of these tips works. I have tried it on myself and my friends. And the great thing is that the more of these tips you apply the fresher you will feel when you wake up. Try them yourself.
Saturday was National Banana Bread! I'm not usually one for banana bread, but my mom has been raving about this recipe she got from a woman at her bank. Surprise surprise, I didn't have enough bananas for the recipe (6), and I was too lazy to go to the store, so I ended up making a recipe from Food Network that only called for 3.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 3 ripe bananas
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners...the recipe actually makes 17 muffins.
Cream the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Mix in the milk and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add the banana mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until combined. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until flour disappears.
Fill each cup about 2/3 and bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool on a rack for 15 minutes.
(Inspired by Food Network)
Did I mention on Tuesday that I bought these Brussels sprouts from Costco? Yup, I had a bunch leftover, so what else could I make? I was out of bacon, but I did have some leftover prime rib that I figured would work just as well. I remembered seeing Brussels sprout hash on the menu at Huckleberry in Santa Monica, one of my favorite brunch spots, so I decided to give it a try. Plus, I had some breakfast potatoes in the freezer.
- 12 ounces Brussels sprouts
- 2 ounces thick-sliced bacon or pancetta (or leftover prime rib)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 large eggs
- kosher salt
- cracked black pepper
- Thinly slice Brussels sprouts. Set aside.
- In a medium to large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon or pancetta until crisp. Remove from pan. (I trimmed the fat from my leftover prime rib and let it melt in the pan)
- To the bacon grease add potatoes and cook until heated through. (I added my leftover prime rib just to warm it up). Remove from pan.
- Add oil to the pan as needed and cook the garlic for 30 seconds before adding in the Brussels sprouts.
- Stir in the chicken broth. Sauté for 5 minutes until sprouts are tender. Add the bacon back in, and stir to combine and cook until sprouts start to brown on the edges, another 3-5 minutes.
- Create a slight well in the center of the pan. Add the butter if desired. Crack the eggs directly in the center and cook until the eggs are cooked through as desired. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
(Inspired by food for my family)
Yum I love Brussels sprouts! And I think we've established that everyone loves bacon. Maybe that's why one of the most classic ways to cook Brussels sprouts is with bacon! These Brussels sprouts are perfectly soft and the bacon adds great flavor.
- 5 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed, small spouts left whole, larger spouts halved
- Salt and pepper, to your taste
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Brown bacon in a medium skillet over medium high heat.
- Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate.
- Add Brussels spouts to bacon drippings. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook Brussels sprouts 2 to 3 minutes to begin to soften, then add broth.
- Bring broth to a bubble, cover and reduce heat to medium low.
- Cook 10 minutes, until tender.
- Transfer sprouts to a serving dish with a slotted spoon and top with cooked bacon bits.
(Inspired by Food Network)
I hope you eat lots of chocolate!
What? Valentine's Day is two days away already? I'm not ready! I haven't baked anything and my nails are green right now, but I'm a little too early for St. Patty's Day. Last year, I slaved over my heart manicure. It's just a white base with lovely red hearts on top. To make the hearts, I made two drops of red and dragged the bottoms together to make the point. It took me forever mostly because you have to let the layers dry. Mine got a little streaky because I was too impatient.
I know, you're so impressed with my amazing manicure-ing skills, but check out these other Valentine's nails I found via Pinterest. Wow...I know I definitely don't have the skill or patience to pull these off.
(Inspired by Sephora's Nailspotting via Pinterest)
I love the show, Once Upon a Time, and I think Ginnifer Goodwin is adorable. Here's an interview with bellasugar where she talks about her beauty regimen.
Surprise, surprise, Ginnifer doesn't use a ton of high end, expensive beauty products. She uses extra virgin coconut oil everywhere and even makes her own shampoo with coconut milk, olive oil and castile soap. I've heard about using EVCO on skin, so I did a little research on it. When eaten, it can help regulate blood sugar, fight heart disease, speed up weight loss, and improve the immune system. Used topically, it can dramatically recover the condition of both skin and hair, preventing wrinkles and making your tresses stronger and shinier. Just make sure you choose a product that is cold pressed, unrefined, organic, and basically as minimally processed as possible. I'm definitely intrigued and might give it a try. Besides, I'm sure it smells amazing!
To use on skin, you can warm the solid form between your hands or let the container sit in warm water. Then, apply anywhere. You can even use it on your face! EVCO has natural antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties and many people have been able to see some success in treating acne and eczema.
For your hair, use as a mask to slightly damp hair, one to two hours before shampooing, or use sparingly as a leave-in conditioner.
(Inspired by Fitness Blender)
The Super Bowl was on Sunday, and while I'm not super in to football, I can definitely get in to the snacks. My contribution to the party? Candied bacon. I saw this recipe a while ago and I've been dying to try it. Plus, bacon just screams football watching, doesn't it? Simple enough, this is basically just bacon covered with brown sugar and thrown in the oven. I didn't even follow the recipe. It tastes like sin in the best possible way. Sweet and savory and oozing with bacon-y goodness (aka grease). I'm definitely going for a run tomorrow...but it was so worth it. Here are pictures of a test batch where I only made five pieces, but it'd be just as easy to make a larger batch.
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chile powder (I just used black pepper)
- 20 slices of thick-cut bacon (1 1/2 pounds)
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil.
- In a small bowl, whisk the brown sugar with the chile powder.
- Press bacon strips in to the sugar mixture.
- Arrange the bacon strips on the foil and sprinkle any sugar leftover onto the bacon.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until caramelized and almost crisp. Transfer the bacon to a rack set over a sheet of foil to cool completely; serve.
(Inspired by Food & Wine)
I bought this huge bottle of honey at Costco. Honey rarely goes bad and they've actually found edible honey in Egyptian tombs, so why not buy honey in bulk from Costco? It won't go bad because honey is pretty much just sugar with a little bit of water. The low moisture content keeps bacteria from growing, but it also causes the honey to crystallize. That thick and cloudy honey is perfectly safe to eat, but how do you get it out of the bottle? There's honey dripping down the sides of my bottle in the picture because I had it sitting upside down to get honey for my morning tea, but most of it is still in a big hunk on the bottom. Well, don't worry, it's actually really easy to fix. Just put the container of honey in a few inches of water and heat it slowly on the stove. Just be careful, because muliple heating and cooling sessions can cause the honey to lose color and aroma, and after a while, you'll want to throw it away. To stave off crystallization in the future, it's best to keep your honey at around 70 degrees.