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Rewind to about 8 years ago, and I’m not sure I would have known what you were talking about if you mentioned essential oils to me. At that time I was lathering my skin in scented lotions and my hair in scented products, burning candles throughout the house, you name it. I started to become more conscious of what I was putting on my skin several years ago, when a shampoo I was using suddenly caused me to breakout in hives. The hives covered my face and neck and it was weeks before it finally cleared up. I discontinued the use of that shampoo, and started to try to figure out what could have caused the reaction.

I started to research the effects things like synthetic fragrances, phthalates, parabens, etc. have on the body. With that knowledge, I could no longer bring myself to lather my body’s largest organ—the skin—in toxins. Everything you put onto your skin, toxic or not, gets absorbed into the bloodstream. Eek! So for me, that meant no more scented lotions, no more perfume, no more crazy scented hair products. Nothing. I also stopped burning candles in the house because they made my eyes red, itchy and watery.

My allergies and overall health definitely improved after I cut out the toxic, synthetic fragrances. Although I had a boring-smelling house since everything I was using at that point was of the unscented variety, I went on my merry way. That is until a couple of years ago, when I mentioned to my natural doctor that I had recently been slurring words when speaking and missing letters when writing. He immediately asked if the antiperspirant I used contained Aluminum Zirconium and a couple other things. I had absolutely no idea. I went home, checked the label, and sure enough, the “bad” things he mentioned were on there. I did more research and found out that aluminum zirconium and several other ingredients in antiperspirants have been linked to some pretty nasty illnesses/diseases. I immediately stopped using the antiperspirant and—long story short—began making and selling my own natural deodorant.

As I started tweaking my deodorant recipe to find perfection, I began experimenting with essential oils. I had no idea at the time what a huge role they would play in my life. What started out as a fun way to scent my deodorants, has now resulted in creating deodorants with healing powers! Who would have known?!

Not only am I now using pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils in my deodorant line, but I use them instead of prescription medications to help control my asthma, anxiety and depression. I use them on my 5-month old to help resolve fussiness, congestion and coughs, as well as for diaper rash prevention. I have also begun using them in place of toxic household cleaning products which is incredibly important to me especially with a little one about to start crawling on the floor! And I can’t forget to mention that I’ve finally found something to help “scent” my house that won’t kill me! Goodbye “Glade Plug-Ins”!  Did you know that those things are filled with formaldehyde—the biggest chemical carcinogen that we know of? Did you know the formaldehyde in there actually deadens your olfactory nerves? That’s why you stop smelling it after a while and have to switch scents! Terrible!

There are so many more uses for essential oils, I am so excited to explore the myriad of possibilities of what EOs can do for myself, my family and my friends! Expect more info coming your way soon, and if you’re interested in purchasing pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils, I do so through Young Living. Feel free to message me for more information, but the best way to experience EOs is to purchase the Premium Starter Kit, which gets you a TON of oils as well as the diffuser, which is muy importante, for a super awesome price.

Peace, love and essential oils,

Melissa

YL Distributor #1563299

If you are into this “crunchy” stuff, you’ve probably heard essential oils come up in conversation. If you’re not sure what they are, get ready because your mind is about to be blown! The healing power and versatility of EOs is absolutely astounding. I only wish I had known about them sooner!

Essential oils are concentrated, natural, aromatic liquids extracted from shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bark, fruit, bushes and seeds. Plants depend on essential oils to grow, evolve and adapt to their surroundings. They also play an important role in defending against insects, disease and harsh environmental conditions. Pure, unadulterated essential oils have many potential benefits and are used daily to enhance the lives of millions. They have also been around forever. Essential oils were mankind’s first medicine. From Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese manuscripts, we know that priests and physicians have been using essential oils for thousands of years. In fact, there are 188 references to essential oils in the Bible. Oils such as frankincense, myrrh, rosemary, hyssop and spikenard were used for anointing and healing the sick.

How are essential oils used?

Essential oils have many uses. Whether you want to fill your home with safe, purifying products, strengthen your health and/or physical wellness, improve your emotional balance or enhance your natural beauty, essential oils are the natural way to go! EOs can be used in place of medications and in beauty and cleaning products, instead of other toxic, over-the-counter options. I personally have used them on myself to help with depression and anxiety, sinus and allergy issues, asthma, restlessness, skin issues, to help build immunity and to clean the house! I have even used them on my son as young as 2 months old to help him breathe better and get drainage during a terrible cough and congestion, to help him build immunity and to help calm him when he’s teething and just generally fussy.

You can use essential oils by smelling then directly (inhalation), applying them to the skin (topical application) or taking them internally (internal consumption). Safety guidelines should be carefully reviewed for each essential oil you plan to use, especially if you plan on ingesting them! Not all oils are safe for ingestion and some need to applied with a carrier oil before applying to the skin. There are also special considerations for those that are nursing and/or pregnant. Consult a health care professional prior to ingesting essential oils. Also, it is very important that you use only high-quality, pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils.

Why should you buy only high-quality, pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils?

The short answer: because oils that are made cheaply could have adverse effects on you. That’s reason enough for me! So how do you know if something is pure or not? Do your homework and buy from a trusted resource. One of the factors that determines the purity and therapeutic value of an oil is its chemical constituents. These constituents can be affected by a vast number of variables including: the part(s) of the plant from which the oil was produced, soil condition, fertilizer (organic or chemical), geographical region, climate, altitude, harvest season and methods and distillation process. When oils are purchased for the perfume industry (not for therapeutic uses), they are produced as cheaply and quickly as possible to produce the greatest quantity. This means high pressure, high temperatures, rapid processing and the use of chemical solvents are often employed during the distillation process. The oils may smell the same and will cost less, but they will lack most, if not all, of the chemical constituents necessary to produce the expected therapeutic results. The oils I purchase and use are only pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils.

How do I get some of this stuff?!

I purchase my oils through Young Living. I have researched them and trust them when it comes to my family’s health and wellness. There are plenty of people out there who claim one company is better than the other, and everyone has their opinions. In the end, I trust YL and purchase my products through them. You can go to their website and become a member to order directly by using my distributor ID: 1563299.

You can also look forward to a new line of premium deodorants in my Etsy shop, the first one in this line will launch this week and will be…drumroll please…Peace & Calming! Peace & Calming is formulated to help release tension and promotes a deep sense of peace and emotional wellbeing. Can I get a heck yeah?!

Essential oils have truly changed my life. I’m so happy to have so many options to help my family and I live happier, healthier lives. I will be posting much more about essential oils in the near future, so please stay tuned. Expect to see posts containing information about the in-depth benefits of EOs, application of EOs, treatment for certain ailments such as asthma, depression/anxiety, eczema, allergies, natural homemade cleaning products, beauty products, baby products and of course, EO success stories!

You, Me, and EOs

If you have a success story you would like to share, please email me, I would love to feature you! melissa{at}livewholebefree.com. Also, if you live near me, I am going to host an oily party in the next few weeks. Let me know if you would like to be added to the guest list! We can discuss EOs more in-depth and well, it’s a great reason to get together and have a party!

Peace, love and EOs,

Melissa

This word means different things to different people. To some, it conjures negative emotions and thoughts; to others it provides a sense of empowerment and accomplishment. When associated with health and weight management, many people struggle to gain “control” of their health and eating habits. We often look to or blame outside influences and time parameters as road-blocks or excuses for not being able to maintain the choices we strive for. When we lose this control it can feel like a slippery slope with no other choice but to keep sliding down.

Control is a strong word and should make you feel strong when you have it. Being in control can be something as simple as choosing to pack your own lunch every day, or stocking your house and office with healthy snacking options. We tend to lose control in moments of weakness when hunger hits and you cave to the candy dish full of snack-size Snickers, or over-indulge on chips and queso or bread before your actual meal even arrives.  It’s this mindless, in-the-moment-eating that can often make us feel out of control.

The key to feeling in control and taking responsibility for your actions is to be kind to yourself. There are always going to be unexpected twists and turns in our daily lives, but giving yourself the tool of preparation and planning can help mitigate some of the chaos and put the ball back in your court. Be mindful in the moment and ask yourself if you feel in control of your actions. As the holidays approach, this is a great practice to put into place in order to feel good about your health and nutrition goals when faced with overwhelming temptation.

You can help yourself make better choices by bringing healthier options to the table, such as LWBF’s favorite Fall Harvest Salad, or for a sweet, healthier offering make these delicious Raw Chocolate Carrot Balls (you don’t have to tell anyone there’s veggies in their dessert!). So, take control of your body and health this holiday season by making mindful choices. Enjoy some of the treats of the holidays, but practice moderation and think about what your body needs as opposed to what your senses think you want.

Happy, Mindful Eating!

Holly

At 35 weeks pregnant, I’ve now gone back and forth for the last 20 or so weeks over how I should write this, or if I should write it at all. You see, it’s personal, and the internet, well, it’s public. But what kind of person would I be if I couldn’t share my mistakes with you all, who also care so much about health and wellness? In the end I’ve decided that this is the right thing to do. Although it means admitting I messed up, it was a humbling experience, and one that I’m fairly certain many of us have gone through or will go through, as we ladies deal with pregnancy. I also want others to realize that these struggles happen to everyone, even trainers with specializations in nutrition. I now feel better equipped to help people that may run into these issues, having now experienced them first-hand.

If you read my Life Changes post, you know a little bit about my mental state upon learning I was pregnant. Excited, nervous, scared, stressed, stressed and a little bit stressed. All of a sudden I found myself questioning my own knowledge. Not being a dairy-eater, I found myself craving cheese and wondering if it was because I wasn’t getting sufficient calcium? Am I missing other nutrients because I don’t consume meat? Is my baby okay? I found myself stressed, nauseous and consuming foods I hadn’t eaten in years. I got numerous comments from friends, family, clients and gym members “oh you’re going to be the cutest pregnant person ever” which added a level of stress I can’t really describe. I felt like everyone had unrealistic expectations of me. “Why am I going to be cute, because I’m a trainer? Because I’m supposed to be thin, cute, happy and pregnant?” I was stressed and unable to eat any sort of vegetable without gagging. This was going to be a long pregnancy.

Several weeks later, I found myself feeling awful from a less-than-ideal diet, still nauseous and packing on pounds at a rate faster than the typical pregnant woman should. I had to have a serious conversation with myself about what I was doing. Although we’ve acknowledged that I was scared, stressed and nauseous, causing me to consume foods I wouldn’t normally even consider putting in my body, I think I also thought I was immune to the science of nutrition. You know the “since I’ve been so healthy for so long, I can eat whatever I want and it won’t affect me” kind of mentality. Not sure what was happening upstairs, but this is definitely NOT true. I’m human just like the rest of the world, trainer or not. And when I started eating pasta, bagels, cookies and crackers instead of spinach, vegetables, fruits, lentils, etc., my mental and physical state declined rather rapidly.

It was at about the 15 week mark that I realized I needed to get my head out of my “you know what” and pull myself together. Whether or not I could stomach a vegetable no longer mattered. My baby NEEDS proper nutrition and it’s up to me to provide that. I also realized that I could either live the remaining 25 weeks like this—miserable—or I could make a change.

I emailed my nutritionist in a panic saying something to the extent of “I messed up. How much damage have I done and can I fix it?” You might be thinking “man, she’s really overreacting about a little pizza and some cookies”…but I really wasn’t. Every part of me knows how crucial good nutrition really is, so when I realized that I’ve been slacking at the most important time of my (and my little one’s life), I was pretty upset with myself. The emails we exchanged are actually quite humorous in hindsight. My messages to him are long, drawn-out confessions about how much shame and embarrassment I’m feeling, that I “know better” and how could I let this happen…and his to me are comforting and reassuring with words like “it’s not too late, and yes, you can fix it.”

With that, I got myself back on track. And wouldn’t you know it—soon I started to feel MUCH better! The next 15+ weeks were much improved. I still had some food issues but not nearly as bad as the first 15 weeks. I was juicing vegetables (and still am) to ensure I was getting them in my diet (still can’t choke those things down without throwing them in the juicer), started drinking my Amazing Meal smoothies again, and life was looking up.

I’m due with our sweet baby in 5 weeks. I never really regained my appetite for clean eating, or an appetite at all really, but have definitely been making healthier decisions. As nauseous as I am today, eating healthier has allowed me to feel better physically and mentally. Pregnancy is a funny thing—I’ve decided that you can only be so hard on yourself for the crazy things your body is enduring, but it’s also important to not let yourself go off the rails. There are two people relying on you for the proper nutrients, so cookies for dinner is not acceptable. Nor is two or three bagels in one day…yikes, glad that’s in the past!

So if you’re pregnant, or might become pregnant, I hope you can learn from this post. If you eat crappy food, you’re going to feel crappy. This is actually ALWAYS true, pregnancy doesn’t really matter here. But when you ARE pregnant, and you already feel crappy, it can be hard to make nutritious choices. Employ your spouse or partner to help get healthy food in your body, for both you and the baby. If you’re at that point where nothing is staying down and you’re reading this cursing me—I get it. Just remember that you can only eat so many crackers, and your body would really rather prefer non-processed food choices. Try some brown rice and bananas. 🙂

Oh, and it turns out, all that second-guessing about my pescetarian, dairy-free diet was a waste of energy. Much needed energy, at that! It is perfectly okay to be a pescetarian, vegetarian, etc., you just need to ensure you are getting the proper nutrients in sufficient amounts through other food sources. Find a good, natural pre-natal vitamin, do your research, involve your health care provider and employ a good support system and you will be just fine. Oh, and if your health care provider tells you otherwise about not eating meat, dairy, etc., it’s probably time to find a new one!

Good luck to all the mommas-to-be out there!

Peace, love and proper nutrition,

Melissa

Note: I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. If you have questions about your vitamin and nutrient intake, please consult a qualified nutritionist or medical practitioner.

Since I’ve started teaching morning boot camps, I’ve had so many people tell me that they just can’t wake up that early. (“That” meaning early enough to attend a 5:30am Camp Gladiator Boot Camp. If you just shuddered at the thought of that, keep reading.) Well, I beg to differ, so I thought I’d put together a quick list of tips that will help you transform yourself into a “morning workout person.” And believe me when I say, this comes from the heart. I don’t necessarily “love” mornings, but I have taught myself how to become one of those morning people!

1. Set Your Alarm

I know what you’re thinking…”duh”…but there’s more to it than just setting one alarm. Set your alarm the night before with just enough time to eat something light*, grab what you need and head out the door. If you allow yourself more time than you need, you will likely hit snooze and potentially sleep through the workout. Then, set a back-up alarm for about 2 minutes after the first alarm, in case you accidentally hit “snooze.” Make sure it’s something “alarming”, pun intended so that it really wakes you up! Lastly, you can always set your alarm across the room from you, forcing you to actually get out of bed to turn it off. Once your out of bed, STAY out of bed! Don’t go back there!

2. Prep the Night Before

Before you hit the hay, lay out everything you need, so that you don’t have to overtax your already not fully functioning brain early in the morning. Set out what you’re going to wear and anything you need to bring with you. I even go so far as to put everything I need to remember to take with me (that I’m not actually wearing) in the car the night before so that I can’t forget to grab it. I set a banana out as well, and as soon as that alarm goes off, I drink a good 8 ounces of water, have my banana, then start getting ready. This way, by the time I arrive at my destination, my banana is digested and I’m ready to work out! The less you have to think in the morning, the better your chances are for getting out of the house successfully!

3. Do It More Often Than Not

Consistency is key here. If waking up early is difficult for you, try to do it as often as possible. You give yourself a better chance of being successful if you do it more often. Try to change your sleep schedule so that more days than not you are going to bed early and waking up early. If you try to wake up early one day, then sleep in the next, etc., your body will never get used to the schedule and it actually becomes much more taxing on your body. Even on days where you aren’t working out, try to wake up at a reasonable hour so that it makes it easy for your body to continue your new schedule. Also, give it 21-30 days. It takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so commit to waking up early and going to bed early for at least 3 weeks. And of course, be sure you are getting to bed early too. Insufficient sleep will not make you a happy camper when that alarm goes off! Do what you need to do to eat dinner earlier, bathe the kids earlier, etc.

4. Recruit a Partner in Crime

Misery loves company, so recruit a friend to join you in your morning workouts. Although at first you will likely be complaining to each other about how tired you are, soon you will realize that this partner in crime is actually your accountability partner, and is equally important to your success in becoming a morning camper. I highly recommend carpooling with your accountability partner. Knowing someone is coming to your house to pick you up is a huge motivator for getting out of bed and even more so if you’re the driver that day! You can’t bail on your partner!

5. Reward Yourself

Enjoy the rest of the day thinking about how your workout is already completed, and the day is yours! Alternately, the guilt you feel when you miss your morning workout is extremely heavy—and even heavier if that’s your only opportunity to workout all day!

*Note: Eating prior to the workout is important. If you are in the process of trying to become a morning camper, just get something light in you prior to the workout. Something like a banana, a Larabar, some oatmeal, etc. (full or half) are good, quick, light items that provide glucose for your brain and muscles to perform properly. Failing to eat prior to working out will leave you lightheaded and not feeling well. Also, what does your body use for fuel if you haven’t eaten anything? You’re likely to break down muscle instead of building it. As your workouts progress and depending on your body, you will likely need to eat something more substantial. This post is just to give you ideas on how to start small and work your way up!

After about 3 days of research, we finally figured out what kind of mattress and mattress cover our little angel will be sleeping on. I think my husband and I have done more research on baby stuff in the past 7 months than either of us did in four years of college! The good news is, I’m going to share all this good stuff with you! Even if you don’t have children, this is an important read in order to keep chemicals and toxins from harming you while you sleep.

Studies have shown that crib mattresses contribute to one of the highest causes of chemical poisoning among babies. Regular (and sheepskin) mattresses contain phosphorous, arsenic and antimony. These elements are naturally occurring in some sheepskins and are added in via the manufacturing process of regular mattresses. Arsenic and antimony are used as preservatives in mandatory flame retardants and phosphorous is a plasticizer used in matters covers. Most baby mattresses contain filling material called polyurethane foam, which is made from petroleum and contains chemical catalysts, surfactants, emulsifiers, pigments and more. Manufacturers listed on the material safety data sheet (MSDS) that exposure to polyurethane foam can cause: possible cardiac arrhythmias, breathlessness, chest discomfort, irritation of mucous membranes, headache, coughing dizziness, fatigue, blurred vision and more. Considering infants spend an incredible amount of time sleeping, this is a huge concern for me.

Adding to that, a common household fungus known as Scopularioupsis Brevicaulis gets established in the mattress from the baby’s sweating, spitting up, urinating, etc. Once it’s there, the fungus feeds off of the phosphorous, arsenic and antimony. The result is a production of three nerve gasses: phosphine, arsine and stibine, all of which can be very deadly, especially to infants. Enter SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It has also been proven that the risk of SIDS increases with the birth of each child, potentially because mattresses are re-used, allowing the fungus to become more established with the addition of each child.

Although it is not 100% scientifically proven, many scientists believe that toxic gases released from crib mattresses can cause SIDS when inhaled or absorbed by the baby. A large study in New Zealand had a 100% success rate in crib death prevention for the past 13 years. Parents were strongly advised to wrap their mattresses with a specially formulated polyethylene cover. Out of 170,000 (22%) New Zealand babies, not one single SIDS death was reported, compared to 860 reports of crib death prior to this study. To be clear, scientists agree that low density, food-grade polyethylene is the safest plastic available for waterproofing a crib mattress, since it does not contain phthalates or other unsafe additives.

So how do you make sure nerve gasses aren’t reaching your baby?

Well, you either buy an organic mattress or you cover the one you have with a low-density food-grade polyethylene sheeting. It is the safest plastic available for waterproofing a mattress. It has a simple molecular structure and does not contain phthalates or other unsafe additives. Unlike the production of vinyl, dioxins and other toxic chemicals are not released into the environment during the production of low-density polyethylene.

If you’re buying a new, organic mattress, make sure it’s actually organic (as opposed to it having just one organic material and abusing the term “organic”). It depends on all materials used. Even an organic cotton filled mattress can be filled with a vinyl covering, which then likely adds in chemical fire retardants. Check out company ratings in this buying guide. Once you’ve decided on a couple you’re interested in, check them against the tips above to see if any red flags come up. There’s also a very helpful chart and key included in that guide.

A few comments about the buying guide’s recommendations:

Though boric acid is considered by some to have a low toxicity rating, it’s also a roach killer. Also, antimony is listed as a “chemical of concern” but arsenic and phosphorous are not. Double check with manufacturers on whether they contain these two compounds before making a final decision on a purchase. Also, avoid any mattresses that have an un-waterproofed surface. Wool/latex as the surface material is okay, un-waterproofed cotton is no good, because it can get wet and mildew. (Enter S. Brevicaulis). Removable cotton pads/wool pads that can be washed are fine, but make sure they aren’t too cushy, especially if your baby is going to sleep on his/her stomach, as this can interfere with breathing. On that note, a firm mattress is a must-have if you are buying for an infant.

If you are going to continue using the mattress you have, be sure to cover it properly.

  • Cover the top, all sides and most of the underside of the mattress with a polyethylene sheeting that is at least 5 mil thick and free of phosphorus, arsenic and antimony. Leave several venting holes on the underside of the mattress cover so that the gas can escape.
  • Use fleecy pure cotton mattress cover over the polyethylene sheeting and tuck it in securely.
  • Make the bed using pure cotton sheets.
  • Do not use any of the following as baby bedding: sheepskin, moisture-resistant mattress protector, acrylic under blanket, sleeping bag or duvet.
  • Clean mattress covers by wiping with pure soap and water. Do not use chemical bleaches or sterilizers.

If you made it through that entire post, congratulations. If you didn’t, I don’t blame you. Regardless, here’s a quick recap:

Buying for Baby:

Mattress: Should have waterproofed cotton or wool/latex as the surface material. Mattress should be firm.
Cover: Use a low density food grade polyethylene mattress cover or a pure cotton cover if the top of the mattress is waterproofed.
Sheets: Pure cotton sheets. Organic is great, but make sure they’re at least 100% cotton.

For Adults:

These same nerve gasses that could harm an infant could harm you too. Although we have a mattress that is just 6 months old, I do not know what it is made out of and don’t want to take any chances. Especially knowing that if it is emitting nerve gasses, I will absorb them and they will be passed through my breastmilk to my child. Needless to say, we just bought an adult-size low density food grade polyethylene mattress cover here. Although it makes a plastic-y sound when you get into bed, I don’t mind! A small price to pay for better health and my child’s safety.

And lastly, if you’re wondering what mattress and mattress cover we went with for our baby, we went with Naturepedic. Here is the mattress we purchased (or will be purchasing) and here is the mattress pad (waterproof).

Sources:
http://www.cleanhealthyny.org/2011/11/mattress-matters-report.html#more
http://www.cleanhealthyny.org/MattressMattersReport-Jan2012.pdf
http://www.mommypotamus.com/do-sheepskins-cause-sids/
http://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-buy-a-non-toxic-mattress/
http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/bedding.asp
http://www.simplybabybedding.com/safety-facts-dangers-crib-mattresses.html

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and I feel I owe you an apology as well as a short explanation. At least I’ll try to keep it short.

The last few…errr… six months have been life-changing to say the least. On New Years Eve I toasted friends and we said “good riddance” to 2012, as it was a rough year for many of us. As I entered 2013 I told myself, “If I can just make it through January, I know I’ll be okay.” I had no idea at that point that the month and the year ahead would hold so many wonderful things for me.

In August of 2012 we made a quick decision to sell our condo after realizing we needed to get out of the neighborhood we were in and we had a small window of time in which to do so. In November we closed on our new house in the suburbs, which was quite a change for both of us. Meanwhile I had been job searching, trying to escape an abusive workplace. In January of 2013, I finally got not just an opportunity to leave the place that was killing me inside, but an opportunity at one of the most amazing, most successful and fastest growing companies in the industry. I feel extremely lucky and blessed to be where I am today. But that wasn’t the only career change I was making.

After teaching a boot camp class, I was approached by a Trainer for Camp Gladiator about potentially training for them. Not thinking much of it, I agreed to go to an informational session to hear what it was all about. I went in fairly certain I had too much on my plate to take on anything else at the moment. I think it was about 30 minutes in and I was already sold. So began a 4 month process of auditions and internships to become the Primary Trainer I am so proud to say I am today.

So I now essentially have two new full-time jobs, a new house in the ‘burbs, but that’s not all. That’s right, shortly after I began my new full-time job and started interning with CG, I found out we were expecting a baby! We were very excited and also very surprised. Especially considering it wasn’t but a few short months ago that my OB-GYN had told us we would likely have a very difficult time conceiving without medical intervention. He’s since been “let go” as my Doctor. 🙂

So there you have it—the short version of where I’ve been hiding for the past few months. I have so many pregnancy-related posts that I’ve wanted to post, but felt like I couldn’t without first breaking the news! Since the start of 2013 (and pretty much in the month of January alone), I have an entirely new life. I’m laughing now because last summer I sat at lunch with a friend of mine, and told her in tears “job, house or baby, I don’t care what, but something had to change.” She told me to be careful what I wished for or it would all happen at once. I replied with a snarky “well if that’s what has to happen then that’s fine, I can handle it.” I guess this is me… “handling it.” I thank God every day for answering my prayers.

Our bundle of joy is expected to arrive on August 27, 2013. More pregnancy- and parenting-related posts coming soon!

Melissa

If you are reading this post, you are probably one of two groups of people. You either know deep down that it’s important to buy organic, but if you were asked to list the reasons, you might not be able to do so, or you are not yet convinced that it’s important to buy organic and are interested in what I have to say about it. Although I feel there are about a million and a half reasons to buy organic, I’ll keep this post short.

Reasons to buy organic:

  • Organic foods have no synthetic fertilizers, no synthetic pesticides or insecticides, no genetically engineered plants or animals… (Um… that means that conventional foods DO have those things. Who wants to eat fertilizer or genetically engineered animals?! Not I!)
  • Organic foods have less pesticide residue than conventionally grown foods and it is well documented that children who eat a predominantly organic diet have lower levels of pesticide residue in their bodies. (Oh the innocent children! Don’t feed them chemicals!)
  • Buying organic can be expensive, so here are the top foods to buy organic, since they have the highest amount of pesticides: celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, kale, cherries, potatoes and imported grapes. Hormone and antibiotic free butter, milk, eggs and meat are good too. Although it can be pricey, the money you spend now to eat better will be far less than what you’ll spend later in life with all the medicine and drug treatments you’ll need because of all the pesticides you consumed.
  • Organic farms are less damaging to the environment and when you buy organic you subscribe to a different kind of environment ethic. Buying organic tells store owners and farmers that there is a demand for organic food.

So there you have it. Moral of the story—take care of yourself. Don’t feed yourself (or the innocent children) chemicals.

Peace, love and pesticide-free food,

Melissa

“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.” – Stephen Grellet

I came across this quote while waiting to pick up take-out from my favorite neighborhood Mediterranean restaurant. The final line of the quote struck something so deep in my heart that I found myself tearing up then nudged my mom standing beside me and pointed to the framed quote. Once she finished reading she looked over at me and we both smiled and choked back unexpected tears.

Such a simple and beautiful statement about the choices we have in life. It reminded me that every day we are fortunate enough to live our lives and have the opportunity not only to impact ourselves and how we feel, but also those around us.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

-Maya Angelou

Helping those around you make healthier lifestyle choices, such as going for walks with a friend who might not have the motivation to do it on their own, or bringing fresh vegetables or fruit into the office instead of the usual baked goods or sweets are simple ways to show kindness and love for those around you.

With the coming holidays, there will be several opportunities to show kindness to your fellow human beings. You can make a positive difference by contributing nutritional dishes and snacks and taking the time to be active with friends and family.

“Let me not defer nor neglect it (kindness) for I shall not pass this way again.”

 

Happy Holiday Choices,

Holly Alexander

I am so humbled and excited to announce this very exciting news. Biederman Redevelopment Ventures, the New York City consulting firm responsible for programming for the new Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, has asked me to teach boot camp classes at The Park coming this Fall!

This park is unlike any other in the city of Dallas. Spanning 5.2 acres in the heart of Dallas, Klyde Warren Park covers several city blocks between Pearl and St. Paul Streets over Woodall Rodgers Freeway. It includes a performance stage, restaurant (coming soon), shaded walking paths, dog park, children’s garden, great lawn (i.e. boot camp area), water features, an area for games and much more. I am so excited to have access to such a beautiful space bringing people together downtown! The Park’s programming is truly outstanding and includes music, fitness, education, games and art, with a constant stream of free daily activities open to the public, complemented by signature special events. There will be something for everyone at The Park, and I’m thrilled to be able to be a part of it!

The free grand opening of the Park will be held on Saturday and Sunday, October 27th and 28th, followed by Live Whole Be Free’s first FREE Boot Camp class on Monday, October 29th (and every Monday after that) at 5:30pm! As far as what you can expect from LWBF’s Boot Camp—you can expect to get 60 minutes of “you” time that you will not regret! Those of you that have taken my classes for years know that I offer a fun and challenging workout regardless of your fitness level.

I hope that you will join me every Monday at 5:30pm! This is an amazing opportunity to make a commitment to yourself and to your health/wellness without costing you a dime. It’s also a great way to support the City of Dallas and small businesses like myself. Although not required, participants are encouraged to bring a set of dumbbells in a weight appropriate for them as well as a small towel and some water. If you do not have dumbbells—not to worry—you can still participate in boot camp and you will still get a terrific workout! Read more about what you can expect at Boot Camp!

I can’t wait to see you all at Klyde Warren Park on Monday, October 29th! If you plan on attending, please RSVP to melissa [at] livewholebefree.com, as the first 20 people that RSVP (and show up on Monday, 10/29) will receive a free gift!*

* An RSVP for boot camp is not required but sure is helpful!

Peace, love, health and fitness,

Melissa